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Old 01-19-2013, 09:18 PM   #1
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Its Quitting Time! The SW and Baja with 2 best friends

So I apologize for the tardiness of this RR, but at least I am getting around to it.
A little background on myself and some of the other riders going....We are three best friends that met early on in College. None of us had any riding experience until a few years after college. I bought my first KLR when I was 25 and have since moved up to the love of my life, the 800GS. My buddy in Virginia bought his bike a year later perhaps and the third buddy bought an 800GS drunk off Ebay one night.
Post college, I moved back to the town I grew up in just north of Chicago. It was a fun time while it lasted, but I always knew it was destined to be short-lived. There is a great big world out there and I needed to explore it. Motorcycles helped facilitate my addiction, so in the fall of 2011, I decided enough was enough. It was quitting time!
My friend and I in Chicago quit our jobs eager to hit the road. My other friend is a paramedic who got a month of time off from work to go play.
I will spare a lot of the pre-trip arrangements, but it involved some hefty spending and lots of loc-tite. Anyways, we were ready to hit the road in early September. The plan was to trailer the bikes to Salt Lake City, which is where my dad and most of my family lives. This would be our home base/launch site.
Some pre-trip work:
Loc-titing and double checking the bikes

Gear prep:

Trailer all loaded up:


Pickup Truck all loaded:

*Note the DRZ on the trailer. That is my second bike and since I had no plans to come back to Chicago, she was coming along too!
We left 48 hours after my last day on the job and the excitement was palpable!
There were a lot of miles to cross before the bike portion of the trip.
Buddys mom's house in Fort Dodge Iowa



Random Sketchy hotel outside Fort Collins

The miles ticked by and with each minute, the realization of a dream trip was coming closer to being reality. Only by the good graces of White Fang on audio book were we able to finish the mind numbing cage drive to Utah. It was a little nerve-wracking to see snow so early in Colorado, but we knew warm beaches were calling out our names.
Some Colorado Scenery




Steamboat springs...I think

Me

BrunoUtah

I peed through his gate just to say I whizzed on a Governors homestead


Dads condo in SLC


Upon arriving, all we had to do was wait for the last buddy to fly in and hit the road. That and assure my family they would see me again....some time...and alive.
We didnt have much of a plan other than to make it to Cabo San Lucas so we were free to be creative. My brother was also hitchhiking through mainland Mexico, so I had high hopes of seeing him down south.
Departure Day

In times past, we have always taken the most direct route when headed down to southern Utah. But that was in cars...when we were poor...and had limited time. This time I found the curviest road with the highest passes on the way down.
Taking an early pit stop and reassuring ourselves this was really happening

Some high Utah passes


Pictured on the KLR is NovaManDan...I think


The first stop was decided to be in the San Rafael outside of Price, Utah. It is a place we have been before and know how beautiful it is. We had a great day of hiking and swimming in the river. Unfortunately, I left my brand new Canon camera in a backpack the ended up getting submerged in a short river crossing. This was almost the RR that wasnt to be, but I fixed this dilemma a little later down the road.
The Swell



Petroglyphs



The 3 amigos + 1 brother who was leaving us in a day or two


1st nights camp site



Next stop was decided to be Goblin Valley in Utah. We had a plan to camp and hike a slot canyon at night, which also turned out to be a full moon night. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The canyon was so well illuminated by the moon, headlamps were hardly needed. We brought backpacks full of wine and it only took some 5 hours to do a little 5 mile hike.
**To Be Continued. I was just told I need to be in to work at 530am tomorrow. Ah How I miss the care-free days of Baja.
Stay Tuned!
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Old 01-20-2013, 09:48 PM   #2
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With any adventure, the idea was to hit up new places and try out different things. After leaving the Swell, everything would be new to us.

With that in mind, we headed down to Goblin Valley to go hike a slot Canyon at night on the full moon. We had a hearty meal of hot dogs and loaded our packs with a hefty amount of wine, beer and whiskey.

