Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It’s About to Get More Complicated - 27 November 2017

27 November 2017 – I got up in time for breakfast. This particular Hampton Inn serves a really nice breakfast. Fruit, juices, dry cereal, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, a variety of coffee and toast. You can’t eat everything.  I know because I tried. So, I went back to the room and put together my stuff because I’m driving back to Cabo San Lucas to purchase the ferry tickets to Mazatlán, Mexico. I was thinking about taking all my motorcycle paperwork, but didn’t. I left it in the room. I typed in my GPS coordinates and off I went. It was a lot easier getting there to than last Saturday. A whole lot less traffic and I knew where I was going.

I parked my bike and walked in. The next thing I hear is the door scraping on the floor. The door opened only half way. There were about six men and women waiting for tickets. So I figured there’d be a wait. Nope, they all told me to go up to the counter. The lady at the counter was handling all ticket purchases for these people. I walked up to the counter hoping the lady behind the counter spoke English. Only some. I got out my cell phone and told her through Google Translate that I’m here to purchase Baja Ferry tickets Mazatlán, Mexico. I see the “oh crap” look and I’m thinking the adventure is about to start. She tried asking a couple of questions. No luck. I can translate English to Spanish but not Spanish to English. So she calls up an English-speaking lady who tells me she needs the name of my motorcycle and license plate number. I then asked the lady to tell the ticket lady that I wanted a ticket for me, my motorcycle and a cabin or state room. She did that and we were off. I also gave her my passport with my border crossing info. No more questions. She asked for money or a credit card, which I provided. Everything checked out and she gave me my tickets. She said to be at the ferry port at 5:00 p.m. no later. I thanked her, checked that I had everything and left.

I drove over to a grocery store similar to Wal-Mart. It had groceries and everything else you can think up. I wanted to purchase a new roll of masking tape. I walked in and staggered around awhile. I couldn’t find it. I used my translator to ask for a roll of tape and found an employee. I showed him the text and he took me right to the tape. I grabbed a roll and two liters of water and off I went. I went to pay for it. It cost 70 Pesos and I gave them 100 Peso note. Somebody had to bring the change over because the cashier didn’t have the correct change. I was mystified.

I drove back to the Hampton Inn and started getting ready to leave in the morning. I know a few things: 1) I have to have my own tie-down straps. I do. 2) I will need an address of a hotel in Mazatlan for my Customs and Immigration paperwork. 3) I also need to send Mary this word document to go along with the pictures. This is where I start the grind to get to the tip of South America. Let’s hope I planned well enough.

Coordinates and the Like - 26 November 2017

26 November 2017 – I ate a good hearty breakfast at the hotel and returned to my room to work on my blog. I got sidetracked and started considering using GPS coordinates to navigate with. I got it pretty much figured out. I still can get tripped up when it come to the coordinates that don’t have North, South, East and West letters attached to them. It’s much easier finding a hotel or anything else using these coordinates. My GPS doesn’t like to accept Mexican addresses. I can convert coordinates from decimal coordinates to degrees, minutes and seconds. But coordinates without N, S, E, & W letters I’m unsure about. I spent about 5 to 6 hours working with that. I finally quit with that and started typing my blog. I pretty much finished up with the blog around midnight. I then sent all my pictures to Mary to post. I still was thinking about using GPS Coordinates to navigate. I tried one more time to try and find a converter. One came up from Google. I tried it and it converted the GPS locations that didn’t have N, S, E, & W letters. I converted some decimal GPS coordinates and then ran the coordinates thru the converter. Whamo, my converted coordinates came out the same as the converter’s coordinates. I wrote down the website. But then I got to thinking: you know, that website won’t do me any good if I can’t access the internet to use the converter. I won’t be able to get GPS coordinates unless I can use the internet. So if I can get GPS coordinates I also will be able to use the website that has the converter. Jeez this is kind of complicated. I’m going to bed it’s 3:00 a.m.

Too Late - 25 November 2017

25 November 2017 – It’s Saturday. I talked to Mary the night before about leaving on the Baja Ferry to Mazatlán, Mexico. She tells me a ferry leaves Sunday in the evening and one leaves on Tuesday in the evening. So I checked into purchasing the tickets in Cabo San Lucas. The reception girls helped me find the office. It was located in the Golden Plaza. One of the girls spoke excellent English so I asked her if she would help me enter a Mexican address in my GPS / Blanche. So we worked on that for a while without much luck. We finally found the Golden Plaza in Blanche’s maps. We marked it and then made a route to that point. I left for the ticket office in Cabo San Lucas. If I would not have had the GPS I would never have found it. Even with my GPS it was tough. I get to the plaza and I’m looking around for the office. I was looking high and low. I found it on ground level and was walking toward it. It looked pretty dark inside. I get closer and I can see the doors are locked. I looked at the office hours on the door. Saturday hours 9:00 am to 2:00 pm. I arrived at 2:30 pm. I would have to wait to get tickets till Monday. Another trip back into Cabo San Lucas. I went back to the hotel and told Mary she should extend my stay at the hotel another two days. I wish I wouldn’t have to drive back into Cabo San Lucas on Monday.

Navigation and Glitches - 24 November 2017

24 November 2017 – I got up and took a shower and put Blanche back on my motorcycle. Even though she locks onto the handlebars, I bring her inside with me at night. The day could only get better. I grabbed my cell phone and my roll of masking tape and headed to the receptionist desk. I had her hook up my phone to the Wi-Fi and proceeded to navigate the hard way. I found the Hampton Inn on Google Maps. I started looking for significant landmarks that I could easily see. First I had to cross a body of water, second Office Max, third Home Depot, fourth a Honda Car Dealer, fifth a Mercedes-Benz Car Dealer, then the hotel and a hospital, and the Hyundai Car Dealer would be too far. All these were alongside the road. I wrote this all down on my masking tape and taped it on the gas tank. I also taped the address of Hampton Inn on the gas tank in case I had to ask someone for directions. I loaded up my bike and was off.

I set Blanche looking for Cabo San Lucas, so she would keep me on the correct road. I kept driving until I crossed the large body of water. It got a little bit more complicated after that. I saw Office Max, I saw a Toyota Car Dealer, I saw the Mercedes-Benz Car Dealer. I was now looking for a hospital or Hampton Inn. What you don’t know is that these different landmarks could be quite a distance apart. They were not right next to each other. So, I’m going up a hill and drive right by the Hampton Inn. I didn’t see it, but I saw the Hyundai Car Dealer. Good landmark! I hooked a U-turn and drove back down the hill. Sure enough, there it was and so was the hospital. All this looking makes you drive erratically, which is not a good thing. That’s why I try to plan out my route thru a city.

Anyway, I drove up the driveway to the hotel. I didn’t know if the entrance was in the back or the front of the building. I get in the back and it was the emergency entrance for the hospital. I drive around front and there’s no place to park. I park right in front of the doors on the road. I get off and go in. I ask the guys at the reception desk if this was the hospital. They said, if you want the hospital, go next door. I said, good, because I’m looking for the hotel. I gave them my confirmation number while they viewed me with much suspicion, maybe because the reservation was under Mary’s name. Once I provided identification though, everything was ok.

I unloaded my motorcycle and took everything to my room. I hooked my cell phone up to Hampton Inn’s Wi-Fi. Wham, I was connected to a strong signal. I ran a check for a McDonalds. Sure enough they had one in town and a Subway too. Imagine that! I rode down there so I could get something to eat. You know those French fries really do taste good. I also went to a Walmart-type store and used the ATM and bought a couple of loaves of French bread. I packed them into my saddle bags. I slightly crushed them. No worries I will eat them anyway.

