More often than not, we end up sitting beside passengers on a plane that we never talk to but this trip would be an exception.
I was flying to Los Angeles for work training and spent the majority of my 5 hour flight editing footage for Episode 4. When the laptop died, I kicked up a conversation with my neighbor; a South African videographer traveling back to California to visit family.
We spent the the remaining hour of the flight discussing his film work for National Geographic and chatting about my desire to moto the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) - it was truly an inspiring conversation. After the plane floated into LAX, I passed off an MSO business card and we shook hands before going our separate ways.
On Saturday, my training class was presented with an option to extend the discussion into the evening; this offered an opportunity to tour on Sunday. Motivated to get on the PCH, I spent Saturday evening searching the internet for a motorcycle shop that would rent me a dual sport bike similar to my F650GS. With success I found Racy Rentals. I woke early and flagged down a cab first thing Sunday morning; I was on my way to pick up a Triumph Tiger 800 XC.
The bike was ready as soon as I arrived and I was off on my new adventure within minutes. Heading west out of LA on I-10 I was now en route for the coast. Morning traffic was mild and I made it to the PCH well before noon.
Visor up and nothing but warm air hitting my face; true bliss... It's a different kind of air in California; cool on the coast and warm in the canyons.
Rocky beaches, bikinis, surf boards and VW buses parked along every inch of the PCH. Surfers catching the break and people simply lovin life.
I was through Malibu and on my way to Ventura; I intended to make a quick stop at Patagonia's flagship store before heading further north to Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara isn't just an 80's soap opera, it's paradise. Street vendors, artists, cool breezes, yachts and sunglasses. I spent some quality time walking the sidewalks and gazing out to the Pacific. I grabbed a quick lunch and hit the road for the final leg of the trip; only 4 hours to get back to LA and traffic was thick.
At first, I opted to make the trek back on the side roads but I wasn't making any progress. The twisting canyon roads and conservative speed limits were slowing me down so I found my way back the PCH.
Motorcycle laws in California offer a unique advantage over most states - lane splitting. I was hesitant to take the dotted line at first but I quickly changed my mind when a Harley rolled by my side mirror. With miles of grid-lock traffic ahead, I couldn't afford to miss my deadline.
I down shifted, stood up on my pegs and started splitting lanes. Like Moses parting water, cars moved to the side as I rolled down the PCH. For the next 30 miles I averaged 40 mph in backed up traffic.
I returned to LA with only minutes to spare and one less item on my bucket list; thank you California.