Monday, February 26, 2007
Bahia Tortugas Google Earth Shot
We were here some nineteen years ago just after I stopped believing in Santa Claus.
The back story here is important: we were living in San Diego at a yacht club on Center Island and it was the custom of this club to have Santa come in by boat, step off and greet the hordes of kids wanting there last chance to ask for a shiny new bike! Well that is exactly what I was asking for and what I saw step off the boat was no Santa Claus but my dad with his ridiculous beard that he had kept since Oregon (big bushy and very white), a red hat, little round gold glasses and a Santa suit with something stuffed in where the jolly belly needed to be.
When he sat in the chair and all the kids lined up to sit on his lap I did not get in line. I was six and Ian was four and that was the end of Santa for both of us. But the poor kids of Bahia Tortugas were about to be duped just like we were. Dad looks like John McCain, replete with the baldness, and the problem with that bald spot is that when you are in the sun (i.e. on a sailboat) it tends to burn quite badly. So dad always wore a baseball cap to keep it well protected. Right before we made it to Bahia Tortugas his cap blew off into the Pacific Ocean and all he had left for a hat was his stupid Santa hat from San Diego. We only made it halfway up the beach before all the village kids came running down yelling “Santi Clase” “Santi Clase.” Dad asked mom to run to the store and buy him some candy to give out, she did and dad passed out a big bag of candy to his hearts content. Well Ian and I ran as far from this faux Santa as we could and all I can remember of the town is some dusty streets and an amphibious vehicle called a Duck that was rusted out and sitting next to the fish warehouse were we had to lug 60 pound blocks of ice from back to the boat after dad was finished playing Santi Clase.
Josh and his Duck
At second glance the town is much the same; a dust bowl of dirt streets and an old duck! The road in was an arduous one, some 60 miles of the worst washboard dirt, deep sand, cliffs with no railings or shoulder, potholes the size of Volkswagens, and of course the road construction (destruction). There was one point were I was sure Ian and his 700 pound bike with bald tires was going to meet his doom. We were coming through a mountain pass following a dump truck when suddenly he turned off to the left in what looked like a small bike trail... When we came through his dust and could see again we know why he choose this bike path, there was a valley between two small mountains that they had been filling so that the road did not go down in to the valley, well it was completely unpacked like standing on the edge of an eroding dune, in all fairness a steamroller had made one pass this however seemed to make it worse. So basically it was a lot like riding your bike across a frozen pond surrounded by a 400ft drop.
The Rowan Brothers on the Road between seas of salt flats.
When we reached the town we were excited as well as fearful of the thought that we would have to drive back out so we decided not to talk about it. We ate lunch at a small restaurant on the hill. One of the waitress/cooks kids was hanging around between delivering food and started asking questions about the motorcycles. It turned out his name was Daniel and he liked the green one more than the silver but really wanted us to buy him one. He was a bit of a special kid and would just randomly turn around while talking to you or jump off the neighboring wall and hide while we engaged him with questions about school, friends, and his parents. Of course Ian made him cry when he asked him about his apparently absent father that was living in Guerrero Negro. Then I tried to fix things by offering him some American money; a nickel and a dime which Daniel rightly said was worthless continued his bawling into his now muddy hands. I told him they were special ones that would bring him luck. He snorted and put his head in is teeny dirty hands and continued to cry. Then all of a sudden he perked up and asked us for pesos, something he explained that actually had value. His mother’s cooking was excellent, more delicious fish tacos! Another waitress asked for a ride- I told her I would give her one if she showed us a pace to camp and along the way she somewhat desperately explained that Bahia Tortugas was a very, very quiet town…
We ended up staying at a hotel in town because neither Ian nor I could be bothered to set up camp (30 min of opening and closing side bags). We walked around town in the dark looking for something reminiscent of our time here as children and happened to almost bump into the aforementioned Duck in the dark. We ate some cold corn on the cob and walked out on the pier that overlooked the bay and its fishing boats (one with all its lights apparently cleaning fish by the amount of seagulls teeming around it) and the four sailboats lazily swaying on their anchors in the night. The next morning I went for a run on the beach just as a squall was hitting the town; it seemed to stay just one hundred yards behind me for about five miles and when I turned around it was gone. The beach had an incredibly low slope and circled around to a point giving a perfect view of the village for the run back, later that day Ian and I raced our bikes down it and captured it with the helmet cam.
