View Full Version : not all those who wander are lost | two earthlings ride around the world
09-29-2011, 03:43 PM
I've posted this on a few forums, and a member recommended posting on this one. I hope you enjoy following along, and I welcome any tips or advice!
BLOG LINK (http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/)
The route for this trip began to take shape in 2008. Over the past two and a half years of researching, a solid route has formed. A general route was first arrived at by plotting points of interesting locations in Google Earth and then connecting the dots. The route, over the course of planning, has gone through many modifications, and will likely see more changes while on the road. Since the decision was made to stop for 6-8 months in Portugal to work and rest, this route has been broken down into two parts. The first part of our trip will take us from Canada to Portugal.
While in Portugal, we will solidify the plans for the second part of our journey. This part of the route, as it is now, is somewhat uncertain. The plan is to ride through Europe and into The Middle East through parts of the world that are somewhat unstable, partially due to the so-called “War On Terror”. After riding through Pakistan and India, the intention was to ride through mainland China, but, after finding out that to do so would mean a costly guided government escort, this part of the route was written off. If we can meet up with a group of riders who are willing to share the cost of an escort through China, this part of the trip can be reconsidered. Otherwise, heading south into Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Australia is a viable option. I’ve always wanted to visit Bali, Indonesia again anyway.
Born: Hamilton, Canada
Lives: Hamilton, Canada
Profession: Electrical Engineering
Looking forward to the most: freedom
Will miss the most: Mama and Belle
Will miss the least: Mondays
Born: Ponte de Vagos, Portugal
Lives: Hamilton, Canada
Profession: Customer Service
Looking forward to the most: really pretty landscapes, delicious food, and interesting people
Will miss the most: My little furry meow-meows
Will miss the least: Winter
2007 KTM 990 Adventure
My humble beginnigs on Advrider (http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=482171)
After doing quite a bit of research, I decided that the KTM 990 Adventure would be the ideal bike for a trip around the world. *Its main competitor, the BMW R1200 GS Adventure, is an excellent long-distance touring bike, but is very heavy and reputed to be a handful in the off-road. The KTM 990 Adventure, according to many, is the best dual-sport motorcycle in the world, especially off the tarmac. Being an inexperienced rider, a bike’s ability off road was an important factor. The 990′s fuel efficiency and tank range can be seen as shortcomings, but can be remedied by carrying additional fuel canisters.
In June of 2009, I took a motorcycle training course and obtained my motorcycle licence. Shortly after, I began the search for my dream bike – the 2007 KTM 990 Adventure. I searched locally and online, and eventually found a new one available at Mid-America Powersports, in Wichita, Kansas. Being a new rider, more experienced 990 riders tried to dissuade me by telling me I was going to kill myself. Being a reasonable person and not one who responds to alarmism, I gathered my confidence and took the plunge, flew down to Kansas and purchased my bike. I didn”t want the 2,200km ride back to Canada to end, but I knew there would soon be more miles of road to come.
09-29-2011, 03:46 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg After a few delays and a lot of built up anticipation, we were ready and excited to finally greet the road. The house was sold and my belongings were either donated or traded for some shiny quarters. It was sad to part with the past eleven years of my life, but it was also liberating.
Being accustomed to comfort, convenience and close relationships with my friends and family, it will take some adjusting to this new lifestyle. I will miss many things and people, but the toughest thing I am currently dealing with is being separated from my cats. I can’t yet forgive myself for leaving them. Mama is 16 years old and Belle is 11. Although they are safe and being well taken care of by my mom and brother, I hope they will be ok for the next few years.
August 20th, 2011 was day 1 of our adventure. We packed up our gear, exchanged hugs with loved ones and rode through Hamilton one last time until we return.
Good ol’ Hamilton is where this adventure was born. With a population of half a million, it is just the right size for comfort. Known as “Steel Town”, Hamilton is an industrial city located in southern Ontario at the center of the golden horseshoe. With an escarpment separating the upper and lower parts, it is also known for having over one hundred waterfalls.
From Hamilton, we headed north to visit with Rocky’s dad. The weather was beautiful and traffic was flowing for the first few hours, but the roads quickly became congested with vehicles and clouds began to turn the skies grey. It didn’t take long before we got hit with a lot of rain. We chose not to stop and we continued north until the skies cleared. The ride wasn’t as bad as I imagined it could be, but my butt was definitely sore.
Larder lake is a really small town with less than 1000 people. We arrived with just enough sunlight to catch a glimpse of it’s beauty. *Rocky’s dad, Conrad, and his wife, Lorrain, have property that faces the lake. The view is perfect after a long day. We were spoiled with our own apartment above Conrad’s garage and we stayed a few days to spend some time with him. I now know where Rocky gets his charm from.
Three nights and many beers and cigarettes later, we awoke to dark clouds and packed up to ride towards Timmins, Ontario. We went on route to visit with more of Rocky’s Family. His cousin Brandon had offered us a place to stay for the night, and Brandon’s wife Tracey prepared a yummy dinner. Wine, candy and a lot of laughs made for a great night. It is a short but sweet visit in Timmins.
On August 24th, we spent a long day on the road. We saw many gold mines, forests and lakes. The roads were busy with construction and trucks, but I always enjoyed when a truck full of freshly cut lumber left it’s scent. We rode towards Lake Superior and set up the tent near the waters edge. Our first night in our new home was beautifully located, and the thunder helped me to sleep at night. The following day we prepared for another long ride along Lake Superior. We now regret rushing to make up distance because we didn’t take any pictures of the stunning scenery. “Ontario, yours to discover!”
The following day, we made a trip to the university Rocky went to, and took a break for a couple of hours to wash and shower at the recreation center before getting back on the road. By sunset, we reached a town called Ignace and set up the tent on the side of the road. I have to admit, I didn’t want to set up camp there. It was beside a motel truck stop on a small patch of tall grass under a street light. It was an odd and random place, but I slept well.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg Having planned and thought about this trip for so long, the anticipation had me wishing that time would somehow speed up so that I could finally realize this journey that had lived inside my head for all that time. In the month or so leading up to our departure date, there was still so much to do that I found myself needing more time to ready ourselves for the trip.
Our original departure date was set for July 23rd, but delays in selling Paula’s house and getting my full “M” motorcycle license set us back about one month. This was somewhat frustrating, but, at the same time, was a bit of a relief. The delay allowed us to better prepare, tie up all loose ends and spend more time with Mama and Belle, and our families and friends.
Our date of departure finally arrived, and we set off from my mother’s house on Kitty Murray Lane in Ancaster, Ontario.
We said good-bye to our families and finally hit the open road. The weather, heading off, was warm and sunny. My motorcycle, Almeida, and I were not accustomed to riding with so much weight. Halfway between Toronto and Barrie, the traffic came to a stall, and was stop-and-go for about, what seemed like, two hours. When it finally broke, we were hit by a torrential downpour. We rode through the rain and the sun finally broke through the clouds as we rode into North Bay. Shortly after leaving North Bay, a bird, flying up from the center of the road, met my forearm and its demise. 656km later, Paula, Almeida and I pulled into my father’s driveway just as the sun was setting. It was nice to arrive after my longest day ever on the bike. All three of us welcomed a good rest.
We spent three nights with my father and his wife. For one reason or another, my father hadn’t been around for much of my life. During these three days, I felt that I got to know more of my father than I did in the first 33 years of my life.
Our next destination was Timmins, Ontario to stay the night with my cousin, Brandon and his wife, Tracy. It was a short ride of roughly 150km, with a brief stop at a bike shop in Kirkland Lake, where Adam, a mechanic at Northern Freedom, helped us changed our clutch oil. That evening, we had dinner and wine with my cousin, his wife, my Aunt Marianne and her husband, Jean.
We left Timmins the next morning to try to make up some distance. Over the next few days, we stopped in Marathon and Ignace, Ontario and, for the first time with no place to stay, we had to find spots to pitch our tent.
Heading out of Ontario, I was a bit disappointed that I hadn’t gotten out my camera much to take photos of the scenery. This was, in part, because I had been trying to make up some time and distance and, trying to get use to the riding, needed to concentrate much on the road.
Our next stop: Alberta.
Dad & Paula
09-29-2011, 03:50 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg On August 26th we crossed from Ontario into “Friendly Manitoba”. It was strange riding from thick forest, smelling of pine and cedar, to flat grassland, filled with the aroma of hay and manure. It was a nice change of scenery, but strange because it was so immediate upon crossing the Ontario-Manitoba border. We rode into Winnipeg, set up camp in Assiniboine Park, and, the following day, we rode out of Manitoba and into Saskatchewan.
“Naturally Saskatchewan” looks a lot like Manitoba with many acres of farm land, checkered in all shades of green and gold. We found a great place in Wascana Park to set up the tent and spent the night in Regina, the provinces capital. Saskatchewan is very pretty and, as we rode away the following day, the land began to show it’s beautiful curves.
When we got to Medicine Hat, Alberta. We stopped to meet Piet and Ina, a couple we met on the website .
Unsure of what to expect because the experience was our first, we were comforted by a warm, kind welcome and invited to join them and other guests for dinner. They prepared a feast and introduced us to their son Josh, his beautiful wife Amy and a pair of musicians who were also staying over. Piet and Ina enjoy having concerts at their home and had planned to have one the following night. Romi Mayes and Jason Nowicki would be performing and we were invited to stay another night. With a full belly, a comfortable bed, a few drinks and great company, how could we possibly say no¡ In the morning, we decided to explore Medicine Hat and it’s sloping valleys, by evening we were ready to party. The concert was amazing! Romi and Jason are great people and performers. At midnight, the group of them serenaded me with happy birthday and passed around some cake, it was a perfect way to turn thirty two. To say the least, Piet and Ina are incredible beings. Even with such an amazing trip ahead, we were sad to part from our new friends.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg Our final night in Ontario was spent camped out next to the highway. We parked and set up next to a truck stop restaurant and hotel at the side of the gravel shoulder on a nice patch of tall grass. It seemed, at the time, like a logical place to pitch a tent.
Passing into Manitoba the next day, there was an abrupt change of landscape. The long, straight stretches of highway of Manitoba were a welcome change.
Not having had a proper shower for several days, we decided to give CouchSurfing a try instead of tenting out another night. CouchSurfing is a worldwide network for making connections between travellers and the local communities they visit. It is a social network of people who offer travellers a couch or spare bedroom for a night or two. We were contacted by a guy in Winnipeg and were offered a spare room for the night. As we got closer to the city later in the day, we received a text message from him explaining that he had to cancel. This left us having to find a place to stealth camp for the night. We pulled onto the University of Winnipeg campus in the hopes of finding some sort of locker room shower in the campus rec center and a place to pitch our tent, but we were disappointed. We weren’t able to find accessible showers, and all the security cameras on campus didn’t make it a viable option for hiding out over night.
Slightly more hungry than we were tired, we decided to grab a bite to eat and weigh our options. Looking on the GPS, we found a large park in the middle of Winnipeg. This seemed to be a safe bet. We drove over to Assiniboine Park to find hundreds of people gathered with their kids for, what we later learned to be, Friday movie night in the park. We set up our tent in an inconspicuous location, unpacked the bike and settled in the the night. We even managed to snag an unsecured WiFi connection!
The next day was a pretty steady and uneventful day of riding, though finding premium fuel proved to be a bit difficult. Gas stations were few and far between, and many of the ones we stopped at didn’t have anything higher than an 87 octane.
We spent that evening camped out in the central park in Regina, Saskatchewan, pulling in at dusk, setting up the tent, and riding off early the next morning.
Still in need of a shower and not yet brave enough to jump into rivers or lakes to bathe, we decided to give CouchSurfing another try. Paula contacted an older couple in Medicine Hat, Alberta who said that they would be able to host us. We pulled into town just after 5pm and were greeted by Piet and Ina. They offered us their shower and laundry room, and we graciously and anxiously accepted. After washing up, we were treated to wine and cheese, followed by a delicious supper where we were joined by Romi Mayes and Jason Nowicki, a Canadian music duo who would be performing the following evening in Piet and Ina’s garage. Piet and Ina suggested that we stay an extra night to watch the performance, and, without giving it a second though, we accepted.
We spent part of the next day exploring the town and working on trying to get a blog post ready. Evening came and it was time for the show to begin. The opening act went on and, about an hour later, Romi and Jason took the stage only to find out that neither of Romi’s guitars were functioning properly. While everyone waited for a replacement guitar to arrive, I tried re-soldering the wires in the guitar to see if the issue was due to a failed electrical connection. This didn’t solve the problem. The replacement guitar arrived, and soon Romi and Jason were rocking’ out. They put on a great show.
Morning came, we packed our belongings onto the bike, and said our good-byes to our new friends, Piet and Ina. We said our good-byes to Romi and Jason the night before. Rock stars don’t wake up before noon.
We pulled out of Medicine Hat and headed for Calgary.
Entering into the province of Manitoba
Stopped at the side of the road somewhere in Saskatchewan
Paula on a bail of hay in a farmer's field in Saskatchewan
Paula somewhere in Saskatchewan
At the welcome center entering Alberta
Romi Mayes & Jason Nowicki performing at Piet & Ina's
Romi Mayes & Jason Nowicki rockin' out
Piet & Ina's garage music venue
Romi Mayes and Jason Nowicki after the show
Paula and our first www.couchsurfing.org hosts, Piet & Ina
09-29-2011, 03:51 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg On august 30, the weather turned bitter and it was a cold ride to Calgary, Alberta. Luckily it was a short trip because we weren’t wearing the weather liners on our riding gear. The tread on our back tire was wearing thin and since we have to learn to do all the repairs on the bike ourselves, we were about to replace our first tire. Fortunately, we were offered some help from a man named John. He lives in Calgary with his family and he replied to a post that Rocky had placed on the website www.ADVrider.com. After entering his garage, it was obvious that he loves motorcycles and his enthusiastic stories had me wishing I had my own. It was very kind of him to help/teach us and I thought it was really cool that his wife was also celebrating her birthday that day. With the weather still cold and wet, we were very thankful to have been invited to spend the night in Calgary. It is a great feeling to be treated so well by strangers.
The rain remained by the next morning and the ride felt longer than it should have. As we reached Canmore, Alberta we were only able to get a few peeks at the mountains as we literally rode through clouds. That is when we finally decided that the weather sucked! We had an entire day to waste so we pulled over and spent it at Tim Horton’s. We were hoping the rain would stop, but it didn’t. So, we rode into Banff National Park, located in the Canadian Rockies and before it got dark, we found a great place for our tent.
The following morning we rode to the Athabasca Glacier in Jasper, Alberta. On our way, we stopped at the famously beautiful Lake Louise, but everywhere I looked was jaw dropping. The mountains were majestic, the lakes and streams were all aqua marine in color and I love the smell of fresh air. “Alberta, Wild Rose Country” is incredible but no words or pictures could properly describe it’s intensity.
Just as the sun began to set, we passed the border into British Columbia and stopped in a town named Fields, BC. It was definitely a scenery I wanted to wake up to. The morning was beautiful but during the night, a storm almost blew us away. The tent swayed viciously and at first, I thought it was a bear attack. Ironically, we fell back asleep too tired to care.
When we were in Calgary, John recommended we take a different route than we had planned. We trusted his opinion and am I ever glad. We rode through “Beautiful British Columbia” on winding roads that took us up, down and all around the mountains. These mountains were green, covered in trees and their peaks, smooth. We took ferries across a couple of lakes giving us the chance to stretch and enjoy a different type of ride. After a long day on the road, we pulled into a town named New Denver. We found a very small park on the edge of Slocan Lake and the view was breathtaking. It was a great home for the night but our morning was a rough one. As we packed up, I tried releasing the tent poles to take apart the tent. I was having a tough time but finally managed to bend the pole just enough to have it pop my front tooth with all the built up pressure. Imagine me with a missing front tooth? Haha close call, but thankfully, I still have them all. With everything finally packed, the motorcycle refused to start. A local who lives across the street, had seen our troubles and offered us a boost from his portable battery charger. Within a few minutes, the engine begun to purr. Thanks David!
We finally headed out towards Grand Forks BC to meet a local named Nancy but since we arrived late, she had to go to work and her sister Joanne greeted us instead. Nancy is a kind lady we met on www.couchsurfing.org and we were the first she had hosted from the website. When she finally made it home from work, we were pleased to meet her. We shared stories, drank wine, walked around town, and shared many laughs. Two nights later, we had to part ways. I love meeting new friends but I always feel sad to say good bye. We were on our way to Vancouver and the roads we took were a lot of fun. At times I wished I was the one steering but who am I kidding, I’ve had the best seat on this trip. I once thought I might be crazy for wanting to join Rocky on this adventure but, everyday I have been reminded by every moment passed how amazing it is to be experiencing this. I have traveled a lot in my life but nothing beats doing it on a motorcycle.
Looking for a place to take a break, we came across a town called Osoyoos. We didn’t stay there for long but I just want to mention how much we liked it there. Rocky said that it looked like a great vacation spot, I thought it looked like a great place to live. It was really pretty.
The entire ride through Canada, I don’t remember seeing any police, it must have been because they were all hanging out in BC. They were everywhere pulling over groups of vehicles. At one point, the car in front of us and about four cars behind us were asked to pull over. We weren’t sure if we were asked as well so to avoid trouble, we did anyway. As soon as we realized how many of us were waiting for a ticket, Rocky decided that the cop had his hands full so we did him a favor and left to make his job easier.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg With Almeida’s original rear tire tread thinning, I had posted on a internet motorcycle message board asking for tips on changing tires. I was contacted by a couple members of the website www.ADVrider.com who were willing to help. A guy in Calgary named John emailed me his contact information offered to show me the ropes.
Heading towards Calgary, the clouds became increasingly dark and the air much cooler. We pulled into Blackfoot Motorsports in a frigid, drizzling rain. After picking up a new Pirelli Scorpion, we followed the directions entered into the GPS and arrived with John waiting for us in his driveway. Pulling into his garage and seeing seven or eight motorcycles, including a KTM 990 Adventure, we knew we were in good hands.
After getting the tire changed, Paula and I washed up and headed out for her birthday dinner — all-you-can-eat sushi. John had offered us a place to stay for the night, so we finished up dinner and headed back to his place in the rain.
The next day was just a cold and rainy as the previous. Nevertheless, we loaded the Almeida up with our gear, thanked and said our good-byes to John, and headed towards Banff. Arriving in Banff after enduring a bitterly cold rain, we found a Tim Horton’s to camp out at for a while to rest, dry off and get warm. We waited for several hours for the rain to stop. It didn’t. After about five hours of sitting, we decided to find a place to stealth camp. We found a suitable location on the outskirts of town, set up camp and endured a long, cold night.
We awoke the next morning to some breaks in the clouds that had been overhead for the past few days. The day was spent riding along the Canadian Rockies – to Lake Louise, Bow Lake, and up to the Athabasca Glacier. The scenery was awesome. The sun shared the sky with the clouds, and the temperatures cold, especially while riding. With nightfall quickly drawing upon us, we pulled off the side of the road to camp just outside the town of Field, British Columbia, a picturesque town of approximately 300 people situated along the snowcapped peaks of the Rocky Mountains.
We were awoken in the middle of the night to a fierce thunderstorm. I was sure that the tent would be blown apart by the winds, but I was too tired to care, so I shut my eyes and went back to sleep.
Coming down in elevation the next morning, the sun began to shine and the temperature began to rise. We followed the route John had made up for us through Golden, into Revelstoke, and down along Upper Arrow Lake where we had our first ferry crossing. We continued along twisting and winding roads and beautiful scenery, and stopped just before sunset. We camped out in the park next to a lake in the small town of New Denver along the edge of Slocan Lake.
The next morning, the bike refused to start. My initial guess was that the battery was drained from charging all of our electronics the previous day, even though it was while Almeida’s alternator was turning. The several attempts of fire up the engine were in vain. The battery just didn’t have enough juice to crank the starter motor. Luckily, a neighbour, just across the street from the park where we were camped, heard us trying to start the engine and offered his assistance and his battery charger. After about fifteen minutes on the charger, I tried the to start the bike and the engine immediately fired up. We thanked our new friend, David, for his help, I put the bike in gear and we headed towards Grand Forks, British Columbia.
In need of a rest, a shower and a friendly conversation (Paula and I get sick of each other after several days with just each other), we decided to give couch surfing another try. We contacted a lady named Nancy who agreed to host us for a night or two. We arrived in Grand Forks, and were let into Nancy’s apartment by her sister, Joanne, who lived across the street. Nancy worked at a local pub, and wouldn’t be arriving home until later that evening. We were surprised at how trusting someone could be to let strangers into her home without ever meeting them. Nancy finished work and arrived home at around 10pm. We sat at her kitchen table and talked about everything under the sun as Paula and I polished off a bottle of red wine that Nancy had opened up for us. Tired and tipsy, we took our last sips of wine and hit the sack.
In the morning, Nancy cooked us a tasty organic breakfast, and took us out for a cup of Joe at her favourite coffee shop in town. She offered great stories of her travels around the world, a bit about the history of Grand Forks. Many of the residents of the town were descendants of the Doukobors, a group of pacifist Russian immigrants that settled in the area at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The remainder of the day was spent exploring the town and enjoying its sunshine.
We left Nancy and Grand Forks the next morning. From there, we made a beeline for Vancouver, stopping only twice. Our first stop was a great little town in Southern B.C., called Osoyoos. Riding down into the valley and into the town, it felt like we were in the wine country of Southern California. The buildings were Mexican-style with stucco facades, and the landscape seemed out-of-place for British Columbia. Our next stop was Hope, British Columbia, where the first Rambo movie was filmed. I had hoped to get a photo taken on the bridge during the arrest scene of the movie, but was disappointed after learning that it had been torn down a few months earlier.
We rode into Vancouver and hit, what seemed like, every red light before finally arriving downtown at my friend’s apartment. Vincent, a good friend from Taiwan, greeted us and took us up to his apartment for some much-needed R&R.
Paula and I at Lake Louise
Paula at Lake Louise
More Lake Louise (it was awesome!)
North of Banff, Alberta
Up in the Canadian Rockies
Waking up after a night of camping out near the town of Field, British Columbia
A strange man whom we met in good ol' B.C.
In Grand Forks, British Columbia
09-29-2011, 04:31 PM
Wow, great start to what looks like an epic thread and epic adventure.
Too bad I didn't know you were coming through, I would have hosted you at our place just outside Hope BC.
Where are you guys now?
09-29-2011, 04:37 PM
Where are you guys now?
We're way behind on our blogging. We've just stopped for a bit in Salt Lake City, Utah, and we're heading down to Provo today, then Moab probably the day after.
Hopefully we can get a bit more time to work on photos and blogging. :sombrero:
09-29-2011, 04:52 PM
This is awesome! Great choice on the bike...
Here is one suggestion: spend less time in Central America, and add Brazil to your itinerary. You won't regret it.
09-29-2011, 04:57 PM
this chart is very interesting....looks like Panama City is pretty much at the top year round...I can tell you that it's really hot right now, well over 30....
Have a great trip!!!
If you decide to ride through Las Vegas, doesn't look like you are coming this far west, you are more than welcome to stay.
09-29-2011, 05:53 PM
Here is one suggestion: spend less time in Central America, and add Brazil to your itinerary. You won't regret it.
We've really been considering this. Plans seem to be changing so far on this trip, so we might just have to go with it.
09-29-2011, 08:25 PM
I will be following this thread! ...looking forward to your journal(s) on your safe travel.
09-29-2011, 09:24 PM
Great write ups and pictures. Good luck with all your travels, you are going to have such a blast. And it is great to see other Canadians on overland travels.
Safe travels always
Janet and Tom (Calgary)
09-29-2011, 11:02 PM
Great read so far, I sense an epic thread building - subscribed! Good luck.
09-29-2011, 11:06 PM
That's cool. Will you have a chance to pass through Prescott AZ on your trip? it is a fun little town, and the HQ of the Portal and of Overland Journal. Everyone in the office would love to say hi.
We love it when Overlanders stop in to say hi, we have a family visiting in the office today who have 5 kids in a Ford pickup truck, driving from Alaska to South America. Super nice and cool people.
Can't wait to read more about your fantastic trip. Keep the pics coming. BTW, I love the way you guys have been posting from two perspectives, that has been really neat.
09-30-2011, 01:32 AM
Hey Rocky & Paula, what a great trip so far. Its awesome to see some travelers from the Hammer on here, pretty close to my home town of Cambridge.
Can't wait for the next update. Ride safe and have fun. :bike_rider:
10-11-2011, 11:33 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg Before arriving in Vancouver, the traffic was congested. But, with the date being September 5th, a holiday long weekend, it was expected. Rocky’s friend, Vincent, has an apartment in the heart of the city and we were invited to live there for a few days. Being on the 25th floor, we were spoiled with an amazing view.
Vancouver is pretty, but a typical city. It smelled like exhaust, urine, all types of food and perfumes. Lots of people, traffic stops, many tall buildings and a main road of homeless drug addicts shooting up in public. I’m not a fan of big cities but the sandy shores of the ocean, the surrounding mountains, the mainly clean streets, large parks and friendly people, creates an atmosphere anyone can appreciate.
Stanley Park was a few blocks from the apartment and we enjoyed a few walks through it. While taking a few pictures there one night, we walked towards the sound of music and stumbled upon an outdoor Blue Rodeo concert. It was fenced in but we could still watch and hear them perform. Many others had also found their way there and sat on the grass with blankets or lawn chairs while others stood. And, of course, the sweet smell of BC pot occasionally blew past.
It felt great to relax for a few days and I am sure that the motorcycle appreciated us having the chance to change her oil and clean her chain. We were excited to unpack her and ride her bare but the city streets weren’t fun with the constant red lights. So, we rode through the highway named Sea to Sky, recommended by my friend Ryan. The scenery was beautiful and the name of the road was well suited.
After being in one place for so many days, we were eager to get back to our adventure. I’m excited for what’s next, but, I’m also going to miss the comfort of my country. Canada is amazing, more so than I already knew. I’m happy to have discovered it on such an intimate level and very proud to be Canadian. Eh!
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg It was good to see my old friend again. It had been almost two years since the last time we had met. Vincent is originally from Taipei, Taiwan, and had moved to Vancouver shortly after the last time we saw each other to try to get his Canadian citizenship.
Paula and I spent much of our time in Vancouver relaxing and exploring the downtown area. It was a time for a much-needed rest and to do some work on the bike. Almeida was ready to have her oil changed, chain cleaned and clutch fluid replaced. A good part of an afternoon was spent in the parking garage of Vincent’s apartment working on the bike.
Downtown Vancouver has many restaurants of almost every type of cuisine. We visited the all-you-can-eat Mongolian grill and some Lebanese Shawarma places a number of times.
Vincent wasn’t working when we arrived on Vancouver. He spent a lot of time at his PC playing the Taiwanese stock market. As a result, Paula and I didn’t get to spend as much time with him as we would have liked to. Vincent’s limited work experience and broken English make it hard for him to find work, but, by the end of our week there, he was able to find a job working in a restaurant kitchen.
