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At first we intended to go to Sturgis, South Dakota, held for the sixty-fourth time from the 9 th to 15 th of August. And we even held the official meeting of our cheery team. Sixteen persons entered their names. But the trip was born in the throes not to Sturgis, but to Daytona Big, Florida from the 20 th to 24 th of October, and for many reasons only two people remained “alive” from among those sixteen who originally wished.
09.10.04. We flew out of the airport. The flight of Aeroflot had been delayed by 3 hours, as a notorious special control had been carried out including overturn of all things of luggage and hand-luggage twice, taking off shoes, all metal things and so on.
The flight to Los Angeles, California, takes 14 hours – this is, I think, one of the most long-range nonstop flights of Aeroflot. Food is served twice, apart from beer, juices which may be served all the time.
At arrival, in the evening we stayed at the LAX hotel closest to the airport– the biggest and, perhaps, sole international airport of Los Angeles. In that evening an afro-american wedding was celebrated there – that was something extraordinary!!! Abundance of barenecked African women and young lads in smoking of grin and pink tones was amazing!
10.10.04. It needs probably to say that we obtained visas in USA without any particular problems. At the interview in the Embassy we were provided with photos from our last year's motor races through Scandinavia and Jupon, as well as Internet – confirmations that we had reserved motorcycles on hire (HD Electra Gluide).
We came to the motorcycle hire service where made acquaintance in presence with Glenn, a man with whom we had communicated only by Inet. We hired two Harleys for twenty-four hours in order to go to Orange County → Mecca of American customizing.
Lekha had a HD-Read King, I had a Fat Boy. The motorcycles were “zero” of the model year 2004, very broad handle bars, absence of windshield, patented sound. We visited Orange County → it is 40 miles south of Los Angeles; came back and moved into another hotel closer to the hire service. The hotel named Foruma Hotel is situated 500 meters from the district with a famous name Hollywood, is cheap and cheesy for so brilliant names.
Our acclimatization passes thus: at night we are wandering, in the evening – sleeping flies look better than we do…
Alexis read the verse of his wife that she had written in honour of the departure of her husband – it is very lovely and encouraging.
Yes, it is necessary to say about California climate – it is the most fairytale climate in U.S.A. In winter it is not cold ~ 18 ºC, in summer up to 35 ºC it is not hot. This is because easterly there is a “radiator” – the Pacific Ocean, and westerly California is protected by mountains not allowing hot or cold air to come from the continent. Nevertheless, the air still penetrate here and there and we will feel that on our own back soon.
11.10.04. Today at the age of 52 actor Christopher Reeve creating a part of Superman died. Although he was tied to the wheelchair last years because of the spinal injury, all America mourned his depth. At the Star Alley near the Reeve's star all day long pressmen watched, fans brought flowers, wreaths and letters to this place. There were many tourists at the Alley – we heard Russian speech time and again. For example, in a curio shop a young girl from Lithuania worked as a sales girl.
Today I have bought Harley V-Rod – a personal motorcycle of our hire master Glen. And Alexis, as it was agreed on, has taken HD Electra Gluide for Rent. A huge “window” has been installed and less impressive coffers on V-Rod for a greater long-range capability.
12.10.04. Nevada. We being “battle-equipped” started out north-west for the glorious city of Las Vegas. When we approached the mountains, a very strong warm, and I'm not afraid of saying so, hot wind blowing somehow along the mountain chain met us. The way to Las Vegas is a route between sandy mountains and sand valleys in the name of which somehow the word “death” is often used. As it became known to us later many people perished here who stayed overnight in such places and died of hot air supersaturated with salt.
The route had a speed limitation of 75 miles per hour (one mile is about 1,61 km). This a maximum value for America, but everyone exceeded the speed limit by about 5-10 miles and felt great security, and “Highway Patrol” controlling the speed-range shut its eyes to such pranks.
It is about 400 km from Los Angeles to Vegas and having passed them I understood that V-Rod is not meant for travels, this is a purely urban means of transportation, as its 13 liters of gasoline is only just enough for 90-100 miles of route. So I had to buy an additional gasoline can of volume of 2 gallons ~ 7 liters.
