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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

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. (RBW)
 
"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.

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New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
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Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

2:27 pm mdt 

Baja 2015, Continued

April 10, 2015. Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

Things here at Casas Loreto Hostal are tranquilo y calma. Yesterday afternoon three motorcyclists arrived. Two, Charlie and Cecelia Tseng, riding two up on a R1200GS, are from Singapore. They have been on the road 11 months, having done South America and Mexico, they will now do the US, including Alaska and Prudhoe Bay/Deadhorse---quien sabe what else?

The third rider, riding solo on a honda NC 700, is Andre Collaco, from Santa Rosa, CA. He is originally from Brazil, but has lived in the US for 38 years. These three met up just before arriving at the hostel front door.

Andre has a long travel history. He has bicycled in China and other parts of Asia, and traveled the world by different conveyances.

I Stayed in Loreto for six nights, enjoying the ambiance of this town and the company of various guests and the charming owner, Senor Abel Casas.

Senor Casas is a real American success story. Born in Mexico, he ran away from home at age 12, illegally migrated to Texas, and was taken in by a family there. He lived with them until he was 18, then moved to Los Angeles, where he found employment in a growing body repair shop. Over the years he acquired first, a Green Card, then later US citizenship.

He rose in the body shop until he became supervisor over all body repairs, and remained with that firm for 45 years.

In the meantime, his brother-in-law, an airline pilot based in Baja Sur, invited him to Loreto on vacation and Abel fell in love with the town and Baja in general, deciding to make it his retirement abode.

He bought a rundown building just around the corner from the old mission; Mision de Nuestra Senora de Loreto Concho, founded in 1697. Abel spent 10 years rebuilding and refurbishing this into a seven room botique hostel. He has been open for business for two or three years, and is making a good living. His family still reside in Los Angeles, but Abel's heart is here in Loreto.

He is about to open an "overflow" hostel across town to cater to back-packers who cannot afford the pricey ($45USD, or 450PM) cost of a private room at Casas Loreto. The new digs will have two real hostel bedrooms, sleeping eight or ten, a kitchen, hot shower, and indoor plumbing. No A/C, no TV, as are standard in Casas Loreto.

Casas Loreto is quite nice, with flat screen television and new, quiet A/C, both remote controlled. In the morning, he has a pot of coffee ready by 0700, and the kitchen and refrigerator are available for guests' use. While I was there I was offered breakfast (no charge, donations accepted) several times, cooked by Silvia, his employee who does cleaning and other daily light work.

The place is secure, and bikers are urged to bring their machines into the building, which he secures at night behind a wrought iron gate, keys for which are furnished to all guests lest they return after 20:00, when he locks down for the night. He lives on the premises, in one of the rooms, moving to the office couch when the 7 rooms fill up.

Abel is constantly trying to improve things at Casas Loreto, striving for cleanliness in all things, and adding amenities as finances permit. The decor is entirely his, and he has a good eye for appropriate furnishings, decorations, and the overall ambiance of the place. This is not your average "hostel," and might more appropriately be called a botique hotel.

Abel is proud to be both a Mexican and an American, and he attributes his successful life to the opportunities he found in the United States, stating that he never experienced any kind of discrimination or prejudice during all the years he lived there. It gives one a very optimistic view of what sometimes becomes a jaundiced view of home. 

As Kurt Vonnegut was fond of saying, "And so it goes."

April 15, 2015, La Paz, BCS, Mexico

And as Oliver Hardy often said to Stan Laurel, "Now this is a fine mess you have gotten us into."

I got to La Paz around 1510, after an uneventful ride of 250 or so miles from Loreto, had lunch at La Perla, overlooking El Malecon and the bay, then checked into a nice little botique hotel just half a block off the main sea front street. My room has a nice view from el balcon.

Then, parking the bike in the inner courtyard, I had a small curb to surmount, and true to form, rather than  asking for help pushing it over the hump, I did it myself and dropped Der Klunkenschiffter onto her right side, slamming the Cee Bailey windshield against the concrete-stucco side of the building. End of windshield. It was broken too badly to repair, and the entire right side was no longer anchored to the bike frame. Toast! That mean 1400 miles or so of "naked" riding---sans W/S---something I have not done for over 30 years. The good news is that it could improve my gas mileage!

