Wednesday, December 30, 2009

All over but the crying!

Well, Christmas is now over and it's on to other things.
We had a wonderful Christmas, with lots of great food and good times. Brad flew in from Victoria and Pam and the kids and Anne joined us for Christmas eve and Christmas dinner.
Here's wishing all our friends and family a healthy and prosperous 2010!

But.............NOW, we can turn our minds to more important things, motorcycling!!

We leave for Veracruz in just over six weeks and things are starting to fall into place. Through the marvel of modern technology and the magic of the Internet I was able to buy my Mexican motorcycle insurance and out-of-country medical insurance all online, all from the comfort of home. Likewise, even the Mexican Govt has jumped on the Internet bandwagon. You have to understand; crossing personally into Mexico is easy, whether by plane or bus. All you need is a quick stamp in your passport and a simple tourist visa and you're on your way. But.......taking a vehicle into Mexico is another matter. Now it's not immigration you're dealing with, it's Customs. It's still relatively easy but certainly not painless. There's LOT's of paperwork, stamps, fees and a LONG lineup at the border if it's a busy time. Or........you can just log onto the new Mexican Govt website and fill out everything online, pay with your visa and wham, bam, thank you ma'am, you're on your way! FedEx delivers all your import documents directly to your door ten days later - you scan your drivers license, passport and vehicle registration along with a letter promising to ensure your vehicle leaves the country within a specified time period and you're done. When you show up at the border you still have to get your visa and passport stamped but it's in a separate (MUCH faster) line and you just drive on through. Gotta love it!

And of course, no Mexico motorcycle trip would be complete without some new kit. I was well behaved at the Seattle motorcycle show so I don't feel too guilty;
http://www.cycleluggage.com/shad-sh46-top-case.html
http://www.bestrestproducts.com/c-98-beadbrakr.aspx

And of course my poor Dad in Apache Junction now has to play the part of shipping receiver and accept delivery of all my spur of the moment purchases. Every time I order something I promise him it's the last time......and then inevitably I follow up with something else....thanks Dad!

Well that's it for now - lots of planning still to do. It'll be close to 6,000 klm return and this time we're determined that Rosi will have a better time than last year!
Cheers

Monday, December 14, 2009

Seattle Motorcycle Show


We drove down to Seattle on the weekend to attend the motorcycle show. Some great bikes to try on for size and some good deals on accessories!

And Priceline came through once again! We received a screaming good deal on our hotel in Seattle, and an even better deal at the Marriot in Vancouver the next night. I highly recommend Priceline the next time you're trying to book a hotel.













Thursday, December 10, 2009

Find Me Spot!

Hi All
Not much new to report - pretty much same ol, same ol.
I completed my assignment in Lillooet and did a quick turnaround and headed right back out to Ashcroft. I was there for a week conducting another audit and then back home to catch up on paperwork, complete a project and present a webinar on-line to approx 20 participants.

Tomorrow Rosi and I are heading down to Seattle to go to their big motorcycle show. Brad is joining us and from there we'll head up to David's and Terry's for their annual Christmas party. A good time is sure to be had by all - and my credit card will undoubtedly get a good work out at the show. Rosi and I both need new helmets ( OK she needs one and I just want one - but hey, a want is pretty close to a need, right?) and I'm always looking for new gadgets for the bike. It should be fun.

One interesting thing I just bought though, is the SPOT GPS tracker. It's VERY cool!
http://www.findmespot.ca/en/
We originally saw one of these at the Horizon's rally in Nakusp and I've wanted one ever since. It's basically a one-way GPS communications device. You sign up for their annual service and then you can pre-program up to ten separate e-mail addresses into your account. Every time you press the button it sends a pre-formatted e-mail to your contact list letting them know you're alive and well, plus it gives your GPS co-ordinates and links them to an embedded Google map that plots your course as you travel. Rosi and I will be on the Road in Mexico pretty soon when we go to Veracruz and this will allow friends to follow along. It also has another cool feature - if you press the SOS button it sends a signal to a monitoring centre in Houston. They then can get in touch with the authorities in over 200 countries and dispatch help directly to your GPS co-ordinates. And if they don't have access to the authorities in the particular country you're in they'll immediately get in touch with your Consulate or Embassy to solicit their assistance. If Search and Rescue is necessary they'll pay up to $100,000 to cover this expense as part of their insurance program.
It's probably overkill for just Mexico but I'll be on some pretty remote roads this summer because I'm riding to Colorado and I'm still planning on a South American trip in the near future and this will give Rosi a degree of comfort while I'm away on the road.

Well that's it for now
Cheers

Monday, November 23, 2009

Greetings from Lillooet

Greetings from Lillooet.

I'm over here for the full week conducting an audit. The drive over was absolutely beautiful. It's been years and years since I came down on the No 1 through the Fraser Canyon, and I forgot how scenic it is. The last time I came this way was probably back in the early eighties when we lived in Salmon Arm the first time - and even that probably stopped in '86 after they opened the first stretch of the Coquihalla.
Anyway, it's a pretty little town but no pictures I'm afraid, because I didn't bring a camera.

I'll be working during the day conducting an audit and each evening I'll have to spend a few hours marking some assignments and logging into the net because I'm an online tutor for a group of 21 adult learners taking a credit course from various locations across the country.
Apparently it's true, there's no rest for the wicked.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Quick trip south

This is after the fact but earlier this month I did a quick four-day run down to Apache Junction to put my bike in storage down there. Brad and I left here on a Friday morning and rode approx 2,800 klm via Death Valley and the Grand Canyon before arriving at my dads place in AJ. It was an interesting trip but exhausting. We did long miles during the day and I had to do quite a bit of work each evening online because I have several projects on the go. The scenery in Death Valley and the GC were well worth it though. I've attached a slide show of my Picassa Album into my blog. Just click on the small picture and it'll take you to the album. Brad and I both took hundreds of pictures but I took pity on Picassa and only downloaded a few as a sample.
video

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm back!

Hello all. After a six month absence due to technical glitches I've fired up my old blog. I tried Facebook for the first time, and it was great, but I'm afraid it's too much work to try to stay on top of all the virtual "friends" you meet. I also tried maintaining a Blog geared towards my business.....training tips etc., .....but again, I didn't stay on top of it and it soon became dated. I'm now pulling it because I think it's better to have nothing at all rather than something done poorly. Instead, I'll be revamping my website early in the new year to make it more interactive, which should accomplish the same thing.

Rosi and I will use this blog again to maintain an "electronic diary" so friends and family can follow along if they want as we continue life's journey. And speaking of which, the journey so far this year has been pretty amazing. With the help of some great support and training for new entrepreneurs through Community Futures I've been able to develop my business in new and exciting ways and so far it's been the best decision I ever could have made. I'm busier and working harder than I ever did in when I worked at the credit union but it's far more rewarding and I love being my own boss. The only challenge is learning when to "turn it off." Answering business e-mail at 6:00 in the morning probably isn't the best habit to get into. Oh well, it goes with the territory I guess. ;-)

Anyway, nothing new or earth shattering to report - just a brief note say we're alive and well and the journey continues!

Friday, May 29, 2009

If you're aware it's happening, is it still a mid-life crisis?

I'm back home today after some of the most incredible riding I've done yet.

I had a business meeting scheduled in Trail for 11:00 on Thursday and with the great weather forecast I decided to ride. I debated on what to wear - mesh gear because of the forecast of 28 degrees or my regular gear because it was still cool in the morning. I compromised by wearing my regular jacket and taking both sets of pants.

When I left at 7:30 I was wearing my normal over pants and closed the vents on my jacket - and I'm glad I did. It was still cool - around 12 degrees - and didn't get any warmer once I started to climb out of Osoyoos. Riding was the best decision I could have made; Hwy 3 is Nirvana for riders and early on a week-day in late May it's just this side of Heaven; beautiful crystal clear blue sky, no traffic to speak of and the road stretching to the horizon in front of me as if God Himself (Herself?) only had me in mind when he laid down some of the best riding this country has. It's not a coincidence that this stretch of road is so popular with riders of every genre.

I made great time and soon passed through the Boundary and headed on the the Blueberry-Paulson, and it's at that point that my decision to forgo mesh gear paid off. At the top of the two summits, the Paulson and Nancy Green, there was still snow on the sides of the road and it was decidedly chilly. Now, some of this may have been due to the spirited nature of my approach to riding that morning. There's just something about clear sky's, no traffic and ZZ Top on the headset that tends to make me "push it" a little. In this case I was averaging 140 (indicated - not actual, because my speedo is about 10% optimistic) and I made VERY good time on my journey. I arrived in Trail at 10:30. 310 klm in 3 hours, including stops for gas and a coffee - I SO love this bike. Although, a nice sport-touring bike would be a nice upgrade - I'll just have to make sure I get a good radar detector!

And to those of you that don't ride and question the wisdom of this - it's not as risky or dangerous as it sounds. On a clear day with no traffic and good conditions my bike sticks to the road like glue and I'm more in the moment - and more in tune with my surroundings - than the best day ever of driving a car. I don't take unnecessary risks and I never ride without full gear - and darn it, it's just SO much fun!

