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Old 07-25-2013, 07:50 PM   #166
swamp OP
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Joined: Feb 2007
Location: lower appalachia, Alabama
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Wink mexistan and central bunghole


April 19, 2013 Friday
Chumbago/ Vulcan Baru Panama to
Santa Catalina Panama






As I was leaving the lodge I noticed there was an English newspaper at the checkout counter. On the front page two things immediately jumped out at me: a picture of a retarded monkey and a headline titled “ U.S. Senate Blocks Gun-Control Measures”. …




(fist-pump)“ America wins BITCH!”.
without getting "all political" ill say just say this:

I believe we should all have to pass the citizenship test before we are allowed to graduate from high school; if we did then our country would be a better place.

http://www.uscis.gov/USCIS/Office%20...tions/100q.pdf


(anyways.. cough…)



“Today I rode for ten hours or so. Cerro Punta SE to a beach town called Catalina on the Golfo de Montijo. I was stopped by the military police again at another checkpoint. I don’t understand why they are so concerned about where I’m going. Pretty annoying really.

It rains. Put-rain-gear-on. Rain stops. I feel like a Ziploc bag filled with broccoli that’s been in the microwave too long. Rubbery membrane of body fluids. “













Catalina...

…is a hippie-surf-town. Some things that I found interesting about the place were the bright colored homes that were covered in trees and the huge sets of waves that were rolling in that day. There was a small book store that was closed for the day but left the doors open. I walked inside to find a white hippie lady teaching English to some of the local children.

There was a chainsaw crew of four or five guys cutting up this huge jungle tree, it appeared to be some sort of giant fig tree. One of the saws that they were using had a huge bar on it which was used for making length-wise cuts for long planks of wood; really neat to watch.








I rode to the end of all the roads in the little town which all went out to the ocean. I followed one out to a point where there were some crazy surfers scratching for the sky as they paddled up the faces of these huge waves. One mistake while trying to ride one of these would get them crushed on the shallow reef and rocks. Obviously the surf was up due to a large swell hitting this area.






Eventually I settled on the Oasis Hostel. It’s a really basic place with bunk beds, communal showers, communal bathroom, kitchen and a large room with a picnic table. I parked The Window Licker on the front porch, chilled in a hammock and drank a six pack of Balboa until I passed out in the hammock listening to the atmospheric chill-out music pumping out of my ear-buds.













to clean the hole in my arm





Panamanian Beer Hammock




more to come later... currently distracted by the happenings in the jo'mamma section.. specifically the yoga pants thread.. and the thread of awesome.. which really is pretty awesome.
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Old 07-26-2013, 03:45 PM   #167
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Holy Sheeeiiitt! That's worlld class skeery epic right there!
Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp View Post





This is world class chill right here


Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp View Post
Panamanian Beer Hammock




specifically the yoga pants thread..
This ^ yup
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:22 PM   #168
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So when you planning to do the second leg?
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Old 07-26-2013, 07:59 PM   #169
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Originally Posted by beerbuzz View Post
So when you planning to do the second leg?


January.
im routing the colombia and northern ecuador sections right now.

...hey, check out this cool lighter i bought today

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swamp screwed with this post 07-26-2013 at 08:15 PM
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Old 07-27-2013, 10:37 AM   #170
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Chill Hammock Video.

Screw the Thread of Awesome, This is the awesome, now give us more.

Excuse me while I catch up on the Yoga Pants thread.
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Old 07-27-2013, 10:44 AM   #171
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Hey! Retarded monkeys everywhere take offense to your comparison!

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Old 07-29-2013, 04:48 AM   #172
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Let me know if you need any help planning the route in South Bunghole.
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Old 07-29-2013, 07:25 AM   #173
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Thanks bud . Ill see you soon . Ill keep your e mail updated with what I find
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Old 07-29-2013, 10:05 AM   #174
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Quote:
Originally Posted by swamp View Post
this momma dog had been hit by a car the day before I arrived. It has a broken leg and is wearing a cast while feeding its little puppies. If this doesn’t make you feel mushy then you are truly an asshole.


