On the Beach
Southern California
18th Dec. ’90.

Dear All

I’m sitting on the beach and it must be in the high 70’s. There’s towns and villages all along the coast but I can see about 5 miles of beach and count 3 people. Maybe they’re all at work (it’s Tuesday) of this is too cold for them. There’s a three masted tall ship drifting past, my tent is on top of the cliff behind me on a fairly empty but well equipped site and it’s all rather jolly good. Mexico is only 100 miles away and I’ll probably be there for Christmas with some friends from Tucson, Arizona who are going down on their bike. It’s in Baja California (pronounced Baha) which is the thin bit that sticks down below California but it’s part of Mexico. It’ll be nice to get out of the States as although the country is good I’m getting a bit sick of their “best society on the world” attitude. They think they have it right and everybody else has I wrong but yesterday I saw a woman in Hollywood lock her car while she put petrol in. Some society? Been in and around L.A. for a few days discussing plans with Steve the Irishman I met in Canada. We’ve come to the conclusion that our unanimous plan is that we haven’t got one except to go south. We might buy a map of South America before we go but somehow I doubt it.

His wife is over here so they are staying with friends in L.A. for Christmas and then she is either getting a job and staying or else going back to Dublin while Steve and I go south. I’ll wait for him in Baja which is the part of the country that the Spaniard I met in Alaska who had come from South America said was the best of the whole trip. I camped for a few days in the hills behind L.A. where they film M.A.S.H. but the weather turned cold and it was seriously sub zero at night and only cool during the day although it was sunny. Decided that wasn’t why I joined so hence the move. Earlier I spent a week in Houston with a Brazilian friend I met earlier who I probably mentioned and then went back and stayed 10 days with Larry and Debbie in Tucson. They have a spare bedroom, 2 bathrooms and a garage. Also he is a B.M.W. bike mechanic and rides a B.M.W. trail bike so that was a good place to look at the gearbox. I’ve done 30,000 miles since I put the engine in last winter so I don’t mind taking it to bits to have a look before going somewhere remote. It’s annoying to have to put new gears in though. I think I got some duff oil in Hungary back in June and have wondered about the gearbox ever since. 5th has been making a noise for about 10,000 miles so I’ve been using 4th more. Consequently, 4th was showing signs of wear. This bike was never imported over here but there is a 1990 trail bike which has the same engine and gearbox although the Yamaha shop didn’t think it would be the same.

I ordered all the parts for that one anyway and sure enough, identical. Half the price of England as well so I put in new 5th gear, 4th gear, 1st gear, piston rings, valve seals, glaze-busted the bore, ground the valves in, new sprockets, chain, spare chain, greased everything whether it moved or not, new tyres etc. etc. thought I might as well take advantage of the facilities while I had them. Debbie had just come out of hospital and couldn’t drive or go to work so it was handy for them to have me there to drive the car etc.

Saw your weather on the T.V. the other day when the hostages came home. Suddenly remembered what last year was like in last December. I can put up with this although I was thinking it was going to get extremely hot in the next few weeks. I’ll put up with it, the beers always cold.

Hope everybody is well. Letters may get a bit more random once we hit Central America – goodness knows what the postal system is like in Honduras or Columbia.

All the best.

Love Steve.