Total Days: 175 (October 16, 2012 - April 10, 2013)
Grants Pass, Oregon to Buenos Aires, Argentina
Total Trip Mileage: 20,056
For starters, I took a couple of days and re-traced my route on Google Earth. I just needed to see on a map what 20,056 miles and 15 countries looked like:
My final few hours in BA consisted of getting to the airport and finding my freedom plane back to the USA:
After getting on the plane I was pretty bushed. The fatigue of six months of travel and the emotional come down of having literally nothing to do finally caught me. I didn't mention this at the beginning of my report, but when I was in Mexico, I ended a two year relationship with a girl that I had been dating. Even though I knew it had to end, I was pretty devastated. I spent a lot of days blasting down Mexican highways bawling my eyes out and blowing snot rockets into my helmet visor. One of the main reasons that my reporting was so spotty and infrequent for the first month was this serious depression that I was in. And then, just as things were starting to get better, I got ran over by a boat, accidentally fed a bunch of Marijuana, and watched Justin get hit by a truck.
The stress of those first few months was so overwhelming for me that I developed a serious pain in the right side of my chest that didn't disappear until Colombia. The pain was so bad that at times I was convinced I was about to have a mild heart attack; I went to a couple of doctors and they told me that I just needed to relax. Sure enough, after spending a week in Medellin just chilling, things went back to normal and started feeling better.
As I was sitting in my seat contemplating this and thinking about how far I had come, a nice stewardess came up and asked me if I was in the military. I told her that I had just gotten out a few months ago. She thanked me for my service and then told me that beer was on the house for the rest of the trip! She smuggled me three Buds and a bunch of pretzels. I slept for a while and then woke up and looked out the window. Contemplating the last six months at 30,000 feet, I found it incredible that I was covering the entire length of my journey in a few hours.
After about 30 hours of flights and layovers, I finally arrived in Portland, Oregon. I called United Cargo and found that my bike had not come in yet. My awesome younger brother drove up from Corvallis to pick me up and we went back to his place before going to a local brewery and consuming massive amounts of IPA.
The next week was spent applying for jobs, visiting my family, getting a track on my finances, and trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life.
My bike finally arrived in Portland, a week late. I had an appointment with a Marine Corps prior service recruiter in Portland and inmate alfabc had told me that he would take me out to lunch, so I figured that I could knock out everything in one shot.
Alfabc treated me to an awesome lunch at the Side Door Cafe downtown. He's a stand up guy! We talked about motorcycles and bicycles and life and had a good time. Thanks a ton man!
Afterwards, I went to the joint Navy/Marine/Coast Guard base to see if I could get some temporary work with the Marines for the summer. Things were going smoothly until I started filling out the paperwork and came to a question asking if I had used drugs since I had been out. I knew I could just lie and say no, but I decided that honesty was the best policy in this case; besides, I had already posted the whole incident up on the internet for everyone to see. Realizing that I was probably about to disqualify myself from ever returning to the Marines, I put down my pen and told the recruiter that I had a funny story for him. I related the whole Space Gravy incident to him, explained that it was unintentional, and waited for the verdict. Sure enough, he told me that since I had verbally told him that I had used marijuana (even though it was unintentional), I was now permanently disqualified from returning to the Marines and that an annotation would be placed on my record should I ever attempt to rejoin through another prior service recruiter. He was nice about it and he seemed to to understand the situation; still, rules are rules. I understood; I had to deal with a lot of drug pops for my Marines when I was in. There is a zero tolerance policy on drugs in the Military and sometimes people try and beat a drug charge by claiming that they were given narcotics without their knowledge. Even if it's a legitimate accident, it's hard to prove in a military court and most people that try that route get separated.
I was pretty discouraged. I didn't need to go back to the Marines, it was just one option among many. Still, I had a heavy heart. Even though it was an accident, I felt like I had let someone down. I left the office depressed and drove to the airport to pick up my bike.