Word...+`1


Great slice of life journey! thanks for taking us along!
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Old 07-29-2013, 08:54 PM   #175
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Wink mexistan and central bunghole.. dude you're such a bunghole



Saturday April 20th 2013
Catalina then north, then east then ..


Last night was a late one; ended up hanging out around the hostel’s picnic table talking to the other guests which included: a skinny bearded German ranting about how 3D printing machines were going to put everyone out of business, a pretty-doable & interesting English lady who had spent many of her years on different farms around the world being a migratory fruit picker; she was currently hitchhiking her way down to South America… on sailboats. There was an English guy who asked me if everything that he had heard about Alabama was true; I told him “ya’ god damn right it is”. Finally, there was an Alaskan student who had graduated high school then gone to work for the Peace Corps. She had been in panama for two years helping with some of the indigenous people. I pulled out my map and asked her to show me where they were located. She pointed at a mountainous area north of Santa Fe. I took that information and turned it into a waypoint in my GPS unit.

It was lightly but persistently, raining as I left the Oasis Hostel in Catalina. I wear enduro goggles rather than wearing a street helmet with a face shield because I feel like I have better peripheral vision using the goggles and I feel more “connected” with all of those philosophical thingies that motorcyclists yack about being connected with… like: not being able to see clearly because the rain has now made the inside of my goggles wet so I must remove them then have marbles of rain and dirt hurled into the corneas of my eyes. You know “one-ness, maaaan”.

A few hours of riding north towards Santiago gave the Sun time to shine. I was stopped at a police checkpoint manned by two motorcycle cops in a very dry mountainous region. They checked all of my “important things” then wanted to know where I was going. I pointed to the Caribbean coast on my map; this made them get a little weird. Weird meaning that they started talking to each other in a quieter tone; one of them looked up at me then my bike then his watch then waved me on ((hmm.. there is that watch thing again)).



The roads that I would ride during this section of my trip would become some of my favorite in Panama. In the distance the mountains are a green horizon. I can see them hours before I reach them. They just keep getting bigger and the erosion lines become more defined. I will always remember that thick, eerie, Panamanian jungle fog that creeps and crawls along the ridges.

I reach Santa Fe, absolutely one of the coolest little towns in Central America. I suppose “sleepy mountain town” would fit nicely in its description. Its another one of my “.. I could live here” places. There is a road that goes really deep into the mountains lying further north of these mountains. This section had just been finished (I actually got the feeling that maybe I wasn’t supposed to be on it!) it is seriously un-fucking-believable. When I rode this there were ZERO cars, not even one, Z E R O.

There were men on the side of the road bending and hammering the guard rails into place. The land around the road had just been worked and there were surveyor crews walking along the shoulder and at some points were just standing (scoping) in the middle of the road. There was even a crew spraying lines on the road (towards the beginning of it). I can’t express to you how fucking-grade-A-awesome this road is. There are literally multiple cork-screw turns in this road. I felt very fortunate to be among the first to ride it…. and one of the last to ride the mud road at the end of it.

Eventually the road deteriorates and dead-ends at a few wooden homes. Many of them have palm frond roofs. There is a somewhat leveled area with a small soccer field. I remember thinking it was strange that the soccer field had simi-exposed boulders sticking out of the middle of the playing field. Not huge ones but there was enough rock sticking out to break your toes on if kicked or tripped over.. and I’m sure these guys played barefoot.

There were a few kids around the age of ten hanging out in the drizzling rain next to a large rock; they just looked at me and didn’t move. There was an old woman with a long red scarf carrying something heavy in a basket that wouldn’t look at me.. and there was also a muddy 4x4 trail running down into the jungle with my name all over it.

The path went from muddy and rocky with creek crossings to giant doo-doo-hole bulldozer mud pits in the matter of a few miles. I had to dismount the bike a few times to trudge through mud t in order to find the best line. My well-developed plans often consisted of “ well , do I go through this deep shit then cross over that ridiculous rut or should I cross this ridiculous rut and go through that deep shit?” which I suppose is a question rather than an actual plan.. forget it, the place was jacked-deep-and-muddy no way in hell was I going to get this big ass bike through a dozer bog, in the rain, alone, in the middle of the Panamanian jungle. If this thing got sucked-in it would be impossible for me to free it.

