Friday, October 31, 2014

Day 17 - Ensenada BC Mexico Repeated

So I know I’m a few days behind and planned on writing the last couple of nights because there is a lot to talk about, but after having some long nights at Salu, the cantina I’ve been visiting every night because they are the sports bar in English I just didn’t feel like writing. That and since the games start at 5:00 my time, by the time they’re done I’ve already downed a few and haven’t been coming back to the la casa (house) for cena (dinner).

That likely means I have to back up a little and base on the photos you can probably figure out what I’m talking about. The way I left it was with the ride with Rolando and his son Santiago to La Bufadora and I hope I covered most of that being broken in how to ride these roads in Mexico, aggressive, being escorted back to his house and borrowing a burner phone that I’ll be able to use for my ride to Cabo. Well, I’m not sure if I covered the fact that everything on the phone Rolando is loaning me is in Spanish, but sure I’m going to school to learn, but he messages are way out of my league and especially the messages I’ve been getting every time I try making a call. I eventually figured out how to change the phones menu to be in English, but that didn’t do anything with the messages I was getting and some of the other settings I should probably worry about. Fortunately I was able to go to the local TelCel which I’ve already visited a number of times, but found someone who spoke English that was able to help me out. Although it’s not like the states where you can dial a 1 or 2 for Espanol, I have another number I can dial that will give me my messages in English. 

So I’m good with the phone and it should get me to Cabo that it was back to Lou’s bar Salu for game 6 of the world series which was a great game. Sure I was cheering for Kansas, but I moved up on my visit to Salu. I finally got to sit with the big boys at Lou’s table with some of the other local Americana’s (gringos retired in these parts) that visit the bar pretty much every night. Based on the picture there is Steve who is Lou’s right hand man, a retired trucker from upper Washington, Lou, the owner of the bar and a couple that happen to be in Ensenada for other reasons, Erin and Brett. 

Erin happens to be from La Crosse so we had some things about God’s county Wisconsin to talk about and Brett an Ausie is in town for cancer treatment. Yes their a couple from either Washington or Oregon, sorry I don’t remember but Brett’s getting the treatment he needs and it’s a great place to be doing it. His doctor in America suggested he come down here to try some experimental drugs that the FDA hasn’t approved and they are apparently making a difference. They left a business they started, but right now they have to get past the health thing and they’ll be back. According to Brett it was definitely the right move for him because it is making a difference. 

I did talk to him about my idea of being able to ride my bike around the world and wouldn’t you know it, it’s a dream of his and he has the kind of bike to do it on. A BMW, similar to the guys I met back in 2006 in Alaska that had these bikes with the aluminum bags and the bike is like an enduro, good for touring and going off road if one has to. You know me I’d like to prove that a Harley can go pretty much anywhere one of those bikes can, but I after Sturgis this last year and another off road dump of the bike, I’ll have to do a little more work on the off road. Ok, not necessarily going to get too into it, but I did dump it in Sturgis through a construction zone, fortunately I was only doing between 30 and 40 that going down and no injuries. The other was Tomahawks fall rally and hitting a mud puddle where the bike completely slipped out from under me. No harm, except my pride and getting a little wet, but I was fortunate for how bad the road was that, that was all that happened.

Ok, back to the story. Anyway, I got to sit with the group and had a great time talking with Brett, Erin, Lou and Steve and Lou took care of my by sending someone down to the local pojjo (chicken) char house that was cooking the chicken over a wood fire and it was pretty good. A great night getting to know the locals and yes, I’ve been in this bar pretty much every night of my stay in Ensenada.

So day 16 rolls around, yesterday and sure I had planned on writing, but it was game 7 of the world series that I had to tell my Señora doing all the cooking that I wouldn’t be home once again for cena (dinner) because I have a beisbol game to watch. (no I didn’t get the spelling wrong cuz that’s how it’ spelled down here.). Writing might have been a good idea, but remember the start of the game is 5:00 here that by the time I leave the bar before closing I’ve probably had plenty. 

Well, for my visit tonight I ended up meeting another Ausie, Steve who happens to be the president of the local biker gang, the Mercenarios. A club he started a year ago since the other club in these parts wasn’t worth being a part of and he had a lot of good advice for me making a trip south. The first is make a stop at most every gas station I see cuz you never know if the next one is going to have gas or not so its not a good idea to push it. The second suggestion and the other reason for filling up on a regular basis is if you get somewhere where things just don’t feel right, ride away. My well being is more important than getting gas that I’ll eventually figure it out. Sure I’m carrying a can of gas with me, but hopefully I won’t have to use it. I did tell Steve I had just met a local, Rolando who was going to ride with me part of the way Saturday that he said I still need another backup plan which was him giving me his number and making sure to check in with him on a regular basis. As he said it’s always a good idea to have a number of backups that he’ll checkin with me and that if I don’t return a call or answer he’ll wonder what is going on so now I have someone who I’ll need to check in with. Probably not a bad idea at all because if he doesn’t hear that I’ve gotten to where I wanted to get or when I’m leaving he can send out the gang to look for me. Too bad I couldn’t get them to ride with me, but hey, how bad could it be…well, I guess we’ll have to wait and see. 

So the baseball game didn’t turn out the way I had hoped, but congratulation to all of those who were cheering for San Francisco. I did ask Lou when I showed up to the bar last night that I wanted to know where to get a good burger and wouldn’t you know it it was there. Just like the shrimp taco I had a few days ago, or maybe it was last week, if I want it he can get it. He did go and get the meat and cooked it up right away that hey, I wasn’t ready for one, but was just asking. Fortunately Steve, remember his right hand man was hungry that the at it. It was later that me and another retired Americana, Mike order burgers ourselves which yes, meant another trip to the meat market by Lou. I sure appreciated because it was a good burger and although I’ve been spoiled with the great Mexican food I’ve been getting from Diana something from home was nice to have.

Before the night ended my friend Rolando and his son Santiago were able to stop in and spend sometime drinking with me and firming up our plans to ride Saturday morning which is set. Right now I’m planning on leaving early, likely 8:00 with a call to Steve to let him know we’re leaving and eventually a stop for breakfast which Rolando suggests. We’ll see whether I stop to eat or just move on, but that’ll all be based on how far we get and how far I’ll still have to travel on my own which will be a totally different experience. Not sure if I’ll be able to ride as fast as the both of us will be able to because Rolando would maybe talk us out of it that once I’m on my  own it’ll be what Spanish do I understand and how much will I have to pay the cop to let me go. Ok, I’m not going to worry about that now.

Today was another day at Salu, Lou’s sports bar for Thursday night football and running into the regulars which tonight happened to be Steve (right hand man that he’s been there every night) but tonight saw Erin and Brett stopping in again. It was great visiting with everyone again because I’m not sure what Friday night will bring, but a good nigh around. Tonight I tried something different a side street taco stand that had some really good tacos and for only 15 pesos that was a deal. I haven’t gotten into it and although I’ve figured out the peso to dollar value, it’s still a little tough when you get a bill for over 200 pesos where you might not stop and think that you’re spending more than what you should. That was my bill the other night when Rolando and Santiago visited, but it was till less than 30 US that it ain’t bad at all. I guess it’s just the brain getting use to what is what. 

