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Old 01-23-2010, 03:48 PM   #1
drifter dave OP
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Location: BC, Canada
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Temples, Tires and Tyrants: 75 days to C.A. and back.

Well it all began back around 1997. My friend Carl found a diving operation in a place called Belize. It was for sale for 30k US. Where the hell is Belize? I was intrigued. We never bought the dive shop (I was 21 and barely had money for gas), but it did kick off a long-term fascination with the country.

The 2nd largest Barrier reef in the world, Jungle rivers, mountains, waterfalls, a cultural melting pot. A stable political scenario due to former British rule and they spoke English to boot!

I had to check it out. My dream evolved from a simple backpacking trip into an overland journey. I should take a bike - the ultimate form of transport in the 3rd world. No schedules, no timetables, fewer access limitations and greater speed!

The problem, as for most folks, was breaking away from work. I had a cozy union gig that would disappear with a puff of smoke if I were to leave long term. So I waited... even went back to school and changed careers. But the dream never escaped me. Time went by, and my friends and family were, I'm sure, sick of hearing about my Belize adventure. I realized that if I did not go now, I would never go. I had to will it to happen.

So with some carefully cultivated support from my work and my amazing new wife and to the bewilderment of my friends, I started to accumulate gear, shots, maps and paperwork. I sold my great DR350 and bought my 3rd KLR. Around this time, my best and longest friend Jason said something along the lines of "That sounds like something I'd like to do too". I somewhat doubted that would happen, but after he took a rider course, got his license, bought an 04 KLR and started gearing up, I knew he was in.

So off we went, 75 days, over 17,000kms and not just to Belize, but across the continental US, both coasts of Mexico and through Guatemala. It was on.

drifter dave screwed with this post 01-23-2010 at 05:43 PM
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:16 PM   #2
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Oh boy this sounds good !
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Old 01-23-2010, 04:37 PM   #3
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Location: Alice Springs Central Australia
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Bring it on, I'm in the mood for a great RR. I'm in your boat as I have wanted to do "The Lap" of Oz (about 18,000km ) for years, mmmmm, I wonder how much Long Service Leave I have up my sleeve.

Cheers Mate

Geoff in the Desert
1983 XJ900R, 2000 XJR1300SP, 2013 KLR650
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:29 PM   #4
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Having vacationed a few times in Belize, I always thought dual sporting the country would be fun. Just not excited about the trip thru Mexico currently. Looking forward to your ride report.
2012 Triumph 800XC
2010 KTM 990 SMT
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:38 PM   #5
drifter dave OP
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The bike:

After some consideration, I chose the 08 KLR. I wanted a newer bike and this one was left-over stock at a savings of $1500 CDN. This bike didn't need a whole lot for my needs, but I added mods where I felt it was necessary.

I installed some crash bars (more on this later), a skid, heated grips, handguards, and went through most of the bolts, replacing them with grade 12.9 (stock is grade 8 or less). I went with Happy Trails for the Panniers and racks, got a big tailbag, bought Bicimapas for the GPS and some odds and ends. Before departure, I painted all red plastic black and had the Panniers powdercoated by my brother in law (Thanks Dan). Also got some help from my father in law, shortening and re-welding the kickstand, which is way too long from the factory (thanks Thys)

Chapter one: Across America at 4500RPM.

Day 1 - Nov 8, 2009: the big day - 505kms. Vancouver to just outside Portland,Oregon.

Up early at 5am. Final prep and a great big breakfast from Megan. Jay couldn't eat much, I have some butterflies too. An emotional goodbye as we wave goodbye to our wives and they watch us ride away down the hill.

A bit of maintenance before we head out:

Beards for warmth!

Ready to go:

Medium to Heavy rain as we head out. A bit chilly at 6 Celsius but not bad at all. My brother Mark meets us 20 min in and convoys with us to the border. A nice touch. Hugs goodbye and advice given.

We are a little worried about the US border crossing but it goes off fine after a one hour wait. Jay notices a bit of "Racial Profiling" going on in the selection of secondary searches. Coincidence?
Rain and some wind on and off to Tacoma. Make some good time and arrive past Portland for a cheap hotel, Burgers/Beer.

