Thursday, September 30, 2010

30 Days In!

Daryll writes:

This post was inspired by some of the questions that Joey & Colleen (good friends of ours) had asked on our Skype video conversation this morning, so thought that it would be a good idea to answer some of their questions (mainly on Mexico) through a blog post.
Despite what you hear and read about Mexico in the media, Mexico is a safe place to travel to as long as you use your common sense.  There are certain places that I wouldn't wonder through late at night in Vancouver, so why would I want to tempt fate in a foreign country.  We tend to have early starts and we've been on the road anywhere between 6am-10am.  We try and get to our destination by 2-3pm and the latest would be 5pm.  We do not travel after dark for various reasons; safety being high on the list, potholes, and animals wondering on the road at night being another.

The roads on the Baja were in excellent condition with smooth pavement, unless if you wondered off somewhere to find a beach.  Where the roads were bad, there were road crews working on them.  Several new bridges are being built to accommodate new over-passes as well.  Most roads on the Baja were single lane highway and sometimes with a shoulder, so we could pull over to let others pass.  None of the other drivers obey the speed limits and will pass on solid double yellow lines.  We've learned to do the same - when it is safe.  One needs to be slightly assertive when riding down here as once you get into towns, there are several lanes of traffic that are not marked, so you need to push your way through traffic to either get into or out of a traffic circle.  I love it!

On the mainland, traffic is the same, just a lot more traffic.  Most highways have a "Cuorta" (toll road) or "Libre" (free road) and guess which ones we take.  Yes, the free roads which have all the trucks and farm vehicles as well.  The bonus of these roads are that they take us through some very small towns and cut through some amazing terrain vs the toll road which is pretty much a double lane highway to get you to the next big city as quick as possible.  The roads we take are worn due to the heavy traffic and tend to have cows, horses, donkeys and dogs along the road.  Most of the animals are just grazing, not attached to anything and wonder around freely, so we tend to slow down when passing animals.  The only down side is that you tend to see several dead animals lying on the side of the road or smell them before you could even see them.

The food is amazing and if I haven't mentioned this already, I love tacos.  They can vary in price depending on where you get them from; however we have learned to wonder around town and find the little taco stands or shops were all the locals are gathering.  A bottle of beer costs the same as a bottle of water or a pop, so we tend to have beer with our meals.

Guess what's for dinner?
The bikes are performing well.  The only issue we had was getting the cam chain adjuster seal replaced on Angela's bike in Santa Cruz.  I was carrying 2 spares just in case.  We had the mishap with Angela's pannier coming off on a dirt road at slow speed, learned from that mistake - we check them daily.  Done one oil change on both bikes since leaving home and check and tighten all bolts weekly, so just regular maintenance stuff.  We did have to replace one camera, luckily we were still in the US when the screen on Ang's camera cracked.  I use it now as a quick P&S camera, though really have no idea what I'm focusing on.  I had to replace my pair of sandals that gave up on the Baja - considering I had those sandals for the last 12 yrs, I think they held up quiet well.  We still need to find someone that can place a patch on my left boot as the shifter lever is starting to wear a hole through my boot.  Even though I don't need them now, I am going to need them in the Andes, my winter gloves have a hole on the left palm that needs a patch and I accidentally burnt a hole on Ang's gloves by trying to dry them off on a heater after we rode in the rain from Port Angeles.

The people we have met, both in the US and now in Mexico have just been incredible, kind, friendly and so interested in what we are doing.  It makes up for sitting in the saddle for long hours and the heat beating down at around 40 Celsius.
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Mainland Mexico

Daryll writes:

We spent 2 days in old Mazatlan and most of the 2nd day was spent on bike maintenance.  We had done just over 5000km by this point, so the bikes needed an oil change and some TLC.  It was still in the high 30's, so wasn't the most comfortable working on the bikes in the heat; however there was the ocean across the street from our hotel to cool off in as well as the hotel pool to relax in, so it wasn't all that bad.  I had to find some oil first though and I could only find 15w40 instead of the 10w40 that I would normally use.  The bikes seem to be running fine with the new oil though.