Sure I have a lot more I could probably write about, like how today after 2 weeks of wiping my ass and remembering to put the toilet paper in the basket next ot the toilet that I had a brain fart and dropped it in the toilet which I found out isn’t the thing to do. Sure I remembered before I flushed, but you know how hard it is to get it out before, not fun but I didn’t want to find out what an overflowed toilet might be like. If anything only one more day of la escuela espanol that I’ll be ready for my vacation to really kick in which I think will really hit when I get to Cabo. More to come so stay tune. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Day 14 Ensenada to La Bufadora BC

Another new week of Spanish classes and this one might be a long one since I’m the only one in school this week. I’ve already hit the teacher up on whether we can cut the days shorter then the scheduled 6 hours, but I don’t think I convinced her. At least with only be in class we can take our time and it’s all about me and figuring some of the things I still need to get figured out like reading a burner phone that is in Spanish, more about that later.

So as I hinted to with my last blog I might be getting the bike out for some riding Sunday which is just what I did. I talked to Señor Roberta to make sure we could get my bike out after breakfast so I could meet up with my new friend Rolando for a day of riding and sure enough, right after breakfast it was all about me and getting my bike out of storage. I had forgotten how dirty is was and if it weren’t for the difficulty of putting it away and getting it out since Roberto has to move 4 vehicles and unlock the gates, I’d take it to the car wash next to the Spanish school to get it washed, but it’ll just have to do for now. Maybe when I get to Cabo I can see about a good wash at the Harley shop. 

Ok, if you remember be talking about he step my bike had to get over to get past the second gate I was already trying to figure out just how to get it out without scraping the bottom again, but to my surprise and pleasure, Roberto had already build another ramp just for my bike and it wasn’t any make shift ramp either. He mixed and poured a cement ramp which he had said he’d been wanting to get around to doing for awhile since they have to bring their propane for cooking in that way. I guess me showing up on the bike got him getting something done sooner rather than later and it made it much easier getting the bike out. 

Sunday was all about the ride and meeting up with Rolando and even though we had problems with my phone call to him from the local street pay phone, he showed up after all. Yeah, I probably didn’t get into that, but Saturday I went to the same phone I had used by the 7 11 to call my host family and I couldn’t get the thing to work. I kept getting a message in Spanish and they don’t talk slow on the phone as well as using words I still don’t know that I had no idea what was going on. Fortunately the cafe next door was able to find someone who spoke English to help me out so I had the nina help me with how to work the phone. My first problem even though the phone said 3 pesos for a call to a cell phone apparently it was 4 so I eventually put in the money dialed the phone and had her listen to the message. Well, that meant problem 2, when you dial a cell phone in these parts you have to put in the zone that the phone is in so according to the nina Ensenada’s code is 044 that I have to dial that first and eventually I was able to get thru to Rolando. I tell you, that’s just to make what should be a simple call, but it’s not that easy around here. 

Well, problem 3 was before I noticed I was cut off for not depositing some more money. Yes, these calls aren’t covered by 3 pesos that it only gets me about a minute on the phone that before me and Rolando were able to make plans on where to meet and what time I had to make another call, which I did. Now for problem 4, no more change in pesos that I’ll have to make this call quick that I asked Rolando what time which we set for 10:00 and the gas station next to his wife’s business and before it was set in stone, sure enough cut off again that this time I’m hoping he’s thinking the way I am and will just make sure to be there Sunday morning. Yeah I could’ve called him back, but I figure he’s good for his word and you know I will be so my plan is set.

I did get to the gas station fairly early since it was a quick out of the bike with the new ramp so was able to learn the Pemex gas station situation which should be pretty easy going forward. The gas stations are all the same and full service stations that only the attendant is pumping and I guess the other thing would be you can only get gas when they have attendants which yes, they had by this time. I was a bit early, but waited and was sure relieved when I saw a Harley come around the corner, a little surprised it was 2 up, but Rolando brought this son Santiago along for the ride. My first thought was he may have thought about bringing him along since he didn’t know me from Adam so had to make sure they could both keep me in line, but I’m sure that thought hadn’t even crossed his mind and it was great to have another along for the ride.

We were off and as I told Rolando one of the rides I wanted to do was get to La Bufadora to see the waves crashing into the rocks which is where we would make our first stop. Now according to the house mate Christina from week one of Spanish school the road to La Bufadora wasn’t for the faint of heart that I found it in great shape and quite exhilarating on the bike. I could tell on our way just through town that I would enjoy following Rolando for the day because I found out pretty quick that he’s as and aggressive if not more so a rider than I am and me being in unfamiliar surroundings wouldn’t have made it as quick as see did. I learned pretty quick what to watch out for which I never would have thought of riding on my own, but there are speed bumps on these roads and I even found out eventually on Hwy 1 which I need to take to Cabo. It was a goof thing I was following someone who knew all about them and showed me the signs to watch for. The last thing I need is to hit one of these and flying off the bike. 

La Bufadora was definitely the tourist attraction and an exciting ride to get there that instead of riding the bikes through we got a parking spot which you got it, costs money. You can see the guy who parked ups, but they were all over trying to get people to pull into their parking spots to make a little money. The place was all about the merchants and them working it hard to sell us something. For those that have been to any of Mexico for vacation you know what I’m talking about, but it wasn’t too bad. We did get some great pictures and although Rolando had only been here once before and it was Santiago’s first time, Rolando suggested some clams at local shops which is just what we had. Not just one order but 2 with shrimp tacos to boot and again, sure I’m taking Spanish, but it sure helps having someone along who knows it a hell of a lot better to help order and keep the waiter/waitresses in order and thanks to Rolando for picking up the tab, that I’ll owe him on. 

From La Bufadora it was back to Hwy 1 to ride some of it south to give me an idea of what I’ll have a head of me next week when I head to Cabo and again, it was great riding with someone as aggressive as Rolando was on the road. We were passing semis, cars, trucks campers and many of them on the curvy hilly roads even if there is not a sign to pass and the solid yellow line down the middle of the road. Oh and I had my first experience of the turn signal game that I have to watch for and not always fall for, that is someone putting on their left turn signal to let you pass. I guess it must be ok when they are pulling over to the right to let you by, but it’s still something to watch out for, especially on my own. The other thing I told Rolando at a stop is I wonder whether I could get away with the speeds we were doing on my own. For a gringo like me, they see me speeding down Hwy1 like we did today and I’ d be sure to get stopped, but you know me, time is everything and with today’s test ride, I should be able to make Guerrero Negro my first day which is only 375 miles even though everyone is telling me it’s a 10 hour drive. Riding like this should get me there with time to spare. 

I could tell it’ll be some nice country to ride through and we did hit a patch of what I figure I can expect with more of the road heading south, narrow roads without any shoulders, but it should make for a great ride. After a 40 mile ride down we started heading back and from our talk while having lunch I was going to follow Rolando back to his casa (house) on the other side of Ensenada and this is where that burner phone comes into play. He said he had one when he first moved here which would be perfect for me to use and all I need to do is buy some minutes and I’ll be set with a phone to use in case of emergencies in Mexico which will work out great for me. His place wasn’t far outside of Ensenada and a brand new place they were just moving into so it was a pretty nice casa. We got a charge on the phone and it was time for me to head home so I could get my bike put away and downtown for Sunday night football with the Packers playing and the World Series that I was off on my own to find my way home, but it was easy since I had already traveled this road from San Diego a week ago. 