Brother getting a nice overhead shot of camp


Full moon rising, almost time to hit the trail


Hot dogs rolled in croissants roasting on the fire. They were mighty tasty. Give it a shot next time youre camping



The slot canyon hike begins





Some spots got pretty high and techical....nothing we couldnt handle in our inebriated state though




Parallel to the ground



The canyon headed up was Little Wild Horse and the canyon down was Bell's Canyon




There was water below so we had to tread carefully along the way






Embracing the Awesomeness!


Holding down the fort for everyone to pass through



Pretty good drop below



It looks safer in the dark though



We parted ways with the brother the following morning and the adventure was about to get into full swing. We wanted to head down towards Monument Valley, but we had this big thing called Lake Powell blocking our way. No worries, the Powell ferry had our backs! We were the first ones waiting on the dock, so the line wasnt too long....

All loaded up to cross







So one of the best things about adventuring are the random people you meet. Here is Bethany. We dubbed her the Beer Fairy. Fitting we met her on the ferry too. We rode all morning and it was pretty dam hot down there. Guess who happened to have a cooler of ice cold beer?.... Thats right, the beer fairy! Bethany was travelling around the US and eventually making her way to Hawaii to do some WOOFing. If anyone runs across her in their travels, buy her a round on us! She was truly a lifesaver.



Getting ready to depart. Next up is Monument Valley and some of the best scenery Colorado has to offer


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Old 01-20-2013, 10:06 PM   #3
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:09 PM   #4
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Nice start, reminds me of my buddies and I.
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Old 01-20-2013, 10:56 PM   #5
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:08 PM   #6
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So many years ago, I visited some distant relatives that lived in Durango, CO. I remember I had my first Sierra Nevada off a keg there and loved the place. It had been a decade since I last visited that town and wanted to check it out. Despite the desire to lay on warm beaches, I convinced the group it was worth checking out. Nestled right by Durango is the famed Million Dollar Highway and that was simply one of, if not the best roads I have been on in my life!

Colorado!



Dan and Anferny resting in the shade while I sought out a new replacement camera.


First picture with camera #2!


Things got a little weird in Durango....



Drinking the local brews at a fine little bar complete with Hammocks on the back patio



Our plan was to originally just spend a night there, but that quickly changed after we had such a good time the first afternoon. We got a motel right by the Animas river which runs through town and a quick dip as the sun was setting was awesome! (Not the Animas river, but beautiful nonetheless)



The next morning Dan and I rose and wanted to go hit the famed Million Dollar Highway from Ouray to Silverton. Needless to say, it did not disappoint. Too bad Anthony was out tampon shopping or something...

There were beautiful aspens changing color the whole way out of Durango







We were hauling ass on the way up, so the pictures are from the top down if I recall. Here is a shot up in Ouray.





It was a chilly ride so we warmed up with some 50/50 piss/coffee at this cool little place.



Had to leave our mark too....



Here are some posing/scenery shots























So I knew there was an awesome narrow gauge railway that ran between Ouray and Silverton and I really wanted to check it out if possible. Much to my delight, I saw the smoke from the coal-burning locomotive from miles away headed into Silverton as we were coming down. With a quick flick of the throttle, I made it my mission to see this baby roll into town.



Close...


Closer.....


really close....


It was really awesome that this is a double locomotive train coming in. I guess this is pretty rare to see on this line.

Moving away....


Further....




The End...




The old station/museum







Headed back down







More Utah and Arizona coming up Next!
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Old 01-22-2013, 07:45 PM   #7
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So despite getting up at 4am, I think I have the energy for one more post tonight.

After we spent a few days and nights in Durango, we decided to hit the road again. Monument Valley in southern Utah is another landmark that was on the bucket list for this trip. We eventually were going to head towards Mexicali to cross, so this wasnt too much out of the way for us.

