Thursday, November 20, 2008

Suspending trip for a couple of months

After finding myself without a camera for several days, I found that I was missing a large part of what my trip had become. So, after a couple of wrong turns and detours, I found myself headed north towar home to get my camera repaired and sort out a few little kinks and glitches for my follow on journey back down south toward Ushuaia, Argentina and the rest of South America...
Until later...B

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Los Mochis to Copper Canyon (banditos optional)

Today was to be the day I went into Copper Canyon. I left early in the morning and made it to Choix (about 90 miles from Los Mochis - where I stayed last night. From Choix it is a dirt road for about 120 miles to Creel. The dirt roads are fine, if a bit rugged. I just have to ride a bit slower. As I was leaving Choix after getting gas and water and food for a few days, I was stopped by the Federales who told me about a couple from Switzerland that were robbed and killed there earlier this week. They were also on bikes and for the past 6 months there were robberies and banditos that were holding people up along the next 25-50 miles of this dirt road. Well, since I was born with rocks in my head, I proceeded on past them.

You know, it is one thing if you ignore one person telling you some stories about "banditos", it is another if you are told by the guy at your hotel AND the police. I must've ridden for 15 miles up this dirt road before a pickup truck, with several dudes standing in the back of the bed with shotguns, passed me while kicking dust up enough to blind me. Well, it spooked me that these kids had guns and all sorts of things went through my mind, so I just turned around and sped back to Choix and beyond. As I entered Choix, I waved at the Federales and they just shook their heads. It is funny that it took the power of suggestion and no actual threat to spook me. Those kids in the pickup truck weren't threatening, they weren't even looking at me. They weren't even holding the guns (the ones that were standing), there were two guys sitting in the bed with shotguns on their knees... not really a threat, but it is better safe than sorry.

Well, that is why I started to think about heading north to Denver. Nothing like having your plans dashed by fears. Granted, they were fears that were founded on some intangible and tangible facts, but fears none-the-less.

There are other ways to get there. One is toward Mazatlan and then east to Durango, then north to Chihuahua. I'll head to Mazatlan first and get my head on straight before I make a decision.

Friday, November 7, 2008

La Paz

After the short ride from Cabo, with a stop in Todos Santos (great little town) for a nice lunch, I found my way back to La Paz waiting for a ferry to take me to Los Mochis.

There isn't a whole lot to do here other than dive, eat, drink, sleep or whatever else people do on vacation. There is more to La Paz than the beach and water... unless you explore in the town. Not a great little town, but a lot better than Cabo's town - better on the beach...

Even better when you can watch the sunset with an umbrella drink in hand... whoa! That is one big assed drink!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The (very) Expensive Side of Baja

One of the pleasant parts about traveling through Baja is how a little bit of money goes a very long way. That is, until I reached Cabo San Lucas. I went through San Juan los Cabos, which is a cheaper little brother of Cabo San Lucas. It was also less, well, touchy-feely than what I was assuming Cabo to be. 

This shot is actually on the way out of Cabo (up the west coast of Baja). It used to be that people would put cars on cinder blocks. This is entirely too much effort for a busted up old Mustang!
Instead of staying in San Lucas, I went to Cabo because I wanted to take photos of the Arch that is at the tip of Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. For some reason that thought took over all reasonable thoughts of exploring this little burg. C'est la vie.

As I neared Cabo I started feeling regret. There was just too much traffic. There were just too many large scale resorts. There was just too much, too much... too much of what I consider "ick-factor". Over exploitation of an area for greed irks me, but it didn't stop me from staying at one of those fine upscale resorts living off room service and swimming pool beers. 

There is just something about chilling out, doing nothing, ordering room service, sitting on a balcony overlooking a beach and watching waves curl and crash on the shoreline. Unfortunately, along this stretch of coastline, you cannot do so without forking over a shitload of cash. In fact, one place wouldn't even let me in their gates until I pulled my helmet off, asked for the manager and sat outside waiting. When the guy got there, we talked, he let me through and I got to reception and was told that the lowest priced room was $735 per night. There wasn't gold plating on the toilets in the lobby, so I can't figure out why it was so much in the off-season. The rooms, from the outside, appeared common.