There’s a lot more to tell, but I guess this is getting a little long that maybe I’ll save some it for tomorrows story and more of an update. Right now I am really glad to have a friend like Rolando to help me out with my lack of Spanish and since I’ll be leaving early Saturday he might ride some of it south with me to put a few miles behind me with the aggressive riding in Mexico. That and it’s great that I now have a burner phone and have minutes on it, but I’ll have to figure out the Spanish on it and how to use it. Sure enough a Spanish burner phone and I did find where I can change some of it to English that there’s still somethings such as text message and things I might need help with. Maybe since I’m the only one in school this week we can concentrate on some of the things I really need to know while in Mexico.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Day 12 - Ensenada BC Mexico Weekend

Day 12 in Ensenada and when looking at a calendar it sure seems like more than 2 weeks that I’ve been gone. Maybe that has to do with the fact that I had to rush it to get to Ensenada in 6 days or that Im really enjoying myself in Ensenada which I definitely am. Tonight was another night at at Salu, Lou’s bar where now that I’m a regular it only costs me $2 a beer and still the best sports bar I’ve found in town because he has everything and broadcasts it in English instead of Spanish. Sure I’m going to school, but when it comes to watching sports from back home, English is the best way to listen too it.

I was hoping my host families Señor was maybe into joining me to watch some baseball, but for him it’s football, and only the Mexican version. Tonights visit to Salu was all about the World Series game and it turned out to be another blowout. I’m cheering for the underdog Kansas and would love to see them win it, but with most series like these when it comes to playoffs it will likely go the full 7 games. Tomorrow night will be a bit of a toss up and I’ve already hit Lou up on we have to be listen to the Packers game since their on at the same time. You bet, I’ll be there another night seeing how many $2 beers I can down.

So according to Lou last night the langosta (lobster) isn’t that great at the restaurants that if I want a good one for the price the place to visit is the black market seafood shop down by the docks. If you remember that was one of the places I visited my first night in the tourist zone where every shop along there was trying to sell me a fish taco. Well, last night I didn’t make it in time before they closed so tonight I made sure I missed part of the World Series to make sure I got my langosta and maybe because it was my first experience and I didn’t get the whole lobster like I was hoping for, but although it tasted pretty good, there is still no comparison to Maine lobster. Sure I was disappointed that I didn’t get to pick out the lobster and somehow the head an claws were gone when I got it, but it was my first of what I hear is a place to get lobster. I thing tomorrow maybe I’ll have Lou get it for me since he’s already told me he would have it delivered.

I’ve already become one of the regulars at this place along with Steve who is retired here which I think I’ve told you about and a number of others that I’ve seen there every night I’ve been here and tonight when I left Lou made sure to let me know to join his table tomorrow (manana) which I think puts me in the rankings of a regular. Tonight I ended up seeing I guy I had met last night on my way home from the bars that was from Wisconsin. If you remember how I’ve said not only are the merchants trying to get you into their shops, but the bartenders and waitresses do the same that last night one of the bartenders stopped me and said I had a buddy from Wisconsin that I should meet. Ok, how they knew I was from Wisconsin is since I’ve been down there every night I have th same guys trying to sell me stuff, women, drugs or whatever my pleasure.

Well Johnny didn’t remember me from the night before and no wonder because I knew he was trashed when I met him, but we had a good boys talk. I would she thought him older than me, but guess what, he happened to be the same age. Not necessarily in the bet of health having problems with pancreas and liver from drinking and smoking for as long as he has, but then again maybe I have the same taking my chances on riding a motorcycle where ever I please, and how we got into that was him talking how he probably wont’ see retirement which is some what how I look at things. Who knows if I’ll make it to 60, but you gotta know I’m having a hell of a lot of fun on my way there. 

So for tomorrow, Sunday and still a weekend that I don’t have to worry about class I am finally going to get my bike out and see what part of the trip to Cabo will be like. I ended up meeting a guy Friday while trying to buy a map, Relando that lived in St Paul for awhile and has a Harley of his own. I’m not sure how he figured out I had one other than my shirt, but started talking to me and helped me with my Spanish to get a map. Him and his wife have a nice business next door and he was telling me about riding his bike here from Mexico City that I figured he’d be one to hookup with and maybe help me get to Mexico City. Sure, I’m trying to at least see what riding to Cabo is like riding in Mexico, but if I find someone, a Mexican that might help me get to Mexico City, maybe it’s worth giving it a try. Remember the motorcycle insurance I bought is good for 6 months that maybe I take advantage of it. Anyway, he told me he’d meet me Sunday and take me riding to La Bufadora which I guess is a popular tourist attraction and from my other house guest for the week, Christina quite a nail biter of a ride. Apparently it’s a 27 mile stretch of road off the main highway 1 to the ocean side to see the ocean crashing against the rocks that the ride itself sounds like the exciting part. Curvy windy roads through the mountains with no guard rails that we’ll see how this compares to some of the hill climbs I have taken. I look forward to following someone who knows the area and he’s also offered to help me get a burner phone before I start heading to Cabo.

The thing I have since found out is there is no Cuota (toll road) to Cabo, but it is all free which means much of what I’ve already experienced when I got off the toll road because the road was closed, narrow roads with no shoulders and people passing even up the mountains. I’m definitely going to need to be on my toes for a ride south and now that I’ve hear today that even riding 375 miles from here to Guerroro Negro will take me 10 hours, I might have to re-plan my trip south. That is where the gas stops are and hopefully finding a hotel/motel before along the way.

So tonight I was going to go for he boyz factor since I have the same guy telling me every night that he has the girls for me and the drugs, that I thought I’d take him up on seeing the girls that it turned out to be no different than home, to the strip joint where you might have at least one that is worth it dancing that I thought it’d be something more. I can say that I do see a lot of very attractive Mexican mujers (woman) walking around, that just getting some of those pictures may be the boyz factor. 

Ok, enough babble for tonight that I’ll let you know what La Bufadora is like and Sunday night football at Salu with the big boys. More pics of Ensenada, the sidewalks that have to be traversed carefully, a football game (Mexican) that I know at least one reader might enjoy and how easy it is to get any kind of drug that you need at the stores in the tourist zone. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Day 10 - Ensenada BC Mexico Repeated

It’s been a few days since I’ve written and to mark how long I’ve been gone, I’m going to call this blog ‘Day 10 Ensenada’ since it has only been 10 days that I’ve been gone. It sure seems longer than that, but as the days go by and I learn a little more Spanish things go by pretty quick. I can say that I am much more comfortable in my surroundings and have gotten to know much of the area. My days have been pretty typical lately getting up at 6:30 for a quick shower before breakfast at 7:00, a little studying of my Spanish before walking to class which starts at 8, getting back to my host families house shortly after 2:00, having a quick lunch, a 30 minute siesta, heading to the tourist zone to have a number of cervezas and back to the host family for dinner at 7:00 just to finish up writing these stories and doing some studying of the drive to Cabo. I’ve also been working on figuring out what I am going to do about a phone before I head south and making sure I have to place to stay in Cabo once I get there. Thanks to some help I do have a pretty cheap place booked in Cabo for only $35 a night which is suppose to have a secure garage for my bike and is close to where al the action is. I am looking forward to getting there and being able to relax as though I am on vacation instead of worrying about getting up and going to Spanish class.

The class can get a little long, especially the last 2 hours after a 30 minute break. There’s not a lot to see and I haven’t quite figured out what restaurants I might be able to trust and those that I should stay away from, so as long as my host Diana is making some great Mexican meals, there’s no need to eat out. There is however one thing that I will likely be going out for this weekend and that’s la langosta or what Maine knows better as lobster. I’ve heard it is suppose to be pretty good here so definitely have to try it. I did check out one of the better seafood restaurants downtown and it’s only 481 pesos, that I think I can handle that. 

The dollar sure goes a long way around here when you get as many pesos as you do for the exchange rate. My first stop the other night was Hussong’s, but wouldn’t you know it they were closed on Monday’s that I had to hit it Tuesday which was the day to be there because that is when it is 2 for 1. Sure the beers were 35 pesos, but once you figure that out based on the exchange rate, I think I can handle a number of cervezas when I’m getting 2 for $2.92 US. I did try to get the 2 for 1 Wednesday and tonight, but that was only the Tuesday deal which means I’ll probably be back next week Tuesday. 

