Ride boldly, Lad, fear not the
spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson)
I'm not the man I used to think I was.
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)
For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for
the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.
|New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
|Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
Thursday, November 30, 2006
Day 19 November 30, 2006 SONSONATE, EL SALVADOR
5:08 pm mst
It has been another Good Day (these days need
to be capitalized). I dropped down for a short nap at around 1330, and was awakened by a strong knock on the door to room
128 at about 1400. John had arrived! He had minimal hassles once he found the locations of the places where the arcane matters
of government and immigration are conducted. He did have another small scare at the El Salvador border, as his MC registration
had expired in the two days he was back trying to get the visa mess straightened out, but a very kind official jumped the
line for him, then hand-carried the documents to the proper windows and he got through without major difficulty, although
it did take a couple of hours.
I spent the morning answering some e-mails, and then went back to the room and entered
my latest post in my own computer in hopes I would somehow be able to get online here in this internet site. My Mac seems
unable to connect by ethernet cable, and only will work when I have a wireless site, which this is not. The guy who runs this
internet site is very helpful, and spent twenty or so minutes trying to configure my Mac to go online, but, as he is unfamiliar
with them, and I am not comptetent to do it, I had to give up. He suggested I just do the blogging on my computer, then transfer
it to a JumpDrive, which I happened to have with me, then plug it into his PC here later, and I wouldn´t have to hand
copy the blog from my computer. I did this, but, alas, the PC will not read the Appleworks document I wrote, so I am doing
this entry from memory of what I wrote on my laptop earlier, as I left it in the room, and only brought the JumpDrive. It
isn´t the end of the world, but it does make things a bit inconvenient.
Tomorrow, we shall strike out along
the El S. coast for Honduras and Nicaragua, destination: Leon, Nicaragua. This will entail two borders, and that ought to
eat up a bit of time, but John thinks Leon is doable. Granada is possible, but it would be a long ride, and neither of us
has had a good look at Leon. John RONed there once, but didn´t see the city. It is reported to be very colonial. He
also says that Granada is a sort of not-quite-as-nice Antigua, and we will be there on Saturday, possibly staying over until
Monday. The coastal ride through El S. is nice, he says, and I am looking forward to it.
So, all´s well that
starts well, to paraphrase and reverse W.S. And, to quote The Shadow, "Who knows what evil lurrrrrks in the hearts
of men" on down the road. I fervently hope all of that sort of stuff is gone and we have sunny skies and clear sailing.
That´s a blog for now...
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Plowing New Ground
Day 17 November 28, 2006 ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA TO SONSONATE, EL SALVADOR
3:40 pm mst
We left Antigua, the three
of us, at 1036. We took a couple of wrong turns, just to keep things normal, but found the road to Esquintla, through Ciudad
Vieja, and had a nice ride down to sea level. We got to the border in short order, less than two hours, and then the fun began.
We checked through the first post (exiting Guatemala), got the bikes cleared out, our passports checked, and moved on
to the first El Salvador check point for a routine passport check. GLITCH!! John´s visa was due to
expire on the 28th: today. It seems that there is some Central American cooperative visa program, and, since John´s
last visa extension, made in Guatemala City rather than at a border post on August 28th, and good for 90 days was due to expire
at midnight, and since we could not possibly get through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica to the Panama border
in the 11 1/2 hours remaining, he was in short, screwed. There was no alternative to going back, not to the Guatemala border
150 yards away for a visa renewal, but to Guatemala City where the last extension had been made. TILT!!
So, what to do? John and I decided he would have to go to GC, and if he could, get it done today to avoid
a fine for expired visa, then spend the night back at the Casa de Mary, and head back down to Sonsonate, El Salvador tomorrow.
I would wait for him at a motel he had previously used on an earlier trip.
"It is just before you get to el
centro in Sonsonate," he said. "It is a large resort, with a big gate, painted yellow, and it is on your left as
you come toward town."
"What´s it called?"
"El Agape." It flickered through
my mind that there are religious connotations to the Agape name, but you know me---well maybe you don´t, but let´s
leave it at this: religion is not high on my priorities. But, he knew the place, and it would make a missed rendezvous less
So, Chuck, our new acquaintence and for-a-while riding mate and I waved bye bye to poor John, as he trundled
back the way we had come, to go through the mess of having to re-enter Guatemala and make the ride back from whence we had
We mounted up and rode the 50 yards to customs and immigration for the ordeal of checking out of Guatemala
(yes, there was more to checking out), and into El Salvador. Two and a half hours later, we paid the $20 US per head road
tax, had our passports checked for the 4th or 5th time, and headed for Sonsonate. Fun, fun, fun.