Further down the road, I found another place for $635 and yet another for $500. WTF-O!? What is it about trying to find a room with a view of the ocean? Is that asking for too much? I did find a place that didn't make me vomit when I was told the cost, and oddly enough, it was at the Sheraton. Trust me, it wasn't cheap, but it wasn't "take out a mortgage" expensive.
Sure, hotels are expensive in Cabo. We expect that, but we didn't expect to pay 350 pesos for a cerveza. That is almost as expensive as New York City. Food, which has been cheap everywhere else in Baja is as expensive as it is in California, Seattle or NYC. Once again, I have to ask, "why"? The food here is the worst on the peninsula and everywhere I went, except when I ate in neighborhoods of locals, it was as if they all took Chili's recipes. I didn't eat at the Cabo Wabo's or Shrimp Bucket type places. I ate at what appeared to be local and the prices were still inflated. 
Pretty sad that on top of a $3.50 beer, they make you tote this guitar sized key to use the urinal... Makes you wonder how many people have peed on the key when they were drunk... (even sober people do stupid things).
The one redeeming feature of Cabo was the sunset cruise around the Arch and past Lover's Beach. What a great night!
I can't tell you my favorite place on my trip so far, but I can now isolate my least favorite...

The NOT SO Easy Side of Baja

From La Buffadora I intended to head over to the east coast of Baja to ride along the Sea of Cortez (also known as Gulf of California) and an area that is less traveled and purported to be a more scenic area to ride. 

Since I didn't want to back track to Ensenada, I decided to cross the desert on one of the several roads that I saw on the map. All of these roads are dirt roads and, on the maps, appear to continue across to Hwy 3 from Hwy 1. From what I can tell immediately upon starting on the first road was that it hadn't been graded in a long time, but was still passable.

After an hour of riding down this road, I started to have concerns, but, according to my compass, GPS and my dead reckoning, I was still on course. There was one minor issue that was developing... I started feeling my stomach gurgle. Yes, I was touched with a bit of "tourista" and without the relief and comfort of a restroom. Here I am, in the middle of the desert and needing to stop every 15-20 minutes in the heat of the day with only the shade of a bush or saguaro to keep the sun from my bum.
Before I continue, let me describe the terrain and road conditions. I am riding through a desert of cholla, saquaro, and prickly pear cactus that is used for nopales. The roads are rough, wash board filled and have no continuity. One mile will be hard packed and easy riding, followed by soft washout and then I'd find pockets of talcum powder like sand that seemed determined to grab my bike and pitch me off. I determined that low gear, with steady and moderate velocity was the best method for dealing with the soft talcum powder-like sand. If I went slow, I would fish-tail. If I went fast, the bike would dive (I found this out after leaving a very nice hard section of the road) causing a balance shift that was not easy to manage. After some experimenting I sorted out what was best for each condition and road accordingly and watchfull of the constant shifting.

Okay, now that I painted a grim picture of the conditions, let me just say that I have seen all these conditions before and I am prudent and experienced enough that this is a pretty basic road (except for the beach sand). 
So, I am about 3 hours into this road and haven't seen a road sign since I left the highway. I have had to stop half a dozen times because I am sick and have now run out of TP. I'm down to my last liter of water and it appears like I am only half way across to Highway 3 and I am not feeling any better. Like many deserts, there is not a whole lot of shade except for the occasional sequaro. I have made very little progress (mileage anyway) and then I come to the end of the road. It just ended. For several minutes I thought I missed a turn, but I didn't. I am sure that I could have continued across the open spaces, it wouldn't be like the terrain or riding would be any different... just a little less civilized. Since I was sick, becoming dehydrated and almost out of water, I turned around to be on the safe side.

