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Old 05-10-2008, 09:17 AM   #601
KinkyWinks
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Hey Cavebiker, Just wondering if you guys are OK, been a while since you last posted anything.
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Old 05-10-2008, 01:01 PM   #602
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Cry

I’m in mourning after hearing the news yesterday of the death of a top notch human being and friend, Warren Jackson (aka - Papa Dulce). I hadn’t known him very long but he has had a big and positive impact on my life as I’m sure he has had on all who have known him. Here is the thread started in his memory --> http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=339465

Heidi and I are looking deep into each others eyes and talking about how vary lucky we are to still have each other. I hope we all take a moment to reflect and to think about our good fortunes.

I am in the process of writing the next report, it’s not coming easy.
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Old 05-11-2008, 09:57 AM   #603
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Thumb Panama

We are ready for Panama. Five weeks in Puerto Viejo has been nice but it seemed way too long. Heidi and I have had several discussions about it and have had a difficult time explaining our feelings. We’re comfortable, we feel safe and we’re in paradise. We think it has something to do with being on the road for so long, it’s been nine months. We want to do more then just hang out. Either way, our 12 week visa for Costa Rica expires in five days. We are out of here!

AGAPI Apartments, Puerto Viejo:


Back on the road and we like it but of course we both have a slight case of the ‘pre-border jitters’. Panama is only 50 miles away. We are on track to get to the border early, just the way we like it. We’re crossing at Sixaola, a small border post on the Caribbean side. We rode right up to the bridge that crosses into Panama and saw no buildings or signs indicating immigrations or customs. I turn it around and ride back about a kilometer to a police station to see if that’s the customs office. There they told us that customs and immigration is right at the bridge. OK, we turn around again and ride back to the bridge. Heidi stands by the bike while a friendly guy guides me to a small building. There I get my passport exit stamp for Costa Rica, no charge. Right next door is the customs office. I go in and un-declare the motorcycle from Costa Rica. This entire process took me less than ten minutes and no money, nice. I go back to the bike while Heidi goes in and gets her passport exit stamp. Bada-bing, bada-bang, Panama here we come!


The crossing is over an old and narrow railroad bridge. We had to wait for a truck to cross coming from the other direction.


Other travelers have described this bridge as being scary and difficult on a motorcycle. I didn’t want to stop once I got going so I waited a little longer to let the pedestrian traffic thin out.


I pick the line I want the bike to travel and start riding. The first slanted board with a severe twist threw me off line and forced me to stop for a second. Wooo! I start back up and prepare myself for the next twist. No problems.


The Panama immigration and custom offices are right at the end of the bridge on the other side. They are both in the same building. What a concept. In no time I get my passport stamped and pay the five bucks. Next I wait with about a half dozen truckers at the customs window. Very slowly the truckers all got their permits while all the time laughing, joking and poking each other. While waiting the truckers instructed me to get right up to the customs window and stand there with my papers sticking in the hole at the window, nice guys. I wanted to let them all go first because they’re working and on the job but it didn’t matter because they all got taken care of first anyway. About an hour and a half later all the truckers are gone. Next the customs guy instructs me to come inside the building. Inside I help him fill out my customs form on a computer, bike make, year, VIN, plate number and where I’m going after Panama. He introduces me to his wife who was also inside. We all have a lively conversation about our trip, where we are from and where we are going. This was the most enjoyable border crossing experience we have had. Nothing but friendly smiling people and zero hassle.

In panama and ten miles later we tool through the town Changuinola. There a green Harley painted in an army theme appears in front of us and seems to be going the same way we are. We both wind through town and end up on the other side on what seems to be a secondary road. The road suddenly turns to rough dirt. The Harley in front of us turns around. We stop side by side. I open my face shield and say “I was following you!” We both laugh. He says he’s just riding around then asks where we’re going. He says he will show us how to get to the other side of town and to an interesting bridge we need to cross. He says he lives in Changuinola and that it’s a difficult city to navigate, there are no signs indicating how to get through. How did we get so lucky?

Another one lane train bridge. No problem but I still ask Heidi to walk across. This bridge has lights to control the direction of flow. There’s a lot more traffic on this bridge. Heidi said she had only inches to move over while several large trucks passed her as she walked across. She was pretty scared.