We arrived about
1530. I say arrived, because as we approached, we saw no sign of an Agape Hotel on the left or the right. We continued into
town, and stopped at the main stoplight, right in the middle of el centro, and I pulled over and asked a fellow. He said he
knew the place, and it was straight on through town, and it was about a mile ahead, and it was on the right. On the right.
I said, "But I was told it was on the left, and before coming into town."
He insisted, "No,
es a la derecha, y adelante." I doubted it, but we pressed on, and sure enough, about a mile beyond el centro, there
it was, El Agape, on the right, the hotel/resort/eco-tourist/old folks home/religious retreat/golly-gee-whiz-who-knows-what-else?
Rooms were $26.80 double, and we took one. Nice little place; small but clean with a private bath and plenty of hot water,
and even hot water at the sink, which is rare in these parts. Oh yeah, it had 2, count ém, two beds, thank you very
Apparently John had previously come into this town from the opposite direction, and I had not heard that,
but Chuck had, and he figured it out as we were heading in what I thought was once again another wrong direction. We
are now holding bets as to whether John will find the place as easily as we did, considering he will be looking on the left
before he gets into town.
ADDENDUM, NOVEMBER 29, 2006
I called Casa de Mary last night,
and talked to both Salva and John. Bureaucracies being what they are, John, now on an expired visa, has to go directly to
"jail," and cannot collect his $$ for passing GO or whatever it is you pass in Monopoly. He cannot renew in GC,
but must go to the Mexican or Belize border, and re-enter Central America with a new visa which apparently can only be issued
at one of two posts, Tapachula, or the border in Belize. Tapachula is only about 2 1/1 hours (good luck with that one!), and
he will start out early this morning, Wednesday, the 29th, and maybe get it done in time to get back to Antigua or some place
on the way here. Then, he will pull in here, we hope, sometime Thursday, maybe early enough to head on down the road. No matter.
Time is not a high priority, and it is all part of the trip.
Chuck, probably having had enough of two geezers fumbling
and bumbling around Central America, headed out this morning, going up north and into Honduras, possibly back-tracking toward
the Guatemala border and Copan and Copan Ruinas. He is on a 5 year sabbatical, and does not expect to make Ushuaia until their
next summer season.
If this turns out to be the worst thing on the trip, it will be truly rare and wonderful. There
are no bad days...
Saturday, November 25, 2006
It's A Small World, After All
5:34 pm mst
ANTIGUA Mary, Salva, John, Carita and I took a walk to the Escolonial Nursery yesterday for
a coffee and pastry, and as we were walking past a small hotel called El Canario, I spotted a bike parked inside the wrought
iron gate, and there, very clearly visible, was an Idaho license plate! It was a KTM, shiny and bright, and I stopped and
wrote them a note, telling them I was here on a Beemer, and live in Buhl. I asked them to give me a call at Casa de Mary,
which they did several hours later. It turns out they are from Ketchum, just 85 miles up the road from me. They know several
people there whom I also know, thereby proving it is indeed a small world, and that we are often closer to home and familiarities
than we ever realize.
They are headed all the way south, also, and are hoping to catch a boat from Panama to Cartagena,
and gave me some contacts to make the trip. John and I had coffee with them this morning, and we got acquainted. They are
Mark and Bonnie, and we will surely hook up now and again on the trek into SA. They are leaving tomorrow, and will probably
take the route into Copan, Honduras.
The weather here is still quite nice, and is warming a little. Today was
likely in the 70s, and very warm in the sun.
Still looking forward to departure on Tuesday.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Days 10 & 11 November 21, 22, 2006 RIO DULCE TO ANTIGUA, GUATEMALA
9:27 am mst
Arrived in Antigua just
after noon on Tuesday, just in time for lunch at La Casa de Mary. It was a nice reunion with Salva and Mary, the owners, and
their youngest son, William, who is back home after living in Italy for several years. They all greeted me like some long
lost uncle, and it was very nice to feel right at home immediately.
John, my riding partner was there too, and
said that he is ready to ride south at almost any time. His MC registration ends on the 29th, so we will likely head out on
that date or before, since it is pointless for him to have to go to the border to get renewed when we are so close to departure.
The ride from Rio Dulce was uneventful, save for several oncoming trucks pushing the limits of safety when passing,
and nearly forcing me off the road a couple of times. I shook my fist at them as they whizzed by, missing me by inches as
I hugged the right side of the pavement. The barrow pits here are non-existent, and if one leaves the macadam, one courts
disaster. But, if there is no other way to avoid being plastered, one does what one must. Fortunately, it has not yet come
to that. The scariest ones are where there is a bridge or guard rail on the right, and hence nowhere to go to get out of the
way of the approaching monster.