Hotel Belmar courtyard
 We stayed at Hotel Belmar in Mazatlan and got to meet the owner (Hector) who even though was really busy doing lots of renovations to his 200 room hotel, found the time to sit with us and give us some route suggestions as he is a rider as well.  He suggested that we take a trip to Durango, leaving the coast and into the mountains to Zacatecas, on to St Luis Potosi, to Aguascalientes, to Guanajuato and after some research found that these were really old towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites, so decided to leave the coast and the heat behind and head into the Sierra Madre Mountain Range.

Sunset over old Mazatlan
As we leave Mazatlan, the terrain and vegetation changes as we head up into the mountains.  From the dry desert like landscape that we were used to, to lush green vegetation with the odd waterfall.  The road to Durango, 320km that meanders through the Sierra Madre Mountain Range climbed to around 9,000ft and about 150km was twisty mountain roads with continuous switchbacks were trucks would literally have to swing onto the oncoming lane to make a turn.  Still need to get to the video of that as well.  During the day, we would stop and take pictures, military vehicles would pass us by, I would wave and they would wave back, we passed several military checkpoints and they would wave us through.  By now, we have passed through a dozen or so military checkpoints, and were only stopped once where the guy wanted to look inside our panniers.  Guess he needed something to do that morning as he barely looked in them and just felt around, but was more interested in where we had come from and where we were headed.  It  was only after we get to Durango, did we learn that we rode through the famous "Golden Triangle" of Mexico where all the drug crops are grown.  Guess ignorance is bliss after all.

We spent 2 days in Durango which was a lovely small town with some amazing architecture and churches.  Yet again, our trip is not about the ride or the destination but more about the people along the way.  We stayed with an amazing couple (Frida, Jorge Luis and their pug Yoda).  They lived in the heart of the Zona Centro (downtown) and had an amazing rooftop patio.  They are the most adorable couple.  Frida is a lawyer and Jorge Luis is a Vet who offers the most incredible care and service to his clients and literally works 24/7.  We tagged along on our first night there as he picked up a dog that needed care and had dropped off a golden retriever to her owner after being in his clinic.  This golden was a lot more calmer than our Echo.  They had also confirmed a few of our destinations plans and offered up a few more.  We miss you guys already!

Jorge Luis, Yoda & Frida with some yummy tacos for dinner.
After Durango, we headed south to Zacatecas and then on to St Luis Potosi, both UNESCO World heritage sites.  If we are staying in a hotel for the evening, our usual routine is that we will read up on 2-3 budget hostels/hotels and map them out on the vague Lonely Planet map and then try to navigate our way into the bustling city and now the ones we were going to be in are all cobblestone as you enter the downtown area.  Not so much fun riding a heavily laden bike.  We park outside the hotel that we had selected, I normally wait outside as Angela goes in to find out the price, see if there is hot water, wifi, safe bike parking and take a look at the room.  This takes a few minutes and as she is doing this, I start talking to the 2 policia standing outside the hotel.  With the few Spanish words that I have and the few that I can understand, they ask the usual, where we are from and where we are headed and take interest in the bikes.  They are super friendly and a few minutes later 2 more arrive riding bicycles.  Ang. comes out giving the thumbs up, so we unload the bikes to make them lighter so that I can push them up the sidewalk, into the hotel lobby and into the courtyard for the night.  In order for me to get them facing in the right direction, I would have to push them out into traffic, pull them back, turn them around and push, probably with some help up the sidewalk.  Yes, I could ride it up; however the embarrassment of falling over on a busy street didn't appeal to me, so decided to do it the hard way.  The 4 cops are now watching and realized what I was planning on doing and figured they should help.  One steps out in traffic, stops the vehicles coming down the one way street so that I can move the bike out onto the street, turn around and push the bike back up the sidewalk and into the hotel lobby.  Once the first bike is in, the same policia helps stop traffic the second time around as well.  Even the police are friendly.  The next morning, as we head out of town, I take a wrong turn and head in the wrong direction down a one way street.  As soon as I take the turn, another policia is sitting in his vehicle watching, Oops.  I immediately stop, he shakes his head and I point in the direction of the gas station which is another 10meters away and head down anyway.  He wasn't too concerned.
Sculpture in Zacatecas
 We end up filling up at a gas station outside town, so that we can beat the morning traffic and as we fill up that morning, another rider on a fancy little Yamaha pulls up to fill gas as well.  Once he is done, he comes over and introduces himself (Alfonso) and we talk about his bike and he invites us over to his house a few minutes away for breakfast.  it's about 8:30am now, and he obviously had to get to work, but took the time and wanted to spend time with us and learn about where we were going.  Alfonso is a musician at night and works at a Toyota dealership during the day.

