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Old 04-10-2010, 08:48 PM   #1
IslandSpark OP
Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Tax FREE - Canada to Panama on a KLR650

My name is Patrick, I'm 25 and have been wanting to get out and do some adventure touring since I found this site 3 or 4 years ago. Unfortunately I always managed to find a reason not to go; be it work, school, women or money there was always an issue.

Well, it seems my time has come! Fresh out of trade school with no job to go back to, no steady girlfriend to speak of and a windfall of a tax return there is nothing to keep me from committing to some serious adventure touring!

Tax time; love it or hate it, this year, it's set me free!

Last weekend I bought a 2004 KLR650, she's been pre-loved by another inmate and had just returned from a trip through the US/Mexico/Belize and Guatemala. When I got home and unloaded the bike I immediately started tearing her apart. A few things needed to be changed before I set out on what I hope will be a 20,000+ KM ride.

Chain and sprockets, bearings, brake pads, valves, oil/filter, fork springs and oil and of course a few electrical demons (I HATE HATE HATE accessories like heated grips installed on constant power, forgetting about them and coming back to a flat battery)... No expense spared when it comes down to reliability and not having to fix things on the side of the road

My Trusty Steed when I bought her:

As she sits tonight:

I will leave home (Vancouver Island. BC, Canada) and head south near the end of April, probably keeping to the coastal route. I will ride Baja (hopefully seeing and experiencing all the great stuff I've seen in Mr. Gaspipe & others' ride reports) to la paz and cross to mainland Mexico (Mazatlan?) via the Baja ferries.

I plan to NOT PLAN... as much as humanly possible anyways. Who knows when and where you'll find a place to relax for a few days or when local knowledge might lead you on to something great you never would have seen otherwise...

As of now I'm riding solo but I've been talking to another adventurer from San Diego who has a similar idea and may end up meeting up with him for some of the ride. If anyone has recommendations on what to see or where to stay (cheaper the better) please chime in!


Ps. If there are any inmates in the Port Angeles, WA area who could receive a package for me shoot me an e-mail or PM, thanks!
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Old 04-10-2010, 09:08 PM   #2
Sounds good, let's go!
Joined: Mar 2005
Location: Bassett, NE
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Way to go Patrick!

You're going to have an absolute blast! I just got back from Panama and I am still on cloud 9. My best travel advice is to always try to keep a positive mental attitude. Some of the most fun I had was when I took a wrong turn somewhere. So no plan is the best plan. Just go where you want. If the coast is too hot, head for the mountains. The hardest part is getting out of town. After that, everything gets easier.

I'll be checking back to see your progress. Post lots of pics.

Best luck,
John Downs
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Old 04-11-2010, 08:46 AM   #3
Studly Adventurer
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Everything of the best for your upcoming ride. We will be a few months behind you, so will keep an eye on your feedback. Ride safe.
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Old 04-11-2010, 11:28 AM   #4
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Sounds great! Best wishes for a safe journey

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Old 04-13-2010, 08:38 PM   #5
Not any more
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Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Sonoma County, CA
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Good for you Patrick! Hey, I'm on your way south, just off 101 about an hour north of San Francisco. If you could use a free warm bed, meal or two, beverage or two, perhaps a ride around back roads of Sonoma County, and it works out for your sked and my work sked, you're welcome here with my wife and two of my boys your age or close to it. If not, no biggie, just offering it up.

What have I learned from reading several Ride Reports - pack light.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:23 PM   #6
dirt rules
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Location: South Vancouver Island, BC
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Way to go Pat! Now's the time to do it, before all the responsibilities kick in!
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Old 05-01-2010, 10:07 PM   #7
IslandSpark OP
Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Day 6 – 490KM

I start the morning with a quick shower to warm up after waking up to an unnaturally cool sea breeze. Warmed up and ready to face the day i start packing only to be spotted and subsequently harassed by the camp attendant about self registration and that I cant camp in the hiker/biker sites ($5 a night vs $35) when I have a motorcycle.