I did find another bar down the street, one of the few sports bars in the tourist district and they have beers for 25 pesos or $2 US that I’ve been spending a little more time there since I’ve gotten to know the owner Lou, his side kick Steve and some of the bartenders, and again since it is one of the few sports bars I have been able to see some of the world series and Thursday night football. There other thing is this place televises it in English so I have a better idea of what is going on. Sure I’m learning Spanish, but you can’t expect me to know it that quick. I do wish I could stay to watch the end of the games, but when they are starting at 5:00 or 5:30 my time and dinner is served at 7:00, it’s time for me to head home for some good Mexican food. 
The other thing I’ve been doing a lot of is just walking around and taking in so much of what there is to see around town which is quite different that those from the boats in town and in the tourist district see, but it is a lot of run down vehicles, houses, businesses and streets. I’ve notice that most vehicles are in pretty tough shape and there seem to be quite a few mechanic shops that I’m sure most people around here just get them fixed up to get by. Sure I’ve seen some pretty night cars, but not that many and I’ve only seen one Harley and that was an old police bike parked in front of a jewelry store that the owner owns. I know because I stopped in to find out a little more about it. First it was to ask the nice looking lady selling jewelry only to find out it wasn’t hers; of course I’ve gotta ask. 

As for how people drive around here, I’m learning that Alto does not mean stop in Spanish, but slow and go if even that. Yep, hardly anyone stops for an Alto sign and you have to be on your toes to make sure you’re out of the way of any oncoming traffic. There are those occasions where they will yield for a pedestrian, but you better make it quick. To go with that you really have to watch your step on many of the sidewalks because you either hit a hole that isn’t covered, step on a board covering a hole only to break is or just stumble over an unexpected but, that and the curbs are pretty high and take some stepping around. Trust me I have already broken 2 boards on the sidewalks and one all the way thru and have tripped on many of an unexpected lip on the sidewalk. Oh, and there are also these sidewalks on the hilly part of town that you just might miss a step or too, and yes I’ve almost fallen flat on my face doing the same.

Ok, so how about back to the tourist area. Since I am one of the few gringos walking around down there other that the people from the boats I get the merchants always trying to get me into there store for something Harley. I’m not sure how they know I might like something Harley other than the shirts I normally have on, and yes they are almost all Harley shirts, but I also get the same guys that have now seen me every day making sure I know they can get me girls, cigars or any kind of drugs I might want. I have to keep telling them I need to keep it clean since I don’t want to get thrown in jail, but it sounds as though it’s pretty easy to get whatever you need. For me just some cervezas and maybe an occasional shot of tequila is all that I need. 

So there’s a lot more that I could cover such as how the tourist area is a ghost town when there aren’t any ships in town and just how crowded it can get when the ships are around, but I can save those stories for more to come. I end up missing a lot of the boat crowds because by the time I get down town, most of the people have to get back to the boats since they normally leave by 5:00. This weekend will be a different story and since I won’t have class to get up early for, you never know what kind of trouble I might be able to work to stay out of. More to come and TGIF and I’m done with school for at least a couple of days.

More Ensenada pics of the downtown tourist zone, boats coming or going, some of the bars I’ve visited and a day on the beach. 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Day 8 - Ensenada BC Mexico - Spanish School

I guess it’s really only day 8 since I’ve been gone, but I already have 2 spanish classes out of the way and there is sure a lot to learn. My host family is great and you can’t beat being fed 3 meals a day and being treated as though you are in a hotel with my bed made every night and all the amenities that go along with a hotel stay. There are somethings that are a bit different in these Mexico cities that I’ll get to once I finish the story about my arrival.

Anyway, as I was saying with Day 7 is I made it to Ensenada and found the 7 11 that I was looking for so I could contact my host family which wasn’t as easy at it should be. Well, since the really weren’t expecting a bike and are on the side of a pretty steep hill I managed to keep the bike upright in the small driveway they had to I could unpack it. That seemed easy enough, but now the question was, where do I leave the bike to someone doesn’t steal it or strip it. Well fortunately Roberto and Diana had a garage down the street one block that it was the safest place to park it because even if I tried to bring it up the sidewalk close to the house, it’s still in the open for someone to get to. The other problem would have been trying to get the damn thing up a couple of steps because remember, these things weigh over 800 lbs and they don’t have that much clearance. 

Ok, the best plan according to Roberto is definitely to park it in the gated garage, but it’ll take him some time to move the 4 cars that are already parked there so I could get the bike in. The other thing is that also means I shouldn’t plan on easily pulling it out to ride it so if I’m ok with not being able to freely ride it, it’s still the safest place to park it. So this garage is up a pretty steep hill itself and wouldn’t you know it, the last part I had to get up to put it behind the second gate was a step and no ramp. That took a bit of work to get it up and I know I bottomed out, I just hope I didn’t break something. Once I got the front tire per the hump I figured it’d be easy giving it some gas to get the rest of it there, but no luck, the tire just kept spinning against the step. That meant backing it up so the front was still over the hump and giving it some gas to get the whole bike over. Well, it took more than one try, but I made it and thankfully without falling over that my bike should be secure until I decide to take it out and then have to figure out how to get it back to where it’s safe. 

Now for getting settled in and getting to know my host family. One of the first things that I learned from Roberto who speaks some english is they’ll allow us to speak it the first day, but after that we should be using or trying to use as much Spanish as we can. Diana doesn’t know English and she is really the host that we should speak it around her if we want to get fed. It was fortunate that their son Edgar was in town, a lawyer from Tijuana that does speak English that he was able to help me with somethings that I was not so familiar with. Remember this is a whole other country and nothing like the US or even Canada. I guess one fortunate thing is if I leave a good impression with my host family, I have a lawyer in the casa (house) that could maybe help me out. 

For starters and since I was early, Diana already had lunch cooking and although I’ve been here for 2 days so have 8 meals under my belt, I can say the food is awesome, muy bien. I couldn’t begin to tell you all of the different things that we’ve had, but it is definitely some good Mexican food. I did meet another, Christina who is here from San Diego for class, but she is definitely in the advanced class and I’m no where close to what she can speak or any of the other ladies at the school.

Yes, you got it, ladies and me, the only hombre in the school, but the classes are small and I guess that means we should learn a lot quickly. There is Christine, in the advanced class and a couple of ladies from Canada who are in town with their husbands and church group on a mission that one is in the advance, and the other Jennifer in my class as a beginner and trust me, we are both very much beginners. I’ve learned a lot in 2 days, but mostly words to describe items and not so much the conversations I’ll need to know if I plan on doing a lot of traveling through Mexico.

Oh, one of the other things that I’ve notice since spending some time walking the streets is how run down and poor so many of the places seem to be. There are some of the nicer houses definitely gated to park their cars and keep anyone from the property, but there is more poverty type places than anything. That is until you visit the tourist area which is a bit cleaner and has all of the shops, bars and restaurants to go to, mostly tourists from the cruises that come into port every day which is something that I learned at the bar that I visited today. More about that tomorrow The other interesting thing that I haven’t run into before is no toilet paper in the toilet. The sewer systems in most of these towns can’t handle the toilet paper that you have to wipe and drop it in a waste basket instead of the toilet, I will tell you that takes some getting use to. That and many of the bano’s charge of you to use them and don’t have toilet paper to use. I don’t know if that’s extra, but at least my host family and school have paper to use, I just have to remember where to drop it.