On our last full day in Vancouver, Paula and I road up and down the coast and, on our way back, stopped in Vancouver harbour at dusk to take some photos of the downtown skyline. We were ready to pack up and go when we heard, what sounded like, a very good live cover of the band Blue Rodeo. The music was coming from close by, so we followed it and were lead to an outdoor concert venue. There were many people sitting on the grass around its perimeter enjoying the sound of the music and, judging by the sweet smell of the air, the B.C. bud. Paula and I found a spot atop a small hill that allowed us to peer over the fence that surrounded the venue. Looking over, we were able to get a full view of the stage. It wasn’t a cover band, it was the real Blue Rodeo. We listened for a while and then headed back to Vincent’s apartment.
After a good five-day rest, I was feeling a little restless, and was beginning to miss the open road and the feeling of moving from place to place. Paula and I decided that we’d head out the next day and make our way across the border and into the United States.
We woke up the next day, had lunch, packed up and set off from Vancouver after a short stop at the CAA to get my international driver’s licence.
Several weeks earlier, I had contacted an old university friend whom I hadn’t seen since graduation. Paul is his name, and he was living and working in Surrey, British Columbia. On our way towards the U.S. border, we met up with Paul at, what would be, our last stop at a Tim Horton’s. Paul is now married to his long-time girlfriend, and they have two children together. After a short visit over a cup of coffee, we parted and headed for the border.
Sunset Beach Park
Paula at Sunset Park
We walked around downtown Vancouver. Paula wanted Dairy Queen ice cream. I opted for Tim Horton's.
Somewhere along Minaty Bay
More of Vancouver Harbour
We found a spot where we could see over the fence and watch the Blue Rodeo concert.
10-12-2011, 05:19 PM
Looks like an incredible trip! If you guys end up passing thru Texas, you can stay at our place in Austin. I'll PM you contact info just in case
10-13-2011, 03:46 AM
Sunday afternoon, October 9th near Navajo Bridge/Lee's Ferry. I spoke with you (Rocky) at the Chevron station.
What a small world. I've been soaking up info from this site for a while now. My wife and I left Oklahoma on Saturday on our way to Toroweap and beyond for some back country adventures. By Sunday, I've run onto folks I first saw on this site.
For those following the thread, Rocky said they were headed to Flagstaff to try and catch up on blogging and work on the bike.
Again, continued good luck with your trip.
10-13-2011, 05:03 AM
hey guys! spoke with you briefly at the Hall's Crossing gas station a few nights ago, and then you camped just down from us at the campground. (our group was getting ready to do the Hole in the Rock Trail (http://offroadpassport.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1369).) it was nice to meet you and i wish you the very best on your journey!
10-13-2011, 01:04 PM
Great pics and write up. Best of luck with the rest of your trip. Can't wait to see the updates of your adventure.
10-13-2011, 01:47 PM
Very well put together trip report and excellent pictures.
I second what Christian says.....you are skipping a large portion of S. America. While I have not been I imagine it is well worth not skipping!!
10-28-2011, 04:33 AM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We rode to the U.S. border and with it being the day before 09/11, crossing into the states went easier than expected. Although, we did get lectured by the customs officer about having a helmet camera. Our first stop in the USA, was Lake Stevens. My friend, Joey, had just moved there with his lovely lady, Ashley, and their sweet two year old boy, London. I haven’t seen Joey in many years, it was great to hang out with him and meet his new family. Did I mention that he is a phenomenal cook? If he weren’t an engineer for Boeing, I imagine him being a famous chef.
We stayed long enough to share a few laughs and bottles of wine but, after a couple of days we had to hurry out to beat the weather. It feels like we are constantly trying to run from the cold rain. We went to Seattle, where a ferry took us to Bainbridge Island and then we rode towards… a rain forest of course.
Just outside of Olympic National Park, we found a place to camp and fell asleep immediately. Early the next morning, we entered the park and it was like nothing I have ever seen. The trees were enormous and the forest was coated in mosses that blanket trees and drape over their branches. I think it looks eerily beautiful, it would definitely be the perfect scene for a horror movie. We spent the day exploring and left the creepy forest way before it got dark out.
As we rode into Oregon, we headed towards Astoria (if you are old like Rocky, you will recognize the town from the movie Goonies). It is a really cool town with streets so steep, I felt as if I were on a roller coaster. We rode approximately twenty minutes away to pitch our tent at Canon Beach with hopes of watching an incredible sunset, but unfortunately, we missed it.
Excited to see this gorgeous coast, we eagerly waited for morning to arrive. Waking up to fog was very disappointing. We decided that we wanted to spend more time there and contacted a man by the name of Dale, on couchsurfing.org. He invited us to his home and introduced us to his Canadian wife, Wendy, and her mother, Janice.
Later that night, they had taken us for a walk to the beach. It was the first time I had ever walked on a shore with the tides gone out. We stayed up late getting to know each other sharing stories, philosophies and laughter.
The next morning, the sun peeked through clouds and after a nice long walk through town with Janice, we arrived at the house to a delicious warm bowl of soup that Wendy had prepared for us.
Before the clouds could take over the entire sky, we took the opportunity to ride back to Canon beach. Wow! It is definitely impressive. I wish that the ocean had been warm enough to swim in, it was one of the most gorgeous coasts I have been to.
Not ready to leave Dale and his family, we returned to their home and stayed one more night before saying our good-byes.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg Thoughts of cheap gas entered my mind as we headed towards our first border crossing. Gas prices is Canada are slightly below the world average, but, in a few remote areas, we paid up to $1.77 per liter ($6.69 per gallon) for premium 91 octane gasoline. Heading into the U.S., I was confident that we wouldn’t be seeing prices in that range.
We pulled up the the border late in the afternoon, and, waiting in line, we watched the border guard perform a visual inspection of the car ahead of us. After waving the vehicle on, he looked back at us with a scowl as we approached the booth. Pointing to my helmet cam, we were told that it was a federal offence to photograph any federal buildings, bridges, or borer crossing. We explained that we weren’t aware of that, and we showed him that the camera was off and not recording. If I wanted to make things more difficult for myself, I would have told him that, if the intent was to thwart terrorism, I’d suggest worrying less about helmet cams and more about foreign policy. I was wise enough to keep my mouth shut. We showed our passports, and were waved on into the United Sates.
One of Paula’s old friends, Joey, was living just outside of Seattle. Paula had arranged for us to stay at his place for a night or two. As the sun was going down, we pulled up to Joey’s house and were greeted by his girlfriend, Ashley. Joey cooked an amazing dinner for us that night. We spend the following day with Joey, Ashley and their son, London, and had another great dinner with more wine and beer.
Having not thought much about it the night before, we awoke in the morning and decided that we should be on our way. We were falling behind our schedule, and there was a lot of distance to make up. We tried to get a hold of Joey, who gone to work early in the morning, so that we could stop by and say good-bye to him since we didn’t get the chance. We weren’t able to get a hold of him, and were disappointed that we had to leave without saying good-bye.
It was a short ride from Lake Stevens into Seattle where we were catching the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Not being too interested in city driving, we headed straight for the port, purchased our ferry ticket, and were soon on board the ferry to Bainbridge Island. The crossing took roughly 45 minutes. After disembarking, we fuelled up and rode around the perimeter of Olympic National Park, in northern Washington. With the sun heading for the horizon, we made a quick stop at Walmart to purchase some soap, beef jerky, trail mix and a cheap bottle of red wine. We had some dinner at Subway, taking in our usual inexpensive, but tasty, $5 footlong. It was starting to get dark, so we thought about finding a place to camp for the night. With not too many options, we decided to keep driving until something turned up. We pulled into the small town of Forks, Washington. It was almost dark and my fuel light had been on for quite a while. We filled up at the nearest gas station, and found a secluded place about 15 km outside of town at the side of the road. After quickly setting up the tent, we settled in for the night and both fell asleep almost as soon as our heads hit our air pillows.
We awoke early the next morning, packed up camp, and headed for the rain forest of Olympic Park. Having camped not too far from the national park, we arrived at the rain forest early, beating many of the tourists that would later arrive. The rain forest was awesome!
Just after noon, we decided to head out towards Oregon. The weather was cloudy and a bit cool. Running low on gas for the bike and juice for our gadgets, we stopped in Hoquiam, Washington to fuel up, charge our electronics and to use the internet.
After a three-hour break, we decided to push on towards Oregon (pronounced, Oh-ri-gun, not Oh-ri-gon). As we drew near to the state border, the clouds began to break and the sun shone at about thirty degrees from the horizon. We raced towards Oregon and crossed the Astoria-Megler bridge into Astoria. Our first stop in Astoria was set into the GPS. Much of the 80s movie, The Goonies, was filmed in Astoria. We rode through the steep streets of Astoria to the Goonies house to take some photos.
After a quick bite to eat at Subway, we hopped on the bike and headed towards Cannon beach. The sun was almost at the horizon, so we rushed to get to the beach for sunset, but didn’t quite make it there on time to see it. It was almost dark when we arrived, so, after getting a quick view of the beach, we headed off to find a place to camp. Driving in the dark, we found a rest stop next to the beach that looked suitable. We used our headlamps to set up the tent in the dark. As we were setting up the tent, a police officer pulled into the lot for his night check. We quickly shut our headlamps off, and, luckily, it was dark enough that we were not seen.
Waking up the next day, clouds were overhead. We packed up our gear and went for breakfast, then over to McDonald’s to use WiFi so that we could try to find a place to stay for the next few days. The area around Cannon Beach and Astoria was interesting, and we really wanted to have some time to see more of it. While at McDonald’s, we met a few other motorcycle riders who were passing through. One, whose name was Patrick, was an American originally from Argentina. He was riding an Italian bike that caught my eye. We spoke for quite a while and he offered a lot of good advice.
After leaving McDonald’s, we decided to drive around a bit and do some sightseeing while we waited for a response from Couchsurfing. We visited a few more film locations in Astoria, and finally Astoria Column – a 125-foot tall tower atop of Coxcomb Hill that provides a 360-degree view of Astoria and the surrounding area.
Nearing dinnertime, we decided to check our Couchsurfing messages and found that we had a response, and a place to stay for at least a night, in Seaside, Oregon. Paula phoned the number provided in the message and spoke with a man named Dale. He gave us an address, and we were soon at his front door in Seaside. Dale met us at the roadside, we parked Almeida in the back, and were given a tour of the house. We also met Janice, Dale’s mother-in-law, and, later, Wendy, Dale’s wife. We all sat down to a dinner that Wendy prepared for us, and, later that night, Dale, Wendy, Paula and I went for a walk on the beach. Dale, in his mid-fifties, has a thick southern accent. This immediately brought a certain stereotype to mind that was quickly dispelled. Dale is one of the smartest guy’s I have ever met, southern accent or not. Sitting around a camp fire, we drank beer and wine and talked into the night until we were all ready for bed.
Paula and I spent the next day visiting the area around Seaside and Cannon Beach. Janice, who is in her 80s, came with us on a long, 2-hour walk around Seaside. We were impressed. Later that day, Paula and I decided to ride out to Cannon beach for some photos and to take a walk on the beach. After returning, we all sat down and enjoyed another tasty dinner, and turned in for the night.
The following morning, we were on our way. We said good-bye to Dale, Wendy and Janice, and we headed eastward.
The rain forest of Olympic National Park in northern Washington
Inside the rain forest
More of the rain forest
The ferns and mosses of the rain forest
The view of Astoria and surrounding areas from atop Astoria Column
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Paula at Cannon Beach, Oregon
Paula in front of Haystack Rock - Cannon Beach, Oregon
Dale & Paula in Seaside, Oregon
10-29-2011, 02:21 PM
Keep posting.....Good Luck and be safe in your travels
11-02-2011, 06:57 PM
What an amazing way to see the world. I envy you! -great choice of bike too!
11-04-2011, 03:43 PM
Stay safe, can't wait to hear what happens once you start to head south, and then into south africa!
11-07-2011, 01:03 AM
Sunday afternoon, October 9th near Navajo Bridge/Lee's Ferry. I spoke with you (Rocky) at the Chevron station.
What a small world. I've been soaking up info from this site for a while now. My wife and I left Oklahoma on Saturday on our way to Toroweap and beyond for some back country adventures. By Sunday, I've run onto folks I first saw on this site.
For those following the thread, Rocky said they were headed to Flagstaff to try and catch up on blogging and work on the bike.
Again, continued good luck with your trip.
Yes! That was a strange coincidence. We only drove up that way because my friend, who lives in Flagstaff, mentioned something about that area. When we got there, we were out of fuel and looking for a gas station. We ended up going back there later that week for some fly fishing in the river.
hey guys! spoke with you briefly at the Hall's Crossing gas station a few nights ago, and then you camped just down from us at the campground. (our group was getting ready to do the Hole in the Rock Trail (http://offroadpassport.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1369).) it was nice to meet you and i wish you the very best on your journey!
We got to camp in the campgrounds for free that night since the groundsman saw us setting up the tent in the bushes behind the gas station/store. He said that we couldn't camp there and that he'd let us camp for free on the grounds.
It was nice to meet you, too. Hope your trip was great.
11-11-2011, 08:52 AM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg The clouds were full, threatening rain but we stayed dry while visiting Mount St Helen, in Washington state. It is an active volcano, located in the Cascade Range. It had erupted in 1980, removing most of its northern face and creating a huge crater. It was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States.
Our goal for the day was to continue riding until we reached Portland, Oregon. We arrived late and it was dark out but we found a great place to pitch our tent near a forest. With the rain hitting hard in the morning, we were glad that the tall trees kept us dry as we packed.
On our way out, we stopped at a KTM dealership to pick up a few things. We were greeted by Steve and Vint when we first walked in. They answered a bunch of questions we had about products, and they also shared a lot of advice with us. Vint had his own sexy KTM 990 ready for a trip to Banff, Alberta that same day. The mechanic, Todd, asked us to ride the motorcycle around to the back parking lot. He met us there with some tools and taught us how to tighten the chain. They were so nice that they even gave us a few gifts, including a spray that easily cleaned the thousands of dead insects that our helmets and windshield had collected. Thank you KTM in Gresham, Oregon for your genuine customer service.
As we continued on our journey, we rode past beautiful, golden fields that suddenly turned black. Even though the landscape had been victim to a forest fire, it still kept it’s beauty. In need of a gas station, we had no choice but to head in the wrong direction. Bend, Oregon was a really nice town and since we arrived with minimal daylight, we pitched our tent in a grassy area on the side of an abandoned parking lot. It seemed like a great spot until the Police arrived. “Hello, is anybody there? This is the Police” we walked out to introduce ourselves and to explain why we were there. They asked for ID, ran our names and joked about us being a couple of Canadians. They told us that we were private property and the hired security called them about trespassers. We got permission to stay, but at 7am the irrigation was turned on. It was obvious that the owner wanted us gone because the grass was yellow and the dirt was extremely dry from being previously deprived of water. Luckily, we were not effected by the sprinklers and did not get wet. Nanner, nanner, nanner :p
During breakfast, we met a sweet couple who recommended we visit an area called Painted Hills. The area looked like smooth piles of sand in colourful layers of red, black and gold, corresponding to various geological eras. We then rode through winding streets until the sun began to set and we decided to camp on the side of the road, nestled in a forest.
The following day, we rode past many cattle farms. At one point, the road was blocked by at least fifty cows. We sat there awkwardly, waiting patiently for them to move but they weren’t going anywhere. Finally, a car pulled up beside us and a lady began yelling, “Don’t stop, drive through the herd. Don’t you know we have a job to do?” What the heck? We were on a motorcycle, not a horse, did we look like we’re supposed to know what to do? As we began to ride, the cows ‘moo’ved aside but some of them snorted snot out of their nostrils as they kicked their hind legs, threatening to charge at us. When the smell was gone, I loosened my grip from Rocky’s waist, opened my eyes and noticed we rode past them without problems. I wasn’t scared, and I definitely didn’t take revenge by stopping in Denio Junction, Nevada, a couple of hours later for one of the best burgers we have ever tasted.
After filling up the gas tank and fuel cans, we rode towards the Alvord Desert. It is in the middle of nowhere, hidden beside the Steens Mountain. Looking more like a mountain range than a single mountain, it stretches approximately 90km. We rode alongside of it, from asphalt onto gravel until we were able to see the Alvord Desert. I felt confused with what I saw. The Alvord Desert was approximately 10 by 20 km, hidden beside the Steens Mountain we were riding on. I wasn’t sure if it was a mirage by the way the sun was shining on the hard, dry, flat sand, but there appeared to be a lake in the distance. Below us was a group of people, and it was strange to see that they had sail boats with wheels. We rode towards them and they introduced themselves as well as their dirt boats. We pitched our tent, opened a bottle of wine, that we had been saving, and our new friends explained that during the day, they raced through the open space as the wind blew them around. How cool!
We were told that the Alvord desert was a dried up lake bed and not far from us were hot springs we could soak in. We stayed up to finish our bottle of wine, under the most incredible sky I have ever seen. It was the perfect night for the stars to show off their home in the galaxy. The Milky Way was very visible, Meteorites were shooting through the sky and we could see planets twinkling and satellites traveling. What a spectacular place!
The following morning, we were invited to eat a delicious breakfast with our new neighbours. Soon after, we relaxed in the hot spring. Upon returning to our tent, we were invited to race around on the dirt boats. The wind was too calm, so we decided to race around on the motorcycle instead. I got tossed and almost thrown as we rode through areas with bushes and soft sand but it was so much fun! Our new friends, Lance and Keith, invited us for beer and dinner, we stayed one more night and the four of us spent it star gazing.
Early the next morning, we all gathered for breakfast and said our good byes. The bike was packed, the fuel cans were emptied into the gas tanks and Rocky found a ‘short cut’ out of the desert on the GPS.
It was a dirt road but it cut the distance in half and Rocky was excited to practice riding on it. The first few kilometers went somewhat smoothly, but once we were too far in to turn around, it became a very bumpy ride. There was deep pockets of sand with rocks the size of pellets and golf balls. My teeth were grinding and my body was stiff from the fear of crashing but i got distracted by a wretched stench. It was the smell of a decomposing dead cow that probably wandered away from the herd, got lost and died of dehydration. We continued past it and I was shocked that Rocky kept control for so long but I was not surprised when we finally tipped the motorcycle as it wobbled through a large patch of sand. We quickly got on our feet, checked for damage and continued towards a paved road or some sort of civilization. A short cut that was supposed to take an hour took three, it reminded me that a short cut is not necessarily the quickest way out. I was happy to end the adventure and continue our journey towards Boise, Idaho on a paved road.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg Being on a tight budget for this trip, I have found that one way to eat cheap and relatively healthy food is to eat at Subway. We usually take advantage of the five dollar footlong or, in the mornings, the three dollar coffee and 6″ sandwich breakfast combo. Leaving the coast, we stopped in Astoria for our usual Subway breakfast, and headed back towards Washington state.
We arrived at the turn-off to Mount St. Helens early in the afternoon. From the main highway, it was a 60km drive to the lookout point nearest to the volcano. The temperature steadily got colder as we rose in elevation until we finally reached the national park visitors center at Mount St. Helens. After a short look around, a washroom break, and a few photos, we got back on the bike and headed back down the road from which we came to the main highway.
Hungry and tired, we rode south, back into Oregon towards Portland. With the sun fading, we stopped for some chimichangas and headed into Portland. It was dark by the time we made it into the city. We rode around looking for Forest Park where we had planned to camp. We finally found it and pulled off the side of the road and set up he tent in the dark.
The next morning was a rainy one. After packing up the tent and our gear, we went for breakfast at Subway, and made a quick stop at a camera shop. I had packed my tripod for this trip, but hadn’t noticed that the quick-release plate was not with it. I was in search of a new one since I hadn’t been able to use the tripod without it. Unable to find the specific size for my camera, we left and headed east.
I followed my GPS to KTM of Gresham, which is located just outside of Portland. We stopped there to pick up a few parts for the bike and to get some tips on tightening my chain. All the guys there were really helpful. We spent and hour or two there talking to everyone and getting a lot of good advice and help. Just before leaving, Vint, the owner, ran out and gave us some extra parts and supplies.
It was early afternoon when we road through Mount Hood National Forest, over the pass and down the other side. The landscape quickly changed from lush, green forests to golden yellow fields of grass and farm land, much of which was scarred and blackened by wild fires. We continued southeast until we came to a tee in the road. It was late in the afternoon, and both the fuel in my tank and the light of day were running low. I checked my GPS for the nearest fuel station heading east, but it was beyond the range of the fuel that I estimated I had left in my tank. Neither Paula nor I wanted to chance it. Our best option was to head 50km back west into Bend, Oregon.
Paula, Almeida and I pulled into Bend just as the sun met the horizon. It was well past dinner time, so we decided to stop for food – Mexican again. By the time we finished dinner, the sun had already set, but there was still a bit of light in the sky. We left to find a place to camp out. Driving around town, Paula, Almeida and I found, what appeared to be, an abandoned parking lot in a residential area of town. I parked the bike behind some tall bushes at the endue of the lot, and we set up the tent nearby. After we were all settled in, I decided to walk down to the nearest 7 Eleven for some snacks. Later that evening, while sipping sodas, eating candy and watching TV on my laptop, our tent was illuminated by, what could have only been, a set of car headlights. We immediately knew that it was the police. Paula and I got dressed and walked out to meet the two officers. They requested our passports, and our names were run through the system. We were told they owner of the lot had had a problem with “vagrants” and that the night security guard had seen us and made the call to the police. We explained what we were doing and, after finding out that we had no criminal records, the officers placed a call to the owner and asked if he would allow us to stay the night. We were given the OK, and we enjoyed the remainder of the night not having to worry about being spotted.
We packed up early the next morning and had almost everything loaded onto the motorcycle just before the sprinkler system (that we hadn’t seen the night before) came on. We narrowly escaped getting soaked. We made a quick stop at 7 Eleven for some beef jerky and headed to Subway for breakfast. While we were there, we met two locals who told us about a natural tourist attraction, called The Painted Hills, located in the general direction of our route. They were a bit out of the way, but, we thought, worth the trip. Before leaving Bend, we made a stop at one of the local strip malls since Paula needed a new pair of sun glasses.
Shortly after noon, we left Bend and headed slightly north and east towards The Painted Hills. We arrived there in middle of the afternoon, riding 20km off the main highway into the middle of nowhere. The Painted Hills, striped with rusty red floodplain deposits, were an impressive sight.
Getting late in the day, we made our way to McDonald’s in John Day, Oregon to use the internet and grab a burger. I later regretted the burger. With not too much daylight left, we got back in the saddle and raced towards Burns, Oregon, where we had planned to stop for the night. We didn’t quite make it all the way to Burns, and ended up camping out in the forest about 20km from town.
In the morning, we rode into Burns for some breakfast and to use the internet. By mid-afternoon, we headed out towards the Alvord Desert. The road heading towards the desert was a nicely-paved two-lane highway. We rode up to a section of road that was roughly 1-2km long and bordered closely by a large lake on either side. Riding along, I saw a black cluster in the distance. As we got closer, I realized that they were cows, standing in the middle of the road, hundreds of them blocking our path. Being city folk, we didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t sure that, if I got closer to them, if they’d get scared and charge the bike. Almeida could take on a cow or two, but not an army of cattle. We stood in the road at a distance and took some photos. After several minutes, a car pulled up and a woman inside yelled at us to ride forward, and that we were blocking the cattle form trying to pass. Irritated by her tone, I told her not to speak to us the way that she did. I said, “We’re from a city, how the hell are we supposed to know what to do in this situation?!” A few other vehicles pulled up and drove slowly towards the heard, clearing a path for us to follow.
We were running low on fuel, so we decided to stop and fill up. Fuel stations in that area were very few and far between. We stopped at the fuel station near the turn-off to the desert, but they didn’t have premium. We asked if the station at Denio Junction, 40km south into Nevada had fuel, and we were told that they did. We made our way to Denio Junction, filled up at the gas station and, being around dinner time, decided to grab a bite to eat at the diner. Paula and I both ordered a burger. We both agreed that it could have likely been the best burger we have ever eaten.
We rode up to the desert around dusk, and, upon seeing it, I immediately got out my camera to take pictures. We got back on the bike and rode down to the edge of the desert where there were a dozen or so campers and pick-up trucks. We thought it would be great to camp out with other people since we usually camped alone, trying not to be seen. Immediately upon pulling up, several of the other campers came to introduce themselves and invited us to sit around and watch the stars. Paula and I thanked them, and, after setting up camp, made out way over with our camp chairs and our cheap bottle of wine. The stars were amazing. With no city lights within 150km radius, the milky way was clearly visible. We sat drinking wine and counting shooting stars until we were both tired and a bit drunk.
I woke up the next morning feeling dehydrated and slightly hungover from the $4 Walmart wine the night before. Paula and I were invited to have breakfast with all of the other campers. Everyone gathered while several of the campers cooked, and we all enjoyed a breakfast together. After breakfast, Paula and I decided that we would head over the hot hot spring that, we were told, was nearby. It had been five full days since we last showered, and soaking in a hot spring was sounding like a great idea.
The wind, that day, was a bit of a disappointment for the rest of the campers, most of whom were there to sail their dirt boats (sort of like a sail boat with wheels). We were offered rides, but there just wasn’t enough wind. Paula went with one of sailors, but there was only enough wind to move them at a few kilometres per hours. A bit disappointed, Paula and I decided to ride Almeida around the desert. We hopped on the bike and rode across the flat, dry, cracked lake bed, weaving in and out of clusters of small bushes, and hitting patches of sand. It was so much fun.
That night, we were invited to have dinner with Keith and Lance, two guys who were camped right next to us. Earlier that day, Lance, who was from Montana, helped me plot a route from Boise, Idaho to Yellowstone National Park. After dinner and a few beers, Paula and I headed for bed. We were quite tired from the day in the sun.
Thinking about it now, we should have spent at least one more day in the desert; it was really awesome. But, that next morning, we packed up our things and made our way out. I followed my GPS to a “shortcut” out of the desert that looked like it would save quite a bit of distance. The shortcut, ended up not being such a great idea. The “road” that we took was mostly large rock, stone, and sand. With a fully-loaded bike and an extra passenger, my riding ability was put to the test. I didn’t have much trouble with the rock an gravel, but the bike was very difficult to control in the loose, sandy soil. I almost lost control of the bike twice going through sand and loose pebble, but, somehow, I managed to keep the bike upright. Trudging along, I noticed the dead and rotting carcass of a cow at the side of the road. It likely got lost in the desert and died of dehydration. There were patches of the road that were relatively compact and flat, and we were able to pick up a bit of speed, and then, suddenly, we’d hit some sand or loose pebble or big rocks and have to slow right down. At roughly the halfway point of the 60km route out of the desert, we hit a large patch of loose pebble. The front tire skidded and wobbled as I applied the break, but, this time, Almeida went down. I looked back to see if Paula was OK. Her leg was trapped and twisted under the left pannier, so I rushed up to lift the weight of the bike up so that she could free her leg. She hobbled up and was sore and bruised, but she was OK. We rested a minute or two, unloaded the bike and heaved it upright. After a few concerned false starts, we managed to fire up Almeida’s engine again and continue along.
After two and a half to three hours riding the length of our shortcut, we finally made it to the main highway. It was a good introduction to what we knew we would have to endure in underdeveloped countries, but It was a relief to see pavement again.
With a lot of distance to make up, we pointed Almeida east and made a beeline for Boise, Idaho, stopping only once to fill up with gas. Nearing our destination around dinner time, we stopped for some Mexican food just outside of Boise. After eating, we made our way into the city to a McDonald’s to use the internet and try to get in touch with Kent, a couch surfer whom Paula had contacted several days prior. We were able to get a hold of him, but he was unavailable until later that evening. We waited around until after 9pm, and went to meet Kent.