Boy at home with dog.



The foot path in the center of the picture leads to a couple of small huts with palm frond roofs. They are much smaller than the one pictured above.




The rain started again shortly after taking this photo. I eventually reached a point where the mud was so deep that it became impossible to continue.










On the way back I passed the two motorcycle cops (headed in the opposite direction) that had stopped me earlier at the checkpoint. I met them in a tight, banked hairpin corner; they were coming down a mountain and I was headed up the mountain. As the first cop passed I thought ((“hey I can get these guys to help me get through the mud!”)), then the second cop passed; I turned my head around to see him looking at me in his mirror, I began waving my hand up in the air and initiating a U-turn (on a steep, banked hairpin corner) at the same time. That’s when I dropped the bike for the first time on this ride. Stupid mistake really and I was surprised it happened.

Just as I was falling over the second cop comes back around the mountain to see me fall over. He parks six feet away, up-hill from me and keeps yelling “vamos! Vamos! Ha ha ha vamos !” as I strain to push the thing back onto its tires. If you have ever dropped a large bike on a hill with the tires up-hill of the gas tank then you will know the feeling.

I started laughing along with the cop and decided it was best not to ask them (in their nice, polished riding boots and uniforms ) to help me push this thing through twenty or so miles of boot-sucking dozer-pit. Fuck it, onward to Panama City!



Riding Into Panama City, the Concrete Jungle and the Hibernation of Window Licker.

The sky dumped its warm, gritty, dish water down on me during my ride into the city. Just as the rain was starting I pulled off the road at a concrete bus stop to change into my rain gear. As I zipped up my rain jacket a group of sport bikes vroomed up with the same idea.



We decided to ride into town together. Just as we mounted the bikes the rain began pounding huge marbles of water. The roads became covered in inches of water in a matter of minutes. Everyone was driving slowly (thankfully). I decided to turn on my flashers for safety, that’s when I noticed my left blinker had broken off.

Twenty minutes later we came upon an overturned car in the middle of the highway. The rain was still coming down, harder than ever without any sign of relenting. I looked at the sport-bike guys behind me (some of who were in full race leathers), they were all pulling over to help with the wreck. “fuck that” I said in my helmet and just rode away in the rain.

After crossing over the engineering marvel that is the Panama Canal I descended into a muggy city that I was completely unprepared for. “Holy shit this is a huge fucking city!” Panama City is massively dense, sky scraper buildings everywhere; it’s what I call a concrete jungle. The powers that be had recently decided that they would spend some dough on creating a rail system for the creatures of the city.. and boy, has the construction process completely fucked the roads up in the heart of the city. I found the easiest way to get through the mix of stopped traffic and piles of rebar and shattered concrete was to follow the moped-mounted pizza delivery dudes. Something that I found particularly annoying about the road network here is that sixty percent of the roads are one-way streets. I had people screaming at me on multiple occasions warning me of impending doom.

Before departing on my ride through Mexico & Central America I had done quite a lot of research on storage facilities in the area. The whole idea of “storage facility” is somewhat of a new one here in Panama. Most of the storage companies were brand-new to the point of their web pages and Google Maps locations being either extremely vague or completely wrong (mainly the addresses… the address system in Central America is all jacked up and complicated, it’s a useless waste of time for an American to attempt to reason it out).

I found a reliable contact named Orlando that was the general manager at one of these facilities near the center of the city. We sent e-mails back and forth for a few weeks; he assured me that there would be a unit available when I arrived. Problem was that I arrived on a Saturday around 15:00 and the office staff (leasing personnel) do not work on Saturdays… what’s funny is that I was positive that today was Friday…(it was actually Saturday). I sat there in front of the building for thirty minutes waiting on someone to show up (maybe they were taking an afternoon break.. or something?). “why is nobody working now? It’s Friday god damn it !? “ (sigh)… “fuck it”.