So far everyone super friendly.The subtle cultural differences are apparent, Shiny American Flags on baseball hats and references to Jesus read from the highway.

Jay's bike is getting some bad hesitation. ONLY while riding downhill in the rain. ??? We check out and switch the air filter in case of water contamination. More on this later.

drifter dave screwed with this post 01-25-2010 at 11:13 PM
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Old 01-23-2010, 05:58 PM   #6
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Geoff - Go for it mate!

Too Tall - Despite all of the negative news, we had few troubles in Mexico at all. I still maintain that the downtown east-side in Vancouver, or the major cities in the U.S. would be a lot more dangerous. I would boogie away from the border towns though.
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Old 01-23-2010, 07:30 PM   #7
I'm better now.
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I ain't a going without my hog, my gun, my whisky and my Bible.

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Old 01-23-2010, 08:33 PM   #8
drifter dave OP
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Day 2 - Portland Or to Redding CA - 680kms

Awake at 0530 and on the tarmac by 0630. Beautiful sunrise and Rainbow but otherwise the I-5 is boring as hell. Stop at a classic 70's diner for B-fast and the sky opens up. Heavy rain and gusts but we keep truckin along at 110km/hr.
We're sore but we "Man up" and eat miles all day. Although we've been successful in avoiding the big chain restaurants we succumb to Red Lobster. As usual Jay's food looks better than mine:

Lots of curious looks from passers-by, the most common question being "Keeping Dry?"
Pretty Major gusting in Southern Oregon and esp as we cross into Cali. Comes from both sides and tosses the bike around pretty hard. Plenty of rain now and the semis blast by us all day. Good times all around. Check into the first of many Motel 6's.

Day 3 - Nov 10th - Redding to Bakersfield Cali - 704kms

Pretty uneventful day, just tearing up miles. Jay's bike took a spill in the courtyard but no real damage, just a tweaked Pannier rack. Had trouble getting my cold-blooded bike to fire. Finally kicked over with a HUGE backfire that echoed through the courtyard- BANG! Well at least it's running.

Good weather all day and had the rain gear stowed away by mid-day, 19C in Sacramento. First Palm trees spotted at B-fast:

Landscape starts changing to nice grassy rolling plains and we are enjoying the warmer weather.

Still on the I-5 and it's still pretty mind-numbing. As many Semis as there are cars here. Bikes are running perfect and our Comms keep us from getting too bored:

Great restuarant in Santa Nella:

We end up in Buttonwillow Cali after a long, sore day. Monkey Butt. But I still had to go for a rip in the sand in front of our next Motel 6:

Jay putting the bikes to bed:

Room is $42 and we dine with a bunch of Drifting enthusiasts at the local BBQ joint.

Day 4 - Nov 11 - Buttonwillow to Parker Arizona - about 500kms

Finally off the Interstate for 90% of the day. Hwy #58 to #395 to #62. The way into Mojave was beautiful, lots of winding hills and wind farms:

Downtown Mojave, this Diner is good:

A few small towns, then rock formations take over the landscape. We start hitting thermals that spike the temp by several degrees. Weird. We're in the Mojave now, Tumbleweeds and windy bi-ways. It's straight outta Hollywood, it's dusty trailers and abandoned cars in the middle of the desert. Awesome.

My bike is starting to eat oil at anything over 100km/hr. Pass through Joshua Tree and onto 29 Palms, where I annoy Jay by constantly singing the Robert Plant tune of the same name over the comms.

Locked up Joshua Tree:

"When I hear your voice on the radio..."

Highway 62 leads us all the way from 29 Palms to Parker Arizona. It's a surreal ride, with open desert and rock "Islands" all around us. Hard to describe, looks as though this were the ocean at some point. We ride well into the night, it feels faster when it's dark out.


Cali on one side of the bridge, Arizona on the other:

We check into, guess where? - Yes! Motel 6. Another $40 well spent.

drifter dave screwed with this post 01-24-2010 at 10:08 PM
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Old 01-23-2010, 09:05 PM   #9
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Day 5 - Nov 12 2009 - Parker Arizona to Lordsburg NM - 650kms

Kind of a "late" start for us at 0930 after adjusting both our chains. 2 lane road for the first part of the day. Good breakfast at a "Saloon" type diner:

Overcast and warm. Cactus. Some interstate today. 7 lanes each way and douche drivers who love to tailgate.

