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Old 04-28-2013, 10:33 PM   #16
NCK OP
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I'm in!
Sweet Puffmtd!
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Old 04-28-2013, 10:34 PM   #17
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Much to Come

Wow, we've made it across the US and into Mexico and I feel like it's the first time I've had a moment to sit down and type. Not cool!

I'll write a update of my time in the U.S. and a good detailed update of our entry into Mexico and our time traveling here shortly, I am just going to need to put together a couple more days of WiFi and time to sit and relax. I thought trips were supposed to be easy and carefree .

Thank you everyone for your support and well wishes! Yawhoo!
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Old 05-10-2013, 03:00 PM   #18
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It was time. I had been working too long in politics and this trip had been building up inside me for so long, I knew it was just time to go. I was, in a sense, wild:

Wild from Nate Kayhoe on Vimeo.



After building my KLR for this trip, I was so tired of working on the damn thing and just wanted to ride!
Here’s a shot when we were over at my welder’s shop putting together some custom crash bars:



So I was at work, and then, bam we were off! My last day of work was a Friday, and then we were out of the town by Thursday of the next week. It was hectic trying to pack:

Packing Problems from Nate Kayhoe on Vimeo.



Did some tweaks on the bike:

Last Minute Tweaks from Nate Kayhoe on Vimeo.



Finished some tweaks on the bike:

Back in One Piece from Nate Kayhoe on Vimeo.



It was tough, leaving all my friends and family after 5 years in DC:

work hard. say goodbye. see everywhere. from Nate Kayhoe on Vimeo.



Here is my mom helping me prep some fake wallets and some duplicate vaccination cards:


For months I’d been selling things here on Advrider and eBay, loading up the back of my KLR with boxes and heading off the work to ship them during my lunch break! Here is one day’s worth, actually, it was really two days cause this was a lot of boxes:


The hugs accomplished, last minute tweaks on the bike complete, and it was just time to go! Goodbye parties finished:


First stop was to Charlottesville to see my grandpa:

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Old 05-10-2013, 04:26 PM   #19
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When you get to New Zealand we are in New Plymouth city, west coast North Island, give us a yell if you need a bed or help :-)
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Old 05-11-2013, 07:10 AM   #20
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When you get to New Zealand we are in New Plymouth city, west coast North Island, give us a yell if you need a bed or help :-)
Thank you! I'll drop you a note!
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Old 05-22-2013, 04:39 PM   #21
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My last day of work was a Friday, and I was gone a week later. The last 5 days in D.C. were intense in every sense, motorcycle preparations, but I was in a real rush. I had been preparing for this trip for 3 years, I’d had all the time in the world to get read. It was time to go (hence my favorite saying: giddy up, baby!). So it was: Packing the bikes. Packing any possessions I had left over from my years-long selloff of everything I owned. Cleaning. Repacking the bikes. Saying goodbye to friends. And then there was nothing more to do. It was time.

The general plan was to cross the U.S., enter Mexico, and get to El Salvador where I have good friends and plan to take time to learn Spanish, as quickly as possible. So, we shot across Virginia the first night, deep into Tennessee the second, Arkansas the third and within 6 days we were in New Mexico where we’d preform some last minute motorcycle overhauls in Chris’s parents garage.

In Oklahoma, a mounting storm gave us a good run for our money. Note: From time to time in this ride report I’ll quote from my trip log, the in depth story of this trip I’ll be authoring over the next couple years. Excerpt and picture, from that day, April 17th, 2013:



The storm was looming on our left flank. A temptation: the massive wall of white cloud gave momentary pause. The beauty, reaching thousands of feet into the stratosphere, was a bit spellbinding. I took my time, and took a picture.

But then, as lightning began, a bit of panic set in: Finish the hotel reservation. Now. Get on our bikes. Hurry. We hit the highway. Ahead of us, to the right, was another front, one less threatening but certainly creating rain. 45mph, 55, 65, 75. Yeah baby, we were making a hard run for Oklahoma City. Here and now, speed was our best bet – the leverage in our attempt to split the two fronts down the middle, run the gap.

The lightning quickened to every second. Crack. Boom. A raindrop, bat. Two, bat bat. Three, bat bat bat. Shit, this hurts. A hint of fear - would we get completely owned by this storm? Or, could we outrun it?

Yet, as the lightning to our left quickened, I felt its dazzling light slowly falling behind my peripheral vision. Were we passing it? The rain wasn’t letting up. Or was it? bat. bat. Just as water had begun to soak into my lowest layer, the rain slowed, then stopped. Sweet. The tightness throughout my body eased. Relief. Whew.