Sounds like fun doesn’t it. Well, I can say the weather is awesome and I have much more Spanish to learn. I will try to post stories every once in a while, but school is school. ^ hours a day for 2 weeks so hopefully I’ll have learned a lot and maybe after getting settled a little more and comfortable with my surroundings down to the bars to have a little fun.

So for the pictures that I’ve attached, they are of the house of the host family I am staying with, my room, where my bike is locked up for awhile and some of the scenery around town. The casa is on the side of a hill with houses below and above and I tried to get a picture up the hill and down from the view we have from the street. Oh, and I have a great few from my bedroom overlooking the city and seeing the mountains in the back ground. I can’t see the water front, but you’ll see some pictures from that area. Enjoy, I sure am with the weather.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Day 7 - Ensenada BC Mexico

Day 7 and I’m alive and well in Ensenada BC Mexico. The drive was a short one and with the early start that I had there wasn’t much for traffic to deal with or even anything at the border and I couldn’t believe how easy it is to cross into Mexico, I just hope getting out goes as smoothly.

Anyway as for the trip since I got an early start, remember my hosts were off to work early on a Sunday morning, I just headed toward the border figuring it’d probably take me some time to get things in order before I crossed. I had read that I should make my last stop which is one of the last exists before the border at San Ysidor so took the last exit before the border. What I was looking for was a gas station and a place to exchange some US currency for Mexican, but no luck finding it. This exit had a lot of shops and malls and right next to the fence between the countries, but no gas station. I did remember seeing the sign for the travel info at the previous exist so figured I better head that way to get things in order and maybe some help from them before I cross the border. The other suggesting for making the stop was to make sure to fill up on gas because you won’t find too many gas stations in Mexico and they’re all state owned and will only take Mexican currency, at least that’s what I read. 

Well I did stop at the first gas station at the second to last exit and did get a lot of help from the attendant on hand. A nice older Mexican gentleman that spoke good english and really helped me out. He didn’t know where the visitor center was, but I did ask him about a number of things especially the exchange of money and he said if the rate was a certain amount here get as much as you think you’ll need or just enough to get to Ensenada at which point I could exchange for more. 

After filling up with gas and having a little accident filling up my extra gas can, I got the bike wiped up and on my way around the corner to exchange. I don’t think the rate was as good as the attendant had said I should be looking for because it listed 13,100 to buy or 12,897 to sell. I thought I was getting what he thought would be a great rate at 13,100, but that was to exchange pesos for dollars and I guess I was selling which wasn’t as good. At that point not knowing anything about Mexican money I went back to the attendant to see what he had to say which was you should probably get as much as you need for Ensenada and can always exchange for more in Mexico because the hotels and other places in Mexico may have a pretty good exchange rate. I thanked him for his help so decided instead of exchanging a thousand dollars for pesos I’d start out with $400 which still gave me a lot of pesos. I figured I’m all set and ready to cross the border.

The border crossing was easier than I thought it would be cuz I could've just drove through without stopping since there was no where that they check my passport or anything like that, they just let the vehicles drive thru. Well for me I at least knew that I and to get a tourist permit that as soon as I crossed I stopped to ask one of the border patrol what to do which may not have been a wise choice. Ok, nothing happened even though they didn’t speak or understand my English that well, but they told me I’d have to park the bike and walk to the station that I had just passed since I didn’t stop there earlier. Not a far walk, but I do think it was probably the right thing to do. They were really helpful inside and that was where they checked my passport and charged me $20 to get in. I do think the guy gave me a deal cuz I thought he had said $30, but since he gave me 10 back it must’ve been spanish that I heard. 

Now I’m on my way and as long as I make sure to stay in the Ensenada Cuodo road (toll road) it should be the safer of the roads to get me to Ensenada without incident. I did find the right road, didn’t get turned off on a wrong exit and knew I was ok when I hit the first toll. Here is where I need to decide whether I pay all my tolls in US or Mexican currency because I have to be consistent at all the toll booths, again something that I thought I had read. Anyway I paid in Pesos, cheaper for a bike than a car which was only 15 pesos. And back to not knowing about Mexican currency I forgot to mention a guy at the exchange station that told me about the different coins and such and suggested how I use my pesos. What ever he told me helped cuz now I had an idea of what was what. Coins for 1, 5 and 10 pesos and bills of 20 or higher, I guess that would be 50’s, 100’s and a lot of 500’s that I got for the $400 I exchanged.

Back to the story, from there no problem that I was on to the second toll booth and was able to easily pull out the exact change needed. Sure it was 15 pesos again, but now that I knew how to count the coins I think I have just enough to get me thru. Now all I have to do is get to the third toll booth and I know I’ll be close to Ensenada because that’s the directions the Spanish school gave me. Well, I didn’t make it to the third toll booth because the road was closed that I now had no choice but to ride the free highway and now I know what they say about these roads, they are a bit dangerous. No shoulders, pretty windy curvy roads and the trucks and buses are coming at you as though you better get out of their way. It was a beautiful ride along the coast being able to see the ocean and stuff, but a little more exciting than I had planned on had I been on the toll road all the way here. 

Oh, and the other thing how am I going to find where I need to get since I won’t have gone through the 3rd toll booth that I had directions from. I do think I got a little lucky because even though I didn’t see a sign for Ensenada I did see the sign for a street I was suppose to look for, Calle 10 which I happened to notices to took it, following the big trucks into town. Pretty soon the rest of the directions did jive that I might be ok. Sure was the right exit that I found my way to the 7 11 where I was to call my host family.

Now making a phone call turned out to be another not as easy as it should be task. First of all since everything is in Spanish and the phone booth is pretty tattered and worn down it was a matter of figuring out how to work it which took me a bit of time. I did ask for help, but found that this phone wasn’t working as it should that they pointed me to another phone booth that they said is better for making a local call. Yes, they have a couple of different phone booths depending on what kind of call you are making. Well, this one worked, but as soon as my host Diana answered, it was apparent she didn’t understand my English and I didn’t understand her Spanish. Eventually she put her husband Roberto on the phone who said she’d be right down to pick me up. She walked because I don’t think they knew I was coming on a bike so I had to slowly follow here back to the house. Only a few blocks away on the side of the hill that it wasn’t a great place to park the bike. 

At least I made it that there’s more to the story that I will save for tomorrow’s blog after I see how day one goes at school. Anyway, I am safely in Ensenada and ready to learn a little Spanish so I can make my trip to Cabo. Stay tuned. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Day 6 - San Diego CA

Day 6 and I’ve made it as far as I have to ride before heading to Mexico to stay with my friends Dave and Mindy. Dave is one of the buddies that whenever he is in the cities visiting all of the guys make at least one trip to Savoy for their pizza, some of the best pizza in town. Anyway, today’s ride was also the shortest that I had with only 6 hours between me in Casa Grande and San Diego with a planned on arrival at 7:00 when Dave got home from work that I have the whole day to spend doing some site seeing. Not necessarily sure what I’d see along the way, but I’m sure I could find something to do to keep me busy.

Again, thanks to Joanie, Jason, Jessica and the boys for seeing me off with a full tummy of some great biscuits and gravy that I probably won’t have to eat until dinner rolls around. It was already hot in Casa Grande when I left that there was no way I was going to need to start out with a jacket and according to the weather forecast it’ll likely be no need for a jacket at all today. I hit the road figuring I’d find a gas station pretty quick since I had to head back on the interstate I came in on for a little ways to catch the 8 to San Diego, but I take it it was after all the gas stops that I had to go further than I had hoped before I found gas. A little run down town which fortunately had gas, but it sure would have been nice getting it sooner than worrying about whether I was going to run out again, or I should say for the first time on this trip. I’ve pushed it a few times, not necessarily on purpose, but the gas stations in these parts are few and far between. It is a long drive from station go station and there isn’t much of anything to see along the roads except a lot of desert.