When I left Trail at 1:00 I swapped over my regular pants for my mesh gear, this time over my dockers and I opened all the vents on my jacket. I carried on east on Hwy 3 which took me over the Salmo-Creston and yet another high pass, Kootenay, which again was cool, still had snow on the side of the road and if anything, was even better than the first half. Coming back down the other side though, it really started to warm up so I stopped at a rest stop and peeled off my dockers and rode with just my mesh pants and I changed my shirt for a synthetic T and headed out.

From Creston, I swung south into the US, stopped for a great milkshake in the picturesque and historic town of Boners Ferry, before finally calling it a day at 5:00 in Sandpoint Idaho.

The next morning I had a breakfast in the quintessential American small town restaurant;, huge servings, friendly service and a waitress that could only have been named Flo - served to patrons that were all either named Hon, Sweetheart, or Watchahav'n - I'm a Hon, go figure.

I continued south to Coeur d' Alene and Post Falls where I spent a couple of hours at a large full-line Suzuki dealer. I wanted to have my chain and sprockets checked and it turned out they needed to be replaced so I waited and drooled over their inventory while they did the work for me right then and there.

I pulled out of Post Falls after 11:00 and here's where I made my best decision yet. It's funny how simple things can be. We can zig or we can zag. Left or right. North or South. In my case, it all came down to a thin black line. I could have gone west to Spokane and then followed our regular route through Coulee Dam and on to home. It's safe, I'm familiar with it and I would have been home in just over four hours......and it's the direction I was first going to take.... all but for a thin black line.......... in this case, Hwy 41 due north out of Post Falls. The road less travelled. The call of the unknown. Destiny.

41 is fairly busy for the first 25 klm and still well used, just less so, for the next 25. It's close enough to Spokane and Coeur d' Alene that it's within commuting distance and the small towns and farms are like little bedroom communities for the larger centre. But, the further you go the less this becomes until eventually it's just you and the road. No traffic - at all. Great riding, fantastic weather and a spirited aggressive approach to each new twist and turn. It just doesn't get any better - actually is does (did?) - I just didn't know it was coming at the time.

I continued north on 41 which becomes 20 at Newport and then headed North West to the junction at Tiger where I hung a left to head west to Colville. And it's here that things took a turn - a turn for the better if that's possible. I laid on the throttle and hunkered down for the best riding I've ever had: 150 on the straight aways, 120 on the sweepers and a cheek clenching, sphincter puckering, peg dragging, whatever the road will bear, on the twists, turns and hairpins of the National Forrest Scenic Parkway - God Bless America! Or their road builders anyway :-)

This eventually spit me out at Kettle Falls Wash, where I had a weird sense of convergence between reality and the virtual world. At the junction of highways 30 and 395 you can either continue west to Republic or go north to Christina Lake. There's a big sign and a road-side restaurant and I SWORE, I'd been there before. It was such a powerful sense of Deja Vu I actually had to pull over. I'd never been there before and yet I HAD. I couldn't explain it but I knew - I'd been at this very spot sometime before. And then it hit me - I had, but in a virtual world, not the real one.

If you use Google Maps to plot out a course you'll see that they've somehow taken pictures of just about the entire United States. I don't know how they did it but at every junction, cross road and address you can click on an icon and see a 360 degree view of that spot. Try it - it's amazing. Or weird and WAY too much like Big Brother, depending on your perspective. In my case, I'd viewed this route on a map and had seen this spot before - but in Google's world, not mine. So now we have the Internet interjecting a sense of deja vu into our reality. Is it just me or has it gone a little too far? Hmmmm. Food for thought if nothing else.

So, back to the trip - I continued on, again at speeds that would make any Mountie weep, but on a deserted highway that appeared to be laid down for nothing else but my use and enjoyment and it hit me. I was liking this WAY too much. Work shmerk, I was born to ride! With Northern Idaho out of the way there's now Montana, and the four Corners, and and and.........

And so my question, is it still a mid-life crisis if you're aware it's happening? Hard to say, but in the interim I'm having more fun than an adult should be allowed. And I'm loving it!

I arrived home yesterday evening at 6:00 after a 1,100 klms. Tired, sweaty and glad to be back. Rosi is more accommodating and patient than I deserve and still supporting me after all these years.

Yes, life is good

Cheers

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A few more pictures for the last post







If it was easy, everyone would do it!











I'm back safe and sound after yet another great ride. Although this one was much better in some respects, but much harder in others, than my last ride.

First, the bike. I sold my Goldwing last Thursday. I always wanted to try one, and it was a great old bike, but it just wasn't for me. Not yet anyway. The guy the bought it was from Salmo and said the same thing. He tried a Goldwing when he was in his 50's and it just wasn't his cup of tea. Now that he's in his 60's he's going to try again. Hmmm... maybe there's a Goldwing in my future........

Anyway, I made the last trip on my trusty VStrom. It's a GREAT bike but it doesn't have anywhere near the wind protection of a Goldwing, even an older one, so in some stretches I froze.

I left home last Wednesday and rode to Vancouver to attend a conference on Thursday. I rode over the Hope-Princeton because there was fresh snow on the Coquehalla. Usually, the no. 3 is much better, and it was, but no such luck on avoiding snow. I had snow coming down for at least 40 minutes through Manning Park. It didn't stick to the roads but it was absolutely freezing!

Memo to self: Install heated grips and buy MUCH better boots if you're going to keep up this kind of riding!

Kevan came over to Vancouver on Thursday evening. He met up with a group of adventure riders he'd "met" on the HUBB and after my conference and dinner I joined them for beer at the Keg on Granville Island. There were four guys but my absolute hero was a gentleman from the UK. He's somewhere well past 60 and he's riding his adventure motorcycle across Canada and up to Alaska before heading down to South America. And this after previous trips across Europe and Africa. See, there's hope for the rest of us after all. Except after meeting guys like this I feel soooo inadequate!
Riding - Day 1 - 413 klm

On Friday morning Kevan and I, with heads that were more than a little fuzzy, hit the road at the crack of 8:45. And here I have to give KUDOS and a big thanks to my Sweety. I forgot my passport at home but she was able to courier it overnight to me at the hotel so we were still able to head south as planned.

It was a non-eventful and relatively easy trip out of Vancouver and across the border to the US ( thankfully, with a passport) and down I-5 until we exited onto a smaller parallel secondary road which took us over the bridge to Whidby Island, through Oak Harbour and on to the Port
Townsend Ferry. The morning started out gray and overcast but by the time we were into the US it cleared up and we had sunny skies but it was pretty cool all day. From Port Townsend we stayed on 101 and rode across the top of the Olympic Peninsula to Port Angeles and on to Forks. Forks is a small logging town that reminded me of a larger version of Oroville. It's a small friendly place and its claim to fame is it's the setting for the "Twilight" series of books.We had a gut bomb Mexican dinner, tried the local tavern ( scary! - we left without finishing our beer) and played a few hands of cards before calling it an early evening.
Riding - Day 2 - 363 klm

Yesterday was one of my best riding days yet - ever! We rolled out of Forks at 6:45 and the first two hours were incredible. The road heads south along the west coast of the peninsula and it's like riding along the beach of Long Beach on the Island - for two solid hours. The views are breathtaking! The road alternatively hugs the shoreline or climbs to reveal sweeping vistas from wind torn bluffs overlooking breakers that started their journey's in Japan. And the weather was great. We started in heavy fog, that persisted in sections for all two hours, but in most places as it burned off it revealed rays of sunshine filtering through heavy first growth forest that warmed our backs, and our riding souls, as we rode on deserted roads all to ourselves heading south.

We stopped in Aberdeen for a Micky Dee's breakfast and had a great chat with a retired 60+ year old guy riding a fantastic brand new BMW GS. I was sooooo jealous. By now it was full-on beautiful sunshine - still cool but nice for riding. We followed 12 east to Shelton and then took the 101 north all along the west shore of the Hood Canal. It was slow going because of heavy week-end traffic but it was a great ride. It was just like riding the Old Island Hwy except it hugged the shore and you had views of the water the whole way. It eventually spit us out back at Port Townsend to catch the Ferry and the Washington State Ferry God's were shining down on us because we were the last two vehicles loaded onto the 12:45 Ferry back to Whidby Island.

We were back to the Mainland sooner than we originally thought so there was no point spending another night on the road. We stopped for gas and a sandwich and took a good half hour to stretch our legs, and at 2:30 we parted company in Oak Harbour and headed home. At Burlington Kevan turned north to catch the Ferry back to the island and I kept going east on 20 to head over the North Cascade Hwy to Twisp and then home. I had sunshine at my back for most of the way. There were storm clouds over my shoulder at one point, and a few spits of rain, but I lucked out and beat it. At the top it was heavy overcast and REALLY cold, but only bitterly so for a half hour and once I started dropping back down it wasn't too bad. I pushed through until Omak, where I stopped for gas and a burger and then I headed north on familiar roads. The border crossing was smooth as silk and I eventually pulled into my driveway at 9:00, which makes it just over 14 hours.

I told Kevan that my particular riding "style" is to ride. I don't do a lot of sight seeing along the way. Instead of 6 hours days with stops to see the sights etc I prefer a twelve hour day - usually riding in a "spirited" manner - and then a day off. It's not every one's cup of tea but to each their own, eh? But 14 hours? That's pushing it. Except.............. I had a grin from ear to ear when I arrived home. I was tired, sore and road weary...but - I loved it!
Riding - Day 3 - 884 klm
Total Ride - 1,660 klm.