11-11-2011, 08:52 AM
A view of Mount St. Helens in Washington State
Another view of Mount St. Helens
Paula in Bend, Oregon. This was taken atop of Awbrey Butte.
The Painted Hills of Oregon
Near John Day, Oregon
Hundreds of cattle blocked the road towards the Alvord Desert.
Dusk on the edge of the desert, just after arriving in The Alvord.
The Alvord Desert at sunrise.
The edge of the Alvord Desert, near where we set up our tent to camp.
Everyone gathered in the mornings for a big breakfast that was cooked by several of the campers.
Kieth (and his dog), Paula and Lance
12-04-2011, 03:03 PM
Update: We are currently in San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico, waiting for parts to arrive. We couldn't think of a better place to be stuck. :D
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg On September 21, we rode into Boise Idaho to stay with a man named Kent that we had contacted on couchsurfing.org. He owned a granite shop located behind his house and he spent his days selling gorgeous pieces of stone. Since we arrived on a weekday, Kent was busy working when we woke up the next morning. After we were given a tour and introduced to his employees, we took the chance to give the motorcycle a little TLC. She was covered in both white and red sand and her chain was filthy. There was nothing we could do about a few scrapes that she acquired the day before, but I think it gives her more character.
All cleaned up, she was looking good and ready to go exploring. We went out of the city and followed a river through large hills and small towns. I love being able to ride on the motorcycle with the gear off.
Idaho is very unusual, in comparison to where we have been. Wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle is not mandatory, it was common to see someone riding with their hair blowing in the wind and dead bugs splattered on their face. There were large billboards everywhere, preaching about religion. Just about every car had a bumper-sticker reading something about “If you believe in Jesus, your sins are forgiven” “Only Jesus, can offer you immortality”"Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future” or “Sarah Palin for President” and “I partied with President Bush”.
Kent had invited us to dinner, so we returned to his house between 5-6pm. His home is really big and beautifully decorated with an interesting collection of art. There were 3 or 4 kitchens and while I helped to make dinner in one, Rocky helped prepare home made salsa in the other. Just earlier that day, I had wondered why anyone would need more than one kitchen, silly me. After a nice meal eaten outside on the patio, we relaxed by watching an awesome movie, called Motorcycle Diary’s. Unfortunately, we were all too tired to stay awake through it. Well rested, we were up early the next morning, and with some of Kent’s help, I prepared blueberry pancakes for us and his employees. We enjoyed breakfast with some hot coffee and shared some ideas on routes to take or avoid before packing up the bike and saying our good byes.
After stopping for a spare front tire tube, we rode north east for a few hours until we reached a town called Stanley. Hungry, we decided to stop for a bite to eat. The town was tiny but very pretty, and the pizza was delicious. There were many hunters everywhere, and also, a group of the most annoying so called ladies, it made me wonder why the animals were the ones being targeted. With a lot more sunlight left in the day, we continued riding until we reached a town called Salmon and we found a spot by the river to pitch the tent. While Rocky walked to the store for some treats, a sweet lady walking past with her child stopped to talk to me for a while. She offered her phone number and a place for us to stay in the case that we had any troubles camping there. It was extremely kind, so I would mention her name with thanks but my phone has unfortunately deleted all my contacts
With no troubles, we woke up early the next morning and continued riding towards Yellowstone National Park, but we wouldn’t enter the park until the following morning.
There are many tourists visiting Yellowstone national park and I was surprised that we had found a place well hidden to set up the tent for the night. I wondered if I would be annoyed by all the traffic, but, upon entering the park the next morning, I realized that it was too big and too beautiful to even notice all the people. This was the most magical place I have been to.
Fearless Buffalo roamed the land and sometimes crowded the street. We even caught a glimpse of a baby Grizzly Bear in the distance. But, what truly amazed me, was the landscape. It was constantly changing from rolling hills to mountains and gorges. It had fields of many colors, covered in flowers and grasses with huge rocks sporadically placed by past glaciers. There were still bodies of bright blue/green waters and many rivers, some that flowed down water falls. Even more incredible, was the volcanic activity in the area. There were holes in the earth causing geysers of boiling hot water to shoot up from the ground or form pools of hot springs that carved cascades down hills. Some were so large that the hot water flowed across shallow ground causing minerals and bacteria to create a rainbow of extraordinary brightness on the surface of the earth and steamed into a warm mist that filled the air.
With so much to see, darkness fell before we were done exploring. Outside of one of the exits, we found a place to camp for the night. It was on top of a hill, above a small town and we placed our tent on a very large flat rock. A local, collecting fire wood, warned us of some fleshy bones located not to far away but, since we had all scented items in an air proof pannier, no food, our first fire lit, and a loud whistle to scare off the wildlife, Rocky convinced me that it was ok to stay there. Undisturbed, we were alive the following morning and ready to re-enter the park.
With another full day spent in Yellowstone National Park, we rode out just in time to catch the sun setting on the Grand Teton mountains. With only enough sunlight left to capture a few pictures, we tried to hurry so that we could find a safe place to camp, but found it difficult. We had no choice but to ride further than planned until we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming at approximately 9pm. Cold, hungry and tired we warmed up to a full belly of mountain high pizza pie, and found a park to pitch our tent on the soft, plush grass.
Exhausted, we immediately fell asleep. It was a cold but comfortable night as we cuddled close until we were awoken at 4am by a familiar sound. Oh crap! The irrigation had turned on and began spraying water at our tent. Luckily, we personally, did not get wet but having to pack up the wet tent in the morning sucked! There was frost on the grass and my fingers were numb but at least the snot dripping rapidly from my nose froze before reaching my lips. We packed as quickly as possible and stopped to split a breakfast burrito before gladly heading south towards Salt lake City, Utah.
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg We met Kent late in the evening at a McDonald's new his house. Paula rode in the truck with him, and I followed them back to his place. I parked the motorcycle, and Kent gave us the tour. His place was huge. It had 4 or 5 bedrooms, several kitchens, at least 3 or 4 bathrooms, and a home gym. Kent runs his business of selling stone out of his home. His warehouse and much of his large lot were filled with an amazing collection of marble, granite and limestone slabs.
Kent is a very cultured and well-traveled guy. His house is full of painting, photographs, sculptures, statues, rugs, and other artifacts from all lover the world. Kent is also very religious, although he considers himself to be spiritual despite accepting Jesus Christ as his personal savour. Having just met, and being late in the night, we managed not to get into the religious discussion too much. The three of us talked for a few hours over a couple of beers and, when we got tire, headed to bed.
The next day we gave Almeida a wash and cleaned her chain. Kent suggested a route for us to ride in the area surrounding Boise. After lunch, Paula and I got on the bike and rode through the mountains and hills surrounding on the outskirts of Boise. We arrived back around dinner time. Kent and I went grocery shopping while Paula stayed at the house and got everything ready to prepare dinner. While shopping, I got to talk to Kent about politics a bit, one of my favourite subjects, despite it being one of the ones that "you really shouldn't talk about".
After dinner, Kent, Paula and I decided to relax and watch the movie. The Motorcycle Diaries, one of Kent's favourite films, seemed appropriate. Half way through the film Kent, nodding off, decided to hit the sack, and, shortly after, Paula and I found ourselves falling asleep and also decided to turn in.
We awoke the next day and started to pack up. Kent cooked us a nice breakfast and we chatted with some of his coworkers and friends. One of his employees, Jeff, had found a new job in San Antonio, Texas, and mentioned that he would be moving out there in several weeks time. He offered us his contact information and a place to stay if we decided to pass through there.
Before leaving Boise, Paula and I decided to visit Happy Trails, a well-known adventure motorcycle shop in town. We spoke with a few of the guys working there and picked up a spare front tube.
Shortly after noon, Paula, Almeida and I set out from Boise to ride the route to Yellowstone that Lance, our friend from the Alvord Desert, had helped plan for us. The scenery around Stanley, Idaho alone was worth the ride.
That night, we stopped in the small town of Salmon, Idaho to camp. We rode around town and found a spot by the river to set up the tent, ignoring the "no overnight camping" sign. After getting settled in, I walked to the nearest gas station for some drinks and snacks, while Paula stayed back at camp. Paula had struck up a conversation with a woman who was taking her young daughter on a walk along the river. The lady, whose name I have forgotten, gave us her number and address in case we had any problems with police that night.
The night passed without any run-ins with the local police. We packed up, went for breakfast, and made our way out of town. The plan for the day was to get to the edge of Yellowstone National Park. We rode into Montana - through Wisdom, south to Jackson, then east towards Wyoming. It was dusk by the time we arrived in West Yellowstone, the small tourist town at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Driving through town, we found a field between a McDonald's and two hotels that had a nice cover of pine trees where we knew we could safely camp for the night. We waited until it started to get dark so that we would not be easily seen, then headed into the centre of the field, behind tree cover, and set up camp for the night.
Paula and I packed up in the morning, went for breakfast, and headed into Yellowstone National Park. We purchased the $80 interagency pass, which would allow us both entrance to all the national parks and many other state parks for the period of one year. We spent the day riding from the west entrance of Yellowstone, down to the south end of the park and all the way up the east side. We visited Old Faithful, a huge geyser in the south end of the park, and saw many kinds of wildlife roaming freely. Yellowstone was just awesome!
I'm sure that we could have found a place to stealth camp that night inside Yellowstone, but Paula and I decided to head out the north exit to camp, as if the wildlife was somehow confined to the imaginary boundary surrounding Yellowstone. Leaving the park, we crossed from Wyoming into the small town of Gardiner, Montana. After grabbing a quick dinner at the Subway in town, we went through our usual routine of looking for a suitable place to camp. We rode up to the top of a large hill overlooking the town of Gardiner, and found a large, flat, open area that we thought would be good for the night. Upon pulling in, we saw a young couple, who appeared to be in their early twenties, gathering firewood into their truck. The girl and I acknowledged each other as we passed, when she warned me that she had seen bones with meat on them where she had been gathering wood. Despite the warning, it was getting too late and too dark to be looking for somewhere else to camp. I also thought that, if there were bones with meat on them off in the distance, there was no reason for bears to come near our tent.
Wearing a headlamp, I began to gather fire wood in the area while Paula set up camp. That night, we had our first campfire. I kept the flames going late into the evening. The wind picked up during the night, and, in the morning, there was a light layer of dust, ash and fine dirt that had blown in while we were asleep.
After packing up and grabbing some breakfast, we spent the day riding through Yellowstone, seeing some of the things that we hadn't seen the previous day. Ideally, we would have needed at least four full days in Yellowstone to see everything that we wanted to see, but we knew the weather would soon be turning cold and we needed to start heading south.
Getting late in the day, we raced towards Grand Teton National Park, arriving at the mountains just before sunset. We stopped to take some photos at a few spots along the way. Getting low on fuel, we needed to find a gas station to fill up. Heading south, we came to a tee in the road, and I checked the GPS for fuel stations. The nearest was 15km east. Our route headed west, but this was our only option. We rode towards the gas station and the sky got darker. After filling up, we had a quick look around the area and realized that there were no good spots to camp, so we decided to head into Jackson, Wyoming for the night, which was just under 60km away.
Being an area with a lot of wildlife that tends to venture out onto the roads at dusk, we rode cautiously towards Jackson in the dark behind the inadequate illumination of my front headlight. With the sun having set, the air got colder and my hands began to freeze. With stone-cold fingers, barely able to work the clutch, we arrived in Jackson, Wyoming to discover a really interesting country and western cowboy-themed town.
We were hungry, so we stopped at a (not so country and western) pizza parlour in the centre of town to eat. After polishing off a large deluxe pizza, Paula and I headed out into the residential part of town to try to find a place to camp. We found a public park and pulled in to check it out. The spot looked good. We checked for irrigation heads but were unable to see any, picked a spot, set up the tent, and settled in for the night. In the morning, we would be headed for Salt Lake City.
Kent and Paula in Boise, Idaho
One of my most beautiful victims. This one stayed on for almost 1,500km.
Heading into Stanley, Idaho
Somewhere in Montana
A heard of buffalo lounging in a field in Yellowstone
A field of grazing buffalo in Yellowstone National Park
Paula in Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces
The colours of Yellowstone
Steam from The Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park.
The Grand Prismatic Spring
The vivid colors in the spring are the result of pigmented archaea in the microbial mats that grow around the edges of the mineral-rich water (I stole this description from Wikipedia).
The sun setting behind the Grand Tetons
12-05-2011, 04:07 PM
12-05-2011, 04:18 PM
What an amazing adventure! Looking forward to reading more. Those images of Olympic National Park have officially put that as a destination on my map.
What an amazing adventure! Looking forward to reading more. Those images of Olympic National Park have officially put that as a destination on my map.
12-06-2011, 06:59 PM
Awesome pics. I can't help but wonder, what are you shooting with? I am particularly wondering about your fisheye/ultrawide setup. Nice work!! Love the HDR shots as well.
12-06-2011, 08:06 PM
Incredible photos. Thanks for taking the time to share your trip with us.
12-09-2011, 08:00 PM
Awesome pics. I can't help but wonder, what are you shooting with? I am particularly wondering about your fisheye/ultrawide setup. Nice work!! Love the HDR shots as well.
The big lens is a Canon 14mm, not a fish-eye. There is some distorsion, but it's not exactly a fish-eye. I also have the 24-105mm lens, and a cheap-o 50mm lens. My camera is the Canon 5D Mark II.
12-23-2011, 11:08 PM
Great adventure, I plan on watching this thread for a long time!! The photos are spectacular to say the least.
One Question: are you editing the photos in anyway, Just wondering?
12-26-2011, 05:32 PM
I use Aperture and Photoshop to edit the photos. I try to limit the editing because it just takes too much time.
Great adventure, I plan on watching this thread for a long time!! The photos are spectacular to say the least.
One Question: are you editing the photos in anyway, Just wondering?
12-26-2011, 05:35 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We pulled into Salt Lake City just as the sun was setting behind the mountains. The sky was glowing pink, peach, orange and yellow, creating one of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen. After grabbing a snack to eat, we rode around the city searching for a place to camp. Salt Lake has many large beautiful parks but, they were all well lit and difficult to hide a tent and motorcycle. As we rode up a large vacant street we noticed a car that ran out of gas, we pulled over to help push the vehicle and out of no where approximately ten strangers sprinted together from different directions to help as well. It was a sweet moment to have witnessed and a great reflection of this city’s kindness.
Before continuing our search, we stopped at the gas station to prevent from running out of gas as well. We met a drunken couple there who started a conversation with us and when we asked if they could recommend a secluded place where we could camp, they told us of a park located just minutes away. The park was very dark, surrounded by bushes and hidden in a valley between mountains. We decided to place our tent in the far end of the park, near the bushes and under a large tree. As I was setting up the tent, Rocky walked around with a flashlight to check out our surroundings.
Through out this journey, Rocky has been fearless, so I was very surprised when he called me over and I noticed he was frightened (he denies this). He asked if I could hear strange noises in the bushes and although I heard strange, growling, screeches, I wasn’t sure what I was listening to so I headed back to finish setting up the tent. When we began this trip, I had told Rocky that I wanted to purchase bear spray, a stun gun and a large sharp knife but he knew that I would only hurt myself while handling a weapon. After convincing me that a loud whistle would be the smartest and safest protection, every time I was frightened, I would sleep well while holding my whistle. As we sat in our tent that night and continued to hear creepy noises, I asked Rocky to pass me my whistle. His response was, “I don’t feel like looking for it right now. Besides, that whistle won’t do **** for you.” The following morning, when he admitted to having nightmares, I couldn’t help but grin vengefully.
After packing up the bike and having a bite to eat, we arranged to meet Jill from www.couchsurfing.org. She was very soft spoken and polite but also really sweet for letting us stay with her at the last minute. It would have been nice to have gotten to know her better but she had previously made plans and was only able to talk for a few minutes. There was a beautiful large trailer parked in her driveway and she welcomed us to stay for as long as we needed. Although Rocky and I love hanging out with new people (because we are usually only around one another) it felt great being able to relax by ourselves in a place that felt our own. We picked up some Chinese food and beer, and while we were enjoying eating and drinking, I began to notice my surroundings and wondered if Jill had a ‘thing’ for Santa Clause. There were many pictures, CDs, DVDs and books about Christmas and Santa everywhere. The next morning, as we were packing, there was a knock at the door and everything began to make sense. Santa was outside the door and he introduced himself as Jill’s husband, Bill. He explained to us that he is a professional Santa and he uses the trailer as his change room/workshop. Bill was a very jolly man and he seemed to be just as kind as Jill. He invited us to stay longer but we were packing up and getting ready to meet up with Brian.
Rocky met Brian on www.Advrider.com and he had asked us to stay with him and his family while riding through Utah. He owns a KLR and rode to meet with us at the Wasatch National Forest entrance. It was a scenic ride through the mountains and past Sundance before reaching Provo, Utah. As we neared Brian’s home, we stopped at the grocery store and offered to pick up a bottle of wine to go with dinner but we were given the impression that it wouldn’t be a good idea. I felt it was strange and I wondered if Brian was either a recovering alcoholic or a Mormon. Seconds later, we stopped at a street light and Brian pointed to a statue of a golden angel holding a trumpet. He told us that the trumpet would sound when Jesus arrived, Brian was definitely a Mormon.
We got to his home and met his lovely wife and children. Janene was very quiet and shy but that didn’t last long. She was funny, personable and prepared a delicious meal. For dessert, Janene offered us some green jello made with carrot shavings and told us that our experience in Provo, Utah wouldn’t be complete without it. I didnt understand why, but she informed me that it was a Mormon joke and google informed me that it was a popular Mormon snack. I was surprised that it actually tasted good. Their children Layton and Liam were well behaved and very cute. I was amazed that at the age of 2, Liam was not only able to run very fast but he also had a natural ability to climb high and quickly. I predict that he will be a mountaineer when he grows up. The next morning, just as we finished packing up our things, Janene showed up with a key lime pie and lit candles to surprise Rocky for his birthday. It was extremely sweet and it made Rocky blush.
Back on the road, we headed towards Moab. It was nice to watch the landscape change drastically. As we finally arrived, there were dirt bikes, motorcycles, climbing gear and hiking boots everywhere, it became obvious that Moab was an active city. Our first night there, we camped in a field beside a motel. After packing up the bike in the morning, we decided to ride through Arches National Park. I really liked it there, the earth was decorated in the most beautiful red coloured sand and rock. There was a lot to see and we quickly discovered that we would have to return the following day to do some hiking.
Later that night, we met up with Chris, who we contacted on www.couchsurfing.org. He had just gotten off of a long shift at work and we were offered home made beer as soon as we got comfortable. Since it was Rocky’s birthday, it was nice to cheers with beer that put most brands to shame. I really liked Chris, he was a nice guy and he had a lot of information to share. It surprised me that he wasn’t a park ranger.
Early the next morning, Chris went back to work and Rocky and I were awoken by roosters crowing. Excited to explore, we rode through Canyon Lands national park and with all the gear off the bike and we took Potash road down into the canyon. The road was dirt, narrow and steep but the view was incredibly stunning. I’m afraid of heights and, at times, I feared the depth of the canyon, but I was mostly afraid when Rocky admitted that the back brakes had failed. He tried to reassure me that his front brakes still functioned, but being on a narrow, bumpy, dirt road without back brakes made me feel a bit uneasy.
As we continued riding, I got flash backs of watching cartoons as a child. I kept noticing the same type of bird running past so quickly that I could barely see its feet, but there was no coyote in sight. I always wanted the Wile E. Coyote to catch Road Runner but I now understand why it wasn’t possible, Road Runners are fast!
We continued on Potash until we reached a paved road, with centuries-old petroglyphs carved into the cliffs by Native Americans. We returned to Arches National Park, but this time, we wanted to hike through the canyons. What a great way to spend a day!
Since we hadn’t properly celebrated Rocky’s birthday yet, I took him out for dinner where we both tried Buffalo, Elk and Boar. It was all very tasty but I liked Elk the least. After our meal, we went back to Chris’s and he had just arrived from work. He poured us some shots of the best whiskey we have ever tasted and showed me some pictures after Rocky passed out. After packing up the next morning, Rocky and I took Chris out for sushi before having to say goodbye. I highly recommend visiting Moab, meeting Chris and eating at Sabaku Sushi.
12-26-2011, 05:35 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/rocky_avatar1-36x36.jpg The night in Jackson, Wyoming was a cold one. We were awoken before sunrise to the sound of water splashing against the outside of our tent. It sounded like the sprinklers of the irrigation system we must have missed it in the dark the night before. We had to wait until the sprinklers stopped before we could leave the tent. Luckily, the sprinkler head closest to our tent was just outside our gear shed vestibule. If we had placed the tent a six inches to the left, the sprinkler head would have been inside the gear shed and we would have had a wet morning. It was a close call.
The sun rose above the trees and melted the frost covering the motorcycle. We loaded up the gear and decided to go for breakfast. We had met some local kids the night before in the park who were drunk and climbing on the outdoor climbing wall. They had recommended a breakfast burrito place in town, so we decided to check it out.
After polishing off the burrito and making a stop at McDonald's to use the internet, we hopped on the bike and made the, roughly, 450 km journey towards Salt Lake City, Utah. The weather was warm and sunny. The riding was steady and we were able to make good time. The sun neared the horizon when we were still about an our away from Salt Lake City. We rode the final 75km in into the city under a quickly darkening sky.
Paula, Almeida and I arrived in Salt Lake City about an hour after the sun had set. We rode in on the i80, westward over a hill that gave us a amazing view of the city lights and a dark red glow on the horizon. Salt Lake City look enormous.
Without a place to stay, we decided to look for an internet connection so that we could plan our night in the city. After spotting a few place on Google maps, we decided to head out and find a place to sleep.
Riding around town looking for a place to camp proved to be quite difficult. We rode around the city for over an hour looking for a place to set up the tent. The public parks in Salt Lake City all seemed to be too well lit for stealth camping. After visiting two major city parks, we decided to head up to the University of Utah to see if we could camp there. On our way there, we saw a car stalled on a hill. I pulled over to the side of the road and ran over to try to help push. At the same time, a group of university-aged kids ran over to help push as well. The driver of the vehicle had run out of gas.
Unable to find a decent camping spot on the university campus, we set off to find a gas station since the fuel light had been on for quite a number of kilometers.
While fuelling up, we drew the attention of a middle-aged couple who appeared to be quite drunk. They approached us and asked us about our trip, and we told them that we were looking for a place to camp for the night. They recommended a place not too far away from where we were that was secluded. We thanked them and followed their directions to what is know as "dog park". The park, situated at the base of steep hills that were surrounded by apartment buildings, was dark and quite secluded. Paula and I both heard eerie sounds coming from the darkness of the trees that we both had nightmares about that evening.
In the morning, we packed up and went for breakfast. We spent the day hanging out, working on photos and the blog, and trying to find a place to couch surf for a night or two. Paula made contact with a lady, named Jill, in a suburb of Salt Lake who offered her camper for us to sleep in. We arrived at Jill's place just after 5pm, met her and her niece, and settled into the camper for the night.
That night, I was contacted by a guy named Brian, who was also a member of the motorcycle message board, advrider.com. He live in Provo, Utah, and had offered us a place to stay for a night. We planned to meet him the following day for a ride through Wasatch Mountain State Park and into Provo.
We left Salt Lake City the next day in mid-afternoon, and met Brian the at the entrance to the park. All three of us rode through the mountain pass and over the other side, through Sundance and into Provo. Brian made a quick stop at the store to pick up some things for dinner. We asked if he'd like us to pick up a bottle of wine, but he said that might not be a good idea since they did not drink. Paula and I were beginning to wonder if Brian and his wife were religious, not knowing, at the time, that Provo, Utah is the Mormon capital of the universe. We came to a stop light on the way to Brian's home and Brian pointed out Bringham Young University and the trumpet-blowing angel. We immediately knew he was a Mormon. We had been warned by a few people to watch out for the Mormons. We didn't understand the reason for the warning, but I thought that this would be an interesting experience.
We arrived at Brian's and met his wife, Janene, and his two young children. Janene cooked us a great chicken dinner, with Jello and carrots for desert - a Mormon tradition. We all talked for a while after dinner. Brian asked Paula and I what religion we belonged to - Christian or Catholic. I responded by saying , "to be honest - I'm an atheist." Brian's face turned beat red, which I assumed was the embarrassment of bringing a non-believer into his home. I asked Brian and Janene about Mormonism. They said that they'd answer any questions that we had, but he seemed not to want to get into a religious discussion.
We awoke the next day, showered and started to pack up the bike for the ride to Moab, Utah. Janene was at work and, while we were loading up the bike, Paula and I got into a religious discussion with Brian. The conversation, as ones such as these so often do, snowballed and became quite intense. Put an Atheist and a Mormon together for long enough and a spirited discussion about religion is almost inevitable. Besides, I trip through the Mormon Corridor would not be complete without a good religious debate.
Janene returned home from work and surprised me with a lemon pie with some candles on top. It was my birthday, which both Brian and Janene had know, but this took me completely by surprise. I was a bit embarrassed being the center of such unexpected attention, and my face went as red as Brian's had been the night before.
After finishing off a piece of pie each, Paula and I had to get going if we wanted to make it to Moab before dark. We said goodbye to Brian and his family, and set off for Moab. Despite our philosophical disagreements, Brian and I got along quite well. Brian is a great guy with a kind and wonderful family.
It was dusk by the time we made it to Moab. We took a quick look around for a place to camp, and went to look for an internet connection. We wanted to wait until it was a bit darker to set up camp. After dark, we set out and found a spot in a large field near a hotel, and, after setting up camp, we settled in for the night.
We packed up in the morning and, after a quick Subway breakfast, Paula, Almeida and I headed out to spend the day exploring Arches National Park. We visited many of park's attraction, which took the major part of the day. Just before sundown, we head back in town to use the internet to try to find a couch to surf for a few nights. Paula contacted a guy named Chris, who said that he'd meet us after he got off work. We met Chris late in the evening outside of a grocery store in the center of Moab. Paula rode with Chris and I followed them back to his place. Chris is a really cool guy who works as a radio show host and waiter. We all hung out, had a few drinks and were later joined by another couch surfer who was a traveling musician.
Paula and I spent the next day riding around Canyonlands National Park. We arrived shortly after noon and decided that we'd ride along Potash Road. We took the route that lead along the edge of the canyon and rode down a switch-back that descended into the canyon. Halfway down, Almeida's rear brake completely failed, leaving me only with front braking power. After safely making our way to the bottom of the canyon, I allowed the bike to rest. I assumed that the heavy use of the brakes had caused the fluid to overheat and fail. It was a good opportunity to take a few photos, and, after a short cool-off period, the rear brake seemed to return to normal. Potash Road is an unpaved dirt and rock road that cuts through the canyon and leads back towards Moab.
Having not had the time for the hike to Delicate Arch the previous day, Paula and I decided to return to Arches National Park. The walk from the parking lot to the arch took almost an hour. We took some photos and hung out around the arch for a while. With very little daylight left, we decided to return to the bike and head for dinner.
