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Back to work...April, 2016

It's been 2 years exactly that I began my furlough from United Airlines. And 18, since I started my career as a flight attendant.

The time has come, like it or not...back to work!

I accomplished a lot during those 24 month. Moved to Bangkok for a short time to see how "living' in Thailand actually feels opposed to "visiting". While there, planned my motorcycle journey to Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, set off on that six month adventure only to find out that I had to return to work 3 month later. I made it to Panama City, Panama, turned around and arrived back in the Bay Area November 01, 2014.

While awaiting my December 1st return-to-work deadline, I "squeezed in" a short desert ride, the LA-Barstow-Vegas rally, which would delay my return to work by another 15 month.

Bad thing, I ended up in the hospital with a broken Tibia, surgery, cast, rehab etc. Sold my 2003 BMW GSA "Big Bertha" for close to what I bought her for. Bikeless for now...

Good thing, I recuperated from my injury in San Mateo, Roatan, Baja and Portugal. In addition, I decided to purchase a 2006 Ford F-350 and a new 37 ft. travel trailer, which I picked up personally in Michigan. Financially, it was well worth the 3000 mile roundtrip.

 Happy Camper

Happy Camper

 

So, here I am...almost back to work. A short 3 day refresher training in Denver, and hopefully a series of good international trips for my May flying schedule to "bolster" my wallet after a 2 year dry spell. 

Long-term goals? Staying healthy...traveling lots...and setting my sights high on soon completing my journey to the end of the world! Very soon...

 

 

The latest, but not the greatest - December , 2014

Roughly a week ago, on a crisp and sunny morning in the Southern California Mojave desert, Big Bertha decided to go down, taking me with her. Hard! I was half a day in to 2 day ride from Palmdale to Las Vegas, when I turned left from paved onto gravel. No big deal. The road went uphill and swooped to the left. Dust. Low visibility. Low speed. Nothing unusual for this kind of ride. Then, all I felt was my rear tire loosing traction. No time to think, no time to react. Suddenly, the bike and I were on the ground...I couldn't move. 

The excruciating pain from my lower left leg shooting in to my brain was hard to swallow. I knew right then, at least one bone had to be in pieces. Boxer Engine vs. Tibia. No match!

This was later confirmed at the ER, Spiral Fracture left Tibia. Surgery on Tuesday followed. Metal plate, 20 screws. Surgeon and Anesthesiologist were cool. Chatted about bikes and cars during the entire surgery. Or was it before?

Man, i really can't remember...

 

Barstow - Vegas 2014

After being home now for a week, I am itching to get some dirt under my tires again. Quickly.

And low and behold, there is an annual event taking place called:  Barstow to Vegas.

Date: November 28-29, 2014.

This event is an off-road Rally for motorcycles, small to big, organized by AMA District 37, starting in Palmdale, CA to Barstow (Day 1), and Barstow to Vegas (Day 2). Rider can sign up for Day 1, Day 2 or both days.

Info and registrations: http://www.labarstowvegas.com/

I remember doing Day 2 only back when I lived in LA in the late '80's. I had a 1987 Kawasaki KLR 650 then, and it was a lot of fun. The terrain with rocks and sand was very challenging then, and I expect it to be challenging again. The turnout will be tremendous according to the attendee list. It'll be great!

Now, over 25 years later, I am back for the event. This time, I am doing BOTH days. AND, riding to Palmdale and then home from Vegas, on a much heavier bike. I know, it'll be freezing cold in the mornings, but I am ready another adventure!

Ready...to getting dirty again!

Crazyridesouth - Final stretch

After 60 days, almost 12000 miles, 15 border crossings, visiting 8 countries, numerous police and military checkpoints, only one ticket (!), 1 flat tire, one broken spoke, 2 oil changes, 1 set of tires, 1 change of brake pads, 400 gallons of Super Unleaded, just as much water raining down on me,  zero injuries, zero violence, laid Big Bertha gently on her side 5 times, 1x camping, the rest in hotels and Love Motels, and crossing path with a bunch of people, who were super friendly and helped me along the way...I finally arrived back where my journey began... in the Bay Area.

 Rain drops falling on my cam...

Rain drops falling on my cam...