I jumped back on my motorcycle and rode to Cabo San Lucas. I was going to be leaving in a couple days, so I thought I should take a look at the town some. I drove out to the marina and parked my motorcycle near a beach. I don’t know the name of the beach OR the marina, but that’s where I was. It has a sign with Cabo San Lucas on it so I took a selfie of myself and the sign. I took a couple more pictures of the beach and my motorcycle.

I walked down to the beach and got my toes wet so I can say I had my feet in the Gulf of California and the Pacific Ocean. I went back to my motorcycle and was getting ready to leave. A gentleman from Utah came up and with his son and started talking with me about my motorcycle. We talked about riding motorcycle, my motorcycle trip around the world and my trip to the tip of South America. We had a nice friendly chat. He introduced me to all his sons and his friend’s son. They all were on a fishing mission. So I left them to it. I was about to leave, and this lady wanted to have her picture taken with my motorcycle. I took one of her. Her husband didn’t want to have his picture taken. I jumped on my motorcycle and drove thru the tourist part of town and back to the hotel. On the way back, a 3-car accident was on the highway. I believe Americans were involved. I don’t think anybody was hurt.

 I got back to the hotel and went to park my motorcycle in the underground parking ramp. Security came over and said I had to leave. What now?? I went back to the receptionist and asked him about parking. He said I can park in the ramp. He called his supervisor and his supervisor came down in the ramp to make sure everything was ok. I assured him it was. I locked it up, pulled my GPS off and covered it. I stayed in for the rest of the night and watched television.

Blanche Cooperated....Until She Didn’t - 23 November 2017

23 November 2017 – I usually don’t take too many pictures of hotels, but this was a nice hotel and the receptionist Cecilia was a cordial individual who made my stay comfortable. I stopped in the office to return my key and asked if I could take her picture for my blog. She agreed and was a little shy about it. I was all loaded up and rolling by 9:00 a.m., not that that’s anything special. But I was well rested with plenty of water in me. As I left town I was looking for any scars from the accident scene the day before. You would think when a semi-truck rolls over on its side the black top would have some scratches in it or the ditch would have some pushed up dirt. Nope, not a thing. So, I just kept riding toward La Paz.

It was between 12:00 and 1:00 p.m. and I was getting hungry. I decided I’d get some gas in La Paz and some water. I stopped in one of the convenience stores to see what they may have. I bought two bananas, two liters of water and two candy bars. The cashier rang it up and I paid for it. The whole time I was in the store, security was following me around. It just kind of reminded me of Russia. It also told me that if they were worrying about me, they had a larger crime problem in the city. I walked back to the shade my bike was sitting in. I ate the two bananas, one of the candy bars and drank one liter of water. I jumped on my bike and was off, but before long, I was lost. I rolled up alongside of guy riding a scooter and asked him which way to Cabo San Lucas. He pointed up and to the right. All that time Blanche was trying to drag me over hill and dale. She was being her obnoxious self. I finally got to a point where I felt I was going in the right direction and rode heavy traffic for next the next 5+ miles / 8 kms. I finally broke free of traffic and continued down Highway 1 to Cabo San Lucas.

I stopped for the night in Santa Rita. I was running out of daylight and needed to find a hotel. I saw a hotel sign pointing into the city. I made a left turn off the highway where I could stop safely. On a whim, I asked Blanche if she knew of any hotel in the area. She came up with a hotel about 500 yds / 500 meters away. I drove there. Just unbelievable that she cooperated.  It was a nice clean hotel for a reasonable price. They even had a small restaurant where they served meals. The guy was doing the cooking could speak English. He asked where I was from. I told him St. Paul / Minneapolis, Minnesota. He said he knew where that was and that he worked up by Fargo, North Dakota. Imagine that! The Huevos Rancheros he cooked up was good and my stomach was happy. I was about 22 miles / 35 Kms from San Jose del Cabo. Just the right distance.

The only complaint I had with the hotel was they had a weak Wi-Fi signal. If you got more than 5 yds / 5 meters away from the reception area, you lost your signal. I wanted to research the Hampton Inn near Cabo San Lucas and its address. Mary had me booked in there and I needed to find its location. Blanche wasn’t having anything to do with the address. That makes finding anything really difficult. The best I could hope for would be to find the hotel in Blanche’s maps, mark the spot and drive toward the marked spot. I was trying to compare the maps in Blanche and Google Maps to find the hotel. That didn’t happen, and I went to bed very frustrated. I spent several hours struggling with my phone and Blanche and didn’t accomplish a thing. That’s why I wanted to stop short of San Jose del Cabo so I could get my directions straight and I would know where I’m going. At least I wasn’t hungry.

Ambulance Parade - 22 November 2017

22 November 2017 – I woke about 7:00 a.m. I decided I needed to incorporate some exercises into my daily routine. Getting up, sitting on my motorcycle in one position all day, then going to bed and repeating the routine the next day can’t be too healthy. So, I did some stretching and some of those high school gym class exercises. Something to get my body moving. I did that, loaded up my bike and took off. I was in serious need of breakfast and ate in the same place as I ate supper last night. I ate the same food and drank a liter of water. I really needed the water.

I left the outdoor restaurant and drove out of town. I just get to the outskirts of the city, and traffic is stopped dead. I stopped for a moment or two and I see these Americans up front. I drive up the shoulder and asked them if they knew what the traffic hold up was. They said they didn’t know, but thought it was some kind of an accident. I decided to ride up a little further to check it out and was stopped by the police. They said no going past this point. I asked them if I could go to the gas station 100yds / 100 meters away, and they said, yes. I drove up to the gas station and got off my bike. I went inside and bought two liters of water and two Snickers bars. The traffic holdup looks like it might not move for hours. I wanted to be prepared for a lot of sitting in the sun. I looked up and saw an open parking spot alongside the building. I pulled over there and parked. I filled up all my empty water bottles and drank whatever was left over. I ditched my jacket and pulled out my Spanish pamphlet. I tried refreshing myself on whatever I learned last winter. Then my buddy showed up looking for a handout. I didn’t have a thing to give her but pets. She left and laid down behind me on the cool concrete. I continued looking thru my Spanish pamphlet and then an ambulance drove by heading to the accident scene. Then four Kawasaki KLR650 riders pulled in and filled up with gas. I thought maybe they would hang around a bit but they took off heading toward the accident. I thought maybe they would be turned back but I never saw them again.

About a half hour later, a second ambulance drove past heading toward the accident scene. As I continued to read my Spanish pamphlet, two pickups pulled up and a group of guys got out. They didn’t say much but were just milling about. We finally said a few words to each other and then they started asking questions about my motorcycle. I told them of my travels around the world. They were quite impressed with that and that I did it on that kind of a motorcycle.  (For those of you who are not familiar with my trip around the world, check out my blog: They were traveling to Cabo San Lucas in a two-week travel time frame and have done it for 15 years. Apparently, things weren’t flowing as smoothly as they had hoped and they were behind schedule. Now this highway shutdown was just another glitch in their plans and the lads weren’t happy. They were at a point where they had to make a decision to keep on going or turn around. I know they all wanted to go to Cabo San Lucas. So, I’m guessing they will drive thru the night to try to make up time, stay maybe one day, and turn and burn. A thousand miles is not that far but when you’re driving winding twisting roads and your speed drops down frequently to 40 mph / 65 Kph you’re not making great time. In the U.S.A. I can easily drive a thousand miles in 2 days at 62 Mph / 100 Kph but not here in the Baja California.