It wasn't a long ride that morning and we get to Aguascalientes by early afternoon and meet Luis Manuel who we stayed with for the night.  Luis is a professional photographer and also lives in the Zona Centro area of town.  He has his studio on the ground floor and lives upstairs.  His attention to detail and customer service to his clients should be in a Customer Service Training Manual.  In between his client appointments, Luis makes the time to give us a walking tour of the downtown core and together with his wife Marie, treat us like family. Luis is planning a trip in 3 years, for his 50th birthday, to buy a touring bike and travel around Mexico over 40 days and do his photography as well.  Hopefully I can come back and join him for apart of this trip. Luis has a coffee shop/bar next to his business and as we were outside taking pictures, the owner Marisol and her bartender (Eduardo) come out and start talking to us as and invite us over to her shop for a drink.  These acts of kindness that are leaving the memories.

Marisol, Eduardo & Luis
In Aguascalientes, we visit the Museo Nacional de la Muerte (Museum of Death) for some amazing paintings, carvings and sculptures depicting death.  We are in Guanajuato at the moment and staying with Kay, an American who now calls Guanajuato home and who has offered for us to stay an extra day so that we can kick back and relax.  Kay has been wonderful as she found us secure motorcycle parking at her friend's place so our bikes are safe.  Guanajuato is situated in a valley, extremely steep cobblestone streets, lots of one way streets and lots of tunnels, so it helps not having to ride for the next few days.

New Mexico photos uploaded and I'm hoping to get to some video later this afternoon as well.  Thanks Colleen and Joey for the Skype call this morning.  I was really nice seeing and talking to you guys. 
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Smooth Sailing to Old Mazatlan

Angela writes:

Just wanted to let you know that our overnight ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan was not negatively affected by the tropical storm Georgette that passed over Baja on Sept 21. Yesterday we arrived at the ferry terminal the required 3 hours before our 8 pm sailing.  We were informed that because of the storm our sailing might be delayed or cancelled.  At 7:30pm we hurriedly boarded the ferry as a thunder and lightening storm started crashing overhead. This started freaking me out but I was quickly distracted by having to ride my motorcycle onto a 8 floor cruise ship, weaving around semi trucks and topes (huge Mexican speed bumps). The ship didn't actually leave port until about 9pm and by this time I was doped up on Gravol and my belly was full from the free meal that came with our tickets.  Needless to say I slept for most of the crossing which was seemingly uneventful. Thankfully no weather drama. I'm actually trying to Google what time Georgette actually went over La Paz and I think it was about 11pm.  Georgette headed north as we headed south.

Mazatlan is beautiful! We are staying in a hotel on the ocean in the old part of town. It has a very 1950s kind of feel to it and doesn't seem to be as ridiculously hot as Baja.We'll have more details later. I just wanted you to know that we did not end up at the bottom of the Pacific, in case you were worried :)
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Be Careful What You Wish For

Angela writes:
So as Daryll explained the Baja desert is hot – frickin’ hot and I am having a particularly rough time thinking or talking or eating during the sweltering heat of the day. The riding is fabulous when we are travelling at 80 to 100 km/hr and there is a great breeze through the vents of our gear and helmets. The problem occurs when we stop mid-day to find accommodation and ride slow and try to make decisions – yikes.  I feel like a bug under a magnifying glass.

