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Thu Nov 22 2012: American Thanksgiving in San Diego

A few weeks ago, Mark from ADV sent us an invite, opening up his guest house to Neda and I. So we spent nearly a week with him and his family, during which time they basically adopted us!

Mark and I installing engine bars on my bike

After getting the bikes powerwashed and cleaned, we got to work installing the SW-Motech crash bars that I had ordered and sent to Mark's place. My big GS has eaten more gravel in the last 5 months than in the last 6 years I've owned her. Since we're showing no aversion to dirty, gravelly, sandy roads, I thought I'd quit being such a tough guy and give her a little more protection. Mark told me he builds and fixes airplanes for a living, so I guess he's qualified to help me out.

Actually, not being very mechanically-minded, I was quite nervous having an airplane mechanic look over my shoulder while installing something as simple as crash bars:

"Um Mark, could you hand me one of those thingies with the C-thingie on the end?"
"You mean a wrench, Gene?"
"If that's what you Americans call it...!"

California oranges growing in Mark's back yard

Mark lives in a small community just north of San Diego, and the weather there is perfect! We've spent so long outrunning the freezing cold, riding further and further south, and outside of Death Valley, this is perhaps the first time we've reached such an ideal climate for riding. And we've got a bed and roof to sleep under as well! We spent a lot of time with Mark and his family; they had us over for dinner, we had them over for dinner (in their own guest house) - they are a really close-knit family with a love for travel and motorsports. Exactly our kind of folks!

Giving Susie some tips on riding. Here I'm showing her how short fingernails facilitate in the braking process

Susie, Mark's wife, mentioned that she was looking to do more street riding but needed to brush up on her skills. Since Neda and I were motorcycle instructors in our past life, we totally jumped on the opportunity to help her out. We borrowed a TW200 from one of Mark's friends and rode it out to the airport where Mark works for some parking lot practice.

After a quick lesson on push-steering, Susie slaloms like a pro!

I try out the TW and AHHH!!! No unbalanced panniers, bike turns too quickly!!!

Mark invited us to stay till after Thanksgiving, telling us that the traffic would be too bad to travel over the holidays. This was our first ever American Thanksgiving, in America, with Americans, and it was such a heart (and belly) warming experience. Mark and Susie don't have a lot of family in the area, so every year they have an "Orphans' Thanksgiving", inviting all of their friends who also don't have family nearby to spend the holidays with. We definitely fell into that category!

Neda helped cook, I just stayed out of the way. But I did put the marshmallows on the yams!

Mark is an excellent cook, timing all the dishes to be ready at the same time with military precision. Neda picked up some great recipes from him, and I was astounded that you could put marshmallows over potatoes and have them turn out so delicious! Copious amounts of brown sugar and pecans also help!

Thanksgiving with our adopted family. Neda and I had such huge grins over the whole week!

Susie made pumpkin pie. Sean, their youngest son in the background

Mike, their oldest son was celebrating his birthday as well!

Mark and Mike and a few of their friends took us to some of their favorite twisty roads in the area.
We rode Hwy 76 around Escondido and then up the road to the Palomar observatory

After spending a week with Mark and his family, we're leaving in much better shape (round is a shape, right?) physically and mentally for the journey ahead. The time was well spent gathering new maps, new insurance and new currency. We rode away from our temporary sanctuary waving ecstatic goodbyes. I hope we'll see Mark and Susie and their family again soon in our travels!

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