A couple of hours later the sun was setting and I had still not found the road. I pulled over, parked the bike, set up camp and drained the last of my water and ate a couple of fig bars and almonds for dinner. The next morning as I packed up, I noticed a flat on my rear tire (my third this trip if you are counting). I plugged the hole in record time - I am now a pro at it! After the repairs, I hit the road only to find that I was about 20 minutes from the main road. It wouldn't have made much of a difference if I pushed on last night, I was still a long way from anywhere with a room and who knows how long I could have made it with the tire going flat. It was much better to fix it on the deserted dirt road than on the side of a busy narrow road.
I was still determined to get to the coast, so after I mapped out another route, I continued on for about 60 miles until I found the right turnoff. It is appearing that the 2 Imodium AD I took in the morning are keeping me from the difficulties of the day before (thank god!), so I turn into the road and seem to be making better time than yesterday. I make it about 50-60 miles before the road ends at some rocks that I couldn't find my way around, so it is back the way I came... again. I am frustrated and my "tourista" is coming back. After a few hours on a road that went to nowhere, I find myself back on Highway 1 headed south once again without success.

I can't figure out why a road would just end. I know it looked like it had ended several times before, but I was able to pick it up a short distance after a dry wash I had to cross. You would think it would have terminated at a town or a junction in the road, but at rocks... It was a very popular spot by the bottles, fire pits and trash strewn about, so perhaps it is just a place for the locals to go to shoot some smack, coyotes or just plain old cans.
The 6 hour round trip wasn't a waste, I did see some amazing land that not many see. I also had a bit of adventure and some adrenaline rushes when my bike went out from under me in some thick sand. It is easy to set a bike upright on pavement, but in sand... I had to pull my side backs and brace the tires from sliding away from me and then... well, let's just say that it was not an easy task and I got very frustrated. In the end, and in retrospect, it was a great time. Some might be saying that I never reached my destination of the coast, but as I always say, "It's the journey..."

I was back out on the tarmac and headed south and to a hotel with restroom... I found Mama Espinozas in El Rosario has been a stopping point for the Baja 1000 since the beginning of the race and it doesn't appear that there haven't been any upgrades since, but it was a place that I could rehydrate, eat and find shelter, I stopped. There is something that makes everything right when you can find a good beer, a nice "safe" meal and a nice shaded area to park the bike. Even the nice, hard (bedbug laden) bed was welcome.
The next day I was determined to make it to the Sea of Cortez, so I looked at the map and found a road that looked as if it went across and decided that I will just continue on the pavement until I am sure that I am over my stomach issues. After a long day of riding I found myself at Santa Rosalia. I have finally made it to the Sea of Cortez! Santa Rosalia is the largest town I have seen since Ensenada, with the possible exception of Guerrero Negro, but it is the first resupply since Ensenada for me, so it is a welcome sight. I rode in at dusk and the roads (road) was gridlocked, but by the time I checked into a hotel, cleaned up and went to look for food, it was dark and the roads were empty. No cars, no people, and very few places open. I decided this would not be a place to relax - too much industry here and not enough, well, stuff to see and do.

Instead of exploring Santa Rosalia I decided to head to La Paz. It would be a good long ride, but if I stayed on main roads I should make it with time to look around in between. Not even 60 kms from Rosalia I found myself checking out Mulege (a coastal town) and found that it was nice, but felt like it was a place trying to grow while some people were trying to keep its charm - very disjointed with two modern looking strip malls as you enter the town followed by an adventure outfitter and an old style restaurant and then some gringo restaurants and bungalow style small resorts. 

Further down the road and around the corner was a gem of a place - Bahia Conception is a great, and let me emphasize GREAT, place. As of now, it is untouched yet full of beauty with a handful of gringos living in RVs on the beach or in palapa style houses doting the hills. Another 60 kms brought me to the best place on all of Baja (that I have seen - to include Cabo and La Paz). That was Loreto. 

Loreto is all that Mazatlan, Acapulco and Cabo were in the late 70's - early 80's, but without the pomp. There is a great boardwalk. There are palm tree lined streets and smart unpretentious shops selling REAL local crafts. Sure, there are shops that cater to the cruise ship tourist, but overall it is just a sleepy little town about half the size of Cabo and twice the beauty.  Don't get me wrong, Cabo is set in a pretty setting, but has grown past its means. That is what makes this place different. The planners actually seem to have a plan.

