Monday, November 30, 2009

Finding Nemo

We were up and at'er and straight to the dock to catch our water taxi which was powered by triple 200 horsepower yamaha four-strokes. Our 600 horsepower water taxi blasted our keesters to our island oasis. We were skimming the lagoon surface at 45mi/hr with a palm tree island on the horizon.
On board we met Sandra and Steve, our new found American friends. We partnered up and chartered a snorkeling boat along with two European fellows, Stephan and Matais. Our guide Daniel sailed us to three amazingly beautiful spots along the Barrier Reef. We donned our flippers and masks and dunked ourselves into the fish bowl. We were intimidated in the beginning but we were quickly adopted by our schoolmates... the tropical fish. Among some of the species we were able to identify were sting rays, Nerf shark, parrot fish, tarpon, barracuda, sea turtles, Mora eels, crabs, groupers, brain coral, and countless other colorful tropical fish.

Our snorkeling tour lasted a better part of the day but it seemed like only minutes. Occasionally Greg or I would be in our own sea world and get separated from the pack swimming after a school of fish. We would pop our heads to the surface, lost, with only our tour boat on the horizon. Alas we would always find our pod and continue on with our sea world adventure.

On board the vessel Baby Boy we were well taken care of with food and drink and rum punch for the sail home. On one occasion Greg tossed some orange peels into the water, these large silver fish attacked the peels like packs of wolves. Greg would have lost a finger to one of these veracious eaters had the guide not warned him only seconds prior to the take.

Our plan was to catch the last water taxi home. Greg did not want to leave the island paradise of sand, palms, golf carts and bicycles. But we decided that the smart idea would be to return to the main land. With that decision made we strolled down to the wrong wharf to await a boat that would not come. Thus we stayed, met up with our American friends, and spent the night sleepless in our cockroach hotel.

We caught the first boat back in the morning to the sweltering heat of the main land at 8:00, loaded the bike and headed on a tour of Belize. We rode 70km of sandy dirt road. We cruised comfortably at 80km/hr atop the crests of the washboard roadway. The scenery was beautiful and we plucked an orange from a roadside orange tree. Exiting the dirt road we intersected the Hummingbird Highway. We spotted a Mennonite bakery at mile 33. Joanna supplied us with oatmeal cookies, cinnamon rolls, and banana bread. Greg was in heaven. The Hummingbird Hwy had it's ups and downs and zigs and zags and we eventually arrived at our destination city of San Ignacio. We booked a caving trip for the morning and went for pizza. Greg's favorite.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Ride on the Cool Side

Nov. 28, 2009
Day 17
Belize City, Belize
trip: 200km
hotel: Sea Breeze Guest House $45 BZ

Eager to update our blog last evening we didn't notice that the town had rolled up it's sidewalks. We resorted to taking a bus into the center of the city from our seaside out of town accommodations. The bus ride proved to be the highlight of our evening. Unfortunately we did not bring our winter jackets. Apparently sub-zero air conditioning is a crowd pleasing favorite in the Mexican transit system. After dinner we caught the last bus out of town. Eventually we realized we were the only people left on the bus. Our bus driver graciously drove us directly to our hotel to end his shift.

We had a full complimentary breakfast this morning which prepared us for our Belize border crossing. One kilometer before the border we were confused by a sign which lead us down the wrong road. Just by chance we encountered a motorcyclist who was traveling the opposite direction and had already explored this dead end. This is where we met Marko from Austria. Marko is currently on a round the world tour and we met him at his 39,900km point. Marko quickly indicated that he was deaf so Greg pulled out a note pad and the two of them conversed for over an hour using sign language and enacting stories all without verbally speaking. Marko has already ridden Africa, South America and Central America and today he crossed paths with us. He is hoping to ride route 66 through the US along side of Harley riders with long beards and ape hangers. His goal is to make it to Alaska and then head off to tour Asia, Mongolia and Russia. We wish him well on his path.

We crossed the border with no problems except that Greg fell over with the bike in the parking lot and scratched his new helmet and visor. Entering Belize we had to pay $2.50US to have the bike fumigated which involved what we were sure was water being sprayed on the tires and brake rotors.

