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Old 12-03-2013, 10:42 PM   #1
bastchild OP
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Living 2 Lives: one on an F650 and the other in the real world

You tell yourself you will make the trip happen but you need to do this or that. You give yourself a couple years, then a couple more, then your wife realizes it might never happen, and she tells you to get off your butt and make it happen. So you like your job and the schedule and you try to make it work. You tell your company it’s time to find a replacement for you. Maybe by next summer. Meanwhile, you happen to get two weeks off and you plan to fly to the Phillipines and laze on the beach. Typhoon Haiyan happens. You cancel your flights. Your wife tells to you to start the trip now.
And so it begins. Living two lives: one on an F650 and the other in the real world. By “real world” I mean the working world. That’s right we’re going to travel and work and fly back and forth to our bike. The wife says, “Work is just what you do between rides.” I don’t know where she gets this stuff but I sure am lucky.
The wife a few years ago with our friend Coco. That’s me on the far left.
Group shot
This is me on the bike about the embark on a cross-country trip after buying the bike 5 months before and getting my license 3 months before.
Rolling out
Adding last minute farkles on the 2003 F650gs:
Enduristan Sandstorm 2 tank bag
Extra large tool tubes
Another old milk crate
Laminar lip
adding last minutes farkles
And this is how she looks now.
the ride
So we live in Mississippi’s gulf coast and it’s Thanksgiving Day and I have 14 days off but a cold front has moved in and the high is in the low 50’s and the low is in the mid 30’s and what do we do? I finish packing the bike and the wife says to head for New Orleans, only 90 minutes away for the evening. It’s 3:45pm and it gets dark at 5pm. It’s cold and we leave. Happy turkey day! We are so on the fly that we don’t even take a departing shot or record the mileage on the odometer. Before we know it, we’re pulling in front of the Queen and Crescent Hotel in the CBD a couple blocks from the French Quarter and Domenica’s our go-to pizza place (happened to be ranked as one of the top Italian restaurants in the States by USA Today, but who cares, right?). My fingers and frozen, and I need to warm up but the room is good and we just booked it a couple hours ago on hotels.com and they have secure (locked gate) parking ($32 for cars, and bargained it down to half price, and then they didn’t even charge me in the morning!)
secure parking, bargained to half price
queen and crescent in cbd nola
This was as close as we got to cranberry sauce
cranberry with flaky bread
Proscuitto pizza with arugula and roasted cauliflower with whipped feta. Sounds funky but it is the bomb.
Thanksgiving dinner at Domenica's
Domenica’s is attached to the Roosevelt and it was spruced up for the holiday season. And our motorcycle jacket liners really didn’t make us stand out amongst the other clientele.
Roosevelt Hotel Christmas lights
Roosevelt Hotel Christmas lights
After dinner went to see how busy Bourbon Street was. Verdict: steady business on Thanksgiving. We stopped at Lafitte’s Blacksmith and met a couple from Houston and ended up hanging out and enjoying music at Fritzel’s our favorite jazz bar.
Andy and Sharon
Fritzel's Jazz Band
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Old 12-04-2013, 04:13 PM   #2
Eagletalon
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Looking forward to future updates. Indeed a very understanding wife!

Later
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:00 PM   #3
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Subscribed, this should be a interesting trip.
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Old 12-04-2013, 06:20 PM   #4
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Old 12-04-2013, 08:22 PM   #5
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day 2 to Houston day 3 to Hidalgo, Tx

It was such a good time the night before that we woke up late hungover! Yeah, probably needed to drink more water before passing out but so it goes. It was 10am and we were struggling to get packed up for the road. It was a 6-hour ride to Houston! And even though it was sunny and 5 degrees warmer, it was still pretty cold out.


leaving NOLA


Stopped for delicious lunch at McDonald’s. I know she looks like she is blowing her nose but she isn’t. She is stuffing her face with the BBQ Ranch sandwich that has Fritos in it. I kid you not.


breakfast at McD's


breakfast at McD's


Back on the road in the cold.
Crossing the Mississippi at Baton Rouge.