So after my first scare of almost running out of gas, I did run into a couple of more for the days ride. The next was getting to Yuma which I figured wouldn’t be any problem. According to my odometer I can usually get about 150 to a tank, that I thought it’d be easy once I saw how far I had to go, 162 that I shouldn’t have any problems what so every. The thing I didn’t account for was some head winds that can change that a great deal that it was fortunate that the gas stop was 10 miles before Yuma cuz I don’t think i would’ve made it. Anyway, I did and even though I was 14 miles from having to put my lid on for the read of the trip through California and Mexico, I hit the road without the helmet, remember I have time to kill so since I found out from the gas attendant that there really wasn’t anything in Yuma to veer off and see, it was straight for the border and another stop just for the helmet. No problems, but it’s just a matter of having to wear one for the rest of the trip. The one thing I don’t mind about the helmet though is the visor which helped keep the sun out of my eyes.

Once I got closer to San Diego the ride got a lot more interesting riding up through the mountains. I missed a picture of the sign that said I was at Sea level, but that quickly changed going through the mountains and there were plenty of warnings for strong winds, but the other thing I noticed was how fast the temp changed. It did cool off enough I thought I’d need a jacket, but I pushed on. The highest peak that I noticed was 4181 so we climbed quite a ways from sea level in a hurry and again, wouldn’t you know it, I’m pushing it on the gas that I need to make a stop pretty soon. This time after a border checkpoint, which I’ve forgot to mention are all over through West New Mexico, most of Arizona and some of California I did see a sign for gas, not a quick off and on, but at this point I just needed gas. That put me in a small mountain town Pine Valley CA that looked oddly familiar to me and may have been a stop I and to make last time through this way 8 years ago for the same reason, time to get gas. Anyway, I made it that I’m close enough to San Diego now that I shouldn’t have to worry about pushing it any more. 

Since I had so much time to kill before heading to Dave and Mindy’s I decided I might as well visit Coronado Island since I’ve been there before and always enjoy seeing it again. That and I had to dip my boot in the Pacific again just to show I made it far enough West. I did dip the boot a bit too much, or I should say the tide came in stronger than expected that I almost got a boot full of water. Anyway, visiting the island on a beautiful California day is definitely worth it and with the time to kill I even got to hit a bar for a quick appetizer taco and some beers to watch the college football games. Football will likely be something that I won’t be seeing too much of while in Mexico, at least our version of football. 

My last day in the states and thanks to Dave and Mindy for letting me stay to have some familiar faces to see me off. I got to enjoy some good Italian food with them which is also something I probably won’t see too much of while in Mexico. Tomorrow will be the big test on how hard it is to get across the border and not get lost since I won’t have my phone’s GPS to count on. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Day 5 - Casa Grande, AZ

Day 5 puts me in Casa Grande to visit and stay with Joanie, Jason, Jessica and her boys. It’s great having a GF from AZ that still has family living in the Southwest for places that I can visit and stay. Tonight is a short stay since I need to be in San Diego tomorrow which I just realized with this writing that it’s already Saturday morning. I’ve already got my days mixed up cuz it doesn’t feel like a Saturday, but then again I couldn’t tell you what kind of day it feels like. Anyway, I get to write this blog about yesterdays adventure after having some of Joanie’s awesome biscuits and sausage gravy. I normally don’t order that kind of meal for breakfast, but this breakfast was awesome.

So for day 5’s ride from Alamogordo NM to Casa Grande AZ all I kept thinking is how much I enjoy riding in these parts given the nice warm sunny weather. I did start out with a jacket since the desert heat wasn’t as full as it eventually turned out to be, but it was off pretty quick after my first stop at the Harley shop in Las Cruces. I figured it eventually be off the road I was traveling and even though I missed the exit and had to wait until the next one, you can’t miss this shops with the high signs they always have since most of us are looking for stops like this along the way. Nothing like meeting some other friendly bike enthusiasts and telling them about the travels.

From there it was more barren land with a lot of signs warning of dust storms with warnings not to stop in the driving lanes when the visibility is low. I have ran into that with thunderstorms that you want to make sure to get far enough off the road, but I couldn’t imagine a dust storm. Thankfully the winds were light and there were no signs of dust blowing in the area. I did try to capture the pic of my entry in to Arizona and this state did decide to announce your arrival. Well, ok, I was also watching the mile markers and knew when I was close after seeing the 1 mile marker. And for anyone who doesn’t realize that’s what those signs along the road with numbers are for, and believe me I’ve heard of some people that don’t know, those are the mile markers for the state from border to border. When entering a state I do get an idea of how far it’ll be before I get to the next. Lesson number 3 with being able to read a map.

That reminds me of something I forgot to mention with Day 3’s ride from Oklahoma City, Guthrie OK to Alamogordo NM and that is how strong the sun is in these parts. I thought about putting sunscreen on before leaving, but thought I’d wait and guess what, I waited a bit too long that I did get a burn. Not too bad to be able to manage, but now I am making sure I always lube up before the days travel and for today’s ride to San Diego, I can already tell it’ll be a hot one.

So back to yesterdays ride, while at a gas stop, one of the few along the route I did run into a group of bikers that I asked where they were heading and they told me Tombstone. Well, once I found out that was only 27 miles out of my way and I only had another 3 hours to get to Casa Grande, I figured I should make a stop there myself and I’m glad I did. This place was really cool, a traditional downtown with many of  the original buildings and so many people dressed for the times. There were cowboys, the law and the ladies of the night all over the place. It reminded me a lot of visiting Deadwood in South Dakota, but even more back in the time since they haven’t replaced a lot of the original sites with new buildings. I could definitely see spending a night or two there and partying for a weekend dressed as a cowboy. I guess for today I did fit in even though I was walking around in a leather jacket and biker garb.

From there it was another warm ride to Casa Grande that I really got heated in Tucson that I had to pull over at one of the easy off easy on exits pretty quick before getting lost in the traffic that was flying by. No where to pull over for a rest stop or even on the side of the road cuz people sure drive fast around here, which works well for me since I do the same with the bike. That’ll be a different story when I get to Mexico, but for now I’m just trying to get to my destinations with last nights ending on a great note, another hour out of the way since I was in AZ and gained another hour and a wonderful homemade meal of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, green beans and some Corona’s to wash them down. It doesn’t get much better than that. Thanks much to Joanie, Jason, Jessica and the boyz for their wonderful hospitality. It’ll be great maybe being able to spend a little more time with them on my return trip without having to pack up and ride off right away. 

My last day of riding in the states before I cross the border. Stay tuned. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Day 4 - Alamogordo NM Replayed

Day 4 and I’m still in Alamogordo NM to take care of those things I wasn’t able to do 8 years ago when I was thru here. My last visit in this area I did get to stay with the aliens in Roswell, had a great green chili cheeseburger and did see the white sands of Alamogordo, but I wasn’t able to see Ski Apache because of the forest fires they had here. I made sure to make another stop at the Billy the Kid visitors center to make sure I got my route down for how to get to where the forest use to be. 

Yes I have pictures to support all of my sitings today, but photo bucket doesn’t  seem to be working for me and I have quite a few photos. Some of them did get loaded but not all of them so I will try to tell the story without the pictures to back it up. The other thing I still haven’t been able to figure out is how to get my videos loaded to YouTube so I can share them. I have some awesome ones of some of the rides and am sure to have many more when it comes to Mexico. For some reason trying to load any video is telling me it will take over 500 minutes for the upload to complete so either I’m doing something wrong or my internet connections aren’t that good. 