Just nod, apologize and plead ignorance the voice inside my head kept telling me, and so I did just that. The lady let me off the hook with a stern warning not to let it happen again.

I get on the road and cover some miles before stopping for breakfast at the Pine Cone diner in Point Reyes and stealing some business' Wi-Fi signal to get online and post the previous days report. My waitress seems genuinely interested in my ride and wants to see pictures, I indulge the request and soon find out that she rides a Harley but would never think of making such a long ride, especially by herself.

Breakfast Burrito was delicious!

Coastline north of San Fran

Highway 1 into San Francisco is an amazing piece of road, what can I say if you've ridden it you know and if you haven't then you should! The last few miles into San Francisco the traffic starts picking up and then we pop out of a tunnel and there's the golden gate bridge standing like a steel sentinel keeping watch over the narrows below

I stop and take the necessary pictures before crossing and being made to pay a $6 toll, outrageous! San Fran's streets are a feat of engineering in themselves, It amazes me that people actually build on such steep slopes and then run a road straight up the hill, but I guess they aren't worried about snow. I make it up to a Nature reserve on top of a hill overlooking the city... I rode in and upon reaching the top am informed by a worker that this is a hike in only park, I Guess the dirt trail I came up was only for service vehicles, he was amazed I even made it.

Steep Streets! See next pic for the real idea...

Maybe now you get the idea...

The "park" I rode to the top of...

After a quick tour of Fisherman's Wharf and the downtown area I headed east via the bay bridge, destination: Yosemite. Nearly 3 hours later and I'm in the hills climbing some crazy twisty roads towards Yosemite. At the 4000' level I start seeing snow on the sides of the roads, a precursor of whats to come.

One of the resivoirs in the hills...

Leaving the sunshine behind and heading up into some dark clouds...

This was as much of Yosemite as I got to see...

By the time I got to the Yosemite entrance snow was starting to fall and the lady at the booth was turning anything without four wheel drive and snow chains away. I pulled up to the booth and she told me “sorry hun, unless you've got four wheel drive and some chains I cant let you go any further” I told her “this may not be a 4WD but it IS a KLR and it can go anywhere with a little effort!” she chuckled to herself and then under he breath muttered “I'd like to see that” as she motioned for me to turn around.

Well, there goes that plan, but in all honesty I would have frozen like an ice cube if I had tried to camp up there. I would head back to Oakdale for the night and make my way back to the coast in the morning.


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BC, Canada to Panama on a clapped out KLR - 2010
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Old 05-01-2010, 11:34 PM   #8
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Day 7 – April 30 – 470KM

Today would start out slow and uneventful, riding straight, flat roads through the orchards. The amazingly engineered irrigation canals give me something to ponder and the smells of the fruit trees some stimulation on an otherwise boring ride.

Miles upon miles of perfectly spaced fruit tree's

The engineering behind the canal structure and complete irrigation system had my mind going.

I head southwest until I come to Del Puerto Canyon Rd which runs across the mountains towards San Jose. At first the road is a little beat up but soon after passing the local OHV park the traffic clears and the road improves.

A small medow on a plateau near the joint in the roads

Winding through a narrow canyon where every ounce of usable room is used by small cattle ranches and a few hardy families scratching out a living I slowly start making some vertical.

Soon the gentle curves have transformed into steep switchback's set on cliffs with little shoulder and a generous drop off. The few oncoming vehicles i see are ALL in my lane around the corners, Lucky I was watching for them.

When I arrive at the top of the hill I find the University of California's Observatory. An unexpected but welcome discovery I decided to take some time and explore a little bit. I stop in and take a tour of the 36”refracting telescope, one of over 20 on the site. The largest telescope on the site is a 102” reflector which is used every clear night of the year by university students and scientists from all over the world.