I only lunched at Loreto so I don't have the benefit of more than two hours, but it is well worth the trip (if you are looking for sleepy little towns with good beaches and views.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Easy Side of Baja...

For me, just thinking about The Baja Peninsula of Mexico and the mystique that goes with it is just so engaging. As of 8 days ago I was among those that found this peninsula to be mysterious, rugged and exciting. It is no longer a mystery to me but it is still very rugged and exciting, perhaps in the extreme. 

It comes as no surprise to all those that have seen any or parts of the Baja 1000 that this would be the setting for the grueling and dangerous road race. Perhaps it is better to state that it is no wonder that someone picked this place to stage an endurance race pitting dune buggies (on steroids), dirt bikes, trucks, VW Bugs and Jeeps all on a series of dirt roads and river beds. Each rider or driver vying for some trophy that says you are one "bad ass individual". 

I'll say a few things about the race... First off, I have no idea how they can do this in 11-14 hours. Perhaps having a map of the area is key. Perhaps being on smaller bikes than mine (125cc - 250cc compared to my 1200 cc monster - by comparison) makes it easier to navigate some of the spots of "talcum powder" that appear out of nowhere and bog a larger bike down or pot holes that seem like they could swallow Winnebagos. Perhaps they just know how to ride in dirt better than I do, or perhaps all of them REALLY are the "bad asses" that they think they are. I kinda think that it is that these guys and gals are really hard core and all of the above apply.

From San Diego you cross the border into Mexico and, if you are planning on traveling past Baja and have your own vehicle, the first thing you need to do is get a vehicle permit for the amount of time you plan to spend in Mexico (I got 6 months to cover the return trip) and insurance. This process surprisingly didn't take as much time as I would have thought. 
(pardon the washed out photo - couldn't change settings while I was moving)

Tijauna is not what it was 24 years ago when I was here last. Although, this time, I was not looking for the alley wih the "donkey show" (no, I have never seen the "donkey show") or the "live sex show" or whatever alley that would get me into trouble back then.  Just reading this paragraph makes me shiver at how ridiculous it is for me to say that. (to clear the air here - the only time I was in TJ was with my uncle, aunt and a friend - there was none of the above shenanigans, but it sure does make things more colorful when someone says, "Wanna go see the Donkey Show?")
Crossing into Baja is relatively easy. If you are staying in Northern Baja for less than 72 hours you don't need any papers for your vehicle or person, but you do if you are going to be traveling into Baja Sud or the mainland of Mexico, so I took care of my permits at the border in Tijuana. When you cross the border you don't have to check in, you don't have to show ID, you can just keep going. There is an area where you can do all of this, but it is not directly in front of you and you could easily pass it by. As I did any insurance agency that might have existed in that area... I am still looking for insurance (I think it is mandatory). 

I did find one thing... Hussongs. Hussongs is the oldest Cantina in Mexico, boasting the #002 license to sell alcohol. It opened the doors in 1892 and has been serving tequila and cerveza since.
At the border I met an Australian rider named Ian, who I rode with from Tijuana to Ensenada. He was about the snootiest person that I have ever run across. Sure, we shared a few drinks and a meal, but he really wouldn't be someone that I would sit down with on a regular basis to share beers. The only thing we shared in common was our ride, our desire to be riding and our sense of adventure. Of all the Aussies I have met in my travels, I have to say he is not among those whom I would number as friend. I do feel good that I was able to help him clean out his fuel and get him back on the road. It felt good that I could sort out his issues even though he is almost done with his 2nd time around the world... makes you wonder...
The only two reasons to be on this side of Baja are Hussongs and La Buffadora (the blow hole). The spout of marine water (occurring every minute or so to varying degrees of height) is created when ocean waves and air are drawn into an underwater cave located in the cliffside, and the trapped air and water then explode upwards. This interaction not only creates the upward-shooting spout, but a thunderous noise as well. I snagged a video off youtube... it is passable;-) 
I missed a turn that would take me over to the Sea of Cortez side of Baja from Ensenada and tried to make up for it by cutting across some of the roads that, on my map, appeared to continue all the way to Route 3. This is where Baja got interesting... in a masochistic sort of way. More on that next.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Post Turtles

