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Old 10-31-2012, 12:12 PM   #31
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PARTY ON!

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Old 10-31-2012, 12:24 PM   #32
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Old 10-31-2012, 06:21 PM   #33
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No rides were planned for Saturday, just a short bus excursion to the National Park within the city, followed by another excursion to a "factory".

We were due to leave at 9 am, however word came that there had been an hour delay and I found myself free for 30 minutes to wander around and take some pics.





I needed coffee and found a little coffee shop just around the corner.

My barristas









Throughout the town they were decorating for the Day of the Dead






I wandered around a bit, cup of hot Jose' in one hand and a camera requiring two hands in the other. Somehow I managed to not pour hot coffee down my shirt, but I sure I looked like El Dweebo del Norte.

A few shots:


















I finally ended up at the buses in front of the Plaza Hotel and found the gang. We were driven a short distance to the National Park, within the city itself, and it turned out to be a beautiful rain forest setting with lots of running water and fountains. Very beautiful place and I was surprised it had been able to remain intact for so long.

Pics

























Note the figure mid picture - he had just dove (dived? diven? doven? take your pick) from a tree limb about 50 feet over the little stream into a small deep hole. In the water. Not just a small deep hole.



The crystal clear streams were full of drowned grubs - not sure if it was mass suicide or accidental drownings



I think he was preparing for the Day of the (Grateful) Dead












From there we were taken by bus to an old fabric mill that has been turned into a museum on the top floor, a working fabric mill in the basement and a huge conference center.

Our bus featured anti-lanesplitting devices









No latte's in sight, but plenty of Corona Light



Each place we went, all the tortillas were hand made by the ladies. I was told these particular tortillas used black corn which is evidently rare. The other tortillas used blue corn, which I was told is actually a blue fungus which gives the color. All I can say is a lot of fungus died for the cause.



Hank, Sherry and I explored the building and I got stuck in the basement, mesmerized at the step back in time and the incredible photo ops there.































Wandering a bit I bumped into Mark from Colorado, and we hung out for a bit. Cullen arrived as well and they began planning their return. BMW had rider's clinics going, but since they were in Spanish we just sat in the shade and acted cool. Well, as cool as "heavyset" middle aged guys can act...

In a bit Hank swung by and said "Comida" so we wandered up to the main hall and were ushered in past a red 1200GSA - the one to be given away - and were handed more swag from babes. I got a black corduroy Negro Modelo hat, a free bag, and some other stuff. As usual the hat is too small for my fat head and simply falls off if I lean. Oh well what's new.
Hank and Cullen had gotten not one but two caps from the Corona girls, a green one resembling a Che Guevarra hat minus the red star and a super cool black one.

Eventually, we found a table and the slow but sure process of continuous feeding began. The weird thing is that at each event, with a hundred tables or more, we always ended sitting next to the same guys every time. Even weirder is the fact that I had the same waiter at each function. Poor guy.



We were regaled with music, Indian dances and much more.




My thrill of the evening came when standing in the free ice cream line. Suddenly, two young beautiful girls butted in line in front of me, and it turns out they were the two girls from Zirahuen who were wearing the crowns and red, white and green dresses. I called them the Copper Queens since they had represented Zirahuen and wore some amazing copper jewelry and crowns. One acted quite regal and the other a little apologetic. I didn't care. BTW they both went for ice cream and cheesecake.

With sweaty palms and our acceptance speeches planned, the drawings arrived, eventually ending with the 1200 GSA. Sadly, none of us won, but my speech was so well written I'm saving it for next year.

Waiter pics



Once we realized we hadn't won, there was a mad rush for the door, but once in the lobby realized that the riding photos were for sale… they were sorted by day and motorcycle type. Day 1, R1100 GS and R1150 GS. Mine were easy to find since there were literally only 3 bikes in the stack.




Back to the room, where Cullen and I packed. I decided to leave all my local sweets and nuts and thingamabobs for the cleaning lady and got ready to leave Sunday morning. Cullen and Mark had a vague plan which seemed to head north, but Cullen had met a guy at the dinner who had a 10 room house in Gudalajara or someplace and had insisted he and Mark stay at his place.

More tomorrow!

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Old 10-31-2012, 08:38 PM   #34
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Old 11-01-2012, 07:13 AM   #35
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Thanks for the well wishes on the intestinal inconsistencies.

I know all the ADV'ers here are highly refined and cultured, so in an effort to not offend, I've chosen to use euphemisms for the more sensitive.