The roads we were on through Panama are narrow and hilly with plenty of sharp turns. The country side is exotic looking with thick jungle, broad leaf plants and wooden houses all built on tall stilts. The people here have a distinct indigenous look to them which adds to the exotic feel of the land.

This truck had to come to a complete stop because it ran into the back wheels of the oncoming truck. A couple truckers jump out of their rigs to help their fellow drivers get around the turn. The traffic waits patiently.


We lost an hour with time change from Costa Rica to Panama. The riding here is much slower than expected and we for sure weren’t going to make it to Santa Fe, our planned destination for the first night in Panama. We arrive at a cross road and see a sign pointing to a port city, Chiriqui Grande. It’s only five miles off the main road and being a port city I figure it has to have a few hotels. Well Chiriqui Grande is not grande (not big). There are a couple hotels in town but none with parking. This is not looking good. The map shows no town of any size ahead and the towns we are riding through have nothing coming close to resembling a hotel. I prepare Spanish phrases in my head to ask a local family if we can make camp in their yard or barn or something. I will not ride in the dark no matter what. There are killer potholes on this road at least a foot deep and three feet in diameter. Out of the blue we pass through a small community not even marked on our map. From the corner of my eye I see a sign that I think said ‘Huespedes’ (Guests). I put on the breaks and start to turn around while Heidi is asking me what’s wrong. I say “I think I saw a hotel back there!” Unreal, we pull into a cute little place, $15 a night and the bike is parked right outside our room hidden from the road. And we’re right next door to a police station. For the second time in one day if feels again like we pulled a rabbit out of a hat.

The hotel owner tells us there is a store just up the road. After we get settled in we ride to the store to look for some food and a couple of beers. A few kids were asking us about our bike and where we are from. We felt very welcome.

The next day and back on the road we find ourselves riding through more beautiful tropical scenery. Alongside the road locals have stands set up selling their handmade items.


We finally make it to the Pan American highway. Yesterday I thought if we could have made it this far before dark that there probably would be a hotel or two here. But no, only one gas station and a cafeteria style restaurant. We sit down to eat and I ordered way more food then I could handle. Buses pull in here and there were a few street kids hanging around. I still had a big pile of rice and chicken and was thinking that one of these kids may like it. A minute later one little boy walks up to me and says “?Comida?” (Food?) I instantly say “Si!” and motion to the kid that he’s welcome to have it. The kid walks over to his little brother and tells him to eat the food. The little boy sits with us at our table and was beaming while he ate.

The Pan American Highway is in good shape with speed limits up to 60 MPH. It wasn’t long before we pull off the Pan American and start heading up into the mountains toward Santa Fe. There’s nothing along this road except more beautiful scenery and decent pavement.






We pull into Santa Fe. After looping around town a couple of times we stop to look at the map and guide book. Heidi says “Are there any hotels in this town?” All we saw was one hostel. I thought I saw something that looked like a hotel just before town but it didn’t look like it was open for business. After reading the guide book again we head back out of town the same way we came in.


Hotel Santa Fe. The owner is super friendly and there is a restaurant and bar on site. Score!


The guide book says there is a lot of hiking here. We devote two full days to explore the area on foot.












The hiking is good here and we met several interesting travelers at the hotel. Every where we walked here people wanted to talk with us. Greetings were exchanged with every person we passed. The people in Panama we have run across so far have been warm and friendly making us feel welcome and at home. We like it here.


The Ride Continues…
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Old 05-11-2008, 12:09 PM   #604
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Argggg...Great job Maties......

Sorry to hear the bad news about your friend. From reading the thread on Papa Dulce, he seemed like a great guy who knew how to have fun.

I think that we forget how short life can be. Better get our dreams done before it is too late.


So, are you saying that you are getting a little bored of travelling???? I have heard that it can become monotenous and can almost feel like having a job after a while!!??? What are your insights on that?? The short time that C and I had wasnt long enough for us to feel bored, but we did look forward to getting back home (even working - it didnt take loing for this feeling to pass!! hahha) when we knew the end of our trip was near.

So are you guys generally keeping on budget?? $2000/month or so???