Crossing Mississippi River at Baton Rouge


It didn’t take long for us to realize we hadn’t developed our iron butts yet. Every 80-100 miles we had to get out of the saddle.


co pilot


Finally made it to Houston at 7pm. Sam Houston Parkway? It’s expensive! Every couple miles I had to stop and pull out $1.75. I pulled off and took the libre road. We stayed with my friend’s Michael’s parents. Michael was kneeling next to Coco in the first photo above. Here he is with me and my brother (who was kneeling next to my wife in the photo with Coco) from back in the day. Let’s say circa 1975.


Michael and Kevin and I


Here’s dinner


Home cooked Chinese food


Home cooked Chinese food


Day 2 fin




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Old 12-04-2013, 08:24 PM   #6
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day 3 to Hidalgo

Day 3 begins with Denny’s breakfast and hitting the road to Reynosa border.
Denny's breakfast


Denny’s breakfasts put me to sleep. I had a burger.
Denny's breakfast


Denny's breakfast


Temps hit 77F! We shed thermals and rejoice!
Warm!


Went to Super 8 in Hidalgo, on the Reynosa border. Online was $80 and the desk wanted to charge $90. We whipped out the phone and charged it online. I know the websites get a commission and the deskclerk has no authority to discount the rate, but it seems to me ridiculous. This happens everyday for the next few days. Hidalgo, btw, looks like Mexico with the taco stands in a dirt or limerock parking lot. We loved it! But we had Subways instead because the wife wanted gringo food one last time.
Super 8 Hidalgo


Super 8 Hidalgo


Subway's for dinner

Fin day 3
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Old 12-04-2013, 09:22 PM   #7
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day 4 Monterrey, MX

The next morning we made the quick 10 minute drive to the Hidalgo-Reynosa border. I had ordered the Temporary Vehicle Importation Permit and received it a couple weeks ago via DHL. I highly recommend this to anyone who can. I googled it. Our target was modest: negotiate the border, get cash, make it to Monterrey, only 3 hours away.

The border crossing.
Hidalgo-Reynosa border crossing
Just keep going straight instead of stopping at the parking lot at the right just over the bridge ($3 bridge toll, too). The town is on the right but if you keep going straight with the exiting traffic directly on your left you will make it to a large parking lot and building for getting visas, paying the bank, and getting your TVIP you should have gotten online. They even have a dude you can pay for copies there. We made the mistake of stopping and asking the pedestrian customs area and they had a helper walk us with our bike gear to the building. Very nice, but when I asked if we could just ride our bikes, he said, better for exercise. Halfway there, he said he wanted a tip, maybe something for a coffee. Thanks, buddy! Anyways, no harm no foul. He wanted to help fill out our visa forms but I just gave him 12pesos and he left. Paid 295pesos for each visa and walked back to the bikes a sweaty mess. Sure beats freezing!

Paying for visas. Wow, no line.
paying for visas

Heading to Monterrey on the libre road.
taking the libre road 40

Wife’s selfie. She doesn’t do this normally, but does it count if it isn’t for faceb**k?
taking the libre road 40

This is what she stares at sometimes. I forget how boring it must be for pillions.
Christine's view

And other times she says, “Pull over, the luggage is falling off.” My homemade Pelican case luggage needed some loctite which I had brought for this purpose. I had forseen this happening.
luggage falling over

Quickfix. I had brought the necessary washers and loctite.
quick fix

We made it to smoggy Monterrey around 2:30 pm. I had checked out iStay Hotel which was around $50 online and stopped there. I asked the desk clerk how much for doble and he says 800pesos. I say it was cheaper online, and he shrugs. So I go back to the curbside and what do you know? They have unsecure wifi for their restaurant. Awesome. Booked via the internet and went back to the front this time and said I just booked it. He looked at me and said it would take an hour for them to receive it. What? Well, we had to put the bike somewhere so the security guard was kind enough to let us park it under the their camera. We took our stuff off the bike that we needed and prepared to have lunch somewhere. Wife decides to ask the deskminion to check to see if the reservation was there, and sure enough, it was! Imagine that! The iStay is the right price and has secure parking in the downtown area near all the action so I recommend it for your stay.

secure parking under camera

iStay hotel Monterrey

iStay hotel Monterrey

In the crowded pedestrian zone, dressed ballroom dancers invited others to dance with them.
monterrey zona rosa