Thankfully, I've not had to do the "Technicolor Yodel", and let's just say "the train tends to leave the tunnel off schedule and with much fanfare."


Thanks for the comments guys! Will be adding more stuff today

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Old 11-01-2012, 08:47 AM   #36
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Woke up early and went outside early to load bike, the town still asleep in the cool morning air. The day before, Mexico had their time change, but I was still on previous time. A few other riders were up and loading for the trip home.
Cullen got his bike loaded and took off a little before us, to meet Mark and head home, while we readied for Taxco.













We'd all been impressed with the number of women riders in the group. This lady rode a 1200GS or GSA - can't remember which. Later it was pointed out to me she had been featured in a BMW documentary


Hank had to get back to Dilley by midweek, but Jimmy and Rob had more time and wanted to stay longer in Mexico. Hank agreed to get them to Taxco before heading north. I was torn as to stay with Hank or continue on with R & J.



At any rate, our route out of Uruapan entailed going through Morelia, and the thought made me shudder after the hot fiasco we'd been involved in on the last trip through. Jimmy was quick to say he had no desire to go through that again. No choice, however, but this time we went through the city center and it was no problemo. Traffic was light and the old city was beautiful.







We rode past a huge aqueduct and stopped for pics. Very pretty town indeed. From Morelia we headed on a high speed run towards Toluca, at some point getting onto Hwy 15.

Highway 15 quickly climbed high into the mountains, with fog, mist, huge pines and spectacular views. However, the twisting and turning road turned out to be an outstanding motorcycle road. Rob and I stayed together for what must have been 60 miles of intense twisties that would make a passenger hurl. This went on for so long, in 2nd and 3rd gear only, that both hands went numb and forearms began to cramp. That was the longest sustained twisties I've ever done and eventually I almost, almost, almost wished for it to straighten out LOL. Add to it the occasional cars and trucks to pass, cows and sheep standing on the edge and big, fresh cow patties in the middle of blind curves and it was quite fun.

A section of 15 to give you an idea - per Hank



I was sweating, scraping pegs and boots, watching sparks coming off Rob's Happy Trails panniers, and feeling like a badass when suddenly I was passed by a guy on a BMW 650 scooter. He went past me and Rob like we were sitting still, and didn't even spill his Latte'. Now I hate to admit this, but both of the days we did road rides, I was passed by a BMW 650 scooter. It was not only me, but Rob, Jimmy, Cullen and Hank were all humbled by the scooter guy. Both days. All I can say is that if it had been the BMW "City" scooter with the goofy bubble roof, I'd just have to kill myself. Thankfully it wasn't.

After what seemed hours - and it was - I saw a group of riders ahead at a lookout point and pulled in to find Hank and Jimmy, having just pulled in. There were a large number of the BMW riders from Mexcio City there - the president of the club and other elites. We'd been running with the big boys and rubbing elbows with swank. As usual.

They were just ahead of us all the way up. And there sat that damn scooter.
Hank said the scooter had blown past him as well and he had to set a blistering pace to keep it in sight at times. I found the rider and it turned out he was the guy who was sponsored by BMW to teach the riding clinics. We all felt better realizing he was a world class rider and that's our story and we're sticking to it.

El Diablo Del Scootero

Super nice guy - the BMW riding instructor who spanked us mightily


Jimmy had just finished cleaning about an 1/8 inch deep layer of brake dust off his rear rim. Apparently he'd used a new brand of brake pads that wore quickly



Bad pic but shows a little of the elevation






From the top down, the ride was a little easier, though still fast and furious. Eventually we ended up in Valle de Bravo, a beautiful town on a lake. It's called the "Little Switzerland" of Mexico. We came in on rough cobblestone streets through droves of locals, eventually winding down a very, very steep cobblestone street that led into the main area by the lake. All I can say is if that cobblestone street had been wet we'd all have come out of it with brakes locked going 70 mph. Of course the pic doesn't capture the angle...

We were all liking the looks of this place and Hank checked with the cops and others about a hotel. There was a huge arts festival going on and much of the place was booked. Hank eventually returned with a teenage kid and told him to hop on back of my bike and lead us to the hotel. We rode out of the town and around to the other side of the lake before finding the place. A quaint, screaming yellow place that overlooked a boat yard that overlooked the lake. But it was home.