We rode to the exit of the park and headed back into Moab where we spotted a steakhouse on the outskirts of the town. Since we hadn't had time the previous day, Paula wanted to take me out for a birthday dinner. I was craving a steak, but, wanting to stay on budget, I decided to opt for a more affordable meal. Paula and I finished up dinner, and we arrived back at Chris' place just after 9pm. I was exhausted and decided to hit the sack. Paula stayed up with Chris' for a while, hanging out and talking before heading to bed.
We packed up our gear in the morning, and rode into town with Chris for lunch. There was a good sushi restaurant in town, and, having been a while since we last had one of our favourite meals, we decided to check it out. Chris' friends were the chefs, and they prepared a great selection of dishes for us.
We left Moab shortly after noon. The sun was shining and the air was warm, but the bright, blue skies eventually turned dark and cloudy. The ride ahead into Colorado looked like it would be a wet one.
Paula in Arches National Park
Paula's model shot next to a large, stone phallus.
The entrance to Sand Dune Arch in Arches National Park - Moab, Utah
Pine Tree Arch in Arches National Park
Leaving Arches National Park
A balancing rock in Canyonlands National Park
After our rear brake completely failed as we descended into the canyon, we eventually made out way down to this road.
Canyonlands National Park near Moab, Utah
Paula, standing next to a huge rock at the base of the canyon in Canyonlands National Park.
Delicate Arch - Arches National Park
Paula at Delicate Arch in Arches National Park
Paula with our couchsurfing host, Chris, in Moab, Utah
03-06-2012, 11:00 PM
BUMP....we need an update! :)
03-10-2012, 07:35 PM
I have been wondering when we would get an update i hope they are ok.
03-10-2012, 08:14 PM
Sorry for not updating.
Paula and I were involved in an accident in El Salvador on January 7th. I made the stupid decision to pass a slow-moving vehicle on the shoulder that suddenly pulled off the side of the road, knocking us into a sewage ditch. Paula and I were both completely unharmed, but the bike suffered quite a bit of damage. The front wheel was totaled, and the frame was cracked at the steering head:
Paula and I decided to fly home to work and make more money so that we could rebuild the bike and continue the trip. I've been back at my engineering job, and Paula is looking for work.
We've been dealing with the nightmare of getting the motorcycle back into Canada. The incompetent shipping company that we went with has had the bike sitting in their warehouse for the past 8 weeks. We've had to take to getting the El Salvadorian Embassy, in Toronto, involved. Since we did, things seemed to be moving along, and we hope that the bike will ship soon. After it ships, it will still take over 30 days to arrive back in Canada since it will be shipping by sea.
We're going to try to make some time to update our blog from where we left off until now.
Our plan is to, once the bike finally arrives back, rebuild the motorcycle, regroup, and head out back on our trip in September or October.
03-10-2012, 10:19 PM
That's a bummer. Really sorry to see you've to put a pause in your adventure, but I'm sure it's just a temporary setback. I'm looking forward to the updates when your back in the saddle so to speak.
03-10-2012, 11:03 PM
Very glad you weren't hurt. Looking forward to you starting again.
03-21-2012, 06:50 PM
If yinz come through Pittsburgh I got a couple places you would love to see. Let me know.
03-21-2012, 07:08 PM
Holy crap. Glad you guys are OK!
As much as I hate to say it, I would probably recommend parting the bike out and buying a new one. Repairing that would require a new frame from the looks of it.
03-30-2012, 10:47 PM
OMG. So sorry for the accident and glad that you kids are okay.
03-31-2012, 02:36 AM
Our plan is to, once the bike finally arrives back, rebuild the motorcycle, regroup, and head out back on our trip in September or October.
What a shame!
At least you have the right attitude though, way to get back on that horse and ride! We'll be rooting for a speedy return :)
04-08-2012, 10:47 AM
Sorry to hear this - man, that is not merely a cracked headstock weld (terminal at the best of times), that is a completely separated headstock weld. The fact that you walked away from hitting something with that much force is astounding and fortuitous, and no doubt helped by much skill. I wish you all the best with getting everything back on track. I was just popping in to see how you were going as the title has been bouncing around in the mush at the back of my head for months and I finally realised that it is a quote from Tolkein. Surely something can be interpreted from the last lines for your current situation...
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be bike that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
05-08-2012, 04:33 AM
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be bike that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Awesome! I think I need to borrow that for our website.
A number of people have suggested welding the frame, but I also doubted that would be a good idea. I can get a brand new frame for $1,200, and I have an offer for some used forks off an '06 950 for about $800. I'll also need a new wheel and a few plastic body pieces.
After almost 4 months of dealing with the shipping agent, we finally received the bike back in Canada last week. We had to get the El Salvadorian Embassy, in Toronto, involved back in February in order to get things moving. We had an offer from a local dual sport shop (who were following our blog) for some shop space to fix the bike and have access to their mechanic. I'm currently in the process of organizing and order of parts, and we hope to start working on the bike soon. If all goes according to plan, we should be back on the road by September.
05-08-2012, 12:16 PM
Great to hear things are coming together for you finally. Before you know it, you'll be back on the road and pass this side adventure.
05-08-2012, 06:55 PM
If I may make a suggestion, contact Woody about picking up a new wheel. He will set you up right!
05-09-2012, 12:35 AM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg The weather was warm when we had left Moab, Utah, but it got much cooler as we entered into Colorado. It was a drastic change leaving the dry, sandy bedrock for dense fields and valleys that looked painted with autumn colors. The mountains were gorgeous with beautiful red peaks and there were areas where the soil was such a deep yellow that small rivers looked like they were flowing with liquid gold. As we rode through many switchbacks and gawked at USA s little Switzerland, I was afraid that Rocky was paying more attention to the scenery than the road because the view was truly captivating.
Darkness approached quickly as the sun set behind the tall mountains but we continued to ride so that we could escape the bitter cold of the high altitude. Once we reached Durango, Colorado, we stopped at McDonald’s to warm ourselves with a hot cup of coffee and to use their notoriously ****ty free Internet to search for a public park. We rode up to what seemed to be a perfect spot to set up our tent and I immediately recognized the soft plush grass to be a sign of an irrigation system. I spent a few minutes crawled on all fours feeling for sprinklers but I wasn’t able to find any. Tired and anxious to relax , we unpacked and just as we finally got comfy the damn sprinklers turned on. I panicked at first because we were being sprayed from every direction but luckily none were spraying in our tent. Just as we had mentioned our luck, the cops arrived. It was awkward timing and I wanted to pretend I couldn’t hear him over the sound of splashing but his lights were blinding me. I needed perfect timing as I ran out of the tent to avoid getting soaked and I hoped that that was enough reason for him to allow us to stay. He asked what we were doing and he told me we would have to leave, especially since the motorcycle was prohibited from being in the park. Exhausted and irritated I had no other choice than to batt my eyelashes as I told him about our trip and explained that it was too cold, wet and dark to continue riding. My lady skills worked and he kindly gave us permission to stay for the night.
Early the next morning it was interesting to wake up to an old fashioned coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive filled with passengers as it choo-choo’d by. The park was busy with people starring at us as they jogged past and I was confused when an older man tried handing me ten dollars for breakfast. Minutes later the police showed up again but it didn’t matter what they had to say because we were leaving anyway.
After we packed up, and went to subway for breakfast, it began to rain. We decided to hang out there until the sky cleared but it only began raining harder. Shortly after arriving, the manager stopped to talk to us, he noticed the motorcycle fully loaded and was curious of our travels. We had asked if he minded us hanging out there to use the Internet as we searched for a place to go and he told us to stay as long as we needed. Hours later and with no luck couch surfing, the manager approached us and said that he had phoned his wife and got her approval to invite us to stay with his family for the night. We were very surprised and obviously happy. When we arrived at Mikes house, we were introduced to his wife Stephanie, their son Davis and daughter Stevi, they immediately made us feel very comfortable and welcomed. After a cold rainy day it felt great to have a hot shower and a bowl of stew for dinner. Mike and Stephanie were a very funny, charming couple, and their kids were extra cute. While Mike and Rocky talked about what routes we should take, I got to relax while Stevi played the piano for me. I really enjoyed hanging out with this family and I especially liked the gift and note that Stevi and Davis had made for us. It felt great to spend the night in such a comfortable environment.
The following morning we were well rested and ready to visit Mesa Verde National Park. The area features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people (sometimes called the Anasazi), and is best known for cliff dwellings, which are structures built within caves and under outcropping in cliffs. It was beautifully well preserved, and before I nearly squashed a tarantula as I was walking, I imagined that it could have been a fantastic place to live. I am not a fan of spiders, I am petrified actually but as soon as I noticed this one, I couldn’t help but stare at it for a few seconds, it was huge. As I was admiring it, a girl, maybe 7 years old, was running backwards laughing and singing. She wasn’t paying attention to where she was stepping and as she came awfully close. I had to stop her and warn her to be careful not step on the spider. She starred at me with a very bratty expression on her face, she was probably wondering what kind of person goes out of their way to protect a spider from getting stepped on. I pointed to the tarantula for her to see it and her reaction was priceless as she screamed in horror and cried hysterically. Maybe I’m mean, but I laughed about it most of the ride back into Utah.
The beautiful colours of The Colorado Rockies
Up in the mountains near Ouray, Colorado
Crystal Lake, up in The Colorado Rockies
Davis, Mike, Stephanie, Stevi and Paula
Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
The cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde
An underground room in Mesa Verde
05-09-2012, 01:20 AM
where are you guys right now?.. let me know if you plan to pass by Venezuela.. i can help you to find people that can show you around so nothing happens to you guys...!
a little recomendation, try putting the date when the pictures where taken / or the dates when you visited the places you are showing...!
05-09-2012, 01:55 AM
We're back in Canada due to an accident in El Salvador. We're working on rebuilding the motorcycle and we hope to continue our trip this fall.
I started (with the last post - Colorado) putting dates because we are way behind in our blog. Look at the top of each new post, and it should have the dates covered in that post.
05-11-2012, 05:31 PM
Great shot from inside the underground kiva, all of our pictures in that room turned out like crap! Glad to hear you guys are going to get back on that horse in 6 months...
05-13-2012, 02:54 PM
I'm going to be passing through Hamilton around the 20th this month on my way to Toronto. I'm working with BRP on the Canam Spyder tour and we have events in Cayuga then GTA. (in GTA from the 23rd to the 28th) If you are free I would love to meet you and marvel at your adventure. You have inspired me to look at this type of adventure in the future. Mr McGregor's and Mr. Boorman's little video's did not help this effort in anyway either!! haha!!
05-14-2012, 10:15 PM
It would be great to meet you. Paula and I should be in around. We're not sure if we're going anywhere for the long weekend or not, but PM me and I'll give you Paula's cell phone number (I canceled mine when we left Canada and haven't signed a new contract).
I'm going to be passing through Hamilton around the 20th this month on my way to Toronto. I'm working with BRP on the Canam Spyder tour and we have events in Cayuga then GTA. (in GTA from the 23rd to the 28th) If you are free I would love to meet you and marvel at your adventure. You have inspired me to look at this type of adventure in the future. Mr McGregor's and Mr. Boorman's little video's did not help this effort in anyway either!! haha!!
05-15-2012, 10:06 AM
Just reading up on this post. Great to read about other fellow Canadians and their travels. Sorry to hear about the accident but metal and plastic can be purchased, life and limb can't. Keep working towards your goal.
07-10-2012, 01:50 PM
How is the bike rebuild coming along?
07-30-2012, 02:47 PM
How is the bike rebuild coming along?
The bike building has been stalled for quite some time. After waiting over four months to receive the bike back in Canada, I finally started ordering parts.
I ordered a frame from "twowheelpros" over two months ago. It's been more like twoewheelzeros.
I placed the order with them and I asked if my original VIN needed to be cut from the original frame and sent in to KTM (since this is what every other vendor had told me). They said it wasn't necessary. I asked if they were sure, and I was told that they dealt with a KTM sales rep directly and that they'd never heard of this notion before. I asked for a shipping address just in case the VIN did have to be sent in. I was told that it wouldn't, and not to listen to whomever told me that. "KTM has no such requirement."
Two weeks went by and no word on the frame, so I called in. I was told that the frame was in transit from KTM via freight. I asked for some sort of confirmation or tracking number. I was told that there is no tracking of freight shipment.
Three more weeks went by (five weeks total), and I heard nothing. I called and emailed again, and I was told that, oh, I was completely correct. I needed to cut the VIN from the original frame before KTM could issue a new frame with the same VIN. Why was I told that the frame had shipped on several occasions?
It's now been 9 weeks and still no frame. Two weeks ago this Thursday, I was told that the frame should be arriving in two weeks tops, most likely before. I'm not confident that it will get here by Thursday.
Paula and I have decided that it's not practical to head out again this year. We will likely be setting off again by next summer, this time possibly over to Iceland and the rest of Europe and parts of the Middle East.
We've both been pretty busy working. Paula has gotten a new job and I've been at my old engineering job. We've also moved into a place together since living with our families was driving us crazy. Having the winter to work on the bike, save some money and plan the next part of our trip might be a OK idea.
We're doing a terrible job of it, but we're going to try to keep working on our blog. I'll post pics of the bike tear-down soon, too.
08-13-2012, 11:30 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We pulled off to the side of the road where we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere yet in the center of it all and decided it was the perfect place to stay for the night. The scenery was incredibly wondrous and definitely the most memorable place I have ever awoken to. Utah is impressive! Different than what I’m used to seeing, it displays imposing mountains and flat-layered plateaus brightly coloured red, orange, peach and beige sandstone, sculptured from an ongoing process of wind and water. With over two billion years of accumulated rock, climate and erosion have exposed an extraordinary diversity of geologic structures with little vegetation. It was no surprise that the area was named Valley of The Gods.*We awoke, packed up camp early and spent a long moment staring into the calm distance that surrounded us before stopping by Monument Valley for a few pictures.
All I could think of on our way to Lake Powell was the grumbling of my empty belly. Even though there was nothing in sight to eat except for some shrubs, I was tempted to cook one up and sprinkle it with salt. Once we arrived to Lake Powell we had planned on taking the Ferry across but we missed the chance and the next Ferry crossing wasn’t until the following morning. Starving, there were no restaurants, just a convenient store. It was shortly after 5pm and luckily we walked through the door just before it was locked for the night. It was a tiny room with only a few brands of chocolate bars, a couple of cans of beans and few bags of potato chips. We bought what seemed like half of the store and sat at a picnic table as I attempted to cook the beans on our camping stove.
I love to cook but since being on this trip I have had the opportunity to do so only sometimes while couch surfing. Otherwise, we are eating a $5 foot long from subway because it’s affordable and somewhat healthy. Dinner was made! Cool Ranch Doritos, Pork and Beans with a Snickers bar for dessert and Ginger ale to drink. It was gross but I appreciated something other than Subway. Once we were done eating we began to unpack and prepared to set up the tent. Since there was nowhere to really hide, we had no choice but to be exposed. A man walked over to us and then explained that we would be fined if the park ranger caught us, he told us that he was in charge of a nearby camp site and invited us to stay there for free. We obviously agreed and were thankful to sleep in a great location that overlooked the lake.
Lake Powell is a very pretty, large lake but the short ferry ride across it made it seem much smaller. As soon as we were on the other side, we began our day with a delicious breakfast omelette, I was very pleased to eat something wholesome. We traveled on a gravel road named The Bird Trail for some time until we reached a paved road. I remember being surrounded by smooth stoned mountains but as we slightly rode higher in altitude, the sky suddenly opened up and both sides of the narrow road dropped down significantly shocking us with an intense change of scenery. It was simply beautiful. As we continued, we expressed to each other how wonderful it would be to have a nice cup of coffee but knew that we wouldn’t be approaching a busy area for a while. Or not. Out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere was a Kiva Koffee house overlooking the entire area. Sweet! We stopped to enjoy the scenery and our yummy cup of ridiculously-priced coffee.
After a nice short rest we continued riding and just as I thought to myself that Utah couldn’t possibly be any prettier, we arrived at Bryce Canyon. I was speechless as my jaw hit the ground. The scenery was incredible, oddly, the only thing my mind could think of that related to what I was looking at was Orange Creamsicles. We took a long hike through the slot canyons and then rode through the park to visit other areas but it became extremely cold and there was snow, clearly a sign that we should make our way south towards Arizona.
I had contacted a family in Colorado City at the Utah/Arizona state line and they welcomed us into their home. As we approached the city, Rocky suggested that we take a shortcut through some back roads and mentioned that we were running low on gas. We eventually found ourselves on a dirt path encompassed by beautiful pink sand dunes. It was slippery and unstable to ride on and I began to fear that we would crash and/or run out of gas. Of course, Rocky was much more confident than I.
Finally arriving, Colorado City seemed unfinished. There were only a few paved roads and houses were partially built. We found Lori’s house and once we met she explained that her husband and daughter were currently away but we were introduced to most of her eight sweet children named Kimmy, Jasper, Jamie, Alma, Rosa, Vera, Charles and Carol. Immediately upon getting there we were offered a bite to eat and a hot shower. While I was washing up, Rocky hung out with Carol while Lori left to drive one of her other daughters to a party. I walked in to Rocky and Carol’s conversation as Carol was describing life in Colorado City. We listened ignorantly, about the history of polygamy and were surprised to discover that Warren Jeff’s compound was located in their neighbourhood.
For those who don’t know of Warren Jeff’s, it is rumoured that he had 70 wives and he 31 daughters. He belonged to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and held the official title in the FLDS Church as the “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator”. Not only does he believe that a*devoted church member is to have at least three wives in order to get into heaven, and the more wives a man has, the closer he is to heaven but he was*the sole individual in the church who possessed the authority to perform its marriages and was responsible for assigning wives to husbands. Jeff’s also held the authority to discipline wayward male believers by reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man. Personally, if I had many children to care for, I would definitely consider one or maybe even a few wives, but to have to ask for permission from anyone other than my husband, is redonkulous.
The next morning, we were spoiled with a delicious breakfast before going to Zion national park. For many reasons, I wish I had spent more time with Lori and her family. It would have been interesting to know how she manages being such a positive, spiritual mother, living in the midst of a complicated community. With such a large family, it was nice to spend time in a home that was filled with a lot of heart and bright personalities.
Zion National Park was a lot of fun. We were able to ride through parts of it on the motorcycle, that took us through tunnels inside of a mountain but there was also a shuttle bus that took us to some walking trails where we were able to hike through one of nature’s finest sceneries. After a long day of site seeing, we got back on the road and witnessed a perfect sunset as we approached Page, Arizona. Hungry, we pulled up to a McDonald’s because it bribes us with free Internet. A guy named Rex noticed us with the bike and had begun a conversation with Rocky. He mentioned that he was picking up his girlfriend Kayla, she worked there at McDonald’s. Rex later described himself to us as “hillbilly”, I disagree, Rex looked BADASS. He resembled a typical biker with his shaved head, goatee, crocked nose and many tattoos. But then again what does a biker look like? Me? After exchanging many words, he invited us to pitch our tent at the trailer park where they lived, we gratefully accepted. A while later, we met them there and, after preparing for our night stay, we were invited into their trailer for some laughs.
Somewhere along our travels, we were thoughtfully handed a nice bag of herbs, so I asked if it was OK to share. Seconds later, we smoke filled the trailer with a lovely scent. Many people would probably shy away from the looks of Rex and his extremely obedient Pit Bull. And, they probably would have run when he grabbed for his gun that was resting beside me. But I was only afraid for a second because I was high. I quickly came to my senses and knew that he just wanted to put it in a safe place. Rex, his dog and his sweet girlfriend, Kayla, were really kind, friendly and interesting. We had a great night getting to know and laughing with them. After a short sleep, we packed up and said our goodbyes.
Our plan was to spend the day at Antelope Canyon. We had seen pictures of it on the Internet and were excited to visit. Antelope canyon is on native land belonging to The Navajo Nation. It was formed by erosion primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to rainwater, especially during monsoon season. Although, rain does not even have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away ‘upstream’ of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic “flowing” shapes in the rock. It was definitely worth visiting but I was a little annoyed when we first arrived. We rode down a driveway that led us to a hut where we were asked for $6 admission each before entering. We were given tickets and once parked, we walked towards the crowd of people on the other side of the field. We were than told that we were not allowed to go without a tour guide and that would cost us an additional $25 each (if we changed our mind, the $6 admission we each paid would NOT be reimbursed). It was worth seeing, yes, but very deceiving to not be forewarned that we would be paying over $60 between the both of us. I thought it was ridiculously priced, especially after paying approximately $100 for us both to enter into all of the national parks in the US for the entire year.
After a couple of hours and many pictures, we left Antelope Canyon and tried to make it to our next destination before the sun set. We were planning to visit a high school friend who had moved to Flagstaff, Arizona a few years back. It had been a beautiful warm day but by the time we reached Flagstaff, the sun quickly hid behind the large, gorgeous mountains and left our bones chilled with the night’s air and high altitude. Ok, chilled isn’t the proper word, I was frozen and my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I hate not being prepared for climate change, had it been a bit cooler during the day in Page, Arizona, I would have worn the liners in my Rev-it gear because they work great to keep me warm. However, I was wearing my rev-it gloves and if I haven’t mentioned before, they suck! Rev-it *H20 claim to be waterproof no matter what the weather, they lie. They are constantly cold and wet (soaking wet) from either sweat or weather and they take days to dry. I love Rev-it gear but paying almost $200 for them is a rip off. Just saying.
09-15-2012, 11:32 PM
The sun had retreated for the night leaving none of its warmth behind. When we arrived at Rob and Christina’s doorstep, we were immediately welcomed to sit by the fireplace to thaw our bodies from the chill we had just endured during our ride there. Brrr. I was frozen cold and extremely happy that we wouldn’t have to set up the tent in Flagstaff, Arizona that night. Although camping is a lot of fun, I was looking forward to sleeping on a bed and relaxing at Rob and Christina’s for the week. It seemed that I had finally gotten used to being on the road, it took a long time to find comfort with all of the change I had gone through but I also felt as though I was ready to take a moment away from traveling to enjoy a nice vacation.
Christina and Rob lived in a large home that was shared with roommates mike and Martin, and a miniature Doberman named Pony-Boy. It was a home filled with active athletes who were either competing for the Olympics, running races, finishing marathons or simply leading an active healthy life style. Rocky and Rob were close friends from high school and that is how I first knew Robbie, more than 15 years ago. I remember him from track and field but I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him. That didn’t matter though, because the moment I walked through his door I was treated life a life long friend.
I could compare staying with Rob and Christina to the best resort in the world but it was better. It all began with simple things such as labels left throughout the house to guide us to anything we may need. There was a constant supply of delicious wheat beer that became my favorite kind, and a fridge filled with yumminess. They were vegetarian and all of their produce was organic or picked from their garden. Christina was such an incredible cook and was constantly preparing the most amazing meals and desserts. Mmm Christina’s homemade peanut butter ice cream will forever remain on my mind. I probably put on a few pounds during our visit. I always imagined that meat was a necessary part of a meal but heck no, I was wrong. She had so many ideas of how to prepare vegetables that I now believe that I am a carnivore only for selfish reasons.
Our first few days there were spent repairing the bike. She was in need of an oil change and valve clearance check. Rocky does most of the work but I’m a fine little helper. It was also a good time to wash our riding gear. It reeked and was covered in dead bugs. I regret buying the grey Rev’It! gear instead of the black because it looks filthy quickly.
Flagstaff is a great place and I can certainly understand why Rob had moved there. It was surrounded by mountains and an active community. Rocky and I went riding through some trails that lead us to ski lifts where we took a long peak at our surroundings from the top of a mountain. Being on this adventure and constantly on the go is great but taking a moment to stop and stare at the beauty of this planet is the most rewarding gift that I could offer my soul.
Mid week into our visit, Rocky and I were invited on a hike that would lead us to a cliff edge. The plan was to go rock climbing. I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated. I am so scared of heights that climbing stairs is a challenge for me. We put on some climbing shoes, harnessed ourselves and I took a long minute to gather my thoughts to conquer my fear. Rob went first so that he could hook up the ropes to support us, he made it look effortless. Christina went next and easily climbed the 90 feet to the top. I began to feel more comfortable. When it was my turn to go, I caked my hands with talc to absorb all the sweat and I began climbing. I concentrated on either looking up, forward or at my next move but I knew not to look down. I caught myself repeating the thought in my mind ‘don’t look down, you’re almost there, whatever you do, don’t look down!’. Almost half way to the top my little chicken arms were burning and I began to struggle with my next move. Flexibility was key because there wasn’t anything close to latch on to. I could hear everyone trying to help me from the bottom but I was unable to make sense of the direction. I looked down to read Christina’s lips as she tried to direct and encourage me… Oh ****! I looked down! Suddenly my knees began to convulse and my heart began to race. If nobody stood beneath me I would’ve peed my pants. I was petrified. It took what seemed like a lifetime to regain a normal breathing pattern and calm my heart back into my chest. It took a lot to convince myself that I was going to be fine and I finally mustered up the confidence to stretch my leg up and wide to pull myself high enough to reach my arm. I did it! Holy sheep ****, I actually did it and the relief brought me to the top with a better sense of confidence. I was proud to have climbed a 90-foot cliff and happy to have conquered my fear, even though I am still afraid of heights!
A couple of days later, Rob planned a fishing trip with us and his friend, Stephan. We packed a lunch and headed a couple of hours away towards the Colorado River. I had never been fly-fishing and assumed that it meant catching fish with actual flies. I was wrong. In fly-fishing, fish are caught by using artificial flies that are cast with a fly rod and a fly line. The fly line is heavy enough to send the fly to the target. The main difference between fly fishing and spin or bait fishing is that in fly fishing the weight of the line carries the hook through the air, whereas in spin and bait fishing the weight of the lure or sinker at the end of the monofilament or braided line gives casting distance (did that make any sense? If not, blame Wikipedia). I put on a waterproof pair of pants that covered my toes and came up to my chest that were held up by suspenders and put on boats that were wore over it. I looked extra sexy. I walked in slow motion through thick mud that pulled me into the earth and carefully walked out into the middle of the river. It was fun as I walked over slippery rocks with the river rushing past my legs as I tried to keep my balance while holding on to my fishing rod. Once I reached the center of the river, I cast my rod far through the air. Apparently, I was good at it but I wasn’t sure if Rob was just telling me that for encouragement. Between catching a few fish and relaxing on the shore as the sun began to rise beautifully over the cliff that hugged the river, it was an incredible day!
Our stay in Flagstaff was coming to an end and with the motorcycle back together, Rocky and I decided to take a road trip to visit the Grand Canyon before we left. It was a warm day and it felt nice to be riding the bike bare without all of our luggage. The Grand Canyon was awesome! I saw it in pictures many times before but they could never describe the view as I had felt it, being there. We spent the day exploring but mainly just simply starring into the distance. When we finally headed back towards Flagstaff, the temperature dropped and night fell quickly. I hate riding at night. Especially on dark roads that hide large animals as they cross. It surprises me that we have never hit one and I was glad to have arrived back safely.
It was time to move on and although I secretly wanted to be adopted into Rob and Christina’s home, we had much more to see and experience. It was nice to be spoiled and great to have had so much fun but the road was waiting for us. I loved Flagstaff! Stay golden, Pony-Boy!
We finally just got the new frame for the motorcycle last month, and I'm trying to find the time between work and the effort to start the rebuild.