Bri
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Old 05-12-2008, 05:22 AM   #605
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BriKielyGSman
// So, are you saying that you are getting a little bored of travelling???? I have heard that it can become monotenous and can almost feel like having a job after a while!!??? What are your insights on that?? The short time that C and I had wasnt long enough for us to feel bored, but we did look forward to getting back home (even working - it didnt take loing for this feeling to pass!! hahha) when we knew the end of our trip was near.

So are you guys generally keeping on budget?? $2000/month or so???

Bri
It’s not that we’re bored with traveling because we for sure are not but we were antsy staying idle in Puerto Viejo for so long. We knew Panama was so close we were just excited to get there. Traveling doesn’t feel like a job to us but more like a challenging lifestyle that we are still enjoying.

As for the budget goes, if it weren’t for our mortgage payments, property taxes, insurance payments and income taxes we would be close to being on budget. So the answer is ‘No’.

Thanks for the good questions Bri

Quote:
Originally Posted by BriKielyGSman
//I think that we forget how short life can be. Better get our dreams done before it is too late. //
Wise words indeed.
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Old 05-12-2008, 07:34 AM   #606
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Cavebiker -

Excited as always to see a new post and glad to hear that you and Heidi are still living the dream and reaching your goals.

I like this picture from your last post. It could easily be from the Shenandoah Mountains near the Blue Ridge in Virginia... until the palm trees become visibile in the next picture.




It totally makes sense about you two getting antsy. My trip wasn't nearly as long as yours and I was traveling solo so I wasn't able to spend much time in any one place, but after 24 hours without riding, was ready to have the wheels a-rollin' once again.

What an amazing adventure! Thanks for sharing.

Salud,

Sly
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Old 05-13-2008, 05:50 PM   #607
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Cavebikers,


What makes this trip so cool is not the places you are visiting, the people you meet, the sights and sounds or smells you experience. What makes it so cool to me is that the two of you are doing this together, the love is obvious to me. I'm jealous not of your trip, I'm jealous of your relationship. Kudos to both for making this it work so well.

But keep the pics coming anyways.........I kinda like 'em.
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Old 05-13-2008, 07:41 PM   #608
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I just gotta ask what you wear under those leather pants.......well I mean... are they overpants and do you find them kinda hot sometimes.

I won't ask Heidi the same question since I've already been slapped a couple of times today
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Old 05-14-2008, 12:15 PM   #609
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Wicked

A Big Change in Plans!
Three nights in Santa Fe was nice but again we are ready to get back on the road. We’re heading for Peninsula de Azuero. Our guide book says there is no better place to see the real Panama and how people live. We shoot for Chitre, the largest city in the area. Chitre is known for its festivals and Carnival. The economy here is based on agriculture and there is very little English spoken here, just the way we like it.

Our guide book lists two hotels with a pool. The first hotel is right on the main road coming into town. The parking is in front of the hotel facing the street. I go in to check it out anyway. I ask if I could park the bike in the grass courtyard near a room. I was told I could but that the rooms around the courtyard are all full. The next hotel is really nice but at $90 a night we move on. We didn’t see any other hotels in town with parking so we ride on to Las Tablas, another city in the area known for its festivals and culture. Again we find no hotels with parking. Next we ride to a beach community on the Pacific. This is low season and all the resorts are closed. We are getting frustrated and decided to ride back to the first hotel in Chitre and stay in any room they have available. Heidi walks in alone to see if they have something. She comes back out and says all they have is a little room with two small beds. Heidi waits by the bike while I go in to pay. I start out by saying that we checked out all the other hotels in the area and none are as nice as this. I get the deluxe room on the top floor with a king size bed. Heidi can’t figure out why they didn’t offer her that room. I had my theory why they wouldn’t give a girl alone a room with one king size bed. We have a good laugh!