The third ambulance just drove by. Whatever happened at the accident scene must not be good. I hung around the gas station for another half hour. By that time, it was after 2:00 p.m. I wanted to be past La Paz today but that will not happen if I start after 2:00 p.m. I don’t drive in the dark: it is too dangerous. So I drove back to same hotel I stayed in the night before. When I arrived, the office was locked. I walked around looking for someone and found the cleaning guy. I knew he couldn’t get a key for me so I adjusted the chain on my motorcycle. I just finished adjusting my chain and the receptionist drove in. She got out of her car and looked at me and said “what are you doing here?” I laughed and she went into the office. I gave her a few minutes to get settled in and then went in. She got out her cell phone translator and I told her about the accident south of town and that I waited 4 hours for the accident to clear at the PEMEX gas station. She said she had waited 2 hours for the accident to clear and then she left. She looked up the accident on the internet which said there was two cars and a semi-truck involved. The semi-truck was laying on its side. The internet said there were 4 or 5 individuals involved with injuries. To what extent, I don’t know. I told her I would like to stay another night. I filled out the paperwork and paid her. She then told me she would bring me supper if I wished. I said, really, yes please. I asked for my usual Huevos Rancheros and refried beans. 45 minutes later, she dropped off my supper and I paid her for it. I really didn’t do much today other than load my bike, unload my bike and adjust the chain. My supper was great and my stomach was happy.

Preparations - 21 November 2017

21 November 2017 – I got up and decided to write my blog entry for the night before. Well, as you read thru day twenty you will see it got a little crazy toward nightfall. I almost had to buy a new helmet because I lost one of the pieces that hold my visor, face shield and shaded lens hinge together. I wrote until after 10:30 a.m. and then I Skyped with Mary, and before long it was noon. Well, I know that I wanted to travel about 124 miles / 200 Km but didn’t want to get caught out on the road after dark. The possibility of that was pretty great so I stayed another night at the hotel. I did some laundry and checked out some hotels in Cabo San Lucas and the Ferry Crossing from La Paz to Mazatlán, Mexico. I have to find the directions on how to get to the port. Once I get the directions I’ll be ok. That consumed most of my day.

Carmen and Other Buddies - 20 November 2017

20 November 2017 – I got up thinking about how to get up that hill this morning. How am I going to do it?  Should I carry my tires and one bag to the top of the hill, come back down and then ride my motorcycle up? That would be complicated and more work but would assure I would get to the top safely. The other way would be to load my motorcycle normally, take my chances, ride up the hill and be gone. Should I fall over that would be a mess. Really, that is not a pleasant thought. I finally decided I would load my bike with all the bags and tires and take the risk. I went over to say goodbye to Carmen. I don’t think I ever said that she is the person who hooked me up with the internet so I could send all my pictures home. Thanks Carmen. Just as a precautionary measure I asked her to watch me go up the hill and if I had problems could she come help me. She agreed she would. I told her if I made it to the top of the hill I would sound my horn and be off. That way she would know everything went well. I took one picture of her comfortable-and-keeping-it-simple look. I bid her a hearty goodbye and took on the hill. I kept good forward momentum, rode around the 90-degree corner and continued to the top of the hill. I beeped my horn for Carmen so she knew I was all right and rode into town.

I drove into town looking for a food market. I was quite hungry and needed to stock up on water. I drank a one liter of water. That made me feel better. I also found some apples and beans which I could eat. I filled all my water containers and while doing this, an 86 year old man came up and talked to me. He was a Canadian from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He told me about the town and the old prison in the town. It’s now gone. He said he walked through it after it was closed down. The only words he used to describe the place was horrible. A miserable place to be incarcerated in. The quintessential Mexican prison. He also said jails are places where you go and get educated when you want to become a better criminal. We parted ways with a handshake and a goodbye.

I stopped at another food market down the street but they didn’t have what I wanted either so I got another liter of water and two Snickers candy bars. I ate one of the candy bars and saved the other one till later. I sat out of the sun and my buddy showed up. It was a female German Shepard dog. She wanted a lot of pets and of course food. If I would of had some type of real human food I would have given her some but not chocolate. She was my buddy till I walked off. Time to get rolling.

I was going to ride to Loreto and maybe as far as Ciudad Constitucion. I drove through Loreto and was continuing on. I wanted to find a roadside restaurant and get something to eat. I never found what I was looking for and finally I just settled for a convenience store with junk food. I bought some rolls with enough preservatives in it that when I die I will be preserved like an Egyptian mummy. It took the growl out of my stomach. While eating, besides the flies, I acquired three more friends: two Chihuahuas and I think a Jack Russel dog. I shared a few bits with all of them, which made them happy. Anyway, I finished up my water and left. I couldn’t believe it after I gave the hounds food they barked at me when I left. I thought they were a little inconsiderate. Silly Hounds.

I continued on till I reached Ciudad Constitucion. A very nice clean town. I found a hotel with a 300 peso ($15) room. A very nice room. I unloaded my motorcycle and drove into town to find a restaurant. I found just my kind of restaurant: a sidewalk restaurant. I ordered the usual Huevos Rancheros with refried beans. Oh, that tasted so good. I was returning to the hotel when I saw an Auto Zone Parts Store. I stopped to see what kinds of oil they stocked. I like to use Shell Rotella 15 w-40 in my motorcycle and I was just wondering if they stocked it. Nope, so that kind of tells me that Mexico and probably Central America don’t carry Shell oil products. I saw some other oils that I might be able to substitute for the Shell Rotella I use.

As I was walking around I felt my motorcycle helmet brush and kind of hook my pant leg. I thought that odd and I looked at the two side plates that hold my visor and face shield on. Everything looked in order there. So, I forgot about it. I got on my bike and left. I exceeded 40 Mph / 65 Km, pulled my visor down and the next thing I see is my visor and face shield flapping in the wind. This is not good. I stopped to check out the problem. Oh my god, one of the side plates is missing off my helmet. I am almost 300 yds / 300 meters from Auto Zone and it’s getting dark. I had to get back to Auto Zone Parts Store and check to see if the side plate fell off in there. I checked the store and it wasn’t in there. I was feeling really sick right now. I walked outside now and it was really getting too dark to see this black side plate. I was standing there pondering my situation thinking I would walk along side the road with my flash light looking for this side cover hoping it hadn’t been run over. As I was standing there I was looking under the front of the cars and there it was. It was under a car next to the left front wheel undamaged. I could not believe my luck. Oh my god……….I did the happy dance. I cannot tell you how many times I thanked God. I can’t really ride without a face shield because of my glasses. The problems this would have posed would have been great. Thank you, God, again. I put the side plate back on the helmet and I was good to go. Note to self: Check side plates and make sure they’re in the correct position daily so this never happens again. I came back to the hotel and told the receptionist about it. She couldn’t believe I found that side plate either. Just unbelievable. What a stroke of luck. I called it a day.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Mother Nature and a Bathroom Frozen in Time - 19 November 2017

19 November 2017 – I was loading my motorcycle but before I left I wanted to get a picture of Carmen for my blog. I walked over to her tent to see if she was around. She was but needed a moment. I went back to loading my motorcycle. She appeared looking nice. So we were talking about traveling some more and one thing led to another and I mentioned I needed to send home some pictures for my blog. Carmen mentioned to me that the hotel has two WiFi systems. One for all the rooms to use which is weaker and the other for the hotel to use. A more powerful and faster internet. 

She told me how this hotel was flooded during a large storm or maybe a hurricane. I not sure which but anyway the rooms were flooded up to 3 feet / 1 meter and virtually put the hotel out of business. There were also homes or rental houses down by the beach that were flooded and destroyed by the storm. In one house the plumbing still worked. The toilet could be flushed and in the counter top sink the water faucets still worked. The counter top was covered with 4 inches / 10 centimeters of dirt. The toilet was buried in dirt and the water closet lid was covered with it.

