Monday, September 28, 2015

Horizons Unlimited 2015

Attending a Horizons Unlimited meeting is something I've wanted to do for a long time.
HU is a club (loosely defined) of people for whom travel is a passion. It is mostly directed at two-wheel travelers, but 4-wheelers are welcome as well.

An HU meeting is scheduled in Mariposa, California in September for Thursday 24th to Sunday 27th, I reserve my spot and meals and now its...time for a ride.
I go via some straight roads to Tonapah, Nevada where I spend my first night, I was the only one in this large campground so I don't bother putting up my tent and just sleep on a picnic table.

It was a great night for star gazing.

On my way again.

My route from Tonapah to Mariposa.

I have to go through Yosemite NP. It is beautiful, but SLOOOW going.

On the 140 going down toward Mariposa.

My camp spot (the closest tent) - to the right of me were some Brits, an Aussie, and a German; a very nice group of people and I was glad to have them as my neighbors. I had one of the most flat spots there, many tents were pitched on a slope that I'm not certain I could have slept on.... I was lucky to arrive as early as I did while the pickings were still good.

There were many vendors including this one.
I test rode one of these bikes and was pleasantly surprised. The bike is 250cc and comes kitted out for adventure travel at a very low cost. The model I rode was $3500. The one I'm sitting on was a grand or so more, I'm not certain of its price.
They are Chinese made and are not a knock-offs as none of the parts will fit on other brand bikes. The US distributor (the vendor you see in this pic) keep at least one of each part on the bike in stock and can ship same day.
If I were doing an RTW ride I would give serious thought to one of these bikes for at least three reasons;
1 - The low cost to buy and maintain.
2 - The larger bikes make one a target in most countries.
3 - The light weight, and ease of maneuvering.
On the downside; obviously they have less power, and they need oil changes much more often....but, I'm still a fan.

While manning the entry gate I was able to meet this interesting gentleman and his dog. He didn't stay long, but was fun to talk to.

He 'flew the chair' so I could get this pic.

At a lot of bike rallies you will find the people and/or the bikes can be cookie-cutter images. Not so at an HU rally. The BMW GS was the most popular bike there but there were also numerous other brands and models that showed up.
Also, there are very few low mileage bikes here. These are not, 'ride to Starbucks and home twice a year' riders. These bikes are high mileage, chrome eschewing, utilitarian machines.
Oddly enough, I didn't see any "Ride to live, live to ride" stickers.

A German RTW rider's vintage BMW (Beaky in the background).
Vintage Honda CB 750 still going strong
GSA I think

Honda 500
Ducati, (one of two at the meet) ridden by the wife of the guy you see. Had I included her in the pic people would have thought I did it just for the, you just get the bike.
Honda ST
Honda ST and a Yamaha something

You had a choice of three or four one-hour long presentations given from 9 am to 5 pm each day. Most were given twice so that with a little planning a person was able to see almost every presentation. 
All were purposed to educate the attendee on how to better travel, and most were very interesting.

My favorite was "Radioman rides the world".
Here is his blog;

And it is Sunday morning.... time to say my goodbyes to new friends and the town of Mariposa and ride home. I'm anxious to get on the road as I've decided to make it home in one day, a 660ish mile ride.

(I tried to find the guy I spent the most time with but he wasn't at his tent and I felt like I didn't have the luxury of waiting.... so Frank, if you check out my blog, when I came to your tent and you weren't there I moved your boots up next to your helmet so you would know someone visited....I hope you had a good ride home and thanks for the great conversation.)

Mariposa is Spanish for butterfly.

On my way....

I took two days to get there - 667 miles, and then simply reversed my route to get home in one day, 666 miles. I had a devilish good time, learned a TON, made some new friends, and won some cool swag. I (along with numerous others) volunteered to help and spent several hours at the entrance directing new arrivers; actually kind of a fun thing to do. Plus it resulted in making two good friends, Kim and Steve.

About 280 travelers attended.

The catered food was very good, my camp spot was OK, the until-the-wee-hours-of-the-morning parties were....ummm...taxing, but all in all it was an interesting, and positive experience.
Will I go again? Yes, but not soon. I think this is a good once a year or maybe every two years event.

For better or worse, one thing the HU meeting did was stoke the fire of my wander-lust...if I could find a funder for an RTW, I could be packed in about 5 minutes! :)

1333 miles total.


RichardM said...

I've always wanted to attend one of their events. They sound fascinating.

The tank looks familiar. I've spent a lot of time in Tonopah in the past as we had field sites in Goldfield and Tonopah had more hotel and restaurant options. The last time we camped there we found more than a few scorpions in our gear. We opted not to camp again…

Ken said...

Richard - I kept my gear up on the table seats, not a perfect solution, but better than nothing. Also, I developed the habit of shaking out my boots a long time ago, and still do it today. Awww.....camping... :)

Trobairitz said...

Kudos to you for making it home in one day. The event seemed like a good gathering. Not sure I'd like to camp around that many people, but it is a good way to get to know them.

Thanks for sharing.

Tarsnakes Down Under said...

Nice write up Ken. You were lucky that you camped in Mariposa - we stayed at a motel there back in 2010 and I woke up with a bed bug on my face! I followed Radioman's adventures on the Advrider website - it's a really good read. An old fiend of mine named Heidi who is actually and Aussie but lives in Germany was a guest speaker at HU in Germany. She did a RTW solo many years ago (including the Mid East alone) and then she and her new husband did a year long trip through Africa on diesel powered Royal Enfields about 3 years ago. If you Google "Diesel Bike in Africa" you will see her photo blog.

Now if you want some more inspiration Ken, then read Ted Simon's books. I've just started the second one today.

Cheers Jules.

Ken said...

Trobairitz - I too was concerned about camping in a sea of tents, but it was only for 3 nights and my 'neighbors' were top notch. It seemed to me that most came with friends, I was one of the few that came alone, but I still had a good time and chatted with a lot of folks.

Jules - Several years ago I read about a guy riding a diesel KLR around Australia.. I'll have to check out the one you are talking about.

Thanks for reading!