This one particular day we knew that there was beautiful camping on the beach south of a town called Mulege. We stopped in Mulege and travelled down some dirt roads and stopped at a place that advertised $5 “camping”. Basically it was a farmer/mechanics backyard with lizards and dirty mattresses which I had to tour in full motorcycle gear looking for a potential spot to set up a tent.  It was like walking around in a dirty oven and once I saw what they called “La Bano”, I decided that this was not the place for us. Gratefully as Daryll and I were trying to decide what to do, a sport fishing Gringo in a jeep drove by and confirmed that there was beautiful beach camping just off the highway about 30 km south of where we were. Getting back on the bikes for some breeze sounded like the best idea and we tore up the dirt road back to the highway. After some sweeping high curves on the highway it opened up to a beautiful sandy beach with turquoise water and shade canopies for camping. We paid our $8, drove up to a secluded canopy, ripped off our gear/ boots and ran into the ocean. Daryll was a bit surprised to find me crying amidst our good fortune but I was just so happy to be cool and in such a wonderful paradise. I think I heard my body sizzle when I ran into the water!  The best part for me was the night time swimming under the stars, with a cool breeze and the water the temperature of a bath.  The relief however is short lived as the tent has to come down the next morning, the bikes have to be packed and the bloody sun comes out again….

While stopped at an abandoned gas station yesterday to rest in the shade, we met a local drinking a beer wrapped in newspaper, while waiting for his brother to pick him up to take him back to his home in Los Cabos. He mentioned that La Paz, our next destination city is an even hotter place than what we were experiencing.  This was not the climate report that I was hoping for.  At the time my dream weather forecast would have been for rain and yesterday I even decided to Google to see if the Baja desert ever got any. Low and behold when we started riding this morning it felt much cooler, and there was moisture in the air. When we stopped to rest on our way to La Paz I even started taking pictures of the sky that I hoped were rain clouds. I didn’t dare believe that they really might be.

Immediately upon arrival to La Paz we went to the ferry office to buy tickets for our 12 hour ferry ride tomorrow to Mazatlan. It only runs a couple times a week so we wanted to make sure to get on Tuesday’s sailing.  We also figure there is going to be a lot of admin work to bring the bikes over so we were in a hurry to get some of the red tape out of the way before tomorrow. We booked and paid for our nonrefundable $250 tickets for us and the bikes to cross over to mainland Mexico.  While waiting at this office we looked on the TV reporting about Hurricane Karl and some flooding that occurred really far away from us on the East coast of Mexico (I repeat we have not been at all effected by Hurricane Karl).  After we got our tickets and found a hostel we were excitedly told that later today it might rain in La Paz for the first time this fall. Yippy Skippy except then I decided to check the National Hurricane website to see what the weather is suppose to be for the Baja and area for the next few days. I discovered that there is a 50% chance of a cyclone developing in this area in the next 48 hours. Perfect, our ferry leaves at 8pm MST tomorrow. I’ll let you know how THAT develops. Oh BTW, it just started to pour….

New pictures uploaded to the Mexico album.

Daryll using his land legs while he can!
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Sunday, September 19, 2010

Baja California!

Daryll writes:

We’ve been on the Baja for 7 days now and yes, we should have posted more often; however still trying to get into a routine.  I’ll pick-up where Ang. left off – in Ensenada, our first town after crossing the border.  Ensenada is on the coast and the second major town after Tijuana heading south and also boasts one of the biggest Mexican flags I have ever seen.