It was once again cool in the higher terrain, and I had forgotten that the hills
east of Guatemala City get up to 4800 feet, so I had to put on a coat under the mesh jacket once again. There has been another
cold front through here recently, and the temperatures are unusually low, even for this time of the year. Last night, for
example, here in Antigua, it got down to 6 Degrees, Celsius. That is what, about 38 degrees (a guess) F.
to get through Guatamala City without becoming hopelessly lost for once, and only got off track one time, reconnoitering without
having to stoop to asking for directions (yes, men abhor asking for directions; some things never change). I wound up at Sears,
which is close by Clubco (the Guatemalan equivalent of Costco), and then was reoriented, and soon was on the curving ups and
downs into Antigua.
Looks like the end of the blogs for a week or so. I am having trouble getting my laptop online,
either with ethernet connection or with WiFi, so am having to use a Cybercafe computer, and this makes it difficult to post
pictures on the site. I guess I will have to download them onto a flashcube, and then put that into the Cybercafe computer
and load from there. That ought to work (he said, bravely). We shall see. By the way, as I left the house just now, the volcano
Volcan de fuego (Fire Volcano) let out a big belch of grayish blackish smoke. One of these days...
Adios por ahorra.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Day 9 November 19, 2006 VILLAHERMOSA, TABASCO TO CHETUMAL, QUINTANA ROO, MEXICO
6:34 pm mst
I slept in, and
didn´t get on the road until after 0900, following a nice breakfast buffet. For once, I didn´t get lost on the
way out of town, and went straight-away onto the highway toward Escarcega, where one turns off to the east to get to Chetumal
and the East Coast.
Nice ride today, but nothing of great note, which is also nice. Great notes sometimes come
with unpleasantness, and this "adventure" is more the better without nasties.
I did notice the terrrain
and flora changes as I progressed east. The country is flat here, a lot like Louisana, and initially was covered with tall
trees and lots of heavy undergrowth. The terrain, fences, trees, and just about everything that cannot move around was covered
with green vines and leaves. I think it is Kudzu, but am not sure what that looks like. As I continued eastward, the trees
became smaller, and the "Kudzu" less aggressive, replaced with bushes, smaller trees, and tall grasses, up to 5
feet tall. Pretty country, and many of the side fields had cattle or goats. At one point in a small (very small) villa, a
nanny goat and two very young kids strolled into the road and took their sweet time getting out of my way, as I stopped courteously
to let them cross. Not enough time to unsling the camera, dammit, as it would have made a good picture.
is a much nicer town than I had expected from a border town. It is quite nice with wide streets and lots of trees and the
like. I am in a Mexican hotel; The Caribe Princess, and it is adequate. The have Wi-fi, and my signal locator shows a strong
signal, but my laptop does not show any wireless signal whatsoever. I am shot down for now.
I will head for Guatemala
tomorrow and shoot for Rio Dulce, about 360 miles or so. Should make it OK, barring delays at the border, and should be in
Antigua on Tuesday afternoon.
Well now, I just returned from dinner just up the block at a pizza and steakhouse
called ¨Sergio´s." I had a salmon fillet that was superb. It was billed as Salmon Vinegtreta (Atlantic Salmon)
and was perhaps the best I have ever had. The meal the previous night in Villahermosa was great too, but this salmon was very
very tasty. I barged into the kitchen to tell the chef, and one of the waiters was a bit put off, but the others were pleased,
as was the chef. He was busy at the time, but later came to the door of the kitchen and my waiter pointed him out to me. I
gave him the high-sign, and I thnk he may have been pleased. I had a couple of cokes and a finishing cup of good coffee,
and the bill was P195. That is about $17.75. As I was short of pesos, and am leaving Mexico tomorrow, I left a $20. Tipping
here in Mexico and C.A. is still a mystery to me, and I hope it was adequate. By the way, when I looked into the kitchen,
I violated a long-standing rule for Mexico and a pretty good one anywhere: Never look in the kitchen if you don´t
want to starve to death! But, I am pleased to report that the kitchen looked, at a quick glance, to be spotless.
The chef and his helpers wore clean white uniforms complete with head coverings, and I could not vision a cleaner looking
food prep spot.
I noted also the waiters, who were neatly attired in uniforms, very professional, and they seemed
to be very attentive and helpful, taking great pains when resetting tables to place the table cloths and silver just right.
Never mind the hand over the top of the salt and pepper shakers, they were what appeared to be a very highly trained and motivated
group. So, if you ever get to Chetumal and want an excellent meal for reasonable prices, try Sergio´s on the corner
of Alvaro Obregon and Cinco de Mayo.