We made it to Belize City just before dark as usual and just happened upon the best kept secret in Belize City (our quality guest house with secure motorcycle parking). We picked up the Express Water Taxi schedule and we're planning a trip to Caye Caulker for the day to swim and snorkel along the barrier reef. This is very exciting and we're looking forward to an early start.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Belize on the horizon

Nov. 27, 2009
Day 16
trip: 500km

Today was a long and boring ride along the straightest road we have ever driven through a forest. We passed through the states of Chiapas, Tobasco, Campeche and Quinta Roo, cutting across the bottom of the Yucatan Peninsula. We ended up in a small town called Calderitas on the Caribean Coast very close to the city of Chetumal.

We will be preparing our documents for our third border crossing tomorrow which will involve clearing the bike and ourselves from Mexico and then signing the bike into Belize. Belize is a tiny little country with lots to offer. We hope to do some snorkling at some of the best coral reef aside from Austraila, and tour some of Belize's famous Cayes (caves), as well as see some more ancient Mayan ruins.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Welcome to the jungle

Nov. 24, 2009
Day 12
We left Veracruz at 9:30 and it was already 28 degrees celcius with no clouds in sight. Luckily we made a few wrong turns which led us onto a dirt road, through a very poor village, and past a very colorful grave yard and many extremely skinny dogs hanging about. Out of chance we found the highway we wanted to be on over a set of railway tracks and along a path. Unfortunately we were on the wrong side of the divided highway. Luckily for us there was a break in the median which we passed through when the traffic cleared. From here we found the 180 and headed for a small town off the beaten path called Paraiso.

Paraiso is a colorful small town on the Gulf coast. The town looked as though it was primarily supported by the spin offs of off shore oil and gas activity, which was evident when we spoke with the US pipe liners at a local restaurant. In the center of town there was a vibrantly painted church with a town square which was hosting a small festival when we arrived.

Nov. 25, 2009
Day 13

We left Paraiso in the pouring rain. We rode for three hours as we were bombarded by cultivated blueberry sized rain drops. We were heading for the Mayan ruins "Palenque" located in the National Park of Palenque. We drove through the city of Palenque where we thought we would get a hotel. We decided to head up to the site of the ruins and were pleasantly surprised to find a village of cabanas in the jungle just outside the park gate. Here we found many other travelers and rented a private cabana for 200 pesos. It was two hours before dark and we settled down for the night with plans to visit the ruins in the morning.
The village restaurant had a roof of palm leaves and played xylophone and drum beats which suited the jungle setting well. We headed off on a short walk through the jungle and experienced the deafening sounds of bugs, frogs, birds and monkeys. We went for dinner, unfortunately for Greg there was no McDonalds. Still recouperating from his recent illness, he fell asleep at 7:30pm.

Nov. 26, 2009
Day 15

Greg's spanish is not serving him well. We ordered coffees with breakfast and Greg's showed up in a one ounce mug. From here we walked the three kilometers to the ruins site in the pouring rain. The ascent was quite steep and began with excavated ruins which kept getting more extravegant until finally we arrived at manicured grounds. Here gargantuan Mayan Ruins protruded from the jungle canopy. Some of the ruins were unexcavated and were merely grassy mountains. The archaeogically restored ruins projected a very clear image of what they must have looked like in all their glory.

To our surprise we were allowed to climb the narrow stone stair cases all the way to the top. The stairs were merely 15cm wide and extremely slippery and steep. It was almost scary decending the stairs knowing that one false move would result in an unstoppable tumble and a modern day sacrifice to the gods. We spent the better part of the day touring the ruins and the museum located near by. It was very interesting and well worth the trip.

It has been a few days since Greg's illness. He has already forgotten that he should not buy street food. Apparently the pistachios some dirty little kid was selling on the side of the road was too irrestible after our long hike.

We have decided to stay another night here in Palenque and make our way towards the Belize border tomorrow, barring another day of bowel discomfort as a result of Greg's street food choices.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Never trust a...

Greg's new best friend, Ronny.

Following dinner last night we went back to our room. Greg was feeling very full and he fell asleep at 9:00. Around 11:30 I was woken by the sounds of Greg's foot steps running to the bathroom. Slightly disoreiented from being awoken from my sleep I had to ask him why he was dumping buckets of water into the toilet. He hurled five violent times, emptying his entire stomach contents, right down to the last pecan from the street vendor cookies he ate at the beach. (lesson 1: don't buy food from street vendors). Greg sauntered back to bed only to immediately return to the bathroom to empty his entire bowels. You could say he was feeling quite drained. After 5 or 6 such trips Greg finally settled down around 1:00 and had a restless sleepless night while I was snoring away in the next bed.

