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Old 06-26-2012, 11:37 PM   #1
Feyala OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Wandering...
Oddometer: 358
Wherever I May Roam - One Woman Livin' on a DR650

Oklahoma to Oregon along the California coast, Oregon forests, Hells Canyon, and beyond...

Click any photo to enlarge.

Unlike many ride reports, this one does not have a particular beginning or any predetermined end. I have no schedule and a shoestring budget. Quite frankly, I ride while I have money, I work when I don't, lather, rinse, repeat. I consider myself to be nomadic, and the only real static "home base" that I have is a mailing address in Phoenix AZ, where my parents live. I'm happy this way, I'm in love with life and I'm more than happy to exchange security and stability to taste more of it.

I apologize now if my style doesn't appeal to some of you, or if you consider me a miscreant in my quest to maximize the amount of time I spend unchained from the workaday world, but I am unapologetic about who I am, and I'll try to be straightforward about what it takes to get me where I end up. If you consider taking extra condiments from a fast food restaurant to be stealing, you should probably pass this one by!

That said, this is my first ride report, and I'm more than happy to have constructive feedback or requests!

Once I catch this up to the current day, I'm going to attempt to keep it somewhat-live - a daunting prospect, but given that I am in no particular hurry, I should be able to get it done. Starting is the hardest part, right?


I've been nomadic off and on for years. I've lived out of a car, or bouncing around between friends' couches. I lived for 6 months in Berkeley, CA to attempt to learn "urban survival", squatting in abandoned houses, dumpster diving and learning how to find everything I needed for cheap or free. I spent a year living in Denmark with some friends from the internet back when I was 18, and I stayed for a month in 2009 in Thailand with a friend who was generous enough to pay for my trip because she wanted the company. I enjoy travel, I crave novelty, I like exploring places I've never been, and I grow as a person with every tip, trick and skill I pick up from a stranger. The day I stop learning is the day they put me in the ground. I've lived behind a computer screen for most of my life; travelling helps me to live in the moment and expand my horizons.

To fund this trip I worked as a Professional Nerd at GoDaddy for about a year and a half. I managed to claw myself up into the ranks of Server Support by the time I was finished there. I managed to put away a decent amount of money - far less than I see budgeted for most trips of this nature - but enough that I knew I was in no risk of running out for at least a year with my cheap cost of living. I also managed to obliterate about $6k in credit card debt, freeing myself of any recurring bills except for insurance.

I sold my car - the source of my debt - for chump change, parted with what I could, and left Phoenix last October. I rode my Honda Rebel 250 from Phoenix up through Cali and to Oregon, then back down to San Jose for a convention in January, and back up to Oregon again. I stayed with a friend of mine, helping him with odd projects such as dismantling cars for scrap, that sort of thing. I hooked up with my boyfriend, Oz, and moved up to the Portland area in February to be with him. He expressed an interest in travelling around with me, but needed to get his finances in order to be able to do so.

I've been riding motorcycles for a little over one year. I've put 7,000+ mostly-touring miles on the little Rebel in that time. I've been interested in dual sporting for years, but I don't know too many other people who ride, let alone who ride dual sports, so I didn't really have a good direction to go, especially as I'd never even been on a dirt bike. I found myself taking the Rebel down forest service trails and many other places that it was Not Designed To Go, as I love camping, and this planted the seed that I may need a more purpose-built bike in the future. Riding the freeways in the Bay Area convinced me that I needed a larger displacement, something that I could use to outrun inattentive drivers if need be. After lurking on ADV for a couple of months, I knew that I wanted a DR650, the only question was how/when to acquire one.

I've always loved motorcycles, but my father forgot to keep the shiny side up in his youth and had a bad crash, so he was insistant that no daughter of his would ever ride. Surprise!
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:43 PM   #2
Feyala OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Wandering...
Oddometer: 358
Bus and Ride OR to OK

This story begins some rainy day in March. I'd been in Oregon for 5 months of dreary, grey skies and incessant rain, and I was absolutely sick of it. After searching Craigslist for a DR650 for weeks and coming up with nothing local, I decided to do a meta-search and searched the entire country for them. One ad caught my eye:
"This is 2001 DR650se. This bike is trail ready and street legal, what more can you ask for!? Perfect for this upcoming riding season?!

