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Old 01-12-2011, 03:25 PM   #1
Camel ADV OP
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Oso Blanco rides Panama to Canada

When we left Calgary Oct 17th, the plan was to ride to TDF and back. It was very obvious very quickly there was no way that we'd be able to pull that off in the 6months I had to work with. The plan quickly evolved to be Canada to TDF then back up the east coast of South America where we would fly home and ship the bikes. That plan too wasn't going to work with the time available.

I made the decision to leave the group in Panama. They were headed South and I was headed back North. The original RR is located here: TerraNova

It seems that this isn't really just the return leg of the journey but a completely different adventure, one that deserves it's own RR.

I'm currently relaxing in Luna's Castle Hostel in Panama City. 2 Days ago an Aussie girl and I headed to the Caribbean side to Portobelo. It rained almost the entire way. I had stored my drybag at the hostel before we left so there'd be room for Jan's bag. Unfortunately my jacket was in my bag so I got instantly soaked. Good thing it's been 30C the whole time I've been here.

Panama City:


Jan ready for the ride:


The rainy season this year has lasted almost 3 months longer than average. We came across over 20 slides between Colon and Miramar. This one happen early Dec. It destroyed 12 homes in Portobelo and killed 8 people. Dozens of others have been told they can't go back to their homes yet.



18th Century "Bateria Santiago" had just received funding for a major restoration project before one of the slides filled it with mud. As a make work project, the town officials decided to hire locals to dig the fort out with shovels and wheel barrels instead of using heavy equipment.


Undamaged Fort wall:


It started to rain again so we grabbed beds at the local hostel. The signs leading up to it says Capt. Jack's Hostel but the wall is different so I'm not sure what it is really called.


In the morning we decided to follow the road to Miramar and grab a boat to one of the San Blas Islands for the night. Even though the road doesn't show up on the GPS or Google, it's paved and in great condition.

Once we arrived in Miramar we were told that we could get to San Blas today but there was no way to know what day we could return. The seas in this area are quite rough this time of year and most of the smaller boats simply don't sail because of it.

We decided to pass and continued exploring the small towns and beaches we had driven by



Garbage covered beach next to the restaurant:


Beach on the other side:




We headed down the road a bit farther before taking a fork that lead us just past Puerto Lindo.





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Old 01-12-2011, 03:33 PM   #2
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Wonderful.
I'm in here too.

Hope to cross paths with you here in the upcoming weeks.
Have an awesome, safe, completely selfish ride North Cory.

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Old 01-12-2011, 03:38 PM   #3
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Old 01-12-2011, 03:53 PM   #4
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Anything that starts with "me and an Aussie girl..." has got to be a good thing

Have a good time man!
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Old 01-12-2011, 04:55 PM   #5
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wow, she´s hot.
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Old 01-13-2011, 07:52 AM   #6
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Chi- will definitely try to meet up somewhere north. Hopefully your GS is out of the shop (and not back in with something else). Would love to go for a ride.

Fred- I'm choked we didn't get to meet up with you in South America but as I've learn on these trips, you always seem to bump into the same people over and over. I'm sure we'll cross paths sometime soon.

This will be a different trip entirely on the way back. I expect the highs will be higher and the lows will be lower. I'll learn a lot about myself I'm sure.

Throttlemeister- Yeah, she's a cool girl. She was figuring out how to get to Carti to catch a boat and noticed I had my maps out (thanks again for the maps Darren). She was asking if I knew where she'd need to get a 4x4 taxi for the Carti road. I couldn't spit the words "I can give you a ride on my bike", fast enough! As it turns out the Carti road is closed due to flooding so her plans changed and we decided to kill a couple days in near Portobelo.

She managed to get a gig as a cook on a boat from Portobelo to Colombia. So as usual, things worked out in the end.

Vinny- Thanks for the support in the PMs. It's always great to get first hand info and I can't think of anyone that would have more useful or more current tips for riding solo in Latin America than you. You help was/is always appreciated.


I'm headed to the end of the line today at Yaviza. Darien should be amazing.