I was again awakened at 6:30 by Greg who was sitting on the edge of his bed waiting with a splitting headache and aching body for me to wake up and go and get him some more water. He was slightly dehydrated and a little feverish from his long night in the bathroom. Since no stores were open at that time of day, he was just lucky that the hotel had a water cooler in the lobby. Needless to say we did not pack up the bike today and instead rested and went swimming in the Gulf of Mexico. Greg has now pledged to only eat McDonalds for the rest of the trip. No more quesadillas for that guy.

Greg's spanish requires a bit of work. Being the friendly guy that he is, he is trying very hard to communicate with the locals. And thus at McDonalds he ordered 4 quater pounders because "quarter" and "quatro" in his terrible english accent mislead the bewildered clerk to ring four quarter pounders with cheese. It all got worked out in the end and we thouroughly enjoyed our American burgers.

For the most part we had a relaxing day, allowing Greg to recuperate. We found a yummy bakery, had Italian coffees, got our laundry done, and relaxed at the beach and the hotel. Tomorrow we hope to load the motorcycle and see how Greg makes out while navigating our way south. Greg hopes there is a McDonalds in our next town.
So far in our travels we have found the Mexican people to be very helpful, friendly and nice. For example, this morning while we were wandering around town carrying arm loads of dirty laundry, one fellow walked us directly to the lavanderia (laundromat). The beach however is another issue altogether. Here we were constantly bombarded by peddlers. "Would you like a boat ride?", "Would you like a beer?", "Would you like a song?", "Would you like a sunglasses?", "Would you like a watch?", "Would you like a cigars?", "Would you like a chair?" Much like the ocean, these people come in waves. Greg likes everything he sees and tries to talk to the people, confuses the heck out of them and they eventually walk away. Greg's favorite thing to say is "me gusta" (me like).

Scenes of Veracruz

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Day 11 Veracruz Mexico

We left our seaside room and closed the door on the friendly little geckos and rolled out of Tuxpan by 8:00. After paying the toll road fee we immediately got lost, we did not panic however as we were heading in a southern direction. This route lead us through numerous small villages in the mountains which seemed to be supported by the orange/clementine/grapefruit growing industry. We were off track but we weren't really lost, as it ended up we drove a 100km on a secondary road.
Upon entering and exiting every tiny town there are a series of speed bumps called topas. Generally there is a sign that gives 150m warning, but occasionally, that sign is overgrown with trees and is missed by Greg. On one such occasion we drove over 3 topas at 95km/hr. On the heavily loaded bike this actually provided a smoother ride in comparison to traveling over them at a slower speed.
The topography of the orange growing region looks like ripply waves as wind sweeps across a calm lake. There are orange tree orchards on slopes facing every direction which makes for a very scenic landscape of green and orange. Just outside of Veracruz we stopped by a street side vender to sample the local fruits, best clementines we've ever eaten! and only for 2 pesos.

We entered the old town of Veracruz and found a hotel overlooking the Golf of Mexico. Despite the overcast weather we walked down to the beach/waterfront in our shorts and flip flops for a cerveza. As we were sitting at a table with the water lapping our toes we were approached by two men, one with a guitar, the other with an accordian who sang at the top of their lungs and played their hearts out for Greg and me.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

mex shots

Day 8, 9 & 10 Hola Mexico!

Well it's been a long 3 days for me and a short 3 days for Greg.

We got our tires mounted at Cycle Rider, the guys there bumped our motorcycle ahead of all the others to help us get on the road. Cheers guys! It was sunny all day in San Antonio as we waited for the bike to be ready, and the minute we mounted the bike and headed on our way, dark clouds coveted the horizon in our direction of travel. We were headed to meet up with Chuck Weaver down in Riviera Beach just south of Corpus Christi. Darkness set in and the black clouds opened up to a torental downpour which caused foaming on the road. One quarter mile from our exit to Riviera an epic lightening bolt, 3 times the diameter of an oil drum, struck down on the lamp post of the over pass we were about to pass under. Even in the pouring rain, the silver sparks showered and sprinkled down to the highway below. It was awesome.

