Avoiding seasonal depression when faced with the “Dark Months” - Portland to Panama!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by 0theories, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. Voidrider

    Voidrider Been here awhile

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    That pic of the forested hills with the white lilies(?) in the foreground...now that looks like a slice of paradise to me! Wow wow wow.
  2. jessepitt

    jessepitt Ride More

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    Hey 0theries, great trip. I like your way of travel, it seems relaxing. I hate deadlines, schedules and reservations when I travel for exactly that reason.
    I justed wanted to offer some thoughts on the bike choice you've been considering. I have a DR 350,a DR 650 and a good friend with a KLR identical to yours (same faded green and all lol). I have ridden the 350 two up with my very small wife on the back and no luggage. It was fine for around town but I would not relish a freeway ride like that. There is not much seat room on the 350 and it is so light that it "feels" the extra weight a lot more (and my 350 has heavier springs already). For a solo bike to travel on it would be great (Mondo Enduro!) and for in-town or unloaded exploring it would work but I doubt you could pile all your gear as well as someone else and there's on, and travel on it. I ride two up on my DR650 regularly and it works fine. It will easily do freeway speeds with two people and gear but it weighs 45-50 lbs more than the 350. In comparison to my friends (stock) KLR, the DR650 is (I think) about 40-lbs lighter and feels lighter than that. It does not have nearly as much seat space as the KLR and in general feels smaller. The KLR feels great for me (when its parked) as I have long legs/arms and am just a little tall. The problem I have is that all that extra space and weight make the KLR handle much more slowly and accelerate more slowly as well. For what you are doing however, the KLR is hard to beat. (I dont want to sound like I'm down on the KLR, they are great).

    But hey! The good part is that you don't have to take my word for any of this drivel. I live in Redmond OR, so I would be happy to meet up with you for a bike swap ride. Also, we camp in the Ochocos a lot too if you want a whole weekend for "testing". Or if you ever find yourself in Redmond, just come by and try them.


    I hope this helps and sorry for getting windy. Have a great rest of your trip and I hope to run into you back in the OR.
  3. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Out Standing Member

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    Just my 2 cents.
    I sold my DR350 a couple years ago because I was not riding it much and it was taking up garage space. I have a KLR like yours and a BMW 1200 KRS. Both have been to Mexico. From now on my Mexico trips will be on the KLR. The DR 350 would be excellent for exploring dirt and major city streets but those long stretches across open desert would be tedious. As for luggage, how much crap do you really need to carry? The 350 would work. I rode around Laos and Vietnam on a Honda 250 and was able to carry all I really needed.
    I guess the biggest difference in the size of the bike is the rate at which you travel. Slow is good.
  4. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    awesome pictures!!!
    where exactly is that hot spring or maybe just the name of it?
  5. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks Sunday! It was a great hike. Imagine what a good phtographer could have done with that scenery!! :lol3

    It's amazing Slide. You have to go and check it out for yourself!

    Thanks Woodly!

    That's at the hotsprings. You can rent a cabin there and hang out over night. Not sure if you can use the pools at night, but I would think so...

    Thanks a lot for the positive feedback you guys! I've been away from the internet for a bit and it was awesome to see all the comments when I got back on!
  6. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks Dorian. I'll try to check those places out. Well, I missed out on ATM cave as it's booked solid for several days to come and I have to move on :cry But still have some time for the rest of Belize!
  7. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks Eakins! Those hot-springs are called Fuentes Georginas. They're just outside of Zunil, south of Xela. :evil
  8. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks a lot for the thorough response Jessepitt! It's a lot to think about. I agree pretty much with everything you said. I guess I've been reading JDowns' RR and he's gone at least as far as Panama and back on the 250 with no complaints and my only complaints are the weight of the KLR :D However, I DO like to pick up passengers so that is something serious to consider :evil

    As far as baggage goes, I'll be taking a lot less stuff next time around... and I thought I was taking a lot less than most this time :lol3

    I'll be very glad to take you up on the offer to try out the DR. I'm in the Ochocos a lot for work and otherwise. We'll definitely have to meet up when I get back. :freaky
  9. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thank for the input Pete. Agreed on the luggage! Much less stuff next time! I actually rode around Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia on a 125 and I had a passenger for most of that time and all her crap and it was fine. Would never work on an interstate or through many miles of desert, but it worked there and it would probably work in Central America. And a 350 would be HUGE in comparison :lol3 So... I guess I still don't know what to do... will test ride jessepitt's dr350 and see what I can see :1drink