Google Earth Guerrero Negro
Guerrero Negro and Ojo de Liebre Lagoon
It was a bit of a battle to find anything to do in this town. Self-proclaimed greatest and most abundant salt producer of the world, nay universe, this little town boasts something like 150 million tons of salt production a year (I don’t think they’re paying any wages to the ocean nor evaporation which I think should get a little more credit as silent partner) so now you know where that salt on the rim of your margarita comes from. While the town isn’t too much to speak of the bay and lagoon are quite amazingly beautiful; surrounded by an estuary the bay is almost completely rimmed by a sand dune barrier that is separated from the land by two miles of the Ojo de Liebre Lagoon (eye of liberty). The estuary hosts a plethora of migrating birds while the lagoon is the official and perhaps only annual mating and rearing environment for gray whales. And it just so happens that February is high mating season (seems that gray whales stick to the Roman calendar replete with St. Valentine’s Day).
Martin had tagged along for the ride since he’d never visited Guerrero Negro and since he wanted a small taste of a bigger town after Bahia de Los Angeles so we all found a nice and cheap hostel (recently the name had been changed from hotel to hostel according to the proprietor who boasted of having many more guests although she didn’t mention if she’d actually changed the prices accordingly). We settled in and took some much needed showers before heading out for a little nightlife which never materialized so we walked around looking for a bit of trouble but ended up hungry instead. A few taco stands and bacon wrapped hot dog carts were eyed and passed over before we came to a popular seeming taco window. Two different types of meat sizzled on the grill and we each ordered one of each type after a long drawn out questioning and repeating of the name of one of the types of meat until we gave up decided on gastronomic guesswork to figure it out in the end. We came to the conclusion that the Mystery Meat was not settling very well and didn’t really taste like the beef she had sworn it was. We headed back to the hostel the worse for wear.
Josh struck up a conversation with the proprietress while we beat it back to the room and left him in charge of finding a bar for us to go that night. An hour and a half later Josh returns. Instead of finding something for us to do he had been dragged into a car with his new friend Soraya and her drug dealer for a cruise around town. They took him to all the sites and explained their history and importance all the while smoking a joint which they proffered and he declined citing the probability of being pulled over by the Mexican police (nonexistent). So Josh got to have all the fun as we suffered from Mystery Meat Syndrome. Although one good thing did come from his trip; Soraya explained what part of the cow we had eaten…
Josh and Martin Drinking and Driving
Martin Pepper and Joshua Drinking and Driving
The next day we saddled up the motorbikes and road out to El Faro Blanco (the white lighthouse) at the end of the estuary and took some pictures at the point before heading back so that Martin could catch a ride with our friend Tony from Bahia de Los Angeles who was provisioning in Guerrero Negro that day. We rushed back and he bought us some lunch and gave us some good advice before they bade us goodbye, “Always Shield Your Sword!”
Joshua and I wanted to get a bit closer to the whales but also didn’t want to pay for a whale watching tour nor another room for the night so we headed out to the dunes to camp for the night. Although we didn’t quite make it all the way out we did camp under an old wind-generator and heard strange sounds all night that could have been whales our the remnants of the Mystery Meat.
Camping under an abandoned wind generator.
Brushing the next morning with beer - seems we'd run out of fresh water...
In the morning we packed up our first night of actually camping (pretty cold and uncomfortable by the way) and headed out of town for what looked to be an easy jaunt to Bahia Tortugas…
A typewriter that we found on the beach; now it's what NTMD is being composed on.
What NTMD is now being written on...