10-23-2012, 02:06 AM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg It was a good day to get back on the road. The weather was beautiful, we had reorganized our belongings, gathered our thoughts and our riding gear was feeling fresh. It was a relaxed ride through Arizona, the sun was warm as the earth became flat and the sound inside my helmet was pure bliss. Oh, I miss that sound. If peace and calm made a noise, I am certain it is this.
Our general direction for the day was towards New Mexico. There were a few interesting stops on the way and the first would be Meteor Crater. The story is that 50,000 years ago a nickel/iron meteorite crashed into the Earth and the damage created is supposedly the most well known, best preserved meteorite crater on Earth. I know this only because it was written in the description at the entrance beside the admission fees. We decided not to go see it once we discovered that it would cost us over $30 to view this large space of nothingness. I would have paid something to see it but $16 each is a bit much when you’re on a tight budget. Maybe I’ll regret that someday but I certainly don’t yet.
Our next stop was Petrified Forest National Park. Back when we were riding through Yellowstone National Park, we rode past a gated area that held a sign reading ‘Petrified Tree’. I didn’t understand. There was a tree stump in the center of the fence but it was too far away to notice anything special about it. It seemed odd that it was called a petrified tree, and I laughed at my own thoughts when I imagined that perhaps it had encountered the Texas Chainsaw massacrer. Arriving at Petrified National Park, it began to make sense as I read the definitions posted throughout. The word petrified comes from the Greek root petro, meaning rock or stone, not scared. Petrified literally means wood turned into stone. This park had many fallen trees from the late Triassic period (approximately 230 million years ago), when I looked at them up close I was shocked to see that the wood was solid rock, sparkling with colorful stones and crystals. If I weren’t concerned with preserving this awesomeness, I would’ve stolen a few chunks to make myself some lovely jewelry.
As one example, I understand the process to be as follows… We start out with a tree, on a much warmer tropical earth million of years ago. As time goes by the tree gets old, or the weather changes, and it dies and falls into mud. As the tree decays the cells become hollow and the water seeps into the tree and into the cells. The water is filled with minerals like calcite and silicone and as the water evaporates it leaves the minerals behind filling up the cells and creating a petrified tree. Since Opals are silicon and water, that is the exact same ingredients that make petrified wood. So most silicon based petrified wood is really Opals, of various forms and qualities.
Unfortunately, we have no pictures to show because ——-*SPOILER ALERT* my point and shoot camera was stolen before I got the chance to copy my pictures to a hard drive. ——- Rocky didn’t take any pictures, he was feeling too lazy to push a damn button. Ok, I can only honestly partially blame him. We kept the camera, lenses, flash, battery chargers, cords, and all that kind of stuff in the tank bag. Although the bag was easy to get to, it was perfectly packed in order for everything to fit in it, so, removing anything from it meant constantly reorganizing. Packing and unpacking was annoying at times, this was one of those times.
After leaving the Park, we rode until we got hungry and stopped at Subway in Springerville, Arizona. Uhgg, I was getting real sick of eating Subway. We decided to spend the night nearby and asked the girl behind the counter if she had any suggestions of where to camp. She recommended a park and gave us directions but we ended up behind a police station, and when we rode a bit further we ended up at a grave yard. I wasn’t about to sleep at either place so I was excited once we finally found the park. It was a great place to camp, there was a large overhang with a few picnic tables and BBQ pits. We set up the tent in the corner and got ready for a comfortable night sleep.
We awoke the next morning and prepared to enter New Mexico. Our first stop was to check out a Very Large Array. (VLA) is a radio astronomy observatory consisting of 27 independent antennas that serve multiple purposes, but it is not, despite rumours, used to assist in the search for E.T. or any of his alien friends. After gawking at all of this amazing machinery for a while, we continued our journey until we finally reached Roswell, and found most of E.T.’s friends.
Roswell, New Mexico has been a popular conversation since 1947 when an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants crashed in the area. The U.S. Armed Forces say that what was recovered was debris from an experimental high-altitude weather and surveillance balloon. But, many have refused to believe that, and Roswell continues to attract attention and tourists interested in UFOs, science fiction, and aliens. It was kinda weird to see green Martians displayed throughout the streets, in the shops and pretty much everywhere. It was dark when we had arrived and after using McDonald’s for their wifi, we found a park to sleep in, I’m surprised that I didn’t have creepy dreams that night.
It would be our last day in New Mexico but we he had one more stop to make before entering the state of Texas. Carlsbad Cavern is one of the most incredible places I have visited. We took an elevator 750 feet below ground that led us to a few different chambers made of natural limestone. This cave was insanely huge (4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point) and it took a few hours for us to walk around. I have no words to describe the intense beauty of theses caves, we got a few awesome pictures but they don’t show how amazing it was in three demential form. We spent the rest of our day in the cavern but still had a lot of road to cover before reaching Texas. The weather had been increasingly warmer as we traveled south and I was excited for all the warm days ahead.
To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about going to Texas and I’m going to blame that on politics. If I were asked to describe Texas with 5 words, they would be Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, guns and oil. I’m not a fan of any of that and I could tell that Rocky wasn’t either as he flipper the bird to a Halliburton vehicle we rode past.
The land was flat in comparison to all of the small volcanos we rode past in New Mexico. There were oil rigs, pickup trucks and cowboy hats everywhere. As the day came to an end we finally stopped for a bite to eat and to search for a place to sleep. We came across a small town and decided to sleep at a truck stop with an Ihop near by. Mmm I was craving bacon, eggs and pancakes. Even since the maple syrup was not real maple syrup, it was only a little disappointing. Anything but subway was delicious at this point.
We packed up the next morning and headed to San Antonio, Texas. Back when we were in Boise, Idaho, staying with Kent, we met his employee Jeff. Jeff had mentioned that he was moving to San Antonio right around the same time we would be in the area, and he kindly invited us to stay with him. Before arriving at his house, we were hungry and stopped at a BBQ restaurant named Rudy’s. It was a picnic table kind of place with a large sign that read ‘Rudy’s, the worst bar-b-q in Texas’. The sign lies, the food was ridiculous deliciousness I will never forget! Shortly after eating we rode to Jeff’s house, he lives with his son Arden and his dog Sadie, and we were warm welcomed when we arrived. It was easy to be comfortable in their home, we were immediately treated as if we lived there as well. Literally, he gave us our own set of keys. Jeff has got to be one of the most thoughtful men I have ever met. He went well out of his way to be sure that we were comfortable. The day after we arrived he told me that I probably missed a nice bubble bath and that there was a deep tub he scrubbed clean and purchased a few different products for me in the case that I have missed being a girl while on this trip. It meant a lot to me that he was so kind and that i was able to soak in a nice hot bath.
During the first few days of our stay, we were able to change a tire and find a store that sold PacSafe. PacSafe is an adjustable high-tensile stainless steel locking device, designed to cover and protect a variety of bags and packs from thieves. Since most of our belongings are accessible to anybody, it is a good idea to purchase another PacSafe so that we can lock up our riding gear and helmets as we leave our bike to wander around. Very convenient and I highly recommended it to most travelers.
With all of our errands taken care of, Rocky and I were able to wander around town. San Antonio is a very large city. We explored the city center and took a stroll through Riverwalk, where the San Antonio river winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks are lined with restaurants, shops and hotels, and there are river boats that carry passengers from one end to the other. As the day turned to night we found ourselves wandering throughout the city and stopping to see the Alamo. The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. It is now a museum in Downtown San Antonio. We enjoyed discovering San Antonio, it is a really nice city to visit.
Over the weekend, Jeff and Arden planned a day trip to take us to Corpus Christi, a coastal city in southern Texas. Jeff, Arden, Rocky and I packed a picnic and got into the SUV for a nice road trip to the beach. Once we finally arrived, the road lead us to a booth before entering the beach area. We were greeted by a park ranger and we became a bit confused by his demeanor and ascent, “Enter if that’s what you want to do. Go ahead, at your own risk of course.” What kind of a greeting is that? We all joked about him as we drove away. Suddenly, our throats got itchy, our eyes burned, we were feeling symptoms of something. The beach was vacant. We entered the tourist building and the park ranger was very helpful and explained to us that there was a Red Tide. Red Tides are caused by tiny, single-celled marine organisms that are normally present in the Gulf of Mexico as resting cysts or ‘seeds’ on the ocean bottom. When certain conditions are right (salinity, temperature and upwelling) a dense concentration also called a ‘bloom’ exposes these organisms to the surface and when hit by light the ocean appears as a brownish red colour. Certain species are toxic and kill fish, contaminate shellfish and cause an irritating aerosol in the air. It was horrible, I felt bad for the park rangers that had to be exposed to this all day/week/month? We ran back to the SUV and headed away from the beach for plan B. Hungry, we decided it would be nice to find a good place to have a picnic and we conveniently found a man selling some tamales to eat with our lunch. Rocky and I had never tried tamales, they turned out to be tasty. After having lunch and walking around the coast, we stopped to check out a museum before heading back to San Antonio. It would be our last night at Jeff’s house and we decided to relax for the night and watch movies on the big screen.
Visiting with Jeff, Arden and their pet Sadie, became another amazing moment and memory of our journey. Texas will now mean a little more to me than just corrupt policies and politics. We packed our belongings the following day and prepared to approach the Mexican border but not without stopping at Rudy’s BBQ one last time.
Very Large Array, in New Mexico
Paula at Very Large Array
Carlsbad Caverns - Carlsbad, New Mexico
Paula at The Alamo
Downtown San Antonio
San Antonio's Venice
Paula, Arden & Jeff
12-19-2012, 10:37 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg As we traveled through Canada and the USA we remained in our comfort zone but now that we were about to enter Mexico I was feeling a little bit anxious. Mexico had been having a lot of bad publicity and it wasn’t the safest time to be traveling through it. We spoke to many people, asked a lot of advice and we were warned that the violence was out of control. Mexico was in the midst of a drug war and to make things more complicated the police and politicians were involved in the corruption. I was nervous and I seriously considered skipping past Mexico. Not only had gun shootings become common but many decapitated bodies had been found. I was afraid, and of course, Rocky wasn’t. He believes that the brave may not live for long but the cautious do not live at all. And I on the other hand believed that his new mustache gave him a false sense of security (I still think he deliberately grew it to fit in).
We decided on crossing into Mexico through Nuevo Laredo, Texas. This town reminded me of an 80′s gang movie with all the teardrop tattoos, thick gold crosses and low riding Cutlass Supremes with hydraulic systems and fat, shiny, spinning rims. From what we were told, border towns were the most dangerous. We spoke with various people we had met throughout our travels, many had told us we were going to get killed and the others had given us advise and rules on crossing into Mexico.
We were to:
keep a distance from the border at night
cross the border in the early morning
get all the proper necessary paperwork from the border officials (to avoid fines when exiting Mexico)
not, for any reason, pull over on the highway (high jacking is common)
keep driving until we are as far south from t-he border as possible
do not -stop in Monterey city
avoid cops and drug dealers
We were going to spend the night in Nuevo Laredo and cross the border early the next morning, so we found a place to camp down a dead end street. The road ended where a gated field began and bushes kept us hidden from the open space. It was a large farm area with an abandoned trailer and at least a half a dozen of the most beautiful pure white cows I had ever known to exist.
It was a warm night and the outer layer of the tent was unzipped, exposing the mesh and ourselves to a nice breeze. As we laid in the tent that night watching stuff on the laptop, I had this creepy feeling that we were being watched. Rocky blamed my paranoia on the weed we just smoked and I tried to convince myself that he was right. Almost an hour had passed, I couldn’t shake the feeling and I kept turning my focus outside of the tent. Suddenly, I saw something or someone move in the darkness. My heart dropped and I stopped breathing as my eyes caught more movement. “Rocky, now did you see that? Look over there beside the fence, watch. I just heard a noise in that direction and I saw something move.”
With our faces pressed to the mesh of our tent we both noticed an arm wave through the air in the distance.
“Holy **** Paula, there is someone out there. I’m going to go talk to him, it looks like he’s waving me over. Are you coming with me?”
“Hell no, are you ****ing crazy Rocky? I’ll stay here, I’m freaking out. “
I watched as Rocky approached the figure and then walk back over to me shortly after.
“That was weird. I’m pretty sure that man lives in the trailer. He smelled like he’s homeless and he was wearing his belt over his shoulder. I told him that we were going to spend the night here and he told me that he wasn’t from this realm. Everything else he said was in and out of coherence. ” -Oddly enough, I didn’t feel threatened or frightened anymore. The man just seemed to be curious of the the two homeless people camped outside his realm.
The following morning we decided to wait one more day before crossing the border. We wanted to make sure that we were well prepared by exchanging some money, organizing all of our ID and documents, getting a good night sleep for an early long morning and leaving behind the pipe we were given in Colorado to avoid being charged with paraphernalia. So, if you ever find yourself in Nuevo Laredo, Texas without a pipe, look HERE (https://maps.google.ca/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=212006168622273113270.0004c97578b84f dec65fb&ie=UTF8&t=h&ll=27.516574,-99.444369&spn=0.000833,0.00114&z=19&output=embed), hidden along the fence.
With everything ready, we decided to spend the night back at our comfy dead end boulevard. We decided to get up at 6:30am so that our things would be packed and we’d be having breakfast by 7:30 and crossing the border at about 8am. It sounded like a solid plan until Rocky woke me up at 4:30am trying to get me going early. It was the middle of the night and there was NO way I was willing to go at that time. For the next hour Rocky acted like a snooze alarm I was ready to smash his button. It was 5:30am and I was not happy to be awake. We packed our belongings and rode in the dark to Subway for breakfast. It was closed of course, because you would have to be crazy to be up that early, so we rode to another subway a few blocks closer to the border. By the time we got there we just had to wait almost half of an hour before it opened. Exhausted and grumpy about getting up extra early for nothing, we finally got to the border.
There was a huge line of people trying to cross from Mexico into the US, I was happy we were the only ones crossing into Mexico. We entered awkwardly as guards just simply stared at us from a distance. ‘Are we going the right way? Do you want to know who we are, where we are going, why we are going, whether we have passports?’ We crossed without being questioned and I wondered if they were intimidated by our helmet camera.
The moment we were in Mexico everything was different. The air was warm and thick, people were on the streets shouting for our attention to sell us insurance and probably other things. We ignored the commotion and drove two blocks and through a parking lot before finding an immigration office I thought it was inconveniently hidden. It was still early morning when we got to the building but after waiting in a few long lineups to have all the necessary documents to enter ourselves and the motorcycle through the country we were finally getting back on the road well past noon.
I had contacted a guy through couchsurfing.org named Orlando and he welcomed us to stay with him and his family in Ciudad Victoria, a city far enough south from the border. We wanted to ride all the way there without stopping but there was no possible way of that happening. We needed gas and became hungry. As we rode though the (allegedly) dangerous and beautiful city named Monterey we decided to stop (even though we we warned against doing so) and we ate at Pollio Loco (Crazy Chicken). We ate quickly and got back on the road as soon as possible. A full stomach was not helping with our exhaustion as we rode down the highway, and Rocky decided he had to pull over. We had already broken a rule by stopping in Monterey and now Rocky pulled over so that he could take a quick nap on the side of the highway. I wondered if he was crazy and I reminded him of the rules we were to follow but he told me we had two options, either crash the bike as he fell asleep riding or take the chance of being hijacked. Uhgg, my nerves were tweaking and I kept attention as he took a power nap. A half hour later we were back on the road, Rocky was refreshed but my eyes were burning with exhaustion.
The sun was setting as we finally arrived at Orlando’s home, it was an incredibly beautiful home that his family had build over many years. He lived with his sweet mother Romy, his kind father Rigo, his younger sister Tania and his 3 dogs named Mick Jagger, Lolo, Chachara. Orlando was excited to hear about our journey and asked us to join him on a tour of the city. We unpacked some things and I immediately took a shower because I was hoping it would wake me up a bit, and living in a tent doesn’t exactly smell pretty. We walked around for a couple of hours as Orlando gave us the history on Ciudad Victoria, the capital city, of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. We stopped at a patio to enjoy real fruit and herb slushies while exchanging thoughts on life. It was almost 10pm by the time we got back to his house and exhaustion hit me like a ton a bricks. My energy was completely drained, my eyes were crossing and I became very light headed and dizzy. I laid in bed to fight the hot flashes as my body was struggling to fight whatever was overcoming me. I became violently ill vomiting everything in my stomach past the point of anything being left in there but bile and I finally passed out cold. Morning came and we had plans with Orlando to visit his work and meet the kids he taught at school. He was a teacher and the school was having a BBQ party that day, unfortunately, I couldn’t go. I began puking again the moment I woke up and I simply had no energy. Luckily, Orlando’s mom Romy worked at a hospital and she offered to bring me into work with her, I gratefully accepted. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately taken into a room to lay down. Rocky, Orlando and Romy were all with me for comfort. Soon after, at least 8 student nurses were surrounding my bed as a few other doctors gave orders and lessons on how to treat me.
As a child, I grew up in a Portuguese household watching Latin soap operas with my mother. They were called telenovelas and they featured the most beautiful Latin people. At that moment as I laid on that hospital bed I felt like I was playing a roll in a telenovela. The students and nurses were dressed all in white, wearing short mini skirts, tight buttoned blouses, baby doll shoes and adorable nurse hats. Their make up was perfectly painted and their hair looking professionally done. I had nurses touching my pulse, pressing my stomach giving me intervenes and needles in my butt cheeks all while a bunch of students are starring at me and Rocky is snapping pictures. It was quite hilarious and I couldn’t stop giggling at the drama unfolding before me.
I was told that I was dehydrated, exhausted and that I would need to rest until the intervenes rehydrated me, (I still don’t know what the needle in my butt cheek was for). Rocky and Orlando left for the day and Romy worked her shift while I slept, but she checked up on me every half hour until 4pm to make sure I was ok. After sleeping on and off for 6 hours, 2 Gatorades and 4 bags of IV, I was ready to leave with Romy at the end of her shift. I felt much better and I was extremely happy for the treatment I was given by all the hospital staff and my new foreign mama. Romy is such an incredible lady and I will always be grateful for her kindness.
We arrived back at the house and she cooked something for me to eat. Orlando and Rocky would be gone all day so I was invited to join mom, dad and sis to a birthday party. Feeling much better, I joined. We arrived at rented hall decorated in balloons and I was introduced to many kind strangers who kept trying to feed me. A live band played accordions and sang while everyone joined in to dance. It was truly a great moment to be a part of.
After the party, we drove to the mall for some ice cream and we waited for Rocky and Orlando to join us. Rocky and I shared our eventful stories, he was very enthusiastic of how great his day went.
Rocky had spent the day with Orlando, visiting the school at which Orlando taught. He boasted about the tacos he had for lunch that were made by the school lunch lady. According to him, they were the best tacos he had ever eaten. After travelling the length of Mexico, from the U.S. to Belize, Rocky still maintains, to this day, that he has never eaten a better taco. I sort of think he’s just trying to make me jealous. After visiting Orlando’s school, Rocky, Orlando and many of Orlando’s co-workers drove to a nearby town for a work BBQ party. There was live music, tons of food and beer. After the party, Orlando had decided to stop by a resort in the mountains on the way back to the city to take Rocky zip-lining. When they arrived back, Rocky told me that he didn’t try the zip-lining because he said he would have felt bad having so much fun without me, and that he wanted to wait until I was better so that we could both go together.
The next morning, Rocky and I joined Orlando and his father for breakfast in the city. We had what were called Migaldas; fried tortilla with layers of beans, meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream. It was cut into four slices and eaten like a pizza; by far my favourite Mexican meal. With full stomachs, we took a walk until we found ourselves in a nearby museum, it was nice to see and learn a little history. After Orlando’s dad went home, we continued to walk around with Orlando and tour the streets and markets. I had visited Mexico previous to this adventure but I felt like this experience was completely different. The touristy places I had visited in the past did not contain nearly half the culture I had noticed in Ciudad Victoria.
It was a Friday and Orlando invited some co-workers and friends over for a BBQ party that night. We all hung out in his backyard and garage, ate tons of meat, drank many beers and danced all night.
The next day, we gathered our energies for an eventful family day. During the first few days at Orlando’s house I kept hearing strange noises, I asked Rocky if he had heard them as well but he hadn’t noticed. It sounded like wild animals, it was really strange. Moments later we were told that we would be visiting a Zoo just a block down the street. I thought I was going crazy when I heard foreign animals roar in the middle of the night but it all began to make sense. After walking around there all day, we all decided go for a walk through more of the city and its markets. Rigo surprised me with a bracelet souvenir/gift and I felt it was really sweet how we were treated with so much heart. We arrived back at their home just after dark after picking up a large order of tacos to go. It was nice to sit around the kitchen table, eating tacos, drinking a bottle of wine that mom and sis had purchased in France during their past vacation and looking through photos of their journey through Europe. We spent the rest of the night preparing to sadly leave the next day, and excited to ride to new places recommended by Orlando and his family.
We woke up early on Sunday and were invited to share a traditional Sunday soup before leaving. We obviously agreed to join for breakfast and join in on the city’s tradition of eating tripe soup. Every Sunday morning this soup is prepared and it is rumoured to be a hangover cure. I’m not sure if tripe is the stomach or the intestines of a cow but it smelled like either one. I tried but struggled to eat it, Rocky didn’t, he ate his entire bowl full. Luckily for me, there was more food to choose from and I wasn’t forced to feel rude for not eating. I adore Orlando’s family and I am so grateful to have shared such an amazing experience in a country I was told to fear. His family is a perfect example of Mexican hospitality and it was very difficult to say goodbye.
Our next plan was to head towards the ocean. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org named Tito and we were welcomed to stay at his home in Tampico, still in the State of Tamaulipas. It took us a few hours before arriving and we had enough time to stop a MacDonald’s for WiFi and coffee. The Mexican McDonalds was strange, the menu was different and a huge jar of jalapeños were placed by all the condiments. My coffee was disgusting. Either it was really strong or there was something horribly wrong with the cream. It took 7 creams to slightly lighten my coffee and it tasted like thick, bitter, powdered milk liquid.
12-19-2012, 10:38 PM
We arrived at Tito’s house before dark and had the opportunity to meet him, his father, Hector and his brother, Eduardo. We got ready and were invited to go meet a few of his friends at a local bar for a few drinks. Tito was a handsome guy with many lovely looking friends. It was nice to party with a young crowd and we had a great time getting to know everyone. Later that night, we stopped at a small sandwich shop for a drunken snack. ‘Tortas Mary’ offered the best sandwiches I have ever had. I thought that maybe it was the Coronas speaking but after trying them again a couple of days later, I was convinced of their deliciousness. mmm… Just please try and imagine… fresh, soft buns packed with very thin sliced ham and cheese, refried black beans, pork chicharron, ground beef, fresh fried Chorizo, shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced avocado and sauced with salsa verde (spicy Habanero chili salsa) And yes, it was obviously a huge sandwich.
Morning came and Tito decided to skip school because he wanted to hang out with us. We took a road trip to the coast on the Gulf of Mexico and I was surprised by how vacant such a beautiful beach was. Tito said that the ocean was going through a lot of changes from pollutants, many fisherman stopped fishing and people have stopped swimming in the water, such a shame on us humans. There were less than a handful of people swimming, I was one of them. I took a 5 minute dip just to satisfy my salty craving but then felt it would be best if I got out.
After walking around for the day, Tito explained that he had to work that night and I was welcome to come with him. He owned a pole dancing studio named Polefit and I was about to take lessons on how to pole dance. It was so much fun! My instructor was a strong flamboyant man who was very well experienced at his job. I learned how to do a few moves but I also learned that I needed much more strength for the rest. After one hour Rocky picked me up and we went back to Tito’s house to get ready. While Tito worked the rest of his shift, his friend Roberto came to pick us up. We stopped to grab some more yummy food and ate at his house and drank a few beers. I began to discover how much I truly enjoyed Mexican food. After many stories and much laughter, we all left Roberto’s house to meet up with Tito at a bowling alley. I love bowling and never imagined doing so while on this trip, it was nice to experience a little familiarity of home. We all ordered beers and I was able to taste a type I had never tried. It was called Michelada, and it was a mixture of beer, lemon, salt, soy and Tabasco sauce. I found it to taste as gross as it sounds and I was glad I had ordered a Corona.
Visiting Tampico and meeting Tito, his family and friends was awesome. It’s a bit sad to have to constantly meet new friends that I have to say bye to so soon, but, it’s also nice to meet so many great friends I will always cherish.
We left Tampico the following morning and headed to Tamasopo, in the State of San Luis Potosi. The drive there was very beautiful with all the lush greenery around the mountains but it was a difficult ride. Driving through Mexico, you will quickly learn what word ‘Topes’ means on the road signs. Imagine driving down the street going 100km per hour when you see a foreign sign reading ‘Topes’ (sometimes other foreign words are used on signs to describe a Topes) and suddenly, you hit an enormous speed bump that has your tires catch air. Imagine now that these signs are placed randomly to warn you of a huge speed bump that is anywhere from a foot away, up to 50 meters away, also, any where from just one Topes to many Topes and sometimes there are no warning signs at all. Now imagine that you are sitting on the back of a fully loaded motorcycle and every time you ride over a Topes, all the heavy bags stacked on the back of the bike are slapping hard against your back. I don’t hate many things but i certainly HATE Topes. They make for a very annoying difficult ride.
In Ciudad Victoria, Orlando had recommended we stay at a camp ground with waterfalls in a town called Tamasopo. We finally reached it and our next mission was to ask where we could find the waterfalls. It turned it that we had a few places to choose from. We weren’t exactly sure which was best or exactly where it was located but when we stopped at one of them, we immediately decided to stay there. It was incredibly gorgeous and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were bathrooms, showers, a restaurant, a lounging area, thick cushy grass to set our tent on, and most importantly at the moment, there was a stunning waterfall surrounding us. Being there felt like bliss and for under $10 per night we decided to stay more than a few days. I loved how simple it was. Heck, I didn’t even care when I found out at night time that the grass beneath our tent was infested with the largest cockroaches I had ever seen (mind you, I insisted that Rocky was careful when entering and exiting the tent because I am super scared and grossed out by them). It didn’t have the nicest of bathrooms, showers or restaurant but that’s what I kind of loved most about it. It wasn’t ruined by greed or tourism. It was simply perfect and definitely a place I would love to visit again.
After three or four nights of relaxing, drinking beers and swimming we decided it was time to move on. We packed up our bags, left our paradise and headed towards the city of Querétaro, located in the Mexican State of Querétaro.
Paula’s illness on our first night in Mexico resulted in a trip to the local hospital the next day.
Paula received a needle in the butt cheek, an IV, and a good part of the day resting in the good care of Orlando’s mother, Romy
Orlando (centre), his father (left) and his uncle (right)
Orlando and his family organized a Friday night BBQ party in Orlando’s garage with his friends and coworkers. In attempt to fit in, I attempted to grow the Chia-Pet peach fuzz seen on my upper lip.
Orlando’s father, Rigo and mother, Romy
Orlando & his beautiful family, in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
We camped just next to these cascades, one of many located in the region of Tamasopo. We bathed in the water in the morning and afternoon, and enjoyed several days of relaxation.
Paula in Tamasopo, waiting for everyone to notice her.
