Finally, after one too many winter storms and dealing with the snowed in streets of Hoboken, I remembered LA. I'd visited, and it was great, but vacation mentality is different from the day-to-day grind of actually living someplace. It seemed like every time I turned on the radio there were signals to move on and take the journey; The Doors, Zeppelin's "Going to California," and the Grateful Dead (not LA, but California based). "Go West young man," and tales from Kerouac and Steinbeck only strengthened the urge. In deciding which fork to take it came down to those early sports memories, with Keith Jackson live at the Rose Bowl announcing the blue and gold of UCLA. That was it--I'd move to LA to attend UCLA, where coincidentally, both Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek graduated. Thankfully, it happens to be a world-class learning environment too. The stars were aligned. I packed up my bike, loaded up the car, and hit the open highway with a crazy redhead. Looking back, I loved Kansas the best--a beautiful, open-space state, with Colorado coming in the place position.
Arriving in California, having nowhere to stay, it seemed logical to bum around Venice Beach, a fantastical carnival scene along the Pacific shore. It's a cool place to visit too--just note that it can be a little weird, but biker friendly too. It's one of the few places in SoCal that gracefully melds the past with the present--the starving, bohemian artist living side-by-side with the well-to-do movie-studio exec.
Possibly best of all, I quickly learned (after getting a proper pad), that a stone's throw from Venice were some of the best twisty roads I'd ever dreamed of. With vistas of the majestic ocean below, each of the numerous canyon roads offers world-class E-ticket riding. It reminds me of the Denver area and the Rockies. The mountains aren't as high and the roads aren't as desolate, but it's a paradise surrounded by 11 million people.
The intentions of even the most skilled traveler are sometimes thwarted. I had planned on spending four or five years here. That plan furthered my desire to trade in the metric and get on some American steel. Everything was going well and the country was in the middle of the H-D craze. Instead of splitting back to the right coast, after earning two advanced degrees, I stayed. It wasn't so much a decision to stay and settle, it just never seemed like a good time to go.
After a stint in San Diego living the beach life and thoroughly testing the beer and burrito diet, it was time to hang up the lab coat and follow my passion: motorcycling, but only for a year to test the waters. Well, now it's 4-1/2 years later and life just keeps getting better and brighter. One thing though: it isn't always warm, or even dry. Seasons aren't as delineated here, but it's not all umbrella-covered tropical drinks and bikinis. Parts of the LA County desert just got dumped with 13 inches of snow, the rest got cold rain, with freeze warnings broadcast almost every night. As uncomfortable and wet as it sometimes gets, I still don't drive a car. In this chaotic, fast-paced 21st century, riding is as close to freedom and nirvana I can experience. Oh, and I still don't winterize my scooters either.