We cruised on and I watched as the hundreds of raindrops on my helmet’s visor began to break apart from air pounding away at the speed of motorcycle.

One-by-one, the molecules of water became mist and evaporated back over my helmet into a microscopic shower flowing like an aquatic afterburner into the nighttime sky.


--

In New Mexico, the overhauls completed. Motorcycles strengthened. We headed to Arizona where I had an old friend from high school I hadn’t seen in 10 years whom found out about my trip on Facebook and invited us to stay while we prepped for our last night in the U.S.

After three or so days in Tuscon (it was hard to leave), we packed up and hit the road for Nogales, Arizona – our border crossing into Mexico.

Pumped. Scared. Here we go. This is it. It’s finally beginning.

As we drove south on Interstate 15, the miles signs changed to kilometers. We were still in the U.S. Weird. We fueled up right before the border, and crossed the line. US CBP and Mexican equivalents simply waved us through. We were in Mexico. The crush of dirty cars hit us, but our motorcycles nimbly shot through the streets.

When you enter a new country, the first thing you need to do is get money in the correct currency or you are helpless. We looked for a bank (has the safest ATMs) as we drove south in town. Nothing until the outskirts where Chris saw one out of the corner of our eyes. Whew. ATM. Pesos. Step 1 complete.

As we continued south, we knew the hard part was coming – Mexican Immigration and Customs. We finally arrived and pulled over to begin the process of checking ourselves and our motorcycles into the country. I walked around the complex for 30 minutes asking around until I finally figured out where to go and what to do. None of it is setup to be helpful, naturally. I headed back to the bikes where Chris was watching them we left them and walked into the immigration building together, which was the first step. As we got all our paperwork together (passports, registrations, licenses, money) Chris noticed something was off about his registration – it expired in 8 days. Shit. We exited the immigration office, went back to our bikes, and looked hard at this thing in total shock. Shit. Even if they would let him cross the border into Mexico with a registration short-on-time, he wouldn't make any other borders with it expired and his insurance would be invalid as soon as it went cold.

We had to turn around.
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Old 05-28-2013, 02:35 PM   #22
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Hi buddies I'll be waiting for you (if its possible)I want to be part of this story.
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Old 06-05-2013, 07:41 AM   #23
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Hi buddies I'll be waiting for you (if its possible)I want to be part of this story.
thanks! Awesome!
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:10 AM   #24
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Subscribed. Good luck, be safe, write often.
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Old 06-05-2013, 09:32 AM   #25
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pictures from the USA

Oklahoma:



Arizona:



Just for practice:



Dead headlight bulb deep in a Arizona national park at night:



By moonlight only, the middle of the night, 30 second exposure, increased brightness in photo edtior by 300%.



Learning to pack, unpack, and repack:
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Old 06-05-2013, 02:17 PM   #26
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Looking forward to more pics. Thanks
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:33 AM   #27
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Pictures from Mexico

Stopped for a swim:



Cool shower right onto everything:



Advrider love! Thanks for the spot to crash!



Stopped for a yummy lunch



Crashed a late night trailer park:



Northern Mexican Highway:



Camped at a hidden hotel in Playa Las Glorias:
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Old 06-06-2013, 08:39 AM   #28
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Looking forward to more pics. Thanks
ask and you shall receive!
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:04 AM   #29
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After a long & wild week and a half, it was going to be out last night in Mexico. I was excited to move on to a new country. Beyond Guatemala lay El Salvador – a place of comfort where I’d traveled many times before and had friends. We would be staying there for over a month to learn Spanish and relax on the beach. Sweet.

We rolled into Tapachula, the last city before Guatemala, around 4pm. As we looked for a hotel, we snaked through the grid system of streets, penetrating deep into the city. We didn’t yet have a sense of how big the city was, for should it be too big the downtown hotels would be too expensive, but should it be small, these downtown hotels would likely be the safest.

Tapachula was big. We approached the town square (most Mexican towns have literal squares in the middle of town, a block long park signifying downtown), circled it, and casually headed out of town, the other way, block by block, looking. We had done this before. We’d find one in time and it’d work out fine. This was the last part of the daily routine we needed to accomplish before we could relax – find safe lodging.

The blocks were short, maybe 30 yards between new streets, and as we approached every new street I saw no markings to tell me if we had the right of way, or if we needed to stop and wait for traffic. After about 5 blocks, I brought my motorcycle to rest at a stop sign about two meters before a relatively blind intersection, then rolled into the intersection without fully looking to my right.