This bike has seen the Continental Divide as well as the Western Trans-American Trail. This bike will walk away from KLR650 and keep up with any Honda 650. I have been averaging 44-48 mpg around town, better on longer trips.

It has 10,5xx miles on it, a blast to ride. Has a tm40 pumper carb, properly jetted, upgraded front and rear progressive springs (will hold up to a 270lb rider), front fairing, skid plate, engine guards, pro taper aluminum bars and risers, Ims tank, renazco seat, pro moto billet rear rack and side guards, TUSK Handguards.

Price is $3000 cash OBO"
It seemed like a good deal for the money! 3k is a bit steep for the age and miles, but I'd save a bundle in addons! Of course it was in... Oklahoma. But hey, I needed to get out of the house anyways, right?! Right. Emails were exchanged, plans were made, and Greyhound Bus tickets were purchased. Ride the bus to Oklahoma, check out the bike, if it's kosher, ride it back to Portland. If it was no good, I had a list of 5 or 6 others to check out, but no real concrete plan.

So I hopped on a bus on April 4th and began my journey!

Idaho was still a bit chilly...

I had a bit of difficulty convincing the owner that, no, really, I was on a greyhound from Oregon. No, I'm not a scammer. I'll be there in three days, please don't sell it to anybody else. A phone call with the bus idling in the background seemed to do the trick, and I settled in for three days of absolute hell.

I hadn't been a Greyhound customer for any length of time since I started owning my own vehicles, sometime in 2006. The passage of time has not been kind to this company. Somewhere along the line, their ridership more than doubled, and somebody forgot to inform them. Overbooked busses - sometimes by twice the capacity of the bus - used to be the exception, but are now apparently the norm.

I dealt with a child who would not shut up for the majority of 36 hours. She would scream and wail, and start giggling as soon as her mother paid attention to her. After days of no sleep, screaming children hit my hindbrain like an icepick. Mechanical failures on another bus meant every seat was taken, and even routine non-transfer stops became the worst game of musical chairs, where if you failed, you had to wait for the next bus, even though you'd paid $200 for a ride. Heaven help you if you happen to notice how the drivers are driving at night, in the snow... swerving and swaying, speeding... yikes.

There were a series of mindbogglingly incompetent failures including a lack of drivers which would have resulted in over 50 people being stranded for 6+ hours while waiting for another bus. Instead we ended up 3 hours late due to being put on a longer route. We were told a bus would be waiting for us at our transfer point, Denver... and then that we'd need to wait 4 more hours once we got there, because oops, that bus had to leave. At one stop, where they switched drivers, there was terrible communication. They switched what door we left from without being organized or informing people properly, and the clusterfuck caused panic as people scrambled to get a spot in line. For the inconvenience of being delayed 7+ hours, we were given meal vouchers consisting of a soda, small bag of chips, and a "triangle sandwich". I was rudely brushed off when I explained that I was a vegetarian, and I can't eat a ham sandwich.

Also, there was the Most Idiotic Restroom Ever:

I don't think I like ANYBODY this much!

Regardless of the snafus, overcrowding, and other various bullshit, I did enjoy the views. The scenery was gorgeous, and even though I was unhappy with my conveyance, it was good to be on the road again. Moving. Progress. Sunshine. I'd missed all three, and like old friends, I welcomed their company.

One leg of my bus journey through Oklahoma, was fantastic. I was the only passenger on a nice, modern bus with wifi and outlets. I spent a great deal of time talking with the bus driver, who had driven busses for over 20 years - mostly charter busses for tour groups, it seemed. He knew a lot about the surrounding areas that we drove through, explaining history, and how a town which I sadly don't remember the name of was more or less completely destroyed by a tornado, except for the concrete grain elevator and a couple of other heavily-reinforced buildings. The concrete pads that used to be foundations for buildings took on an entirely different meaning with this information.

Before I knew it, I found myself in the same town as my future bike: Norman Oklahoma. As I got there a full 7 hours after I'd intended to, I grabbed a "cheap" motel room and made plans to meet up the following day to look it over.
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Old 06-26-2012, 11:51 PM   #3
Feyala OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Wandering...
Oddometer: 358
Bus and Ride OK to Phx

The next day, I wandered to the agreed meeting spot with a bulging pocket full of $20s. Little did I know when I set out that my bank does not exist in this state, so I was forced to use the ATM of another bank to withdraw the money... but it was an easily overcome obstacle. I do wish I'd gotten a photo of the pile o money though, that was fairly ludicrous. I had too much on my mind at the time.