Cool architecture. Monterrey has some interesting buildings. It is the third largest city in Mexico, with over 3 million people, but according to a guidebook I read it has the highest per capita income. It shows. This is not the Mexico we know from our Baja trips. It is great. It is definitely worth a stop to check out. Did I mention we live in Mississippi on the gulf coast?
cool architecture

Holiday stuff

They had an iceskating rink set up.
ice skating!

swingout doors like a Lamborghini

The guidebook recommended cabrito, roasted baby goat. And it recommended El Rey del Cabrito. So we went. It is good. But we are more street side tacos in Ensenada type of people.
El Rey del Cabrito

El Rey del Cabrito

“Why does your husband make that face all the time?” “That’s just how he looks.”
El Rey del Cabrito

It’s because there are goofy decorations that make no sense here.
El Rey del Cabrito

We got the mixed plate. Half beef and half goat. I hope it comes from 2 separate animals and not la chupacabre. It was good but not nearly the size of the other patron’s goat only plates.
El Rey del Cabrito

The table next to us had a mountain of beef to share and each had a plate of goat.
they got the big platter!

They do make a tasty margarita! Congratulatory drink for beating the cold and making to Mexico!
great margarita!

After dinner we strolled about in the Barrio Antigua. Not much happening but reminds me of old colonial towns like Merida and Antigua. The Zona Rosa is definitely where the business is thriving.
Barrio Antiguo

Barrio Antigua

More cool architecture near the museums.
cool architecture
Free entry to three of their museums tonight. We took advantage and used the restrooms.
cool architecture

cool architecture

The wife was not full off our goat-tastic meal and wanted some antojitos so we went here for some tostadas. It was bland, I am sorry to say. I post for your future avoidance.
Restaurant Mi Tierra

Tostadas

Monterrey is worth a stopover. There, I’ve said it.

Day 4 fin
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:10 PM   #8
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Day 5 to Real de Catorce

We had decided to head towards Mazatlan but not being iron butters yet we figured we would stop somewhere before Durango. Well, the night before we had decided on Zacatecas, but had read Lonestar’s report on Real de Catorce. I was hesitant because of our heavy weight, compressed suspension on a lowered bike, and the risk of rattling off other non-loctited bolts. But in the morning I announced we would head to Real, 18-mile cobblestone road be d*mned! Besides it was 5 hours away.
Morning ride out of Monterrey.
riding out of Monterrey

riding out of Monterrey

riding out of Monterrey

riding a cement road

Truck lunch stop. Great places to stop for meals are where other long haulers stop. It was cafeteria style and tasty and good value.
Lunch break

This is pork in red sauce is unbelievable. It isn’t mole.
pork in red sauce 80pesos

This was all right.
beef and vegetables 70pesos

Lunch break

Goats and other animals grazing by the highway. This is why you don’t drive at night!
goats

The wife is telling me how she feels about me not being able to understand her through our comm system.
riding highway 57D

She is so pleased she was able to turn around and get a bottle of Pepsi from the milk crate.
Drinking Pepsi

We filled up before Real de Catorce and I tightened up the sagging tool tubes to keep them off the chain guard and rear brake. I had anticipated this happening. I bought 24” zip ties for less than $2 at Harbor Freight. Love that place.
Tightening the tool tubes

Real de Catorce is at around 9000 ft and there is an 18-mile polished slipper cobblestone road to get there. Lonestar described it great in his ride report.
Road to Real de Catorce

And this is on a lowered bike with low seat.
Road to Real de Catorce

There is a 1.5-mile tunnel to Real. You, the tourist, have to pay 20 pesos, my friend.
Tunnel to Real

More cobblestoned road but now with hills, yikes!
Real de Catorce

I didn’t want to hit the hills, but I had to make a loop. The wife got off first. She has realistic expectations at my skills on polished cobblestones and hills. I ended up parking on the flat, and walking up hill to El Real Hotel.
parking

Yep, same story as the last two nights. $50 online price. Went to the door and she wanted $90. I went back to the bike and hitched a ride on the free-wifi express gravy train and booked it online. Went back in and she gave me the price if we would pay cash. Why do we have to do this dance, if you’re going to give me my price in the end?
El Real hotel