Thanks;
DnT for a great dinner on Wed evening
Sweety for allowing me to indulge my new found passion and for not saying nasty things when I needed my passport couriered out
BUFF for being a great buddy and riding partner. I couldn't ask for a better best friend!
Cheers everyone






Sunday, April 26, 2009

Another great ride!




I'm back safe and sound after a great four-day ride to the coast. It was a little chilly going down and back over the passes but once there it was clear and sunny. I left around 11:30 on Thursday and rode to over the Hope-Princeton Hwy to stay at friends in Maple Ridge. A good time was had by all and it was great to reconnect with friends I hadn't seen in way too long. From there I left early on Friday morning to catch the Langdale Ferry out of Horseshoe Bay to make my way up the Sunshine Coast to Powell River, where I had a meeting with rep's from the local Credit Union. After the meeting I caught the 5:30 Ferry to Comox and ended up at Paul's in Nanoose where I spent the night. Again, a pub dinner, lots of red wine and sipping Tequila and I had a REALLY good sleep.
Saturday started with Paul and I and his friend meeting Kevan for brunch in Nanaimo at a small family restaurant Kevan recommended that was fantastic! Home of VERY large portions. Afterwards Paul went on and Kevan and I spent a few hours riding to a couple of different bike shops to check things out before ending up at his place late in the afternoon. He and the kids had a family due to go to so I rode down to Duncan and met Brad for dinner. Another huge meal - hmmmm, a pattern perhaps.... before riding back to Kevan's to play some cards and sip some wine before another great sleep. It's amazing how a few hours on a motorcycle will improve your sleep patterns.

Today I left early and caught the 8:30 Ferry and rode back over the Coquihalla because the forecast was for no snow. It was pretty cold at the top, and there were a few rain drops, but by the time I came down on this side it was warm enough that I had to take off a layer to stay comfortable.

I finally rolled into home at 3:30; four days and 1,350 klm later.
Muy Bueno!






Tuesday, April 14, 2009

At long last, after a winter that just wouldn't seem to end, spring has finally arrived! It's been a long time coming. All indications are that we're at least two weeks and maybe three, behind where we should be in the growing season and it's still cold and blustery if a storm comes through. Yesterday I was outside washing the car and it hailed for a half hour and f or a few minutes it even looked like it wanted to snow!

With spring comes some excitement; Rosi leaves this afternoon to start her trip. She's driving up to Vernon with Tami and tomorrow they fly down to Phoenix for two weeks at Apache Junction at my dad's. Enjoy your trip ladies!

Ward hit the road yesterday and should make it home to Osoyoos later tomorrow evening. I'm going to drive down and meet him in Oroville so that there's no hassle when he crosses the border and I'll help him unload in Osoyoos. I'm then getting a ride back down on Sunday to drive it back. I'm taking it in for some scheduled maintenance next Tuesday and after that, WooHoo! It'll be good to go. I'm looking forward to getting some great riding in this season.

And speaking of riding, I'm now officially a "WingNut" (It's Rosi's term, not mine) I joined the local chapter of the Gold Wing Road Riders Association and this Saturday I'm driving up to Kelowna for my first breakfast meeting and group ride down to Tonasket. For those of you wondering what it's like to join a Goldwing group vs. riding with Harley owners, take a look at the following link; http://home.att.net/~pdmo/Humorfour.htm I'm not yet old enough to join but because I like Dairy Queen so much they made an exception.

Let's see, what else is new? I'm presenting my first on-line webinar this week so finally, I'll be officially be earning some income again. I'm heading down to the Island in two weeks and, knock on wood, as long as the weather is decent I'll ride. I'm going to spend the night at Dean and Leanne's in Maple Ridge and then ride up through the Sunshine Coast because I have a business meeting at First Credit Union in Powell River. From there I'll take the Ferry over to Comox and ride down to Nanoose to spend the night at Paul's. Let's hope the old Wing makes it!

That's it for now
Cheers

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Settling Down

Well, it's been a month since I left work and things are settling down a bit. Rosi is still very much missing her mum, and each day brings new memories and new challenges, but she's dealing with her grief as best she can and life unfortunately, moves on.

As I mentioned in my last post; Tami, bless her heart, has offered to take Rosi to Phoenix with her next month. The tickets are now purchased and they leave in less than three weeks. Rosi is really looking forward to it!

I'm afraid I was a little premature in my plans to fly down myself and ride my bike back. It sounded like a very cool, exciting thing to do when I first thought of it but a little reality is now setting in. I've already paid Ward to bring it back so it doesn't make a lot of sense to spend another $1,000 flying down and riding back just for "fun." Plus, I just know I'll get two days into a five day trip by myself and wonder what the hell was I thinking. And besides, if I'm going to spend five days on the bike I'd just as soon do it with Rosi and ride down the Oregon Coast as blast straight through from Phoenix to Summerland. So this time pragmatism is outweighing dreaming and I've passed on that particular idea.

Now some positive news; things are starting to move forward with my consulting business. I had some very positive meetings in Vancouver a couple weeks ago and I have my first teaching contract lined up for April. It's just three two-hour sessions over the Internet but it's a start. It's for a company that does training for the credit union system nationally so it could work into a semi-regular position teaching throughout the western provinces. The company will have a booth at a trade show in May that's part of a large credit union conference in Vancouver and they've asked me to join them. They know I have a lot of contacts in the credit union system and having me at their booth will be a good way to leverage my experience to earn trust in the system and hopefully drum up some business. They're paying my way down so there's no downside for me and it could end up being a great partnership.

And always one to look for the positive, it's a great opportunity to ride my motorcycle! My bike will be back from the US - or I may take the Goldwing, I haven't decided - and I can ride down. The dress is business casual so dockers will be OK, which is good because taking a suit on a bike is a huge PIA. After the conference Kevan and I may hook up and ride our bikes down to Washington State. Maybe a loop through the Olympic Peninsula or as far south as the Oregon border. He's riding to Alaska in June with Karen so it'll be a good shake down cruise for his new bike. See, I don't want to go, but I have to because I can't let Kevan down. :-)

Other than that it's same ol same ol. Like everyone else we're waiting for some decent spring weather so we can get out and work in the yard. It's not too bad - around 8 degree's - but still below seasonal temp's and at least two weeks behind where we should be.

Cheers
Dale

Saturday, March 7, 2009

New Beginings

It's been a VERY busy last few weeks. There were highs lows and lots of everything else in-between.

We had the memorial service for Rosi's mum almost three weeks ago and it was lovely. It was standing room only and a very fitting tribute to her life and accomplishments. A service is hugely emotional at the best of times but I sometimes think doubly so when it's your mother. Rosi is still struggling with her grief and is doing as well as can be expected. Each day is a new one and we move on.

As friends and family know, I've been working on a diploma in adult education for quite some time. I've often thought about starting down a new career path as a trainer and consultant but the time just never seemed right, especially with the recent economic downturn. This said though, there's never a right time. Rosi and I discussed it and we decided I'd give it a try. My fear is if I don't try now I may never. And, at the end of the day, it's the things we didn't do that we regret, not the things we did.

I returned to work on Monday, Feb 23rd and gave my notice that I was leaving in two months to start a new career. As is often the case with senior management though, the credit union didn't necessarily want someone hanging around who was obviously focused on something else. Particularly since other credit unions will be my primary marketing focus - so they released me immediately. It was a bit of a shock - OK, a huge shock - and it couldn't have come at a worse time, because of the other stresses due to Rosi's mum's passing, but whatever is meant to be will be. I'm now on my own as a training and development consultant, madly working the phone to develop contacts and drum up business. I have a few meetings already lined up and I have a really good feeling about where this might lead. In the interim I've joined the ranks of the self-employed and now control my own destiny. Which is double-speak for saying I now work 60 hours a week for half pay - but so far I'm loving it!

For tax reasons we formed the new company as a partnership. Say hello to DEXCO Training Consultants. The website is still under construction but I now have a business e-mail and the fax machine should be up and running in a few days. My business e-mail is dale@dexcotraining.com and the company website is http://www.dexcotraining.com/

One thing that's looking good since I now have more flexibility is I'm leaning towards flying back to Phoenix and riding my bike home. My sister Tami, one of the kindest and supportive women you'll ever meet, is taking Rosi on a two-week vacation back to Phoenix in April. Tami goes down every April and has enough airmiles to pay for her tickets as well as my other sister Sheri and Rosi. Oh boy! I can only imagine the goings on around the hot tub once those three crack open their first bottle of Corona or Red Wine! Rosi needs it though. Our vacation was cut short and it's been a crappy time for her since.

As for me, as long as I can get some work lined up before I go I'll take few days and complete the ride home. I'll fly down on a Wed so I can have the Thu and Fri to complete all the necessary maintenance, and then hit the road on a Sunday morning to avoid the freeway commuter traffic on a Monday. Looking at a map, I can do the ride in five easy days, which will put me home on a Thur night. And by late April (knock on wood) I shouldn't have any issues with snow. It'll be chilly again, but this time I'll have my other gear, which is designed specifically for cold weather riding, so I'll be fine.