After seeing that I went and tried out the more powerful and faster WiFi system. I tried sending first one picture and then two pictures. The two picture seemed to have trouble sending so I sent one picture at a time till all my blog pictures were sent. This took almost all afternoon and just before I finished my computer battery ran out. I went back to my room charged up the battery and finished sending the rest of the pictures. That was a task I was glad to have completed. I still had to finish writing my blog for 19 November and get it sent. Then I will be ready to leave with all my chores caught up. Going to bed will be much sweeter knowing this Word document sent. Mary is uploading my blog posts and pictures to save me on data costs.

Nuts and Bolts and Stray Parts - 18 November 2017

18 November 2017 – When I got up starvation was setting in so I went and ordered breakfast. My day improved 100% once I had some food in my stomach. As I was packing up my motorcycle I glanced down at my rear wheel and saw that one of the lock nuts to adjust my rear axle was missing and the other one was loose. I’ll have to find a nut, but where? So, the hotel manager walked by and I asked him if he knew where I could find a nut. He recommended I check 11 blocks down next to a restaurant. He said they work on motorcycles but don’t sell them. I thanked him and left. Across the street sitting at a weld shop were two dirt bikes. They riders were getting their friend's kickstand welded up. Apparently he broke it off while riding the day before. So, they were getting it welded for him while he was waiting in the desert. Another thing they were on a mission for was to find a clutch. The friend in the desert thought his rear wheel was spinning and in reality his clutch was slipping. The guy burnt up his clutch. So they were trying to figure something out for that. No motorcycles or parts were sold in the town so they were in a bit of tight spot. They stopped in at a car repair shop of sorts and talked with the mechanic. He dug out some clutch plates they thought they could make work. What they were doing is my worst nightmare. They recommend I stop and talk to him. 

I rode down by this guy and gave him a chat. The concrete in his parking lot was so out of flat that if I put the kickstand down my motorcycle would have fallen over. God, I must have messed with that kickstand for almost ten minutes before I found a spot I could trust that my motorcycle wouldn’t fall over. It was crazy. The first thing he said was one nut was good enough. I wasn’t hearing that. I told him I need two nuts, not one. Off he went to look for a nut. He dumped out his collection of nuts. All red with years of rust. He’s hunting frantically for a nut and finds one. The nut I need is an M8-1.25 pitch. So, I try it and it fits. I think I gave him 5 pesos (20 cents) for it. I also picked another one out of his stash. It wouldn’t screw on because the threads were full of dirt and rust. I put that with my spare parts for another day.

I drove back up to the two dirt bike riders and talked some more with them. They're on their way to Cabo San Lucas but wanted to play some in the sand. I can assure you my bike will never be in the dirt: strictly black top roads. That’s all the off-road riding I want to do. I gave those guys the address of both of my blogs which they said they were interested in. We parted wishing each other good luck and safe travels.

My destination today is Mulege. I drove thru a lot of open country with cacti and a few large mesas. You can see them in my pictures. It was quite a pleasant ride. No potholes or really bad roads. The bad roads were in the towns with bad traffic. I have a feeling I will see more of this than less. Mulege was pretty nice. I saw a hotel I thought I would stay at. I had to drive a kilometer off the main highway to get to it. Alongside the road was an air strip. I saw the price of one night go up. The closer I got the higher the price was going up. I walked inside and the desk girl asked if she could help. I asked the price and she said, 1500 pesos ($75). I told her I would look for another hotel and left. It was a nice place. I drove back toward town looking for hotel signs. I found a hotel with camping. So I drove down this hill to get to the hotel. You go down the hill and when you get about half way down it makes a 90-degree bend and then continues on down to the hotel. You guessed it, I’m worried about how I’m going to get up the hill with my bike packed up. I’m still worried about that. I find the office and the office manager. He is working around the hotel so it took a bit of looking to find him. The price of the room was 400 pesos ($20). I thought it might be more. The room looked nice enough for me. So, I stayed. While I was unloading my motorcycle, I met Carmen. She is a solo bicycle rider whose has been traveling over 2-1/2 years thru 30 plus countries. Truly a rare person. She shared with me many of her traveling experiences. I listened intently gleaning every piece of information I could use.  We probably spoke for 2 hours. I enjoyed that conversation very much. I want to get her picture but it was too dark. I said, I’d get her picture in the morning. I sent my spot to Mary and went to bed.

The Road of Broken Wheels - 17 November 2017

17 November 2017 – The Mission Catavina is a pretty nice hotel. It’s has a very Mexican décor. I sent Mary a Spot Message and while waiting for it to send I saw where I could purchase some gasoline before I leave.  After the message went off into cyberspace, I drove over and put in three gallons of gas. They were selling it out of 50-gallon drums alongside of the road. I went back to the hotel and loaded my bike. A husband and wife rolled up on their bicycles. They were from Scotland and riding down the Baja Peninsula off-road. After they ride down the Baja there going to travel to New Zealand and ride bicycle there. Nice people.

 I finished getting my clothes on and left. Riding was pretty much like yesterday without all the mountains. It still was pretty much flat with rolling hills. Lots of saguaro cacti and desert. I stopped to eat in the town of Nuevo Rosarito. I ordered in Spanish and the waitress understood. I was proud of myself. I asked the cashier at the restaurant if he knew where an ATM was. He said I’d have to drive to the town Guerrero Negro. I thanked him and left.

I jumped on my bike and rode to Guerrero Negro. On the way the rode was full of pot holes. I was weaving through them, dodging about 95 per cent of them. I was actively dodging this group of pot holes, when I missed a deep hole and drove into a deeper one. It must have been 6 inches / 16 Centimeters deep. A 1/4 mile down the road sat a car looking at their left front wheel. No joy there. About a 1/2 mile farther down the road sat a little red car with its four occupants changing a rear tire. A semi-truck stopped to help. One mile or so down the road I saw a shoulder I could pulled over on. I got off my motorcycle and looked at my front wheel. It took a bit of looking but I saw the area that hit the sharp edge of the pothole. I said a few choice words as I was looking at my bent front rim. I just replaced that front rim this year, less than 6000 miles / 9700 kilometers ago. I’m going to keep going with it. If it gives me any problems it may end my trip to the tip of South America.

I arrived in Guerrero Negro and purchased some gas. I needed to purchase some pesos because I was running low. I pulled into this fancy hotel and asked the lady at the front desk if she knew where I could find an ATM. She used her cell phone to translate for me and told me the name of the bank. BANAMEX. She drew a small map showing me where the bank was. So with her instructions, I set off to the bank. I made a wrong turn into a hotel. When I drove in to the hotel there was no sign of the bank. I asked several maintenance guys if they knew where the bank was. The oldest guy said about 2 kilometers down the road. So, I followed the street till I came to the curve in the rode the lady at the hotel was talking about. Sure, enough with a little looking I found it. I was hoping I wouldn’t have any problems with the ATM. You had the option of using it in Spanish or English. It pretty much had the same format as the US Bank ATM’s back in the US have. I left the bank and headed back in the same direction as I came into the city. I saw a not-so-fancy hotel with the parking lot full of Baja trucks and trailers. I knew it wasn’t all that expensive so I will stay here tonight. I asked if they had Wi-Fi and they did. I found my room, unloaded my motorcycle and oiled the chain. I thought I could send pictures for my blog but for whatever reasons the Wi-Fi was not working for me tonight. Bummer!!! I finally got a hold of Mary when she landed in St. Paul / Minneapolis Airport. She just got back from a work conference in Las Vegas, NV. We texted back and forth because we couldn’t get thru with SKYPE. So ended my day.

I have to say that the technology on this trip is light years ahead of when I went around the world in 2009.  Of course, I didn't even have a smartphone then.  I got my first smartphone this spring, and learned how to use it all summer.  Mary and I loaded up the Skype and sat side by side practicing how to use it.  Old people learn slowly.  It has been great though.  Now if I can just remember to use Google Translate!

