I’ve never done a blog before, and as a matter of fact, I wasn’t really sure what a blog was until recently. I found out that most blogs consist of people making a page on the internet where they rant, rave and spew random, disjointed thoughts about nothing in particular. Hum? I dont think I want to have a blog. I still don’t know why they call it blog. Web log = blog? Whatever. Sounds vaguely akin to Geroge Orwell’s “1984” newspeak to me, but that’s OK. I’ll just call it a travelogue, or a ride report. When I told people what I intended to do, they all said quite emphatically that I have to do a blog. Well then, here is my blog. It may be random, disjointed, and be about nothing in particular, but hopefully it will be fun for you to read nonetheless.
Over the last few years I have become quite involved with riding motorcycles, mainly in Baja California, Mexico, and riding mostly off road. So I was thinking, how cool would it be to get on a motorcycle, cross the border near my home in San Diego, and ride all the way to the tip of South America and back? I decided that it would be pretty cool, and one heck of an adventure. An adventure like this has been in the back of my mind for a couple of years now. Sadly, I realized that I would probably never have the opportunity to actually do it. My career would not allow me enough time off at present, and in the future I may have obligations that would preclude me from doing any long riding travel. However, little did I realize that I was going to get my chance to embark on such a journey, and quite soon at that.
As my luck would have it, due to the current economic climate of corporate downsizing, I recently found myself in a unique position to take a little time away from work in the form of a leave of absence. My employer was offering leaves for up to two years, so having a little bit of cash saved up, I jumped at the chance and signed up for a two year deal. The deal is, I don’t show up to work for two years, and they don’t pay me for two years. I’m going to have to live on the cheap, and that’s just fine by me since I have had plenty of practice doing that earlier in my career.
Up until last week, this was my day job, and more often than not, my night job as well. I love the Boeing 767, finest piece of machinery that I have ever flown. As they say in the pilot circles, “if it’s not Boeing, I’m not going.” I think that I have the best job in the world. I get to strap on a 400,000 lb. airplane and fly it around the planet, drinking beer with my buddies in exotic locations, and get paid for it.
It does become work though. It can be a seemingly never ending blur of airports, grumpy customs officials and stark, generic hotel rooms complete with the overpriced $20 breakfast buffet. Taipei, Singapore, Sydney, Shanghai, Tsing Dao, Anchorage, Hong Kong, Cologne, Paris, Dubai, Bombay, Philly, etc. Crossing multiple time zones, and not ever knowing what day it is can wear on your body and get to be a grind. Its not particularly glamorous, despite what you may think.
Nevertheless, I love my chosen career, but I am ready for a little break from the routine. You can burn out doing anything, no matter how much you love it. I’m not burned out on it, but its time for a little break to get my head straight and expand my horizons…..
I have been a professional pilot for over 20 years, and much of that stint has been flying big jets on both domestic and long haul international routes. I’m sure that eventually I’m going to miss flying jets around the planet, but for now I am welcoming the change of pace doing some world travel with a much smaller and slower means of transport:
Coco’s Corner, Baja Califonia Norte, Mexico
A remote desert dry lake bed in southern Nevada.
The bike is a KTM 990 Adventure, made in Austria. It was originally designed as a Dakar Rally race platform, but has found its way into production and marketed as an “adventure” bike. Its a 1 liter, liquid cooled, fuel injected V-twin, weighing in at about 450 lbs. I have about 9,000 miles on this bike, having taken it many places in the desert southwest of the U.S., down the length of the Baja peninsula and into the Copper Canyon area of Mainland Mexico. Adventure bikes are generally large displacement, off road capable bikes. Not as off road capable as a small dirt bike, but capable nonetheless. The trade off in capability is exceeded by the level of comfort and long service intervals that are so important for long distance travel in other countries. I would sometimes prefer to take a small, proper dirt bike, but I’m confident on the big bike in some fairly burly off road conditions so I’m taking it. Just to the tip of South America will be at least 15,000 miles. I don’t yet know how I will return, possibly through Africa and Europe, or simply back north.
Reactions to my plan have been mixed. My family and friends enthusiastically support me in this endeavor, which I fully expected. However it’s curious when telling many people of my upcoming trip, the response more often than not is, “why the hell do you want to do that?” or, “man, you’re totally crazy!” Or my favorite, “Its so dangerous down there, you’ll be kidnapped or killed for sure!” Well of course things like that can happen. They can happen anywhere on the planet, even right here at home.
The vistas of the lonely deserts of southern California…….
The stunningly beautiful barren wastes of Death Valley……….
The scenic, remote two-tracks of Mojave…………..
The jaw dropping star studded dark skies of the middle of nowhere Mexico……..
And the wilds of south of the border dirt roads leading to nowhere in particular, but always an adventure…….
Despite the naysayers and doomsday peddlers, I’m going on this trip, and I’m going to have one hell of an adventure!
The plan for this journey is quite simple. Get on my motorcycle and ride in roughly southerly direction staying off pavement whenever possible until I either get tired of it, or cant possibly go any further south, however long that takes. At that point, I’ll make some more rough plans. This ride is not about keeping a schedule or having any set destination, its about travel on a motorcycle. I will ride pavement or dirt when I see fit, stop when I feel like it, and if I happen to like a place I may stick around a while and enjoy it. Since I have the luxury of time, the best plan is to have no plan. Its always more fun that way because you never know where you’ll wind up.
As things stand right now, my departure date will be on or about the first week of September. There is plenty of preparation left to do, so in the next couple of weeks I will update with my progress.
I invite you to come along on my little journey. So let’s head south through the narco wars, the bandidos, guerillas, corrupt cops, the swine flu, coups and revolutions, to the bottom of the Earth. If we are not too careful, we will have some interesting adventures along the way! Vamos!
A little taste of things to come………..