As we planned a route back west, we noted none of us had ever been to New Mexico. We found a road that would take us there, but not in the direction we needed to ultimately go. Nonetheless, we decided to ride into New Mexico....snap a picture, leave and get back on track. But hey, I technically now have been to NM



As we left in the morning, we had no plan to arrive at Monument Valley at any certain time, but it just so happened to work out we arrived during sundown. This turned into a fantastic photo op and we spent a good hour or so taking advantage of it!

Some of you may remember this spot from the movie Forrest Gump. As indicated by the sign, this is where he stopped his cross country running.









Photo time, people probably thought we were nuts as we kept running our bikes up and down the road to get cool pictures!





Normally, its helmets on, but we had to look badass for this picture!







So after the sun set, we set out trying to find a place to camp. Off we went back to gas station for fuel and beer.

In all of my travels, I have only met the nicest and kindest people on the road. Down by Monument Valley, this came to a halt though. We were really close to a Native American reservation and things started to get a little weird and unpleasant.

The first "sitchiation" we encountered was at the gas station where we met an Indian who started chatting us up and seemed friendly enough. He asked what we were up to and we told him about our photo sesh at Monument Valley. He then told us how that was his land and we owed him money for the pictures.

We laughed at first, but then stopped when we realized he wasnt actually joking. It was a bit perplexing and the three of us looked at each other and simultaneously closed our shields and started out bikes to end that. This was the first and not last unpleasant encounter we had. Ill delve into it more when we get there.

Either way, it was now dark and we needed a place to stay. The little motel that was clearly vacant quoted us some absurd price for a room so we went to the trusty GPS to lead us home for the night, We found a place called Gooseneck State Park a few miles away and so it was decided.

We rolled into Gooseneck in the pitch black and had no idea of the treat that we awoke to in the morning.



The night before we spent a good portion of the evening drinking beer and hucking rocks into the black abyss that was the Gooseneck.





Next up is Indian Country and Sedona, AZ where I get to see my cousin Wendy whom I havent seen in over a decade!
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Old 01-22-2013, 08:31 PM   #8
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:30 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by JJJZJ View Post
In all of my travels, I have only met the nicest and kindest people on the road. Down by Monument Valley, this came to a halt though. We were really close to a Native American reservation and things started to get a little weird and unpleasant.

The first "sitchiation" we encountered was at the gas station where we met an Indian who started chatting us up and seemed friendly enough. He asked what we were up to and we told him about our photo sesh at Monument Valley. He then told us how that was his land and we owed him money for the pictures.

We laughed at first, but then stopped when we realized he wasnt actually joking. It was a bit perplexing and the three of us looked at each other and simultaneously closed our shields and started out bikes to end that. This was the first and not last unpleasant encounter we had. Ill delve into it more when we get there.
If this happens again, remind him that your taxes pay for his health care and that you've already given enough to him.

Cool ride.. can't wait to see how it develops!
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:33 PM   #10
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The Rez

I live right on the border of the Rez. Had the same and worse experience as you many many many times. Kayenta is 20X worse than Monument Valley. The local Navajo Nation Police aren't any help when you find yourself in trouble down there either. Glad ya guys mad it out safe.
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Old 01-22-2013, 09:35 PM   #11
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If this happens again, remind him that your taxes pay for his health care and that you've already given enough to him.

Cool ride.. can't wait to see how it develops!
True Story Right There.
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Old 01-23-2013, 04:36 AM   #12
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My first ever subscribed thread; looking forward to your next update!

I have huge admiration to people like yourself who have the courage to quit your job and pursue your dream. I'd love to do something similar, but I wouldn't be able to go back into my current job and would worry when I got back!

Love your report so far - enjoy your adventure!
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Old 01-25-2013, 08:43 PM   #13
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Hey guys, thanks for the kind words. Comments like those are what keep me writing and planning the next adventure!

As for the people on the rez, I feel conflicted. In high school, I spent 2 summers working to rebuild homes near Kaibito and encountered some seriously grateful and nice people. This time around was a lot of inebriation and hostility. Its a shame to say, but on the bike I did not feel welcomed and that is not something I want when Im supposed to be out having a good time...