I met up with the owner of the bike and took it for a spin around the parking lot. There was a very, very steep learning curve. I am a short, 5'5" or so woman, and the only bike I'd ever rode was my Rebel. Never even test-drove a dual sport, never rode dirt bikes as a kid... nada. The DR650 is a tall machine, and this one was even taller - stiffer suspension and the Renazco seat make it a good couple of inches taller than a stock version. I found that I could flat foot one foot, or drag both tippy-toes. I learned really, really quickly that the clutch was not nearly as forgiving as my Rebel, although it did take a few stalls due to a dropped clutch getting up to speed from a stop to drive the lesson home. The low-end torque was phenomenal, like nothing I'd experienced on the smaller bike. I looked it over for obvious problems, and finding none that would outweigh the value of the purchase, gave away my bundle of cash and had the title signed over to me at a notary.


Why yes, most of my luggage IS tarp straps, why do you ask?

It's an ugly fucker, but paint is cheap and it suits me just fine!

The previous owner was absolutely fantastic. He was a hoarder - he had a good number of OEM parts, another set of tires, rims, and other goodies that he sent with me. I wasn't willing to carry all of these things strapped Beverly Hillbillies-style to the bike, especially an unfamiliar bike, so he was a true gentleman and drove me to a UPS store, where I spent $200 shipping everything but the stock exhaust home. He seemed a bit sad to see his baby go, but his wife was expecting, and had developed an interest in riding pillion, so he was in the market for a cruiser instead. His loss!

The day that I purchased the bike was dreary and rainy, but I didn't care. I had a new motorcycle! After getting insurance set up and printed out, I romped around on some back roads, going in the vague direction of Phoenix, and retired to a scummy dive motel in Chickasha for the evening.


Oklahoma was full of rolling green scenery.

Wow, these motels are getting expensive! And why are they all owned by folks from India? Some mysteries will never be solved... after the night in Norman and another $30 now drained from my bank account, I started considering my options. I had no camping gear - it was too bulky to carry on the bus with my riding gear as well. I wasn't too enthusiastic about being woken up in the middle of the night by spiders, scorpions, or other hooligans, and besides which, it was still a bit chilly out. I remembered that my parents are packrats, and decided to book it back to Phoenix, in case they happened to have any camping gear laying around that they'd be willing to let me have.

I decided that as much as I hate the freeway, it was the only way to really get from Oklahoma to Phoenix with any alacrity. I-40, here I come!

The next day was a drone along I-40. I didn't stop to take too many photos, because I was pushing as much as I could. I finally ended up in an exhausted heap in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, making my first real day on this bike 410 miles.

Texas Bugs

I'd heard about the Texas bugs, but ewwww!

Graffiti Paper

One of my rest stops had a great idea - give people paper so they don't write on the walls!

Another dive motel, another $50 down the drain. Wifi stopped working randomly - the manager couldn't speak enough english to understand "The wifi isn't working, can you check it?". I found a purse in one of the drawers with a receipt in it which suggested it'd been there since February. Cheap soap, decor from the 70s... ugh. I don't mind spending money if I want a quality experience, but paying rent just to sleep? For the birds. I was determined to make it to Phoenix without paying another dime to short-stay slumlords.

Swamp Pool

Nothing says "I stopped caring" like a swamp where the pool used to be...

The next day I booked it. 85mph all day, only stopping when I absolutely had to. The IMS tank was a blessing - I found I could go a good 180 miles and still have a gallon or two of gas left over. The drone was boring - I was thankful for my headphones and music! But, I closed in on my goal. I called my parents near the state line to let them know I was on my way.


Gorgeous views coming in from Flagstaff, AZ

I rolled into town shortly after dark. Success! I could sleep in a bed that was much less likely to be infested with bedbugs! This was my longest day ever in the saddle - a good 580 miles. Thanks to the seat, my ass was fine, but the rest of me needed a good, long nap.

I stayed with my parents in Phoenix for a week and a half. I hadn't intended on staying this long, but my mother's birthday was right around the corner and I didn't want to leave beforehand. While I was there I did minor maintenance on the bike - changed the oil and oil filter, took the chain off, soaked it in kerosene and re-greased it. The chain was much better than before but still rather stiff. Cleaned the air filter and oiled it. I also gave the bike itself a nice wash.