Cheers!
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Old 01-16-2011, 06:56 AM   #7
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Old 01-16-2011, 07:50 PM   #8
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 01-16-2011, 08:20 PM   #9
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in
Jeremy, if your around when I come through TJ or San Diego, I'll have to stop and buy you a drink for all your help with the parts
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Old 01-17-2011, 12:41 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso Blanco View Post
Jeremy, if your around when I come through TJ or San Diego, I'll have to stop and buy you a drink for all your help with the parts
yeah, NP, let me know.... I'm always around.... never take cool trips....
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:08 PM   #11
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I got up on Tuesday morning and I packed my gear. As I was closing my dry bag, the zipper snapped.



I carried all my junk down to the bike and noticed it was pouring rain. That stupid zipper broke on the first day I'd seen rain since early January. Murphy's Law sucks.

I started down the Pacific Coast Highway. It's a great road with amazing views and lots of cool camping spots along it. As I rode, the temperature dropped and the rain got worse. A stopped and stared out at the ocean for a bit before deciding that if I was going to ride in the rain that I was going to take the most direct route. I backtracked 20miles and jumped on a connector to I-5. 640miles to Portland.

The rain stayed all day. The temperature dropped and was just over or just under freezing depending on the altitude. There was snow in the hills. All my waterproof gear was pressed to the limit, some failed.

My left heated grip decided today was the day it was going to die on me too.

I was soaked, it was cold, I was unhappy



The BMW Enduro helmet visors are $100. I'm told they are so expensive because the outside is coated with anti-scratch and the inside is coated with anti-fog. I call BS on the anti-fog.

I spent the day with visor cracked open 1/2" so it would stay semi-clear. The rain at 110km stung my face, the cold burned my cheeks.

My AlpineStar Scout boots had been waterproof when I was caught in torrential downpours in Panama as were my BMW Summer 2 gloves. Somewhere between Panama and northern California they had decided they didn't want to cooperate anymore.

My boots had so much water in them that when I took them off and turned them upside down I half expected Koi to swim out. My gloves were also full of water. My hands were so cold I could barely operate the bike controls. I was shivering and shaking uncontrollably.

I stopped for coffee 5 times. I don't drink coffee, never have but I drank it anyway.

By 4:30pm I had been on the road for 7 1/2hrs and had only covered 275miles. I had to call it quits.

I rode in to the Motel 6 parking lot in Weed, California. I got my room key and hobbled back to my bike. I noticed a BMW 1150GS in the parking lot with Alberta plates.

The owner Blaine appeared. He is highway line painter from Edmonton. He is a massive dude. His forearms were the size of my calves, has hands the size of Easter Hams and his fingers looked like bananas. His rib cage the size of a 45 gal drum and he had a huge moustache. Anyone that has been an NHL fan for a long time would instantly recognize it as Lanny MacDonald-ish. In fact, Blaine told me his nickname is Lanny.

After I dumped all my junk in my room and hung my soaked gear up to dry, I headed back to Lanny's room to hangout and shoot the shit. Wow, did I just say "shoot the shit"? My god I'm getting old

The Motel 6 in Weed is on the out skirts of the town and there's no restaurants close. Since it was still pouring rain neither of us wanted to get geared up and ride somewhere to eat so we ordered from the only place in Weed that delivered. It was a Mexican place.

Having just spent over 2 months in Mexico my expectations for Mexican food is quite high. I was pleasantly surprised when the food showed up. It was pretty tasty and authentic. Too bad the bill was $67

We spent a couple hours swapping bike trip stories. It was a good night and just what I needed after the long crappy day of riding.

When I got up in the morning, the sun was shining and there was no rain. Things were looking up! That lasted about 6mins.

The clouds opened up and the temp was hanging around freezing again. My gear hadn't dried over night so I got to start the day with wet feet and hands. Blah.

It continued to rain then as I started to climb into the mountains the rain turned to sleet then snow. There was several inches in the ditches but luckily it was melting as soon as it hit the road.



It was another 300mile day taking over 8hrs to complete. 6 hot chocolate stops, 3 other stops just to warm up.

I pushed the last 100miles in the dark. I shouldn't have. My hands so stiff from the cold, I couldn't have panic stopped if I needed to. I was almost frozen to the bike.

I rolled up to my friends house just north of Portland and nearly fell over in his drive way. I was so glad to be done for the day.

If all my gear was doing what it was supposed to be doing, it would have been fine, fun even. However, as it was, it was without a doubt, the worse 2 days of riding I've had, ever
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:58 PM   #12
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Going to Portland is always great. I have some awesome friends there and it's always a warm welcome.