We met with Chuck, who took us out for dinner, and we spent the evening discussing our trip plans. Chuck is an accomplished motorcycle traveler and has navigated all of South and Central and North America on his BMW R100 GS. He rode with us to the border the next day and helped us navigate our way through before saying goodbye at the crossroads. Thank you Chuck!

We opened up the throttle and headed due east to Matamoros where it began to rain as we entered heavy traffic. The powder like dust that covered the roads instantly turned to a slick film which was flung off the tires of oncoming and ongoing traffic and covered our clothes, visors and the bike, it was disgusting. As soon as we left the city and the traffic spread out, the sun came out and dried all that mud. We had to stop at a gas station to clean off our visors and windshield just so we could see.

We headed due south on the highway 180 towards Tampico. We rode with a ferious cross wind which had the bike leaned over at 15 degrees. We only rode upright when we had a wind break from a passing vehicle or a tree line. We saw our first tumble weed blow by just 100 feet infront of the bike, it was the size a small donkey. We found a highway side hotel just before dusk that had a horse racing theme. 350 pesos. We settled in for the night to the sounds of trucks on the road and the wind howling outside.

We weren't the only ones seeking salvation from the wind. Greg and I chased around a giant cockroach, a baby cockroach and what looked like a terrified spider that ran from Greg like Ben Johnson on steriods. We let them all out of the door so they could crawl back in during the middle of the night.

Day 10
We woke up before first light and packed the bike and were on the road by 7:45 and rode until dark. We went from prairies to range land to mountains and finally to the tropical forest along the mountainous gulf coast. One of the 3 military check points pulled us over to question Greg mostly about his bike and not so much about what we were carrying or where we were going.

The roads have become twisty and hilly but the pavement has not deteriorated as we expected and his dual sport tires would have been better substitued with slicks. The pavement is perfect and the rough spots are no worse than the Kingston Peninsula.

We finally pulled into Tuxpan on the coast and found ourselves a seaside motel on the beach with gekos in our room. Greg bartered the price down 25% which made me happy. We had a delicious dinner and are off to our hotel to listen to the sounds of waves crashing on the sandy beach. Tomorrow we head to Veracruz.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Texas Toast (Day 7)

Trip ~ 300km

Fuel: 5 gallons At $ 2.75/gal
Hotel: $55

Food: $36

5 litres of 20W50 :$70

Tires: $ 180

Mexican insurance: $ 198

Helmet: XXX ( we won't talk about that one it'll cut my trip short by a fort night)
Total: Way too much to talk about

We made a short ride from Just west of Houston Tx over to San Antonio. I had big plans for today.....Tires, Chain & sprockets, oil change, Mexican insurance, pick up octane boost and a few other odds and ends.
Luckily San Antonio is pretty easy to navigate...or else I've been just lucky! We headed over to Cycle Rider to get all of our motorcycle needs fulfilled. I was certain that San Antonio would have tires in stock, but alas every store here keeps a basic inventory and deals with overnight shipping meaning that we'll get our tires tomorrow and have them mounted.

San Antonio has to be the friendliest big city that I've been to! It rivals the likes of Calgary the difference being that the average age here probably isn't as young as Calgary's avg of 33 yrs of age.

Julie and I decided that we'd head over to "Motorcycle Tire Shop" There we met Dan "Pork Chop" We were yaking away following a brief conversation about his absence of tires in his shop when I noticed an item on his shelf that was on my "to do list". I asked if I could do an oil change and I bought 5 litres of synthetic oil from him. He went out back, got me a drain pan and offered me tools and came outside and talked about oil, gas, and motorcycle maintenance & repair. Dan was awesome! He helped me out alot and he was a really cool genuine biker himself!

From the "Motorcycle Tire Shop" we drove all over hells half acre looking for another bike shop to purchase a visor as mine was taped closed due to broken parts from excessive wear over the years. We happened upon Moto Liberty. I was tired of waiting at 5 minute long lights in rush hour traffic, so when I blew by it on a one way road I pulled over, and then proceeded to drive in the ditch the wrong way up the service highway until we got to their store parking lot.

Nathan & Chad were very helpful and very knowledgeable about helmets and fitting. They had a wide range of riding gear and I had a good time trying on several helmets until I found the perfect one.