*Named after a wrecked whaling ship that was part of the slaughtering of thousands of whales for their oil after Captain Scammon (the lagoon is also known as Scammon’s) discovered this lagoon and its paramount importance for gray whale mating.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
We packed up our stuff and headed over to the rallying point, Mauro’s house, where I left my bike since it was going to be a dirt bike and off road truck trip only. Martin has an old Ford diesel truck that we pile into; Mauro’s wife Patty and their two kids Giuseppe and Maxine (five and eight years old) and me in the back with Martin driving. Josh goes ahead with Mauro and Mike the two dirt bike pros.
We go through town and then take a gravel road south for fifteen miles and then come to a door that marks the beginning of the ranch. The three bike riders are taking a breather and waiting for us as we’re about to hit the real off road action. Martin is a bit worried about his truck making it but luckily Tony, a Canadian caretaker of a local RV park, is there with his new Cummins Turbo Diesel truck that we pile into. Martin and I are in back as the rest of the group enjoy the relative comfort and AC of the cab. We are battling giant boulders and vicious cacti which scratch the truck and us for another hour while we see in the distance the plumes of dust that the dirt bikes are spewing skyward five miles ahead of us.
We finally catch up to them in a clearing of the cactus forest where we all dismount with shattered nerves for an afternoon barbecue. Only we forgot the grill in Martin’s truck. Luckily Mike takes off up the trail and happens to find a perfect grill for the barbecue and we cook the leftover meat from the hostel fiesta of the day before and have rice and bean and guacamole tacos as we try to hide from the midday sun.
(Mauro's five foot seven frame is dwarfed by a forty five foot cactus.)
It turns out that Mauro has us all out here to check out this Rancho that is for sale in order to get investors to go into the land with him. Only $25,000 will get you something like forty square miles of land. Too bad it’s in the desert and thirty miles over a punishing road or it’d be a steal. But Mauro is a dreamer amongst dreamers and plans to build a town out here. We head out again and it’s not too far until we come to what’s left of the “rancho” which consists of two burnt out shacks, two old truck carcasses and what’s left of a Carmen Gia sports car. Not exactly what we expected but a treat nonetheless. There was also a derelict stone corral which seemed salvageable. We took some photos and decided it was in the kids’ interest to head back before they started to get cranky and more bored than they already were. But Mauro and Mike though it best to continue on the road we were on to possibly find a quicker way back to the main road. After half an hour of this endeavor it became clear that we were only going farther away from the main road and that Francesco and I, once again in the back of the truck, were only getting whiplash and scarred by cacti so we turned around and slogged back the way we came for another hour. This time at speed. And I mean very fast. We were being bounced around in the back of that truck like it was Tony’s business to jostle our brains and our balls.
(Joshua fixer-upper Carmen Gia and Guiseppe and Maxine check out their future inheritance.)
Sufficiently jostled an hour and a half later we came to Martin’s truck where I was granted the great honor of riding in the cab for the first time. It was a welcome relief. We made it back to town an hour later and decided it was time for a beer on the beach. We dropped Francesco off at the bar and took the kids home and I had the bright idea of taking Martin’s zodiac back to the bar since it was beachside. This ended up being another endeavor in of itself since we were beaten by the waves this time. But once we hit the beach we ran into Mr. Smith again who had made friends with three girls from Tijuana (TJ) who had set up a tent n the beach in front of the bar.
(Evette, Veronica, and Maria by the bonfire and Martin escapes being locked in a second story bathroom.)
He introduced me to Veronica, Estella, and Maria and Francesco and I quickly made friends with them as we helped them start a bonfire on the beach. Martin had to go back to the house to take care of some things so we grilled hotdogs with the girls and drank some of their wine and vodka in between beer runs. The girls had been messing with Mr. Smith since he was always drunk and they had given fake names and said that they were from Ensenada in order to placate his constant ruminations upon the stars and amorous advances. They all spoke perfect English and actually had a long weekend because of Presidents Day since they all worked in gringo oriented jobs.
