Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Lodi and Sacramento

We are running into some bad lucks today, broken G9, bike was back to the dealer ship, but as Andi always says : No one died. We just have to harden the F up, and carry on living. 

We were so focused on the bike, haven’t had a chance to thank Doug and Janet from Lodi who took care of us for the last few days. and I know Andi would not have time to check my grammar and spellings today, so please put up with some Chiwi English. Thank you Doug and Janet on behalf of Two Moto Kiwis.

While Hobbit was in Clawson waiting for the parts for the third gear, we received a PM from a fellow ADVer, he wrote: “See you are in Fresno with bike issues.I am 2 hours north in Lodi. Not sure what direction you are headed next but spare room available and willing to assist any way I can.”

This is our wonderful host Doug - Photoed by Dan

We replied him and told him our situation, then he wrote back: “ I offer a couple ideas.
1, I have an 08 DR650 I can loan you, happy to deliver it to Fresno , then you can ride where you want; I can come get you (and the OK bike) and bring you here, then you can borrow my GMC Yukon or the DR650 and go where ever you like. Happy to deliver you back to Fresno when your bike is ready. I'm only a phone call away.” What a nice man.

We jumped on Chiwi (she has been reliable) come down to Lodi to meet Doug. Boy he took us under his wings and make us feel welcome.

The next day, Doug and Janet took us for a tiki tour around his district. There are a few wineries (can’t you believe it?) around that area, with the local knowledge, we went to Ironstone Vineyard which holds the biggest natural Gold nugget in the North America. 

The big gold

The Vineyard

We even made the effort to the town called Murphys to whisper him make our trip uneventful in the further, it didn’t seem to work, however, a walk around town and a good dose of ice cream was really nice.

Downtown at Murphys, remind us Arrow Town at home

Ice Cream for girls

Sushi for dinner again, hope Andi isn't sick of it 

The day after, we decided just kicking around at his home and relax a bit after visited an other two local vineyards again. Doug’s friend Dan with his third generation Chinese wife Chris turned up. Here we are, me, can’t speak Cantonese, her, can’t speak Mandarin, two Chinese woman talk in English. They are very nice couple, offered to meet us for lunch in Sacramento next day.

More wine testing

Posh place

Party time again

In the afternoon, Doug’s another Dan friend brought another guest - Trevor who we met on the Horizon Unlimited Meeting in Cambria. He is riding a Yamaha Tenere to South America too. We all sit down had a drink and as we do then off to the local pub “Waterloo Saloon” for a good feed of pork ribs. 

International traveller's gathering again

Doug took us (me, Andi and Trevor) to Sacramento on Monday. We meet Dan and Chris at a Chinese Supermarket for a roast duck lunch - plus some other goodies. Then we went to immigration to get Andi fired up. (read the B2 Visa saga, you will understand)

Bugger me, three "white boys" using chopsticks better than most of Chinese

After Andi calmed down, we went to Sacramento old town. It was a neat place, lots of gift shop, bar and restaurants. Doug took us a long way round back to Lodi, on the way back, we stopped at a little Chinese town called Locke. Funny they said this is China Town, didn’t see any Chinese except me.

I like this office better

Can you tell me when our bikes are trouble free?

Sacramento Old Town

China Town again

Does it make me look like a Chinese?

Back to home was dark. Trevor has to change oil for his Tenere, he will be on his way to yosemite and we will be back to Fresno. Doug, is waiting for a German ADVer who had a broke down in Death Vally, come and pick up Doug’s DR650 to ride the Big Sir...

Boys with toys

We Are Away Again...

Hi guys

The dealership rang and said it was ready.... this seemed unusual to me given what we had seen.

They had 5 of them looking at it and trying to sort it out, the tech who did it returned and told them what he had done.

We arrive at the dealership, the service manager took us out the back and explained that they had used Belray grease on the shift lever and gears.

He mixed up some oil and some Belray grease and made it look very similar to the mix in the pan, the tech must have used half a tube of grease as three oil changes later it still looks the same, they asure me it is fine.

The good news is that seems to be the oil/metal problem, the bad news is 3rd gear still screams unnaturally loud but they say it is fine, they did replace the 4 bearings as they were quote gritty, circlips, seals, gaskets etc and the piston rings.