My first view of thetelescopes of the Lick observitory

the 102" reflector

The 36" refractor 'scope that I toured

There it is in all its glory... Amazing to see up close, an old but extremely precise instrument.

I thought the truss structure made a great backdrop.

The road down into San Jose was more of the same, not that that's a bad thing at all! Tight, twisty and technical with more than enough 10-15mph corners to keep you on your toes.

After a quick stop for some gas and an apple from my tank bag I head south down the 101 trying to make it to Corbin Seats in Hollister before they close at 4pm. Yesterday I had (or my ass had) decided that enough was enough. The stock seat on the KLR is okay for a 100KM day or maybe a 500KM day once in a while, however, after putting 2000KM on the bike in the last 7 days I was sore. Realizing that I had nearly 18,000 more KM before the end of the trip i decided that spending some cash on a comfortable seat was something that I could justify.

New seat installed and my rear end thanking me I headed over to the coast towards Montery, CA where I had planned to spend the evening. Someone forgot to tell me that it was the weekend and at 5pm on on Friday afternoon every campsite that I came across was full to capacity.

The coast and coast road.

A cool bridge

I figured I would keep heading south and eventually I'd find somewhere to put up a tent. Soon I ended up in Big Sur passing both state and private campsites either full to capacity or with lineups down the road.

Quite the house cut onto the side of the cliff

Coastal views as the sun starts to set.

There are many single lane sections of the road, seems keeping the road from falling into the see is a full time job.

By 8pm I was contemplating pulling over in one of the many pullouts on the side of the road and just laying down to sleep. And just as I'm about to do so I come across a national forest site that while being fairly full has a few openings in the hiker/biker area where I sneak in and hastily set up camp.

The view from my tent as the sun slips over the horizon.

The night was long, the sounds of obnoxious 20 somethings and drunken 40 somethings filling the night air. I make some soup and warm up by my neighbours campfire before turning in for the night. At least it was warm!

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Old 05-02-2010, 06:40 AM   #9
Sherpa-ing around
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Location: Lone Pine, ON, Canada
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A great RR.............Looking forward to reading more....
I'd rather die living than live dying.

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Old 05-02-2010, 10:28 AM   #10
IslandSpark OP
Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Day 8

I'm awake and underway early after a surprisingly restful and warm night. Though as I load the bike an eagle eyed camp attendant looking a little frazzled and like she just woke up swoops down on me asking if I self registered last night, I fess up that it was late and I just wanted to sleep so I hadn't. She labels me a “bad boy”and gives me a break only charging me the $5 for a hiker/biker campsite.

Elephant seals on the beach.

I head south hoping to find a decent cafe along the cliffside and get some food. I find one just south of camp, the door is open but it seems deserted, not a patron or employee to be seen. I get back on the bike and continue south, covering almost 40 miles before seeing a sign for “Hearst Castle”( National Historic Monument. I decided that it sounded worth checking out.

The castle on top of the hill in the distance.

The $22 tour was well worth the money! I'll let the pictures tell the story, but the presentations and history given by the tour guide really made the experience. Hearst Castle features 56 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms, 19 sitting rooms, 127 acres of gardens, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, a movie theatre, an airfield, and at one point the world's largest private zoo. The main building “Casa Grande” is over 60,000 sq feet.

The view from one of the many terraces

One of the many fountains, this one in front of the "Casa Del Sol" guest house (2500 sq ft)

The "Neptune Pool", much of the roman stonework was brought over from Greece.

Some playfull mermaids, everything is marble, the sculptures, the pool walls and flooring, would have taken quite the craftsman to do all this tile.

A view from poolside

Very Intricate detail on one of the guest houses

The oldest piece of art on the estate, an egyption godess statue that dates to 2000BC

Here we have "Casa Grande" or the main house.

Just inside the front door lies a huge entertaining room

with a fireplace brough over from france

and a roman marble mosaic tile floor

The dining room was nothing to scoff at either

and finaly the indoor swimming pool which was actuallly an afterthought and was excavated in under the main house after contruction had been completed.