The owner was “discovered” and used for the movie “The Mexican” which was filmed in Real de Catorce. He has since been used as an extra in other films.
El Real hotel

El Real hotel

El Real hotel

El Real hotel

El Real hotel

Real de Catorce

I came down that hill?
Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce is really a pilgrimage site for its church. It was also a silver mining town with a population of up to 40,000 but it only has 1500 now.
Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Hey, I can see my bike from here!
parking

Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Victoria beer

Victoria beer

It is probably not socially acceptable to be drinking in public like this.
Victoria beer

Real de Catorce

A parade of sorts that you see in Latin America.
Real de Catorce

Dinnertime, in Real de Catorce when there are no tourists is a bit limited. But we wanted cheap local eats and this place looked inviting.
Dinner time

Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce

Chicharron gordita. That is, greasy pig skin. Yum!
Gorditas

Real at night.
Real de Catorce

Real de Catorce is an interesting place. Lonestar’s ride report made us want to come here and I’m glad we did. But after a night it was good to go. The tile floor in our room was freezing!
Day 5 fin
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Old 12-04-2013, 10:42 PM   #9
Blader54
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In! I'm guessing you guys are going to stash the bike at some point, fly home and work until your next vacation and then go back and continue the ride? Interesting. Congrats on finding a way to make your ride happen sooner rather than way later! Looking forward to the next episode!
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:49 PM   #10
bastchild OP
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Day 6 to Zacatecas 191 miles


This is Lonestar's awesome ride report on Real de Catorce.


It is amazing how heavy wool blankets can keep you warm. The tile floor was still popsicle-like in the morning, and the church bell klanged away waking the town up. There were not too many cars starting up but we heard the rattle of loose windows panes on house doors being open and shut. We got loaded up and left a little before 9am after the wife had her morning coffee at the Cafe Azul nextdoor. I just went back down the same oneway cobblestone road I had come on. It was the wrong direction, but there was no other automotive traffic this early.

Leaving Catorce

Leaving Catorce

Leaving Catorce

No incidences riding out on to the main road. I averaged around 23mph out of there so it took about an hour. I did notice that the back milkcrate was a little noisier than usual but maybe that was because I was going faster. More on that later.

Had lunch here right before a couple buses pulled up. Another good value meal for 60pesos each. On second thought, are we getting ripped off?
Truck stop lunch stop

Truck stop lunch stop

Truck stop lunch stop

Truck stop lunch stop

After the requisite hour lunch we made it Zacatecas around 2pm. It shouldn't be taking us this long to ride, should it? Well, take a couple hours away and it seems okay I guess.
Zacatecas -- what can I say? Another silver mining town, but much larger and richer than Real. Apparently at one time it supplied a fifth of Spain's silver. There are enough grand churches to show it too. Built between two hills, it has European look with baroque architecture and evening lighting to accent it, and nice squares, but also an old Mexico look with stucco walls and flat roofs. We loved it. Why this place isn't over run with tourists is beyond us. In fact, except for the Spanish-speaking backpacker girls we saw in Real, we haven't seen any other foreign tourists at all, as far as we could tell, anyways. It is nice having the whole place to ourselves.
We booked a room at the Hotel Mision Argento in the middle of Zacatecas, and not too far from the highway. It had secure parking, free breakfast, and was $50/night. The wife wants to stay in hostels and we can, but I like secure parking and good value and if a private room ensuite in a hostel is $40, I don't mind spending $10 more for a better value. We did walk by the Hostal Villa Colonial and it was dead. We liked Zacatecas so much (as well as the hotel) we stayed for two nights. The wife had some homework to submit for online classes, and I wanted to do some blogging (flicker and advrider) and bike maintenance.

