Russell's Motorcycle Trip to Mexico And Beyond


Thursday, October 16, 2003

Has it really been a week since I last published a blog?

I had that funny feeling again yesterday while riding the moto through LA. I was just leaving the San Fernando Valley on highway 101 north and was flying down a hill at 70 mph or so. The front tire was bouncing heavily although steering seemed fine. I traveled about 2 miles this way (long hill). Then, at the bottom of the hill the steering got heavy and I started to think, Crap, I'm going to get another flat tire and wreck! Yep, the tire went flat, the steering went away and I was loosing control, at 70mph or so on a busy southern California highway.

I put out both rudders (boots) to stabilize myself as much as possible and it worked. I was able to keep my balance and slow down quickly. As I was regaining a small amount of control, I looked in the rear view mirror and saw a monster SUV weaving back and forth. I think the SUV had seen that I was having problems and was actually 'blocking' three lanes of traffic by wildly weaving back and forth. (Either that or they had panicked and thats how the guy drives when he is panicked). Once under control I turned my blinker on and made for the right hand side of the road. The same SUV was trailing behind me and was continuing to block traffic for me lane after lane until I made it to the side of the road.

No more than 200 meters ahead there was a cll box, and since I had never used one, I figured this would be a great time to try the service. I motored ahead and stopped with the moto leaning against the call box. (At this point, there was no way to balance the moto on the stand, the flat front tire and lots of gear strapped to the moto prevented this action).

I lifted the phone and moments later the California Highway Patrol answered. After a few questions, they said they would send a tow truck. We loaded the moto onto the truck and only had to travel about 5 miles to a Suzuki dealer. We got to the dealer around 4pm and the dealer said 'no problem'. 55 minutes later I was motoring out of their parking lot and heading for the freeway again. The tow - $125, a new tube for the front wheel - $80, not wrecking at 70 mph on a busy California freeway - priceless.

I am now rounding the corner and heading for home. A big part of me wants to just keep riding and adventuring. I have had so much fun this trip that it is just hard to imagine stopping when I have more time and money to spend. I have only been traveling for 7 months, 6 months south of the border, but time is different when you travel, or rather travel for long periods. Time becomes unimportant as does the day of the week and the month of the year.

As a trip comes to an end, however, time has a way of reentering ones life. I cant wait for time to disappear again, I wonder where I will go for my next adventure? And how long it will take me to start that trip?
posted by Russell 8:28 AM

Thursday, October 09, 2003

Mondays ride was long and ... boring. Texas is flat and once you have4 passed the first few hours, everything looks exactly the same. Around 4.30 pm I decided to stop in Abilene for the night. Another good day consisting of 6 hours of riding.

Tuesday was not much different except for the stop for a new tire. I had just entered into some town and saw a moto shop. They didnt have a tire for me but directed me to a shop on the other end of town and on the freeway I wanted to take. I got to the shop and they didnt have the correct tire for my moto, but did have one that would work. I headed off to lunch and they changed the tire. Total time of 1 hour and cost of 150$, about 50$ more than I paid for the same tire and mounting in Costa Rica.

I was happy to pay since the tire was getting bald and a little thin in spots. And as I said before, this close to the end of the ride I just dont want to take the chance of sliding out on a corner and wrecking (again). The tire mounted and my stomache full, I set about the task of riding again. About 3 hours later I crossed into New Mexico and after another hour I made it to Santa Rosa NM just in time for some heavy rain and night fall. I checked into a motel 6, bought some excellent chinese food.

Maybe I didnt make a big enough deal of my skinnier body, but in the week I have been in the states, I think I gained some of the weight back, maybe 10 pounds of it. I would have to say it was the 3 meals a day, 3 american sized meals. I am going to have to stop this over eating thing soon, else by the time I get home I will fit into my old 42 waist again. More on size later.

Wednesday morning I was up and on the road at 5 am and pulled into Santa Fe around 8am. I stopped for a cup of coffee and a muffin and was talking to Leon at 9am as planned.