As my head swiveled from left to right, I saw for only an instant the car come in front of me at high speed and my front wheel slam into its left front door. I felt my body swing with my motorcycle to the right, smashing the rear of the motorcycle into the rear of the car and throwing me clear over the trunk of the car, backwards, and onto the pavement about ten feet abreast.

I looked up to the darkening sky in complete panic – fully considering the consequences of this situation while at the same time knowing I was relatively unharmed, my back was stiff from shock but it wasn’t broken, nor was the rest of my body. Chris came over as I lied there in shock, I told him was fine I just needed a minute to regain my bearings. I was scared.

I stood up, and the next hour was a whirl of police, an English speaking woman who saw the accident and stopped to translate, and moving motorcycle debris and the autos out of the intersection. Shock.

I found myself sitting in the passenger seat next of a flatbed tow truck next to a happy and smiling 16 year old driver asking me how I was doing. My motorcycle behind me, bent and broken lying flat. I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t even pretend to want to talk to him.

I had insurance. At least I thought I did – we had purchased liability insurance one of the days before we left Arizona and so I hoped it would at least keep me out of jail for the night. I hadn’t read it carefully enough to know, exactly, what kind of liability it covered. Damage to property or only to people? I knew from reading up on Mexico that the way they handle traffic accidents is to determine fault, assess damage, and straighten out payments right then and there at the police station after the accident. You can’t pay? You stay in jail until you do.

Friends and family of the men I had hit arrived at the police station, two of them spoke English and were happy to translate. They kept saying everything would be fine, and from the look of the insurance adjuster it seemed like this was pretty routine and we’d be out of there in a couple hours. A couple hours passed, with the adjuster working other cases simultaneous and we all just stood there and waited as it got dark. My mind turned to the next issue at hand, since the insurance was completely out of my control at that point: the motorcycle was unrideable, we had no hotel, and it was dark.

We kept asking Karen, the friend of the daughter of one of the men we had hit, if she knew of any good hotels. We needed a solution. After some time of her telling us she didn’t really know of any hotels, she shyly came over to us and gave us an awfully welcome shock: we could stay with her. Huh? I hit your friend’s car and now we can stay with you the night? Accepted immediately. Safety for the night secure, not it was just logistics.

After 6 hours of paperwork, we were on our way. Insurance covered everything. I was lucky. Karen in the front seat of the flatbed, and myself and one of the men from the car I hit along for the ride on top with the motorcycle, to, you know, just to help out. Wait, really – the guy I hit is right here on top of this flatbed in the pouring rain helping me out? I’m staying with the friends of the guys I hit that night? {Video from atop the flatbed pickup truck: https://vimeo.com/66427456)

I didn’t have enough cash to pay the inflated price the towing company was charging me – no problem Karen would just loan it to me. Wait, really? Wow. The kindness of strangers proved too overwhelming for this moment to yield a bad ending. They just overpowered it all. We would be safe for our last night in Mexico because Mexicans were incredibly kind to us in our complete shit moment.

From my trip log:

I made my bed on the floor of Karen’s parking garage, built within the walls of her apartment building behind a locked gate. The night air, heavy with moisture and smoke, buffered the sounds of the city at night. Dogs barked in the distance. A car alarm screamed into an unheeding neighborhood. My body was sore, my motorcycle broken. My spirit, being tested as I wrestled with self-doubt, frustration and fear. I took a deep breath, and willed myself to sleep.
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Old 06-12-2013, 07:52 AM   #30
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The motorcycle’s engine was fine. Brakes were fine. Everything was fine except the steering was slanted so that the handlebars had to be held as if I was taking a sharp right turn to keep the wheel straight. The front forks were bent. Hmmmm. Good enough for me! We decided we could make it to El Salvador, and were off at first light.

The border crossing was a mess of “helpers” - these looney tunes who hang out at borders and “walk you through the process” to try and earn tips. Cool, except everything we’ve read about them said they’ll lie, steal and cheat you to get an extra buck. They were relentless, but Chris and I are gifted with height and a mean stare when we want it so within 10 minutes they had all backed down. It took 3 hours to finish the paperwork. We knew we needed to keep moving if we were to get through Guatemala in two days. Previously a country we had considered spending some time in, Guatemala was now just a place-to-get-through so that in El Salvador we could fix the motos and relax.