Initially, we didn’t have any real plan of how long we would stay, but after finding our hotel, checking out the town a bit, we decided to stay an extra day.  The extra day also gave us the opportunity to meet up with Lutz, a German motorcycle traveler that stayed with us for a few days while he toured through BC.  He is also headed south and stopped off in Ensenada to attend Spanish emersion school.  The extra day was also spent discovering the best fish tacos at the local fish market, fresh off the boats.  It is now my favorite meal.  Yum, yum!

The major attraction to northern Baja is whale watching, when in season (January), so we continued south and came across what Baja is famous for, cactus and a bit more cactus and it wasn’t till we hit Baja California Sur that we started to camp along the Sea of Cortes.  You can’t go wrong camping in spots like these.

Sea of Cortes
The downside though, it gets to around 40 degrees Celsius by 10am, and are now getting up around 5am to get an early start and make sure we are at our destination by noon, and just in time for a siesta.  Hence the lack of blog posts; this getting up early, riding in the sweltering heat and hanging out on nice beaches (when we find them) is all tough work.  The weather has been in the extremes though.  We got an early start one morning, and it was so cold, I switched on my heated grips.  Yes, for those non-riders that are reading this, we have heated grips on both bikes and trust me, once you’ve tried them, you won’t ride a bike without them on.  Heated grips on in the morning and several layers of clothes under our riding gear and by lunch time it is in the 40’s and we start shedding the layers and are dripping with perspiration.

We did have a little mishap though.  On one of the sweltering hot days, we were heading down a dirt road looking for a spot to camp and Ang. lets me know through the communicator that her bike was wobbly for a second, so she stopped.  I'm a bit ahead of her, so make a u-turn and head back and notice that one of her panniers has fallen off and laying on the dirt road behind her.  So after spending some time in the heat, lesson learned, check all the pannier fasteners every morning.  No serious damage.

We head off to La Paz on Monday morning to catch the ferry to Mazatlan.  So the 8 days that we would have spent on the Baja is definitely short; however not sure if I would want to come back here.  There are nice beaches; however there are nice beaches elsewhere as well.  Probably will see the part of Mexico that we missed by heading this way.

I have really slow internet at the moment, so haven't uploaded any new Mexico pics to the album.  Will try again tomorrow.
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Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Made a Run for the Border

Angela writes:
Hola all!  We are safe and well inside Mexico. Our border crossing this time went as expected. As we travelled down California we were warned by men at gas stations and women at tourist booths about the perils of crossing the border. We are happy to proclaim that we have not been shot or killed!

We decided to cross at Tijuana border instead of Tecate as originally planned as we found out that the Tecate crossing would not be able to facilitate importing our bikes and we wanted to get all the administrative work out of the way.  We headed to the “big border” after leaving our lovely host’s home in San Diego at 8:30am morning.  We stopped in San Ysidro to buy some mandatory liability insurance for riding in Mexico and then we made a run for the border. We anxiously joined a fast moving lineup of cars, weaved our way through a spiked gate on the ground that would not allow a car to escape once it was driven over and then, much to our surprise, 5 minutes later we popped out over the other side of the border without even being stopped!  We did however have to subject ourselves to accomplishing some work.  Since we knew that we going to go further than 30km into Mexico and that we will be eventually making our way over to mainland Mexico from Baja, we had to stop and obtain our tourist visa and bike importation papers before heading on our way. We parked our bikes up on the sidewalk and headed down a hallway full of offices and counters. Other tourists in line helped us figure out which counters we needed to visit and which ones we could skip. First we lined up to get a blank visa form to fill out, then we had to lineup at another counter to pay our fee at the bank for our visa, then we had to go back to the original lineup and show the visa guy that we paid for the tourist visa and then he stamped our passports. He explained that we would then have to drive about a block away to go to the Vehicle Importation place to get the correct paperwork for our motorcycles. As we left the immediate border area we noticed the machine gun carrying, black ski mask wearing, army guys patrolling the area.  They were pretty cool and gave us the thumbs up as we rode past.