That's it for now. I'm a co-executor on Rosi's mum's will and there are seven children and lots of grandchildren, all with an opinion of how things should be handled, the wills instructions notwithstanding. Stuart, her oldest son, is doing pretty much all the work and I'm just along for a second opinion and moral support, but it's still a huge commitment. And no matter how you try, someone isn't going to be satisfied. Oh well, broad shoulders.

Adios mi Amigos Y mi Familia

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Last Post ( About this trip, anyway)

Now that I'm back in Summerland I thought I'd address a couple of questions that just about everyone asks at one point or another;

Did I feel safe?
Yes! All the news reports aside, we didn't notice any more safety concerns than any time in the past. Right now in Vancouver the news reports a drug war or gang-related shooting every day - that doesn't mean all of Canada isn't safe. Likewise in Mexico. Yes, there are areas and unsavery characters to avoid, but my experience is no more than here, and in some respects a lot less. We've had no problems what-so-ever, in this trip or any of the others, and I'd recommend travel in the country without hesitation.

Was it safe to drive?
Yes! Ironically, in many ways I felt safer driving in Mexico that back here, or in the US when I crossed the border. For the most part the drivers in Mexico are better, more courteous and MUCH more aware than the zonered out, Ipod listening, cell phone talking drivers up here. On the freeways drivers stay in the right lane except to pass and in the cities all it takes is a look and a point to get traffic to open up to make room for you to move into a lane. Yes, in the cites it can sometimes look like chaos and anarchy, but it works for them and I'd suggest they're better drivers for it.

Were the hotels safe/clean/easy to find?
Yes, yes and sometimes.
Hotels are plentiful, clean, safe and inexpensive by our standards (but prices range greatly closer to the tourist hot spots) While every hotel we stayed at was spotlessly clean though, bed quality can differ greatly. For <$50 there's not a pillow top mattress to be found! As for easy to find, in some ways the guide book was a hindrance rather than a help. By this I mean we often found a hotel in our Lonely Planet and then spent time and energy trying to find it. If we didn't have the book we probably would just have grabbed the first decent looking place and had less hassle. One tip for riders; especially if you're looking for a specific hotel - follow a cab. When we arrived into Zihuatanejo we had a reservation that was going to allow us to check in at 9:00am and we were REALLY pressed for time because Rosi had to get to the airport. Nerves were frayed and we hit the town at rush hour and we didn't have any luck finding our place. On the contrary, all we did was get lost and ended up in the market area with narrow roads and LOT's of people. Rosi came to the rescue - she flagged over a cab and asked for directions to the hotel we were looking for. Half way through his Spanish directions she just held up her hand to stop him and said for him to lead and we'd follow. He took us right there in less than 10 minutes. Total cab fare; $2.00 Can - WELL worth it and food for thought for next time. I hope some of this helps. Anyway, thanks for following along. This'll be it for a month or so. My bike is now in Phoenix and Ward will be bringing it back at the end of April. I haven't entirely ruled out flying down and riding it back though, but I won't decide for quite a while yet. I'm hoping to get the Goldwing out of storage towards the end of March and we'd like to do a ride to Wenatchee in late March or early April to give it a good run. Rosi really likes riding and does well - and we need to replace our lost rain gear so a US trip will be in the cards fairly early in the year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Safe and Sound in Apache Junction

I left Navajoa this morning at 7:15 at a chilly 4 degree's. I made VERY good time ( no speed limit on the Autopista!) and I was at the border around 3:00. Clearing out of Mexico was quick and painless and the line up to get into the US wasn't too bad either so it was only 4:00 when I pulled into Nogales US and I figured what, the heck, I might as well go all the way.

I eventually pulled into Apache Junction just after full dark, right around 7:00. So, 11 1/2 hours and 900 klm later I'm here. Almost 3,000 Mexican kilometers in four days - not too shabby.

I'll make arrangements to store the bike tomorrow and book my flight and I should be home in Summerland by Thursday night.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Navajoa

I couldn't sleep so I left Tepic at 5:30 and made it here (Navojoa) at 3:30; 10 hours / 865 klm = not a bad day. I could have gone on but the next city is an hour away and is larger than here, which may mean a harder time finding a hotel in city traffic. Navojoa is easy to get around and there was a good hotel right on the main highway so discretion played the better part of valour this time around.

When I hit the road this morning there was still an hour of full darkness and I discovered that my low-beam doesn't work - although it worked fine on Friday morning and I'm too tired and lazy to start looking at replacement lights etc., this close to home. The truckers will just have to live with it tomorrow.

Based on mileage it's time to clean and lube my chain again (hard to believe it's been >1,500 klm in two days) but I did it well in Cuyautlan and it's been clean highway riding so I'm going to leave it until Phoenix. Likewise, the tension probably needs adjustment too. It's not horrendously out of whack, just looser than when I started, but it can wait a day. The other maintenance issue is the front tire. I had the bike completely checked over before I left and the tire easily had another 5,000 - 6,000 klm left but the sustained speeds I'm keeping have accelerated the wear. Again, I'm sure it'll last but it wouldn't want to trust it on rough or wet roads.

If I push it hard again I think I can make it back to Apache Junction tomorrow. It' close to 900 klm but I did almost that much today. The two variables are the number of army checkpoints , which are increasing, and the time to cross the US border. I'll go to Nogalas on the US side for sure, but if it's any tine after 3:00 when I get there I may call it a day and go the rest of the way on Wed.

I'm making great time and all things being equal the bike is holding up remarkably well. Any of the http://www.sport-touring.net/ crowd that my be reading this and still maintain that the 650 VStrom isn't a capable sport-touring bike, can kiss my .............................Suzuki

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Tepic

I'm pushig hard and made it to Tepic today and think I can reach Culiacan or Los Mochis tomorrow. That may put me back at Phoenix by Tue or Wed.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Day 12 & 13

The ride to Zihuatanejo and 400 long hard klm to Cuyuatlan

Yesterday was almost surreal. We were in such a lovely spot and Playa Azul was starting to grow on us. The day at the beach was great and the room and hotel were very nice. But, it wasn’t meant to be.

We both had a very poor night because of all the things running through our minds. Rosi was terribly sad and incredibly lonely because she couldn’t be with her family when she so desperately needed to be. She felt the frustration of being literally thousands of kilometres from home and there was nothing she could do.

I felt the weight of not being able to just pick up a phone and make things right. I so very much wanted to be able to give her everything she needed but no magic wand was going to make the phones work or the airport closer. But, with LOT’s of help from Brad we were able to make the necessary arrangements and all there was left to do on Thursday night was wait.

Neither of us got more than 30 minutes sleep at a time and we were up before the alarm had a chance to ring at 5:15. We debated leaving on Thursday but we needed to stay put while we made flight arrangements etc but then, on Friday we had to hustle in order to make it to Zihuatanejo for Rosi’s flight. We were up packed and out the door by 6:00. The problem of course, is in this part of Mexico it doesn’t become daylight until 7:00. And the iron clad rule of don’t drive at night means just as much at dawn as it does in the middle of the night.

It made for a VERY interesting ride. Interesting in a holy crap, this is REALLY scary kind of way. It was PITCH black as we took the back road to Lazaras Cardenus and from there we dodged the morning buses full of commuters, still in the dark, until we finally hooked back up with Hwy 200 South heading to Zihuatanejo. All the time watching the seconds count down as we desperately tried to make our way south in time to find our hotel so Rosi could shower and reshuffle/repack all her gear for the flight. We made it but nerves were more than a little frayed and it was significantly less than the Norman Rockwell farewell at the airport moment one would hope for under the circumstances.

All ended well though. Rosi cleared security and disappeared from view at 11:00 to catch her 12:00 flight. I talked to her at Dads around 8:00 and she and all her luggage made it just fine. As I type this she’s on the second leg of her journey and she should arrive into Kelowna 5:30 local time. I can only hope and pray that it’s on time.

Now it gets weird. My entries are no longer “we“, it’s now “I“ Not something either of us wanted and definitely not something I like.

I‘m a big believer in “whatever floats your boat..” It’s a big wonderful world and it takes all kinds to make it go around but I’m afraid I just don’t see the appeal to solo travel. Maybe it speaks more to me. Am I so shallow I can’t be by myself? I don’t know the answer but I do know that I’m a social animal. After 25 + years of being joined at the hip I desperately missed Rosi only ten minutes into her being gone. I’m such a suck! And, as the day wore on, rather than exploring the various sights and sounds that Zihuatanejo had to offer I found that all the bars, restaurants and people having fun just drove home the point that I was alone.

I did meet two very cool guys at the bar around the corner from the Hotel. Ramon, from Mexico and Rod, an ex-pat American, both time-share salesman. We had a great conversation about bikes (what else?)and the economy and it was good to connect with someone.

I’m now sitting in the sidewalk café/restaurant of the Hotel Fenix in the very quaint town of Cuyuatlan. It was long hot hard 400 klm/eight hour day to get here but now that I’m here it’s lovely. It’s like a smaller, slightly more laid back version of Barra. There’s a small brown German Shepherd that may belong here or may be a stray, but he’s asleep at my feet, next to the cat on the chair beside me. I've already chatted up a Mexican father/son team about my bike, their bikes and the relative merits of a Suzuki vs a BMW. I SO like it here!

