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Old 10-15-2013, 03:34 PM   #16
Ryan Hobbs
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tropic-Of-Canada View Post
Wow! You really got up there!! How much is the ferry?

haha nice, I was just about to say something. Common mistake...but it is called Vancouver Island. :-)


Ryan Hobbs screwed with this post 10-15-2013 at 03:42 PM
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Old 10-16-2013, 08:58 AM   #17
steelhorsenyc OP
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Oh man, sorry guys! I know the difference, I promise! it was all the BC bud man, I was just toootally out of my mind, you know?

Even when I was there I kept confusing the two names because the capital is Victoria. But, thanks for reading

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Old 10-17-2013, 08:10 AM   #18
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Adventures in Glacier: Parts I-II

The following posts will be about the little detour I took to Glacier National Park with my new found friends from Lethbridge, AB!

Adventures in Glacier: Parts I-II

Part I: Glacier National Park

By the time I arrived in Alberta I was feeling very alone, and shaken by a week of crosswinds while riding across the middle of Canada. The many riders I passed on the road were going east. We extended our arms in greeting, quickly taking in each other’s steeds, the mounds strapped on the sides and rear, the stories that our gear told of where we had been and where we might be headed. We did not need words in order to share each other’s journey, and I was not in need of long conversations, rather I wanted someone riding by my side, going to the same place as I, someone with whom I could sit after the ride and without saying a word relive the deer that got in the way, the shock waves from trucks that almost knocked us off, the tight curves around which we scraped our pegs, the incredible colors of the sky at dusk, the glory of peaks rising out of the horizon as we approach the Rockies.


My plan had been to continue north from Lethbridge and into Banff National Park, and then onward to Jasper and then again west. Glacier National Park in Montana was to be one of my stops on my way back east. But in Lethbridge I met some kindred spirits who, knowing little more about me than the color of my Honda Magna and the fact that I was from New York, invited me to ride with them to Glacier. This was completely out of my way. Though my plan was flexible, going straight south at this point made no sense at all. I knew, however, that a true journey is not one that you take. So I let my journey take me where she saw it best and I accepted their invitation.

Luke and Mitch had been friends for most of their lives. Both, as any good Alberta man must, put in years in the oil fields of the north. They each bore signs of the rougher life – the one most of us neither know nor wish to know. Luke kept his head shaved, wore earrings and prominently displayed his tattoos. Mitch on the other hand had a full beard and, like myself, kept his desecrations of the flesh well hidden. He was more readily recognized as a lumberjack with his flannel shirts, large cumbersome build, and hearty, honest laugh. Luke’s toughness was not feigned, it was simply of another kind – one more often associated with the city and its rapid pace fueled by cocaine and easy pleasures. These differences were irrelevant to the two friends because each saw beyond the clothes and the flash of carnival masks. They have seen each other fly and fall, laugh and cry, fight and run.

We three were an unlikely match except for our mutual love and need for the road – another magic that the black top holds: it brings together more than cities with freight or people with money, it brings together and allows us to understand people foreign to our nature – thus broadening on a greater scale our acceptance of each other. (See my essay on the motorcycle here http://www.alexandertolchinsky.com/main/?p=272)

I arrived in Glacier some weeks ahead of schedule and with 2 new friends. It was nice to travel with some fellow bikers, if only for a couple of days. The following morning they left, and I met Sarah. She was also alone in the park and looking for someone with whom to hike. Within 10 minutes of meeting we were on the back of my bike cruising down the windy park road to get back-country camping permits. A couple of hours later we were on our way to Snyder Lake for a warm-up day hike, Sarah’s sweet southern drawl accompanying us along the way. The more she and I talked the more similarities we found; though from backgrounds as disparate as our gender, she growing up in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia, we found an uncommon amount of parallels in our thoughts and ways. Sarah and I shared an incredible amount about ourselves, but it seemed as natural as we had known each other for years and not just a few hours.