Some of the things that were on my mind were:
1. Place to stay
2. Bike maintenance
3. Shower
4. Beer

The first hotel I found was “The Sheraton”. ‘Place looked like the Ivory Tower from the movie The Never Ending Story.. guess that would me a short, hairy, stinky non-Puerto Rican version of Atreyu and my bike a faster, less reliable version of Artax. . but that’s a different story. Anyways the bike is loud as hell while pulling underneath the overhang of the building. The valet-squad is busy unloading the passengers and their luggage. Everything is made of polished marble, the full-power-yellow-crystal lighting is blasting out of the glass doors along with ice cold AC which I can feel all the way from the far side of the area.

As I squeak and click clack jungle mud all over the lobby floor. I smell like a barn animal. All of the perfumed, suite and tie wearing, Jennifer Lopez and Rickie Martin wanna-bees turn their noses up at me as if to say “ How dare you come in this American hotel chain looking like an American “. I creek around until I find the reception desk. Just as I start talking to the receptionista’ the valet ‘er’cito runs in, grabs my arm and starts bitching “blah blah motorcycle blah blah blaaah”.
I tell him “No I’m trying to check in”.
Valet guy: “ Spanish Spanish Spanish motorcycle”
Me: “What is this place only for cars? No its not in the way.It doesn’t look like its in the way. I’m checking into the hotel now. Thanks”
Valet Guy keeps bitching until short-hairy-non-Puerto Rican Atreyu gets pissed off, walks outside, gets on his faster, less reliable version of Artax then rides out in search of a smaller barn to shit in.

Hostel

The staff here is absolutely awesome and very helpful. The owner also lives at the hostel along with her husband and new baby girl. I rented the private room for $55.oo / night. It has its own shower, bed,air-conditioning and is a separate little cottage set away from the main building in the back garden. It’s a really neat place to stay.



my home for the next two days



After checking in I start sending e-mails to my family, the manager of the storage facility and begin learning how to cay “fuel stabilizer” in Spanish. There is a supermarket called “Super 99” that is a 30 minute round-trip walk from the hostel. Its super humid outside; probably around 95*F and these are the only clothes that I have:



The sweat was literally dripping out of my jacket onto my feet while walking around. uuhhggh. Gross . I wanted to buy a t-shirt more than anything but I couldn’t find a single friggin place that sold them! WHAT THE HeLL!? Not even the Super 99 had one. I had to look like some kind of white-bearded- wacko walking around in my rain coat, moto pants, flip flops and camo bandana covered in sweat. After searching through the contents of the Super 99 for ten minutes I only purchased one item.. a three liter jug of orange juice .. ? On the walk back I passed a ten foot tall heap of garbage with filthy, Chihuahua size rats climbing all over it. One of them was sporting a swollen vagina.

Back at The Panama House the beer drinking began as I started updating my journals, maps and GPS waypoints. A skinny white guy from Texas carrying a bottle of vodka sat down at my table and then for the next twenty minutes he proceeded to tell me his fucked up life story. The guy’s name is Sam Wallace, he’s been living off and on in Central America for over ten years, he does carpentry and odd jobs to sustain himself, all of his possessions are contained in a wooden box which he bolts and chains to the floor of his host’s home. He lived at this hostel for a year before it changed ownership; he rebuilt the inside of the little cottage that I’d just rented in exchange for room and board and a little cash. Before that he was working for a missionary preacher repairing their church. He was boning the woman who was currently employed as the maid here at the hostel. His wooden box was currently bolted to the floor of her home (which he was working on) “just outside of town”. They had supposedly come to the hostel to escape their noisy neighbors for the weekend. Near the glorious end of his rant he told me that his girlfriend’s brother had pulled a knife on him the other night while in a drunken rage.

There was a skinny, attractive woman with dark hair and glasses reading a Central American guide book at the table right next to me (“I wish she was wearing a bikini”). I could see the words in the book but they were in some kind of funky language: “Hey what kind of language is that? Islam or Arabic or somethin’ ?” …. “Nooo ‘is heeebdrew” she tells me in a very heavy, but clearly understood accent. “oh.. huh”. (Doh! ) Sam Wallace gives me a half face smirk and a sharp chin jerk to up and to the left which meant (“damn you fucked that up good, say goodbye to your chance with that one!”).