I had to make a detour to Texas this week to catch up on a few things and found myself sitting next to a rancher at a bar last night during the debate and he struck up a conversation about Obama, McCain and Palin. To my utter shock, I found myself listening intently to what he had to say. I was surprised that I wasn't getting agitated. After all I am in Texas and figured that I would be in for an earful of ultra conservative rhetoric, which, when it is "preachy" can be quite irritating. Like I said, I found myself following along with him on his perspective and how he "cottoned to the negro-fella". While I found this to be offensive, I also excused it as being his advanced age (around 65 - 70 if I were to guess).

You may be wondering, where am I going with this and what is a "post turtle". As Jerry and I were sitting there talking politics, ranching, motorcycles, love, women and more politics (all the while tipping back a few frothy brews), Jerry says to me, "You know what Sarah Palin is? She is a Post Turtle". I sat there for a few minutes trying to sort out what a "post turtle" was and finally had to ask him. His response had me blowing beer out of my nose...

Imagine a slow talking, deep voiced-Texas drawl explaining, "When you are driving down a country road and come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that's a post turtle. You know it didn't get up there by herself, she doesn't belong up there, she doesn't know what to do while she is up there and you just wonder what kind of dumb ass put her up there to begin with."

So, I couldn't quite recall the joke when I got home, so I Googled it hoping to find a reference. Apparently this joke is common... there were several listings of various politicians. Then I wondered if there was a picture of a Post Turtle and was rewarded for my efforts...

Cyrus the Virus

Mike and Kiev (the atomic viral boy)
He doesn't look like much, but one sneeze from this kid and 8 hours later I was already on my 5th Sudafed and 2nd Tylenol Cold tablets, not to mention a whole box of kleenex. There is nothing like being closed in a car with a toddler and turning around just in time for a violent mucus filled sneeze in my face! Nice, wet and... well, you get where I am going with this. I can't wait until he is 21 so I can go out drinking with him and his dad until he pukes (by that time I will be drinking metamucel, so it probably won't be as much fun). Holding his head above the toilet might be payment enough for the past week of this cold, but I doubt it.
A Bird of Paradise and a...
... bird (a Night Heron) and...
... Paradise. I really need to find a palm tree or umbrella for these sunset shots... at least something to add a little contrast.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Loss of history and the lack of depth in our culture

George Stienbeck would barely recognize the town he made famous in Cannery Row. Every cannery has been converted (perverted) into gift shops or tourist restaurants and Starbucks. I have a hard time believing that any real canning goes on in this effete town of Monterey. The "working man" image of Steinbeck's novels has been drained from this town by the coffee sipping, trinket buying, snapshot taking tourist looking for that "truth of character" that he brought out in his writings. I believe he would say that Monterey experienced a loss of integrity amongst members of society and a subsequent decay of the town he was fond of. What is missing is Lee Chong's flower store or the Chinaman wandering in and out of everyone's life in Cannery Row.
While the town has experienced growth via the commercialism that haunts every great place, the surrounding coastline is still shrouded in fog that rolls in and out on its own schedule. Things along the coast haven't changed since Steinbeck wrote of the jobless local Mexicans in his book Tortilla Flats.  

This picture makes me think of an Obama - McCain debate...
I wonder what Doc (the Marine biologist from Cannery Row) would have thought about this sea lion dodging a wave. It was as if this little dude was scared of the water. I can see how easy it was for Steinbeck to create the character of Doc and fleshing him out in a way that would encourage thousands of high school students to become marine biologists after reading that book.