Now for the bad news. My battery was moribund. The is the same battery that I specifically had checked by my guru BMW shop before I left, just to be sure something like this would not happen. It checked OK, they said. I did have a couple of hints before I left Loreto, but shrugged them off, hoping for the best. It was not to be. Caca!

At least here in La Paz there was a better chance that I could find a suitable replacement, even though there was no BMW Motorrad (bike) dealer in town. That too was not to be. There are several AutoZone stores in town, and on a cab search of two of them, I finally found a lead-acid battery that would work. The only sealed, gel-cel no maintenance battery found was just a smidge too wide to fit into the rack on the bike. So I took the lead-acid back to the hotel, poured in the Sulfuric acid, and then searched around for an auto mechanic who could put it on a slow charge overnight. There was one six blocks away, but by then it was 1800 and they were closed for the night. Next morning, after I made a round trip on foot to be sure, I hiked back with the battery and had them plug it in for a slow charge. It was going to take 5 to 7 hours, so I decided to remain at El Mediterrane Hotel for another night.

I have with me one of these small emergency battery packs, about the size of a cigarillo package, that is good for charging cell phones, IPads, and other electronic devices, but is also capable of jump-starting autos with weak or dead batteries. Great! But, the battery on this Beemer lives under the gas tank, and it is impossible to reach the two poles to affix the jumper cables. Had I been fully resourceful, I would have wired a fused yoke to the poles that would have been accessible to the emergency pack. Hindsight...

Next day, battery charged, I went through the drill of trying to get the new battery in place and hooked up without completely removing the gas tank, which had several gallons of gas left in it, making it weigh an estimate twenty or thirty pounds. Getting the battery into the holder was easy, since it was considerably smaller in  height, length and width than the stock one, but getting the poles connected was a struggle. I finished a thirty minute job in only two and a half hours, but by God, it worked!

This little glitch should not have happened, despite those who say I should have changed out the battery before departing. Hindsight, as always is sharp and clear, and having checked it out with my trusted guru, it looked good to go. Wrong! But glitches like this are just part of the ride. This was very minor, and although at the time I was a bit tight-jawed, in the long run---well, in the long run, we are all dead! This was merely a small inconvenience. 

Now, if this little battery would just work for the next ten days and 1500 miles... 

 

2:25 pm mdt 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Baja Ride, April, 2015

Having let this site languish for several months, as has become my norm, I am going to leave the Death Cafe topic for the time being. I will come back to it at a later date and entry.

For now, I am taking up my latest ride to Baja California and Baja California Sur, Mexico.

This trip took place between April 7, and April 23, 2015. I will make the entries that cover the trip over the next several days, and they will have to be read "back to front," as in other trips I have covered here in "2Wheelstoadventure.com"

 

April 7, 2015--Departed PHX at 0710, riding Der Klunkenschiffter (2004 BMW R1150GSA). A bit coolish for Phoenix this time of year, so I plugged in my electric liner, and rode toasty.

Decided to cross the border at Calexico/Mexicali. They have changed the East Gate, blocking access to last chance gas, so I went into Calexico for gas and changed $150 for Pesos---PM14.25 to $1. Crossing was a cinch. Quick and easy, with just a two block stroll to el banco to pay Tourist Card fee---PM330 or about $22. I was in and out in less than three quarters of an hour.

I decided not to go to San Felipe, so took Mexico 2 westbound to Tecate, then southwest on Mex 3 to Ensenada. Did not get lost in Ensenada for once (not much) and stopped for a headache-stopping Americano at Starbucks, and a couple hundred $$ more Mexican Pesos from Bancomer ATM (getting dinero is not cheap. ATMs take c couple of pounds of flesh---$2 to $5 service charge plus relatively poor exchange rate). By now it was 1630 (4:30 PM to you civilians), and less than three hours of daylight remained. What the Hell, I could make San Quintin (no, not San Quentin. Accent on the last syllable---San KeentEEN), about 100 miles.

Made it, but barely. Hit motel Chavez (right side of Mex 1, just before you leave town) at 1900 as dusk was ebbing, for a daily total of 11 hours, 50 minutes, and 560 miles.