Take note of all the gold colored tires in this photo and the previous... All are covered in 23 karet gold leaf!

The whole place is really an engineering marvel and I could have spent a whole day or more there taking in all the intricate details. No wonder the “ranch” took over ten years to build and was never fully completed.

If ony i had been allowed to ride my bike up to the castle rather than having to take the tour bus.

After my tour and taking wayyy to many photo's in hopes of getting a few really good ones I return to the bike and make my way south a ways before coming upon a small strip of hotels and cafe's on the beach where I stop for some “breakfast” (its noon by now) at the “Big Sur Cafe” where I have the smoked salmon omelet on the recommendation of the cook, its amazing, and the view wasn't bad either.

Continuing south I soon find myself on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Its about 4pm and I figure if I decide to cross the city tonight I'm going to hit some crazy rush hour traffic. Then I realize that it's Saturday and that easily just cut the rush down by half. I jump on the 405 making good time until we near the centre of the metropolis, here the traffic slows to a crawl as incoming traffic try's to merge and and through traffic make last minute lane changes to get to their intended exits.

All of a sudden a Honda CBR1000RR zips past me between the fast lane and the HOV lane and I remember that lane splitting is completely legal in California. With this in mind I physc myself up and give it a shot knowing full well that I have a pretty wide bike with the panniers and such mounted to the rear.

I end up making great time through nearly 15 miles of slow traffic with this method. Exhilarating but slightly scary this keeps me on my toes for what could otherwise be a monotonous ride.

I end up heading to the coast in order to get away from the hustle of the big city. Laguna beach is a stereotypical beach town with bronzed beauty's walking around town, surf boys trying their hardest to look cool at the beach and muscle bound steroid jockeys working out at the gym. Its all too Hollywood, too ritzy and too fake for me and I continue on my way without even a stop for a picture.

I finish the night in San Clemente where I enjoy an marvelous Mexican meal at “La Siesta” resuraunt. With a full belly and a worn out body I retire for the evening after quickly posting a couple days of reports.

Tomorow will see me in San Diego to meet one of my riding companions to be, Rob. Monday w will make our way to LA again to pickup Dave an Australian who if flying in, buying a bike and will be joining us on his way to south America.
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:07 AM   #11
Gnarly Adventurer
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Location: SW Ohio
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Fantastic start! I envy your adventure.
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Old 05-23-2010, 08:59 PM   #12
IslandSpark OP
Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Day 29 - Layover in Antigua

I slept well last night, the street party that continued on outside out room until 4am, and the leaky roof that occasionally dripped on my foot were just minor annoyances.

The plan this morning was to diagnose Rob's charging issue, I was nearly sure his regulator/rectifier was going or gone. Last night we were only seeing 12.5v across the battery terminals with the bike running after having it on a charger... We strip the bike and unplug the stator from the electrical system, we measure the appropriate 40V AC across the 3 phases.

So, the stator's okay, plug it all back together and viola! 14V across the battery, we have liftoff! We chalk it up to a loose connection or a battery that was drained so low that the on board charging system couldn't get the charge started.

We check out the Saturday morning market. It's a very vibrant mix of color's and cultures. Everything from Remote controls and cell phone chargers to fresh fruits and meat is on offer and all for barter.

We grab some fruit and wonder the market with a clear view from above all the short Guatemalan's. Its crowded and quick but we manage to enjoy ourselves and get some good pictures.

When in Rome do as the Romans do... We retire for an afternoon Siesta after a thoroughly unappetizing lunch... When we wake we decide to run around and look at the famous ruined churches of Antigua, we have a great time exploring them...

Some of the few remaining details

With stops at the internet Cafe and local shops we kill the rest of the afternoon and soon find some great Taco's at a little shop around the corner from our Hostel. Rob retires early, hoping to get a good rest before we push for Honduras tomorrow while I head into the town center to check out the nightlife and get some more pictures.