So without further ado, here comes some more AZ and maybe MX, we'll see how this goes....

After we camped out the night at Gooseneck State park, it was time to make our final approach to AZ. I previously mentioned I have a cousin in Sedona and have many fond memories of hanging out there as a kid, so that had to be included on the way down. Unfortunately this meant more time spent riding through the Indian reservation.

Just past the border we came upon this cool rock formation that was worth a look-see and a rest for some water.





For what its worth, this was the most hospitable Indian we ran across. Granted he was drunk and foaming at the mouth and it was before lunch, but he told us an interesting tale about these "elephant feet". It was cool to listen to...for the first 10 minutes. But then it became painful to extricate ourselves. Once again, we had to pull the old put the helmet on and close the face shield trick.



I must say, the one thing that is nice on the reservation is that they dont have a problem helping each other out. As soon as we started our bikes, he stuck his thumb out for a ride and before we headed out, he was already in a pickup truck with some teenagers blasting down towards town.

My brother hitchhiked from Utah - Panama and the stories he tells about trying to catch a ride in the States are absurd. No one wants to stop for a backpacker. Probably didnt help he smelled like a garbage truck, but there was no obvious chainsaw or machete to be afraid of.

My albums contain a large blank spot here and that represents the rest of the time riding through the reservation. At one town, we had to stop for some fuel and a soda. Pulling into town, you could have sworn you were in some lawless third world country.

There were dogs everywhere, people everywhere, cars all over the place, parked or otherwise. It was interesting to say the least. One guy immediately started in on us at the gas station yelling how we owed him more money and "we had a truuuuce!" He kept getting angrier and angrier. Once again, we left this raving drunk to his own devices. But we also had to eat lunch and found a subway for a quick meal and that was our last stop once our own tanks were full.

The looks we were getting were the kind you recognize on the road as the ones to avoid. I remember only eating 6 inches of a delicious 12 inch italian BMT before I was on the bike itching to go. The end of the reservation could not come fast enough.

Once we cleared out of there, we dropped in through Flagstaff and rode Oak Creek Canyon with 1001 RVs filled with blue hairs out touring for the summer. It made a trip on an awesome twisty road something on par with getting a cavity filled.



One place I remember going as a kid was Slide Rock State park. After the day we had been through, we had to take a dip. The dude collecting full fare from all the cages saw three bikes and decided that charging us for the price of one was a fair deal. Thanks friendly ranger!





The park is full of some fun cliff jumping and there is a path in the rock eroded by water that you can slide down like a water slide, hence the name Slide rock state park.



We had a blast cliff jumping though







After that refreshing dip, it was time to head into Sedona. We felt so refreshed...ready to try and tackle the high hotel prices that awaited us. We ran into a friendly guy by the name of Richard at the gas station who told us about his HP2 and riding days. He then happened to mention he co-owned a motel in town and hooked us up with a motorcycle travellers discount. It was a really comfortable place to stay and they even had buckets with soap and water out front to wash bikes down with. I believe it was called the Star Motel. Give it a whirl if you find yourself in Sedona and say hi to Richard for us. http://starmotelsedona.com












I left cousin a message earlier in the trip and was happy to find out she had gotten back to me. We planned a breakfast date for the morning at some delicious little diner and caught up on old times. Motorcycle travelling is truly wonderful because youre always playing a game of connect the dots with people and places. In this case, my cousin was a dot I hadnt seen in 10 years and the 800GS brought me right there as planned. I hope to see them again soon!



After breakfast, I took a ride to find the house my grandpa used to own and see the cool Sedona Airport that overlooks town.



The parking attendant at the airport let me ride my bike onto the pedestrian walkway for a photo. I swear if you are on a motorcycle, people instantly treat you like an old friend!

With the Sedona itch scratched, it was time to descend upon phoenix.