I am hopeful this is the last time the bike is in the shop for repairs, I don't mind bits and pieces but engines out are BANNED.

Up till today Suzuki have spent is excess of the value of the bike just in the motor and kept us off the road for more than 25% of our trip so far.

I still have my reliable DR650 at home which we built our adventure on, will I buy another Suzuki ,well I wanted to buy a DRZ 400 when I return home, I think this will change.

I had my KTM990 which was flawless so I think I will stick with orange.

On our TMK site I have called them Weapons Of Choice, at the moment I would change that to The Pieces Of Shit We Ended Up With, as you can tell I am angry at Suzuki for letting this unfold ridiculously long and it would seem this current round was the result of Lelands misfitting parts. 

Anyway, on a positive note we are on our way tomorrow morning, we have reference stuff from Clawson Suzuki showing dates etc so Immigration/Irritation, homeland sec, consulates etc can deal with it as we have gone out of our way to make it right with no help from any departments and if they are still upset with us well there are plenty of other places to ride the world who will want our contribution to their economy.

I will say thank you to Josh from Clawsons, he has pulled the blocks to make it happen as best he can given the time frame, the seem to be te only good guys we have dealt with.

Back At The Dealer

We turned up on their doorstep at 8.00am, they took my bike in and said they would drain the oil which they did, they removed the filter as well.

This is what came out, this is 10 miles worth, i.e. from dealer to Shanns then back to dealer.

They put new oil in and a Suzuki factory paper filter claiming my washable stainless filter was not good enough.

Their tech took it for a 6 mile ride, came back pulled the sump bung and filter, the filter was grey with an alloy/bronze look about it.

I could repost the picture above and it would be no different to that.

Their manager fello chimed in saying that something was definitely wrong (no shit) so they are pulling it apart again.

3rd gear still grizzles and the shit continues, I asked if they could get Suzuki to just replace the engine complete as they have spent more trying to fix it than the bike is worth, we have now been off the road with failures for more than 25% of our trip and it is costing us money and time now not to mention stress having to deal with immigration or more to the point irritation. 

Now we play the waiting game again, another two weeks? who knows.

Can a shitty day get worse, yes is the answer to that with the destruction of my 1 month old G9 communication set.

I am about ready to pack it all in and go home. , I am out for a walk to consider my options now.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Hang on a minute, there is an other story

My bike was fixed earlier which took the heat out of the B2 Visa saga.

When the bike was fixed up north the dealership through out washable stainless steel oil filter after instructions not to through it.

So tonight I checked just to make sure rather than getting in Mexico and finding out it was accidentally thrown oil, oil puked out of the oil filter case which it is not supposed to do????

On inspection the oil is full of fine metal and very shiny  , bike done 10 miles since at the dealership.

Back to the dealership tomorrow. 

Andi's Bike Has Fixed

Just came back from Lodi, we received an email from Clawson at 4:40pm, they have fixed our bike. We can leave tomorrow, there is no need to visa extension anymore, WooHoo

Andi is on the way picking up the bike....

The B2 VISA Saga FFS

The VISA B2 Saga, so this is the pinnacle of excellent US intellectual bureaucratic bullshit, read on and have a larf as there quite simply is no other wau to look at it.

Ok, due to my bike needing serious work again we took it in to Fresno as when we leave the USA our warrantee is over.

Clawson Suzuki in Fresno took it apart and established the problem which appears to be incorrect assembly when it was last put back together from its first failure, the parts we established will not be in until November 1st, our B2 VISA expires November 2nd.

We have gone out of our way with USCIS, US Immigration and NZ Consulate, not one of these organisations say they can help ..... WTF you are kidding???

So Monday Oct 29th we go to Sacramento to 656 Capital Ave to the big office.

On entering the building the guard required ID, so we showed him our drivers licence, he needed our passports which we had so no worries at all, shoes off, no cameras so Trevor said hey I will look after them down here, belts etc off no worries and up we go.

We talked to a very nice lady at the counter who booked us an interview straight away, looked like we were making progress.

We also got the information pamphlet for Trevor a fello ADVer so I took that down to the lobby where he was waiting and told him we will be having an interview shortly so will meet him back down there in say 20 minutes.