Big Sur

Everything you have heard about Big Sur does not do justice to the reality. The reality is crisp, cool mornings, foggy mid-mornings and sharp, winding roads that hug the rugged coast. I always envisioned this drive in a convertible Porsche or Mustang, but (now) that, to me, would not provide the exhilaration of each lean into the turn, each sweeping arc of the tires, the total concentration that goes into each curve of the road. The unfortunate part of the ride is that I miss a large portion of the scenery. I find that I spend a good bit of time double backing on this road to catch something that I glimpsed or thought I glimpsed. On those occasions I usually find myself face to face with scenes like below... If you look close enough, you can see the road spanning the cliffside. 
With the erosion along the coast...
...I find it hard to imagine that anyone would want to build their house so close to the edge of impermanence. Actually, if I think on it some more, what an amazing place to live and watch the world. The sunsets you could talk about, the weather at your back door and the solitude allowing you to soak it all in...
... and if all that wasn't enough, they had their own private beach.
An hour down the road I met up with what I perceive to be the inspiration for one of Dr. Theodor Geisel's characters.
I suppose it was easier to say, "Cat in the Hat" than, "Sea Lion in the Hat".  It is also much easier to envision a walking cat than one of these beach slugs on two legs. You just can't deny the facial similarities.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Defining San Francisco

What are the things that we think of when we picture San Francisco? Here are some of mine - 

The Love Festival - what a fun parade! If you look closely you will find something that might please both sexes. I didn't notice until after I had downloaded these.
Loud, raucous and thumping. Plenty of good tunes, warm sunlight and grooving people.
"Bunny robs bank, News at eleven"
THAT'S a tatoo!
Here is my trolly...
Who doesn't define SF by the Rice a Roni jingle?
I suppose some might define SF by the some of the major architecture, but I will always think of the San Francisco treat. Oh, I suppose that Karl Malden will come to mind when I think of the "mean streets of San Francisco". He was a pretty serious dude!
Lombard Street gets plenty of tourists to zig and zag all the way down. It was pretty anti-climatic!
China Town. It would take months to explore this place properly... I did it in 1 hour 45 minutes.
The swim doesn't seem like much to me...

Old friends and some new ones

Wow! I can't say enough about how nice it has been to reconnect with an old friend the other day.

I felt the same way when I was in Portland, Maine in July or August, in Houston in June, Charlottesville in July, Seattle last month or Haines, AK in August. There is nothing better than sliding back into a comfortable place where you know each other so well that there is just a little bit of catching up to do before everything is exactly as it was when you last spent time together.

Here is to Chris and Jack and Curtis and Aaron and Chris and Kelly. Thanks for remaining who you all are, and thanks for allowing me to rehash the memories of bookstores in Denver, weathering the rockets and mortars in Iraq while instilling discipline in our employees by stabbing them in the eye-socket if they didn't do what we (you) asked, spending $90 on two pints of Guinness in Hong Kong, mohawks and boas in Greenland, "Why walk when you can ride" and holding Barbie hostage at the South Pole.

Thanks to all of you (and all of you back in Denver who have kept up and followed along) for allowing me into your homes for pancakes, a cup of tea or a sandwich. Thanks for catching me up on your lives and allowing me to blither on mercilessly about what I have been doing the past 3-8 years and what I am doing now. 
I wish I had pulled out my camera for everyone along the way, but it seems like I just have a few of Kelly and Ellie (Kelly's oldest girl) and Annabelle (Kelly's youngest). I'll let the reader determine who is who:-) Gawd, they are adorable! The spitting image of their mother.

Before I just log this entry, I feel a need to come clean about a few things... one - I am not as mechanically inclined as I would like to think I am, two - my right leg is not as long as it was required to be when I had to make a very immediate stop, three - I am not strong enough to keep my motorcycle upright when I realize # two.

In a much shorter version of the above paragraph... I set the bike down a few blocks from Kelly's house. Yeah, that happens sometimes. What has never happened before is not starting right up. For over an hour I tried everything (almost) to start the bike. I was so determined to pretend that I was not in the city and close to help that I wouldn't just walk to get help.  

The bike was running when it went down and when I set it upright I checked the fuel gauge, opened the cap on the tank and could hear fuel slosh around and thus determined that I had fuel. I checked the plugs, an oxygen sensor, the side-stand cutoff and several other things that I though might be wrong. I was out of answers. It was about this time when I called AAA for a tow to the dealer where I had a service the next day. While I was waiting for AAA to get back to me, Kelly drove past while running errands and stopped. Her suggestion... "Is there gas in it?" I had done everything I could up until this point and what could it hurt to get a small bit of gas from the filling station? Besides, it wasn't as if I hadn't checked that off the list! Minutes later I was filling the two liter container with gas and spilling more on the canister than inside. Once again, Kelly comes to my rescue and puts a diaper on the gas can to prevent it from leaks. 