Sitting at a round, wooden table surrounded by stacks of paper, a brief case, laptop computer and a printer of his own was a man of about sixty, button up shirt, chin-length greasy black hair, shorts and flip flops. I walked over and sat in a swinging chair next to his table for a while just drinking and shooting the shit. His name was Paolo and he was some expert guy that worked for the world disease control something or other. He was finishing up a report on the recent outbreak of Dengue fever here in Panama. He told me that the first time you get Dengue its not so dangerous, but the second time can be messy (hemorrhagic) and very deadly. The government of Panama was having problems finding the source of these infected mosquitos he was called here and found that these Dengue carrying ‘skeeters were breeding in the stagnant water inside of discarded car tires scattered throughout the city. Later that night while we were all pretty hammered he told us all how he had been called to North Korea back in the early 90’s by none other than the Guiding Sun Ray-Shining Star of Paektu Mountain himself.. Kim Jong Il. Paolo had been chosen because at that time nobody gave a shit about Brazil, it had no world-political stance and The Dear Leader, for some reason, wanted Paolo “wite-poo-king-now-dammit!”. Paolo went there to teach a group of very-under-qualified “surgeons”… proper sanitary techniques and to teach BASIC lessons on the CAUSES of infection... Paolo said he witnessed people bathing in raw sewage, the re-use of dirty scalpels, bowls and towels in the hospitals. He said it was a very sad thing to see. . Later he told me that he was divorced, had two children and was currently having sex with two different Panamanian women in his spare time.

"The Hebrew chick" (left) and Paolo




Sam Wallace




..later..

We’ve all become rather loose at this point. The Jamaican hostel manager wants to show us around the town. I felt like the city was pretty safe at night. We were not approached by any bums, thugs or hooligans and the prostitutes were helpful with directions to local bars. The first hole we entered was blasting Latin dance music. . only two girls were standing on the dance floor. I got the impression that if I were to go drunk-touchy-dance with them (in my moto gear) I’d get pounded by one of the mokes standing near the edge of the dance floor.. so I just kept drinking.

Back on the street we ask a prostitute where a good bar is. She points us to this big ass casino style place. Upon entering the joint I immediately feel out of place. Everyone is jelled, blinged and fake-tittied to the max. The women are friggin smokin’ hot … but I’m positive 90% of them are “working”. Its like being in a donut shop. You can have a dozen of any flavor you pick: chocolate, glazed, Bavarian cream; there was a high concentration of cinnamon with apple filling tiptoeing around. mmm. . cinnamon.
(cough)




Sunday April 21 2013
Panama City Panama

I receive an e-mail from the storage facility stating that they will be open for new leasing Monday morning at 10:00. I decide to check on shipping the bike home. Crazy Sam Wallace gets on the hostel’s computer and starts researching for me (I didn’t ask him to) which made me feel strange ((“is this guy going to hound me for cash later ?”)).

Copied from my travel journal:
“I am thinking about shipping my bike home. I have e-mailed a shipping company about it. If they contact me in the morning I will do it. No questions. If not. I will go ahead with the storage facility plan. If I leave it in storage I will likely have problems with the customs documents expiring; this MAY cause problems when I go to ship the bike to Colombia for the next section of the trip which could be up to 9 months from now.”

Monday April 22 2013
Panama City Panama
“Operation Squirrel The Bike Away”
08:22


During my sweaty walk to the Super 99 the other day I noticed a small bike shop that was located just a few streets over from The Panama House. I wrote down how to say “fuel stabilizer” on a slip of paper, packed all of my shit up for the last time and prepared Window to hit the road one last time before locking it up in a dark hole for the next nine months. . Yes, I was getting emotional. This is a bad ass bike, perfect for this ride. I’m going to miss my friend.

Decided to fix my blinker with some JB Weld




moto shop and hunting for fluids

When I walked in I was happy to see that they had the oil I was looking for but unfortunately they didn’t carry any fuel stabilizer. The manager (one of the darkest Panamanians I’ve ever seen) was determined to help me find some and he knew just the place. I pulled out my GPS unit and had him point at where the shop was located that sold “the stuff”. I made a waypoint for it but he was determined to tell me the directions, then a light went on in his head and he dragged me next door to the salon where there was a lady “gettn’ her ‘herrr ‘did”. He told her the directions then she translated them for me. This was funny as hell! The guys at the shop were having a good time. We laughed and took some funny pictures.