BrunoUtah needed to get some new tires mounted before MX. I called some ADV peeps in the area that saved my butt last time around and they pointed us to the right shop. While the shop had the bike apart, they noticed his wheel bearings were shot front and rear. I thought they felt a little funny pre-trip, but considering his bike had 6xxx miles, we didnt worry too much. Lucky that they caught them before Baja!

It wasnt a bad afternoon, we sipped delicious beer and wolfed down burgers at the dive bar next door. We also watched youtube videos of the owner racing his bikes. He is known as Ghilli Man, aka Dustin Apgar. Here is a cool video of him dragging his helmet on the track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Ov43cWkYIA











Dustin's wrecked GSXR





Dustin and his wife were so friendly and well-priced for an unexpected repair. I highly recommend them as a shop if you need some work done! Thanks again guys!

Now that we had Anferny's bike all fixed, we were ready to make the push for our border crossing. We didnt want to do it at night or late in the day, so the plan was to stop outside Yuma for the night and get paperwork and money squared away in the morning. After that was done, we were off into Baja. But first we had to survive Yuma.

We didnt want to enter town and found a motel somewhere along 95 between Quartzite and Yuma. Oh what a mistake this was. I cant speak for Anferny and Dan, but I dont think I have ever seen Semen-stained carpet, glory holes and an ant infestation in the same room in my life. But we did this night. If only I could remember where it was so I could say to stay away

Glory hole....well maybe not, but im pretty sure it could be managed



Luckily we werent girls so we couldnt get pregnant from the carpet



The next day we got all our documents and paperwork. I made sure not to make the mistake I made last time in Baja. This was to think they had ATMs around to withdraw cash. I think this time I took out 600 or 700 dollars and hid it on me, my pants, jacket, bike, vest, boots, etc. A year later I found 100 bucks in my motorcycle pants where the knee pad goes!

I love the part where you ride between Yuma and the Mexicali crossing. The fruit fields smell so wonderful and its a great send-off before crossing the border.

Next up is Mexico!

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Old 01-25-2013, 09:09 PM   #14
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My first ever subscribed thread; looking forward to your next update!

I have huge admiration to people like yourself who have the courage to quit your job and pursue your dream. I'd love to do something similar, but I wouldn't be able to go back into my current job and would worry when I got back!

Love your report so far - enjoy your adventure!
Thanks man, I should probably use your comment to talk a little about the mental preparation for this trip. I was leaving a very fun and well-paying job to go be a motorcycle bum for an undetermined amount of time with no promise of work when I returned.

The truth is quitting and doing this trip was the hardest thing I have ever done. I had countless days and nights questioning myself and my motives before I had the courage to send the email notifying the owner of my 2 err 4 weeks.

But the truth is, I know I couldnt live with myself or grow as a person if I didnt do it. I figuratively jumped into the deep end of life and hoped I would survive. I certainly learned a lot about what I enjoy and what I want out of life. This trip was the best thing I have ever done for myself!

Even typing this RR fills me with the afterglow from the trip and Im currently planning something else for spring as a result.

So for all you self-doubters, just sack up and do it if you want to travel. It sounds cliche, but you only live once. Do you want to wake up old and crusty and regret not travelling? Or decide to travel after retirement and find yourself missing out on a lot of the fun that could have been incorporated in your younger years? I dont know about you, but that is my biggest fear in life.
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Old 01-25-2013, 09:14 PM   #15
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I live right on the border of the Rez. Had the same and worse experience as you many many many times. Kayenta is 20X worse than Monument Valley. The local Navajo Nation Police aren't any help when you find yourself in trouble down there either. Glad ya guys mad it out safe.
Blanding eh? Your location just reminded me we stopped there for a night on the trip too. We stayed at the Prospector motor lodge and ate at that old western style restaurant next to the Super 8. Good times there.

Kayenta is where we stopped for fuel and youre right, it is about 20x worse! Thankfully no law enforcement was needed as we got out of there pretty quick!

I work with someone from Blanding now at Deer Valley. You dont happen to know JT Patterson do you?
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