When I rode up, dinner was just being served. Beef stew, fresh bread and a wood burning fireplace, what more could ask for after a long cold ass ride?!

Jay and Laurie are always great hosts and it was good to catch up after dinner. Some other friends showed up later in the evening and everyone wanted to see pics and hear about the trip. Next thing I knew it was 2:30am.

Just like the previous 2 mornings, it was cold and raining. The good news was that when Tim and I had stopped here at the beginning of the trip we had left a bunch of cold weather gear we weren't going to need.

I had forgot what I left so when I open the box it was like Christmas morning as a kid Long underwear, water proof gloves, big wool socks and most exciting was my MEC goose down coat that fits under my water proof shell and a tub of Mink Oil for my boots

Off I rode, warm(er) and dry(er) than I'd been in days.

The smile was wiped off my face a few miles down the road when clutch cable #2 snapped. I can't say I was surprised. The inner cable that we used to replace the BMW unit in Nicaragua was only about 1/2 the diameter of the original. I had forgot all about to be honest.

I was riding up to the air pump at Chevron when I pulled the clutch only to have it snap causing the bike to lurch forward. Luckily the sudden clutch dump stalled the bike before I ran into the car in front of me.

Second snapped clutch cable of the trip.


Good thing I bought an extra inner cable just in case. Luckily, replacing the inner is only a 10min job. It was pouring again.

After I fixed the cable and got back on the road. The waterproof gloves I got out of our box of goodies were already leaking. I had only been riding for 30mins.

My right hand was wet but OK I assumed because the grip heater was working. The left hand was near frozen again. I decided to stop at South Sound BMW in Tacoma and see if they happened to have a grip in stock and had time to install it.

They had a tech free but didn't have the part in stock. They did however have their winter gear on sale. BMW ProWinter 2 Goretex gloves, 25% off NICE!

As I walked back out to my bike I noticed dry bag was sitting on the bike funny. Well, actually the funny part was that it really wasn't sitting on the bike at all. It seemed that after my cable fix in Portland that I had forgot to do up the Rox Straps that hold the duffle bag on. I had ridden the 150miles from Portland to Tacoma with my bag just sitting on the back.



If the PacSafe hadn't snagged the cargo plate, my tent, sleeping bag, ThermoRest, shoes, cloths and SPOT tracker would have been gone.


After you've been on the road awhile it's amazing how simple and basic life becomes. I was SO happy to have warm dry gloves, I grinned for hours.


I pushed another 150miles to Canada/US border at Sumas, WA. There was a HUGE line. Once I got to the border kiosk, I asked the Customs officer why it was so busy. She said spring break, a strong Canadian dollar and the great weather. Great Weather? Huh? It was much worse a few days before apparently. I guess my timing isn't as bad as I thought.

The first thing I noticed across the border, snow and $1.25/litre gas WTF?! I miss Mexico

I called it quits for the night in Hope, BC. The hotel has an indoor pool, hot tub, sauna, HBO, internet and a kitchenette. I feel like a king here! All for $55 a night.

I'm about 500miles/800km from Calgary. One big day tomorrow if the roads are good and I'll be home
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Old 03-18-2011, 08:40 AM   #13
beechum1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso Blanco View Post
If all my gear was doing what it was supposed to be doing, it would have been fine, fun even. However, as it was, it was without a doubt, the worse 2 days of riding I've had, ever
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt3SkD4PnAI.

Dumb and DUmber aspen scene.
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:41 PM   #14
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http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wt3SkD4PnAI.

Dumb and DUmber aspen scene.
Yeah, that's pretty accurate, well minus the the dude frozen to my back
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Old 03-20-2011, 01:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oso Blanco View Post
I got up on Tuesday morning and I packed my gear. As I was closing my dry bag, the zipper snapped.



I didn't touch your bag!










Glad/sad to see you're almost home.
Wish I'd have known you needed some cold weather riding gear... could have helped there too. Gerbings gloves are wonderful when it's real cold with long days ahead...


Ride safe, ride slow, to draw out and savor the final moments of your travels, I know I'm always filled with mixed emotions on that final stretch home when reminiscing about the journey, and you have many more miles than I usually do.
You, my friend, have a lot of wonderful experiences and new friends to think about, though I'd imagine you're already rebuilding your bike and planning for the next big one in your mind...


Be well.

Finn




















































**EDIT***

Welcome Home!!!
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