DSC_6732

Hotel Mision Argento

Hotel Mision Argento

Hotel Mision Argento

Hotel Mision Argento

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

love the street food in Mexico
Zacatecas

the Wife finds some spicy mango candy that she has been craving
Zacatecas

Zacatecas

ate here for antojitos. we had some tacos which were good but not fantastic.
La cabana

La cabana

gorditas con leche for the wife
Sweet gorditas

We decided to stay a second day and went to bed after the karoeke bar outside our window shut down around 1am.

day 6 fin
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:55 PM   #11
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Day 7 Zacatecas 0 miles

A not so early wake up just so the wife can have her breakfast -- a surprisingly nice breakfast of fresh fruits and egg/quesadilla station, and hot food a la mexicana like chilaquilas which were soft and not very good. :(
hotel breakfast buffet

hotel breakfast buffet

hotel breakfast buffet

We went to visit Eden, an old silver mine in town (80 pesos entry).
Eden mine tour

You enter at one end at the base of the hill and take a short train ride and see a museum of some geodes and crystals from all over the world, then embark on a walking tour with a guide. We had an English-speaking guide all to ourselves.
Megalodon tooth?
Eden mine tour

Eden mine tour

fossilized crawdad
Eden mine tour

crystals and geodes under uv light
Eden mine tour

our guide called these small bats but they looked to be at least a foot long.
bats

silver vein
silver

a vein of gold. the guide said that in a couple years it would be bigger. is this true? does the gold slowly flow like sap from a tree? lost in translation...
gold

the mine filled up with water and the water goes down another 200 meters according to the guide.
Eden mine tour

Eden mine tour

there was, not surprisingly, a chapel in the mine and there were creepy drawings by kids. is it to thank the saint for taking care of their lost parent? i am not sure.
creepy kid drawings

there was supposed to be a face in the blue light. it is Roque, a miner who had died. if you don't see his face, he may visit you at night. do you see it? it is interesting to see superstition and cultural beliefs as a foreigner. then you take that same perspective toward yourself and see we are all different flavors of ice cream at Baskin Robbins.
La Roque ghost face

At the end of the tour we had the option to exit the way we came or take an elevator to an exit at the top of one of the hills. We took the elevator and took the cable car (40 pesos each) across Zacatecas to the other hill and walked back down.
Zacatecas

Cable car ride

Cable car ride

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

The wife then did homework all day and I made an appointment with Carmen motors in Guadalajara to install Hyperpro front springs and rear shock that I had been carrying all this way. I had no idea it would be an extra 25-30lbs in the cases! I also wanted to check the tire pressures, oil, and tighten loose bolts. As it turns out, on of the rear rack bolts came loose on the ride down from Real. It was the same bolt I lost on a dirt road in Baja searching for cave paintings a few years ago that I also did not loctite. Serves me right. The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent looking for a hardware shop (ferreteria, incidentally not where ferrets can be found, but rather iron works) for a tire gauge (mine exploded on testing the tire pressure), and extra bolts. What a pain to find a place without an address and only a name. Tornillo Loco was all I knew and it was close to the KFC on the main boulevard in a general direction para via. Which boulevard, I did not know. Eventually I found it with only 10 minutes before closing. I didn't finish all my tasks until 8pm. The wife was hungry and places were closing.

our hotel lobby had a nice firepit!
Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas

We thought we had found some good value street food, which turned out to be disgusting. But we did get to listen to some street music clown show act with the audience playing karoeke while we ate.
tendon tostada? i love tendon. i love tostada. this was terrible.
Zacatecas

We tried to find some other food to eat and ended up eating, McD. Embarrassing.
Zacatecas