Getting to the Vehicle Importation place was a bit chaotic as we were immediately mingling with regular traffic and hordes of taxi cabs. Daryll and I lost each other for a few minutes in a traffic circle, he went one way and I went another but we just took it easy, turned on our head set communicators and found each other again without drama. We parked at the Vehicle Import place, went in and paid our money at the bank inside and got the proper documents to allow us to bring our motorcycles to mainland Mexico. Next hard part of the day was then leaving the city and start driving through to Ensenada. We decided to treat ourselves to taking the toll highway as it avoided having to go through the city of Tijuana and it was less busy than the regular highway. It gave us the opportunity to get our bearings and ended up being quite scenic. By this time it was around noon and Daryll suggested that we stop for lunch. I was pretty high strung at that point and asked him if we could just keep riding as I knew a few more kilometers under my tires would sooth me. Plus I knew that the further away from the border we got, the safer we probably were.

On the highway just outside Rosarito we were directed by some more machine gun carrying army guys to stop at a roadside check point – Daryll went to one guy and I went to another. We had already discussed the possibility that we would be subject to these checks so we played it cool and allowed these guys to see whatever they wanted – not that we really had a choice. I’m not really sure what he was searching for but he made me open one of my panniers and he checked inside a couple of my bags. When he was done he helped me pack up my things again and made a joke about my water bottle being a bomb. He was super cool and said “bon voyage” as I prepared to ride a way. Daryll had a similar experience with the 2 guards that were searching his stuff and we rode away in peace. 

Around 2pm we ended up at a hotel that was recommended to us by a friend we had met back in San Diego, Sven of “Let’s ATV”, and it was perfect – cheap, with free wifi, and a bit away from the regular tourist area. We treated ourselves to a well deserved nap and hot showers. Later we went for dinner with the locals and had our first cervezas - <sigh of relief here>.

New pics added to the USA album of our time in San Diego and pics uploaded to the Mexico album

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Sunday, September 12, 2010

Ditched the Bikes!

Daryll writes:

As Angela mentioned in the previous post, we have met some amazing people along the way and a big Thank You to:
Chris & Ally - Santa Cruz
Richard & Michelle - Atascadero
Rick - Camarillo
Giri & Uma - San Diego
for hosting us along the way.

Once all dried out, we planned to ride through San Francisco.  We are staying away from big cities, however just couldn't pass up the opportunity to ride across the Golden Gate Bridge.  We camped the previous night, so managed to get an early start and it is slowly becoming quicker to pack the bikes as we develop a routine.  Hwy 1 is an amazing twisty, curvy road that hugs the cliffs of California on the edge of the ocean; which would make it a bikers dream.  A totally different case when the fog rolls in and you can barely see 10 meters in front of you.  Focus and concentrate is the name of the game.  Come mid-morning, we hit the Bay area and cross the Golden Gate Bridge.  I do have video of it, so need to edit all that I shot and will post soon.

We hit the beaches of Santa Cruz, CA which is such a beautiful little town.  Our timing is perfect as we arrive the day after schools re-open, so a sense of normality is returning to the town after the hordes of beach goers return to the city.  The day prior, I notice an oil leak around the cam chain tensioner gasket on Angela's bike.  Nothing too serious, but oil isn't meant to be coating the outer casing of the engine.  Chris, the advrider that we are staying with, also owns a DR as well as a Cagiva works at a bike shop and manages to get us in the next day to have the gasket replaced.  This happened previously and I stopped the leak with some gasket sealer, so carried 2 spare gaskets and more sealer; however this time, wanted it sorted out permanently.  The team at Donati Motorsports were great and had us in and out within the morning.  We meandered on to Atascadero and this is were we decided to ditch the bikes for a while and take on travelling in luxury - not really.