In Las Vegas we met Czechs on 2 Harleys going on the famous 66 Route from Chicago, we were very surprised to see each other.
I imagined Vegas as an oasis in a desert consisting only of mega-super casinos and so on. In reality everything is mush more prosaic – this is quite a big city with its developed social organism, in the heart of which enormous hotels with casinos on the first-second floors are situated. We settled down in one of such hotels called Excalibur, I will not mention the cost of hotel accommodation, I only say that it was the most expensive overnight halt during the whole tour.
13.10.04. We started south from Vegas in tee-shirts to 40 Highway. About 50 kilometers away we passed in the mountains the famous Goodwin's dam, where we came across the first cabin on our way (there were two of them during our trip). One! policeman stood at watch and examined Your face – if he did not like it, he probably took some measures, but the motorcyclists in our persons did not interested him, even Lekha who put on the helmet protecting his face against sun with the depiction of skull! After we had started and passed 152 km along 40 Highway, we turned to 66 Route renowned due the film “Easy rider” and moved to the Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) through the Hualapai Indian Reservation. On the 3 rd day I saw for the first time bisons grazing on prairies, and I remembered at once a book from my childhood about Chungachguk. Route 66 is a two-way road forsaken of God and normal people (bikers are obviously not among them) on which motorcycles - tourists and not numerous local people mainly go. Gas filling stations on 66 Route look like Saloons from westerns with one-two petrol pillars of the model of 1949.
On the way to the Grand Canyon in the town of Williams my attention was attracted by a motel with two old steam-locomotives Santa Fe and one coach car as old as the gas filling station mentioned above. I, as a man concerned with railway, was surprised that in America:
1) the railway is not electrified, that is why they place huge forty-foot containers on flatcars on two! storeys – as there are not wires above.
2) the length of trains exceeded the length of Russian freight trains almost twice as much!
Grand Canyon – that is great! It must have been one of the seven surviving wonders of the world. Grand Canyon is an enormous earth rift, one can hardly see the other “bank”. And at the bottom there are red-stone mountains and rivers, streams may hardly be discerned from the tremendous altitude. On the precipice a cold wind blows it means that we are high above the level of the sea. There were a lot of Chinese and Japanese tourists. When descending Canyon we for the first time go in the dark – the sky of Arizona is more than starry!
Note: All the way Lekha went about three meters behind, - he must have “fished cops by a bait fish”; considering that there were a lot of them, and judging from spirited dialogues at the side of the road they were not lack for clients.
We stayed overnight in the Navaho Indian Reservation, to the question whether our motorcycles would be in safety the Reception clerks only shrugged their shoulders.
14.10.04. Today a road racer has waken up in Diplomat (or he has simply got a good night's sleep). He speeded at 90 miles per hour, I could hardly follow him. It was very cold, we were going to Albuquerke on 40 Highway, along the table-land. The first 200 miles I held the handle bar by one hand, the other warmed itself near… the behind. Not withstanding the mockery of winds we left the highway and went strictly south on 77 highway to the Mexican frontier. It became apparently warmer, we passed the Apache Reservation through the mountains, canyons, lakes – places are very beautiful. At one of gas filling stations Diplomat contributed a dollar for children's needs and he was memorized in the annals of patron movement of Arizona. His name was signed on the maple-leaf cut out of paper and stuck on the glass wall of the gas filling station – it is nothing but it is damned nice!
Having arrived in New Mexico we decided to have a shack. We entered into one of ranch cafes where we were evidently the first visitors for the last week, they were so pleased to see us. The aunts fried large steaks for us and explained to us in detail the political situation in USA insisting on Bush's primacy. (Speaking about forthcoming elections on November 2, 2004, it needs to say that slogans there are heavier than ours – “VOTE OR DIED!” They also sent their regards to V.V.Putin and said that progressive inhabitants of the state supported him in his difficult fight against terrorism (so if you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, read, please, take it into consideration).