Zacatecas

Zacatecas is great. Beautiful city. No tourists. just watchout for the tendon tostada. Tomorrow Durango!
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:28 AM   #12
bastchild OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blader54 View Post
In! I'm guessing you guys are going to stash the bike at some point, fly home and work until your next vacation and then go back and continue the ride? Interesting. Congrats on finding a way to make your ride happen sooner rather than way later! Looking forward to the next episode!
yes, that's the plan. but it will be almost every other week of flying back and forth. it will be expensive but flights are actually cheaper when booking roundtrip from mexico strangely. the same aeromexico/delta flight was almost four times the price on the US website than on the Spain website for expedia -- wierd!
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Old 12-07-2013, 05:40 PM   #13
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I would love to do a trip like this, but am always concerned with the language barrier. How is you and your wife's Spanish and how much do you feel someone should know for this type of trip?
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:21 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Baja_Bound View Post
I would love to do a trip like this, but am always concerned with the language barrier. How is you and your wife's Spanish and how much do you feel someone should know for this type of trip?
The wife took a couple years of high school Spanish and knows zilch. I took 5 years of French but have traveled enough to use a mix of Latin-based words. I don't think you need to know much. Just 10-20 basic words other than the numbers which I think I learned from Maria on Sesame Street. The folks we have met have been exceedingly helpful and understanding, from the street vendors, restauranteurs, random person in the street. More so, there is usually someone who does speak English who is willing to help. I think the basics from the language section of a Lonely Planet book are all you need. Donde es sta? Cuando ora? Cuanto cuesta? Que es? will get you far as will mucho gracias, disculpe, lo siento. (where is, what time, how much, what is..., thank you very much, excuse me, sorry)
Don't let the language hinder you. For me it is part of the fun. Once you forget being embarrassed like in standing up in class, it gets easier. Go to Baja, it is magical.
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Old 12-07-2013, 09:26 PM   #15
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Day 8 to Durango…um, I mean Guadalajara 34 miles (on bike)

day 8 zacateca to guadalajara

The day started well until the wife noticed liquid on her right boot. It was coolant. But I couldn’t see a leak or hiss and the bike was running fine. I had filled up the coolant level before leaving on the trip so maybe it was just overflow. Hmm…15 minutes later the temperature warning light came on as we were passing through a sizeable town, Frensillo, on the way to Durango. I pulled over at an Oxxo. Of course, it was sunny and warm. And there was no shade for me to park at. No matter. I took off the left faux tank panel and the coolant level was still full and there was no sign of leak.
Bike troubles

I figured it may be the water pump, which I had ordered from A&S before leaving but they did not ship because one item was on backorder. I, in fact, had received email confirmation from Fedex that it had been delivered, to our home in Mississippi, yesterday, while we were in Zacatecas – awesome.
The closest BMW Motorrad according to their website was in Guadalajara, 5 hours south of us, in the opposite direction.
Bike troubles

Should we stay the night and troubleshoot on advrider.com or the chaingang? Should we ride back slowly to Zacatecas and rent a truck or van one-way to Guadalajara? Should we hire someone to take us? We had three offers from passerbys and ended up taking a Chevy pickup truck and the bike down to Guadalajara.
Bike troubles

Bike troubles

Bike troubles

It cost a pretty penny but it was a 5 hour drive one-way and they would have to drive back. The driver, Jorge, was the son of the owner of a towing company. He couldn’t be more than 21. He brought his friend Jose along too. We drove straight, no stops. The wife and I watched a movie on the tablet and dozed in the heat (no a/c).
Bike troubles

Like a big wet dog stuck in the truck bed, wanting to be let in the cab to be with us. That’s what I see anyways.
Bike troubles

The wife had traded her motopants for some yoga pants but I still had my motopants on. Is this advriding? Is this like crossing a stream in a bongo in Sibirsky? No, to both. This was the easy way out but we were time short and didn’t want to spend a few days here, troubleshooting and having someone mail us the part only to find out it wasn’t the problem. More on that later.
Five hours later, we were dropped off at the Hotel Portobelo in the Centro of Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city. My brother, Kevin, via texting on the wife’s non-internetting phone, reserved a room here for $45. Well spent, it was the nicest hotel we’ve been in thus far. And a nice place to stay after a disappointing day. Thank you, Kevin.
Bike troubles

The hotel is great, with secure parking, and right outside the entrance to the metro and a few blocks from the Cathedral.
Hotel Portobello

Hotel Portobello

Hotel Portobello
We washed up and explored the town at night and went to listen to norteno music at a dance bar trying to drown out the sound of defeat.
Super Tortas

Super Tortas

Super Tortas

Super Tortas

Super Tortas

Guadalajara at night

Guadalajara at night

Guadalajara at night

Guadalajara at night

Guadalajara at night

The wife’s first bike was a Lifan 150 scooter. She still misses it. She would rather take this bike.
Lifan 150

Italika

nice crash bars

stopped here for drinks and dancing

stopped here for drinks and dancing

stopped here for drinks and dancing
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