It was great to see Leon again. And his wife Judy was both beautiful and polite to (almost) a fault. We had a great morning talking about our travels and sharing stories. Then Leon and I went for a walk around downtown Santa Fe. We must have looked into 30 different art galleries. I havent been overwhelmed by great (and very expensive) art in a long time. I also enjoyed seeing the old hotels and the pueblo styling of the buildings in town. We picked up Judy and went to lunch. We went to lunch at a tasty mexican (american mexican) restaurant and had a great meal of flat green chile enchaladas and margaritas.

After lunch we dropped Judy off at the house then Leon and I motored (in his car) into the hills around the city. He happily showed me the aspen groves in all of their color changing glory. Back at the house, Leon and Judy continued with their great conversation skills telling me about some of their travels. All too soon night fell and I found myself weaking up at 6 am to start coffee this morning. We shared another great meal together and parted ways. I hope to see them and Billy and Kay again sometime.

The road to Taos was a great ride. The willows were changing colors, a river paralleled the road, and the views were breathtaking. The only letdown was the condition fo the road. It was under reconstruction and most of the road was slow going. No problem, just more looking around time.

I find myself here in Taos just waiting for my friends to get hold of me to tell me where they live. No problem, I am in no hurry.

Back to that size thing. Part of my weight loss is due to my eating habits while traveling. The other part has to do with the number of times Ive had the revenge. When traveling in Mexico and central america I was rarely overeating. Typically I would have a small meal once or twice per day and ate a lot of veggies and fruits and would often just eat a bread item and 2 bottles of gatorade for the whole day.

Now, back in the states, most meal portions are ... american sized ... That means very large portions and since I was eating 2 or 3 complete meals per day, I was quickly gaining back those hard lost pounds. And to top it off, the people I have been visiting have been forcing me to drink margaritas and other alcoholic beverages.

While I do not mind this weight loss, yesterday I decided to be a little concerned at HOW the weight has been lost. I think I have had way too many days of diarrhea especially lately. Well, here goes the regiment of Cipro, lets hope this kills the bad stuff I have worked so hard to collect over the last 6 months! Once this problem is cured, I think I will have to start an exercise program. Afterall, I do want to get to that 180lb weight that the government thinks a 5 ft 10 inch man should weigh.

Its 5.30pm local time and I am hungry. I think I will go have a cheese fry, oversized greasy meal with piles of chips or bread! You know, the average american meal at a restaurant that I was just complaining about.
posted by Russell 4:32 PM

It seems to have been a few days since I last posted to this blog. About 8 days I think.

Oct 2 I awoke thinking I would head out to the Fort Worth area and drop off a gift to Billy. A few minutes out and the moto had a little problem, but right now, I cannot remember what that problem was, just that it stalled me in Georgetown until almost noon. I got hold of Billy on the phone and he suggested that I come up and stay overnight with him and his wife Kay. And on my way I went.

Around 3 hours later I arrived at Billys office in Fort Worth. We spent about 1 hour talking about our travels and having a great time. We decided that I needed a pair of pants. My 2 pair of quick dry shorts are well worn at this point and dont look good enough to wear out to dinner.

On the way to WalMart, we stopped by his wifes bank. The primary purpose was for us to see a new employee at the bank, a woman who was supposed to be very attractive. Well, she had already gone for the day but I did get to meat Billys wife Kay. Nice woman.

When we got to WalMart, my day became very excellent. I grabbed 2 pair of pants, one 36 and one 38 waist. When I left home I was wearing 42 waist and the idea of fitting into much smaller pants made my eyes light up. I put the 36 on and to my further happiness, they were large for me! Yes!!! I wore the pants to the register and out the door. I havenet worn 36 waist for at least 15 years.

Billy and I went back to pick up the moto than I followed him to his ... ranch ... just outside of town. He has a large property with a big house (and 2 very friendly dogs). They showed me the room I was to sleep in and hoped that it would be ok. I outlined for Kay some fo the places I have slept in the last 6 months and she understood how great the room was for me.

Next, I gave them a gift of 4 tumbler glasses and Chivas Regal and we all had a drink before heading out to dinner. After dinner he came back to the house and sat on the patio and talked about travels. What a great day, Thanks Kay and Billy!

Friday morning I was back on the road to Georgetown and made the ride in just under 3 hours. When I got to Georgetown I went to visit the Inner Space Caverns. These caverns were found when a highway crew was drilling many decades ago looking to determine the stability of the area under a proposed freeway. Well, the found a cave system and the freeway was ultimately build right over the caves. At 13.50$ they were a little pricy, but they were in good condition and had some good formations. After the caves I did my laundry, washed the moto and made an early night of it.

