Friday, November 2, 2012

First Few Weeks...

Well, here goes.  I know I've been meaning to do this for a while and I've been telling everyone that I would start a blog for this trip; however, life gets in the way, and I've spent way more time actually doing the trip and living life than writing about it.  So now here I am, almost two weeks into the trip, already in Mazatlan, Mexico, starting my blog. 
I'm probably going to pull a lot of this information from a thread that I started on ADV rider (a website dedicated to Adventure Motorcycling).  So you'll have to forgive any spelling errors, poor grammar, or otherwise unintelligible prose as I'm extremely busy actually trying to surrive while riding an oversized and overloaded dirt bike through an unfamliar country where I can barely speak the language.  It doesn't leave to much time for writing, as you can imagine.
As for the name of my blog; I spent some time in Spain a few years ago, and everyone started calling me "El Calvo", which roughly translates to: "the Bald One".  So now you know...

I started on October 16th from Grants Pass, OR and rode to the Coast of California via the redwoods.

I stopped for my first night and stayed in a teepee in a KOA in West Port, CA. I was missing Melissa like crazy and definetly shed more than a few tears that night.

On the second day I continued down the Coast via highway 1, crossed the Golden Gate Bridge and made it to Salinas.

On the third day I rode to Cambria, CA for the Horrizons Unlimited conference where I stayed for the next three nights.  For those of you that don't know, Horrizons Unlimited is an orginization dedicated to Adventure Motorcycling.  The conference in Cambria featured three days of speakers, presentations, and classes on everything from simple bike maintenance to round the world trips on motorcycles.

I was a little dissapointed at being the only guy on a cheap, albiet heavily modified, Honda XR650L.  Most of the people there were older, retired gentlemen on $20,000 BMW adventure bikes.  There weren't too many 28 year old veterans on $3,000 dirtbikes heading for South America.  Still, I got lots of good information, met lots of cool people, and even met up with a few people that were heading in the same direction as me.

The next day found me in San Diego staying at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot where my veteran status paid off big time in the form of a $30 dollar, two room sweet in the Bachelor Officer's Quarters. As I took off my panniers for the night, I noticed that my luggage rack had fractured! I was sweating bullets as I only had a day before I was supposed to link up with a group of people and cross the border. I woke up early the next morning and went to a powder coating shop a few blocks from the depot and found a guy who offered to weld it up for $40. Sold! What I didn't know until he started was that it would be a wire feed job....eghhhh.....

In any event, the guy did a good job, and I had him weld on a small gusset underneath the break to shore it up a little more. And yes, I was so busy disconecting the battery, pulling the CDI, and unhooking the grounds that I left a full extra gas tank on the bike, just abover where he was welding.

I proceeded on to home depot where I made a nifty tool case in about 15 min to redistribute some of the weight out of the boxes and onto a more secure location for the bike.

And finally, in my mad dash for preperation, I stopped at Auto Zone, picked up some rotella, and found a smog shop that let me change my oil in their parking lot. It was a hectic day to say the least.

The next morning I linked up with four other riders in an ARCO parking lot in Chula Vista at 0630 in the morning. Our grand armada consisted of 3 KLR 650's, 1 KTM 690 Adventure, and me, the Lone Ranger on the XR650L. After some chit chat, we mounted up and started riding south!

We crossed the border in Tijauana with no issues and rode south for El Rosario and Mama Espinoza's Hotel/Cafe. Arrived and was given a mustache sticker by Ed Zachtamundo for the XR which I promptly applied to the front fender:

At which point, I decided that the bike needed a name. I figured that the mustache added a certain latin flair of Machismo to the Honda and that the bike should probably be christened "El Senior". Done.

Day two found us making tracks for Guerro Negro, almost 220 gasless miles away. En Route we stopped and took a little path into the desert which allowed us to practice our trials skills on grossly overweight 650's:

We arrived in Guererro Negro, found a $20 room with secure parking and wifi and crashed.

Day three in Mexico found us leisourly riding to Muelege, a scant 130 miles away.  We finally reached the sea of cortez and made into Muelege around 2 pm. Beautiful little town, wished we could have stayed longer.

Day four and we were pushing hard to get all the way to La Paz and catch the sunday ferry to Mazatlan. We arrived in town and began fruitlessly searching for the ferry office. A nice cop on a V-Strom 650 soon picked us up and lead us to the office which was closed! Then we made a mad dash to Pichelingue to see if the office near the harbor was open. It was closed until 8:30 PM!

We then sat around and ate tacos and drank beer until the office oppened and then were told that Tourist Cards were no longer issued at the ferry or in La Paz and that we would have to return all the way to Tijauana to get them! Everyone was a little frusterated as we had all heard from multiple sources that they could be obtained in La Paz. Discouraged we headed back into town and found a cheap hotel for the night.

In the morning, two of our riders headed back out to the ferry office to try again, while two more headed to the airport to try their luck there, while I strolled down to the Maricon and had coffee and crepes and chatted with a nice american couple who were riding their BMW towards South America as well. I walked back to the hotel and bumped into "el tigre", a former air force B-52 pilot who was now piloting one of the KLR's in our little band. His run to the airport had been succesful and his tourist card was now in hand!

Following this, the rest of us scrambled to the airport, got our cards, then b-lined it for the ferry. Made it just in time, got the last five seats available, and we were underway to Mazatlan by 4:30 PM. On the ferry, a drunk mexican guy sat down in the seat in front of me, leaned his chair back, and proceeded to try and rifle through my bags. One of my companions saved the day by thumping the back of his chair hard enough to cause him to bolt upright and utter a little profanity in Spanish.

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