How'd I Get Into The Baja Race??? - 16 November 2017

16 November 2017 – I woke to the 4:00 a.m. rooster. He crows ever day at 4:00 a.m. almost to the minute. It was too early to get up and too dark. I went back to bed and got up at 8:00 a.m. I got my bike loaded and the last thing I wanted to do was break a 100 Pesos note. There was a guy 12 or 13 years old and a girl 12 or 13 years old. I gave the guy the 100 Pesos note. He put it in the desk drawer thinking I was paying a bill or something. I tried to write on a notepad that 100 divided by 5 equals 5 ea. 20 Pesos notes. It went right over his head. He totally didn’t understand.  I forgot I had Google Translate again. Well, the cleaning lady went and got the guy that watches the office and he gave me 100 Pesos in change. I needed the small denominations to pay for breakfast. The roadside restaurant can’t handle 100 and 500 pesos notes.  That's $5-$25. I drive down to the restaurant and ask Laura, who runs the restaurant, to make me some breakfast. She made Huevos Rancheros with Frijoles Refritos. In English that's eggs over medium with salsa and refried beans. That was the best breakfast I’ve eaten since I entered Mexico. Laura and I were talking about my travels when these two well-dressed Mexican ladies stopped by to eat breakfast and talk. They were impressed with my travels. Laura was translating. I was putting on my riding jacket and one of the ladies asked if she could lift it. I handed it to her and slowly let her hold it. She quickly gave it back and said it was too heavy. I asked Laura if it would be ok if I took her picture and a picture of her restaurant for my blog. She said sure. So, I took pictures of her, her and Mexican ladies, and her restaurant sign. The two Mexican ladies were by themselves and drove down to Colonet from Mexicali, Mexico. These ladies were in their 60’s and driving a new Volkswagen Jetta. They were out on a adventure.  Kind of a Mexican Thelma and Louise, maybe?  Here's Laura; a nice lady.

I got myself organized and headed out of Colonet heading south. Initially it was a group of small villages with a lot of speed bumps and blowing dust. It reminded me of driving thru Africa. I could have done without the dust. Eventually I drove out of all of that and driving became more rural. As Hwy 1 turned into the interior of the Baja Peninsula it became more mountainous. A lot of tight turns, 25 to 40 Mph / 40 to 64 Kph curves, with step grades up and down. This week is the 50th Anniversary of the Baja Race. Hwy 1 is full of pickup trucks racing to get to check points and provide support for their cars and drivers. I can’t tell you the number of pickups that passed me trying to keep ahead of their cars. The race ends in La Paz, BC (Baja California). I’m not sure what day that will be. I just wave them on by. I spent a lot of time at 50 Mph / 80 Kph because I don't want to be in the way of those guys. 

Parts of the road was reminiscent of the roads I drove in Russia. A lot of potholes about 2 Inches / 5 Centimeters deep. Some of the potholes were bigger and some were deeper. I was constantly weaving around the road to avoid the potholes. I believe this pothole dodging will become pretty regular as I keep driving south into Mexico. I stopped once to take some pictures of National Desert Park. It had some really tall saguaro cactus and large round stone formations. By 4:00 p.m. I arrived in the town of Catavina, B.C. I was going to get gas but didn’t see any gas stations. So, I’ll have to work on that tomorrow. I saw a newer hotel so registered there hoping to use their Wi-Fi and send pictures. Nope, you had to pay 30 Pesos per hour to use it. I sent Mary a Spot (personal locator beacon identifier) telling her where I was. She gets and email and can see where I am on a map.  It also tracks my route for future reference.  I took a shower and it sure was nice the water didn’t smell.

Holed Up - 13-15 November 2017

13 November 2017 – I was going to stay in place on this day and start catching up on my blog posts. I got something to eat at a roadside restaurant down the road, and after I ate it…….it put me right to sleep. I zonked out till 3:00 p.m., just in time to pay for another night at the hotel.  I have to start getting used to this food!

14 November 2017 – I got started writing around 10:30 a.m. and I wrote till 10:00 p.m.  I'm not a fast writer.  I stepped out of the room once at 3:00 p.m. to pay for another night and get a bottle of water and a Coca-Cola. When I first got into this room the water smelled like sewer water. It was horrible. I had to open the door and windows to let the room air out after turning on the shower.  No, I didn't jump in. I mentioned this to one of the ladies who works for the hotel and she said to let the water run till the pipes are flushed out. I did that and eventually the smell went away. I then took a shower and did some laundry.

15 November 2017 – I woke up and realized I still needed to write some more for my blog. So, I stayed another day. I continued writing thru the day without sticking my head outside the room. The people that work at the hotel grew concerned that maybe I became sick and needed to be checked on. So one of the ladies knocked on the door to see if I was dead or alive. After she was assured that I was still thriving I asked her if she could deliver another meal like the one she did two nights ago. She said, yes and it would be chicken soup and a loaf of bread. I said that would be great and I paid her. The hotel knew my motorcycle hasn’t moved in two days. The parking lot is sand and every day and probably every night the yard is raked to remove wheel tracks, foot and shoe prints. That way if any visitors show up at the hotel during the night they will know. All the fresh tire tracks and footprints are visible the next morning. That’s pretty clever for the hotel and bad for the unsuspecting thief or criminal. A cheap security system disguised as keeping the place neat and clean. I will watch for that in my future travels.

My food arrived hot and tasty. The chicken soup was as good as comes and the rice was just great. I’m saving the bread to eat with my peanut butter whenever food isn’t that available and I need to kill my hunger. That’s what I lived on yesterday when I didn't leave the room. 

Goodbye, USA. Hello Befuddlement! - 12 November 2017

12 November 2017 – The alarm goes off right at 3:00 a.m. and I say God, do I really want to get up? I know the earlier I leave the easier the drive to Tijuana, Mexico will be. Also getting thru the border will be simpler because of smaller crowds. So off I go. I get dressed and eat breakfast. My brother asked, why I’m leaving so early and I tell him to get ahead of traffic and get to the border before lines of vehicles and crowds amass. I get my bike all loaded up except for the tires. I start putting my tires on and nothing seems to look right. I finally settle with the front tire on the bottom and rear tire on top. I tape them together so they're easier to manage. I bungee them to the top of my box and I’m good to go. The only thing I haven’t completed is writing anything for my blog. Larry and I had a photo session before I left. Initially it started out in the dark but before I rolled out his gate it was daylight, sometime around 6:30 a.m. He took a video of me as I was leaving and a couple of pictures for myself. I switched the S/D Card in my GPS to the Mexican GPS Maps. Blanche immediately started dragging me over hill and dale again. Fortunately, I knew the way to Hwy 57 and eventually Blanche agreed with me even though she rebelled. As I drove thru cities you can see them come alive and as the cities woke up the cars on the interstates increased.  It’s about 130 miles from my brother’s home to Tijuana, Mexico. I believed I arrived around 10:30 a.m. at Customs and Immigration, Tijuana, Mexico.  I made one stop in a rest area to take a break. I never really traveled very fast somewhere between 55mph / 89kph – 65mph / 104kph. I don’t like to run my engine over 5000 Rpm’s. I think it saves wear and tear on the engine and I need this engine to hold up for another 20,000 mi. / 32,258 km.

Well, here we go, I just ran out of road right into Tijuana, Mexico Custom and Immigration. The Customs Officer asks me where I’m going and I tell him Cabo San Lucas, the tip of the Baja Peninsula. He tells me the best bars to check out. He asks me why I have spare tires, then looks at my tires on the motorcycle and says your tires are in good shape. I’m sure he then realized I will be traveling much farther. He also tells me I don’t need my passport stamped if I stay on the Baja Peninsula. I tell him I will be taking the ferry from La Paz, BC to Mazatlán, Mexico. He said, that I need to get my passport stamped if I'm travelling to Mazatlán, Mexico. I said ok, where do I go? He pointed to the building. 