Day 9 November 20, 2006 CHETUMAL TO RIO DULCE, GUATEMALA
Up a bit late again, and on the road at 0730. After the obligatory lost route, I found the correct road and headed
for the border at about 0740. Arrived at 0815, and discovered that the people who would be able to cancel my vehicle
registration would not open until 0900. I had a nice talk with a chap standing around, and got my stuff done and through Mexican
officialdom quickly and into Belize with little delay. They sprayed the bike, I paid a fee. They sold me insurance (I almost
declined), and I headed for the c ustoms office. That was fairly easy, and I headed down the road. At a short distance was
a police check point, and the officer wanted to see---Yes! my insurance! Good decision, that!
My Belize visa was
good only for transiting Belize, and I took the route that avoids the congestion of Belize City, and reached the Western
Border in just about three hours. I have been in countries a shorter time, but only once or twice. The border out of Belize
was a bit of a puzzle, and I cleared out and paid a fee for something, and then went to another door and got my passport stamped,
or maybe it was the other way around. I asked about getting my MC registered, and the lady informed me that this was Belize,
and I would have to do that in Guatemala. I then realized that the Belize customs and immigration was not exactly on the border,
and I rode another mile or so to Guatemala customs, and went through a similar drill. Got it all taken care of with a minimum
of English, got my Guatermala sticker on the W/S, and was off for Rio Dulce.
The first 15 miles or so of road out
of the border were maybe the worst I have ever been on considering that it was supposed to be a highway. I have been on rougher
roads, but they weren´t supposed to be paved highways, let alone main thoroughfares. This was mostly on bedrock, with
very little loose material, but lots of deep grooves and big rocks firmly connected to each other. I thought it would never
end, and then it did. The road was no longer under construction, but desperately needed to be. It was not as rough as before,
but deceptively misleading, because you would think things were going well, get up to speed, and then see a large rough spot
ahead that caused heavy braking lest you be launched into some low orbit. There were potholes everywhere, and then they were
gone. Pick up speed, and yes, here they come again... This went on for about 35 miles, and then I hit the main road that leads
to Tikal. I took the turn to the south, however, and thought I was on the main main road. No, that was yet to come. This road
was pretty good pavement, but every little crossing had its speed bumps. Here in Guatemala they call them "Tumulos."
Finally, mercifully, I did get onto the main main road, and took off for R.D. As I approached Poptun, about 75
miles from the turn-off from the border, I could see that the sky was darkening ahead, and the temp was dropping. It had been
in the mid to high 70s, and now it was approaching the sixties. I was wearing my mesh jacket over a long-sleeved microfiber
shirt, and was getting damned cold, so I stopped, finally, and switched to my Aerostich. That helped, but then it started
to rain, and the terrain was rising (I had forgotten about the hills along that road), and the temps dropped into the low
60s. I stopped for gas in Poptun, and put on a coat liner, then hit the throttle for R.D. to beat the sunset. I arrived at
1715, and pulled into Bruno´s Marina, located under the north end of the bridge at Rio Dulce. It is a favorite of Gringos,
travelers as well as sailors. Steve, the owner and manager met me, and showed me to a room, and I went in and had some excellent
shrimp a la garlic, along with a coke and a nice salad and fries.
Another good day, and another good ride.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
An Easy Day---Only 180 Miles
5:55 pm mst
DAY 7 November 18, 2006 VERA CRUZ TO VILLAHERMOSA
Launched out of Vera Cruz reluctantly at 0800,
and after riding in the usual circles for about 20 minutes, found the way out of town and hit the Cuota highway for points
Took a small detour to Coatzacoalco (I have this wrong. I cannot seem to get this town straight, but will correct
this later), as my neighbors recommended it. It was drizzling there, and still early in the day, and I didn't see anything
that caught my interest, so did a 180 and headed for Minatitlan and points south.
Arrived in Villahermosa about 1530,
and found, or rather stumbled into a very nice motor inn; La Calinda Viva. Expensive, but veddy nice. They also have a nice
wireless internet (available only in the lobby or business center). Lots of very upper middle class Mexicans here.
town is sort of a gateway to Palenque ruins, which are just a few miles down the road. I am guessing something well under
100 miles. I have been there, and would like to see it again, but think I shall forego it this time. With luck, I should easily
make Chetumal tomorrow, on the Belize border, and possibly get into a town in Belize before dark. That would put me into Guatemala
on Monday, and in Antigua by Tuesday afternoon.
The rain today was quite light, but I stopped at the first sign and
battened down, putting the camera in the tail bag, and donning my Aerostich coat, as I was getting a bit chilly anyway. The
temperatures were running in the mid to low 70s, and the rain only lasted for about 50 miles. It had stopped well before Villah.
toll roads are getting downright expensive. Today the total on 7 (yes seven!) toll booths was over $35.00 US. Beats those
damned topes, though.