The fellows from Moto Liberty pointed us over to Cafe Alamo for Mexican. Due to my Quesidilla induced border line scurvy I balked on the quesidillas and opted for Faijhitas (excuse my Spanish) It was really good.

Perhaps tomorrow we'll make it to Corpus Christi and meet another fellow named Chuck Weaver who also rode his BMW down through Central and South America. Then we'll head for the border and see what lies beyond.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Houston We Have Touch Down

Fuel: 10 gallons @ 2.55/gal
Trip: 650km
Hotel: $67.00
Food: $20.00
oil: 500ml
Total: $111.00

We pulled out of New Orleans and pointed ourselves towards Houston Texas. The Highway I-10 is a 150km bridge through the Bayou's of the Mississippi delta, as the area is at or under sea level. The highway is a concrete 4 lane bridge that is approximately 30 feet above the waterline. Its crazy!
We crossed over the Mississippi river on a bridge that looked like the one over the Miramichi River from Chatam to Miramichi. The width of the river at this point was similar as well although the bridge here was 6 lanes wide.
While driving through the Louisiana bayou I looked into the marshy landscape and saw pure white Egrets hunting for fish and other prey. They look just like pure white Herons with yellow beaks. At one point we drove under an overhead high tension transmission power line. I tried to see where it was going in its east - west direction but it disappeared on the horizon out to sea.

The ride across Texas so far has been somewhat uneventful. There are dozens and dozens of gambling advertisements, no H1N1 advertisement what so ever...(I guess marketing it here like it is in Canada is a waste of time because people here can't afford it since their government isn't footing the bill) There is also no recycling, its throw away everything and when you get a drink they serve it with a straw inserted into the drink with only the top portion of the protective paper left intact on the straw. (oh and its in a Styrofoam cup)

We got into Houston at 5:00 pm it was 10 solid lanes of bumper to bumper traffic for miles and miles. Our faces were actually covered in soot when we took our helmets off. The smell of exhaust was strong and it actually burned my eyes as we entered the orange and yellow cloud enveloping the city and beyond.

I saw a couple of motorcycles ripping in some special lane and decided that the fast lane is where we also needed to be. This lane was some sort of toll road that had camera's on it. I thought that we'd have to pay at the end of the road, but instead the special lane ended several miles past the jammed up traffic with a lovely sign stating that Toll road violators will be prosecuted. I guess there will be a warrant for my arrest soon enough.

We passed several huge oil refinery's that were about the size of Saint Johns refinery x3. It was cool looking at them now that I've worked at an oil refinery and been inside the boilers and Vertical columns and understand a bit of their form and function.

We headed out for supper to a little Mexican Chain called "Adrians" Alas it did not beat Las Margaritas in Tennessee. Tomorrow we'll head to San Antonio where I'll get the tires, chain and sprockets & oil changed.
Adios amigos

Jazz Man

New Orleans is Sink'in man

Gas : 14 gallons @ 2.55/Gal
trip: 900 km
hotel: $85 + $14 secure parking = $99
food: lunch $8.00
: Supper $ 63.00
Out in Orleans: $ 30.00
Total: $ 234.00

We left Tennessee this morning at 08:30 this morning and pointed ourselves south. It was chilly and I was happy that I didn't act on my prior thoughts of taking my heated jacket off. We were headed through Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, and finally New Orleans Louisiana.
I managed to navigate ourselves to within walking distance of the famed Bourbon Street but I have no Idea how to get away from here after tonight.

Julie and I decided that we were in need of some good Cajun food and headed down Bourbon Street to "Oceania". Julie had some Blackened Catfish and I had some Ahi Tuna and Cajun BBQ shrimp along with some local ale.

After dinner we headed back toward our luxury hotel compared to the $40 dollar econo -Lodge and dropped off my doggie bag from dinner. Along the way home a fellow named "Justen" accompanied us asking me if I needed my hair cut. Apparently he gave great hair cuts! He learned barbering in jail!. I asked him what he went to jail for and he replied that he went to jail for possession of an unregistered hand gun. ( Apparently the gun was bought off the street and had a record with its characteristic shell cases) He said that he was on the good road to recovery from crime and only needed a couple of bucks for the night. I saw the liquor bottle in his back pocket and went along with his story and bored him to death with welding terminology and he eventually walked off.