April 8, 2015---Up at 0600, and on the road at 0800. Stopped at Mama Espinoza's in El Rosario (de rigeur!) for bacon, eggs and corn tortillas, then pushed on for San Ignacio, the planned stop for the night. San Q to San I is just over 350, so no big rush. I gased in San Q, and skipped El Rosario fuel pumps, stretching it a bit, since there is no Pemex from El R to about 20 miles short of Guerrero Negro, a leg of around 240 miles. There was a pretty good head wind, so I chickened out and got gas from the guy with the "peekoop" at the turnoff for Bahia de Los Angeles. 20 litres for PM320, about $4.00/Gal. And she didn't take the whole 20. She probably took about 17, which means I had around 3 gallons (8 Gal. tank) and could made Guerrero N. with some to spare. Besides, I carry a one litre bottle of emergency gas (about 12 miles) in case of mis-calculation. BTW there are roughly 3.8 litres in a gallon---close enough for quick in-the-head math. So I wussed out!

These roads are quite good. From El Rosario to about ten south of the Bahia de LA turnoff the pavement is breaking up some and needs resurfacing, but on a bike you can weave through the shallow potholes and wormy parts. There are two vados (Mexican for wadis, dips, or arroyos) that require attention, especially after rains, one just before Catavina, and one just after. On this trip, going and coming, they were easily passable, but the first one had water, washed out pavement, and some mud, which made crossing a little dicey, as the wheels had a tendency to slip and slide a bit. The second one is water over pavement and a few rocks, and of the twenty or more times I have crossed them, I have never seen the roadway at that point completely dry. This time was minimal, and I coul probably pee a bigger stream.

I stopped in Catavina (there is a tilde over the n, making the pronunciation cataVINya, but I can't find the Spanish fonts on this computer---same for accents and upside down exclamation points and question marks). While pondering the map, I met Massimo Benenti and Lara. Massimo is a photographer, and asked me to clue him in to my e-mails chronicling the trip. We had a nice chat.

Made San Ignacio by 1445, and checked into the San Ignacio Springs Yurt camp. It is run by a Canadian couple, and is quite nice, with permanent yurts that are well appointed, most of which have bath and shower. I got the one with community bath just across the path, and my nightly pitter-patter to the john was not seriously affected by the brief walk. They gave me a break on the room---$60USD, great breakfast included.

Dinner at Tootsie's Cafe, located just off the main Plaza in San Ignacio proper. Travelers who bypass San I. are making a mistake, because it is a nice little puebla, located in what used to be palm groves. Not many date harvests these days I suppose, but the thousands of date palms make this little spot oasis-like in the midst of the great Baja desert. Tootsie's is run by the Yurt couple's daughter, and she does a fine job putting out excellent meals. I had tandoori chicken, of all things, and it was excellent. I have eaten there several times over the last several trips, and never had a meal that was not top-notch. An added attraction is her dog Lila, a salt and pepper mutt that looks typically terrier and is every bit as cute and appealing as our Tres. That is another reason that I love Mexico and other countries that are not so obsessive about sanitation, and allow dogs into restaurants. It gives them a more laid back atmosphere.

Back to the highway situation. Mexico 1 is the only north-south paved highway traversing the length of the Baja Peninsula. It is well marked, well maintained (the rough spots are not that bad, and have you tried just about ANY main highway in the US lately?) But, I like it, because speed is not an issue. It is posted Max 80 Km (48 MPH!), but that is ignored by nearly everyone. Just go at your own pace, and enjoy the trip. Lots of semis, but they are not a problem on a bike, and they often give three or four clicks of their left turn signal when it is clear to pass. Just be damned sure he turns the clicker off before you start by him, because that left turn signal just might be the real deal. Not good to pass a vehicle in the process of making a lefty. I had it happen to me 20 miles west of Blythe about 60 years ago and ruined a nice Austin Healey and my entire day.

Day Three and subsequent to follow. 

6:27 pm mdt 


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For future use

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Our New Best Friend, TRES

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My Hero, Uncle Pete, two days short of his 90th birthday.

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Meet Mort--- Mortem "mors me cum equitat"
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The view from 50 feet up the mast
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The Old Guy At The Helm Of "OH MISS"
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Adventure Bound
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The Old Guy, Back Home Unscathed
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2005 BMW K1200LT, long gone to bike heaven
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"Der Klunkenschiffter" at age 4, 102,000 miles