A few other people joined the party including Birch and his wife, a couple we had met at the Hostel party, and some French backpackers that all partook in the smoors we were making. At some point Mr. Smith noticed a slight change in the direction of the wind and predicted a very gusty night which is commonly referred to as a Chabasco and consists of very high winds carrying sand from the south. A Chabasco is also what beached our sailboat a little to the south of here and destroyed everything we had but more on that a bit later. Martin and Josh came back at some point and Francesco was given a ride home by two of the girls because la mota had affected him a bit too much. Slowly the party dwindled until Veronica and I were the only ones keeping the fire stoked.
We lay under the stars and caught four shooting stars as the waves crashed against the beach. It was getting late so I slept in their tent as the winds picked up. And they never let up. Sixty mile per hour winds would slam the tent sending sand and debris into it every five minutes. We huddled in a sleeping bag hoping that it would subside. It never did. At one point we were both hit in the legs by something quite forcefully and we sat up screaming; a table had just been blown into the tent and then over into a palapa shattering it into bits. Neither of us slept much that night as the tent poles caved in on top of us and we waited out the storm.
The next morning we assessed the damage around us; chairs three hundred feet down the beach, the bonfire covered in sand, the shattered table, the tent with twenty pounds of sand in it, and the messes that we looked. I had some coffee and we cleaned up the tent and the girls gave me a ride back to Mauro’s. Veronica and I said goodbye and I headed into the house for some more coffee. Martin and Josh were planning a hike up Mike’s Mountain to go check out Mike’s cave which was this eccentric man’s home on top of the mountain replete with bedding, cooking stove, water collection, and the most magnificent view of the bay possible. I quickly bowed out citing sleep deprivation and a distinct disinterest. They gave me a radio to keep in contact with them and they began the slog up the mountain after I gave them a lift to the base.
I decided to hang out with Maxine and Giuseppe so we played games all day and while they watched a movie I took a much needed nap. When I awoke it was dusk and they still hadn’t returned. I checked the radio and realized that it wasn’t on. I turned it on and tried to hail them to no avail. A while later Martin came over the speaker saying that they were finally heading down and would probably arrive two hours later. I passed on the news and Patty promised to leave them some of the homemade pizza she was making.
We ate the pizza.
Another call came through saying that Josh had sprained his ankle pretty bad as they were coming down in the dark and that they were resting as they assessed the situation. We assured them that there was still pizza left and to come down as quickly as they could. It turned out that it was not Joshua that had sprained his ankle but Martin and it was pretty bad since he was also carrying about thirty grand and a hundred pounds worth of camera equipment (he’s quite the serious photographer). Josh became saddled with the responsibility of carrying the equipment and luckily they made it down safely an hour later. Martin had rolled his ankle quite badly and it had ballooned to almost twice its normal size. We gave them some leftovers and we all decided to rest our weary bones; theirs from the hike up Mike’s mountain and mine from some hard core playing
Well, you’ll be happy to know that I was right. It was beyond my skill level. We spent the day getting some much needed sun on the beach and then headed up to Mauro’s for the festivities only to find that he was quite serious when he said you needed either a four by four or a dirt bike to make it up the winding boulder strewn dirt road up to his place. I made it around the first bend alright but upon rounding the second I wasn’t going fast enough and ran aground on some boulders and promptly fell over. Luckily I wasn’t going too fast and just brushed a bit of the cylinder head. Josh was ahead of me and just happened to look back the moment I fell and captured it on the helmet cam.
Mauro and Francesco were just then coming down in a pickup and stopped to watch the hilarity as I tried to right the bike only to have it fall again. Good times. Mauro, a dirt bike champion, offered to ride it up the rest of the way. He also offered me a ride on the bike. At first I was hesitant but since he was an expert I hopped on. He zoomed up this treacherous road hugging the outside at twenty-five mph zigging between boulders and we’d almost reached the top when he lost traction in the sand and then we both went down. This time at speed. Some of the bike’s weight landed on my knee and tore it up a bit but not that badly. I let him take it the rest of the way alone.