After dropping off the doggie bag from supper at Oceania back at the hotel, Julie and I headed back to Bourbon street to catch some blues and some jazz. It was pretty awesome. Every other place had a live band playing .....and this was on a Monday night!
We decided to call it an evening after discovering that sitting was not really that relaxing after a long day riding on a motorcycle for 900km. We sauntered back to the hotel along with another fellow going our way talking with his southern drawl about the price of the latest "Nike Air Force One" and how over priced it is on Bourbon street compared to the Mall.

All in all it was an epic day in every way. I can't wait until morning to see what this place looks like in the daylight as we rode in under the cover of darkness into the city of neon and lights.
Perhaps we'll get up early and stroll around before check out time and the long drive across Texas tomorrow.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Day 4

Quesidilla Countdown

Gas: 12 gallons @2.50/gallon

Food: 15 bucks

lodging: 40 bucks

Today's total 85 bucks

Total Km ~650km

We awoke in Stuarts Draft Virginia this morning to a bright shining sun. Right away we pulled into a fuel station to fill up. I had no idea that a Zip Code is required to purchase fuel at most highway side gas stops. Alas we pulled out of there and into a smaller town where they accept good ole cash with no identification required.

As we headed out Julie pointed out a hot air balloonist soaring above the Blue Ridge Mountains. We took a minute to look, and then began our southbound travel. We were descending, and I saw in the valley below, what is known as a temperature inversion. We pierced into a cloud and began getting soaking wet as the saturated wet air from fog penetrated our riding gear.

I looked at the map and saw a road heading east and turned at the up coming exit toward the Blue Ridge Mountain Parkway. Here we ascended far above the clouds and looked down at the valley below submerged in clouds from the several peaks along the way to Roanoke Virginia where we could reconnect onto the major highway I-81 again.

From then on it was hard core motoring along with thousands of transport trucks. The oncoming highway was at a stand still due to an accident that shut off 1 of the 3 lanes of traffic. After a few minutes I decided to clock the KM's and see how far the traffic jam would go on for. To my supirse it was nearly 13km of built up bumper to bumper gridlock.

We finally decided to call it a day in the Town of Cleveland Tennessee. As promised I headed out in search of an authentic quesidilla. I happened upon "Las Margaritas" I went in and ordered a Chicken Quesidilla to go. I was excited because the people there said audious when I left. I knew this was already a good quesidilla. I opened the bag and looked in and dissected the contents to get a feel about what I was about to eat. Just then....Julie dove in and sliced apart the perfectly folded and presented dish and began scarfing it down telling me that it wasn't as good as the last place. Well I took no notice and just looking at the chicken...... ragged big bits of what looked like baked chicken ...rather than thinly sliced chicken breast... I knew it was going to be good.

I'd say that it was the best so far. 5 bucks and authentic..can't beat it

If we make it to Louisiana tomorrow I'll try Crawdads instead of quesidillas but stay tuned for the final tally of the quesidilla quest.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Virginia Slims

Well folks we're writing two blogs in the same day due to the fact that our flea bag hotel didn't have Internet last night. Did Greg describe it to you? All I'm going to say is that there was a hole in the bathroom floor and Greg wore his flip flops in the shower. That's right, our first flip flop shower and it's in New Jersey!

An early start this morning as it wasn't cold and we didn't feel like hanging out in the flea bag hotel room for longer than we needed to.
We were all packed up and on the road at ten to eight. Greg will want me to mention at this point that he checked the oil level and noticed that we had none so first thing we drove around the lazy town of Hightstown looking for a gas station. None found but we did find a garage where they filled up a very small jug of oil for us for $2. Crisis averted. He will also want me to mention that we stopped at a Harley Davidson dealership and bought some expensive Harley Davidson oil for our klr 650. He made me take a picture of him there.

From New Jersey we roamed around a bit looking for the right highway because we were actually supposed to take the I81 yesterday after we left NYC which we didn't do. So we had to cut it west towards Pennsylvania. We eventually found the correct highway which happened to be a state turnpike and ended up costing us $10.95 in tolls! It's expensive to drive in Pennsylvania. Oh and don't bother joking with the dudes who work in the toll booths. They don't have a sense of humor. Greg tried it.