Another good day. Oh yes, I was correct. It is Coatzacoalco.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Relaxing In Vera Cruz
6:29 pm mst
Day 6 VERA CRUZ (still)
Spent the day here, enjoying the sun and the sights. At one point, as I
sat on a bench along the Malecon watching the people, I had my camera slung around my neck. There were several camera guys
selling polaroids along the way, and I had a short conversation with one of them. He told me where the original site of La
Parroquia Restaurant was located, and I found it later. He drifted off, and several minutes later a contingent of Mexican
tourists approached. There was a mother and several young people, apparently a family of teenagers and their friends; about
6 or 8 people. The mother approached and queried me. I thought she was asking me to take a picture of the group, because one
of them held a small digital camera. I nodded, and she asked me, "How much do you charge?" She thought I was one
of the picture vendors! and I told her no, I was not a professional, but a turista. We both laughed, but I was somewhat flattered
that the fact that I am a Gringo did not stand out as much as I might have expected. To her, at least at a glance, I was just
another old man selling polaroid photos.
Later, I had a long conversation and Spanish lesson with a young fellow of
about 30 or 35 in the park. We struck up a conversation, and he was very helpful, learning some English as I practiced listening
and talking in Spanish. He was merely being friendly, and had no ulterior motive that I could see. Just another nice guy being
pleasant to a stranger.
Time for dinner. That's all from day 6
7:53 am mst
Day 3 November 14, 2006 ZACATECAS Arrived in Zacatecas after dark, against my best laid plans, but found a
hotel in town---a Howard Johnson possession, an older hotel they apparently purchased. P 690, and a pretty nice room.
The bad news---my laptop crumped (again). Same symptoms as last year in Xela, Guatemala. This time I have the CD for the
OS and still cannot make it work. It has a small icon in the center of the screen with a manila folder and the Mac “Finder”
face/profile on it. This alternates with a question mark in a small box. This is frustrating because I cannot blog on it,
and furthermore I am not sure I can find the page that allows me to blog when I use a cybercafe computer. What’s more,
I cannot seem to get my Hughes.net account opened, so I cannot send or receive on that account. Luckily, I have the hotmail
account for sending e-mail. I will try to get my Mac fixed in Guatemala City.
Day 4 November 15, 2006 ZACATECAS
TO TAMPICO On the wheels at 0830, after gas and ATM stop. Rode until almost dark, and found Motel Plaza Sur on the outskirts
of Tampico, another like in Culiacan. I take it “motels” in Mexico are usually like this. This is a nice, clean
room also, and not garishly decorated. No heart shaped pillows adorn, but still there are plenty of mirrors, and the ubiquitous
condom on the bedside. There was no restaurant as such here, but the maid informed me that I could call and order, and they
would deliver to my room. Privacy is the byword in these places. I parked the bike, closed the garage door, and settled down
to await the meal, which was quite good, and reasonably priced.
The road from Zacatecas had lots of straight stretches,
but a really nice set of curves fro 100 K or so around Ciudad Valles. A couple of cars blew by me---a black SUV and a white
sedan, and I hung on behind them through the curves until I got stuck behind a truck, and when I last saw them on a long straight
stretch, they were a good 1/2 mile ahead. I never saw them again, as I had to stop for gas. It was some fun riding, with nice
curves, sweepers and tighter ones, where you can get a nice rhythm going at times.
Day 5 November 16, 2006 TAMPICO
TO VERA CRUZ Left Tampico at 0805 and milled around for thirty minutes and 10 or 15 miles until I finally found the
road toward Tuxpan and Poza Rica, although there may have been a shorter way from right in town. I rode until 1500 when I
arrived in Vera Cruz. Decided to bag it and stay here, as it is a truly charming and picturesque place. Ruth and I were here
years ago, and loved it. I do not see that el centro, where I am staying, has changed much. It still has great colonial charm.
The good news is that I spent about 4 hours in the business center in the hotel on the computer, trying to crack the
code for my dnif e-mail account, reading and sending e-mails out on the hotmail account, and generally making progress. I
did finally hit on the correct user name and passwords for hughes.net account and for the webmail, a feature I seldom use,
but would have to use on cybercafe computers until I could get my Mac back into operation.
Better news. I returned
to my room, and decided to give the Mac another try. A short background here. My Dear Wife called Mac at my request and relayed
the symptoms of my failure to the tech there. She said he told her I might try holding down the Control key when starting
the computer. I told her I didn’t think it was going to work. That was a couple of days ago. This being the first time
I had a chance to really try it, and seeing as how I was still locked out of the editing page for the 2wheels blog, I came,
as I said back to the room and tried it. Voila! It booted right up! Zounds and Gadzooks! I am back in business for the nonce.