We were a bit norteamericano to show up on time since no one had arrived yet and the trickle wouldn’t really start for another hour or two. We made ourselves at home and checked out his self-built adobe style hostel. We met a bunch of gringos and locals including the proprietor of our little cabana, Alfredo Diaz and his wife Rosalinda as well as a smorgasbord of characters including the reigning champ in the form of Mr. Smith.
Mr. Smith looks entirely Mexican (except for his blue eyes) but takes his name from the days when Bahia de Los Angeles was an English controlled gold mining town. He’s what you would call the town drunk as everyone seems to nod and agree with him no matter what. He was trying to convince Mauro to move the hostel to a better location which was 25 meters to the west so that it could take advantage of the east west view of the entire bay. Mauro didn’t seem to be going for it. But Josh did go for the tequila that Mr. Smith was offering out of his pocket.
Mr. Smith and Joshua debate moving the hostel to this promontory.
After the delicious steak tacos with great salsas and guacamole puree everyone shot the shit as people wandered around the hostel and surrounding mountains. Mauro’s kids played with the locals which was reminiscent of our youth as languages and customs are struggled with joyful insouciance.
Talk turned to the Baja 1000* which will be coming through here next year and Mauro and his friend Michael are putting together a six man team including Martin to compete next year. Josh pipes in with his wish to go dirt riding as well and from there we’re going the next day to a ranch 25 miles away by dirt road that Mauro is looking at buying. Since we’ve already seen my skills off-road (which rightly so Mauro blamed on street tires so I can as well) Francesco and I will follow in a truck with supplies for the day. And I suspect some of those supplies will include beer if they are not the sole supplies.
*If you don’t know what the Baja 1000 is I suggest you look it up. It’s a thousand mile race through the mountains and dunes of Baja by motorcycle and supped up dune buggies that is one of the most intense races in the world alongside the Paris to Dakar Rally.
The beautiful sunset from Mauro's hostel hill as the islands are lit up by the remaining rays.
We woke up late (and by that I mean that I did) and took of for Bahia de Los Angeles on the eastern part of Baja near the Canal de las Ballenas on the Sea of Cortez. We were given an estimate of about six hours and we made it in about that. Luckily before nightfall. But the ride was amazing, through the mountains of Baja into valleys with towering cacti and boulders the size of four story buildings. It went on forever with nary a sign of civilization other than the road in sight. We began to get worried about this pleasant primitivism as we noticed that our gas gages were on empty. Luckily we came across a friendly man selling gasoline by the jug on the side of the road. We filled up. Then Josh’s motorcycle wouldn’t start so I had to push him for a good hundred yards before it got going again.
Just at dusk we finally spotted the Sea of Cortez through a mountain pass and descended to the shore and sought shelter. We’ve been planning on camping but hadn’t been planning on how sore and tired you are after battling cross-winds for six hours on a motorcycle so we found a place right on the water for cheap (the cheapest in town in fact since it didn’t have HBO thankfully.) We went to a little taco stand which looked slightly deserted and grabbed a six pack to wash town the Baja Tacos de pescado y camaron. Here we came to learn that the town power is shut off at 11:30 but that due to tourism many upgrades are on the way including a new main road (under construction now with streetlights to boot) a brand new Marina at the point appropriately titled La Gringa and twenty-four hour power. Although the owner of the taco stand looks forward to a bit more business she really moved here for the tranquility which will then become a thing of the past as los gringos take over.
But above all the most fortuitous meeting was when a local Italian by the name of Mauro showed up with his friends Martin (Americano) and Francesco (Italiano) to buy dinner for his family and guests. Turns out that Martin is a bohemian traveler and writer that has been freelancing, Francesco doesn’t talk much, and Mauro has recently finished a hostel up the hill and has gone around the world a few times by motorcycle sponsored by something along the lines of the Italian government in the form of the Olympic Committee and motorcycle manufacturers. He just happens to be having a christening fiesta of his hostel the next day up the hill. Apparently it’s also quite a dirt bike ride which is perfect for Josh’s KLR but might be a bit of a far reach for my R1100 GS and skill level.