Our new ride!
Richard & Michelle offered us their RV to spend the night in and it was one of the most comfortable beds that I have slept on.  We stopped for lunch in Santa Barbara and hung out on the beach and met a wonderful couple (Ed & Jan) who were from the Laguna beach area and were taking 2 weeks to head north up the California coast in their RV.  We sat around and played with their dogs and tested out their electric bicycles.  We continued on to Camarillo on the outskirts of Malibu and Rick was kind enough to act as tour guide as we rode the infamous Mulholland Dr. in Beverly Hills and where all the local bikers congregate at the Rock Shop.  It was like being at a show & shine, tons of bikes to drool over.  Nice to have a local show us the way.  Rick is pretty famous on the advrider forum, which we found out after he showed us his stable of bikes and I immediately recognized one of his bikes.  A custom paint job on a BMW 1200GSA done up by Jesse James.  Jesse owned the bike for a while before selling it.  As we were seeing the sights of Malibu, we ran into a 9/11 Memorial Ride and chatted to another advrider (Ted) who gave us a few more route suggestions.

Jesse's custom paint job.
We bid farewell to Rick and bit the bullet and got onto one of the most busiest highways in the US.  Hwy 405 through Los Angeles and headed south to San Diego.  Our timing was yet again perfect as we got onto the highway just after lunch on a Saturday Sept. 11th and there wasn't as much traffic as we were warned there would be; however it is a bit daunting being on a 6-8 lane highway in both directions.  I also have some video of this, so need to get to that as well.  We are spending a rest day in San Diego, getting to see some of the sights and plan on crossing over to Mexico early tomorrow.

We have been on the road for 14 days now and have met some incredible people along the way.  We stop for coffee or take a break and end up chatting to passers by or bikers that are driving by in their cars and make u-turns to come back to chat to us.  Yesterday, while we were on Hwy 405 and I 5, drivers would pass us by and give us the thumbs up.  As we got to Camirillo early than we had thought, we had decided to stop off at a gas station to check if we could get free wifi, but wasn't able to connect.  As we were setting up the laptop, we met Kyle who was waiting as he was getting his car washed.  A biker himself, he generously offered to take us back to his office where we could get onto the internet.  Note that this is a Friday afternoon and I'm sure Kyle had better things to do than go back to work; but it is another example of the generosity of the folks we meet along the way.  Just a shout out to Kyle, who we can hopefully meet again in Brazil.  That evening, we spent the night with Rick and he had mentioned to his local grocery store owner that he had 2 Canadians biking to Argentina.  Sammy, the owner invited us back the next morning to meet us and had coffee at his store before touring Malibu.  There are truly good people in the world and I am sure that this is just the start.

We have more photos uploaded to our USA folder.  As we are uploading from 2 camera's, they may not always be in sequence.  For those that are following our blog and subscribing, thank you for your ongoing support.  Promise that we will have more regular posts as we slow the pace down a bit heading into Mexico.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

Beggars Can’t be Choosers… and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Stopped in a state park to dry out from the previous day’s rain.

Angela writes:
The people we’ve been meeting through Couch Surfing and ADV Rider have been incredibly amazing.We contact people via email a couple days before we arrive in their town and several have graciously agreed to host in their homes for a night or several days.  So far we’ve stayed in:

Port Angeles – Sherry & Terry
Ocean Park - Mike
Newport – Sev & Alyssa
Coos Bay – Daina
Trinidad – Carol
Arcata - Susan & Greg
Mendocino – David

I can’t begin to describe how thankful I am for their kindness, support and friendship. It is so rewarding to stay with people who are from the communities we are visiting and the information they offer about the road ahead is priceless.

We’ve been meeting lots of other people on the street as well. Most who are attracted to the massive gas tanks on our bikes and ask where we’re headed. We’ve begun speaking “America” as Daryll’s tank is 9 gallons (35 L) and mine is 6 gallons (23 L).  The thing that makes my stomach flip is when they exclaim “WOW you’ve come all the way from Canada!?!” and I think OMG we ain’t done nothin’ yet. As always, I’m encouraged by seeing other riders on the road and always try to give them a hardy wave.