I drove over by the building and parked my motorcycle. I pulled out all my paper work and headed inside. I walk past the x-ray machine and the lady points me forward so I keep walking. I get to this area where people are filling out paperwork. A guy hollers at me to fill out this piece of paper, top and bottom, and points to a wall with a shelf to write on. I fill out the paper and take it to the lady at the desk behind me. She stamps or does something with it and gives it back and tells me to go over to another woman behind the glass. I hand the paperwork to her and she looks at it. I get charged $27 for something. I show my permit sticker for my motorcycle and Insurance paperwork that I took care of before I left home. She takes it and looks at it. She checks her computer and says nothing. Then gives everything back to me. She says to go back and see the lady I just came from. OK... So I head back to her. She staples the papers together and points to the same lady behind the glass I was just at. I’m confused so stop at another window. They look at my paperwork and point to the other lady behind the glass. So I go see her and she says she is finished and I can go. I now am thoroughly confused and am feeling like a shooting gallery target, walking back and forth and back and forth. I take a chance and start walking out and walk by the x-ray lady again thinking she may like to see what in my shopping bag. Nope, she waved me on by. I continued out the building and back to my motorcycle. I got to my motorcycle and it dawned on me that I better check and see if my passport was stamped. I went thru every page before I found the stamp. I breathed a sigh of relief. When I leave Mexico I’ll for sure will know whether my paperwork was done correctly.

As I was standing by my motorcycle figuring out which end was up, a large tour bus pulled up in front of. Apparently I parked in the wrong spot. No worries, nobody cares. At least the bus driver didn’t get off the bus and start hollering at me. As I was putting my stuff back several people saw the stickers on the sides of my saddlebags. They started asking question and it wasn’t long before I had an audience. I told them about my trip around the world. Some people stood in pure amazement. Some said "Man, that must have taken planning". Others said their tour bus trip into the Mexican Vineyards is a pretty wimpy trip compared to what I was doing. Some of the Chinese wanted to ask questions but couldn't speak enough English to ask questions. I felt bad for them. I know the feeling.  I have got to start remembering to try to use Google Translate. All of the above probably went on for 30 minutes. As we were talking, people were in real close and I thought for a second that I’m so distracted somebody could be stealing my helmet or coat and I wouldn’t even know it. So, I grabbed my helmet and coat and laid them on my seat in full sight. Precautions... So anyway, the bus left so I finished putting on my coat and helmet on. I took some pictures but didn’t get any good ones of the border in to Mexico. You roll up on the border and next thing you know you’re over it. You can’t back up and re-do it. I’ve got to think better in the future. So I saddled up my trusty steed and started south to Cabo San Lucas.

I left the border heading South toward Ensenada, BC on Hwy 1. It’s a four-lane toll road (18 Pesos /about $1 for motorcycles) till you enter Ensenada. I saw some very beautiful home along this stretch of the highway. The countryside looks mostly desert. I guess there are some agricultural areas where they grow vegetables. I’m unsure of the area. I don’t know my exact location but I’m South of San Vicente and before the city of Colonet. I’m in the town or village of Ejido 27 de Enero, Baja California. I’m presently staying in the Hotel Sonora. I have found the staff to be helpful and very courteous and the price is right. At $15 per night, it’s not the brightest or the prettiest but it’s just right for me.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Blanche is a German - 4 November 2017

4 November 2017 – I talked to my brother and explained the situation. So, we got in his car and drove back to Bert’s Mega Mall. I walk in and talked to the parts guy. I told him which two parts I needed. He looked them up in Kawasaki’s warehouse. He said the brake caliper was available and the disk rotor was obsolete. He said they have an upgraded rotor but that was out of stock. He did a dealer search and found three dealers who should have the rotor. I took a picture of his computer screen with the addresses and telephone numbers. It was the best he could do. I purchased the disk caliper for $300+. He said, he couldn’t place the order till 6 November 2017 and I should receive it 8 November 2017. Five days I would have to wait for that part. I immediately get a text from Mary asking me if bought something from Bert’s Mega Mall. Oh joy, I haven’t even spent any money yet. So, we go home and I get on the phone to a Motorsports Dealer in Montana. I asked the parts guy, if he had my disk rotor in stock and initially he said no. But then he said he was looking at the new part number. So he looked up the old part number and Bingo! he had it. I paid for it with a credit card $300+, and shipped it UPS Blue to my brother’s house. It can’t be shipped till 6 November 2017 and expect to receive it 8 November 2017. Yep, you guessed it. Mary just texted me asking whether I purchased something at a Motorsports Dealer in Montana. I replied yes to both credit card purchases. We have it set up that Mary gets texts whenever I use the credit card to keep an eye out for fraud.  I just rolled my Mexico departure date back five or six days. 

5 November 2017 – I didn’t accomplish much today but did some planning of the small details still needed to be accomplished before heading out of the country, such as purchasing some Mexican Pesos, organizing paper work and getting a couple of keys cut. I wasn’t too ambitious today, so relaxing with my pals Key Key and Joobie was the main activity.

6 November 2017 – I went out under the veranda started working on my bike. I removed the saddlebags again and dug out the tools. I was going to remove the rear disk rotor and brake caliper,  and clean up the surface the disk rotor mounts to. Also clean up the bolts / fasteners. I didn’t have to remove the wheel, only pull out the axle far enough to slide the rotor out. I want this bike ready to be assembled when the parts come in. Earlier in the morning my brother and I went down to pick up his Nissan pickup. He had a factory rebuilt transmission put in. Apparently, some seal in the radiator deteriorated and allowed anti-freeze to leak into the transmission fluid, killing the transmission. The price of this repair caused a very long face. Although when he drove it he couldn’t believe how well it shifted when going up hills and generally around town. That fact alone helped the look on his face. It even put a smile on it. He even said he was enjoying driving his truck again. I, however, still had the long face about the fact I assembled that brake caliper incorrectly on that disk rotor. I can’t believe what a dumb move that was. I can tell you I have put six tires on that motorcycle and never made that mistake. I just failed to double check my work. Maybe the California sunshine, my cat companions, and Bert's Mega Mall calling distracted me this time.

7 November 2017 – It was a slow day around the house. I’m just waiting for my parts to arrive and they won’t be in till late Wednesday. I did some paper and passport work related to my trip that needed to get done. I checked several times on the status of the UPS Tracking Number of my rear disk rotor coming in from Montana. According to UPS it was on schedule and due to be delivered 8 November 2017.

8 November 2017 – I checked the UPS Tracking Number again and it said the rear disk rotor was on the delivery truck due to be delivered by the end of the day. I also checked with Bert’s Mega Mall about whether the rear brake caliper had arrived. They checked and said it was in. We could pick it up at our convenience. Good news. The tricky part here is we have to be home when UPS arrives to sign for the rear disk rotor. So, we wait. About 3:30, UPS walks up to the house, rings the door bell, drops off the package and walks off. He was gone before I could get to the door. So much for signing for the package. I picked up the package, immediately opened it, and compared the new disk rotor to the old one that I took off my motorcycle. All the bolt holes lined up and the diameter is the correct size. Things are good here. So, I got a hold of my brother and we drove over to Bert’s Mega Mall to pick up my brake caliper. They stay open until 8:00 p.m. so no rush here. The parts guy brought out the brake caliper and I took a quick look at it to make sure it’s the correct one. Visually it looked correct. One other thing we needed was DOT 3 brake fluid. On the way home we stopped at O’Reilly Auto Parts Store and bought a 12-oz. bottle. When I install the new brake caliper I will have to bleed the brake line and caliper to get all the air out of system, which is why I need the extra brake fluid. By the time we got home it was too dark to work on the motorcycle. So, all systems are go for tomorrow to install the rear disk rotor and rear brake caliper.