*Notirabasura is a common sign that is alongside the highway that means Don’t Through Trash but which is normally separated as “No Tira Basura” but some frugal signsmith decided to put it all together to save some space.
Apparently the rule in Mexico is, “Never Drive At Night,” but we had a destination and we didn’t really know where else to go so after an hour of noche we finally came to a T in the road which led to Bahia San Quintin. The base of the T consisted of a very, very deep sand road. Let’s make it clear that this is really my first day of riding my motorcycle any distance let alone over any questionable ground. And it was a two mile road to the Old Mill Hotel that we were heading for. Josh started out ahead with his dirt bike with knobby tires and I followed behind with my street tires and inexperience to guide me. After a few close calls in which my headlight was swinging almost ninety degrees each way as I attempted to stay upright I was able to get the hang of it. Once we got to the Inn I had to empty my shoes of the sand dunking that they had taken and we were able to get a room for the night.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
It looks like my title and registration will be ready later today. Later today in L.A.
So I'll be taking a solo trip (I know, I know; solo on Valentine's Day) up the coast to pick them up so that we can finally cross the border legally on Thursday. I'll probably try to mount the helmet cam for the trip up the Pacific Coast Highway and try to get some footage of the sun setting over Long Beach.
Here are a couple of collages that encapsulate our twiddling thumb time on the west coast:
Thanks to Stephanie and Greg for wondrous hospitality and generosity that we hope sets the standard for the rest of our trip! Happy Valentine's Day!
We've been steadily wearing our cousin and her husband down (Prepping for the trip ostensibly but somehow that also involves drinking them under the table) as my title and registration seems to be lost in bureaucratic limbo. I've been told that Wednesday is the magical day but I may have to do a quick round trip to L.A. to pick it up. Joy.
In the meantime we've been doing some judicious packing and planning. Josh built his paniers from Pelican Cases and sheet metal then affixed them to his bike with ready-built mounts. He's still waiting for a clutch handle to fix his horribly bent one, but he did replace the linkage so now it doesn't take a steroid-laden meat-head to switch gears.
I'm pretty much packed as well but have run into an unforeseen problem; I don't have enough stuff to fill the paniers so things kinda just slosh around. So I bought a sleeping bag to stuff in there as well.
On the tech side Race Optics has agreed to sponsor us with a Helmet cam to keep you kids in the riders' seat and Nokia has sent me the N93 multimedia device, aka cellphone, which has a 3.2 MP camera and the capability to directly upload to this blog. Also, JVC has sent out a camcorder for your viewing pleasure. Stay tuned for videos...
Oh, and I'm doing a review of the Garmin Zumo 550 motorcycle GPS unit for a month that should be really useful for me and informative for everyone else.
Not the most fun of days. Josh didn't quite feel that his headlight would be able to do the job in the pothole ridden streets of central America so he bought a couple of high-powered fog lamps to mount. They are uber-bright, so much so that I think he may blind some oncoming drivers to our detriment. But they do look good.
(Is it just me or does his bike now look like the "princess" in Shrek?)
My troubles began during the buying of the bike when I noticed one of the paniers didn't quite shut in the wanted water-tight manner. I brought it up with Joshua Buck, the BMW motorcycle dealer, and he provided me with a couple of deeper lids to replace the existing ones. This was a good thing since it would allow a bit more storage but turned out to not fix the problem since one of the latches that pull the lid closed had sheared off. So today I took both of them apart to replace the lids, oil the parts, and fix the sheared pin (very exciting stuff, huh?). I used some J-B Weld (a two part epoxy type welding fix) and hope that by tomorrow it will have hardened.
And in the process of all this we were able to achieve the goal of making Greg and Steph's place look like a white trash house in a gated community. Ahh, the satisfaction.