Our bodies are getting used to riding everyday.  At the end of some days I am so tired I almost fall off my bike but the next morning I’m always ready to ride again and am comforted when settled onto my seat. My only complaint is a sore left thumb from all the signal light work I’ve done and Daryll says he needs a world class shoulder massage from Joey! In tax-free Oregon Daryll and I picked up a couple of helmet communicators to make it easier for us to discuss where and when to stop while on the road. At first I was hesitant to get them as I rather enjoy being alone in my helmet but after a few days of using them now, I can't imagine riding without them and I'm glad to have Daryll share my head space :)
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Saturday, September 4, 2010

When in Doubt Faint!

All loaded up and ready to go.
Daryll writes:
We are in Arcata. California at the moment and after 6 days on the road, 1460km later, we already have a few stories.  Crossing the US Border was meant to be the easiest border that we were going to cross during this trip.  We have down it several dozen times over the last few years, it wasn't on our radar that we would need to stress out about it.

So here the fun begins - Who would have thought that crossing the border on a Monday morning was going to be so busy.  We waited for about 45min in the line up in our riding gear in the heat.  Angela rides up to the border guard at the booth and after several minutes gets handed a slip and directed to go inside.  I follow inside. We line up again and Ang fills me in on the conversation she had with the guard.  Apparently he wasn't happy with the fact that we had no exact return date back in Canada and neither was he happy with the fact that we had no real documented ties to Canada anymore.  Wait in line for another 45mins till we get to another customs guard at the counter.  He goes through the usual questions as we answer the best we can.  According to him, we needed to prove to him that we were not planning to immigrate to the US and we had no physical proof on us that we were only planning on staying 2 weeks before moving on to Mexico.

The 2 most important questions he asks, we answer honestly and it's not the answers he was looking for:-
1)  Do we have a home or a place to go back to in Canada - our answer is no.
2)  Do we have jobs awaiting for us in Canada - our answer again is no.
We assure the guy that we have funds, and that we are traveling and have no intention to immigrate to the US; however he is not buying our story and I can see that he is on the verge of denying us entry.

By this point, I was feeling too well.  Spent about 90mins in riding gear waiting and needed to sit down. I thought I could take a step back from the counter and possibly sit; however didn't quiet make it and as I took a step back, continued to the ground laying on my back and fainting.  I probably had about 5 custom guards around me, asking if I was ok.  On the way down, I hit my head on the tile floor, so they were concerned that I had hurt my neck or head and started scanning me for any visible injuries till the paramedics arrive.  A couple minutes later, about 4 fire fighters arrive and start going through all their procedures.  I recover by having some water, my head hurt, but wasn't anything serious. 

As I lay on the ground, the only thing I could think of, was the guard had a problem with us entering the US before this, and now with me laying on the ground, he is definitely not going to let is in now.  By this time I am feeling much better and start joking with the firemen as they are really interested in our tip.   I notice that the same guard pulls Angela aside and I find out later that he had asked her to go through our itinerary and says that he is granting us entry to the US because I had fainted. So much for logical rules getting us into the country. We spend a few more minutes resting outside in the shade before moving on to our friends (Tom & Kathy's) place in Bellingham for lunch and a well needed distraction from the mornings events.

Tom had introduced me to Couchsurfing a few weeks prior and we had a few places lined up for the first few nights.  We spent that evening in Port Angeles with Sherry & Terry and we got in later than schedules; however they were absolutely amazing, thank you.

We head off early on day 2 which was going to be our longest riding day (400km) for our stay in the US.  We were going to ride from Port Angeles to Ocean Park.  The roads were awesome, twisties along the coast; however it rained and rained and rained for pretty much the 9hrs that we spent on the road.  So when we got to Mike's place in Ocean Park, we were soaked.  Mike, a fellow rider as well was equally gracious and by the time we went to bed, had all our riding gear sprawled around his house drying out.

Check out the link on the right of our photos so far in the US.
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