9 November 2017 – I got up at my usual time, ate breakfast and headed to the veranda to start installing the rear disk rotor. I cleaned everything up so it’s just a matter of assembling everything. I get the disk rotor on the wheel, all the bolts installed loosely, push the axle thru the wheel, caliper bracket, thru the swing arm and the nut screwed on. So everything rotates ok. I now can tighten the disk rotor bolt. Once all the bolts are lightly tightened, I take each one out, put Blue Loctite on it and torque it. I do this all the way around. I then go back and re-check all the torques on each bolt. That’s done. I then push the wheel forward till all chain bolt pull up tight against the swing arm. I tighten the axle nut snug. I bolt the old brake caliper back on its bracket. I remove the Banjo Bolt holding the break line on. The old brake caliper is removed / done with. I put the new brake pads into the new brake caliper. I slide the brake pads over the disk rotor and lightly tighten it to brake caliper bracket. I clean up the Banjo Fitting and washers, lubricate with brake fluid then lightly screw them into the brake caliper. I check the alignment of the brake line so nothing is pinching or binding. Everything looked ok so I tighten the Banjo Fitting bolt tight. I pump up the caliper with brake fluid. It was spongy because of air in the system. I added less than an ounce of brake fluid to the reservoir and pump the brake pedal again. This time I held pressure on the brake pedal and cracked the bleeder valve to let out the air. I released the pedal and spun the rear wheel to break the brake pads loose. Then I pump up the brakes again, held a firm pressure on the brake pedal and cracked the bleeder valve. I leaked off a good sum of brake fluid and lock the bleeder valve. The brake pedal was nice and firm now. I spun the wheel several times and hit the brakes. Everything seemed to be working fine. I topped off the brake fluid reservoir, screwed the cap on, put the guard over it and screwed it back to the frame. Done. I spun the wheel a couple more times just checking that everything is working ok. I also checked to see that that brake pads were correctly positioned on each side of the disk rotor. Everything looked fine there. I still can’t believe I ruined that brake caliper and disk rotor. It just amazes me.  I'm my own worst enemy. I still have to remove the caliper bolts, apply Blue Loctite and torque them. It’s getting late and will soon be dark. I have enough daylight left to put on my saddle bags. I will readjust the chain tomorrow and take my bike out for a test ride.

10 November 2017 – I get my bike off the center stand, put my pack and tires back on my bike and readjust the chain. It’s time for a test ride. I also needed some Mexican Pesos so I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone. I would test ride my motorcycle to the Brea Mall in Brea, CA and buy some Mexican Pesos. I found the Brea Mall all right, but the money exchange was more difficult. I finally called them up and they told me where they were in the Mall. I get to the money exchange Kiosk and talk with the guy. He said they just sold out of Mexican Pesos. No joy here. He called up one of their stores in a US Bank in Anahiem, CA and asked if they still had Pesos. They did and in my quantity. So off I go on another adventure. Thank goodness for Blanche, my GPS. I found the store all right in the dark. I bought $300 worth of Mexican Pesos. Just as I was leaving, Mary gave me a call. It was a bad connection and bad location. I was in the parking lot in the dark. I saw a Subway Sandwich Restaurant and ordered something to eat. I left Subway, and Blanch wanted to drag me over hill and dale to get back to Walnut. I liked the way I came, so I defiantly went back via Hwy 57 with some rebelling from Blanche.  (MAKE A U-TURN! RECALCULATINGGGGG!  PAY ATTENTION TO ME!  YOU'RE AN IDIOT!!!!) In the end she accepted my way. Hwy 57 was dead slow. I got the feeling I should be splitting lanes like the rest of the motorcycles but opted for stop and go till I exited the highway. The motorcycle brakes worked fine. When I got home I woke Larry up and he turned on the veranda lights for me. A nice gesture. I finally decided I must leave for Mexico on the 12 November 2017. I have one other thing I need to get done. I’m missing 3 keys on my third set of keys for my motorcycle. I must get this done tomorrow.

11 November 2017 – After a few phone calls I find a locksmith that was open and can cut keys. I drive over there and find their shop. The lady cut me two new keys, but the third one for my GPS housing, she didn’t have a blank for. I knew they wouldn’t. The GPS Mount was manufacture in Germany with German Key Blanks. I would have to go to TourTech to get another key. We made some small talk about my travels and I departed. The rest of the day I prepared my luggage to leave on Sunday. The plan was for me to get up at 3:00 a.m. load my bike and leave. I get my clothes laid out that I will wear. My cold weather clothes go in the packs. With long distance motorcycle travel, it's the smallest things that just kill you. What do you take? What do you leave behind? It’s a huge issue because I’m really loaded heavy and don’t really like it.

I Can't Get Away from Bert's! - 3 November 2017

3 November 2017 – I put my gas tank, side panels, seat, and saddle bags back on. Larry and I pushed the motorcycle off its center stand so I could check the chain tension. It is kind of heavy. The chain was still loose. I went in the house to get my heaviest pack and my 2 spare tires and put them on the motorcycle. I then adjusted the chain to the correct tension. Everything was put back together and I was anxious to take it out for a test ride. 

I left on my test ride about 4:30 p.m. It was just getting dark. I was driving around and I noticed I was near Bert’s Mega Mall. So, I typed in the address and drove there. I purchased a coiled cable to attach to the wood block I put under my kick stand. I wanted the cable to be able to retrieve the block when I get ready to lift the kick stand and take off. It’s a long reach to the ground if you don’t have this cable. While was at Bert’s Mega Mall Mary called me up on Skype and we talked. I showed her around with my phone. It’s really is a big place with many really expensive boy toys. It’s Boy Heaven. We finished talking and I left Bert’s. Getting home in the dark is always more challenging, especially in unfamiliar cities.

I was coming down the North Grand Avenue hill to San Jose Hills Road and I was applying both the front and rear brakes. I heard this growling. It doesn’t sound good. I did a quick front brake check. It sounded good. I checked the back brake….growl, growl, scrape, scrape. My heart sinks. I pull into the convenience store on the corner, park and get off my bike. I fish out my flash light and take a look. There is galling on the outside of the disk rotor: small 1/16” diameter steel patches of metal welded to the side of the disk rotor. What in blue blazes is going on here??? I go in the convenience store to buy 2 cherry cokes and to think about this. I go back outside,  get on my knees, looking straight forward so I could see the disk and both brake pads. I about fell over dead. Both brake pads were on one side of the disk rotor and the brake caliper aluminum was on the other side. How could that ever happen? All I could do is point the finger at myself. Here’s what was happening; the steel backside of the brake pad was rubbing the outside of disk rotor and the aluminum side of the caliper was rubbing the inside of the disk rotor. In other words, both brake pads were on one side of the disk rotor. The backside of the rotor was smeared with melted aluminum and outside of the rotor had welded on globs of steel. All I thought was that this is really going to cost me dearly. I pushed the caliper in to free the caliper and brake pad from the rotor and rode a 1/4-mile back to my brother's place. I opened the back gate and drove in and parked under the veranda. I walked into the house kicking myself in the butt.

I would put these two items in the top 25 percent of the most expensive parts you would ever purchase for this motorcycle. So, I was pondering my situation…..I got out my cell phone and checked out I found both of my parts, part numbers and pricing. About $600, which I kind of expected. I was happy that there was no need to faint. I wrote down the part numbers for tomorrow when I headed back to Bert’s Mega Mall.