Our trip to L.A. was quite successful. We decided to take the train up from San Diego to L.A. because we'd found better (i.e. cheaper) bikes listed. Once we got to L.A. we had to take public transportation (pretty much unheard of by any denizen of L.A.) to go for test rides in Long Beach (far) and North Los Angeles (further). We checked out this bike first, a good deal but a bit of a heavy bike for me and then Josh and I parted ways for him to go check out his perfect ride.
I was picked up by my friend Raul and we went back to his house for some Jack Daniels on the rocks. Our friend Darryl walked over two blocks from his house (also unheard of in L.A.) and we watched Raul's self-produced/directed/acted feature length film for a while until Josh gave me a call asking for directions. I duly gave them. A few minutes later we heard a rat-tat-tat-tat-tat driving by and knew it must be him. I ran outside and saw his totally tricked out KLR 650 which he had bought for a steal.
We all watched bits and pieces of Raul's film for a while and then Josh spoke with his friend Mollie Lief. He was trying to convince her to hang out with us which happily turned out to be easily done. She also lived two blocks away.
Darryl needed his beauty rest so we bid him adieu and headed to Jones for some celebratory drinks and much needed food (for some reason Josh and I do not eat during the day). We met up with some of my friends from Vassar all of which but one actually recognized me due to the hitherto unsported beard. Good times had by all... (ellipsis necessary)
We spent the night at Raul's and once morning broke-and it broke hard-Josh took off to a local motorcycle shop for a loaner helmet for me so we could go back and pick up the bike that had caught my fancy. We got lost. Repeatedly.
L.A. is big.
And noisy. And polluted. And has bad drivers. I (heart) L.A.
We picked up my bike and got a great deal on it as well. Then the first testing of the bikes was down the Pacific Coast Highway where we stopped for a bite on Seal Beach before the trek down the coast. Two hours later we made it home to Steph and Greg's. Home sweet home.
And feel free to donate to our ever-dwindling coffers:
Josh and I have a couple of good lines on bikes but they happen to be up in L.A. so we're taking the train up for an overnight stay/test rides. Josh has found the PERFECT KLR 650 which has had a ton of retro-fitting done and is pretty much ready for the trip. And I'm looking at a nice 2001 BMW 650 GS with only a few thousand miles that looks to be a good deal.
We'll spend the night with my friend Raul (pictured below) and hopefully hang out with my good friend Darryl Stevens and then either (1) Hop on a couple of motorcycles and drive back to Stephanie and Greg's or (2) Get back on an Amtrak train slightly dejected. Let's hope it's what's behind door number One.
Yesterday we helped to deliver a second cousin twice removed sailboat from Mission Bay to San Diego Harbor. It wasn't a breezy day by any means but it was nice and the sun shone for sunset alone. We were aboard a Catalina 320 that needed its mast to be half-stepped with a tabernacle system to get under this one bridge; so if you can picture a rather large mast canting at 45 degrees forward of the bow you might know how we felt as it teetered over the water (and other boats at times). But we safely made it out to open sea with the seals (loose seals)* and were able to sail most of the way.
The sun came out of the clouds just at sunset as we were entering San Diego Harbor, the same harbor that we had sailed into on the Edward D. Rowan twenty-one years before. It was a perfect bookend to the start of this trip.
*Arrested Development Reference.
Obviously I won't have too much time while riding to do much reading but during the downtimes it might be nice to be sent a book by someone who wants to influence this trip from a literary standpoint so in that spirit you could contact me directly to get my whereabouts. Since we'll be trying to keep the weight of the bikes to a minimum I can't take many with me (other than one on travel medicine, one on survival, and a guidebook to the immediate country) and probably won't have a chance to return them to you (and they'll probably be torn and tattered and soaking wet upon return) so don't send me any first editions or anything.
Also, an interesting and actually utilitarian alternative are audiobooks since I'll be able to listen to them on my iPod whilst riding (I promise that is the last Britishism I shall use. D'oh.)
We've arrived in San Diego and are heading out today to go motorcycle shopping. Our cousin Stephanie and her husband Greg have been kind enough to put us up while we get the bikes and paperwork in order.