As I pulled into the shipping office at the airport, I got a call from the Forest Service saying that they had received my application for a fire fighting job and were going to try really hard to hire me, despite being overstaffed. I guess god closes some doors and then opens new ones. That lifted my spirits a bit. The sight of "El Senior" all wrapped up in plastic wrap lifted them even more.
With a little help from the guys at the loading dock, I re-attached the front wheel and loaded the bike up in the back of my truck.
I drove down to Corvallis, dropped off the bike in my brother's garage, then headed for the supermarket to get some dinner and a drink. This being Oregon, they had an entire refrigerator case dedicated to micro-brewed IPA's. God bless the United States!
Staring at all of that hoppy goodness, I remembered something that I had seen on a fake obituary: "I spent the majority of my money on beer, gas, and motorcycle parts; the rest I just wasted!". So true.
And now for the numbers:
Money Spent: $20,000
- Bike Shipping from Buenos Aires to PDX: $1,200
- Plane Ticket Home (BA to PDX: $1,100
- Sail Boat from Panama to Colombia: $1,000
- Other Misc Ferrys and Boats: $350
- Bribes and Payoffs: $130
- Oil: $350
- Tires: $850
- Chains: $500
Countries Visited: 15
- El Salvador
- Costa Rica
Front Tires: 3
- Avon Distanzia
- Pierreli Scorpion
- Metzler Sahara
Rear Tires: 5
- Avon Distanzia
- Pierrelli Scorpion
- Chinese made knobby (only used for the Lagunas route in Bolivia)
- Metzler Sahara
- Metzler Sahara (purchased used from Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires, used for the final 300 miles in Uruguay)
Flat Tires: 2
- 1 Front
- 1 Rear
- Factory O-ring chain
- EK Gold non o-ring (ruined by overtightening in Medellin, Colombia, changed out in Lima, Peru)
- DID x-ring (ruined by incorrect install by mechanics in Lima, Peru, changed out in Rio Gallegos, Argentina)
- DID non o-ring (ruined by overtightening in Ushuaia, Argentina)
- Tsubaki o-ring chain
Oil Changes: 10
- Oil Filters used: 5
Chain Sliders: 2.5
- 2 OEM XR650L Chain Sliders
- 1 Self-Fabricated out of cutting board type nylon material
Front Sprockets: 2.5
- 2 Moose XR650R 15 tooth (the first lasted about 10,000 miles. A friend brought the second one to Arequipa, Peru when he flew in to see his girlfriend.)
- 1 OEM 14 tooth (used only for the Lagunas route in Bolivia.)
Rear Sprockets: 1
- 1 OEM 45 tooth (It's still got some life in it!)
Luggage Rack Breaks: 6
- San Diego, CA (probably due to excessive weight of Ammo Can panniers)
- Guatemala (following a long day of gravel roads)
- Peru (after being hit by a car)
- Bolivia (second day of hard off road riding on the Lagunas route in Bolivia)
- Argentina (not a full break, just a crack. Re-welded by Javier at Dakar Motos in Buenos Aires)
- Cracked Lugs on oil cooler (fixed with JB Weld and zip ties in Oaxaca, Mexico. No further problems.)
- Broken fuel tank mounting tabs on frame (re-welded in Punta Arenas, Chile)
Accidents, Wrecks, and other Misfortunes: 5
- Hit by a boat while Kayaking in Guatemala
- Crashed on slick road in Guatemala
- Ran into bus in Guatemala
- Hit by Car in Peru
- Hit and broke side mirror on car Lima, Peru
Cops looking for bribes: 4
Bribes paid: 1
Thanks to everyone for reading my ramblings. The community on advrider is incredible. From technical advice, to humor, to donations, to emergency help, to free meals, I've received so much support from people on this forum that I can't even begin to thank you all enough. The generosity of total strangers united by a pastime like motorcycling continues to amaze me. And to all of the people that I met on this trip, who shared meals and laughs and adventures with me, con todo mi corazon, muchas gracias!
Vaya con dios,