The following day we found ourselves in the back-country of south-eastern Glacier, around Cobalt Lake.



Part II: The Calm Before the Storm

Glaciers, draining their purity into hundreds of streams and falls, hug the mountainsides. The peaks along massive ridges stand tall, but are reminiscent of fortress ruins rather than granite towers. One side of the valley stretching ever further toward the sky, the other crumbling away having served its term of glorifying our humble terra firma.

Alpine meadows with Beargrass, Indian Paintbrushes, Fireweeds, Asters and Lilly’s dancing in the breeze, glowing in the un-hazed sun. Huckleberry bushes as far as the eye can see, more than one could ever eat – though how we tried! Rose Hips, Blackberries, Salmon berries, currants, blueberries and thimbleberries – an amazing site, but I could not help but feel as though I too were on the menu when walking through endless acres of bear snacks.

Giant boulders, once part of towering facades, cleared chutes along the skirts and bases as they rolled like Juggernauts down the slopes killing hundreds of trees, and now lie peacefully with the offspring of the dead firs growing atop them, as if in defiance of their destruction.

At every turn of the path there lay a new wonder – another monument to patience and time; a delicate expression of color and perseverance; a sweeping view that makes it all but impossible to consider littering, strip-mining, or deforesting our precious home. But most do not come to see it, do not go beyond the safety and comfort of their dry walled nests; and so we waste and waste, and now our ears won’t hear the song of hundreds of songbirds known to our forefathers. I wondered how those within a few days drive could live out their lives never having seen the very best of what this world possesses.

That night we broke camp at 6500ft. above sea level on the shores of Cobalt lake.
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Old 10-17-2013, 08:25 AM   #19
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great pictures, i´m in
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Old 10-17-2013, 09:53 AM   #20
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Where I am

Hello friends!
I have been remiss about where I actually am...
On the very first post, there is a small section which gives you my live location, as well as the amount of time and distance I have traversed. Here it is:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=925753


I return to Georgia, my KLR, on the 29th of October. She is resting comfortably in Costa Rica, while I am on recovery in New York ( I needed a month or so to get over the myriad of infections I have had over the last year).

Thanks again for enjoying the ride with me!
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Old 10-21-2013, 06:57 AM   #21
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Adventures in Glacier: Part III

Adventures in Glacier: Part III

Part III: Of Moose and Bear

We began the following day with a hike up to Two Medicine pass where three valleys opened themselves before our eyes. Mountain goats flanked the west side, a wolverine kept guard over the east while hawks and eagles patrolled the endless sky, and glaciers and lakes for endless miles in every direction.

Before heading out to camp 2, after we returned from the pass, we decided to take a dip in the glacial lake, on whose shores stood our tents. Naked and free we ran into its chilling waters; within a few seconds we felt its icy grip at our throats and bones, and so quickly re-emerged, gasping for breath. But that half minute in the lake shot more life into us than a syringe of epinephrine to the heart. And so enveloped in Joie de Vivre we went along the valley to our second camp at Upper Two Medicine Lake. We stopped often on the way to gorge on huckleberries, and prayed the bears would not gorge on us.
Within a couple of hours we discovered that our prayers were answered.

As we continued along the sunny path to our second camp, around a peaceful bend in the trail I heard the galloping of what sounded like horses. I yelled to Sarah to get out of the way of what looked like two horses. Within a split second she was running towards me and I realized they were not horses but two very large grizzlies, now within 30 ft of me.
What I discovered about myself at that moment is that when faced with danger, I stay pretty cool, and, am kind of stupid.
I stood there with my bear spray in my left hand as my right was clicking shots off the camera hanging from my neck.
After three shots, the second of the two beasts gave me a doubtful look, at which moment I ceased shooting. I looked him straight in the eye, something you are not supposed to do (nor are you to run away from them because they will think you are prey). I wanted to show him that all was well and that I meant no harm. After briefly considering us an aperitif, the two grizzlies disappeared into the bush, and the realization of how lucky we were reverberated throughout our entire being. Never the less, for the next hour I walked with bear spray in one hand and my army knife in the other. From that moment, every sound of grass rustling in the wind gave us a start.