The last week of riding was rather uneventful. Well, except, I rode through a road block in Mexico caused by protesters who didn't want to let anybody pass, but didn't realize, I was an adventure rider kind of guy, and not a sissy on a 125 cc Honda. They had laid rocks and sticks across a well traveled stretch of road. Trucks and busses had lined up for about a mile on both sides. I rode to the front of the line and inquired about the reason for the hold-up. Some political thing. Ok, I support your cause. I am a tourist. Can I pass? No! How long? 1 hour, at least. Yeah, ok...whatever.

 Pardon me...amigos.

Pardon me...amigos.

I got on my bike, started the engine and rode (safely) through the barrier without attracting too much attention. Well, a little bit of attention. My bike was able to handle that, after all the speed bumps and adventure riding, I had done. Nobody was harmed in this maneuver. I just hate waiting. By the time they'd realized what had happened, I was long gone. That's all.

The ride up the Gulf Coast of Mexico was done quickly, nothing special. I overnighted in an ocean town Boca del Rio, Veracruz and a small dusty town, Soto la Marina. A pavement pounding trip, really. The weather was actually holding up nicely. Ever since I crossed from Guatemala in to Mexico, no rain. It was awesome to stay dry for a change. That was the best part. NO RAIN!

Finally, time to cross the US border at Matamoros/Brownsville, TX. Easy. No problems.  In Brownsville, I decided an oil change was due before riding the last 3k to California. I found a motorcycle shop, Borderline Customs, a small outfit right off the freeway. Perfect. Shouldn't take too long. They're only changing my oil. I supplied the filter. How bad can it be?

GOPR1199.JPG
 Gulf Coast Mexico

Gulf Coast Mexico

They did my oil change alright, but in the process bent my kickstand to a point, where it wouldn't support my bike any longer. No idea, what technique they used to bend a steel kickstand, but when I returned to the shop to get Big B., I found the stand disfigured and the bike on its center stand. The boss didn't admit any wrongdoing. After some welding work, I was back on the road. 4 hours later. The sun soon set, and I had to look for a place to sleep.

That was a nice warm welcome, I hadn't expected. Another country, another adventure...

Four days later, I reached Las Vegas. Couple of days chillin' in the desert heat with a cold drink by the pool and unwinding from 2 month of adventure riding. Yeah, my kind of relaxing...

My wife flew in to join me and then, after a few days of Vegas fun, we headed home...on Big B. No problem. It was tight, but that turned out to be somewhat of a good thing.

I had planned a route which would take us through Death Valley, Hwy 395 to 120 crossing the Sierras over the Tioga Pass. Because, it had snowed the night before, ALL mountain passes through Yosemite were closed. The tighter, the warmer.

 It's only snow...

It's only snow...

20141103_103715.jpg

In fact, we got so cold at 8000 ft elevation once the sun had set,  we stayed at a lodge in Lee Vining, before heading north the next morning and crossing over taking Hwy 88. The freezing cold was bone chilling. 25 F when we left the lodge, and it didn't warm up much until reaching Hwy 88. Hands and feet frozen, we crossed the sierras, snow to both sides of us with blue skies above. Picturesque. Then, reaching lower elevation with warmer temps at Jackson, felt....ahhhhh, sooo nice.

Great feeling being back home sleeping in my own bed! The next few days will be busy. Cleaning bike, washing clothes, and getting my taste buds used to my kind of food again.

Oh yes, and re-fueling my bike for the second chapter of Crazyridesouth...to Tierra del Fuego!

Thank you for reading and supporting me throughout the first part of this journey.

See you again on the road! Very soon...,


Siquirres, Costa Rica - Rivas, Nicaragua (Border crossing)

October 20, 2014

 Red line shows the 4 hour shortcut from San Carlos border checkpoint to Hwy 4.

Red line shows the 4 hour shortcut from San Carlos border checkpoint to Hwy 4.


Haah, was I wrong. It actually got...worse. Way worse. Beyond my wildest imaginations. I'll try to keep this short, but some details, I cannot leave out.

After Siquirres, my aim is the border to Nicaragua. I figure, I leave early, arrive at the border early, and get a nice long day of riding in, deep into Nicaragua. Only thing, like at the border from Panama in to Costa Rica, I wanted to avoid taking the same route, I had taken going south. Different border, different scenery ...different faces.

So, instead of crossing the border from Costa Rica in to Nicaragua at Pena Blanca, I'll try the border further north, at Los Chiles. An internet search tells me, the border is open Mon- Tues, 8-noon. Today is Monday, I am early. Let's go...