Rosi - you would love it. It’s definitely a “stay awhile” kind of place. The beach runs a very close second to Playa Azul but the town is cute, comfortable and welcoming. Very un-Playa Azul like.

Cat - if you’re reading this I owe you an apology. When you talked about this place before, I confused it with Ciuatlan. A dusty little commerce centre south of Barra - completely different than here.

I left Zihuat at 8:00 this morning and, despite having walked all over the day before, and having a good idea of the lay of the land, I still succumbed to a little of can’t get out of town, syndrome. Not much, but a little. Two wrong turns and u-turns later though I was winging my way northward.

And I mean winging. On my own I’m at least 250 pounds lighter. This ISN’T however, an indication of Rosi’s weight! She’s SIGNIFICANTLY less. But, you take her, all her riding gear, including boots and helmet, all her luggage, plus all the extra stuff I now know I don’t need that I sent home with her, and the bike is WAY lighter. Before, we were a strategic bomber, winging our way south in a sedate flight pattern while we carried a full load to be delivered with precision at each subsequent target. Now, I’m Red Flight Leader, in a sleek fighter jet, speeding north with flair and élan.’

Hey, it’s my fantasy. If you don’t like the analogy, write your own blog.

There is a definite difference though. I had to back off on the pre-load because I was so high I couldn’t steady the bike well enough. I could have left it but this is a good compromise and I now clear 99% of the Topes, as opposed to 90% before.

About an hour into the ride I had a bit of a moment. My speedo has three odometer settings. The first is just the regular odometer (which is really racking up the klm’s) The other two settings are for recording trip mileage. I use one to record each day and the other I’ve left to accumulate the trip so I can keep track of when the chain needs to be cleaned and lubed. This morning, as I was cycling between the three it hit me; I’m 3,000 kilometres into southern Mexico, alone and a LONG way from home. Just when Rosi needs me the absolute most I’m so very far away and I can’t do anything about it. Then, it hit me. Up until now, each early morning ride, the sun’s been right in our eyes. Especially the further south we came because we were heading East as much as South. It makes the first couple of hours tough and is just one more of the “adventures” in adventure travel. This morning though, I was heading west for the first time. The rising sun was over my shoulder. Instead of holding me back it was a familiar friend with a gentle hand pushing me onward. It whispered; go on, she’s waiting and she needs you at home; go on.

Right about then I must have gotten a bug or sand under my face shield because my eyes started to water. Apparently, tears, suntan lotion and blind corners do NOT mix.

I’m on my way, Sweetie, I’m on my way.

You know how sometimes you’ll drive a route the first time and think it’s long or hard but the next time it seems so much easier? Not this time. The first 50 or so klm north of Zihuat are fine but the next 200 are brutal. After enough sweeping vista’s it’s just another blind corner and just another sheer drop-off to the rocks below. And so on, ad infinitum….without end. No shoulder, no view points or look outs, not even the hint of a passing lane and a humidex to put Hades to shame.

Could I make good time? Maybe, but noooooo, this time I simply HAD to try the helmet cam and video camera I’ve drug all the way from home. It would have been SO cool! By mounting a lipstick cam on my helmet I could have recorded, not just the road, but all the views; you’d see what I see; the incredible coastline, the thousands of emerald green acres planted in banana tree‘s and the young soldiers at the check point that waived me through with high-fives and a thumbs up! But….I tested the set up when I bought the camera, I tested it before I came down, I even tested it in my room last night. But apparently, I didn’t test the freak’n 12V/110 inverter I bought from Canadian Tire!

The remote camera itself needs an independent AC power source so I bought an inverter to plug into the 12V outlet I have on the bike. No such luck. It doesn’t work! And I know it’s not the power outlet because I tested it with my 12V pump and it works fine. Tabernac!

GRRRRRRR!!!

I jury-rigged a setup by bungee cording my camera to the tank bag but it’s not the same. OK, but a fairly narrow field of view.

The other thing I remembered through this exercise is why I didn’t tape much last year, despite all the good intentions. It’s a HUGE PIA. Between messing around with all the gear and wires to set up and then break down the helmet cam - and then mess around with the bungee’s etc - plus stops along the way to check things out - I lost at least an hour and a half. I was determined though, and I think I got some great shots.

I did my best to take breaks to drink lots of water but it’s a difficult stretch to do this (right Sweetie?) so by 2:00 I HAD to stop for a while. I pulled into a hotel restaurant in San Juan and had a great Ceviche cocktail overlooking the ocean. The service was glacial but the view was to die for. I seriously considered calling it a day right then and there but I pushed on.

I hit the road at 3:00 and was SO looking forward to ending the nightmare that the ride had become. By now even my Monkey Butt had Monkey Butt! Hot Hot Hot and a never ending string of tight switchbacks and elevation changes. Followed by the even more sweltering, Colima coastal lowlands. Great for banana plantations but definitely where you want to be pool-side before 3:00!

Oh, how my tune has changed!

And then, as I approached Tecoman I heard it…..the name that needs no introduction….the name that is itself the siren song for Mexican riders….. can you hear it?
.........autopista…......autopista……AUTOPISTA!!

Oh, sweet mother of all things good! Oh, glorious Autopista! A black ribbon of loveliness that enfolds you in her arms and carries you onward; faster, safer, and ever closer to home.

I’m on my way Sweetie, I’m on my way…..

Cheers

Vikki and Wayne; I didn’t get a reply so I’m not sure if you got my e-mail. I’d love to see a familiar face and I’d really like to stop in to see you both. Are you going to be around? . Please send me an e-mail with the name of you complex again and the best way to get there. I’ll check my e-mail one more time tonight.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Day 11 - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

First the good;

Playa Azul, looks MUCH better after a good nights sleep. Yes, it’s still a VERY small and somewhat rundown and dishevelled little town but it has a certain charm in an almost Caribbean poverty stricken kind of way. But, oh my God, the beach! Yes, the beach is incredible. It’s really just an extension of the fantastic Michoacán beach we saw on the way down and here, in Play Azul, it‘s a 200 meter wide swath of fine white sand that goes on in both directions to the horizon. It’s HUGE! And, because it’s such a shallow slope, the waves break way out and then gently roll into shore in knee deep shallow water. It’s warm, clean, and fantastic for swimming - and taylor made for frolicking (if I was to do such a thing) Today we spent several hours swimming, soaking up the rays and drinking a few cerveca before heading back to the hotel for a cool off dip in the pool and a nap. And this evening we look like lobsters.

But…..that leads us to the bad…..
I fired up my e-mail just to check messages before my swim and nap and we received some bad news. We have a family emergency back home and we need to get back ASAP. With Brad’s help I was able to book Rosi a one-way flight out of Zihuatanejo tomorrow. We’ll head south out of here as early as possible, maybe even 30 minutes or so before full light, so that we can grab a room there and she can shower and re-organize our luggage off the bike before she flies out at 12:00. She’ll overnight in Phoenix and should be in Kelowna by 5:00 on Saturday.

The ugly….is me carrying on sans my co-pilot. We always wanted this trip to be our inaugural run two-up to test the waters so to speak. So far Rosi has been a real trooper. She’s been a great second set of eyes and has suffered the odd missed tope taken too fast with gritted teeth and a great attitude.

We were already making our map and timing plans to leave here in the morning and head inland to visit Uruapan. It’s only 2 ½ hours from here via the autopista and is supposed to be a beautiful colonial city. After that we were considering Lake Chapala and then dog legging back down to PV to visit family already staying there.

But it’s not to be - this time anyway. I’ll stay in Zihuatanejo for at least a day because by the time I see Rosi off it’ll be too late to hit the road + we’ll have checked into a hotel overnight. I’ll get some rest and stay out of the sun and start my way back north on Sunday.

It’s been approx six full days and two half days of riding to get here and I should be able to cut that down a little flying solo. My major decision will revolve around which route. Take the inland autopista route, which may be quicker and is patrolled by the Green Angels or backtrack up the coast on a route I’m familiar with and which has the greater chance of finding English spoken in each major centre? Hmmmmmm? Between now and 6:30 on Sunday I’ll have to decide.

Day 10 - Ride to Playa Azul

Yesterday, day 10, was another very tough day. Tough from the perspective of a long hard ride but a good day - a very good day - nonetheless. It was only 340 klm but on a twisty Mexican road, with more topes than you can count, it took us seven long hot hours.

Fist, we had a great night in the hotel in Colima. It’s surprising how a king size bed, colour cable TV, unlimited hot water and attentive staff that speak English will rejuvenate you when you need it. Rosi’s back, no thanks to the masseuse that received her training from the Marquis de Sade, (another story, that won’t get repeated here) is doing much better and we got away right around 8:00. Because the hotel staff speak fluent English we were able to get excellent and specific directions out of town and we had no problems.

Likewise the first 50 or so klm are on the Autopista to the coast and we made great time. But, apparently, the “can’t get out of a Mexican city” syndrome isn’t restricted to just the city you spend the night in. We took a wrong turn in the first city of size down the coast and ended up on a lovely scenic but pretty remote, secondary road heading out of town the wrong way. After 10 minutes or so I clued in it just wasn’t busy enough to be Hwy 200, the VERY friendly herd of goats notwithstanding, and the cute cow that came right up the fence to check out the lost Gringo’s. We turned around and went back into town and stopped for coffee and donuts (yes, again) and got several sets of conflicting directions until we settled on the two or three that matched the closest and headed out of town in the right direction.