As we walked through thick patches of berry, my mind kept wandering to only a few hours before when Sarah and I found ourselves, once again in only what nature gave us, sitting on a gently sloping rock that lead into an upper, tucked away, terrace of a waterfall. The peaceful moments when my hands were on her shoulders, then her hair… I felt free and blissful, and as the sun re-emerged from behind the cloud, our lips met and I felt her warmth and softness against my chest. Oh the ease with which a mind can soar when bodies thus enveloped surrender the artificial chains thrown about them, and suffer freedom to enter once again…

My heart was slowly resuming its normal rhythm as we began approaching our new camp site. Along our traverse we saw a moose emerge from a small lake nearby; at that moment it seemed a perfect scene – our witnessing the natural order and routine of Glacier and its residents.

We reached the site shortly thereafter and found the three girls who camped near us the night before, along with two guys from Chicago, gathered in the cooking area – an unfortunate coincidence of groups meeting in an otherwise isolated part of the park. We were very hungry and the day was quickly drawing to a close, so after quickly breaking camp we joined the rest of our neighbors. Minutes after our food was ready we noticed the very same moose we saw earlier, grazing within 60ft of us. This could have been the beginning and the end of that encounter, however, the gentlemen from Chicago thought it a good idea to approach the moose for some portraits, you know, keepsakes and all that. The rest of the night went rather quickly into the abyss of fear and uncertainty.

At first the cow (female moose) started huffing and pricked up her ears, but the guys did not heed this obvious sign of hostility; by the time they did, she was in full territorial mode – mounting posts and rubbing her scent on the bushes and trees. Then, as we sat nervously watching her and eating our supper, she charged us.
If you can imagine for a moment what 1000lbs of territorial tank like mass rushing at you, against which running, knife, or spray no chance, then you will understand fear.
We ran so fast – but we knew there was almost nowhere to go, nor could we outrun a moose. We took “refuge” on some logs lying by the shore of the lake and behind some small trees and bushes. These served little purpose other than to give our minds the illusion that at least we were safer there. Breathless and shaking with fear we decided to see if she was still there, so the other two guys and myself snuck up to a nearby tree – she saw us and charged again! This time we retreated for good.
She continued sniffing around, taking her time, all the while it was getting dark and cold in that rapid manner particular to the mountains. We stood around shaking for some time, but soon realized that we must ascertain her intent before it got too late. The three of us again ventured out to see where she was. We only had one good headlamp between us, so we crept slowly, barely breathing, knife and bear spray in hand – knowing full well that they are useless. I looked like a bad combination of Rambo and Elmer Fudd.

By the time we got access to two of three campsites, night was well upon us. By then our nerves were well worn, but staying up was not an option, it was getting very cold and we needed to get to our tents – though they offered no degree of safety, or, as it turned out, sleep. We finally found the moose bedded down for the night – right on the path to and directly opposite the three girl’s tents. We decided that we could not risk them sleeping alone in such proximity to the cow, so we formed a four person raiding party to recover their bags and mats. We could not take the path, so we skirted the lake edge and crawled up to the tents with barely a breath between us.

Now we had the problem of figuring out who would fit where. My tent is barely meant for two people, and I already had Sarah, one of the guys had a one person tent – both of our tents are for mountaineering, so when it says one or two person, it means there is no room between shoulder and wall. The other guy had a two-person, so he was able to take one of the girls with ease. Sarah and I squeezed Elizabeth into our tent and managed to stuff the two of us into my single sleeping bag, so we had 2 bags, 2 pads and 3 people in my little shelter.

Between the grizzlies, freeze dried food, soreness from hiking, fear of being trampled, and stiffness in every joint and muscle from lack of motion in the tent, we passed the night with moments of shallow drifting and startling at every noise. Around midnight the wind started to howl and we emerged in the morning (alive) to find the mountains covered in a heavy fog with the imminent threat of “weather”.