12-19-2012, 10:45 PM
Finished rebuilding the motorcycle last month:
12-26-2012, 12:31 PM
12-27-2012, 03:52 PM
Now we just need to wait out the winter and get ready for spring/summer.
I've been working in a basement office and living in a basement apartment. I can't wait to break out. :camping:
12-28-2012, 02:33 PM
I was just thinking about your progress a few days ago! Glad to see it moving along!
01-27-2013, 07:41 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We were back on the road and on our way though the state of San Luis Potosi. The weather was what I would consider perfect and the scenery was beautiful. We stopped for breakfast at the side of the road where a small food cart run by a woman and her daughter was parked. They were nice to talk to but the food was mediocre and if we had ordered meat, we would most likely have become ill from it. We then rode through the state capital, also named San Luis Potosi. It was a cute city but it was a bit too busy, and it didn't help that the roads were narrow and difficult to ride because they were made of cobblestone. We tried to find a place to park but weren't able, so we decided not to stop and instead we just rode through.
We rode into the state of Querétaro and continued riding until we reached the capitals city, named Santiago de Querétaro. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org and we were welcomed to go stay with him and his family. We arrived at his home shortly after dark and I loved the introduction. Alex sat at the dining room table as his mother finished applying home made paint to his face, making him look like a skeleton. Alex was about to participate in a flash mob taking place in the city's center, in celebration of Dia De La Muerte. Meaning, Day Of The Dead, Dia De La Muerte is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, dedicated to friends and family members who have passed. The holiday is celebrated by building beautiful private altars honouring the deceased. Graves are visited and gifts are left, such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favourite foods, beverages and possessions of the departed. People gather at cemeteries as if it were a family park and they eat, drink and pray, some even spend the night. In most regions of Mexico, November 1st is to honour children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honoured on November 2nd.
We quickly freshened up and joined Alex, his mom, Bachiz, and his dad, Luiz, to the city center. Querétaro is simply beautiful, it is possibly my favourite large city and that says a lot considering I'm not a fan of cities. The city center was surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings with romantic balconies above patio cafes and outdoor restaurants. It was a Friday night and the city center was filled with people roaming around. There were groups of people performing, some were selling or buying things, some where singing or playing instruments and some were even peacefully protesting. We tried some delicious, twisted, sugar and cinnamon donut like treats called Churros and a bread covered in caramel, called Roles. The ambiance and energy of this city was awesome.
The Next day, Alex took us on a tour. While walking through the city, I decided I needed a haircut and walked in to a local salon. My hair was getting damaged from whipping in the wind, wearing my helmet and not using conditioner. I wish I had known how to say in Spanish, 'please trim it straight across' because my hand gestures were instead interpreted as 'chop it up in random chunks using texturing shears'. I wasn't upset though, it just felt good to get it cut.
We continued our walk and visited the ridiculously enormous statue of Benito Juarez, a former Republican president who resisted the French occupation of Mexico and overthrew the Second Mexican Empire. We walked through a museum that taught us of Maximilian, a former Emperor who was barely recognized by other countries, we visited the hill where he was executed and the small chapel built in his honour several years after his death. We then visited the aqueducts, the most prominent feature of the city. It consists of seventy five arches, each twenty meters wide, 1,280 meters long and an average height of twenty three meters and was built to bring water to the residents of Querétaro from the city La Cañada.
It had been a really nice and eventful day spent with Alex, but it wasn't over yet. We went back to his house to meet up with the family and freshen up. We were introduced to Betty, Alex's sister, and we were invited to her fiance's house for a BBQ. It was mid afternoon, the sun was warm, everyone was kind and the food smelled and tasted delicious. Suddenly, Rocky got up to excused himself and disappeared for a while. I found him laying in the shade moments later, it turns out that he wasn't feeling well and he had been puking. We had eaten some precut prickly pears when we were at the market earlier that day, I'm guessing that it may have been the culprit. Luckily, Bachiz was a nurse and practiced with natural medicine. Once we got back to the house she mixed a few ingredients she had bottled asked Rocky to take drops of it under his tongue. I'm not sure what the recipe was, but Rocky felt better a few hours later.
We woke up early the following morning and Rocky and I rode to Guanajuato city in the state of Guanajuato. It is a very cool looking city where many of the city’s streets and alleys run partially or fully underground through tunnels to follow the extreme irregularity of the terrain. The city is filled with mostly colonial era buildings, restaurants, bars, cafes with terraces and small plazas. We walked around for a while, stopped for lunch in one of the markets, watched a bike race through the city and even went to church (not really, we just peeked inside for a picture).
Getting out of Guanajuato took a few attempts. The roads are like a maze, making it very easy to get lost. I think it's funny that they have signs posted “Sal si puedes” which means 'Exit if you can'. Once we finally made it out, it took a couple of hours before we reached a city named San Miguel Allende. It was very pretty but difficult to ride on the cobblestone roads, especially when they became extremely steep. San Miguel Allende is known for its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures and has attracted many artists from around the world. It is now populated by many foreigners. We were only able to ride through the city because it was starting to get late but I was exhausted anyway and ready to go back to Alex's.
The following morning, we were invited to eat a delicious breakfast prepared by Bachiz. She made chilaquiles! It is quartered tortillas fried with onions, garlic and salsa, topped with cheese, sour cream and served with a side of refried beans. It was truly delicious. After we ate, we packed up our things and said our goodbyes. Bachiz even prepared us a goodie bag filled with snacks for our travels in case we got hungry. It was a great experience to stay with this kind family in the lovely city of Querétaro.
Back on the road, we went on our way to Mexico City. It only took a few hours to get there but driving through the thick of the city seemed to take forever. Mexico City was extremely congested. I don't think it would've mattered how bright the sun was shining because the smog was thick enough to hide it. As we rode through the city searching for a WiFi connection, we stopped at four different McDonald's before finding one with Internet that worked. OK, it barely worked, but what else is new. After many attempts, I was finally able to respond to a couple I had contacted on couchsurfing.org and I wrote to tell them we would be arriving shortly. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie. When we got to the bike we noticed that the front tire was completely flat.
It would soon get dark and we had no choice but to take out the tools and figure out how to fix the problem. It was the first time that we had to do an emergency repair to the bike and I felt a bit anxious. It obviously took a moment to fix but I was surprised by how quickly Rocky was able to take care of it. Before long, we were on the bike and on our way to meet Damian and Lilian. It was just past 10 pm when we reached their home and we weren't even sure it was their home. They lived on the hillside and there was a maze of small roads with houses numbered randomly. After final figuring it out, I felt bad about how late we had arrived but I was very happy to be there. Lilian and Damian are a beautiful, young couple that live with their adorable Doberman Pincer, their two cats and a tiny little kitten. Since it was almost 11pm when we arrived, we were given a quick tour of their gorgeous home and then went to bed.
Have you ever woken up in a strangers home? Cuddling their pet, and feeling like you're cheating on your cat. No? Well it's kinda weird. Especially when the home owners aren't even there. Damian and Lilian had to go to work in the morning and they let us sleep in. Since Rocky and I have been on this trip there have been a few times that strangers had left us alone in their homes. It is the kindest compliment to be treated with such trust. I felt as if I woke up in an art studio, their house was extraordinary and i couldn't help but look around. Damian is an artist and his work was presented throughout the entire house. From the renovations to the oil paintings to the sculptures and the metal work, I was in love with the creativity that surrounded me.
Rocky and I spent some of the day removing the front wheel off the bike. The tire was still slowly leaking so we decided to replace it instead of patching it because it was time for a new one anyway. The following day we took a taxi through the city to stop at a ktm dealership. All the taxis seemed to be old Volkswagen Beatles. Since it was a two door vehicle, the front seat was removed for easier access into the back seat and* there was a lever like the kind used on school buses for the driver to conveniently open and close the passenger side door. It was an interesting cab experience but because Mexico City is very busy, it took much longer to travel through by car because it can't lane split.
The following day was spent replacing the tire and when Damian and Lilian returned we went downtown and enjoyed tacos at a great little restaurant. I even discovered a new favourite drink named Horchata, made from rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, it is delicious. After walking around the city and picking up some Churros for dessert we dropped Lilian off at the bus station. She worked restoring art and had to go away for a few days.
With the bike ready to ride, we decided to spend the next day exploring while Damian was at work. We rode out to the town of Tepozteco, a popular tourist destination near Mexico City. Famous for the remains of a temple built on top of the nearby Tepozteco mountain but also for the exotic ice cream flavours prepared by the townspeople. As soon as we got there we stopped at a small shop for coffee and ice cream, of course.
I was really excited to see the pyramid of Tepozteco, I had never seen one before. It was located at the top of a cliff and we were about to burn all the calories we had just eaten. After climbing up steep trails and some stairs for about an hour, we were greeted by somebody collecting an entrance fee. I found it humorous because I doubted it mattered what the cost was after the hike to get there. I wonder if anyone has ever reached the top and said 'I have to pay to see this? Screw that idea, I'm turning around.'
We paid 37 pesos (approx. $3) each and we were granted access to the top of the pyramid. It was all well worth it. The view of the Earth, from that height, was truly sacred. I sat on a ledge starring out into the horizon and I imagined the history of at least 5 centuries worth of humans to have possibly sat exactly where I was seated, admiring the beauty of nature. I also wondered if anyone had ever been sacrificed on the highest ledge of the pyramid but my thoughts got interrupted by by a cute raccoon looking creature (Coati) standing a couple of feet away begging for food.
Tired, from the days adventures, we headed back to Mexico City. The ride seemed to take much longer than earlier and it didn't help that it started pouring rain. We were drenched and unprepared for the downpour. Traffic was horrible and the rain hit so hard that my thighs felt like they were being stabbed by hundreds of knives. Rocky was lane splitting through most of the traffic but there were many times that he wasn't able. I felt that it wasn't safe to be on the road but the rain wasn't about to stop any time soon and we weren't that far from reaching Damians, house. At one point, Rocky thought that he should pass on the right side of the vehicles along the shoulder but that was a bad idea. I noticed a meter long rectangular sewer hole was missing one third of its grates just as Rocky rode around it. I told him that I was glad that he also noticed the hole and he responded by saying he didn't, he was just avoiding the bumpy edge. We made it back to Damian's house alive and all I could think of was a hot shower, comfy dry clothes, deli sandwiches and a couple of beers would be a perfect way to end the night.
The next morning, we went to visit more pyramids. Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. It was the sixth largest city in the world during its period of greatest prosperity, according to an estimated population of 125,000. The city seems to have functioned for centuries as a well-developed urban center until its rather sudden collapse, possibly in the seventh century. We walked approximately two kilometers down 'The Avenue of the Dead', the main street of Teotihuacan. We climbed the steep steps to the top of 'The Pyramid of the Sun', were we had a great view of 'The Pyramid of the Moon'. And with a birds eye view, it was still difficult to absorb the enormity of the city.
After a lot of sight seeing, we rode back into Mexico City to meet up with Damian. Since it would be our last night in Mexico City, Rocky, Damian and I took a city bus downtown to enjoy a nice dinner. We walked through the city before arriving at a really nice restaurant that featured live music and mainly served Italian food, it was a nice a change. After dinner, we had a fun late night roaming around. Mexico has a lot of entertainment on its streets, whether people are singing, playing instruments, performing in a fire show, cooking, crafting or juggling, something always seems to be going on.
Once again it was time to pack and say our good byes. Damian and Lilian* were such kind hosts and our experience in Mexico City was awesome. I won't miss the traffic but I will miss everything else.
Paula & Alex in Querétaro’s city center
Paula in Querétaro
Inside the Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
There happened to be a bicycle race on the streets of Guanajuato on the day we visited the city.
Two Mexicans on the streets of Guanajuato
Inside Damien’s Home
Damian & Lillian
Climbing The Pyramid of The Sun
Atop The Pyramid of The Sun
Resting Atop The Pyramid of The Sun
Paula on The Pyramid of The Sun
Riding the bus in Mexico City
Walking the streets of Mexico City
02-11-2013, 04:27 AM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg It was difficult leaving Mexico City because the traffic was terrible, I doubt it is possible for anyone to ever get a speeding ticket there. We decided to grab a bite to eat as we drove through, and of all places to stop, Rocky chose Subway. I'm not sure how he isn't sick of eating there.
We were on our way to Valle De Bravo, still in the State of Mexico. It should have taken us two hours to get there but we've come to realize that riding through Mexico takes twice as long as riding through Canada or the USA. After finally escaping the city traffic, we had to deal with the country roads where there was one topes (speed bump) after another. Anticipating when we'd ride over the next one was exhausting. When the topes seemed to finally end we began riding through rolling hills that finally led us to Valle de Bravo. It was a really nice town and seemed like the perfect vacation destination for any nearby cities.
We went on a mission asking people if there were any campgrounds but we weren't having any luck. We kept being given directions that didn't make sense or we were directed to an RV park that didn't rent space for tents. They weren't even busy, I couldn't understand why they'd turn us away. We finally took a wrong turn in the right direction because we ended up at the lakes edge where the police kept their boat docked. I asked the officers if they minded us camping there and their response confused me. They looked at me funny and said in Spanish, 'of course you can, but I don't know why you'd chose to. There are so many better places to sleep'. Silly cops hadn't a clue. We set up our tent on flat land of soft grass just far enough from the waters edge giving us an incredible view. It is probably safe to say that it was the most perfect spot to sleep in this town.
We packed up the next morning but we weren't ready to leave. We stopped at a KTM dealership, enjoyed some coffee next door and then went out riding around the town. It was too bad that we had all of our gear loaded on the bike because we had found a perfect spot for off-roading. Hungry, we stopped and ate delicious pizza that really hit the spot and then went back to camp at the same place as the night before to watch the sunset and spend the night.
We organized our things the following morning and rode along the coast. That ride turned out to be the toughest most annoying ride we had been on yet. The terrain was mountainous taking us into high altitudes through some clouds. The weather kept changing from warm, to fresh, to humid, to chilly, and I began feeling a bit nauseous. I think that the altitude may have affected me because I felt weird. I resorted to humming for the rest of the ride, I'm not sure why but it seemed to help distract me from what I was feeling.
The roads were winding and Rocky had to be very careful to avoid hitting fallen rocks, roosters or donkeys. We actually found a donkey limping up the mountain and stopped to offer it some attention and Gatorade (we didn't have water). There are two things I can think of that really bother me about Mexico. Malnourished, limping, flea infested, skin diseased animals. I wish I knew how to help hurt animals because it is a serious problem in Mexico. The other thing that broke my heart was the litter. Plastic wrappers, bottles and cans are littered in a man made river of trash on the side of the roads. You can be looking at the most beautiful display of nature at its finest, while standing on a mountain of rubbish. It's sad.
The elevation finally dropped and we soon reached a city called Ixtapa. It was very modern and it looked like a foreigners typical vacation spot. Hungry, Rocky stopped for more... Subway, of course. Uhggg!!! How can he do it? I can no longer stomach a bite or stand the smell. It will be a very long time before I am able to go to Subway again. After eating, we stopped at a cafe and enjoyed the first good cup of coffee I had in Mexico. It was nice to relax on the patio as the sun was setting.
One of the locals there recommended a campsite we could stay at, close to the beach. He told us that he goes there all the time and it only costs 50 pesos ($4). So I checked online and found the website to confirm. I was excited, the place sounded great! We rode past a bunch of resorts down a dark road until we finally reached the campsite. I walked up to the fence and asked the guy working there how much it would cost us to camp and he said 90 pesos ($7.50). He opened the gate for Rocky to ride through and then asked me for 180 pesos ($15). I asked why the website advertised a different price and he explained that the cost went up without the website being updated.
Frustrated, we refused to stay. It's hard to justify spending $15 to sleep in our own tent,* just to be able to take a shower and flush after we pee. We got on the road and headed back in the direction from which we came. I was worried because it was already night time and we weren't sure where we would be spending the night. We then turned on what seemed to be a dead end street that surprisingly led us directly to a huge secluded beach. It was our own private area and we were eager to pitch the tent and jump in the water before bed. Morning came and it was awesome to step out of the tent and see the scenery under the warm bright sunshine. It was simply beautiful. We spent all morning and most of the afternoon laying on the sand and swimming in the ocean.
We eventually got hungry and decided to go back to the same cafe as the night before, having WIFI there was a definite bonus. I had received an email from Nancy, we had met her through www.couchsurfing.org at the beginning of our trip and stayed with her in Grand Forks BC in Canada. Nancy has a sister named Carol who lives with John in Zihuatanejo, Mexico. Since we were a short distance away, Nancy recommended we stay with Carol. Throughout the day, I tried calling Carol but the payphone kept eating my money, so Nancy recommended we show up because we were expected. The only problem was that the directions we were given, were in typical Mexican style, "look for the wooden house on the beach."
The sun was about to set and we decided to try and find the wooden house on the beach. We rode around, up and down different streets until we finally reached a house with a wooden fence. I didn't see the beach nor did I see a wooden house but I was getting desperate at that point and just wanted to ask somebody. A lady was standing nearby and she handed me a tiny little black kitten. I thought it was random but I took the kitten because I couldn't refuse the furry little creature. She pointed behind me and asked if we were looking for the English people, to my surprise it was a house made of wood behind me. She told me that I must deliver the kitten to Carol, she would know what to do.
This was awkward. With a kitten in my hand, I knocked on the gate and greeted the stranger I was hoping was Carol. I introduced myself, Rocky, along with the kitten. We were immediately welcomed,* and I was relieved. It turns out that the kitten had been found in the dumpster and Carol's neighbor had hoped that Carol would accept the furry creature or find it a new home. Carol and John, being the sweet people they are, couldn't reject and immediately adopted the kitten.
After drinking some wine and sharing some stories Carol suggested that John show us our room. He told us we had to drive to it and that confused us a little but we followed. Just down the road we pulled up to a house with a large Tamarind tree out front. When walked through the gate my jaw just dropped. Carol and John owned a gorgeous bed and breakfast. It is stunning. We had a beautiful room with a king size bed and a private bathroom. There was a common area with hammocks and a hot tub. This place was a wonderful surprise and treat.
After a great night sleep, John came to pick us up to go surfing. I had never surfed before and I believe it was Rocky's first time as well. We picked up John's friend and the four of us headed to the beach. Surfing was fun but also very exhausting, I probably would've been much better at it had I ridden the waves and not ridden against them. After a few hours, bruises and mouthfuls of salt, everyone was out of the water and John said he got stung by a Stingray on the bottom of his foot.* Stingrays have one or more barbed stings on their tail, and its underside has two grooves with venom glands. I'm not sure what it's supposed to feel like to be stung but he handled it very well. Not only did he drive, but he even made a stop on our way back to the house. There is an herb used for the sting and it is called Riñonina in Spanish. Riñon means kidney and the herb is known to be excellent for kidney ailments, but along other things it is also used to ease the pain and inflammation from the sting of a Stingray. When we got back to the bed and breakfast, Carol boiled some water, added the Riñonina and John soaked his foot.
Later that night, Rocky and I walked to the town center to wander around and grab a bite to eat. I think it's hilarious that we can walk down the street drinking a 40 of beer, super classy. We were catching a good buzz when we met one of the store owners, it turned out that he too had caught a buzz but pee'd his pants because of it. He was a nice guy though, we talked for a while about life and politics. We all spoke the same language of drunk and somehow understood each other.
We were supposed to go surfing again the next morning, Rocky went, but I couldn't function, I was hungover. Later that day, we met Carol, John, and some of their friends by the beach for a bite to eat, and again, some drinks of course. Rocky and I, then joined John on a bar hopping tour of the town,* it was fun. The following day, John invited us to eat a traditional Thursday soup called Pozole, made of hominy (white corn soaked in lime (as in the mineral, not the fruit) and cooked with pork and chicken broth, and served with accompaniments of avocado, crisp pork rinds, radishes, oregano, chile, lime, chopped onion, and sometimes taquitos and pieces fresh Mexican cheese. It is often served with Mezcal,* a distilled alcoholic beverage made from the Maguey plant. So, even though it was only noon, we had to try a shot of it. It's tradition!
I had a serious good time meeting Carol and John. They spoiled us with kindness and treated us like true friends. Staying in La Tamarind was beyond perfect. I hope to visit again sometime and even rent the same room. If you are interested in visiting Zihuatanejo to rent or purchase property, check out John's real estate website at www.mbprealestate.com* (Mexico Beach Property).* And, if you're interested in a healthy lifestyle and delicious recipes, you can find Carol at www.zihrena.net* (Zihrena's Mexican Garden).
Feeling fantastic, rested and refreshed, we had to get back on the road and deal with more topes. Topes should be illegal, I hate them. We weren't really sure where we were headed but we were going to ride through Acapulco. I wasn't to excited about it because, as it's a large city and I heard it was very dangerous. I really didn't like it once we got there because it was dirty, busy and sketchy. I may have liked it more had we ridden by the coast but we didn't bother. We kept going until we were back on the highway and slightly passed the city. It was getting dark and with no idea of where we were staying we decided to camp on a grassy area on the side of the highway.
We woke up the next morning and still weren't sure where we were going. We continued riding the coast and knew we'd eventually find a great place to stop. Mazunte was definitely more than great. It was a backpackers haven, a perfect place for us to venture. We rode down the main strip and stopped to ask a lady at a shop if she knew of a place to camp. She said yes and asked us to follow her up the road. I thought it was nice that she would show us the way, but I didn't realize, at the time, that she wasn't taking us to a campground.
We arrived at a small two-story building that had the name Arrecife written across the top. The woman asked me to follow her inside and led me up a set of stairs into a large open area with a roof top, table with chairs and a couple of hammocks. She told me that we could either rent one of the three rooms down the hall or we could pay 80 pesos ($7) to set up our tent in the large room. We were happy to rent out the large balcony, we even had a bathroom with a shower. And, since nobody else was renting a room, the entire area and bathroom were private.
Mazunte is a small village wedged between a wide, one km long beach. It is, known for many of the eco-friendly cabins and other buildings which consists mostly of palm fronds, adobe, bamboo, shells stones coconut shells and wood, designed to blend in with the landscape, and it is famous for sea turtles, due to the many turtles that go there to lay eggs.
We decided to explore more in the morning because we were tired but we probably should have gone out because we didn't get much sleep anyway. It was a weekend and a beach party thumped the speakers until 4 am playing old school rap and reggae. I didn't mind it so much because it was music I haven't heard in half my life but shortly after it stopped, our morning was filled with the sound of roosters crowing and dogs barking. It wasn't the best night of sleep that we've had, …but the next day was spent laying in a hammock, watching T.V and shows on the laptop.
We went for a walk on the beach in the early evening, and picked up some Coronas and limes on the way home. That night, we drank beer, ate snacks, and watched a documentary. The woman whom we were renting the space from, came to visit us that*night. I thought it was a sweet surprise. Her and her daughter told us of things to do and see in the area and we showed them pictures of our travels.
Being a Sunday, we slept much better that night. I woke up to the sun and the birds singing and we headed over to a beach-side restaurant for some breakfast and to use the internet. Later that afternoon, we went to beach and laid under the sun. I went in the ocean a few times but the undertow was really strong and I kept seeing large shadows in the water. To be honest,* I think I was paranoid of being stung by a Stingray. I don't want to encourage living in fear but it was a good thing at that moment because I noticed a bunch of jelly fish washed up on the shore. Moments later, I saw that a few people had been stung. As much as I love the ocean,* it really creeps me out.
We woke up the next morning to another sunny day. We went for brunch and had another lazy day lounging at the beach. I could get used to this kind of lifestyle. That evening, we went for a delicious fish dinner, had a few beers and watched a movie before bed. We were planning on leaving in the morning to head towards San Cristóbal de las Casas. Life was hard.
After arriving in Valle de Bravo, we found a spot down by the lake to set up our tent. Paula and I watched the sunset and spent the night in this beautiful location.
The sun setting on Lake Avándaro, in Valle de Bravo, Mexico
After searching for a place to camp in the dark the night before, we stumbled across this spot next to the ocean. We had the entire beach ourselves that night.
Paula and I spent a good part of that day cooling off in the ocean.
Ruv, true ruv, will forrow you, forever...
Laying on the sand, a wave came in and took Paula by surprise.
Quite a distance away from the tourist area, we had most of the beach to ourselves (uncensored photos on our pay site HERE (http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/Post Elements/perv.png)).
As we searched for Carol's house, we met her neighbour who handed us this day-old kitten to give to Carol. It was found in a garbage bin, and her neighbour knew that Carol would take it in and care for it.
We headed down to the beach to meet John, Carol and a few of their friends for some drinks.
Playa La Ropa
Paula, John and I continued the night as we bar-hopped around the town of Zihuatanejo.
Mazunte, Mexico - We stumbled upon this little paradise along the southern coast of Mexico.
03-01-2013, 06:50 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We left Mazunte and planned on riding in the direction of San Cristobal de las casas, located in the state of Chiapas. After an hour and half of slow, windy roads divided by small towns and villages, the roads finally straightened out and we thought that we were going to be able to make good time. Its not often you can ‘make good time’ on the roads of mexico, and this day turned out to be no exception. It wasn’t long before traffic came to a complete stop and we found ourselves getting deeper into the thick of it. We pulled off to the the side of the road and sat at a table under the shade of a plastic hut above us. The entire area was lined with tables, overhangs, cauldrons and BBQ grills. We ordered some food and asked the lady what the traffic was about. We found out there was a protest but I had a difficult time understanding the dialect and couldn’t seem to figure out what it was about. Regardless, it was nice to see such a huge gathering standing up for what ever they believed in. Even though it took us a lot of effort to get away from the crowed road, we were eventually able to pick up some speed.
It had been a long day and we still weren’t sure where we’d camp for the night. We considered a field, across from a store we had stopped at, but it turned out to be a military base and we weren’t allowed. We continued driving on the highway until we reached a toll booth. Exhausted, we decided to camp behind a small building, by the toll booths, on the side of the highway. Early the next morning, Rocky woke up and left the tent. While I was in there alone, I heard a bunch of women talking and laughing hysterically. What I heard them say was something along these lines (in Spanish), “Where are you going white boy? I was just about to drop my pants. Jajaja!” “Don’t be scared, we are just a group of ladies! Jajaja” “Can you pass us some toilet paper, we all need it to wipe our ***? Jajajajaja.” Shortly after, Rocky came back to the tent and I heard the women giggling. It turns out that they really needed to pee but the building was closed and they had to go behind it. They were surprised to see Rocky there but with good humor, they joked amongst themselves. when I walked out of the tent, their giggle turned into full laughter cause they weren’t expecting to see a women after all the naughty jokes they had made. But the best part, was when I greeted them in Spanish and they realized that I understood everything that they had said.
We continued on the road and stopped in a town named Tuxtla Gutiérrez, for some breakfast, at a corner side patio. Women walked the street balancing large baskets on their head. Some were filled with breads, pastries or flowers. We then continued riding through the beautiful State of Chiapas, making a few stops along the way, until we finally reached San Cristobal De Las Casas. I had contacted a man named José Luis on couchsurfing.org, and after stopping for some tacos we arrived at his house. Most Mexican houses have a tall gate surrounding the perimeter, at the doors of this gate was a large sign reading La Clave de Sol*. Jose Luis came out to greet us with a firm hug and said “Follow me this way my friends!”. We followed him around to the side of the house where he opened a different gate leading us to the backyard. We parked the bike on the lawn and followed him into the house.