Night market, or was this an ass shot?! I dont remember

Mmmmm bakery

The Famous Fountain...

Tomorow we will head for Honduras and the Copan Ruins!

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Old 05-25-2010, 05:07 PM   #13
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Joined: May 2008
Location: Nanaimo, Van Island, BC
Oddometer: 132
Day 30 – Border Day

A month in... I really have no concept of time now these days. Its either morning or evening, the day and date don't have lost all meaning, If we see kids in school uniforms its a weekday, if not chances are its a weekend, nothing is open on Sundays so that lets us know when a week has passed us by..

Amazingly enough there was no street party outside our hostel and the rain was light so the roof didn't leak on my foot all night... We slept well and when we woke we headed out to pickup our bikes from the secure parking lot where Rob had suggested we park them after the previous night's antics near where we had parked previously.

We load up, say goodbye to our new found friends at the Hostel and put some road behind us in our trek to Guatemala City and beyond.

Trying to work on my tan ;)

80Km later we find ourselves in the bustling metropolis that is Guat City. Like any other 1+ million person city Guat has everything you could ever need, unlike every other 1+ million person city I know, Guat doesn't seem to have a single building over 3 storeys tall...

We manage to get lost since the signage on the roads is so horrendous. With a little zigzag'ing through downtown, going the wrong way on one way streets and asking one very helpful Guatemalan we manage to find Highway 9 out of the city and out towards the El Florico frontera.

Some gorgeous countryside, farms wherever they can squeeze them in...

With some great info (from ADVRider Jdowns, thanks John!) we decide we will cross into Honduras at the El Florico / Copan Ruins crossing. The road out to El Florico is quiet and the locals stare at us like they've never seen a gringo on a motorcycle before.

The crossing itself is a tiny hole in the road, one store, a copy shop and the regular set of very laid back Guatemalan and Honduran border officials. When we roll in a quick consult of John's notes on this crossing reassure us as to the process and where to go get copy's and how many to got before we wasted our time in line.

El Florico, the Guatemalan side

Getting some copy's before we try our luck on the crossing...

With a stamp here, a fee there and couple stops to show our documentation we were through, even with our very limited Spanish we were through in less than half an hour, very friendly and helpful people! I would definitely recommend this crossing to anyone doing something similar.

The Honduran customs agent, slow and steady wins the race...

On the Honduran side we skoot up the road about 10KM where we see a sign for the turn towards the Copan Ruins. We pull in at 3pm and have an hour and a half before the park closes to see the sights. A lot of cool history and some great artifacts, though a very small site compared to some like Tikal or Chitzen Itza.

Off we go!

A model of the sit...

The Macaw's live free in the park, loud and large they are quite an attraction...

Our first glimpse of the ruins...

The Human sacrifice alter, you can see the indentation for the head and some channels to the blood to run down...

One of the 16(?) kings of Copan

A stone Macaw

The Royal residences

Sucky self portrait hahah

The "Old Mans Head"

View from the top of the observitory temple...

After our tour we decide to hit up a hotel in town. Its a great little multicultural town that feels very similar to Antigua, Guatemala. For $250L (about $14usd) we get a nice room before getting out on the town for some food at “Jim's Pizza” which was delicious and a nice change from meat and beans.
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IslandSpark screwed with this post 05-25-2010 at 05:16 PM
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:23 PM   #14
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Joined: May 2010
Location: Las Vegas Nevada
Oddometer: 18
flashing lights at you mexico

I believe the reason those people in Mexico flash their lights ,they use that as a warning that they are about to to take the passing lane..When you have your lights on ,they think you have inadvertly left them on. This confusses them.. Just my idea.
I am really enjoying your trip.

las vegas
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:46 PM   #15
Joined: Feb 2008
Location: Kitchener, Ontario
Oddometer: 12

Love the write up! Safe Trip!
2008 Honda Varadero ABS Black
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