Thankfully the moose was gone and we were able to pack up and hike out within a few hours. On our way out we saw her, and a few others, again at the smaller lake. Needless to say we did not stop to admire and take photos this time around.
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Old 10-24-2013, 06:56 AM   #22
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Adventures in Glacier: Parts IV-V

The end to 4 days, which felt like a lifetime...

Adventures in Glacier: Parts IV-V

Part IV: The Big Mistake

After a sleepless night spent in fear for your life, one is not in a position to make wise decisions about anything.

I knew the weather was going to be bad for a couple of days, and though I did not yet do everything I wanted in Glacier, I decided I needed to take off and sleep in a bed – alone, sans 1000lb beasts.
I called my guardian angels in Lethbridge, Alberta and got the go ahead to spend another night in the warmth of their company.

I knew I had a wet ride ahead so I decided to take a nap with Sarah under the single patch of blue sky in Glacier. An hour later the patch had closed; the clouds seemed to be moving in from the east, the interior of the park. At the time I thought nothing of this fallacy. So I packed up my bike and, against the suggestion of my GPS and the campground host, turned west to leave the park.

That one turn, that one moment when I could have double checked the time and distance of the road I was going to take…

I did not want to go east because that meant crossing the Rockies over a road potentially clogged with slow driving tourists, and over Logan pass on the continental divide (elevation 6646 ft.) which would potentially mean snow. And for some reason, which I cannot to this day explain, I thought that if I first went west, then north, I would not have to cross the Rockies when I went back east to Lethbridge!!! I thought there was some magical flat area in the middle of the range between Glacier Park and Height of the Rockies Park in Alberta!! This thought, along with my decision to first go west, was based on a vague recollection of a map I had seen some days earlier which I thought showed the road going just slightly west before turning north and then back east.

All of these assumptions would have been extinguished had I taken a moment, just a single moment, and checked a map or my GPS. That one moment would have saved my traversing the razor thin ridge between life and death which was my nighttime, freezing and soaked, crossing of the Rockies.
As it turned out, the route I had chosen would take 270 miles over the course of 6 hours, instead of the 130 miles over 4 hours it would have taken otherwise.
So I made my turn west (remember that my destination is north-east), and decided to ignore my GPS’s pleas for me to make a u-turn as soon as possible. But I was sure, with no actual confirmation, that my way was quicker and free of snow. Within 20 minutes I was driving through a wall of rain, at just a few degrees shy of turning to hail. For a while I had to keep my left hand over my face to keep the “rain drops” from busting out my teeth.

When the rain let up for a few minutes I was able to fully see (not grasp) the magnitude of my mistake. The western sky was a solid charcoal wall past which no mountain or forest was visible. The rest of the sky put on a full display of the beauty of clouds in all their shapes and styles, but I could not contemplate them for the imminent storm about to engulf me and the Rockies. To my great dismay the eastern sky, over the road I should have taken, showed no evidence of snow or even a downpour the likes of which I just crossed.

I continued west and north and began to feel the cold that would be my companion for the rest of the ride. At this point it would still be faster to turn around, but I felt committed to my mistake and used the possibility of snow over the pass and the fact I just passed a massive downpour to justify my continuing on the wrong path.

This was the first compounding of my initial mistake.



Part V: Dancing With Death
During the next two hours, as the sun continued to set behind the dark mass that followed me on my trail, and my body began to freeze, I cursed the atrociousness of my decision.

By the time I was half way through the Rockies, which I initially thought I would not have to cross, my feet were soaked and frozen, my body shivered non-stop and my hands shook harder and harder with every passing mile. By that point, every hotel I passed should have been my last stop for the night. But I saw the Moe’s house (my destination) as my salvation and my tunnel vision kept narrowing upon it, making it impossible to stop.