This is where I reach out for help that if there’s anyone who has a suggestion of another place I can download photos to share and what I might be doing wrong with YouTube, I’d greatly appreciate it.

Ok, back to today’s ride. As I was saying about my trip here 8 years ago I wasn’t able to visit Ski Apache that I back tracked from yesterdays ride and rode 70 East back to Ruidoso so I could checkout the visitors center and try to find the same roads I took 8 years ago as well as the sign that didn’t let me thru last time here. What I mean by that is the sign for Ski Apache that was closed 8 years ago as well as the forest ranger who stopped me to make sure I didn’t go any further. Well, with some great directions from the lovely older lady at the visitors center I was on my way to the elusive Ski Apache. I did find the sign so snapped a picture of today’s compared to 8 years ago and the 12 mile road was open for business. 

It was another great ride to the top of the mountain and back. A number of switch backs and the same as with many mountain roads with some corners and no guard rail that if you miscalculate and miss a curve you’ll be over the edge and not coming back. Sure I’ve ridden these kind of roads before, but each is a new adventure. I do have videos to support the ascent and descent, but again not way to get them loaded to share at the time. 

So the trip did take a while up and back since it was only 25 miles an hour and fortunately of me I followed a truck up that helped wight he warnings of when there was a sharp cutback that I needed to watch for. It always helps following someone who knows there way. 

Well after finally seeing Ski Apache, it was time to head to the great green chili cheeseburger that I had last time here in Carizozo NM, the Outpost. I did read that it was closed back in 2011, but I was hoping that someone had stepped up and reopened it since it did have a great GCCB. Well to my disappointment, there it stood, but closed for business that the next question of a local was where can I get a great GCCB? He pointed me to Alamogordo where I had just come from to try one at the Hi-D-Ho drive in. That meant traveling a road that I had 8 years before again and if I remember right, last time it was sunny and warm that today’s ride turned out to be the same. The only difference is the bike wasn’t packed for travel, only me. I do have to say the Hi-D-Ho did have a pretty good GCCB, just not the same atmosphere as the Outpost. 

With time to kill and although the White Sands National park will be on my way to AZ tomorrow, I decided I might has well make the 15 mile drive to take my time thru the park and see how much it has changed in 8 years. If I had pictures to share and since I can compare them to last time, there was a lot of white sand all over the place. Sure some of the mounds have definitely changed over the years since the sand is continuing to move with the winds, but it is still something worth seeing. I could go again tomorrow on my way to AZ since it’s only a 6 hour trip, but I think I might stop on see other sites on my way thru. Once you’ve seen the white sands I can’t imagine they’d be that different a day later. I guess I could be surprised though so we’ll see what Friday’s ride brings.

Now to end the day with watching some of Jimmy’s football practice and a great steak and chicken dinner prepared by my hosts Audrie and Will. Thanks much to all 3 of them for putting up with me for a day and I had a great time and very much appreciated their hospitality. I’ll be sure to visit on my return trip.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Day 3 - Alamogordo NM

Day 3 Alamogordo NM sitting in Audrie, Will and Jimmy’s dining room working on my blog. I thought I’d get here while it was still dark, but apparently somewhere along the route from Oklahoma I crossed into the Mountain time zone. That’s one thing about riding West that I like, gaining an hour because of the time zones. It’s no fun heading home though cuz then I lose that hour every mile further East that I get. Oh well, at least I made it and got to watch Jimmy’s football practice before grabbing something at the local Mexican restaurant.

Today was a perfect day for a bike ride. A little chilly for Oklahoma’s standards for riding this morning, but wonderful for me. I didn’t have to dress like I did for Day 2 when I left Minnesota on a chilly MN day. I think the temp was somewhere in the mid 50’s when I left Guthrie and it was before I crossed into Texas that I had to remove a layer. It’s tough to see by the pictures, but I tried to hit some of route 66 even though there wasn’t much of it to see in Oklahoma before getting on the speed way, freeway 40 which has taken over most of the old hwy. There are still quite a few of the old route 66 relics along the freeway, most being run down abandoned gas stations. Many of the towns still advertise fort a route 66 restaurant if I get off the freeway, but I didn’t take the time to check any out. 

There was one place that I did make a stop for food, but it wasn’t to eat as much as it was to get the pictures of the famous steakhouse in Amarillo TX with a free 72 ounce steak, The Big Texan. I saw the signs all the way along the freeway and had seen this place on Foodtv so had to check it out. If I would’ve had the time, or I suppose made the time for as hungry as I was I should have gotten a smaller version but I can’t imagine trying to eat 72 ounces of steak with a baked potato bread and salad just to get if free. The one thing I did miss checking out was how much the steak cost incase you don’t finish it. Oh well, I did get some pics before heading southwest.

The Big Texan turned out to be the closest to running out of gas since I pushed it and knew I didn’t have far to get to the gas station, but I did learn while traveling 60 southwest to Roswell to visit the aliens that I better make sure I have a full tank for the ride. There isn’t much for town or gas for the ride that with only have a tank and over 100 miles still to go I figured I better fill up one more time. Turned out to be a good thing to cuz there’s nothing except for a lot of flat land and fences. That had me wondering just how much some of these farmers have spent on fence posts and barbwire. It runs for miles surrounding these farms all the way along the highway that it must’ve been quite a choir putting them in and now just maintaining them. The other thing I figured costs a pretty penny are the electrical phone poles and cables along the road. I counted roughly 30+ poles per mile plus all the metal wires strung between them couldn’t have been cheap either. 

Ok, so I must’ve been abducted by aliens with that babble, but it was just an observation. I did make it to Roswell and I did have to make a stop at the Alien museum to see if my honey that I met there 8 years ago was still around. For those that remember the story she I was there in 2006 I met this sweet old lady that was trying to pick me up, well at least saying what she’d do to me if she were younger. Well I did find out that she wasn’t there any more and apparently she did finally retire shortly after I was there, that would’ve been cool seeing her again. While in Roswell I figured I should visit the Harley shop again and thought they had gotten rid of the aliens I saw there years ago,  but they were just moved since the place expanded within the 8 years since my last visit.

Now for the funnest part of the entire trip because of the scenery and road, the ride west from Roswell. I was the same road I took on my last trip and I did remember it well heading toward the mountains of NM and the winding curved roads all the way there. I did capture some video and when I figure out how to download and it and send the links I’ll make sure to do that, but the road and ride is awesome. Sure I’m going faster than the rest of the traffic since on bike, but there wasn’t much of traffic to deal with that the road was all mine which means I made some great time. So 8 years ago I didn’t ride all the way to Alamogordo before turning off at Ruidoso and heading north to see some more sites and ending in Santa Fe back then, but the ride from there to Alamogordo was another winding curving road to ride and now that I was in the mountain it was time to leather up again to stay warm, that was until getting closer to Alamogordo and the heat of the valley. Ok, so enough babble for the night and tomorrow will be a day to relax and see what I can do for one more night before heading West.

Here are the pics and one thing you’ll notice is the smug spots. The bugs got the lens on my GoPro that I hadn’t gotten around to cleaning so I’ll try to remember that the next time. I also noticed that the pics weren’t in the right order, but hopefully I’ve fixed it with today’s pics. 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Day 2 - Guthrie OK

Day 2 and I’m in Guthrie OK just north of Oklahoma City. Today was all about getting the longest part of the trip out of the way leaving Minnesota and seeing how far south I could get. After a 12 hour ride, that leaves a little play time for me tomorrow before getting to Alamogordo NM, my first planned visit. Tonight is the first night in a motel and I found the cheapest around, $55 for the night and it’s definitely a dive, but within walking distance of a bhq place and a Mexican restaurant. The thing missing though is a bar within walking distance so that means a sober written blog instead of one from the late night of a bar with a few drinks and making friends.