*La Clave- A Clef is a musical symbol used to indicate the pitch of written notes. De Sol- of the Sun*
What happened next was extraordinary. We walked into a large kitchen/dining/living room and we were introduced to many friendly faces. It was Jaana’s birthday and everyone was celebrating. Drinks were poured, dinner was made and about to be served and everyone was doing something towards contributing to the festivities. The energy was high and we were overwhelmed with all the beautiful chaos that surrounded us. Jaana, with her sweet accent and gorgeous long blond dreads was traveling from Finland and is married to Pablo, the creative jewelry maker and empanada king from Argentina. *Empanada is a popular Argentinian meal* There was a French couple visiting from France, named Aurore and Julien. The stylish couple, Miss Charleigh from Scotland and the incredible chef Jimmy, from England. Robin was visiting from BC Canada. The hilarious Chiky from the Canary Islands, her friends, América from Madrid, Mar from Spain, and a girl whose name I have forgotten. Jose Luis then introduced us to the calm, cool and collected artist Jonathan, from New Orleans. Jonathan was renting an apartment on the property but was leaving to visit the beach for the week. We were surprised and very grateful when he invited us to stay in his apartment.
The party continued until late that night, Rocky wasn’t feeling well so he retreated to our apartment. I stayed up drinking cheap liquor called Tiburon, it cost me an entire dollar for the bottle. Charleigh was my new drinking buddy and we stepped out on the porch to join others for a cigarette. I was already catching a buzz and not expecting what came next. As I starred out into the darkness, I felt like my eyes were playing tricks on me. I was trying to focus on the faint outline of a figure when I suddenly recognized what was starring back at me. It was a horse! My goodness, there were more than one. I was shocked and elated, I had no idea this place could have gotten any better. Not only did Jose Luis bring together a great crowd to create the kind of atmosphere that all human beings should be exposed to, but he also chose the perfect location to share with strangers from all around the world. Jose says he was once a politician, but I adored his hippy side. Thinking of him will always remind me to smile. His laugh, his heart, his kind eyes and the way he always said in a high pitched voice, “whoowhaaaat”. I loved his crazy stories, even the one about Lake Atitlan, a few friends, a few ladies and something about avocados.
What an incredible place! It was already dark out when we had arrived and it was difficult to register exactly what the area was like. But, from what I could gather, there was the smaller house that Jose Luis lived in, where the party was taking place, it was called “Two Moons”. To the side of it, was a huge three story house that was actually separated into thirds, creating three different apartments named, Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox . There was a large backyard with a vegetable garden on the side of the large apartment complex, and stables in the back, for the horses. As the night continued, I found myself in a conversation with Oliverio. He was the one who owned the land and built this magical place. Oliverio was the manliest man I had ever met, or as Rocky calls him, the “French-Mexican Marlboro Man”. He was a jack of all trades, tall, dark and handsome. In the morning, I would meet his lovely girlfriend Catherine, an artist from southern France.
I woke up the next day slightly dehydrated, most likely alcohol related. Rocky was already awake and I found him outside in the backyard doing yoga with Jonathan and some others. I laid in the hammock on the balcony under the warm sun until Rocky was done. We took a ride out though the City for a bite to eat and a little site seeing. San Cristobal is located in the Central Highlands region of Chiapas and sits in a small valley surrounded by hills. Its Spanish colonial layout, with narrow cobblestone streets, roofs covered in red clay tile, the facades of the buildings painted in various colors and wrought iron balconies with hanging flowers, is simply beautiful. Much of San Cristobal culture is associated with the city’s large indigenous population, which is mostly made up of Tzotzils and Tzeltals. The traditional culture associated with these indigenous groups is the making of textiles. Gorgeous fabrics are sold and worn by them. Amber is also very popular along with ceramics, wrought iron and filigree jewelry. We returned to La Clave De Sol and relaxed until dinner was made. Jimmy prepared an incredible Indian inspired meal for everyone and we all sat by the fire place for more drinks that night.
A large greasy breakfast was great for my morning hangover. We found a restaurant down the road that served eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, coffee, juice, etc. I couldn’t remember the last time I had eaten what I consider a traditional breakfast. The only thing missing was Canadian maple syrup. After breakfast, we stopped to pick up some groceries because I planned on making some Coke Chicken for dinner. Coke chicken is chicken cooked in Coca Cola. When heated, the Coke caramelizes and coats the chicken with a sticky delicious glaze. Unfortunately, I figured out later that night after cooking the chicken for 4 hours, that it would not caramelize because the Coke in mexico was made with real sugar cane, unlike the Canadian/American Coke that is made with cheap substitutes. At least the chicken turned out really tender.
We woke up early the following morning despite going to bed late. I made a large pot of soup for everyone and relaxed most of the day. While Rocky napped, I hung out on the back porch with Charleigh and Jimmy and we drank Tequila out of the bottle. It makes me laugh to think back on that, I really enjoyed their company because I’m not much of a drinker, especially hard liquor out of the bottle, at noon time. Jaana and Pablo planned on making pizzas for dinner that night. Most of us joined at Jose Luis’s house and just as dinner was being prepared, the electricity went out. Luckily there was a fire burning in the fire place and we all grabbed whatever flashlights we had. It turned out to be such a fun time that as soon as the lights came back on, we turned them off and continued to use the flashlights. The pizzas were yummy and of course, we drank more liquor and even smoked a few joints.
It was cold and cloudy the following morning. Being located in the mountains, San Cristobal was always chilly, but with the sun hiding behind clouds made it much cooler. Rocky and I went for tacos in the morning and found a great bakery that served good coffee and pastries. Before retuning to La Clave de Sol, we picked up some firewood to heat up the apartment. Regardless of the whether, it was a dark depressing day, I would be saying good bye to my drinking buddies and sidekicks Charleigh and Jimmy. As they cabbed it to the bus station, we followed them on the motorcycle to say our last goodbyes. The next few days weren’t the same but at least the sun was out.
We had been waiting for some motorcycle parts to be delivered in the mail and they had finally arrived. Although we kept the chain on the motorcycle spotless, it was due to be replaced. Being a motorcycle owner as well, Oliverio spent some time with Rocky, looking over the bike. Oliverio asked to test out her power and Rocky allowed him of course. The gate was opened, they exchanged bikes and both rode up and down the street a few times. It was obvious that Oliverio enjoyed the KTM because I tried taking pictures but wasn’t able because he was riding too damn fast. He even rode past one time with both hands in the air! Oliverio invited us to join him and Catherine out that night. Catherine and I went shopping during the day and met up with the guys after the sun went down. We walked through the city center, tasting cheese samples and stopped to buy some coffee beans at a local coffee shop. After bar hopping and doing a few shots of Mezcal, a Mexican alcoholic treat, Rocky realized he had lost his helmet. Luckily we found it at the coffee shop. We had such a fun time hanging out together that Oliverio suggested we go out to a place he knew we would enjoy the following day.
We woke up the next morning and rode the motorcycles to go see a waterfall. After at least an hour and a half on the road, we reached Cascada El Chiflón. We hiked up stream for a long time, admiring the teal colored river. Our visibility was limited to what was directly in front of us and it wasn’t until we were a short distance away that we had seen the falls. It truly blew my mind. It all began with a light mist as we climbed higher up the path. Suddenly we reached an area where we were given view of the largest most powerful falls in Mexico. I was not expecting this at all. I can only describe this moment as the most magical one I have ever shared with nature. I climbed a bit higher and walked onto a platform that extended out in front of the falls. I stood with my arms in the air as the mist soaked me completely and the sun kissed my face, embracing me with a rainbow.
After an awesome day and a delicious bite to eat, we dried up as much as possible and headed back home. The ride back seemed to have taken much longer. The sun went down and it got cold very quick. Being a bit damp still from swimming earlier was not helping at all. I was so cold that I spent the entire ride fantasizing about sitting in front of the fireplace. The moment we returned, we immediately started a fire. Since staying in San Cristobal, Rocky became quite the fire maker. Nothing beats a wood burning fireplace.
To our surprise, Jonathan had finally returned and we were excited to get to know this kind stranger a bit better. We woke up early the next morning and it was great to join him outside for his yoga lesson and then a nice cup of java. Jonathan is a coffee snob as he would call himself and staying with him taught me to appreciate a strong cup of coffee. After a relaxing day, Rocky prepared a huge pasta dinner and invited everyone to join us. Most of the same friendly faces showed up but also new ones like Alex and Mia traveling from Quebec, Canada. Once again, we ate, drank, smoked and laughed lots.
The following day was reserved for fixing the bike. We accomplished most of it until the chain tool broke, repairs had to be put to a stop until the following day. With no other responsibilities, we decided to get stoned and meet the newcomers, Kate from New Zealand and Floris from Belgium. Oliverio took Rocky to a tool maker the next morning and got the chain tool fixed, after we finished working on the chain Oliverio and Catherine invited us to have dinner at their apartment. Oliverio told us how he was from France and his father was a famous Mexican actor. He showed us old pictures and shared many stories of how his father began his artistic career in 1938 until 1947 in Mexico before being contracted as a singer and musician in Libya, Egypt, France and many other European countries until 1978 when he returned to Mexico and worked in Televisa (television) programs until he passed away in 2003 at 80 years of age. It was fascinating to look at all the great, old pictures Oliverio had saved, Rocky even scanned a few pictures for keepsake.
The next two days were spent relaxing, smoking weed, drinking coffee and preparing for Oliverio’s birthday. Rocky planned on digitally restoring the picture of Oliverio’s dad and spent a several hours doing so. On the day of his birthday, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some cake and conveniently found one that was made with tequila. That night, everyone gathered together at Oliverio house for the festivities. What a great party! There was never a dull moment at La Clave De Sol.
We slept in the next morning, I thought everyone would have until I caught Jonathan downstairs with the coffee already brewed, a large pot of soup cooking on the stove and a painting being drawn on the wall. I hung out with Jonathan most of the day while Rocky napped but, once he woke up, I helped him do an oil change on the bike. Later that night we spent watching documentaries on the computer in the living room. As we were sitting in the dark, Rocky asked what was running across the floor. I turned on the light and to my surprise I saw a big, fat spider the size of a large gum ball. I immediately grabbed the broom and gently brushed the spider towards the door. I was seriously petrified doing so but I couldn’t let the spider stay inside. There was a short step to the doorway and I was panicking because I wasn’t sure how to lift the spider up. With another gentle brush I tried maneuvering the broom a certain way but it didn’t work. Instead, the spider rolled against the step and actually made a loud thud. Oh my goodness! I was so scared and Rocky wasn’t about to help me, he just told me to leave the thing alone. How the hell am I supposed to ignore a spider that thuds when it slowly hits a wall? I finally managed to lift it up the step and I continued to brush it safely out the door. For the first time since staying at La Clave De Sol, the night was so silent I could hear the crickets, everyone was asleep. Just as I noticed the silence I almost broke it with screams as I also noticed I was surrounded by at least ten spiders the size of the one I just let out.
The next day, Jonathan told me it was margarita day and I was excited. Rocky and I were still waiting for one more package to arrive in the mail, so we rode to the post office and it had finally arrived. Once we returned to La Clave De Sol, Rocky spent the day napping while Jonathan and I hung out. He wanted to make nachos so we took a walk down a few wrong streets but eventually found a store. We purchased everything we needed and went back to make some salsa, guacamole and Margarita’s. Jonathan is one of the best people I have ever met and it made me sad to know that Rocky and I were leaving the next day. Once morning came, I was really sad because I felt as if I was leaving something incredibly special behind. Today, I know otherwise. La Clave De Sol is forever with me.
Passing through Oaxaca on our way towards Chiapas, we passed through a large wind farm just outside of the town of Iglesia del Nazareno.
La Clave De Sol was always full of travelers from all over the world. From left to right: Paula (Canada), América (Spain), Pablo (Argentina) & his girlfriend, Jaana (Finland), Charleigh (Scotland) & her boyfriend, Jimmy (England), Mar (Spain), Jose Luis (Mexico), Auror (France), Robin (Canada), and Auror’s boyfriend, Julien (France)
Charleigh, Jose Luis & Jimmy “The Brit”
Having arrived in San Cristóbal de las Casas after dark the evening before, we didn’t notice the stables and horses until one appeared out of the darkness.
After over an hour motorcycle ride and an hour of hiking, Oliverio, Catherine, Paula and I finally arrive at Cascada El Chiflón, one of the largest and most powerful waterfalls in Mexico.
The power of the falls sprayed a tiny water droplets everywhere, enveloping us in a cloud of mist.
I saw Catherine taking a close-up of this little critter on our hike up the river.
On our hike back to the motorcycles, we all took a dip in the cold, refreshing waters of the river downstream from Cascada El Chiflón.
Oliverio In Exaltation
Nights in San Cristóbal de las Casas in November/December can get quite cool. During the day I would take the ax and gather firewood (until I realized that there were shops on the other side of town that sold them by the bundle for quite cheap). We enjoyed the warmth of a roaring fire every evening.
Jonathan usually started the morning with a either some form of alcoholic beverage, a marijuana cigarette and some yoga – sometimes all three.
In the middle of changing the chain on my motorcycle, my chain press tool broke (probably my fault). I rode on the back with Oliverio to his friend’s machine shop to have a replacement piece made.
There were always travelers coming and going at La Clave De Sol. Jose Luis’ smile and laughter were infectious.
Flores (Belgium), Jose Luis & Kate (New Zealand)
At one point during our stay in San Cristóbal de las Casas, there were eighteen travellers who, at one time, gathered together at La Clave De Sol.
03-01-2013, 06:52 PM
Cooking With Jonathan
Paula & Catherine at Oliverio’s birthday party
The Three Stooges
Oliverio’s Father (left) was a famous Mexican actor. His began his artistic career in 1938 until 1947 in Mexico before being contracted as a singer and musician in Libya, Egypt, France and many other European countries until 1978 when he returned to Mexico and worked in Televisa (television) programs until he passed away in 2003 at 80 years of age. This is the photo that I restored for Oliverio for his birthday.
In his state of inebriation, I didn’t know if Oliverio realized that the cake wasn’t round. I didn’t have the heart to tell him.
The night was a blur…
When Oliverio wasn’t climbing up trees and chopping them down with a hatchet, he tended to his horses.
Oliverio’s stallion (who prefers his right side)
Paula & Oliverio On Horseback
Oliverio – The Man, The Myth, The Legend
After tending to the horses, we rode in the back of the truck with the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces.
The Dude abides. If there was a refined and artistic version of “The Dude”, Jonathan would be it.
After about two weeks at La Clave De Sol, it was time to move on. We will always remember the moments and the people we shared them with while we were there.
If you are planning on visiting San Cristóbal de las Casas, Oliverio has rooms for rent, rents horses and gives guided tours. He also makes jewelry, rustic furniture and sells organic vegetables.
03-01-2013, 07:28 PM
wow. and on a bike? :bike_rider:
03-04-2013, 02:39 PM
wow. and on a bike? :bike_rider:
Yup! Seems like the best way to do it. :D
03-20-2013, 09:40 PM
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We rode through lush mountain scenery for approximately five hours until we reached Palenque. Its a good thing that shopping isn’t practical on our trip, because Palenque is a really cute town with many shoe stores. More importantly though, Palenque is an ancient Maya site. Its ruins date back to 226 BC, to its fall around 1123 AD. After its decline, it was absorbed into the jungle but has been excavated and restored and is now a famous archaeological site. It is estimated that less than 10% of the total area of the city is explored, leaving more than a thousand structures still covered by jungle.
After stopping for some tacos, we rode away from the town until we found a campsite. It was a nice affordable place to camp that offered hot showers and a really nice restaurant that served alcohol and had live music. El Panchan was only a few kilometers short of the Palenque ruins. It was an interesting place with its blend of hippies, people on holidays, backpackers and Rastas. The experience was further enhanced by its jungle setting, with the sound of howler monkeys frequently heard from the high canopy. I thought they sounded much more like a cheetah would, than a monkey.
We woke up early the next morning and hung out at the ruins for most of the day, enjoying the beautiful setting of towering trees that surround the site. There is a peaceful calm that envelops you as you walk around exploring the jungle trails that lead to other smaller plazas and temples, and to the travertine cascades that carry water down the mountain during the rainy season. After spending most of the day at the ruins, we stopped at a museum and then went into town to walk around and grab a bite to eat. We purchased a few beers to go and on our way back to the bike we were stopped by a shop owner offering us free samples of liquor. Cappuccino Agave Liquor is delicious but instead of buying a bottle, Rocky purchased some crickets. Yes, crickets. Apparently, they are a popular snack. I’m not sure exactly how they are prepared but they were dead, dry and covered in chili and lime seasoning, of course.
Once we got back to El Panchan, we sat at an outdoor table towards the back of the restaurant. Rocky immediately tried to convince me to eat some crickets, but I’m not the type to like bugs. He then attempted a different approach and tried feeding me beer. I eventually gave in and decided to eat a bug, but as hard as I tried, I couldn’t convince myself to do it. Eww, the thought of chewing little legs repulsed me. Especially when I imagined any of it stuck between my teeth. Uhgg, it’s creepy body crunching in my mouth, there was no way I could bring myself to eat a bug. And then it happened. Maybe it was the beer or maybe it was because I was ashamed of being such a chicken ****, but I ate a bug. Just one, but I did it.
It was a beautiful night and we decided to take a walk down the farm road. There were a few more campsites and rentals about 400 meters away and we decided to go venture and see if we could find our new friend Jelmar. We met him earlier that afternoon while we were at the ruins. He was visiting from the Netherlands and told us he was staying at a really cool place. We also heard that if we walked down the road at night, a Mexican would jump out of the bush and offer to sell us magic mushrooms. There were trees and bush on either side of the road. It was dark out but the bright moon created a stunning silver effect on the sky above us. Suddenly, a man came out from out of the bush and said, “mushrooms, mushrooms?”. Before we could say “yes please” or “how much?” A car came down the road and the man with the ‘shrooms got paranoid, disappear, and never returned. We continued our walk and stopped to check out the live entertainment up the road. We stayed for a moment, peeked for our friend Jelmar but didn’t see him. We walked our way back to El Panchan and enjoyed a few more Coronas’s before bed.
We left Palenque the next morning and rode through patches of rain. For the second time during this trip, a bird flew into Rocky as we were riding. Is that common to any other riders? We left the state of Chiapas and went on our way to Merida, in the state of Yucatán. It was a really pretty city and the weather was much dryer than it had been in the humid jungle. After eating some tacos, we searched for a place to camp and found a large grassy area by the highway. We thought it was the perfect place and we felt like we were well hidden but the police noticed us and stopped to question what we doing their. They were really polite and didn’t mind us staying, they just asked that we leave with any trash we created.
When we woke up the next morning, we went for breakfast at McDonald’s, more so for the internet than the food. Jimmy and Charleigh from San Cristobal had sent us a message saying they were at a small town nearby but we weren’t able to properly coordinate to meet. Instead, Rocky and I continued on the road to Chichen Itza ruins. It is one of the largest Maya cities, but the entrance fee was out of our budget, so we opted for tacos. Unsure of where to go next, we thought about sleeping at a church yard but drove to Tulum, in the State of Quintana Roo, instead. It was night and we always try to avoid driving at night but we had the highway to ourselves and it was new and freshly paved. I consider it one of my favorite times on the road. It was a long, smooth, relaxing ride. The air was warm, the moon was large and millions of stars were shining through the blackness of the sky.
I had been to Tulum years before, and I was really excited to return. I remembered it having very small eco-hotels, some didn’t even provide electricity or hot water. I remember tents randomly placed throughout the beach and everything was closed after 10pm. I remembered Tulum was was very calm, peaceful and beautiful. We arrived just before 11pm and rode for a very long time before finding a spot to camp. Far past all the resorts, most of the area was secluded and we found a great place. The next morning, we were approached and asked to leave the private property. It didn’t matter, we rarely ever camped at the same location more than once. We packed up our belongings after a quick dip in the ocean, and rode towards the town. Tulum was looking much, much busier than when I had visited, years before.
We were enjoying a cup of coffee while sitting out on the patio of a bakery that offered WiFi. A guy approached us and introduced himself as Sean. Him and his girlfriend Blossom were visiting from Australia and were also traveling two up on a motorcycle. He suggested we camp by them and go for dinner together. It was really exciting to meet another couple sharing a very similar experience. A few hours later, we rode until we found the sign for public beach access and pulled into a long sandy driveway that lead into the beach. To the right of the path was Santa Fe restaurant/campsite, it’s property line was marked by a roped fence. We parked the bike and as we walked around to find Sean and Blossom, we were immediately approached by a Santa Fe employee asking if we were looking to camp. We told them that we were looking for our friends but we would be looking to camp on Federal Land instead. They asked why we wouldn’t camp on their property and we explained that since we wouldn’t be using any of their facilities it would make more sense for us to camp for free somewhere else. After they insisted that it was illegal for us to camp on Federal Land, they told us that by staying on their property we were protected by their 24 hour security. Their aggressive sales pitch was dishonest and annoying to say the least, we said no thank you and walked away.
Outside of the fenced Santa Fe property, we found a place to pitch our tent. It was located on Federal Land and nestled in the shade of a few palm trees. We found Sean and Blossom, their tent was approximately 30 meters away on the opposite side of the roped fence. We placed our gear, boots and a few other belongings into a couple of PAC Safes (aircraft cable mesh), and left them locked up in the tent as we rode out to dinner. It was delicious! After we ate, we rode back to the beach and walked up and down the coast getting to know each other. It was really interesting how much we shared in common with Sean and Blossom. Although they had traveled to many other continents before our trip began, our journey from Western Canada to Tulum had been very similar. I’m surprised that we didn’t meet sooner.
Sean was very intelligent, creative and adventurous, much like Rocky. They shared the same kind of thoughts and even the same camera and video camera. Their birthdays were only a few days apart. Blossom reminded me of myself. She was easy going, low maintenance, passionate about life, and we had even worked in the same profession. Her birthday was a few days before mine. Blossom met Sean when she was really young but began dating him a few years ago. Rocky and I had met at a very young age but we began dating a few years ago. Weird.
After grabbing a few coconuts we walked to their tent and just as we were standing there, one of the employees shone his flashlights in our faces and began swearing at us, demanding that we get off of the property. Apparently, they were very mad that we didn’t camp on their site, but were there visiting our friends. It was already past midnight, we weren’t about to camp somewhere else for the night and I couldn’t justify paying to move all of our things on to their property. Especially after all the attitude. So, we remained where we were and we would camp somewhere else along the shore the following night.
We woke up the next morning and Rocky immediately noticed a gash cut through our tent. There is an obvious chance that it could be anybody but I don’t think I’d be too crazy to assume that the hot headed Santa Fe rent-a-cop had something to do with it. Moments later, we noticed that the PAC Safes that locked much of our belongings, was tampered with. The thief had found one of our tools and tried to cut through the metal mesh. They failed miserably. The tool got stuck to the mesh as they tried cutting it. They weren’t able to steal our things but I then realized that the cut in the tent was how they were able to steal my purse.
The thought of a thief stealing my belongings while watching me sleep creeped me out. Although Rocky and I were keeping our cool, my blood began boiling and I burst into tears. My I.D. (luckily not my passport), my camera with all my pictures, my iPhone with my expense list and journal, all the keepsakes and my birth control was in my purse. I carried all my physical memories in that purse and some creep stole it while watching me sleep. I became a hot mess thinking about it all and, before I could say another word, Rocky jumped up and ran over to the Santa Fe property. I chased after him but I was too late. He picked up a picnic table, slammed it down and left with a few choice words.
Minutes later, the police showed up. They explained to Rocky that, although it was likely we knew who the thief was, we couldn’t prove it. Because of this, Rocky shouldn’t have flipped their table over, and he would be going to jail for the night. I was left alone to pack everything up and wait for a tow truck to take me along with the motorcycle to bail him out. As emotional as I felt, I still couldn’t help but laugh at the thought of Rocky in a Mexican jail.
When I arrived at the station I was given two choices. I could either let Rocky spend the night locked up or I could bail him out for 1701 pesos. Such a random amount. I told the cops that I was just robbed and asking me for money was an insult. I took 400 pesos from my pocket and told them it was all I had. I had more in my pocket but I wasn’t about to tell them that. Besides, they immediately accepted the 400 pesos (under $30) and Rocky was released. I knew I should have offered less.
It was 3pm by the time we left the tiny cop shop. We were exhausted but still able to laugh about it all. I will always feel deeply saddened by the loss of so many memories stolen but every time I remember the incident, I can’t help but giggle at the thought of Rocky spending some hard time in a Mexican jail. OK, OK, it was more like a small celled drunk tank but still funny. Rocky is definitely not the jail type.
After grabbing a bite to eat, we found a place with WiFi and used Skype to cancel the credit card. We then found a real police station and filed a theft report. It was getting late so we decided to find a place to camp near where we had stayed the first night. This time, we rode a bit further and slept closer to the shore. It definitely wasn’t my most comfortable night. I was obviously still a bit shook and had a hard time sleeping. Early the next morning, we swam for a bit but didn’t stay long because the beach was filthy with litter. It was sad to see so much plastic polluting the shore.
We had bumped into Sean and Blossom and they recommended we stay at a Hostel named Mama’s Home. After all we had gone through, we decided it would be nice to treat ourselves to a hot shower and a comfy bed. Mamas home was awesome. It was filled with travelers, and it was nice to find out that mama was a Canadian who once lived not far from us, back home.
Early the next morning, Blossom and Sean showed up and we followed them to a Cenote. A Cenote is a deep water-filled sinkhole in limestone that is created when the roof of an underground cavern collapses. As it gets filled by rain, it creates a natural pool with underground tunnels. Sean and Blossom love snorkeling and they brought their own equipment. The water was so clear that I didn’t mind just swimming but Blossom insisted I try her snorkel and I was glad she did. It was absolutely stunning to stare into the water and see an amazing cave like system. It was another world down there. I was shocked. The day went well but our luck had been testing us. Rocky jumped in the water with our helmet camera but didn’t realize we had the wrong housing on it until it filled with water. The camera broke and the memory card got damaged. We lost all of our previously recorded videos. After leaving the Cenote, we all made plans to meet up for dinner and drinks later. It was a great time. We met a few people, and shared many laughs. I really liked Sean and Blossom, and as we left the bar that night, I knew we were going to miss them, but I imagined we would see them again throughout our travels.
Back at the hostel, we received an email from Orlando, whom we stayed with in Ciudad Victoria. He told us before that he would be visiting Tulum, so he emailed to tell us he had arrive and wanted to see us before we left. We met him for lunch the next day and we were really happy to see our friend again. It was a short visit, we were on our way out of Tulum, and Orlando was spending some vacation time with a very lovely lady friend.
We were back on the road and I was happy to be leaving Tulum. I had contacted a girl named Maria on couchsurfing.org, who lived with her mother, Isidra, and brother, Juan, in the town of Chetumal, also in the state of Quintana Roo. When we arrived in Chetumal, we had a very difficult time finding Maria’s house. The house numbers in Mexico have no particular sequence, they are randomly chosen as each house was built. Luckily, we asked a postal carrier for directions and she offered to help. Unluckily, she couldn’t find it either. She didn’t give up on us though, we followed behind her scooter and she eventually brought us to Maria’s house.