A few short stops. At one coffee break, a group of car wash workers gather around the bikes and inundate us with questions. They are fascinated. One guy in particular asks why the hell we would want to do this and just says "You guys are crazy". They don't get it. They do mention that we "must have huge balls to do that trip". Indeed.

Off the interstate and into some 2 lane:

We stop by an Apache Indian reserve, which reminds me of the ones back home. We are obviously the visible minority here, and when Jay asks for a pack of Camel Lights the lady at the gas station says: "What's that, Camel Whites?" We have a good laugh at this.

We enter a beautiful mountain route (Hwy #60 if I remember correctly) that is the most scenic so far:

We dig it.

Onto 2 lane lonely desert highway and we haul ass with the road to ourselves. Make it to Lordsberg with my neck pretty sore and Jay's shoulder feelin the pain as well. We thought this was a sub-500km day but it ended up being 650. No wonder we're tired.

Ok I'm sorry to any residents of Lordsberg, but this place is kind of a dump. We check into a Ghetto hotel and have a sub-par dinner where we could not get a beer? The whole town has an abandoned vibe to it. Of course, all of this would be 5 star compared to where we would end up shortly.


Derelict restaurant. I tried to imagine what this place would have been like, hoppin' on a friday night in the 50's:

Our parking setup: 2 disc locks, a cinch lock through the skid-plates, a cable lock through the frames, Jays's steering locked and covers on both. Good luck with stealing that:

drifter dave screwed with this post 01-23-2010 at 09:12 PM
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:00 PM   #10
drifter dave OP
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Day 6 - Nov 13 - Lordsberg New Mexico to Van Horn Texas

We're slowing down a bit as we plan to service our bikes in Laredo Texas. Even at 700kms a day we would make it too late - Sat night. We're starting to take it easy, which is good cause we're beat.

Highway 10 Interstate all day, mostly 2 lanes each way until El Paso, which has the typical 7 lanes, heavy traffic and lane jockeying. A little chilly, the handgrips and fleece jacket are on. El Paso is a bit of a trip as it is right on the border to Mexico, and the poverty is very apparent by the Shanty looking town, just a hundred yards over the border.

Van Horn is a small strip town in the hills. Half of the town is closed up and the place has an eerie, half-ghost town vibe to it. It's cool.

At the ....Motel 6, we meet Alan Johnson, a very cool guy from North Carolina on a yellow Vstrom. He volunteers in Guatemala several months of the year, building housing and closed wood burning stoves for some of the Indigenous people there. He gives us advice, points out routes on our map and drops by later to give us the number for his Guatemalan "fixer" should we run into trouble. Cool guy.

We have our first real Mexican food at a place called Guey's. Highly recommended.

Day 7 -Nov 14 - Van Horn to Del Rio Texas -500km

Out on some long and lonely 1 and 2 lane bi-way (#90).

Rest Stop:

My view from the cockpit:

At a stop in Alpine, I tighten up my chain and Jay notices something missing from his bike:

The end cap on the left side of his swingarm is gone. It'd be better if it was there, because it helps to secure the axle's position. We aren't there 10 min when a guy named Robert on a sweet Xr650R shows up. "Heard you were having some trouble". He has a look at the missing piece and says: "Oh we can fix that at my buddy's shop, follow me."

So off to Doug's shop where he whips up a new plate on the water jet. Doug fixes everything from planes to boats to bikes. Great guys and many laughs. We witness the Texan tradition of taking the piss outta friends and strangers alike. Our first taste of real southern hospitality.

Robert and his pride and joy:

Quick job for Doug on the Water Jet:

Thanks guys!

Texan Cattle Guard:

About and hour and half later we hit the road:

Still overcast, but clears in time for an awesome sunset. Big 200km stretch just before dark. Del Rio appears to be one big strip mall. Ate way too much dinner. The appetizer was the size of a big entree. The portions get bigger the further south you get into the States. Check into Motel 6 in Del Rio. No we're not sponsored but we should be.

drifter dave screwed with this post 01-24-2010 at 10:13 PM
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