It didn't really rain all day but we were pretty wet due to the wet roads and the giant transports constantly passing us. We navigated our way through Pennsylvania and into Maryland and then West Virginia and finally Virginia! Then, all of a sudden it was summer! The clouds parted and the sun was shining! Off came the rain gear (which I thank my mom for making me buy 2 days before we left) and on went the sunglasses! Did it ever feel good! So here we are at the Days Inn at truck stop central in somewhere near Stuarts Draft Virginia. tomorrow...Tennessee here we come!

The Big Apple

Nov 13 2009.

We Left Portland Maine this morning at 09:30 in the freezing cold heading straight for the storm front known as the "Atlantic Assault".

It still hasn't sunk in yet that Julie and I are on vacation. We get up at roughly 6:00 Am for some reason, and talk in bed until its light. Then we run through a methodical pack up procedure.

It begins with me heading out to the bike for a pre-trip inspection, ...oil leaks, spoke tightness, brake fluid level, oil level, chain slackness, nuts and bolts...ETC. Julie packs up the gear that we unpacked in the room and by the time I'm done outside, Julie comes out with the bags that I load onto the bike.

As we left Maine the winds began gusting quite strongly. We were motoring along and I began noticing that we were becoming increasingly engulfed in traffic. The 4 lane highway became a 6 lane highway and the density of the population was such that, black lines began to form down the center of each lane (oil drops), the right lane (where the trucks drive) was the worst.

We crossed onto a new climate in Massachusetts. Leafs from oaks and maples were just now dropping from the tree's from the powerful wind gusts and were whirling around in the air at about helmet level and getting caught in the radiator as the rumble of traffic trundled along to their respective destinations.

Off to our right I thought I saw a couple of crows flying, however, Julie knowing how much I love helicopters tugged my right shoulder and pointed to 3 Black Hawk helicopters heading north adjacent to the highway, it was cool.

Suddenly we encountered grid lock. Yup, we were now close to NY City and about to cross over the George Washington Bridge. Off to the Left we saw the Empire State Building towering over the whole city. What an awesome building. KING KONG BIG.

Despite the economic turn down here in the US, people have not given up their pimped out rides. I'd say that 50% or better of the cars on the road are BMW, VOLVO, & LEXUS among the rest of the cars are new SUBARU's, FORD'S (EXCURSIONS) and LINCOLN's.

All the confusion lead me to miss a turn off and completely blow through a toll booth in the EZ-PASS lane. That ended up costing me in the end as the toll booth person charged me the full toll road amount when I finally exited the highway...DOH!

Nonetheless we ended up in Hightstown just into New Jersey.

Here we shacked up in a flea bag of a Hotel, at a luxury price. Smelled like curry and armpits.

We went to the Tavern on The Lake and I had my Quesidilla. The second of the trip! I'm sampling the Quesidilla's along the way down and determining whether or not the Mexican food gets better as we get further south. So far the its getting better. Joan was our server and made sure that her Quesidilla made 1st place.

We went back to the Flea bag to the sound of screaming, laughing and crying kids behind the paper walls. We didn't care though, we were tired and I figured that it was just something that I'd have to get used to sometime in the future if Julie ever gets her way.

We closed our eyes and went to sleep only wondering what was in store for tomorrow.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Radar Reckoning

We're in America!

We crossed the border with little problems what so ever. The border guard was very inquisitive asking me where I was going and the purpose of my stay in the US. I replied that I was motorcycling to Mexico and would be returning sometime in March. He started grinning and straight up asked me how much money I had on me right then and there. The next question was how much money I had in the bank. I answered the questions truthfully and then whamo...he asked what my license plate number was........I was lost for words and couldn't remember. Anyhow he looked and and continued on with questioning. At this point I realised he was asking personal interest questions and being talkative. He wished us good luck and we continued onward.

Crossing at Calais we rode the airline to Portland Maine and grabbed a room at the travelers lodge $ 50.00 bucks. We've been scared ever since turning on the TV and being advised of the "ATLANTIC ASSAULT" Houses are being swept into the ocean all along the coast and heavy rains are expected as hurricane Ida makes land fall in Virginia.

Oh well, I looked on "" and checked out the radar satellite and have determined that the periphery of the storm stretches to New York and we can cut west by 200 miles and avoid the weather. Modern technology is awesome.