I wonder if that would have worked last year in Guatemala, where I gave up and sent the damned laptop home...No matter. The
important thing is that Ruth saved the day again. Nice work, Bunky! You are usually right, and I am usually wrong. The pattern
Well, it is working now, and I am in my room, blogging in the middle of the night so I can download
and send this in the morning. That will take some time, and as this town is so charming, I think I shall stay for another
night. It will afford me time to also take a stroll over to La Parraqia (?), the famous coffee house here in VC. The
waiters there are excellent, and serve coffee and cream from huge silver pitchers with long spouts. They hold them high above
the cup and pour simultaneously, never spilling a drop. The coffee and cream pour into the cups in long streams, and it is
quite a sight. I will try to get a picture or two of it.
All in all, a good day. Now, if I could just get the damned
camera to get rid of a feature I don’t like, and if I could get the damned satellite phone to work (it isn’t the
phone, it is my incorrect inputs), things would be wunnerful. Ah, the complications of the modern electronic and technological
world. One has to be proficient in so many venues.
Ain’t life grand?
After a slight delay...
DAY 2 CULIACAN, SINALOA, MEXICO November 13, 2006 (Entry will show a later date, as I am not online here). Distance
today: 453 Miles
7:51 am mst
Rolled out of Hermosillo at 0830. I decided to stay on the Cuota (Toll) Highways today,
to make better time, and seeing as I had taken the Libre (free) roads on two previous occasions. I did make good time,
but there were 8 (count ‘em, 8) toll stops, and they cost a total of P294 ($27). They varied from 19P to 57P, and I
still have not figured out the method of charge, whether it be miles or what. Vehicles pay according to general class, autos
(including motos), trucks, etc. This of course adds to the trip expense, but it eliminates most of the topes that
can be such a royal pain, and that makes up for a lot of the aggravation of the expense, plus struggling to find the
money while straddling a bike, taking off gloves, and searching the pockets for cash. I will probably stay on these toll roads
as much as I can for the balance of the Mexico portion.
I took the road to Mazatlan instead of entering Culiacan,
hoping there would be a motel/hotel on the southern outskirts. A sign said “El Dorado” and pointed off toward
the Pacific, so I took it. The map showed it not too far, but I went way too far; about 30 miles, before I U-turned and headed
back to Culiacan, fearing I would be caught by darkness with no hotels in El Dorado, should I ever have arrived there. I got
to the outskirts of C. about 1715, and pulled into a nice looking motel named “Paradise Gardens” (in English!).
I pulled up to the office, and walked in. It looked very nice, with marble floors and a marble counter. The place was clearly
quite new, and I was favorably impressed. The clerk said they had only double rooms, no single beds. No problem. Then she
said, (en espanol) “How many hours?” I did a slight double take, but thought maybe I had heard incorrectly, as
is my wont in receiving information in Spanish.
“All night,” I told her. She told me to pull into the courtyard
and the fellow down the way would show me the room. As I rode down, I realized that it looked like an apartment complex, because
each room had its own garage, complete with pull-down door. Still idiotically obtuse, I got off and went to the room, which
opened into the garage. He said it was unlocked. I opened the door, and yes, there was the bed, a round one, surrounded on
three sides by mirrors. All it lacked was a ceiling mirror and a lot of pink hearts. This room was in a beige, tasteful decor.
I said to the clerk, “Is this a sex motel?” He mumbled something. I said, “I think this is a sex motel.”
He said, well, yes, but it is also for families. “Do you have internet?” I asked. He called the office on his
mobile. “No.” “How about a telephone?” “Si.”
The place was spotless, with
an apple (A Delicious, from Washington State), and candies in the basket. There were airline type slippers on the counter,
along with a packet of kleenex and, yes, one (1!) packaged condom. It had water, customary in Mexican motels, where the tap
water is not safe to drink, which includes almost every establishment in the country, matches, and some breath mints. The
drapes over the only window, which opened on the drive, were very heavy, permitting no light nor inquisitiveness from without.
There was a nice right-angle couch along two walls, and a Sony TV of recent vintage (no plasma, though) on the wall. Mexican
love songs softly played through a speaker in the ceiling. There was a restaurant on the premises, and the room is nicely
air-conditioned, a nice touch since it is about 80 degrees and a bit humid outside. And, the bike is safe there in the garage.
In short, it was a pretty nice room. The price was 350P ($32). What the Hell. I took it.
A few minutes later I
went to the restaurant and had Carne Asada Tampiquena, and it was good, for 85P, including a coke. The menu was very interesting.
On the first page there was a listing for “Productos Varios.” Listed were, in addition to cigarettes, candies,
and snacks, these items, some of which I cannot identify: Toalla feminina, desodorante, soft lube, Jalea, Pasta Chica,
cepillo para cabello, crema para cuerpo, Rastrillo, Viagra, preservativo, and capillo dental. I can ID “feminine towel,”
the comb, the deodorant, the “soft lube,” crema para cuerpo (body lotion), and the capillo dental (toothpaste?
for breath that is “kissing sweet?) along with the Viagra, but the others have me stumped. I was going to ask
the waitress, but was afraid one of us would have been embarrassed. Pasta Chica? Rastrillo? Preservativo? Yo no se.