The next 100 klm or so were great. Good roads, not much traffic and just enough topes to keep you on your toes. The only thing of note that happened on this stretch was when we crossed the Chiapas state line. We hit out first army road block. A full on, fairly serious affair. They directed us to the side, recorded our names, passport numbers and the bike registration on a form and asked us to remove all our luggage from the bike so they could inspect it. Rosi was convinced it was so they could go through our stuff and steal something (based on anther incident from a few years ago) so a bit of a Mexican stand off ensured. She refused to open more than one bag at a time and insisted on watching the process each time. It got a little funny, especially when the kid with the biggest tude couldn’t figure out how to open the roll top dry bags we use for some of our gear. We eventually got everything inspected and loaded back on the bike and headed south. This set us back easily a half hour though.


We then we hit the stretch that I remembered from last year. It’s 100+ klm of VERY tight turns, quick changes in elevation and never ending switchbacks and S turns. Last year - except for the truck that almost killed Kevan on a blind corner (which isn’t saying much because they’re ALL blind corners) - we were all grinning from ear-to-ear. It’s a riders dream. This year however, my bike weighed 300 pounds more and I was responsible for someone else so it added a whole new dimension.

But….very soon after you start this section the road hugs the Michoacan coast, which is some of the most beautiful coastline in Mexico. This is where Mexico meets the Mar de Sur - the southern ocean. Instead of facing due west like PV it now faces more south than west. It’s not quite the Caribbean but it’s definitely different. Without exaggerating, and trying not to be too cliché’, it’s fantastic. Literally hundreds of kilometres of untouched beach, turquoise blue ocean, crashing waves and rocky outcroppings, and all under a crystal clear blue sky.

If this is the price for several hours of hard riding it’s a fantastic bargain and well worth the price of admission!

This stretch comes to an end after a couple hours and settles into a final routine of go fast, go slow, scream because you didn’t see the tope until too late, and start again. Exhausting.

We arrived into Playa Azul around 3:00, soaking wet and literally wrung out. The temp and humidity in this area are both high and the exertion of this type of riding takes a toll. But….that’s no excuse for what happened next. We rolled up to the curb to get off the bike to check our guide book and I didn’t have it set up well enough on the side stand. If the road angle is just right it sometimes puts the bike at an angle that’s too upright for the side-stand to properly hold the bike. That’s what happened this time but I didn’t notice. I was halfway off when the bike fell away from me towards the low side.

OK, you say, this sometimes happens and bikes fall from time to time. Except, ROSI WAS STILL ON BOARD! Yikes!, my life flashed before my eyes. In nano-seconds I considered all the ramifications. Will she be hurt? Will she want to stop riding? But the one question I already knew the answer to - She’s going to be soooo pissed! She was.

All’s well that ends well though. Between the panniers both front and back that held the bike away from the road when it was on it’s side, her forethought to not try to jump away from the bike and instead hug it to protect her legs, and our motto of ATGATT, (all the gear all the time) she was fine. Pissed, but fine. The Mexicans that witnessed this little fiasco, including me having to pretend that 600 pounds of bike and gear isn’t too heavy to pick up in 38 degree’s, are still laughing their sombrero’s off.

She’s a trooper though and doesn't hold a grudge. She quickly shrugged it off and we got back on and headed off to find accommodation.

We're checked into a lovely hotel with a great pool, wifi, and a few channels of Englais on the TV. The town though, is Muy interesting. All the guidebooks describe an idyllic seaside village. I guess that’s accurate. In a scary, deserted, Stephen King could write a book here, kind of way. It’s a dusty, very quiet little place but you can see it must be rock’n on the week-ends when the large crowds of Mexican families arrive. So far we’ve seen maybe five other tourists but there are restaurants on the beach that might seat 100+ but are completely empty. Great for getting a table but a little spooky and surreal once the sun goes down.

Anyway, this morning is a new day. Sun, surf and cerveca while we decide what to do next.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Day 9 Colima

As I write this I’m sitting by the roof-top pool in the Best Western Hotel in very quaint Mexican city of Colima.

http://www.hotelceballos.com/english/index.asp

We got away around 8:00 this morning and it’s approx a 2 ½ hour run to Colima - 3 hours for us with a coffee, donut/gas stop to stretch our legs. We had no problems whatsoever and it was a beautiful day. Hot and sunny and divided highway for most of the way. I didn’t record the mileage before I parked but I think it was right around 175 klm from Barra to here.
We had no problems following the signs right into Centro and made our way easily to the Best Western. It’s a step up from where we usually stay when we’re on the road but Rosi deserves a pillow-top mattress and some luxury to break up the regular budget hotel routine. This place is amazing. In many respects it’s like a very upscale business class hotel anywhere but even in Vancouver, I can’t remember the last time the concierge came by with a silver tray while I was checking in and offered me freshly squeezed OJ and a chilled towel to wipe my brow. It’s approx 150 years old and it’s very colonial with high ceilings, centre courtyards and lot’s of great architectural detail. Steve/Brad/Kevan, it’s on the main square where we had dinner and where there was a stage set up and you guys stayed and watched for a while.

One thing that’s kind of neat is we noticed a lot of smoke in the air coming into the valley and here on the roof-top there’s some ash in the air. It’s from the Volcano just outside of town! No lava but you can definitely see the top is venting smoke and ash.

Anyway, not much else to report today. We may hit a museum once the heat of the day is past or we may catch a cab out to Wally World to see if we can replace the rain pants and cover I lost. From there it’ll be same ol same ol…..cerveca at a sidewalk café, a few hands of rummy, maybe a siesta and then dinner at a different side-walk café. Yes, the life of adventure motorcycle is a rough one but we manage!

Adios mi amigos Y mi familia

Monday, February 2, 2009

Day 8 - Barra de Navidad

Greetings from hot, sunny and oh, so laid back, Barra de Navidad!

Just a short note while I wait for Rosi to return from her massage. Ironically, we don't think it's the riding that's given her a sore back - although it probably doesn't hurt. It's more likely some of the beds we've slept on. We're staying in some very nice middle-class Mexican hotels but.....clean and well run doesn't necessarily equate to a Seally Postutepediac pillow-top mattress. Everything has been spotless but some of the mattresses belong in Bedrock more than a hotel. In one case in particular it brought new meaning to firm. Rosi has had a sore back for the last two mornings so we booked her a massage and we've picked up some liniment and muscle relaxants to see if she can shake it.

Barra is just as nice as we remember it. It's a very laid back small touristy beach town with a good cross-section of clientele that ranges from over the hill hippies to ex-pat's building very nice second homes and everything in between, including middle-class Mexican families hitting the beach. And the weather is just this side of perfect. The temp right now is 28 with 56% humidity, which makes it feel like 34. There's not a cloud in the sky and the forecast is for a lot more of the same.

(Memo to self - no matter HOW good it smells do NOT partake of the famous Barra de Navidad bus depot Taco's!)

I've gone through my notes and have tallied our mileage
Day 1 - AJ to Santa Ana - 379
Day 2 - SA to Los Mochis - 667 (Yikes!)
Day 3 - LM to Mazatlan - 481
Day 4 - Nada
Day 5 - Maz to Rincon - 412
Day 6 - Nada
Day 7 - Rincon - Barra - 270 (Felt like much more!)
Day 8 - Nada
Total so far = 2,209 klm - just about time to clean and lube the chain again.

Cheers

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Day 6 and 7 Ricon de Guayabitos and the drive to Barra

NOTE - new pictures uploaded to Picassa. Click on the link and scoll to the end to see the latest additions


Day 6 and 7
Yesterday, day 6, was a great day to chill out, get some rest and generally play tourist. We started out with coffee in bed ( we travel with our own percolator and a pound of Starbucks) and then a late breakfast at an old favourite restaurant from our previous trips. From there we went for a long walk along the beach with just about every Mexican family within a 300 klm radius. Beachside resort towns are VERY popular with Mexican families on week-ends. And why not, after all it’s their country. This can make for a very loud and very crowed couple of days though, so after our walk we sat and had a few cerveca's but then left the beach to the million or so families that were having a great time. Instead, we had to make a huge sacrifice and hang out by the hotel pool, drinking beer, lounging in a recliner and taking a dip every half hour or so to cool off. It was rough, but someone has to do it.

Yesterday evening we finished off with another walk around town and a very nice pizza and beer dinner at a local tourist haunt. Muy Bueno.

Today was a great riding day and for the first time the heat reared it head as a factor in how long/far you can go. We got up early and forwent breakfast to get on the road by 7:00ish and then stopped at a roadside OXXO store (very much like our 7/11) for a coffee and donut. Approx 45 minutes later we pulled into Bucarious (sp?) and had a great full breakfast at a lovely restaurant right on the water. We pulled out right around 10:00 but shortly thereafter we lost an hour due to the time zone change just north of PV.