Chain Challenges - 2 November 2017

2 November 2017 – I removed the incorrectly installed weights and re-taped them to the rim correctly. I then installed the rear wheel into the swing arm. Once the wheel was installed in the swing arm I Blue Loctited, tightened and torqued the sprocket nuts. I was now ready to install the new o-ring chain. My brother Larry and I both counted out the links so no mistakes were made. If you cut the chain too short, you're, like, in deep doo doo. It was checked 4 times before I cut the chain. Larry had a nice 4.0-inch diameter angle grinder which I used to grind the parting link. I then used my chain breaker to pop the ground link off. That grinder made short work of shortening that chain. The last time I did this I was in Palmer, Alaska and I used a file. Actually, it took longer to install the master link than to shorten the chain. Those master links can be a bugger. A little-known fact is that I used Larry to set on my top box to collapse the rear suspension to check to see that I had the correct length chain. It was a sight worthy of a picture. He rebelled at the picture idea. After I got the master link installed I adjust the chain within 2 turns of the correctly adjusted length. I can’t adjust the chain correctly till I have my bike loaded with my saddle bags and my packs. That I will do tomorrow.

Back to Bert's - 1 November 2017

1 November 2017 – I changed oil and oil filter in my motorcycle and put in new front wheel brake pads l. I checked the rear brake pads and they were ok. I also cleaned the swing arm and all the swing arm components used to adjust the rear drive chain. So everything was ready when I wanted to install the rear wheel. Later in the day we went back to Bert’s Mega Mall and pick up my wheel. It was balanced and the bead was seated. We returned home. When I got home I saw the balancing weights were put on incorrectly and would surely have fallen off once I started riding. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Working in Walnut - 26-31 November 2017

26 October 2017 – My brother and I went shopping for food and some specialty items that I will need to change oil and do a variety of maintenance work I will perform on my motorcycle.

27 October 2017 - The first thing I needed to get done is wash and clean the motorcycle. For whatever its worth it’s not easy to find a self-service car wash. We found one some distance from the house. I also purchased some degreaser for the job and we headed home. My brother convinced me his garden hose had enough water pressure to wash my motorcycle. So, I tried it. It looked promising. I rolled my bike out into his back yard and covered it with the degreaser and let it soak. 20 minutes later I began hosing it off. To my surprise the city water pressure was enough break the grease and dirt loose and wash it away. I re-applied another coated of degree, let it soak and then washed it off. Then I used a gas rag to wipe the rims, spokes and hubs clean on both wheels. I also wiped off the saddle bags to remove any grease still on them. I wiped everything dry and pushed it back under the veranda. I was now ready to start disassembling it for maintenance.

I still haven’t received my passport. Mary was supposed to receive it on the 19 October 2017 from the Brazilian  Consulate in Chicago with a shiny new Brazilian visa in it, but it has not shown up. The processing time is two weeks and they have strict rules on processing it. Believe me if you don’t have your paperwork in order when you send it to them, two weeks later you will receive your passport back with no visa. Because I was driving to Brazil, I had to outline my itinerary in the form of a timeline from the time I left the U.S. until I enter Brazil. I had to break this timeline down in the number of days I would spend in each country I passed thru. I also had to do the same timeline on the return to the U.S. I had a passport agency handling this but it seemed like they were pretty lax on how much help they would provide. This proved to be quite stressful. I’ll have to check Mary to see what’s up.

Guess what?  Mary called the passport agency, and they had the passport waiting for confirmation of our home address.  Now wouldn't you think the home address in the passport would be where they should send it??  Mary cleared up the confusion, they apologized for the screw up, and sent the passport to Mary.  She did her thing, and the FedEx Truck just showed up and delivered my passport. I did a quick check to see what my Brazilian Visa looked like. Everything looked in order. Thank God, what an ordeal.

28 October 2017 – Over breakfast, my brother and I talked some and then moved out onto his veranda. He presently is rebuilding it. It’s quite the task and I’m glad he’s doing it instead of me. He took up a position in his chair smoking a cigar and begins telling me his version of war and peace. I began getting my tools out, removing my saddle bags, removing the side panels on each side of the motorcycle, removing the seat and then removing the gas tank. All of the above is pretty straight forward. With that completed I am ready to start reading my instructions on how to check the valve clearances. This will be the fourth time I’ve checked them. 1st at home on the new motorcycle, 2nd 2009 in Seattle, Washington 10,000 miles, 3rd in 2010 at home 20,000 miles and this will be the 4th time in Walnut, California 35,000 miles. I always use MarkNet – KLR650 instructions. They have been a great help. Bear in mind my 2007 KLR 650 Kawasaki is 10 years old and there have been some changes in the new KLR motorcycles since then if you would decide to use his recommendations. Anyway, it’s too near dark to work on the motorcycle any further.

29 October 2017 – I set about checking valve clearances. Getting that valve cover off that engine is always a challenge, enough so that a few choice words often helps. I turned the engine over till I found Top Dead Center and checked the shim spacing. Much to my surprise the intake valves you could easily slip in the high limit shim and one exhaust valve you could easily slip in the high limit shim and the other had a light drag. I checked it with the shim .001 thinner and shim slid right in. So, in a nutshell I didn’t need to make any changes in the thickness of the shims. I did the happy dance - luckily no one caught that on camera. I cleaned up all the gasket surfaces, put in a new gasket, and put the valve cover back in place………….always a lot of fun. Once in place, the gasket lined up in all the right places so I torqued the cover down. I hooked up all the disconnected wires and bolted the fan back into place. I also switched out the old headlight relay for a waterproof relay for my high output light. Rain sometimes can be real mischievous with your electronics at the least opportune time. At this point I filled the carburetor float bowl with gas and started the engine to make sure I didn’t have any strange sounds coming out of it.  No grinding, hammering or other weird sounds. It fired right up and sounded great and stalled out when the float bowled emptied out. Of course, I was under the direct supervision of my brother while enjoying his cigar. I will clean up the scattered tools, throw out the trash and move all my tools inside. At night his sprinklers come on and wet down at least half of the veranda floor. My tools are mostly sitting where they would get wet. I have my bike setting in the dry area. Tomorrow I will have get my tire changed.

30 October 2017 – I’m going to replace the o-ring chain and front and rear sprockets when I remove the rear wheel. First, I will remove the master link so I can remove the chain, then I’ll loosen the large sprocket nuts and remove the wheel from the frame. My brother's friend Jim from across the street came over for a visit. We all made small talk for a while and then I mentioned that I would need a torque wrench. Jim said, no worries he had one. So, he and I walked over to his house and he dug it out of his truck. By him lending me that torque wrench he saved me from having to borrow one from one of the auto parts houses. Thanks Jim. Back at my motorcycle I continued working and Jim and Larry were smoking cigars. I removed the guard covering the front sprocket and cleaned all the grease out. I then removed nut off the small sprocket. I was expecting the splined sprocket to be difficult to remove but to my surprise it just slid off the splines. I cleaned the area out much better after the sprocket was out of the way. I installed the new sprocket and torqued it. A difficult job done and I was glad it was done. ­­ The cigar smoke continued to billow out from under the veranda till the day light went away and the cigars burned out. Then everybody went home.

31 October 2017 - It was as difficult as always, but my brother and I succeeded getting the tire off and the new tire on. We also didn’t pinch the inner tube. That’s a huge plus. I inflated the tire and only one bead seated. I couldn’t get the second side to seat. So off to Bert’s Mega Mall. Bert’s is the Kawasaki dealer in the area and I was leaving my wheel for these guys to seat the second bead and balance the wheel. While there I also picked up an oil filter for when I changed oil in my bike. My brother was surprise at what he saw on the show room floor. The watercraft, the 4-wheelers, side by sides, every kind of motorcycles you can think of, scooters and every accessory you will ever need. I think it’s largest dealer ship of its kind in the United States. Personally, I never saw any dealership of this magnitude. At this time, I never knew Bert’s Mega Mall would reach so deep into my pockets as we were leaving. We went back home.