Today’s ride was fortunately a dry one. I think I left late enough that by the time I got into  Iowa, the roads had a hint of having been rained on, but were pretty dry that I didn’t have to worry about the slide while wet. That shouldn’t be a problem either if I do run into rain since I had new tires put on before this trip. Yep, another large bill at the Harley shop getting the bike ready for this trip. By the time I got to Kansas City, the sun was out which made for a great ride south thru Kansas into Oklahoma. Sorry, no state signs, but I didn’t see any while entering a new state. The only thing I had to go on was seeing the mile marker 1 in which case I knew I was close to the border. Some of the states just don’t advertise themselves like others do when you cross the border. 

The only thing that sucked about the ride was the cross wind from Kansas City to Wichita. After yesterdays storms that had gone thru there was a strong northerly wind that helped with the majority of the trip, but since Wichita is West instead of a straight shot south, that meant a strong cross wind and with the speed limit pumped up, it does make for an exciting ride. The other thing that almost happened with today’s ride was me running out of gas on the toll road. I checked my mileage while riding past one of the gas stops and figured I had no problems making it to the next, but wouldn’t you know it, no tail wind to help me get there, but a cross and head wind that had my fuel light coming on with too many miles to still ride. Nothing like having a gas can strapped to the back of the bike and running out of gas without being able to use it. My thought was I’ll need it more in Mexico than the states so am carrying it empty right now, but maybe I should be safe and put some in for the hell of it.

Ok, so today I have pictures attached, but not much to see except for the road, gas stops and the motel and bbq place I ended the night with. Tomorrow will be about the ride along some of the old route 66, a visit with the aliens and any mischief I might be able to get in.

Day 2 Mex pics

Monday, October 13, 2014

Day 1 - Mexico (Meh-hee-koh)

Day 1 and I didn’t get very far, still in Eagan. This time not only did I listen to what the weather had to say about Kansas City, 100% rain all day, but I listened to my Thursday night curling team that said not to leave today since it was the 13th. I’m not one to be superstitious, although RBC is since their building downtown Minneapolis doesn’t have a 13th floor, but they might’ve had something. I found a number of loose ends that I had to still get tied up before a trip to Mexico, and today turned out to be a perfect day to get them done. Sure it’s Columbus day and some places aren’t open, but thankfully the places I had to visit were open and I found everything that I needed.

Sure there might’ve been a little apprehension on my part about leaving today, but now with one day less to get to Ensenada, I’ll have to hit the pavement hard and hope for no blowouts or blowups with the bike. I’m still figuring on 2 days to NM where I have a place to stay, a one day trip to AZ for my next nights stay and less than a days trip to San Diego where I get to stay with some familiar faces before crossing the border. It’ll make a difference being sent off by someone who might know a little about the Mexican border crossing and so close to the border itself that I can get a lot done before I’m committed to Mexico. 

Day 2 should get me far enough south with an early start tomorrow and no rain in the forecast that a 22 hour trip to NM can easily be done in 2 days. If I’m lucky enough to be able to set the cruise on the bike fast enough without getting caught, maybe I can cut the 22 hour trip down by at least an hour, that might give me some time on day 3 to visit the aliens in Roswell. Stay tuned for Day 2 which should include pictures and maybe even some video with my new GoPro.

Monday, October 06, 2014

South America - Busted

So if you were one of the many people I talked to the end of August or beginning of September, you knew I was making a trip to South America on my motorcycle. This time of year would be perfect because as long as it’s winter here, that means summer in South America. Well, after talking to some that had families in South America that wouldn’t even visit them because it wasn’t safe and since I couldn’t find a place that would ship my bike there, the only other option was to drive through Mexico to Central America and see if I could get it shipped from Panama to Columbia. Well, I found with a bit more research that even that might not be as simple as I first thought. It is turning out that planning a motorcycle trip to South America likely takes more than just a month or two and would be better traveled with a group of riders than on my own. The other is the roads in all of these third world countries aren’t necessarily built for a touring bike like mine, but better travelled on an Enduro like the BMWs with the aluminum bags or other bikes that can handle pot holes, dirt roads and a little off roading. 

Ok, so I have done a little off roading while in Alaska and Canada a fews years ago and will travel dirt roads when needed, but those are places a little more forgiving to someone like me, someone otherwise known as a Gringo south. The other thing that I’ve found with all of my research is there isn’t really a safe place for me to ride even to get to Panama to ship a bike across the Darien gap. Ah, the Darien gap, the most dangerous (Absence of a) road consisting of jungles, swamps, guerrillas and corrupt military - all in the most intense 90km on earth. Here is the writeup on the Darien gap: This area is a forbidding mountainous jungle on the Panama side; full of swamps, guerrillas, drug traffikers and kidnappers on the Colombian side, making travel through the area not just a struggle against a hostile environment but also a maze of bribing the right people for passage and ducking bullets. 

I digress and back to even a trip to Panama for a gringo like me on a motorcycle. Well even according to a search for travel  in Mexico, it says: The U.S. Department of State warns U.S. citizens about the risk of traveling to certain places in Mexico due to threats to safety and security posed by organized criminal groups in the country. After reviewing the advisories on the Mexican states that may be safe to travel, there is only one that borders the US and that is Baja California. That is all well and good because if I can make it to Cabo then I can take a ferry from there to Mazatlan and be on my way to Central America. Again, not as easy as it may seem because from there across the country there are still a number of Mexican states that the US department warns against travel. 

Great, so what is a guy like me suppose to do? I figured talk to some Mexican families I’d plan on visiting on my way through to see what they have to say. They all said pretty much the same thing that if I’m lucky enough to get far enough away from the US border into the heart of Mexico, I might be able to weave my way toward Central America, but once reaching Guatemala, all bets are off. If you’ve been listening to any of the news on who's trying to cross the border into the US, it’s the kids from Guatemala being shipped up by their families because the drug lords are either kidnapping them or killing them so they have no choice but to run. So go figure, how would a gringo like me look to them? my thoughts exactly!

As you might suspect by the title of this blog, yes, South America is a bust that I won’t be enjoying their summer while everyone here at home enjoys the lovely Minnesota winters. I might even need to update the title because after I started telling those keeping track that South America was out, my plans were to still travel through Mexico to Central America where I could enjoy some of Costa Rica and Panama. As you might’ gathered from all the babble above, even that has been busted. 

So, this is my plan and you are more than welcome to ride along. I am planning a Mexican motorcycle trip though the safest part of Mexico for an Gringo like me, Baja California and Baja California Sur to Cabo. I will be spending 2 weeks in Ensenada staying which a Mexican family going to Spanish school starting on the 19th of October and after my 2 weeks I’ll take my time heading south. Yes, Cabo was battered by a hurricane and some of the roads on the way were washed out, but by November, they should be in order and much of the chaos in order for me to enjoy a little of what Cabo has to offer. It’s still more of an adventure than you would think because there is a lot more to driving through Mexico than one might think. Not only is there an International drivers license that I’ve had to purchase, but my motorcycle insurance is no good in Mexico that I also have to purchase Mexican motorcycle insurance. With that there is the tourist card no different than what everyone vacationing in Mexico has to get, but because I’ll be taking a vehicle into the country I need a permit for it so they can make sure I return with the same vehicle. Now that is where I hope to be able to make it without the bike from under me being stolen, but you never know.

Have bike will travel, even I don’t know what each day will bring.