So, it has been interesting. I am not entirely sure whether I should shower before bed or after---or both.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
Off and Running
7:01 pm mst
DAY ONE - PHOENIX (OK, Scottsdale)
This trip has officially begun. I rode out of the driveway at
1046, and got under way, I think without forgetting anything important, and maybe even without forgetting anything. Not bloody
likely. Something will jump up as missing before long...
Made 360 miles according to the GPS, and was under way for
about 6 hours out of the 7 plus elapsed. Stopped for gas in Nogales, AZ, then stopped in Nogales, Sonora at an ATM for some
Mexican cash. The border post is about 30 or so clicks south of town, and here is where you can get your tourist card and
your auto certificate at the same time. They also have insurance cages, but I already had purchased it before I left.
clerks at the immigration as well as at the bank (where the auto certificate is issued) were very efficient and courteous,
and I was through that hoop in about 30 minutes flat.
The weather was nice, and I even got a bit cool coming
down from Tucson, so put on an under coat in Nogales (under the mesh jacket). From then on it was quite comfortable, and the
temperature rose a couple of degrees by the time I got near Hermosillo. It was between 70 and 75 the whole
I stopped in Hermosillo, and found La Fiesta Motel, where I stayed last February when I returned from Guatemala.
They have wireless here (sin alambre). This is not a typical cheap Mexican Motel, but rather a mid-range place, and is running
about $55 US, a bit above my budgeted expenditure, but I am "easing" into the less expensive places, and expect
there will be several cheaper ones along the way to keep the average down.
I decided to come this way because I was
afraid that if I crossed the border at Agua Prieta/Douglas, I would have a tough time making the 150 or so miles to Nuevo
Casas Grandes before dark. As it was, I got here to Hermosillo just as dusk was sinking, and people were beginning to turn
their lights on. So, it looks like I am committed to the coast for awhile, but will look for ways to angle toward the Gulf
Coast without having to make a 90 degree left turn and go straight across from Pacific to Gulf, and still avoid the nightmare
of Mexico City and Federal District (similar to Washington, D.C.).
I cranked it on a bit today, because I didn't
wish to get caught by darkness, but even at that, they were whizzing by me with regularity. Tomorrow, I promise myself, I
will keep it at around 70 indicated (65 MPH by the GPS) Today, I crept up to 75 (GPS) on occasion...
today. Ruth took a couple before I left, but I haven't downloaded them yet.
The-the-that's all for now...
Thursday, November 9, 2006
Thinking Of Everything
11:09 am mst
Just a few days left, and I have thought of everything, covered every base, completed every list, and am confident that
nothing, but nothing has been forgotten. Ha!
I loaded things this morning and took a trial spin to see how Der Klunkenschiffter
handles with this configuration. It is somewhat top-heavy, but not objectionably so, and, although it is much heavier to handle
when pushing it around, it rides nicely. I think it will be good on the road, although I am going to have to take the topes
carefully, as I mentioned in an earlier entry, and there are cajillions of them between Nogales and the Guatemalan border.
am almost ready to launch on schedule, and nothing can possibly go wrong, go wrong, go wrong...
Thursday, November 2, 2006
On The Road Again (by cage)
6:41 pm mst
Scruffy reappeared at the door to the deck at about 2:15. I never expected her to come around so soon after her scare
in the pickup. So, I collected the cats, Smoke in the carrier, and this time, Scruffy in a pillowcase so she wouldn’t
I closed up the house once more, this time forgetting to unplug the satellite modum and router (Heidi,
should you read this, sometime when you stop by to check the house, please go up to the loft and unplug the two wall plugs
between the desk and the book case. Thanks. It is no big deal, but might as well leave them unpowered), and then deposited
the little dears at the local veterinary/boarding facility.
Thus, I got on the road at about 2:45, and headed out
smartly for points south. I made it to Lund, Nevada by about 7:15 MST (6:15 PST), and pulled in to the motel just a few miles
north of town, the only motel hereabouts, by the way. It has a big red neon sign, but the M is burned out, so it reads:
O T E L
in the dark. I looked around, but could find no evidence that the name of the place was the "Bates
Motel," so took a chance, despite the omen (never stay at a place where the neon sign is missing letters). It turns out
the name is the "Ranch Motel," and it was quite satisfactory. I will experience worse in the next few months.
