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Old 11-27-2012, 01:36 PM   #1
0theories OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Nov 2010
Location: Eugene, OR
Oddometer: 299
Avoiding seasonal depression when faced with the “Dark Months” - Portland to Panama!

[This intro is a copy/paste from the Planning section]
The goal: Get out of the Pacific Northwest for the winter so as not to get depressed and kill myself.

The man: Me. (I don't have dreads anymore...)

The bike: Fully farkled out 2002 KLR650.

More on the goal: I want to leave the depressing rains of the PNW and head south to warmer, sunnier climes. I think it would be fun to ride down to Panama and then back up (unless I leave the bike there to continue to S. America next winter). I have about four months, a reasonable budget of ~$25 a day, a good running bike (so far) and a desire to see more of the world. This will be more than just a ride, as I usually backpack foreign lands and want to see places that can sometimes only be reached on foot. The bike will get me to the general area, and feet will get me to the more remote destinations.

More on the man: I'm 37 years old, an American via political refuge from the ol' USSR, have traveled most of my life; have lived in the same place for no more than 7 years, no more than 3 since high school. I've been to somewhere near 20 countries all in the northern hemisphere (including some of the ones I'll be seeing this trip), but only 5 on a motorbike. I work seasonally for the USFS from May to October. Generally I save up enough money during the summer to live in the winter if I go somewhere 3rd world (read: cheap). Previously I have taken 3 long distance trips on motorbikes: San Diego to Vermont (and back) on a Honda Magna 750, again San Diego to Vermont (and mostly back) but on a Honda VFR750, and Southeast Asia on a Honda Bonus 125 (and some Honda CB400), including Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. SEA is the first time I ever rode dirt and I'm not very good at it (but I made it through several “roads from hell” in Laos and Cambodia). I practiced some this summer on the KLR, but mostly stuck to forest service roads. I don't think I'll do too much (if any) single track this trip. In conclusion: I'm fairly well educated, in pretty good shape and I like to expand on ideas in sentences with parentheses (see above and below).

More on the bike: Last year I bought a fully farkled out KLR from an inmate here. This is the first time I have more than one bike in the stable. This bike has had almost EVERYTHING done to it. Seat, armor, suspension and so on. I will probably eventually remove some armor and get an IMS tank. I'd like to get Britannia Composites fairing, the 685 kit and a blinker cancel switch, but other than that the bike is complete. The only things I've done to the bike since purchase other than routine maintenance is the t-mod, a tool tube,the Thermo-bob and the drill-through subframe upgrade.

Okay, on to the plan: This is where it gets a little vague... I plan to leave somewhere in late Nov. (the 27th). The first leg (legs can and will be multi-day) will be to southern California to see an old USMC friend. Then I'll ride over to Phoenix AZ to see a college friend and maybe do some riding around the area. Then I'll head on south into Mexico. I plan on spending close to a month in Mexico then continue south and ride through each country in Central America until I reach Panama. I've never been to Belize, have spent less time in El Salvador than is worth mentioning and never to Panama. I've backpacked (and worked with sea turtles) in the rest.

So, assuming you've made it this far through the post, thanks! I would love company along the way if you're heading along a similar route. I'm all for company, but am very comfortable traveling alone too. We can ride together for as long as we both want, but expect that we'll split up as soon us either one of us wants to do something different. No need to compromise your trip for me and vice versa. I know from the “Trip Planning” section that a bunch of people are doing a similar ride at similar times. Hope to see you on the road!

If anyone has route advice, and especially “Places Not To Be Missed” I'm all for hearing about them!

I have been scouring the net looking for places to not miss on my way south. So far I'm pretty good for Mexico and Guatemala, but draw a complete blank on Belize. Looks like most people don't spend more than a few days there. That's fine, but my original plan was to spend several weeks in each country. Leaving more time for countries that (potentially) have more to offer doesn't bother me at all, but I want to make sure I'm not overlooking something amazing.

I packed my gear up into 3 Givi boxes, a tank bag and a tool roll. I have a e45 case on the left, a e36 case on the right (for symmetry) and a e45NJ case for a top box. That is a lot of space!! Not one of the cases is full and I can see right now I need smaller cases for future rides. I though about buys some Caribou cases to replace the Givis because they would decrease the width of my loaded bike by almost 8 inches (without reducing capacity a great deal)! But... they're $500 (for just the sides) and that is NOT in the (gear) budget. So now I have lots of room for beer and spirits.

I think I'm taking way too much stuff with me, but I guess only time will tell. I make a packing list in excel and without entirely itemizing each individual item, I'm bringing something on the order of 190 items with me!! It seems like a lot since I usually just travel with a (slightly smaller than) carry-on sized bag for any indefinitely length trip. Most of these items are spare parts and tools, as well as bike specific clothing and gear.

I made a pretty detailed plan of my lodgings in the US. I was planning on not planning too specifically, but got caught up in the excitement of the "Tent Space" thread and it's only polite to give inmates a (as close as I can) specific date for when I'll be passing through. So tentative plan (now pretty set in stone) is this:

Nov. 27 Leave Portland Or and camp in the Six Rivers NF off of Rt. 199
Nov. 28 Ride down to Mendocino CA and tent space with Medodave (thanks!)
Nov. 29 Ride down South of San Jose and tent space/join Mognox (thanks!) for camping and a Cali ADVride on the 1st of Dec.
Nov. 30 Visit with a friend in Santa Barbara
Dec. 3(?) Cruise to Slab City CA and spend the night there.
Dec. 4 Get to Phoenix and visit with a great friend.
Dec. 6 or 7 Mexico!

This is much more detailed than I like to travel, but once I'm in Mexico and hosteling it, it's wide open! I'm definitely open to meeting up with riders as they exit the ferry from Baja... Any amazing spots I should know about between Phoenix and Mazatlan?

Okay, enough rehashing the planning thread. From here on out it's all new all the time.
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