June 2017 was fast approaching. It was my retirement month and I gave my notice to my supervisor and the president of the compay that I was leaving. Not only was it fast approaching but I had no real retirement plans. I always thought there had to be more to retirement than mowing your lawn, fixing your house and blowing snow. Prior to my June retirement I was thinking I should take a motorcycle ride that would be quite adventureous. Something that would really stand out, something that I could do myself, something challenging, something reasonably safe and something I’ve never done. There was only one motorcycle ride that would really stand out among all the different types of adventure riding in the United States: ride solo to the tip of South America. It had a good ring to it and sounded good to me. The next question would be, does it sound good to Mary, my girlfriend? Much to my surprise she gave me her blessing on the trip.
Now the planning must start. I must rebuild the rear suspension in my bike, put on new tires and mount a new ten gallon gas tank on it. All of this takes time. It must be done before I leave my job. When I talk about retiring, the hardest thing to walk away from are the machines. For the last 37 years I was able to machine most any part I could dream up using the company machines. i.e. lathes, milling machines and grinders. Being that as it may, I did get all my repairs on my motorcycle completed before I retired from my place of work.
Once I actually pulled the plug, it was extremely strange getting up and not having to go to work. I staggered around the house with nothing to do but think that I should be at work. Then I started to get organized. I worked on getting my visa to Brazil, my Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit and motorcycle insurance for Mexico. I got my immunizations up to date, organized everything on my motorcycle, checked that all the spare parts were in order and loaded my bike. I ran down every map I could find on Mexico, Central and South America and that my passport was in order. By the 1st of October I was pretty much ready to go. I still thought about work some but not much.
The pressure was on as my departure date was set at 15 October 2017. My Brazil visa was still MIA and was causing me concern. I can’t leave the United States without it. The 15th of October came, I said all my goodbyes and I departed Prior Lake, Minnesota for sunny California. Up until this point I swore Mary to secrecy about my travel plans and she couldn’t tell anyone anything till I was in Mexico. At my brother’s house near Los Angeles I preformed some last minute maintenance on my motorcycle before I left for Mexico. I didn’t even tell him where I was going till I was in Mexico. While I was at my brother’s house, Mary express-mailed my passport to me with the Brasil visa in it. I thanked God that I finally got my passport back and in order for future travels.
I was off. As my travels progressed, a routine developed. I traveled 2 or 3 days and I would stop in a hotel to write my blog and download my pictures from my camera and phone. I would then e-mail them to Mary. She would update my blog. Every riding day had a routine. You would arrive at the hotel that night, eat if you could find food, plan your next day, roughly the distance you will travel, search the internet for a hotel for the next night, get the address and write it down, get the GPS coordinates of the hotel, program the GPS for the next day. Even the morning before you leave the hotel had a routine. 1st eat if there was a breakfast. 2nd put the GPS into its handlebar mount, then load the right saddle bag and then the top box. 3rd get the seat bags and bring them down to the motorcycle. Load them and bungee cord them down. 4th put on my riding pants, check the room that I left nothing behind, check you have your wallet, cell phone and motorcycle keys. Grab the extra tires and your coat. Return the room key to the receiptionist. Don’t put on the coat till the motorcycle is running. It’s to hot and you will start sweating. Bungee cord the tires on the motorcycles top box and make sure you have plenty of water. Then off you go for another day. This was the routine for roughly 6-1/2 to 7 months while I traveled thru Mexico, Central and South America.
Every so often I would spot a machine shop. Since that was my career, if it was convenient I would stop and have a visit with the owners. I would show them some pictures and use our translators to make conversation. Eventually, I got myself thru Mexico, Central and South America.
By the time I arrived back in Prior Lake, Minnesota I could hardly remember the daily grind of going to work. My daily routine of riding my motorcycle to Ushuaia, Argentina must have redirected my focus away from machine shop work because I really didn’t miss it when I arrived home. I miss the machines but not necessarily the daily job. You know, after eight months of being on the road and constantly moving, retirement seems much more palatable. I have to thank the trip for that. I guess you could say that was the biggest reason I wanted to take this trip.
I want to thank my Chile and Brasil friends who are experienced motorcycle riders for helping me thru my trip. I met many very nice people who helped me along the way. Their helpful information helped guide me through the different countries..
– Dave Reinhold