When we got back from Nicaragua a lot happened in my life.
Kelly and I (my girlfriend at the time) had been through a lot together over the years leading up to this trip. Together since our 2006 in our junior year of high school, each others first romantic relationship, and it had it's ups and downs. While I was gone to Nicaragua for 3 months in 2009 by myself we went through a rough time. Being apart for so long obviously took its toll and she decided she wanted to move on. It broke me pretty bad, and I learned a lot about myself in the process. My insecurities especially. It also brought me close to God than I had ever been, which had a tremendous impact on how I looked at life. We reunited when I got home in August 2009, resumed our relationship and decided to take the trip I referred to above together. One of the greatest decisions we ever made. As a home-schooled non-risk-taker, I watched her transform into an adventurer during our time there.
Here she is loving every minute of our 7 person taxi ride in a small Kia taxi in Nicaragua.
Here we hitch hiked down the coast in the back of a huge flat bed truck. It's easy to get rides when you're with a beautiful blonde.
We had discussed the prospect of marriage regularly, and finally decided to take the plunge. I requested her Dad's blessing, and proposed to her in May in my own special way. She said yes, of course.
Enough of the ooey gooey stuff. It is relevant, I promise. To me at least.
I didn't have much time to prepare for the trip, since I planned to leave in June and be back before classes started again in August, so I got started right away. After some research, I came across a photo of a Wee with Pelicans.
After browsing through Twisted Throttle, I found they had an SW-Motech universal sidecase kit for my Bandit, so I ordered everything up to put Pelicans on as panniers on my bike. Mind you, this was still prior to my knowledge of ADVrider, so at this point I thought I'd made a very strange choice for panniers. My motorcycle mechanic friend who helped me put them on thought it was the strangest thing ever. Now, it just seems normal.
I also fitted crash bars with highway pegs, which Steve (mentioned above) advised me would be important. They were invaluable for comfort and little did I know would save my bike later in the trip.
I took WAY WAY WAY too much stuff. I wish someone would have stopped me. New to moto travelling I didn't know any better. Oh well. Being a photographer, and not wanting to miss an opportunity for a shot, ever, I took my camera and 3 lenses. That, along with a laptop, a couple external hard drives, and an assortment of cables and chargers filled an entire side case. 2 pairs of jeans, shorts, underwear, and socks filled another. 100 or so handmade bracelets from Nicaragua to sell along the way were pack somewhere. A tank bag packed full of crap. Top box, full. Strapped a tent and thermarest to the seat along with an extra helmet. Oh and don't forget a cooler for drinks. Yes I know, it's ridiculous. Don't think I packed a single tool other than what was in the stock toolkit. All that plus my big butt would punish my bike's stock suspension for thousands of miles to come.
On a beautiful summer day in June I began my journey. Photos are courtesy of my grandpa who was there to see me off. They'd later be printed in our town newspaper in an article chronicling my trip. A depression era retired police officer, he was and is the furthest thing from an adventure rider you can imagine, but he loved me and I think secretly envied what I was doing.
That's me and him on his tractor when I was slightly younger.
Try not to laugh at how loaded the Bandit is. I know I do every time I look back at it.
At this point I was so high on the *idea* of the trip that it really hadn't hit me what I was actually doing. I was venturing off on a journey unlike any other. And I was alone. No fiancee, no family or friends. Just me inside my helmet for 10,000 miles. I had no clue. Off I went toward Washington, DC.