Mom on My Bike

No mom, it's okay, it won't fall over... No, I know you can't touch the ground...

Bikes? Needing to be checked yearly for emissions?! Say it ain't so! I had to wrestle with the DMV to get the bike past emissions to register it - thanks ADVRiders in Phoenix for all the help with this! Eventually I wrangled it through and got the bike registered. Why did I bother to register in Arizona? I move around a lot, and this is the closest thing to a permanent address that I have. Besides which, my AZ license doesn't expire until 2049! It's also been my experience that when your registration is in a different state than your license, cops tend to look at you a bit sideways... not that I plan on getting pulled over, but I'd rather be safe than sorry!

Self Portrait in Phoenix

I'm squinting because the sun is stabbing me in the eyes.

I visited with some friends who I hadn't seen in months. Got a poor-quality $20 tent back from a guy I had previously given it to, he claimed it was "derpy" and that he didn't like it. Sweet! Free tent! Begone, insects of the night! My mother found a sleeping bag in their Garage of Hoarding that I hadn't seen since I was a kid, and thusly I was equipped for the next leg of my adventure.

After having paid more in hotel fees for 3 nights than I did in gasoline to cover more than 1k miles, I decided that I would do my best to sleep for free from here on out.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:00 AM   #4
dreaming adventurer
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Joined: Nov 2005
Location: right here on my thermarest
Oddometer: 103,027
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Old 06-27-2012, 03:41 AM   #5
Joined: Sep 2003
Location: Wi
Oddometer: 29
Oh I am so in. You write like your sitting next to me telling the story. Thanks
Gravity is your friend, don't let it get you down.

IBA #8568
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:04 AM   #6
Resourceful Weasel
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Colorado Springs, CO
Oddometer: 103
Good for you. The DR is a great bike. I hope you have an aftermarket seat. take care.
"Beaten paths are for beaten men." - Erik's Mom.
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:15 AM   #7
Robert Ford
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Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Loudon, NH
Oddometer: 295
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:17 AM   #8
Beastly Adventurer
Joined: Jun 2006
Location: northern Arkansas
Oddometer: 2,494

May as well tag along. I had a somewhat similar nomadic period of life myself.
R1200GS Ural Patrol KLR650 DRz400 XL185
Austria '08
Back to the Alps in '11
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Old 06-27-2012, 04:49 AM   #9
Far from sanity
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Joined: Aug 2011
Location: New Harbor, ME
Oddometer: 81
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Old 06-27-2012, 05:22 AM   #10
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Dec 2009
Location: Homestead, Florida
Oddometer: 1,404
IN!!! This is gonna be fun!!
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:11 AM   #11
Beastly Adventurer
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Joined: Mar 2009
Location: north florida
Oddometer: 1,688
somewhere in my life, i saw a picture/poster/album cover of this big red tongue...ROLLING STONES maybe? One on each side of your tank and that bike would be awsome! enjoy the ride!!!!
2012 VSTROM ADV 650
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:35 AM   #12
Apple Jam
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Joined: Aug 2007
Location: Mt Hood mud flow
Oddometer: 6,681
Awesome report, looking forward to your journies around Oregon, and of course, Hells Canyon !!

You write well, it makes it fun to read...
"got no problem with keeping truly roadless areas as wild....
On the other hand, if it has been logged or mined and roads already exist,,
...then that land should be open for public use" (peterman)
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Old 06-27-2012, 06:57 AM   #13
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Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Salt spring Island the Hawaii of Canada
Oddometer: 204
Great report . Haven't been on greyhound for twenty years , hope I can keep it that way . Paul
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Old 06-27-2012, 07:04 AM   #14
Studly Adventurer
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Joined: Jul 2008
Location: Nelson BC, fer now.
Oddometer: 857
Wow. Not sure if I'm in.
I once was lost but now I' wait, I'm still lost.
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Old 06-27-2012, 12:00 PM   #15
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Joined: May 2009
Location: North Vancouver, BC
Oddometer: 43
Hope my daughter doesn't find out

Yeah, I'm in. Your comment about Dad not wanting you to ride hooked me.

I just hope my daughter doesn't find this report. I suspect she'd just steal my bike and join you.
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