We enjoy a couple nights in Chitre; exploring the town on foot, swimming and jamming tunes pool side on our MP3 boom-box. I could feel the wheels turning inside my head and I could sense something going on in Heidi’s head also. We are constantly engaged in discussions about what the months ahead should look like for us. This is late fall in South America. We talk about our itinerary for riding into Bolivia, southern Chile and Argentina. The plan has been to spend a month or more in Panama City then hold-up in Ecuador and Peru for three or four months while we wait for spring to arrive in South America. The reasoning for this is obvious. Attempting to cross the high altitude Andes Mountains on a motorcycle in the dead of winter would not be smart. It’s a cold ride even in the summer. We need to at least wait for spring before attempting this. Do ya see where this is going? Lately we have been becoming increasingly unsettled about the thought of spending any long period of time in any one place. Thinking about doing three months in Ecuador without making any forward progress on our adventure is sounding less desirable every day. Our 5 week Puerto Viejo stay brought this thought to the forefront of my mind. I finally had to voice my feelings to Heidi. So many times in the past we have done things thinking that’s what the other person wants only to find out later neither one of us wanted it.

I say to Heidi “What do you think about this scenario? Instead of getting on an airplane in Panama City then spending months waiting for the weather to change, we could turn around in Panama City, ride back through Central America while we wait for Spring to arrive in South America” I say “Logistically there’s no difference between getting on an airplane in Panama City to getting on an airplane in Cancun or Houston or even Milwaukee. This way we can continue traveling and riding and finish up our Central America leg of the journey, no ‘down time’ anywhere”

We’re looking intensely at each other now. I can almost see confetti shooting out of our heads. It’s as if we have just been reborn, rejuvenated with a new zest to continue the ride. I’m literally yelling out “Yeah whoo!” and making a circling motion with my arm raised over my head as if I’m twirling a lasso.

We continue our discussions pool side. I say “I think it’s time for a beer” I go to the front desk and extend our stay one extra night so we can properly absorb our new adventure direction.

-------------------------------------------------------------------

Back on the road and shooting for Panama City. All we have to do now is find two new tires for the bike, three quarts of good synthetic oil and hopefully an oil filter. That’s it. Then we can relax and properly enjoy Panama City.

Panama City:
As we got closer to the city I expected to see more traffic than there was. Without warning we come to an exit ramp that says ‘Panama Centro’ I take it. Now the traffic is heavy with a capital ‘H’. We have over 150 miles on this tank of gas so I pull off to fill up. Our guide book mentions no hotels with parking and we don’t know where we are going to find tires for the bike. I continue planning to just ride around the city and hopefully run into a hotel where the parking looks good and if we are really lucky we might see a motorcycle shop in the process. The temperatures are hot. The highway is three or four lanes now and the traffic is even worse. The road splits a couple times, I just keep following signs that say ‘Centro’ Well I asked for it, we are in the center of Panama City with no idea of where we want to go. Heidi is trying to tell me something. I say “I’m pulling over!” We wheel into some car dealership and try to find some shade. The traffic is nuts, we’re a little frazzled and the heat is unreal. When I studied the guide book a few days ago I remember it mentioning several hotels around the center of town six or more blocks away from the malecon (sea side road).

I look at the map and say to Heidi “We need to get to avenue Balboa”

She says “We just passed the turnoff to Balboa!”

The road has a median in the middle and there are ramps everywhere. We can’t double back very easily.

I tell Heidi “We’ll just continue riding straight then hang a right somewhere. When we see the ocean we should be on Balboa”

The city center is full of roads slanting and intersecting. There are cars and trucks and us bumper to bumper.

Heidi yells out “Balboa!”

There’s a sign pointing left ‘Ave. Balboa’ I navigate across three lanes of traffic to follow the sign. Soon we see the Pacific Ocean and find ourselves on the malecon and on ‘Avenue Balboa’ sweet.

Now I’m not making any of this up. We tool down the malecon for about a kilometer when Heidi yells out “Harley Davidson!”

I pull in and park in front of a Harley Davidson store. Heidi says “This might be just a clothing store”

I say “I see motorcycles inside!”


I walk in and say that I need two tires for a Harley Davidson Sportster. The mechanic walks back out with two of the sweetest tires I have ever seen.


The owner of the shop tells me they can’t put them on until tomorrow. I ask her if she knows of a hotel we can stay at that has parking for the bike. She tells a mechanic to show me the hotel. We walk outside and he points to a hotel right next door. He says we can keep the bike at the shop overnight if we want. I try poking myself to make sure I’m not just dreaming this.

I think it’s time for a new T-shirt. Panama!


The hotel is pricy but riding a motorcycle all the way to Panama has been a goal of mine since I was sixteen years old plus Panama City is one of the coolest cities in the world. This hotel is at the center of town, is right on the water and we’re on the 16th floor facing the bay. Time to ‘bite the bullet’ and live it up a little!