I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with speed, so through the beginning of Guatemala I was cautious. It didn’t help that the roads in Guatemala were as chaotic as the border. Dogs, kids, cattle, motos, cars, trucks, chickens, debris, people, people, people all covered the roads, zig-zagging on off and around. Gasoline was being sold in small two gallon bottles along the road for two thirds the price at the pump. Smuggled gas? That’s kinda fun. Every single house was selling.

We rode as far as we could for the day, at one point passing the first Coca-Cola factory I’d ever noticed, sticking in my mind due to the profuse, thick, black smoke pouring out of its smokestack while ten double length tractor trailers lined up loaded with sugar cane ready to feed. This, the kind of smoke you simply would never see in the US, had a stirring effect on me. I had never, in my life, seen anything like it.

Darkness was lurking, so though we’d only made a city about one-third through Guatemala, we settled into a safe hotel. We went out and bought Little Caesar’s pizza: familiar crap, yum. As Chris said “comfort food!” Damn right.

Up at dawn, we made moves. The last third of Guatemala was beautiful countryside. From my trip log:

Now alone in the countryside, secret greens, browns and blues bared their complexity. The rainy-season brings life to these otherwise dusty roads and the quiet bubble of drainage streams, the calm chirping of birds, and the dense smell of healthy dirt put me, for only the briefest of moments, on a summertime dirt road in Vermont after a strong rain. The lack of people out here is so calming. Though Guatemala began as a confused tangle of capitalism and corruption it’s ending as a soothing reminder that there is countryside everywhere.

We made the Salvadorian border by noon. On the Guatemala side we came upon a line of tractor trailers, knowing that we could get away with it we decided to pass. Why wait behind all these trucks when you can just cut in line? That’s the rule, down here. But then the line never ended! 10 trucks. 20 trucks. 50 trucks. None moving. 100 trucks! Miles and miles of trucks and we finally arrived at the border station. Peculiar, I mean, would they all just sleep there in the road? With only 10 or so moving across in an hour it would be days for some of them.

Across after 3 hours of mind-numbing bureaucratic mess including a wait for two hours on the Salvadorian side because the only person in the whole place who could sign our paper was literally out for lunch, we knew all we had to do was make the capital, San Salvador, and we were safe: The plan had always been to push to El Salvador where we could recuperate, prepare for the rest of the journey, finish tweaks to the bike, learn some Spanish, and enjoy the company of old friends in this tiny country nestled south and west of Honduras along the Pacific Ocean.

The roads on the Salvadorian side, lacking the chaos of Guatemala, were cleaner and more reliable – allowing us to make good time in comfort. As we approached the capital, snaking a steep four lane highway into the mountains I felt a strong wobble in my steering. Oh. Shit.

Concerned that the front end of my motorcycle was literally coming to pieces in my hands and in front of me, I quickly pulled off onto a dirt patch next to a driveway. With an odd sense of relief, Chris pointed out that it was, in fact, just a flat rear tire.

So here I have something I’d seen coming for some time. Right? I mean flat tires are going to happen. But just two days after the accident, when we were so close to my friend’s house in San Salvador where we could let our guard down and just relax? It was just too much. I was pissed at the gods. Focused, but just straight angry. It was getting dark. This was not a safe place to be. My headlamp broke in my hands as I put it on.

After two hours of struggling (motorcycle tires are not easy to replace, requiring you to disassemble the rear wheel and drivetrain, pry the automobile-like tire off the rim and substitute the tube underneath) we had the new tube mounted and holding air. It was dark, but we were on our way.

Luckily, I was “at home” in a sense, and the roads from here to Ligia’s were all familiar after years of traveling them via bus with High School students from my hometown during house-building trips. We crested the mountains and through the “suburban” neighborhoods on the outskirts of San Salvador, a monstrous capital of three million people in a country of only six. Down the main highway which cut through the center of the city, I noticed the familiar scenery of capitalism in a 3rd world country: tiny shacks of sheet metal and sticks jumbled into the highway’s median functioning as houses to thousands, in-between billboards for Kenneth Cole and Wendy’s.

As we pulled onto Ligia’s (my good friend) road, she was pulling out to look for us. Close call, as with no cell phone if she was on the streets looking for us, we’d never know we’d found her house. The relief was palpable in everyone’s eyes. Hers – at not knowing why our GPS ping had stopped moving in one of the most dangerous neighborhoods and fearing the worst. Ours, at finally being somewhere that was completely safe and easy.

We rolled into her driveway, parked, hugged, showered, and slouched onto her comfortable couch perched with a view out over the massive city. We each cracked a cold beer, took a sip which had the cerebral effect of euphoria, and smiled:

Adventure.
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