It's a 4 hour ride. I ride up a fairly well maintained road with potholes, when suddenly, the road is blocked off with a yellow cable. Then a fence. To the left, a guard shack with a uniformed guy. I pull up to the shack. I look at the guard in disbelieve. 'No crossing???", I ask. "No vehicolos", he says. Shit!!!! They only allow foot traffic through that border. The internet didn't make mention of that. Ok, now what? I need a splash...of water.

 Only border crossings on foot at Los Chiles...is this legal, I wonder?

Only border crossings on foot at Los Chiles...is this legal, I wonder?

 If MY horse can't go, yours can't go...

If MY horse can't go, yours can't go...

There are two guys, one of them around my age, the other one younger. They are waving somebody good-bye, who just crossed in to Nicaragua. I talk to them about my predicament.

"There is a boat that crosses on river in to Nicaragua. They can take you and your bike. It leaves from the next town." They drive ahead, I follow. The town is close, we stop at a small building that houses Customs and Immigration. The older of the two, his name is Chacon, also is going on the boat to Nicaragua. Something to do with having a passport take the boat, not having a passport, cross by foot. I can't figured out those rules. Frankly, I don't give a damn at this point...

The ticket lady, wearing hat and sun dress, sitting on a lawn chair and picnic table with a sun umbrella in front of Immigration, tells me, the fare for me and my bike is US$ 74.00. I say ok, ready to hand her the money, because I want to get on that boat.

 Chacon (on right) is buying ticket from ticket lady (not fully pictured)

Chacon (on right) is buying ticket from ticket lady (not fully pictured)

But first things first. I have to meet with the Customs official. He asks me for a paper, Import Permit, or something. I hand him a document. Wrong one. "You need THIS form." He pulls a sample out of his desk drawer and shows it to me. Don't have it. Was never given one. "Where do I get it?" "Panama!" Not very friendly, this dude. "You have to go back to Panama.", he says. Now he makes jokes! I feel slightly insulted.

 The Aduana office in Los Chiles is heavily guarded...wonder why.

The Aduana office in Los Chiles is heavily guarded...wonder why.

Nope, no joke. He wouldn't process my bike check-out out of Costa Rica, until I produce that...magic piece of paper. And that would mean, according to him, I would have to ride a full day, most likey two with overnight, back to the Panama/Costa Rica border. I don't feel comfortable with that...at all. In other words, Bullshit!

I approach him again. "Can you help me with this?", ready to offer him a "tip". "No", he says, turns around and walks toward the river. "You should've walk right into the river, and sink. Asshole!", I am thinking to myself slightly annoyed.

There is NO way in hell, I am going to ride back to Panama. And I am not. Instead, I am riding to Pena Blanca, my original border crossing. Chacon explains a short cut to me. I would not have found it otherwise. It definitely saves me milage, but I don't think, it saves me time. For the most part, it's dirt and gravel, many potholes, uphill, downhill...on a road that doesn't seem to end. Easy does it. But, I am awake and alert. It helps keep the rubber down.  Oh yes, how can I forget, it starts to rain about half way through the bumpy trip. Would be odd, if I'd arrive at a border dry for once.

I can tell, Chacon, feels bad for me and hands me his phone number, before he walks onto the boat. " In case, you'll need some assistance with translations." I appreciate that! Thanks for your mental support, Chacon. It somewhat eases the pain.

I arrive at Pena Blance border crossing from Costa Rica to Nicaragua after another 4 hour ride.

The usual, Aduana and Immigration to check out of CR, then Aduana and Customs to check in to Nic. It's sounds easy, but there's more to it. There is fumigation ($3), there is now a health check ($2), there's is an exit fee. And on the other side, more paperwork, more waiting, more fees, double checking passport and exit documents. Redundancy...??? Big time!!!

But here's the kicker. I give Mr. Aduana my paperwork (the one the asshole said was the wrong one). I hold my breath. He processes everything like...normal. No, "where is this form" or "this is the wrong form" or "you have to go back to Panama. WTF!!! . I can't believe it!!

I must be dreaming. Forgotten is the extra 4 hour ride to Pena Blanca. Forgotten is the fact that I rode many miles today, but barely covered any ground.

Man, I must've had a smile on my face from one ear to the other. Imagine...I would've ridden back to the Panamanian border, only to be told, "There is no other form needed."

I think, I would've punched somebody...