Heidi is never going to want to leave!


Panama City…….


The Hard Rock is right across the street from the hotel. I still want to pinch myself.


The next day we prepare for a walking tour of the city. Here we go, enjoy……

We walk along the malecon toward Casco Viejo, an old historic section of town set on a small peninsula which forms the bay.














There are fishermen everywhere. People have stands setup on the side of the road selling new and used stuff.








Good thing we like heat and humidity. I’m soaked by the time we reach Casco Viejo.




We stop for breakfast in Casco Viejo. Next we walk back toward town along Avenue Central. I remember reading this street is where all the shopping is. Heidi is fired up.




I love the paint jobs on the buses here. They’re called ‘Diablos Rojos’ (Red Devils)










Back to the hotel.


Six hour walking tour of Panama City central. What a great time.


We stop by the bike shop to see if the bike is ready.


Ten minutes later the bike rolls out.


The ‘Rat Bike’ hasn’t been this clean since we left Hayward Wisconsin. This was a totally pleasant experience except when I had to pay the bill. The prices of the tires were astronomical. But at least they are the best quality tires and the cost of installation was cheap. We are now ready for the road ahead and in more ways then one!


The Ride Continues…
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Old 05-14-2008, 04:17 PM   #610
BriKielyGSman
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v-rod

You guys didnt want to trade the sportster in for the v-rod???

Actually the "Rat Bike" is still looking good!!

Bri
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Old 05-14-2008, 07:41 PM   #611
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Did you get your air cleaner fixed?
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Old 05-15-2008, 05:16 AM   #612
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Thumb

@Sly-on-2:

@blueglide88: Thanks man. It’s cool also how writing our reports for this thread enhance our communications even more. Communication and compromise I think are key to making something like this work. But most of all, I found the right woman!

@aatc9988: Our leather pants are silk lined which really help a lot in the hot weather. Surprisingly they don’t feel overly hot. In fact the leather protects from the heat, like when we sit down after the bike is parked in the sun for a while. With jeans it feels like your ass is cooking, with leather we don’t feel anything. In the past when Heidi has ridden with jeans she would complain about her right leg getting burning hot from the exhaust. With leathers she has doesn’t have this problem.

@BriKielyGSman: Yes, I could sense you wanted to change your name to BriKielySPORTSTERman that first night you saw our bike!!! he he…

@rous44: No. The mechanics tried the air filter problem but failed. I don’t think they were very experienced at fixing problems. I thought of another technique to try to fix it myself. I will give that a shot the next time we stop.
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Old 05-15-2008, 06:12 AM   #613
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cavebiker
@aatc9988: Our leather pants are silk lined which really help a lot in the hot weather. Surprisingly they don’t feel overly hot. In fact the leather protects from the heat, like when we sit down after the bike is parked in the sun for a while. With jeans it feels like your ass is cooking, with leather we don’t feel anything. In the past when Heidi has ridden with jeans she would complain about her right leg getting burning hot from the exhaust. With leathers she has doesn’t have this problem.
+1
Despite all the advances in synthetic riding gear, leathers are hard to beat for comfort across a wide range of temps. Too bad they suck when it rains.

"Keep your cotton-pickin' hands off my black leather jacket, it's the closest thing to skin that I got." -Stan Freberg

This trip report just keeps getting better and better. Your photos are great. I love the shots of the urban areas, especially the buses. The expression that comes to mind is "riot of color". We're starting to see a bit more color on the Metro Transit buses, but somehow, it just ain't the same. That airbrushed artwork would never fly in Minnesota.
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Old 05-15-2008, 03:20 PM   #614
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Totally loving this RR


And not getting ANY work done!
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Old 05-15-2008, 07:52 PM   #615
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Thumb Brother and Sister of Sportsterdom!

Well - it is not like a trip to Panama and Back - but I am riding the 883 to San Antonio and back in the next couple of days. I am gonna pretend it is a whole lot further!

I am very psyched that y'all will be biking around the Americas waiting for the season to change instead of camped out in the Andes. I am eagerly awaiting the reports.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience with us now; Go with Care
Go with Speed y via con Dios Amigos!
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