Another bike you won’t find back home in the states… the Kawasaki kz2006y-30 (nice name right ?)




…and another, the Honda XR125L



I bought three of these




I managed to track down the elusive fuel stabilizer. It was located in the back corner… of this back alley.



the stuff in the blue bottle is what I was looking for ($26.70) I dropped two capfuls of it into my tank (the whole bottle will treat up to 500 gallons !) which had just hit reserve. “I guess that’ll keep the gas from tainting ? “






The next part of the day was focused on the storage of the bike. Upon arrival I had to fill out a contract that was completely in Spanish. I paid six months in advance using a credit card. So, in October they will contact me for another four months of advance payment. The facility is brand new, spotless and the security is high (keys, passcodes and video surveillance cameras everywhere). The units are climate controlled *air conditioned. The staff was very patient, helpful and accommodating.

My unit happened to be on the fifth floor so me and the bike got to take a little elevator ride.

The bike needed to be serviced before I left it in a dark hole for the next nine months. I stripped all the body panels off, removed the battery (I carried it home with me on the airplane), put the bike on the center-stand then prepared to do an oil and filter change on it. “hmm now I need something to catch the oil ..” I headed back down to the street looking for a dumpster to dive in. after a good 10-15 minutes of walking I hit the jackpot. There was a building under construction with a dumpster full of scrap. Within that scrap was an old five-gallon-bucket that they had used to mix concrete with. “hell yea! “

Back up in the storage unit the bucket was too tall to fit under the bike. ((“Good thing I have this razor sharp hog sticker of a knife with me”)). This thing is so god damn sharp! If you know anything about five-gallon-buckets you know how hard the plastic around the lip is. I took the knife and pushed it strait through there with minimal effort. Once I pierced the lip of the bucket I worked the knife all the way around the bucket to remove a few inches off the top. Now I was ready to drop the oil.

Hmmm… ya waaaay too much Spanish going on here.

Rental Agreement





Elevator ride






Dumpster Dive Score !





“now that’s a knife !”


I put these pictures of me and my wife on the bottom of the battery cover.
It was nice to see her face again



until we meet again!







knife video




Tuesday April 23 2013
Back to the USA



I've written a Final Thoughts section located at the very bottom of the page HERE. You will also find a shopping list of the things that i'll be bringing back with me to prep the bike for the next leg of the journey South. I'll be traveling with one of my fellow Southern riding buddies from Panama City to Quito Ecuador. I've planned the route already, have secured air tickets to panama and have reserved my spot on the boat to Cartegena Colombia.



Thanks for all of the help that you guys have given me along the way. If any of you are ever passing through Alabama looking for a place to crash, a garage to tear down in or a safe place to store your bike; dont hesitate to give me a call. i've got you covered. Just message me and ill get back with you ASAP with all the info you need.


...TO BE CONTINUED



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Old 07-30-2013, 06:56 AM   #176
poolman
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Swamp,

Great ride report, you never cease to entertain us!

Looking back, do you think your tire problems were related to the crating/shipping/loading/unloading of the bike?

Good luck with the next leg of your journey. BTW, Court is THE MAN in Ecuador.



Cheers,
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Old 07-30-2013, 08:19 AM   #177
woodly1069
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Location: Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
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fantastic stuff there swamp! Can't wait to see what misadventures you find on your way south!

Funny, I just saw the Infectious Grooves reference while scrolling back up the page! Funny as hell to see that!
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:29 AM   #178
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Originally Posted by woodly1069 View Post
fantastic stuff there swamp! Can't wait to see what misadventures you find on your way south!

Funny, I just saw the Infectious Grooves reference while scrolling back up the page! Funny as hell to see that!

i hope there are plenty of misadventures. the more the better
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Old 07-30-2013, 09:44 AM   #179
live2ridetahoe
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Epic RR Swamp. Can't wait for the next part. Safe travels.

JG
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Old 07-30-2013, 10:36 AM   #180
Redclayrider
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Excellent travel report as usual! Looking forward to next next installment by you and the tall guy from Montgomery!
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