We washed and caught a cab back to town, having dinner and then wandering. There was an arts festival in town, a large stage had been set up and a woman violinist was playing to the crowd. Her music was beautiful, though she seemed a bit overdramatic, and the stage show was excellent. We watched for a bit, then wandered off in the dark to find an old church we'd seen in the daylight. Up and down the cobblestone streets in the darkness, the sounds of beautiful violin music echoing about.

Oh the suffering…















At a cafe', the boys look at routes to Taxco on the Garmin map software












We found the church, then wandered further up into the little town, passing sights and sounds, disappearing in time. It was surreal in so many ways.













Finally, we ended up in yet another plaza, in front of the largest church there, the place filled with people listening to a flamenco singer and guitarists on a smaller stage of the festival. The plaza was packed and we wandered around, eventually the flamenco dance beginning on stage. The crowd was enraptured.













The air was cold and crisp, the streets ancient and filled with interesting light, patterns, voices and people. In the darkness we walked, the sound of The Who's "Teenage Wasteland" being played on violin echoing here and there.

LoneStar screwed with this post 11-03-2012 at 07:51 PM Reason: Added a very exciting map
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Old 11-01-2012, 09:23 AM   #37
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Photos

Great job with the photos. Keep up the good work!
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Old 11-01-2012, 10:33 AM   #38
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Awesome report!

Keep it coming.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:47 AM   #39
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Morning over Valle de Bravo







We were up and on the bikes around 9, headed for downtown Valle de Bravo and breakfast for the road













The night before, Rob and Hank had looked at routes to Taxco, the original plan being for Jimmy and Rob to go on to Taxco while we turned north. After some discussion with locals, the route Rob and Jimmy had planned on taking was up in the air. Apparently there had been robberies or rumors of such on the road, but information was dated and sketchy. The only real information being that it would be full of truck traffic. After looking at the maps af where to go after Taxco, it appeared R & J would be too far out of the way for their schedule, so they decided to hang with us yet another day before splitting.



We had a great, relaxed breakfast on a balcony overlooking the lake. Each meal in Mexico has been leisurely. It's been nice not having to swallow an Egg McMuffin whole, while simultaneously snorting a cup of coffee through a nostril and climbing on the bike. Actually its been nice not even seeing an Egg McMuffin.











The two cops spent a lot of time looking at my bike



My breakfast… yum!



Then they took it away and gave it to Sherry and gave me this instead

Still yummy but the hot bowl it came in was more interesting


Orchids everywhere



The view and the breeze called my name, and I told the gang to go ahead without me. Said I'd meet them in Vera Cruz at the Rally next year cuz I wasn't leaving the balcony. Rob reminded me that gringos come south, meet a lovely chiquita, move there and then try to survive by starting a bar or copy center, only for it to fail. True, so I decided to go with them.

We saddled up in our stanky gear, once again trailing through a beautiful town and up to the faster roads leading ever to the horizon. We were on high beautiful roads until reaching the tollway heading north for Queretaro. From there it was hot, long and tiring. After days of 85 mph buffeting, it begins to tire you. You notice pressure points in your jacket, that now have become irritating. You notice things about your helmet that bug you, and you decide you're going to get all new gear - like that Rukka jacket you tried on at the vendors booth in Uruapan. Hey, $1800 for a jacket? Who cares!! Woohoo! And that nice Schuberth C3 helmet with comm system - $1300? Who cares!! Woohoo! Oh yeah, and while I'm at it, that new red 1200 GSA would be much better than my antique Anniversary Edition - $25,000? Who cares!!! WooHoo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Then I began to wonder if I have enough pesos for the gas and tolls between here and wherever the hell Hank is taking us. Crap, I should've gotten some pesos from the ATM.

About the time we were all getting burned out, we rolled into the small town of Bernal, a colorful and peacefully quiet town sitting beneath a massive rock promontory.




Hank found a hotel on a side street, where we unloaded gear and then parked the bikes in a gated lot on the next street. Rob opted for a single room and Jimmy and I shared one. Poor Jimmy.







Entrance to the parking garage






The town was right out of a storybook, colorful buildings, cobble streets and a very quiet atmosphere. We wandered and climbed, eventually reaching the old cemetery under the rock cliff.

























This guy was very friendly and spoke english well. He told me of the preparations for the Day of the Dead they were doing. And yes, it's one of those pigs from Angry Birds






You're probably tiring of seeing pics of beautiful colored walls, so here's a bench



Here's a colored wall AND a white wall






As we climbed the road, I kept hearing a horse clip clopping and a rumbling engine coming closer. Turns out it was this guy exercising his caballo and not the gasoline powered horse I was expecting.