When I started getting small waves of warmth and seeing things along the road that were not there, I realized I needed to pull over because hypothermia was setting in.
I pulled into a 7-11 somewhere along the Crowsnest pass. I staggered inside and managed to get to the bathroom to run hot water over my hands. I was delirious with cold, my bloodshot eyes sought the coffee pot. As I stood by the glass enclosed trays of chicken laying under heat lamps I could not help but press my face against the warm glass.

Coffee in hand, body shivering, face against the bubble of warmth, I began to cry. The enormity of my mistake overcame me and I could not hold back the tears. Almost 10 years of riding and I was still capable of such stupidity! Not only should I have checked the route before leaving, I should have stopped at a hotel long ago.

The tears, sadly, did not make me cross the road to the motel located across from the 7-11. Instead, my tunnel vision tightened further and I began preparing for the road.
I found some small hand warmers that I put in my boots, along with a ski mask, and some gloves that were slightly less wet than the ones I had on. The two kids and woman running the 7-11 were very kind to me. They put my gloves and mask under the heat lamps and gave me a piece of chicken to chase the 5 Advil and 2 muscle relaxers I needed to take in order to continue down the wrong path.

A few minutes later I was back on the steed and for the first 20 seconds felt good and could feel the warmth of the facemask. But that feeling fled as quickly as it was painstakingly found. By now I was engulfed in darkness and could only see clearly about 10ft or so in front of me. It did not help that every passing car lit up the little droplets of water on my glasses rendering me blind for a few seconds – every half minute. If there were a few cars in succession, I could only pray that I would stay on the road. And pray I did! I invoked the Great Mothers mercy; I begged only that she not let any animals in my path. The cold I would somehow bear, but there would be no chance for me if a big horn sheep, deer or moose were to wander in front of my steed.

I tried taking off my glasses so that I would not ride blind half the time, but the rain would hit me right in the eye-balls, and I was forced to replace the shades. And so I had no choice (or so I thought) but to ride on, half blind, freezing, shaking and thinking every shadow or dark patch on the road was a beast running in front of me (hallucinations I continue to have to this day).

I still had more than 100 miles to go – my speed kept shifting from 50mph to 80mph, depending on the amount of fear I had at the moment regarding the unknown darkness.
80 miles – I’m praying; every two minutes I prayed, again and again: I can handle the cold, just don’t let an animal come in my way.
60 miles – I’m getting colder and colder and am starting to shake more violently; I’m less and less sure of my ability to handle the cold.
40 miles – I see lights in the distance, a town, if I can only reach that town…
30 miles – The tears are coming back; why did I put myself through this?! I could have stopped, I could have checked the map, I could have been warm…
20 miles – I’m shaking and delirious and can see nothing but the Moe’s house…
10 miles – I can die at any moment – either an animal, or a car I can’t react to quick enough, or running into something because I’m blind half the time…
5 miles – So close, within Lethbridge city limits, so close, don’t let me die now, it can still happen, it can happen within 20 feet of the house…
The garage… the door opening… inside… off the bike… staggering into the basement… must untie boots, unzip jacket, unbuckle belt, slide of shirt and underwear… Garret staring in amazement: “oh my god, oh dude, holy shit, oh my god, bro…”… must warm up – shower! WARM UP!… hot, wet, not cold, warmer and warmer and warmer… dry off, breathing stabilizing, shins and feet still cold… bed, covers, more covers, a bowl, darkness…
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Old 10-24-2013, 12:36 PM   #23
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My New Sticker!