Speaking of which, there HAS to be a way to bypass downtown and head south. If there is though, we missed it. The road is great coming into town - a four lane divided highway - and as you near the centre it’s still good, just busier as you enter the old hotel zone. Then, BAM, it spits you right onto a cobblestone (AKA rocks) street in downtown. We followed the Malecon right into old town, over the bridges, into Centro and through the other side until we missed a turn, backtracked to correct, and hit the hill out of town heading south. The whole process of getting through PV had to take at least an hour. Don’t get me wrong - in the big scheme of things we did remarkably well. And here’s where I have to give my Sweety a big plug. She’s turned out to be a great passenger. Yes, we’ve both had our moments but overall she’s been WAY more of a help than not. She zigs when I do and is a great second set of eyes. And she’s been a real trooper on some of the long stretches.

Vicki and Wayne - when we come back we’ll send you an e-mail and try to get specific instructions. We saw several signs for Nuevo but once we turn off the main drag it’ll be easy to get lost.

So, we eventually got spit out south of town and continued on coastal highway 200. It’s a very good road, roughly equivalent to Hwy 97, just more twisty and a LOT more remote in some stretches. Again, speaking of which, we’ve both agreed to take more breaks. What happens is you look at a distance marker and equate it to travel times back home. IE, you see a sign that says the next town is 38 klm. You might be tired and ready for a break but you say to yourself, what the heck, I’ll wait, it’s only anther 25 or 30 minutes. But then you run into twists, a cattle truck, five small pueblo’s with five tope’s each and the next thing you know it’s an hour later and you’re still not there. We fell into that trap today (not just me for those of you now saying poor Rosi - I suggested we stop but more often than not she said keep going) and we did a couple of too long stretches. Because of course, then what happens is you say OK now we HAVE to stop and there’s no safe place to pull over and/or no gas station etc to get a cold drink.

Anyway, we had a good day. It was just under 300 klm in total and we arrived into Barra right around 3:00ish local time and we were drinking beer by the pool by 3:30. I even bought a round for the only other couple in the pool, a young Mexican couple, and we struck up a great conversation for a half hour or so. Rosi is now taking a well deserved nap and I’m catching up on downloading pictures etc. She took some great shots from the back of the bike which you can see by clicking on the Picassa Web Album. We also have some great video clips from the back of the bike but they’ll have to wait until I can make a video when we’re home. It's just too cumbersome with a slow wireless connection.

Tomorrow is a down day here in Barra. It’s been a few years since we were here and we want to see how the old haunts are holding up.

So far it's been a full week on the road. Five days riding and two down days; Mazatlan and yesterday in Ricon. It sounds like a lot but we were resigned to three straight days from Phoenix just because there's not much to see. We're now following a schedule of one day riding and one day off which is very reasonable. We've covered 2,060 in total and, as long as Rosi holds up as well as she has and enjoys it when we're done, I think SA next year may be on the horizon.

Cheers

Friday, January 30, 2009

Day 5 Mazatlan - Rincon de Guayabitos

Our day in Mazatlan was great. We went downtown to do a little shopping and on a whim we popped into a local ReMax office. We’ve had our eye on real estate in Mazatlan for quite a while and we’ve often wondered if the reality of a home would live up to its image and description on the internet. With this in mind Rosi hoped to take a look at house we’ve had our eye on for a while. Low and behold, it was a listing of the ReMax office!
We spent the afternoon getting some sun and well deserved cerveca around the pool and then, at 4:00, the Realtor picked us up to go look at the house. It’s a 1,000 sq ft rancher in a very nice neighbourhood and it’s as cute as a bugs ear - and it has incredible potential. It was every bit as good as it appeared and it was a great experience to be able to talk to the two different realtors and get actual numbers for taxes, legal fees, offsite management etc.
We ended the day with a really nice spaghetti dinner at a sidewalk café right on the square. Dinner, four drinks, two glasses of wine, a beautiful salad for two, coffee and two after dinner liquors all for $50! Muy Bueno!
Today, day 5, however, was officially gruelling. It was a long, hard, hot, tope ridden 390 klm, that took a full eight hours and Rosi REALLY earned her stripes. She’s been a real trooper and after today, she can hold her head up with the best of them from Horizons Unlimited or Adventure Rider.
The day got off to a good start. We decided to hold back and have a full breakfast again. Even if we get away a little later it carries us through most of the day and means we don’t have to look for a place later on. We hit the road around 8:30 and immediately ran up against “leaving a Mexican city syndrome. What should have been a 10 minute straight run turned into a series of wrong turns and weaving our way through various neighbourhoods desperately looking for a way out of the maze.
Imagine trying to get from Richmond to Abbotsford in rush hour, with no signage, no map, only the vaguest idea of which direction was right and no one to ask that speaks English. Well, forget that part. You’d have that problem anyway.
We eventually hit the freeway south (free is a wholly inaccurate description however) and it was smooth sailing for almost three hours. The Autopista south of Mazatlan is very expensive but well worth it. The road is a very well maintained divided highway and we made great time. We stopped for a break at a toll booth and had the first problem of the trip. Not a problem really, just a PIA, and all my fault.
I use a small dry bag as a duffle bag to hold our rain gear and the cover for the bike. It’s bulky but not heavy so I bungee it to the lid of my top box. It’s now on the side of the autopista somewhere between Mazatlan and the first or second toll booth because my bungee cords didn’t hold. Oh well, hopefully the Mexican that finds it needs it more than us. I can replace the cover at the first Walmart we pass and I can probably pick up some cheap rain pants in Mazatlan before we head too far north and hit the cold again. We can get by without the jackets until we get home [ Dad, I may ask you to take us back to the motorcycle gear store you took us to last year. The prices are MUCH better than Canada]
Where things fell off the rails is our decision to leave the Autopista early and detour through San Blas on the way to Guayabitos. At first things went smoothly. Or at least as smoothly as you can get between topes that alternate between aggravating and Oh, my God! I really put my “skid plate” to the test a few times! The road was as winding as anything the four of us experienced in Mexico last year - and as we made progress towards the coast the heat, and humidity climbed. Then, after an hour of this, and literally five minutes from San Blas - and just as my gas gauge started flashing empty - we came around the corner and hit stopped cars due to a construction crew. They had a crane parked cross ways and all traffic was blocked both ways. We had to wait for an hour before they let cars through again. We could have turned around and taken a different route but our gas situation wouldn’t allow it.
We eventually made it through, gassed up and stopped for a coke but then - as the heat and humidity took it’s toll and yes, we had a “moment” or two - we couldn’t leave town. You laugh, but it’s true. Between a maze of conflicting signs, one-way streets heading the wrong way and road construction everywhere, we were TRAPPED! It took us another half hour and the decision to ignore one-way signs and simply buck traffic, before we were on the road again but then we hit the construction again! This time though, we jumped the line and when we got to the front there was JUST enough room for me to squeeze past the corner of the crane. The foreman said I could try so Rosi got off and walked and I gingerly made way around and past the truck. We both loaded back up and we got back under way, except now it was two hours of very secondary roads and tope hell until we eventually hooked back up with Hwy 200 leading to Guayabitos.
We arrived around 4:30, hot, tired, and a little frazzled. The good news though, is five years from now all the uneventful days will be faded memories but we’ll remember this one for quite a while.
And don’t even ASK how Rosi likes traffic on the secondary roads. We had a few “words” about the relative merits of passing Mexican five-ton trucks and about the best time to do so………OK, so an intercom wasn’t necessarily my best decision.
All is well now though. We're settled in a nice hotel, fed and watered and tomorrow will be a beach and/or pool day. Adios mi Amigos, Amigas Y Familia

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Pictures

I think I've done this correctly. If you double click in the "slideshow" that's to the right it should take you to the web album I've set up. I've downloaded our pictures to Picassa and you can view them all or one at a time. This seems to work better than trying to download individual pictures to this blog.

Brad, please give this a test and let me know if it works.

Day 3 - Los Mochis - Mazatlan / Day 4 Mazatlan

It's actually day 4 now - I was too tired to make the effort yesterday. Not to imply that yesterday was some kind of gruelling adventure- it wasn't - it's just that after 3 days and 1,500 klm you get worn down. My bike is great but it's not a Goldwing and it's not necessarily the best for three straight days of freeway cruising.

But.....we did great nonetheless. We knew that our final push to Mazatlan was a little shorter so we didn't have to rush. We got up a little later and had a nice breakfast in the restauarant right in the hotel. First though, I had to back the bike out of the vestuble we had it tucked away in, and roll it through the lobby and out onto the street. But even that went smoothly, although there were more than a few raised eyebrows from the other business-class customers. After breakfast we loaded the bike -again, something that goes more smoothly each time we do it - and hit the road around 8:45.

When we planned this trip Rosi made me promise we'd stay at a hotel at the outskirts of town so we could avoid the heavy and often chaotic traffic in a typical Mexican city. Well, we didn't. We stayed right downtown. And it wasn't an issue. I'm not sure if it's because I'm more comfortable on a bike than in a car in traffic, (as ironic as that sounds) if it's because we're more acclimatized to the traffic or if Mexican traffic is just getting better - or a combination of the above or all of the above, but no matter the reason, we had no problems making our way right downtown and finding the hotel.

Getting out of town went just as smooth - with only one u-turn!

The drive from Los Mochis is just about all on very good Autopista's. It's a little pricey - I think we paid > $40 in tolls - but it's worth it. It turns an eight or nine hour drive through tope Hell into a 5 hour drive on super highway with very little traffic. We made great time and rolled through another 460 klm in great time. We stopped at Pemex stations along the way and again, struck up conversations and made some great connections.