The cemetery had not yet been decorated, but we explored. Turns out R.I.P. is very common on the grave markers






This young man decorated the grave while we were there and spent much time talking to his loved one(s).






I had not been able to get wifi in the last 2 days, and Rob found out the main plaza had a gazebo with free wireless, so we planed to have dinner and then get caught up on email and posts. About the time we decided to head for dinner, I began to feel a bit weak and queasy. Hank and I walked a bit shooting pics, but I was going downhill and began looking for a farmacia'. I feared it may get much worse and decided to try to get some antibiotics ahead of time in case it did. Hank got directions to one, and Rob went with me, however we eventually found out it was much further away so I blew it off. I barely stayed awake through dinner and felt pretty bad overall. I left some money on the table for the guys to cover my bill and went back to the hotel and laid down. I could feel intestinal happenings and prayed it wouldn't get worse. The gang arrived and I felt a little guilty at having dampened the last night's party (cause God know's I'm the life of the party). Hank and I looked at his GoPro video and some other stuff before I finally passed out.

More soon!
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Old 11-02-2012, 11:14 AM   #40
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Fantastic! Thanks for the great update. You have now successfully convinced me that I need to go to the rally next year. Let's rumble!

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Old 11-02-2012, 11:40 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoneStar View Post





More soon!


Great updates and photos! I love the look on that kid's face.

Looking forward to more!
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Old 11-02-2012, 01:58 PM   #42
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Nice to meet you!

It was great meeting you, Cullen, and everyone there in Uruapan. I've always enjoyed your writing and photos in your ride reports. I new you were going to be at the rally because I had seen your avatar on the list of attendants. I recognized your bike, but didn't realize you were near my size.

Cullen and I stayed at Michael's beachfront home in Mazatalan (that was rough). We ended up crossing the border at Nogales and went our separate ways there. I made it home Thursday about 3PM. Back to work tomorrow.

Please stop by and see me the next time you are riding in Colorado.
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:07 PM   #43
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Hey man glad you're back safe! I bet the time in Mazatlan was rough

Had a lot of fun eating your dust on the dirt ride and ditto on the invite. I realize you're far less inclined to ride to Texas than I am to ride to Colorado, but if so you've got a spot to stay that ain't too bad for Texas
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Old 11-02-2012, 02:17 PM   #44
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I was up earlier than the others, feeling like I was made of lead, intestines rumbling and feeling weak. Made my way down the street and sat in the cold air of the plaza, thankful I hadn't gotten violently ill the night before. I carried the laptop and posted a single photo for my friends to know I was still kicking.













I went back up the hill and eventually got my bike back to the hotel while the others were getting up and about. Packed it early, and then we congregated for breakfast at a little cafe on the square. I forced down an apple pastry and a capuccino, as well as a bottle of water.




Rob and Jimmy were going to part ways with us and spend another couple of days before returning, and I had debated staying with them, but in the end decided to stick with Hank, pairs being easier to deal with when riding and hotels.

We said our adios' and parted, riding up the cobblestone streets out into the sunshine and onto main roads, our plan being lunch in Matehuala and then on to Saltillo. I shot some GoPro footage, but I have to say I've been very frustrated with it this trip. I brought 6 batteries, and when fully charged am only getting 5 to 20 minutes run time, and they always die right before something really interesting comes up. It seems even leaving the camera off all day and then turning it on for interesting sights, the battery pukes. In addition, I've been getting condensation heavily in the lens housing every day, no matter how many times I dry it out and clean it.

So, my video footage consists of, (A.) Interesting footage completely ruined by condensation on the lens, or (B.), Footage of boring crap just before fantastic scenery arrives and the battery dies. Go figger.

Stills from the GoPro footage:




The caballero guy was drunk and trying to be helpful upon our arrival the day before, and was still drunk and trying to be helpful when we left






Anyway, the air was very cool this morning - eye watering - as we merged onto the highway southwest to Queretaro and then eventually north towards Saltillo. Blasting 85 mph for long periods, the vistas changed and yet remained the same. From high plains lower into the desert, the familiar crumbling buildings painted with Corona signs and partially completed concrete buildings with rebar standing above the roof lines. Burros, horses, cattle and sheep grazing on the highway medians, every so often a broken down Ford pickup on the side of the road - of which I've counted 10 to 1 being maroon colored - and the groups of locals waiting at the lonely bus stops with plastic grocery bags for luggage.