For any of you crazy cats whom I may meet on the road, here is what I have for you:
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Old 10-28-2013, 08:08 AM   #24
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USA: The Ride - Part I

I return to the land from which I began my journey... on the opposite side of the continent

The Great North-West

I can’t think of a better way to leave Canada than on the ferry from Sydney, on Vancouver Island, to Anacortes, WA. The heavily laden behemoth slowly tugs through the very heart of the San Juan Islands, passing countless changing currents of the Puget Sound, and finally revealing the great, snow-capped, peak of Mt. Baker.
It was nice to have the opportunity to reflect on the difficulties I had faced, the wonderful people I had met, and the breathtaking things I had seen over the last 5000 miles. What could be more conducive to reflection than the rhythmic rumble of the engines; the cool salty breeze on the deck; the jumping fish, porpoises and whales, in denim colored water; bright, white sailboats lazily rising and falling with the swells; countless islands – inhabited or deserted, thickly covered with evergreens; and of course the majesty of the lonely mountain in the distance.
Though sore and tired, I was never the less excited to mount my steed when we landed in Anacortes. Down highway 20, 536 and interstate 5, on the northern outskirts of Seattle, live Jay and Dionne – fellow bikers, artists and hikers whom I met in Jasper national park in Alberta. This would be the first of many reunions I would have as I slowly made my way around the states and down to Mexico. I was looking forward to some rest, good food, great company, and provocative, politically charged, art.
After a few restful days, and nibbling on the grape vines in Jay’s backyard, I returned the call of the road and headed south to the Olympic peninsula. Fortunately the disgusting traffic of Interstate 5 beheld me for only an hour, before I could cut across on HWY 16, over the Tacoma Narrows, and enter the peninsula. I followed the coast north, switched to HWY 3 and then HWY 104 over the Hood Canal Floating Bridge and finally connected to the famous Route 101 (El Camino Real). The road took me north around the peninsula, past towns with multiple churches on every block, Olympic National Park, and finally turned south along the Pacific coast.

Where 101 hugs the coast, it is difficult to ride: all progress becomes retarded by views of the endless sea, fog covered cliffs, and moss laden coastal high plain. Thankfully, El Camino Real veers often inland, which allowed me to coast, hugging the curvy road, for countless miles without ever feeling the boredom of a straightaway. I spent a couple of dreamy nights on the coast before taking a sharp turn east, toward Corvallis, OR, on the inspirationally curvy HWY 34 (out of Waldport). Through mostly secondary and tertiary forest, 34 winds eastward with curves so tight you forget to breathe for what seems to be miles. Every once in a while a giant truck and trailer stacked with trees will ask to share this tiny road, and in those moments you simply pray there is no leaf to slip upon, no stray rock to make you tumble under any of the 18 wheels flying a few feet past your face. The Magna sits pretty high for a cruiser, but with all my gear, and wont to take curves at 200% recommended speed limit, sparks were flying and adrenaline was pumping for most of the 65 miles from coast to town.
In Corvallis I found refuge with the family of a good friend from New York. Their home was like a dream: with gardens, fountains, blackberry bushes, bee hives, and an absolute feeling of isolation from the world. It’s hard leaving a place you wish was your own home, but, as usual, I could stay for only a few days before returning that ceaseless call of the blacktop. Now that my wheels were pointing east, that feeling of urgency intensified as I saw every day bringing me closer to my mother’s home, and the end of the first stage of my journey.
Out of Corvallis I took HWY 20, through the Cascades and onto Bend for a reunion with Sarah. Our Adventures in Glacier bonded us for life, so I was eager to share some brews, and some mountain views, with her again. Bend, OR is one of those magical places replete with local breweries made delicious by mountain springs, views of those mountains, and easy access to them, but without all the crazy weather of mountains. I again spent just a few days in a place I would like to have remained for a long time.
I took HWY 97 out of Bend, which took me through the heart of Oregon Trail country, where settlers came 200 years ago with the thought of finding new, and rich, soil, but which in fact turned about to be a dry pocket in an otherwise fertile area. Regardless of the frightening and desolate expanses of dry tall grasses, I managed to find the best raspberry pie I’ve ever had on one of the few Main streets I passed before hitting the Columbia River Gorge.
Interstate 84, where it runs along the Columbia River, is one of the few exceptions to the general ugliness of interstates. Here, it curves with the river and offers spectacular views of what was once, before the extensive damming, one of the mightiest rivers in the world. I rode along, tossed to and fro by the powerful gusts of the river, and equally powerful ones from passing semis, until HWY 730, which brought me back into Washington State and quickly connected me to HWY 12. This magical road begins from the Columbia River Gorge, skirts the Snake River, passes Walla Walla wine country, traverses the magical expanse of the Palouse in the Colombia Basin, and continues through Idaho with stretches of 100 miles without a straightaway! This road is by far one of my favorites in the country, and one of the best motorcycle roads I have ever been on.