Saturday morning around 10am I showed up at Mark and Rene Stennetts house. A nice size property with a great house. Mark has done well over the last 20 years since I saw him last. Rene looked great, the kids (10 and 14 yo) seemed happy healthy and intelligent. Us adults palled around and talked about what has happened in the last 20 years since seeing each other again.

Sunday morning Mark and I decided to go sailing on his 14 foot boat. We had a great time sailing and drinking beer and talking over old times. It is obvious that Mark likes sailing and does not get out enough on his little boat. He had a great time and did not seem to want to stop sailing even when the weather threatened rain.

All too soon, and as with many other people and places on this trip, the evening came and it was time for me to go. Off I rode into the rain wondering when we all might see each other again.

Monday, Tuesday and Wed morning were spent riding to Santa Fe, NM. Monday I got started late, Tuesday I stopped for a new rear tire, and Wed was just a couple of hours riding. Yes, the rear tire was bald again and although I wanted to make it home without spending for a new tire, I decided that sliding corners or a rear blowout was just a risk that I didnt want so close to the end of the trip.

I am at the public library in Taos, NM and am out of inet time. Wed and Thurs activities with Judy and Leon next blog.
posted by Russell 12:30 PM

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

Looks like I wont make it to NOrleans this trip. Too bad because I wanted to eat some crawfish and spend some time with some other travelers that I met during my trip. Maybe another adventure moto tour is in the works. This time a camping trip through the states and canada. Its either that or I have to get a job. I know that I have a better chance of getting a professional job in my industry than seeing pink elephants fly but ...

Where exactly do you find public internet access in the states? Every public library in the states! Now, where do you find public libraries? Every town of any size has them. The point is that I was able to find public (pay) inet access all over europe and mexico and central america, but finding public internet access in the states is difficult. Even if the public library offers free access, I would rather walk down mainstreet and find that easy access where I would pay 1$ or 2$ per hour. I can see that there is a business opportunity in the higher touristed places for internet cafes.

After a long hard ride yesterday from Laredo, I found myself about 2 hours west of Houston. I stopped for gas for the moto and also filled my tank with a butterfinger and a gatorade - watermellon flavor. When I tried to start the moto again, I found I had no power from the electrical system.

After cleaning a few switches I was able to get the moto started again. The Mr Scientist in me decided to turn off the moto and see if the problem repeated itself. Well, I again found electrical system to not function. I reworked the switches again and boom, the moto started again. I repeated the problem a few times with the same results.

I looked at a few maps and determined NOrleans to be another 7 hours away. That would mean no partying for me last night, since I would be arriving at 11 PM, or would have to finish the trip today, Wednesday. Either way it would have meant that I would get one evening, maybe 2, eating and drinking in the big easy before turning around and coming back to Georgetown for the weekend. And with an continuous electrical problem with the moto? Nope, I would rather spend the time finding a permanent fix for the moto problem. It would have been almost 22 hours round trip to drive from Georgetown to NOrleans and back. I am either getting to old or just too tired. I will stay around Austin, fix the moto and get a few other things done.

On the good news side, this morning I did a great job of rebuilding the starter safety switch and the electrical problem seems to have disappeared completely.

Also on the good new side, I can find a laundrymat today where I can wash my clothing (Yea!). I can also mail some stuff back home so I dont have to carry it anymore. And, I can go to a book store and get a new book (to fill up the space left by sending stuff back home). And I can go buy Texas gifts to replace those that got pinched the other day in Mexico so that I can further fill the space left by the stuff I sent home.

Yes, after 6.5 months of travel I finally had stuff stolen. There I was in a small town in Mexico thinking everything and the whole world was just fine due to my proximity to the states. I had bungied a bag of gifts to the top of the moto that morning and had ventured onward. After a while I stopped and went inside a restaurant to eat. I looked out the window to see someone stealing the bag. They must have seen me see them because they immediately bolted with just the one bag and not my main bag or sidebags. Why couldnt I have put my dirtly laundry in that top bag?
posted by Russell 11:47 AM

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