The bike is running fine and has 300 km to go before the new rings I installed are fully broken in. I have to make an adjustment to the headlight angle as the added weight has the high beam pointing to the sky. Other than that the ole gal seems to be running fine.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dawn of Departure

I awoke early this morning and got down to business mounting the panniers and going through some packing lists to ensure that I didn't forget anything. The tools that I have packed are accounting for the greatest amount of weight. The bike is sagging under the mass of sockets, wrenches, screwdrivers, various sizes of bolts, nuts, pliers, cutters, zip ties, wire cutters, wire, electrical connectors, fuses, ETC.

Julie arrived from Fredericton this afternoon after visiting with her family and friends. I could tell that she was excited in the way that she was being needy and demanding. Her anxiousness did not go unnoticed, however, I maintained my composure and stayed focused on the task at hand getting the bike ready and giving her little jobs to help with, like putting reflective stickers from DOT on the bike.

After looking after the goods on the bike it was on to the soft goods. I managed to stuff 3 pairs of underwear, 4 pairs of socks, 4 t-shirts and 2 pair of pants and some toiletry supplies into a dry bag and julie packed the she says.. The bike will be heavily loaded to say the least but I'm certain that I'll be smooth sailing.

We're literally setting out in a race against the weather and we have a small unseasonably warm window that we're going to take advantage of and gun-it for Louisiana over the next 4 days.
I printed the maps off google maps and photocopied a pile of documents including, Passport, Immunizations, Birth certificate, Drivers license, ETC for Mexico and other Central American countries.

It hasn't dawned on me that we're leaving tomorrow morning...and I guess it won't until I begin to see changes in my environment like tree species and of course...Southern Grits.

Is everything Tight?

Saint John Harbor "home port"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Motor JABB

It was 3 degree's Celsius and I was too excited about my electric jacket and gloves to accept the fact that it was farking freezing out. Nonetheless, I hit the starter button on the beloved machine (1992 Kawasaki KLR 650) and it was time to break in the newly rebuilt cylinder.

I should mention that this was the second attempt of a break in. A week prior to this I rebuilt the engine and to my anguish I was enveloped into plume of choking smoke. Alas the engine was to be re-torn down ....this time in the living room of the house (to offset darkness and cold). Little Zorrow came to the door on Halloween and said "yo!'s it going?" I was expecting "Trick Or Treat" but in the end it was he that was the more surprised looking at a partially torn down motorcycle propped up on a stand in the living room surrounded with torque wrenches and socket sets scattered all round in no particular order.

That afternoon, I was just about ready to head out but.... living up to my red-neck demeanor, I decided that rather than take off my boots just to take a leak indoors, which was way to much bother, I'd pee in the back yard. I was peeing freely on the lawn when I heard footsteps in the crushed gravel driveway. I heard "I'm sorry".. I whipped it back in and turned round to see 2 finely dressed gentlemen with a bible. I asked them to pray for me and they wasted no time trying to convert a heathen like me and didn't even offer me their bible. It didn't matter though I had one from the last time that they were over.

I took off toward Moncton in a Zig-Zag fashion, to Hampton, Sussex and then decided to cut over Fundy National Park. Here I encountered ice and snow covered roads. Too stubborn to turn back I slowed down and navigated the 2 foot wide patch of pavement between the wheel ruts for more than 20 kilometers some parts fully iced over.

The bike ran fine and I made it to Moncton ... teeth chattering but proud that the machine made it in perfect working order. I have 400km more to ride before the break in process, Phase one, is complete and I can drive faster than 80km/hr Yee-haw

Preparation Anticipation

It was finally time to actually embark on a southbound Moto-ride saddled up on a $500 machine that I salvaged from behind a friends barn. I recruited Julie to be the co-pilot on this adventure and navigate while I sing songs of joy inside my helmet visor.

In preparation it has taken several hundred hours of modifying and customizing the cockpit which has included, Larger gas tank, Highway Pegs, Custom Saddle, Saddle Panniers, Taller windshield, New heavy duty clutch, and finally a rebuild of the cylinder and piston rings.

This Preparation has in fact been a motorcycle maintenance course and I've learned the intricacies of this motorcycle in anticipation of this trip to Central and South America.