Highway 12 dropped me off in Missoula after 2 days, with a stop in Walla Walla, of excellent riding. The constant changes of scenery, from rolling hills (formed by the breaking of an ice dam during the Ice Age), to river valleys where you can visit campsites left by Lewis and Clark, to magnificent waterfalls, mountains, and enormous stretches of forest, left me in absolute awe. Arriving in Missoula, which is situated in the Rocky Mountain foothills, was no reprieve from the magnificence which kept bringing America the Beautiful into my mind. But it was here, after 8000 miles of mechanically smooth riding, that I encountered my first trouble with the Magna. And it all started with a burger…
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Old 10-28-2013, 02:14 PM   #25
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Live Location Update

Greetings Friends!
I just wanted to give an update as to my location:
San Juan, Costa Rica!

Next stop: Panama to find a boat to take me to Colombia (hopefully for less than $1000!!)
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Old 10-30-2013, 09:09 AM   #26
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USA: The Ride - Part II

USA: The Ride - Part II

Adventures in Mechanics

After riding hundreds of miles without repose or nourishment, one is want to be quite ravenous when pulling into a Sonic Drive-Thru. I was in such a state, and was so busy contemplating whether I would order fries or tots, that I neglected to turn off my steed – which dutifully drained my battery.

This happens every so often, and the solution is simple: push the bike to a trot, jump on, kick her into second gear, cough, choke, jerk… and you’re off! However, as I had 200lbs of gear on the bike, I was in for quite a workout and test of balance. Usually once you get the bike going the alternator will recharge the battery, but for some reason my alternator decided to take a vacation, so a jump-start was how I had to start… every time.

A few days later I found myself alone, in the middle of a huge prairie – The National Bison Range in Montana. The cool of the mountains from my morning ride had turned to a blaring late summer heat in the vast golden expanse of the range. All was fun and sweat, until a fateful moment when I heard the clanking of a chain and felt the loss of forward velocity.

I quickly engage both brakes and sat breathless for a moment trying to figure out what the hell just happened. I looked over my shoulder toward where my chain should have been snuggly resting on my sprockets, only to find it dangling like a wilted flower. Suddenly the grandeur of the mountains, and the breathtaking expanse of the range, were but shadows in the light of this small catastrophe. If I let go of the brakes the bike will likely roll down the hill and go tumbling into a herd of horned beasts; if I shut it off I will have to kick start it up a hill (not possible); and yet I couldn’t sit there in the hopes of being discovered, as I was utterly alone.

I put out the kick stand and prayed that the friction would be enough to keep the bike from rolling back. As I laid down beneath the four pipes blasting their heat and exhaust in my face, I contemplated what would happen if the bike were to fall over onto my face. Within a minute I started to feel a little sick and light headed. I was trying to reach around the pipes in order to hook the chain onto a few sprockets, but those pipes stood guard against my efforts with a thousand degree heat that instantly and permanently brands skin upon contact. I tried desperately not to think about being in a place full of rattle snakes, spiders and bison, none of which I could hear because of the pipes.
But calm is always the order of the day when on a motorcycle or in the wilderness, so I very calmly, with only occasional exclamations, and prayers that the bike wont slip and burn my face off, wriggled the chain onto one sprocket tooth at a time. I could only attach 3 links as the rest of the sprocket was inaccessible.