Maria and her family were amazing. They had accepted four other couch-surfers at the same time and provided us all with comfortable accommodations. We met Kim and Siro from Korea, Stav from Israel and the Canadian Robin, whom we had met in San Cristobal. It was Stav’s birthday and Maria and her family had bought him a cake. It was nice to celebrate an intimate occasion with strangers. There was never a dull moment at Maria’s. Even when we woke up in the morning and relaxed for most the day, there were so many great personalities joined together. I decided to make dinner that night and, once we all finished eating, Robin had a piñata filled with goodies. We all went outside, took a few swings and also lit some fire crackers. It was a fantastic night.
We were up the next morning to the sound of the cello. Maria was practicing for her performance at a charity event we were all invited to attend. Isidra was a nurse at the children’s cancer ward and Maria offered to play the cello for all the guests. It was a beautiful moment. There were many kids, lots of food, a few Pinedas, many nurses, doctors and guests. Isidra was recognized for her hard work and dedication. I enjoyed seeing her in her element around many children that adored her. She is a true nurturer, a wonderful lady.
Later that evening, we joined Maria, Stav and Robin for a tour of the town while the Korean’s went grocery shopping and prepared us a meal. We hopped in a bus and began our walk towards the ocean shortly after. I’m not sure if Maria was being serious because she is the funny type but she had us buy a head of lettuce we had to carry for a while. Once we arrived at the water, she told us to feed the Sea Lions. The trouble was, there were no Sea Lions. Also, people were staring at us like we were weird. With the lettuce gone and not one sea lion in sight, we took a walk through a museum and a few other places before returning back for dinner. Kim and Siro had prepared a delicious Korean soup. It was spicy and full of seafood. We all gathered for dinner and were very grateful to be served after a long day.
The next day was dedicated to relaxing, laundry and dealing with the credit card situation. We were having troubles figuring out where to have a new credit card shipped because we were never at an address long enough to receive it. Stav prepared a Jewish dinner and Robin helped him. It was mouthwatering. Latkes are officially one of my favorite foods.
Later that night I mentioned that I needed to get rid of a joint we still had, before crossing the Mexican border. Stav and Rocky knew how we should do that. We decided to take a walk around the block, Maria lived in a very quiet neighborhood. The three of us stepped outside and once we turned the corner, I lit up the joint. We smoked, coughed and smoked some more. As we walked past a park, I took a drag and through my peripheral vision I saw a figure quickly move to their feet. As the ember on the joint glowed bright on my lips, I exhaled, butted the joint, stuck it in a cigarette pack, stuffed it down the front of my pants and sucked in my gut. We were being yelled at and a Federal Police officer was now in my face. He was screaming at me in Spanish, asking where the marijuana was. I stared him straight in the eyes and told him I hadn’t a clue what he was talking about. Rocky nor Stav had any clue what had happened to the joint either. They appeared to be just as confused as the officer, as he shun his flashlight across the ground and found nothing there. For at least a minute , I was in a staring contest with the cop. I am a horrible liar but I was so scared for my life that I won the contest by telling the officer that he was wrong and we were walking away. And, so we did. Once we got far enough I told the boys what had happened, how I had to stuff it down my pants. What a buzz kill.
Staying with Maria, Isidra and Juan, meeting Stav, Siro, Kim and seeing Robin again was a great finale to a fantastic voyage through Mexico. When i think of Mexico, I remember the different smells as we rode through. Either the strong scent of laundry detergent filled the air, the smell of wood burning in a pit or of food being cooked on the sidewalk. I will always remember the food! Mostly, I will always remember truly experiencing some of the best times of my life. We met the greatest people, rode through incredible scenery and learned about a beautiful culture I would be proud to call home. I love Mexico!
Nearing Palenque, the land flattened out as we descended the mountainous region of Chiapas.
We met Jelmar at the ruins of Palenque. He is from The Netherlands, and was backpacking across Mexico and Guatemala.
Paula at the ruins of Palenque (another model pose)
Leaving Palenque, we took the back route through the forest and found this waterfall, hidden amongst the trees.
After driving from Merida, Paula and I arrived at the beaches of Tulum after the sun went down. We rode down a long, coastal dirt road and found a spot to camp under the moonlight.
Sean and Blossom, an Australian couple also riding two-up, invited Paula and I to a cenote to do some snorkeling.
Paula In The Cenote
Blossom (she certainly has) & Paula in the cenote.
After taking this photo of Paula cooling off in the cenote, I zoomed in on the picture and noticed…
…a beautiful, blue dragonfly perched on her face. Paula didn’t even notice it.
The cenote was home to thousands of dragonflies.
Siro and Kim, an engaged couple from South Korea, arrived at Maria’s shortly after Paula and I. They had travelled all over Canada, the U.S. and Mexico by car.
Robin (the backpacker from Canada whom we met in San Cristobal) and Stav (a backpacker from Israel) arrived at Maria’s shortly after Siro and Kim. It was Stav’s birthday and, to celebrate, we all strung up a Piñata.
From left to right: Kim (the Korean Samurai), Santa (at the mercy of Maria’s mother), Maria’s mother, Isidra, (having way too much fun), Stav (the fearless Israeli soldier), Robin (the wide-eyed photographer), Paula (…) and Siro (not even a flinch)
03-20-2013, 09:41 PM
We took the bus into downtown Chetumal to feed the illusive sea lions and visit the Mayan Cultural Museum. From left to right: Stav (Israel), Robin (Canada), Maria (Mexico), a random woman on the bus, and Paula
Maria explained some of the history on display at the museum.
This mural was displayed on the ceiling of the museum. I wished I had brought my wide-angle lens so that I could capture the entire thing.
After breaking open the Piñata, we set off some fire crackers in the street.
Firecrackers In The Street
It was a wonderful memory in Chetumal thanks to our host, Maria, her family, and our fellow travelers, whom I am sure we will one day meet again.
04-11-2013, 10:05 PM
December 22, 2011 – December 30, 2011
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg Our paperwork was organized and we were ready to cross the border. I wasn’t sure what to expect because entering Mexico had been so easy but entering the motorcycle was a bit more complicated. We were given some documents and a receipt when we had crossed into Mexico, the documents were to allow the motorcycle to gain entry and the receipt was for a $400 deposit that we would get back once we left the country. I felt as though we were well prepared and I hoped that it wouldn’t be a long complicated process.
The first stage of exit was to present our passports to the customs officer. After being cleared, I had to walk to the customs office. A long line of people stood outside under the hot sun waiting for their turn. It was difficult being fully geared, I was sweating a puddle. Once I was finally able to present all of the papers, I was told that I would have to go to a store a few blocks away to get photocopies of a few things. What? Luckily, a kind stranger was listening near by and told me that him and his family needed to do the same and offered to drive me. I would never had made it walking that far in the hot heat. With everything ready, I returned and had to wait in the long line up again. I was happy to finally be told that I had everything needed.
We then rode up to another booth a few hundred meters away so that we could purchase motorcycle insurance, it cost us $12 US for the day. We were warned that Belize cops loved to issue tickets to drivers without insurance. Slightly further up the road, there was another booth we had to stop at were we were told that any vehicles crossing the border needed to be sprayed with bug spray to prevent exposing different bugs into Belize. The guy told us that since we were on a motorcycle, we wouldn’t be sprayed but we would still have to pay $6 US for it. None of it made any sense to us, so we told him that we wouldn’t be paying for something we didn’t need and we rode away. Another couple hundred meters up the road was the immigration office for Belize. I entered into the building and presented them with all the paperwork and paid $30 entrance fee into Belize. We were then to ride to a booth and get cleared to cross by a customs officer. Along with our ID, he told us we needed all the receipts but we were missing the one for bug spray and he asked us why we didn’t have it. We explained to him that we were told we didn’t need the spray and we thought it was odd that the man insisted we pay anyways, so we refused because we sincerely thought he was trying to scam us. The customs officer reacted as though we insulted him and he became really rude to us. I still don’t think that it was wrong of us to assume that we were being scammed. Without choice, we turned around, paid for the receipt, went back to the customs officer and were finally allowed to enter Belize.
Just over a kilometer away from the border, a cop pulled us over to ask for proof of insurance. We were beginning to understand why people complain about traveling through Belize. The area we rode through seemed a bit boring but the people seemed really sweet, everybody waved as we rode past. We probably should have spent at least one night there, but we wanted to get to Petén, Guatemala as soon as possible. Christmas was around the corner and we were invited to share the holidays with a family we found on couchsurfing.org. We would also be sharing the holidays with Jonathan from San Cristóbal. He too had been welcomed to stay with the same family, in Petén.
We continued riding until we finally reached the border out of Belize and into Guatemala. Once again, I had all the paper work ready and Rocky waited outside with the bike as I went in. We then rode up to the Guatemalan immigration office, our passports got stamped and I paid $22 but when I presented all the paperwork I was told that Rocky needed to be present since that motorcycle was under his name. With all the paperwork ready, we were to go down a street to a store that sold photocopies. It was really frustrating that a customs office didn’t provide themselves with photocopies. We always kept the original documents, they needed the photocopy. Why didn’t they at least sell me the photocopies in the customs office?
It was getting late and we were finally into Guatemala. We traveled on a paved road for a while but it suddenly became a dirt road. Every few meters was a large pot hole. I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. I was tired and we hadn’t eaten in many hours. It was dark out, there were no street lights and we were surrounded by trees and thick bushes on either side. We continued on this creepy road until we eventually reached Petén. I remember feeling a sense of relief once we approached the city, almost as if the bright lights and traffic kept me safe. I was also excited to see a Pizza Hut. I felt comforted, by the familiarity and also the thought of eating something of substance.
After stuffing our faces with a large pizza, we got back on the road again and finally reached our destination. The family we were visiting lived on the outskirts of the city down a few dirt roads. There was a tall wall built of cinder blocks around the perimeter. We honked the horn a few times and I felt bad for arriving so late as we waited for someone to answer the door. Memo approached the gate and greeted us to come inside. The property was very large. We were asked immediately about our travels and lectured for riding in the dark. Apparently, the dirt road we had ridden on is known for its high crime rate and shady police officers that rob people. We were warned not to ride at night ever again.
The house was built on a beautiful piece of land, it had to have been at least 1/2 acre. A narrow stream ran through the middle of the property, I was told that it was full of eels and native fish that can live for 3 months without water. There was many flowers, hundreds of native jungle plants and trees throughout the property. The house was under construction but walls and ceilings had been built. To the left of the property was an area with walls and greenery that somewhat secluded that space for some hammocks. That is where Jonathan was sleeping. Beside there, was an outdoor sink and cement water tank. They are called Pila, it is common to see these. With the water shortage in these countries, it is important to have a cement tank filled with water. Just as we passed the kitchen, there was an outdoor sitting area and behind it was the children’s bedrooms, along with ours. There was also a shared bathroom and shower, and further down was the parents quarters.
It was nice to meet everyone in the morning, Memo was an American and he was married to Angelica, a Guatemalan Maya. They had 4 beautiful children together, Wilson, Reina, Perali and William. It was also really nice to see Jonathan again. We were given a proper tour under the sunlight and Memo gave us a little history of himself, his family and introduced us to Buenas Cosas. Buenas Cosas is a cooperative of Guatemalan women, an association of family, friends and neighbors who serve their community and nature. Their focus is eco-tourism and voluntourism with an emphasis on conversational Spanish & Q’eqchi’. They are a non profit organization, and every cent that enters Buenas Cosas goes directly to communities, programs and projects that cultivate ‘Good Things’, or as they say in Spanish, Buenas Cosas. We offered to help and volunteer but it was Christmas holidays and they were taking a break from providing for the community and concentrating on hosting their foreign visitors.
It was December 23 and we rode a few minutes through the city to go visit Flores, the capital of Petén. Floris is an island located on Lake Petén Itza, connected to the mainland by a short causeway. Just as we were getting near, I noticed Jonathan drinking his breakfast at a patio. Rocky pulled over and I sat with Jonathan and enjoyed a cold beer as well. We were going to do some exploring and invited him to come along. Rocky rode and met us across the bridge as Jonathan and I walked. Being the coffee snob he is, Jonathan led us to Cool Beans, a great restaurant/coffee shop that offered free WiFi. We would spend a lot of time at Cool Beans over the next few days.
The following morning was Christmas eve and I was invited to a Guatemalan tradition. Every Christmas eve, tamales are prepared and eaten. Corn was ground, chunks of chicken were marinated and plantain leaves were washed. First, I was to place a plantain leaf flat in front of me and put a spoonful of each, corn and chicken on the center of the leaf. I was then taught to wrap the leaf into a pouch and tie it together with string. A fire pit was lit and a large cauldron had a few rocks lining the bottom of it with some water. The tamales were placed inside and steamed all day long. It was a unique experience to be invited by Angelica’s family, native Maya people, to help prepare for a feast that has been around since as early as the Pre-Classic period.
Once I was done helping, Rocky and I headed to a craft store and bought a few gifts for the kids. Small booths lined the streets of Petén and they were all selling fireworks. When we returned to the house we were told that another Guatemalan tradition was to light firecrackers at midnight to celebrate Christmas. Rocky, Jonathan and I took the kids to go buy some fireworks and after returning with bags full, the celebrations begun. Tamales were eaten and everybody sat around the fire pit and drank some beers. It was amazing how many firecrackers we could hear in the distance, but we all waited patiently until midnight to light ours. After a few walks trough the neighbourhood with beers in our hand, we visited some of the locals who were related to Angelica and her family. As midnight approached we all met back at the house and the fireworks began. Never in my life have I ever experienced or imagined experiencing such a display. The entire sky filled with explosions, the noise was intense. For at least an entire hour I could safely bet that all of Guatemala was lighting up fireworks. The energy during that long moment was incredible. It was a fantastic experience.
We woke up early Christmas morning and exchanged a few small gifts. Memo and his family were kind enough to give us some authentic Guatemalan hot sauce. It tasted delicious with our breakfast tamales. Jonathan had packed and was prepared to leave that morning, I wondered if we would see him again. Rocky and I rode into the city in search of a post office. We had arranged for a replacement credit card to be sent but we were having no luck receiving it. We kept checking for it every day but we expected the postal service to be no better than Mexico’s had been.
We returned to the house with some groceries and planned to make dinner for the family. We prepared Penne Pasta with meat sauce. It was interesting to watch the children’s reaction as they ate a food they’ve never tried. Memo giggled and said not to tell the kids that they were eating Penne, apparently the word means Penis in Spanish. We all giggled with him.
The next morning, Rocky and I planned on visiting Tikal, one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the pre-Colombian Maya civilization. We rode for almost an hour and suddenly lost the clutch. We had to turn around and head back for some help. We stopped at a couple of places but it is difficult to find somebody who wasn’t intimidated by such a large piece of machinery. The KTM 990 is definitely not a common bike to work on in the area. Just as we began losing hope, a guy from a local mechanic shop helped us. He said that the clutch lever piston was off and he adjusted it back in.
Since it would be too late to visit Tikal, we decided to get the bike washed. It had been a while since she was cleaned. We entered a washing garage and it was cute to see the excitement in the employees eyes to be able to wash her. I was surprised by his enjoyment and the detail that he placed on making her look new. He spoiled her with what i would consider a high end spa experience. We then decided to ride to Flores for a bite to eat and use WiFi to check the status of the credit card that was supposed to have been sent. To our surprise, we bumped into Jonathan and hung out with him until we headed back to the house for our last night in Petén. Early the next morning, we packed all of our belongings and once again said goodbye to our new friends. We were very grateful for the memories they had left us with during our stay in Petén Guatemala but we were ready to continue our journey through the country.
Guatemala City was our next destination and our ride there was one I will never forget. Rocky wasn’t feeling well and the day was a difficult one to get through. Hours into the ride, we had to pull over so that Rocky could nap on a picnic table at a gas station. A few hours after that, we had to stop again for another long rest. The traffic in Guatemala was extremely stressful. The highways were only two lanes. Which means, when there are slow moving vehicles in either lane, which is usually the case, you inevitably get a line up of cars in both lanes, desperate to pass. We had to constantly move onto the shoulder as oncoming traffic including large transport trucks, were always in our lane coming at us head on.
I had contacted a family through couchsurfing.org for us to stay with them in Guatemala City. By the time we were near, it was already night. We could see the city lights in the distance but we were separated by a few mountains. Unfortunately, the highway through those mountains were under construction and the lack of street lights made it almost impossible to ride safely.
The roads were partially paved and the damage on them was barely visible in the dark. There were potholes along the way but more dangerously, there were large chunks of road missing. In Canada, any area of road too dangerous to travel on would have some sort of warning, a flashing sign or at least a few meters of pylons to warn us. In Guatemala, what we saw was, if there is a large hole in the road, a larger rock/boulder is place immediately before it as a warning. There were a few times that I thought we would die trying to avoid the dangers.
When we were finally near the house of the family we were about to visit, we had a difficult time locating the address. We stopped numerous times to ask for directions and every time that I showed anyone the address on Rocky’s iPhone, I was lectured to hide the phone to prevent being robbed. Theft seemed to be a large concern amongst the locals. When we eventually found Stevan’s home, the sense of relief I had felt is indescribable. Stevan’s father answered the door and explained that his son was at a local church for band practice, and he would be returning soon. By the time Stevan had shown up, we were shown to our room. Stevan’s family owned and rented the home next to theirs, and that is where we would be staying. It was late and we were exhausted, we immediately fell asleep the moment our bodies met the bed.
When we woke up the next morning, we were invited next door for breakfast. Tamales were served and they were prepared much differently than we had eaten just days before. They were made with potato, chicken, green olives and dates. A delicious combination. Stevan lived with his father Josue and his mother Zarai. He had a sister named Gioana and a brother Guillermo but we wouldn’t meet the two of them until later. Josue was a soft spoken polite man with kind eyes. Beautiful artwork was hung on the walls, I was impressed to find out that it was Zarai who had created it. Stevan was also an artist, he belonged to a band named Wud Link and played the guitar. I love that we continue to meet amazing people along our journey.
With concerns over the condition of the motorcycle, we located a KTM shop not far from the house and rode to get a new clutch lever piston and seal. We thought it was best to have the mechanic install it, servicing it ourselves wasn’t practical at this time. After spending the afternoon with the kind mechanic at KTM, the motorcycle was fixed and we returned to Stevan’s home. Stevan invited us to go walk around the mall with him his friend Jose. We gladly joined them. Guatemala City was huge and I thought it was a pretty city. The mall was much bigger than the one back in the city I grew up in but the population there was much bigger as well. It was nice to window shop and compare prices to what we would pay in Canada. I was surprised to see that although Canadians economy was better, everything there seemed more expensive. After a few hours of talking, walking and laughing together, the mall was about to close and we headed home.
We prepare for our departure in the morning by packing all of our belongings and sharing goodbyes. It was just a few days before New Years and we planned on spending the celebration at Lake Atitlán. We were back on the crazy roads of Guatemala.
We rode to meet Jonathan, who caught a tuk-tuk into town, and found him drinking his morning beer.
Paula snapped a shot of this guy down by the lake. I have no idea what he was drinking. Something tells me it’s not water.
Lake Peten Itza – located near the town of Petén in northern Guatemala.
Two Guatemalan dudes on the island of Flores
Lago Petén Itza
Jonathan, Perali & Paula
We spent the afternoon at Buenas Cosas making tamales with Memo’s mother-in-law, Margarita, and enjoyed the native Guatemalan treat for Christmas Eve dinner.
Another Furry Friend
Perale was quite a little character, and a natural in front of the camera.
Jonathan left for Tikal on this rainy Christmas morning. This is the last we though we’d see of Jonathan, but we ended up bumping into him again in the nearby island of Flores the following day.
We said goodbye to Stevan and his father, Josue before leaving Guatemala City and heading for Lake Atitlan.
Paula with Stevan, a tattoo artist, musician and our couchsurfing host in Guatemala City.
04-22-2013, 02:17 AM
December 30, 2011 - January 3, 2012
http://notallthosewhowanderarelost.ca/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/paula_avatar1-36x36.jpg We left Guatemala City and we planned on bringing in the new year at Lake Atitlan. Just as we got into the outskirts of the city, we found ourselves in an interesting town with many steep streets. I only realized that we were lost when the road became a big dirt path going uphill. We continued to ride around until we found our way back to the highway. The traffic wasn't too bad and the scenery was worth any stops we needed to make. Guatemala wasn't much different from Mexico, it was an incredibly beautiful country, filled with culture, breathtaking scenery and exotic natives.
We rode throughout many tall rolling hills and a thick sheet of fog greeted us every time we reached the top. Children formed groups on the edge of the highway and they would waive and chase after us as we rode past. We eventually noticed that the cars riding past would throw candies or treats at the children, if they waived. I wish we had known that before, we would have definitely gone prepared. After riding on a beautifully paved road for most of the day, it eventually turned to dirt. It was in such bad shape that I was excited once we were off of it. Rocky told me that Lake Atitlan was close by but since there is no road that circles the lake, we weren't able to catch a peek of it until we reached the top of the mountain.
It was a great introduction! The view was more enchanting than I could have ever imagined it to be. Lake Atitlan is large and recognized to be the deepest lake in Central America. It is ringed by volcanoes and shaped by deep escarpments that surround it. Volcano San Pedro is the oldest of the three, Volcano Tolimán began growing after San Pedro stopped erupting, and Volcano Atitlán remains active, with its most recent eruption having occurred in 1853. Freshly paved switchbacks lead the way down the mountain. They were very steep and the corners were extremely tight. I was kind of scared until large buses filled with passengers, zipped by and seemed to turn corners on two wheels. Traveling by bus seemed much more dangerous than the motorcycle.
We arrived safely in San Pedro, an extraordinary town. Since New Years was around the corner, we had planned on staying at a hostel. The streets were packed with tourists and as I got off the bike to find out some sort of direction, a local offered to help find us a place for cheap. I followed his lead and after a five minute walk he found us a room in one of many small hotels. It was three stories tall with open corridors that overlooked the entire lake. Decorated with a few hammocks, lawn chairs and a beautiful garden, it was more than awesome, especially for $14 per night.
After a nice hot shower, we planned on going for a walk. It's amazing how much a hot shower is appreciated, so much so that I even risked my life for it. Only cold water runs through the pipes, and in order to get hot water, an electrical shower head is used to heat the water. In hindsight, a hot shower was not that important.
San Pedro was a really awesome place to visit. I usually don't like tourist filled places but this was definitely an exception. Lake Atitlan is surrounded by many villages in which Maya culture is still prevalent and traditional dress is worn. The Maya people of Atitlán are predominantly Tz'utujil and Kaqchikel. Often, when people of one culture assimilate to another culture, the traditional style of dressing can quickly become obsolete. This is certainly not the case with the descendants of the Mayans in Guatemala. These proud people boldly wear their traditions on their sleeves.
The native dress of the Mayans, which is called Traje, may vary by village and language group. But the intent of native dressing remains the same, to preserve the rich culture. To Guatemalans, their native costumes are their identity. The women honor their ancestors by wearing a Redcorte (skirt) held up by a woven Faja (belt or sash). The women also wear a Huipil (a traditional square-cut blouse) made with embroidered designs. A shawl drapes over one shoulder, which can be used to carry a baby around. I was very curious to dress this way and the kind ladies in one of the boutiques were also curious to dress me.
The following day was New Year's Eve and we had a few errands to run. We were in desperate need of clean laundry and Rocky's hair needed a cut. Laundry cleaning is a common business throughout Mexico and Central America but aside from a few dry cleaning items, I have always washed my own clothing. I don't know why I felt nervous, my clothing was cleaned so well that it smelled fresher than I've ever know possible. The extra pair of foreign underwear I found washed and folded amongst our belongings wasn't necessary but we got a good laugh from it.
As we walked down a few alleys, we read a sign that said Barber Shop. The barber was a hippy with long dreads and blood shot eyes, but he did own clippers and scissors and Rocky thought that was sufficient. We were invited into a room with a mirror, a chair, a small desk and some crazy paintings on the wall. As Rocky’s hair was being cut, the barber kept stopping to take a moment to run his fingers through Rocky's hair while constantly complimenting, "Wow man, your hair is so soft! I can't believe how silky it feels. Dude, do you know that your hair is like silk." It was obvious to me that the guy was very high on something and my thoughts were proven to be correct when he said, "Just so you know, I can get you anything you like. Do you like acid, man? I've got really good ****!" I have to admit, I was very impressed with the hippies’ ability to cut hair while ridiculously high. He did a great job.
We were ready for the celebrations and considered hitching a boat ride to a town across the lake but Rocky wasn't feeling too well. Instead, we decided to stay in San Pedro to attend a street party. We had grabbed a few of joints from the local who helped find us our hotel room and we stopped at a convenience store to buy a couple 40's of beer. A large stage was placed in the middle of a main street and huge speakers thumped bass. It was such a fun party that the MC even forgot the countdown and introduced midnight a little bit late. Everyone yelled Happy New Year, kissed, toasted and lit fireworks. Guatemalans love their fireworks!
We spent another two days admiring the culture of the town. We enjoyed the simple pleasures of playing a game of tag with the locals at a park and taking pictures of our memories at San Pedro La Laguna. We drank delicious coffee that was grown locally and ate inexpensive meals. Lake Atitlan was a wonderful place to visit but we were ready to continue our adventure and leave one of the most beautiful, colorful places I have ever seen on this earth.
Traveling from Guatemala City to San Pedro La Laguna, we stopped at the side of the road for a rest and some water.
Walking through the streets of San Pedro, we passed by this Guatemalan girl sitting amongst a pile of rubble with a huge smile on her face.
My little Guatemalan girl: Paula tried on one of the traditional ladies outfits. With nowhere to put it on the motorcycle, we didn't end up purchasing it.
We sat on street corner watching the spectacular scene of the townspeople walking by.
The ladies of San Pedro la Laguna and their traditional attire
These ladies were selling fruit and talking up a storm at the side fo the street.
We spotted this elderly lady on the rooftop of her home hanging her laundry out to dry.
I was in need of a haircut, and decided that this guy's shop looked interesting. Paula and I both soon realized that he was high on something as he switched between trimming my hair and sipping on his beer.
The sun went down in the town square as the New Year's Eve celebrations drew near.
A street corner at dusk in the town of San Pedro La Laguna
I saw this family sitting on the curb and, as awkward as it is taking photos of strangers, I just had to ask if I could take one.
Tall, medium and short
Night time on the streets of San Pedro
A corner shop in San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala
We saw this child sitting in a tuk tuk at the side of the road with his older brother. Paula handed him the flower.
Two sisters walk through the town square and turn heads.
Mother & Daughters
04-22-2013, 02:18 AM
A family on the streets of San Pedro la Laguna, Guatemala
I tried to secretly take of a photo of this guy laying in his hammock. I guess he noticed.
The People of San Pedro la Laguna
A young girl standing with her mother on the street of San Pedro la Laguna. The guy in the doorway was either passed out from being drunk or just taking a nap.
Everywhere we went in this little town on the edge of Lake Atitlan, we saw interesting and friendly people.
The style of art in this region is filled with bright, beautiful colour.
A shop in San Pedro la Laguna - Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
I snuck to the top of The Primera Iglesia Bautista de San Pedro La Laguna, a Baptist church in the centre of town, to snap a few shots from above.
As we left San Pedro La Laguna the same way we had arrived, we stopped to take some photos of the spectacular view that we had seen when we first neared Lake Atitlan several days before.
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