It felt great to be riding right behind Hank and not 75 yards back. Being the tail end of a high speed train is not easy. You have to watch all the bikes ahead of you, as Hank sped, split and wove through traffic, keeping an eye on the three bikes in front of you and trying to gauge what they're about to do, an eye on the cars, trucks and buses all around you, the various cars, semi's, dogs, potholes, topes and people along the roadside and running across the road, then try to make the gaps in traffic before they close, which rarely happened. As well, when you pass through the toll booths, everyone ahead has waited and had time to adjust glasses, clean shields, put away money and wallets, etc, but as you exit the booth they all take off like the start of a motocross race. Got a little frustrating at times but that's just part of the game. Let's just say it was a hell of a lot less stress and I actually got a few minutes now and then to look at scenery.

One thing I've found interesting has been the conversations, or rather lack thereof, with the gas station attendants. For me, the concept of having someone pump your gas is a new one. The routine being, pull up to pump, get off bike, take tank bag off, point to Red Premium and say "Rojo", have the attendant say "Roja?", to which I say "Si, gracias" then attendant then asks me in Spanish "how much" (at least I assume that's what he or she is asking) and I then point up to the sky, or raise my hand like water level rising, or some other inane thing, but they understand. Or as a couple of them have done, let me go through an entire hand signal routine complete with tap dancing, and they then say "You mean full?" in English.

At any rate, I try to have some discourse, which entails "Buenos Dias", "Muy Bueno" and then shortly after, "No Habla Espanol". It's been interesting as some attendants have worked in the US and enjoy speaking in English. Today when I pulled in for gas, three attendants came over and began trying to communicate with me about travel, the bike and such, all in Espanol. One finally said "Mexico bueno?" so that I could understand, to which I said loudly "Viva Mexico!!!". They all burst into smiles and laughter and we had a good laugh. I drove out to the sounds of "Adios Amigo" and "Buen Viaje".

When we broke for lunch in Matehuala, Sherry wasn't doing well. She'd had a back muscle go wonky and was miserable. She medicated, and Hank said he'd decided to head for Linares and then Santiago, which would put us later in the day, but a much more interesting road. I had finally begun to feel better physically and that was certainly fine with me.

We headed north until finally reaching the highway east for Galeana and Linares, the first mile or so being talcum powder dirt from road construction. A water truck had just heavily doused the deep powder, and I watched Hank weaving and wobbling in the slick, as did I until I was able to get over into the oncoming lane. When we finally got up into the mountains I was treated to one of the best roads I've yet ridden. Super twisty, high drop-offs, no railings, spectacular mountain views and one heck of a ride! I don't think I've ever scraped so much metal and boot rubber. Had a ball! Tense, but a ball And of course the GoPro died just as I hit the good stuff.


The beginning of a fantastic ride


Don't miss this road if you ride the area.

We finally crested the mountain range and headed downhill, the eastern side of the mountains much, much warmer than the western side. We passed through several checkpoints, through large X-ray machines and steely eyed machine gun toting policia and military. There will be many more between here and Laredo.





It had gotten very hot, but we eventually arrived in Santiago, just south of Monterrey. As we rolled into the old downtown plaza, there was much activity in preparation for a happening on the square. In each town we've been, other than Bernal, there has been something going on.

The hotel faced the square and the street had been cordoned off, but we were aloowed to pass to the hotel, but had to unload quickly and get the bikes into the garage, as they did not want the bikes there.

As we piled off the bikes, there was a high school band practicing in the plaza, playing hard core military type drum music. Hank went inside and Sherry laid down on the sidewalk, probably from her back pain... or maybe the meds




After dumping gear in the room, it appeared we were the only guests in the beautiful place. Hank had been told that the hot water had to be fired up and it would be a while before we could shower. I tried to get online but the password wasn't working.


The suffering continues



Hank knocked and I told him we'd meet in the square. There was a stage set up, as well as chairs. Tonight was a formal gathering in front of the church, dignitaries and the mayor giving a speech.










We walked the town for a bit, listening to the reverbrations of the speeches and then the mariachi music. A fireworks finale was the signal for our dinner.



As we ate, the dignitaries filed in in groups, going downstairs to a private meeting room.

The town was very pretty and quiet. Hank said there had been a drug violence incident in the town a couple of years before, and the tourist shops had moved away. He also said there was only the one hotel, and from the looks of it being empty I guess the tourism had left it lonely as well.

Tomorrow Laredo and then home. This has been a great trip.

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Old 11-02-2012, 02:53 PM   #45
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