Back at the bike I add the fuel and turn the key... 

Kelly, do I really have to tell the rest of the story? Aggh! I am not at all good at diagnosing a problem because as stated in the theory of Occam's Razor, shortly - "All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.", I should have looked at the miles I had already ridden and used that to tell me that it was just a few drops at the bottom of the tank. Mikey would be shaking his head and saying, "Tater, Tater, Tater" if we were in Greenland.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Chance encounters

"The pool is open!"

All the divers know what I mean by that...

I am not sure how many of you have seen these videos or have heard about Matt "Where in the Hell is Matt" (a guy that has gone around the world dancing). I have listed a couple of links here (I think the second one is 2007 and first is 2008) for your enjoyment AND I thought I would play a little game. As you can see below, I have a number next to my name. That number represents each place that Matt has been that I have also been to. I am not talking about the country, but the actual city or town. 

Feel free to share your results... or don't. It is just for entertainment purposes, but if you have less than 5 on the first and 10 places on the second, it is mandatory that you should go out and, either get a passport OR get a plane ticket somewhere. Get out and see stuff!

If all goes as per plan, I can add a good half dozen to a dozen new places on this trip alone. Come out and play:-)

Bret = 25 of the places that Matt has danced
Bret = 19 of the places that Matt has danced''

Wine country... pardon all the underexposed or grainy photos for this post. They are not what I consider worthy, but...

Now keep in mind, Matt hasn't danced in all the places that I have been, nor have I been to all the places that he has been to, but these videos have given me new places to look into. I don't feel a need to compete with someone on travel, but if you have seen the push-pins in the maps in my office at home you can see that I do keep tabs of where I have been, I am just of the belief that it is important to experience as many places and things as one can before he (or she) is laid to rest. 

Wow! How civilized is that? "Laid to rest"... how very organic and politically correct! Why do we not say what we mean without descending into the "soft" cliche or tidy little words? Is it out of fear of death? I for one feel it best to live without the thought of the inevitable. When does it become time to start thinking of "that" time? Do we celebrate a long life by waiting until we are of the age of George Burns who had a spectacularly long, cigar-filled life, and was able to gather his thoughts of his dying, or do we lament the shortness of a person's life as we should Daniel Pearl's who was kidnapped and killed in Karachi, Pakistan without much planning whatsoever? Should we say, "rough air" when we really mean "turbulence"?

Either way, both men chose a way of life that was suited for their comfort levels and a desire to experience those things that challenged them. Perhaps they both were able to realize that they lived in the way they were meant to and had satisfaction in that at the end. It is hard to think that Daniel Pearl had satisfaction, but I hope that he was at peace with his life at the time of his execution. 

Whoa! Don't get me wrong. I am not at all thinking on the end of my life so early, but the celebration of living the way that one choses is of utmost importance. That was reaffirmed this weekend upon meeting some living legends and others of their/my ilk. More on that in future posts. 

After almost four months on the road, the many amazing people met, the many miles ridden and many gallons of wine, beer and whiskey that have passed my lips, I  have found a renewed passion for my trip. The person in the center wearing the blue shirt is Ted Simon who, in 1973 got on a motorcycle for the first time and rode around the world for 4 years ending in 1977 during a time when the world was a little less connected and riding a motorcycle around the world was not a regular occurrence. 
I randomly stumbled across this motorcycle rally during a phone conversation while booking my 18,000 mile service. Isso, the Service Manager for BMW of San Francisco told me that people were going to camp out, have barbeque and do a short ride and it would all start at the Rio Nida Roadhouse which was just 14 miles from where I was staying in Sonoma. 
It was great to talk with folks that are familiar with the challenges that I have been through and the issues that I will have as I continue. It was also amusing that I had read some blogs of a few of the folks that were here. Go Darth Peach!!! Keep riding girl! I love the posts and the photos!

More to come...