It was very interesting do retrace the same route the four of us took last year. This this I had a full tank of gas, it was a beautiful sunny day and I could enjoy the ride without any of the pucker factor. It's also interesting to note that there's a big sign as you leave Culiacan - "no gas for 176 klm" - something we obviously missed by detouring into El Dorrado.

We cruised along nicely at 130 - 140 kph, but the Suzuki speedo is notorious for being out by 8% so it was really closer to 115kph - 125kph. Still plenty fast for a 650 Vstrom but not crazy fast and not difficult on a two-lane divided highway that puts our freeways to shame. The best part was the weather. It was around 15 when we left Mochis and we could forgo a few layers. As we continued south it warmed up even more and by noon we could finally shuck our liners and finally ride in just our mesh gear. We even changed our gloves for the warm weather gloves we just bought. Muy Bueno!

We arrived into Mazatlan around 2:00ish and, again, had no problems coming into downtown to find our hotel. Just one wrong turn and a u-turn to go back before realizing it was one way but we were now going against traffic. Oh well, it was only a minute to get back to the right corner. We unpacked, showered, and were ensconced in the poolside cafe by 3:00. Lunch and a few beers later it was nap time. Later last night, we went out for a walk but called it a really early evening.

It's now Thursday morning and I'm typing this from my kingsize bed. The curtains are open leading to our deck overlooking the pool and the view to the ocean. It's a beautiful clear day and the forecast is for sunshine and 29 degrees. We have nothing planned but a leisurely lunch at a sidewalk cafe on the main square and I have to clean and lube my chain.

One final note - the news has all kinds of stories about the drug wars and escalating violence down here. Ignorance may be bliss but we haven't really noticed much change at all. There are some really long lines of trucks being checked out at check points heading north but nothing that's effected us at all.


Viva Mexico

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Advice Needed

I'm not having any luck uploading pictures using a wirelesss connection. It may be nothing but one thought is the file size of the pictures may be too large. If anyone knows how to "re-size" pictures to make them easier to upload please send me an e-mail to d-boisclair@shaw.ca
Thx
Dale

Day 2 - Sanata Ana - Los Mochis

What is love? It’s a very hard question to answer but an easy one to define by example. I love my wife; with a depth that can only come from the passage of time and a journey travelled together. I love my son Brad, not the same way of course, but certainly no less. To a lesser degree - or rather, a poor choice of the word, I love riding my motorcycle, sunrises, and Mexico. So, at 8:30 this morning, as we were riding south through the Sonora desert highlands, I had one of “those” moments; the moment that sometimes defines a vacation. Or at the very least, will be something to focus on later on when I’m back at work or shovelling snow. I was cruising along at an easy 130kph, no traffic on a divided highway in Mexico, great conditions, a beautiful sunrise well under way, with Rosi on my bike with me and Brad’s band, The Garyoaksmen, blasting from the intercom.

It just doesn’t get any better than this……..well actually it does. Dexter could have been along for the ride and it might have been an improvement if it wasn’t absolutely FREAK’N FREEZING!
Oh well, 5 out 7 isn’t bad at all.

I wish I could now pass on stories of an arduous trip through the Mexican border states, plagued by banditos and an out of control drug war - but I can’t lie. It was a fantastic ride but not too much to write about - although uneventful is definitely better than the alternative.
We changed it up slightly this morning because of wanting to wait until full daylight before leaving. So, instead, we went for an early breakfast at a spotlessly clean restaurant right next to the hotel. It was fairly quiet at 6:00 but there were a few businessmen and a couple of families travelling - but no banditos or drug lords to be seen. We hit the road around 7:30 with our first stop at a gas station and convenience store in Hermosillo for the obligatory coffee and donuts. The one thing we noticed right away is the bike and our gear is a calling card for friendly chat and inquiries. We didn’t get a lot of this last year and Kevan hit it on the head when he said it was because we were in a group. People may not have wanted to impose themselves if we were already talking amongst ourselves etc. or we were too intimidating. Not so this time. We had a great chat with what we assumed was a rep for Pemex. He was definitely white colour and may have been a salesman etc and we talked about the bike and where we were from. He has a sister in Vancouver and he absolutely loves Canada and Canadians. Not to be outdone, we also had a chat with a salesman from the local Chevy dealer. He gave us some good advice and gave us his card and made us promise that we’d call him on his cell if we had any problems - anywhere at all in Mexico.

From there it was another long push to Navajoa - and it finally started to warm up. You’ll see we’re in our rain gear in a lot of the pictures. It wasn’t because of rain it was to add layers. It was only 3 degrees when we left the hotel!

In Novajoa we stopped at yes, another Pemex, for a sandwich and coffee. This time it was a friendly gentlemen in his 60’s (?) that started up a conversation. We soon learned that he; owns the Pemex, has 18 grandchildren, 2 great great grandchildren and two grandsons currently studying English in Canada. Did I mention he loves Canada? Or that I have flags plastered everywhere? We wanted to get going but he just HAD to take me next door and give me a tour of his Briggs and Straten shop. He sells engines and water pumps and has three mechanics to fix them. It started to get a little embarrassing though, when he took me out back to meet the crew and his son had a WTF look on his face. He put on a smile though and told me it was one of his sons in Toronto currently studying.

We finally got geared up and hit the road again. It was only 2:00 and, even though we’d done a good day, it was too early to stop. Plus, by pushing on today we’ll get into Mazatlan tomorrow around 1:00. The last two hours were nothing, if not routine. The toll highways aren’t busy and my bike absolutely purrs along at 125-130 kph. We arrived here in Los Mochis at 4:00 and , surprisingly, we didn’t have too many problems with traffic. Rosi is starting to relax and is a great and welcome second set of eyes. We eventually made our way to the Hotel Fenix. It’s where we stayed a few years ago when we did the Copper Canyon.

It’s a nice Mexican business class hotel - but one problem, no off street parking. Problem you think, no problemo! Viva Mexico! Throw open both doors, weave through the cars angle parked out front, jump the curb and voila! Lobby parking! I had to take off the panniers though, to get it through the hall to the spot they picked by the lobby pay phones :-)

It was a long 650 klm today and we’re tired - but it’s the good tired of the fight well fought and a job well done. Tomorrow, Mazatlan!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Santa Anna Mexico

Day 1
Today was great!
The drive down to Spokane was uneventful and nowhere near as crappy as my drive down last year. We had good weather and had a nice brunch and dropped off Dexter at the doggy daycare at 11:00 and arrived in Spokane around 3:30. There's a nice restaurant in the hotel so we stayed in, had an early dinner and and made it an early night.

The flight to Phoenix was fine - arrived on time with no issues - and all our luggage etc made it too. Sorry, no wild story's to relate, just the way it should be. Dad and Carol picked us up at the airport and we went out for a very nice lunch on the way to their place. I spent the afternoon getting our gear sorted out out and last night we all went out for dinner with Mick and Sharon and Bonnie and Ward. A good time was had by all.
This morning we got off to a late start but it's not unexpected. It always takes a while to get into the groove and we took a while to get everything loaded etc etc, plus it doesn't get light here until close to 7:30. But, sharply at the crack of 7:45ish we rolled out the gate. It was a bit of a wobbly start though, and I'm guessing the bon voyage group were wondering what the hell? In my defense, I haven't ridden in over three months and the bike weighs a ton! After a few miles though, things started to fall into place and we headed south! We went south to Florence and then did a dogleg west to I10 so we could pick up the interstate before going through Tuscon, that way we avoided city traffic by staying on the freeway right through the city. We stopped a couple of times for coffee/gas/breaks etc and finally made it to Nogales. But.....between Tuscon and Nogales the wind REALLY picked up. From the side at first and then head-on. It made the trip after that really fatiguing. We crossed the border without incident but it still took an hour. Actually, it only took 10 minutes but I had to stand in line for 45 minutes before I could get to the window to pay for my visa.

Nogales on the Mexican side is a HUGE shock to the senses, and REALLY different than the US side. Hard to believe they're only across an invisible line from each other. Diesel fumes, sewer gas, roast chicken and all the rest that we've come to love - but.....it's definitly not for everyone.

From Nogales south, the road is fantastic. 21 klm down the road you hit the road-side check point where you get your Visa etc, and we stopped at a small VERY Mexican road-side cafe to join the locals for some hot soup and quesadilla's. Did I mention it's cold? It was really cold first thing but as the day wore on it warmed up to just cool but still not warm enough to shed very many layers. We're wearing long-johns, vests, our mesh gear and rain gear to cut the wind. In another day or too it should be in the high 20's so we'll be shedding a lot of layers the further south we get.

We arrived in Santa Anna around 3:30, which is approx 400klm today. We stopped for gas, which took us to 3:45 and we decided to call it a day. It's another hour and a half to Hermosillo, where we hoped to stop but the wind didn't let up all afternoon and we're beat. Plus, we don't want to push it too much on Rosi's first day. She's done GREAT by the way. A great co-pilot!

So, we're in Santa Anna. We're going to go out for a nice dinner in a little bit and hope to get an early start tomorrow. We need to put on at least 500klm tomorrow if we're going to make it to Mazatlan in just three days.