I went back into the foyer and the same guard said, I need ID ... well that is when the fight started.

Me = Me, G = Guard

G, I need ID

Me, here is my licence again

G, I need your passport

Me, my passport is upstairs with my wife waiting for our interview

G, well you can’t come in

Me, but you have seen my passport only two minutes ago along with our drivers licence

G, but you don’t have your passport

Me, you saw it 2 minutes ago, I am still me and haven’t changed!!.

G, but you don’t have it now.

Me, what, you are kidding???

G, (straight face), please step outside to the lobby

Me, FFS,

G, I will call someone down

Me, thanks

10 minutes goes by... no-one has come down one floor

Me, walk back in to guard, where is someone?

G, no-one came down

Me, well call them again please as I am supposed to be in an interview

G, ouwh ok, please step outside to the lobby

Me .... you’re kidding?? but I will go outside

10 more minutes lady appears

G, this is him (pointing at me)

So the Lady says we can’t find anyone for you, I say my wife is upstairs with my passport that he saw prior, I present her with both our drivers licences.

I say please look for her, this is what she looks like, same photo on her licence as her passport, same for me, she says to the guard you won’t let him through but you saw his passport?, guard says yes but he does not have his passport.

Lady, but you have seen it

G, yes

Lady, why won’t you let him through

G, he doesn’t have his passport with him

Me, stunned look in amazement at this guys lack of logic, common sense is not that common and we now have living proof.

Lady, are you serious?, he (me) can come with me

G .... pissed off as overridden by Lady.

Me, stunned that this shit was even happening

So that is how the efficient US government machine works to help people out, I would expect shit like this from a 3rd world border, different language places but not here in english speaking educated US, land of the free unless you are here.

We have tried our best to get an extension/dispensation for the one or two days we may be over our VISA due to circumstance beyond our control and unforeseen only to yet again be trashed by stupid US rules and regs with NO-ONE from ANY organization having any power to help or take control, we are stunned.

Grump over but my mind cannot comprehend this weird system you mericans have in place, after battling like hell to do everything right at our expense I am now not sure if I want to come back to the US unless shit like this gets changed to does not have to be that hard.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Horizons Unlimited Travelers Meeting - Cambria

So much to do and see, so many people to talk to and so much information to be gained .... overload head syndrome to start with but we settled in nicely and started going to presentations, absolutely mint!!

Both Ellen and I were presenters too, Ellens presentation was “The stuff no one wants to talk about”, Ellen had the crowd of 70 - 80 people in roars of laughter talking about our scraps on the Denali Highway and White Rim Trail, I was up the front watching many other couples nodding and acknowledging the same sort of difficulties we had encountered in our new normal life which is not ALL beer and skittles.

It was nice to know that Ellen and I had encountered similar difficulties to others and that we were not alone, the key thing is we are now stronger for using it as a learning experience and recoginzing that if no one dies then the rest of material damage can be solved and sorted out and the main thing is to learn and move up a rung on the ladder rather than fall off and throw it all away.

Many other presentations we went to were very informative and great so for us it was extremely worth while and great fun, we also met other travelers heading to South America on pretty much similar time tables as us, we will undoubtedly cross paths and we be support crew, help etc along the way when needed, nice to have familiar faces.

My presentation was DR650 setup keeping it narrow and setting up for longitudinally challenged humans, this was a great success sharing our information with others, as I hate public speaking I kept it low key and more interactive with our bikes being that people could sit on them etc, this worked very well. 

After three days of presentations, meeting great people, talking bikes, travel, destinations it was time to leave, destination Fresno to do a LOT of bike work.

We packed up and were pretty much the last to leave after getting photos with various people, some famous, some just like us.

Famous people .... Ted Simon ... not us!!!

Dr. Frazier

Grant and Susan Johnson, Hubb Mum and Dad!!!

A HUGE thanks to Grant and Susan Johnson and ALL the helpers plus all the presenters who really make the event, we came away buzzing and not wanting to leave, something that seems to happen quite a bit when traveling..

Here are some general pics of people and bikes

Iain and Debs in their sidecar

Ellen in a Ural

Ellens dream bike with a MTB!!

Another international traveler

An owl

Sun going down through the trees

Finally, Iain and Debs, Craig and Sharon, Will English and us