"The restaurant is closed," the motel lady told me, and has been for about a year and a half. And
I thought it would be open. But, the store was open, and I walked over and made purchases of a can of Campbell’s Chunky
soup (veggie/beef), a can of smoked oysters, a coke, and two candy bars. Nothing like a healthy home-cooked meal to end a
good and successful day (I heated the soup in the motel office microwave). They even gave me a plastic spoon, although I have
a set of silverware for just such contingencies.
My trusty GPS confirms my experience on this road, that it is
just about 9 hours from here to Phoenix; 8:45 to be specific. If I get an early start I should get there in time to get the
bike unloaded at the Scottsdale Beemer shop for some new tires and perhaps sundry MX work. I noticed one of the caps on one
of the triple clamps is cracked, and maybe I can get it replaced while they work on mounting the tires.
cats aside, the trip is starting out well.
Awoke early, Thursday, November 2, as is the custom with old men, and
was on the road by 0710 MST. I had an uneventful trip the rest of the way to Phoenix, and arrived at the Beemer shop at 4:i5.
They helped me unload Der Klunkenschiffter, and I arrived at the house on Escuela at about 5:30. BTW, I am going to start
using 24 hour time, as it is much easier, and most people know how to use it. So, I arrived home in Scottsdale at 1730. All
in all, a good trip, and I didn't speed once. Well, OK, I did a couple of times when passing, but kept it at speed limit
plus 5 almost all the way.
The routes taken on this trip: US 93 to Ely, NV, then US 6 to the turnoff to Nevada 318 through
Lund, Hiko, and reintercept US 93 north of Ash Valley (Ash Fork? Ash Springs? Ash Something). Then US 93 to the freeway north
of Las Vegas (also US 93) all the way to Phoenix. Total distance, by my odometer; just under 800 miles. The trusty GPS show
800 plus. I may have started it at a different point than where I took the beginning Odo reading.
Now, to get
ready for the real trip south. I am planning on a November 12 departure. That's all for this blog for about ten days.
Wednesday, November 1, 2006
The best laid plans...
1:30 pm mst
Bobby Burns was right. About 12:15, the cat I thought had gotten out appeared, stretching and yawning from where he had
evidently been curled up napping. He was after all tired, having been out all night on the prowl. What a neutered male does
with his nights I know not, but he comes around about sunup, looking to be let in for a nice day's nap.
there he was, so I got everything together, unplugged all the appliances, turned off the satellite computer site, checked
the doors and windows, turned down the thermostat, put on the night lights, turned off the hot water heater, turned off the
washer water, unplugged the automatic garage door openers, put the final few items in the pickup, and scooped up the cat and
put him in the one and only cat carrier. The other cat, Scruffy, sensing something was up, took a bit of running down, but
I got her with a minimum of effort, and soothingly took her to the pickup for the short ride into town and the Kitty Kamp.
I got into the pickup, and as usual, couldn't find my car keys: not there. Where were they? They are invariably right
where I left them, but that wasn't in my memory banks at the moment.
I opened the P/U door to go back inside and
look, and, yes, of course, there went the #$%*!?# cat, like a striped a---d ape, and she made for the nearest cover, disappearing
into some cover and rocks. She is a
dumpy (I have been informed the correct term is "cobby") little
thing, not your usual lithe and graceful feline. She made a comical figure as she humped across the driveway and into the
shrubs and scrub in a ball of bushy fur. I was not amused. She certainly knew something was afoot, and I am expecting she
won't be back until she is quite hungry. I noted that her little belly was quite full as I was taking her to the car.
Scruffy, come home!
Oh yeah, the pickup keys were in fact exactly where I had left them; in a cup holder inside
the pickup, covered by other items.
Ah, me. Maybe tomorrow. Or the next day.
11:03 am mst
Almost all loose ends tied down. A neighbor came over and helped me load the bike into my pickup. It takes at least two
people, and we enlisted the help of the fellow who was here to blow out my sprinklers. The decision to truck it to Phoenix
may have been a good one; it was 11 degrees F here this AM.
I am still finishing up, and am almost certain to
forget something, and only can hope it will not be important, like a passport, drivers license or the like.
more thing: Cats. I had both of them in the house this morning, but someone stopped by, and Smoke may have escaped when I
was at the door. He is now nowhere to be seen, so I am puttering around getting the last things done in hopes he turns up
in time to capture him and hustle the little darlings off to Kitty Kamp at the local veterinarian. I hate to imprison them
like this, but as my neighbor (who graciously offered to feed them, etc.) has not returned yet, it is about the only thing
I can do short of a gunny sack full of rocks and deep-sixing them in the Snake River. I could tell Sweetie Pie they got carried
off by a Golden Eagle, or they got eaten by dogs, coyotes, mountain lions, or the local Montegnard family...
if I don't get out of here today, there is always tomorrow...
For future use