I climbed back on the bike which had so graciously not gone rolling down the hill, said another quick prayer, and curse for the mechanic who did not adjust my chain, put her in gear and slowly, very very slowly, rolled back on the throttle. I started rolling back slowly, then a little forward, about half a foot, before the chain fell off again.

My racing heart, and neglected breathing made it very difficult to stay calm. Did I really have to do that all again? Will the steed stay upright again as I try to re-hook the chain? Will I have to walk God knows how many miles for help?
With all the to do, I completely forgot to remove the, what felt like a thousand, layers of clothing I was wearing, and was drenched with sweat. Still dizzy from the pipes, more dizzy from the heat and dehydration, I climbed off to do it all again.

10 years of venturing into mountains, wilderness, the open road, and streets of New York, have ingrained the necessary calm that allowed me to get under the bike again. You only truly fail when you stop trying.

As I remounted and rode over that hill, through the rest of the range, and to the nearest shop to replace my battery and alternator, the overwhelming beauty of the West re-emerged from the shadows of memory, and I was again overcome with gratitude for being able to do what I am doing and continue my journey.
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Old 10-30-2013, 11:06 AM   #27
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Why The Motorcycle?
Though a lonely endeavor by virtue of space, motorcycles function to bring people together. It doesn’t matter whether you ride a sport bike, cruiser or enduro, or whether it’s a Honda, BMW or Harley, as long as you ride you belong. On the loneliest road, after hours of solitude you will pass a biker and he will extend his hand in greeting, engulfing you in a wave of warmth and camaraderie.
WOW! What a powerful, and welcome reminder, of what it is to be a motorcyclist! Thank you.
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Old 10-31-2013, 07:23 AM   #28
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USA: The Ride - Part III

USA: The Ride - Part III

Last Leg

Leaving Missoula meant entering again the ungraspable vastness of the Great Plains, and prairies, of the central part of the continent. Those very winds which forced me to lean, as though making a giant turn, for 250 miles stretches of Canada, returned as I traversed eastern Montana, Wyoming and the Badlands of South Dakota.



I stuck to HWY 12 out of Missoula, made a quick connection onto 212 which brought me into Rapid City. The mind numbing ride was relieved by a visit to Mount Rushmore, which is worth every mile you drive to get there. It’s hard to explain the sensation of gazing upon a mountainside carved by human hands. Looking at a Michelangelo or Donatello is one thing – they are statues you can behold and contemplate within a graspable parameter of confined space. But an entire mountain is something different altogether. And that it displays the visages of our nation’s greatest presidents – true men of honor, true statesmen - is enough for a grown, bearded, periodically bathed, man to choke up and need to walk away from his friends for a moment.



Mount Rushmore and the adjacent Badlands were the end of the first leg of my journey. For the rest of the ride to Minneapolis I decided to take I-90 so as to avoid the flooding up north, and to more quickly pass the monotonous landscape.

The bike, however, was not done with me. Just 100 miles from my mother’s house, my headlight blew out. As sure as Minnesotan’s love fishing, I was pulled over by a state trooper, who, along with the ticket, gave me directions to the nearest Wal-Mart. It was already dark and the store about to close, but as I was lucky enough to have a fellow rider stop to help me on the side of the highway, so I was to make it before closing time. That very same kind soul helped me install the light, and gave me good company for the ride to the Twin Cities.



I arrived in Eagan, MN late on the night of the 10th of October – 2 months and 9500 miles after leaving New York, and 2 days before my 29th birthday. I gave my mother a hug, ate a bowl of soup, and passed on my old bed, in my old room, and slept a long, long while – knowing this was only the beginning.

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Old 11-01-2013, 01:28 PM   #29
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WOW! What a powerful, and welcome reminder, of what it is to be a motorcyclist! Thank you.
Thanks mate! I often live and die by that wave - especially after thousands of kilometers of riding solo.
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Old 11-01-2013, 06:49 PM   #30
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Live Update

Entering Panama, country #10, on monday!

The boat for Colombia leaves on saturday!
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