    I really do like the KLR... the search for the "perfect" bike continues...
  10. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    After waking up early and dealing with the hassle of getting my bike out of the school for the last time, I said my heartfelt goodbyes to friends and headed north out of Xela and into the next leg of my journey. I was a little sad. I felt like I was leaving home again, and I would miss the people I spent the last several weeks with. I also felt excited and rejuvenated. Despite everything, I was ready to get back on the road. The plan was to ride up north to San Francisco El Alto, then cut north and east to Sacapulas. The road on google maps appeared well established, but in real life things were different. If that road to the north exists, it does a great job of being inconspicuous. After riding around San Francisco El Alto for a while, I decided to take a road further south, which also looked well established on the map.

    Road to San Francisco El Alto.
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    Pigs...
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    The start of Semana Santa (or maybe a football game)?
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    The map lies. What started as a decent two-lane highway at Salcajá quickly deteriorated to first, a broken road, then a one-lane road, and finally to dirt. While it was still a decent two-lane, it wound it's way through a forest in the mountains. I came around a corner and saw a bunch of bikes lined up outside a restaurant. Of course I stopped to say hello, and the only guy who spoke English (although I now possessed a bit of Spanish) rides a KLR. We had a short chat and took pictures and then I was on my way. I rode through the ever worsening quality of road until I reached Santa Cruz del Quiché, and from there the road was once again decent quality two-lane highway (for a little while).

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    Yeah, KLR!
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    Wash-out
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    Getting to the top...
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    And back down...
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    I continued to climb through the mountains and eventually reached Sacapulas and headed east. I wound my way through the mountains and soon this road also went from nicely paved, to partially washed out, to eventually, single track dirt. I rode significantly more dirt than I expected, but after sitting on my ass for several weeks it was nice to get back into it. Eventually I made it to the highway leading to Cobán and from there, east to Lanquin. Cobán was especially trying because many of the streets were closed for either Semana Santa decoration or to paint the crosswalks. Why they chose to do both at the same time (effectively blocking any access into and out of town) I will never know. After navigating my way through the city for more than an hour, I finally found an exit down a dirt alley (with many other clueless drivers following) and got out of town with a sigh of relief.

    It's beginning to feel a lot like desert...
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    The road up.
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    It gets windy.
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    And then things get worse...
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    Never know what's going to be around the next corner...
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    The road to Lanquin was a beautiful winding highway that (also) eventually turned to dirt for the last twenty-something kilometers. It wasn't bad (while it was dry) and I made it to Lanquin without any issues. I decided to stay at a place called Utopia, which was only a few kilometers from Semuc Champey. It was another ten kilomters down the (much rougher and steeper) dirt road and by the time I got there it was dark. I was ready to stop and luckily the place was staffed by very cool people and I made friends and was drinking rum in no time at all.

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  11. woodly1069

    woodly1069 Long timer

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    Still enjoying the show! Lots of great pictures and I am drawn to the south by great ride reports like this one :clap
  12. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Thanks John. Your RR is an inspiration to me :) I even went to the dentist you recommended! He did a great job, even though I didn't need a lot (I feel lucky). I'll almost definitely be back in Guatemala next year (it's amazing), and maybe even make it down to Panama... :eek1
  13. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    It's hard to beat the south! The weather is nice and the price is right. Sure beats trudging through the snow or crying in the rain... Make some time, come on down and explore, you'll be glad you did! I'm sure other parts of world have a lot to offer as well. It'll be hard to decide where to go next year. It's really easy to get here though...
  14. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    Waking up to the sound of the flowing river set this mood for the day: relaxing. After a leisurely breakfast I decided to join a new friend, Leon, for a hike to Semuc Champey, a series of pools on a 300m “stone bridge” with the main river flowing through the caverns below. Even though I was shocked by the beauty of the area when I was here three years ago, knowing what to expect did not diminish just how amazing this place really is. I can come back here every year and still be amazed.

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    It was a nice twenty minute hike to the park through the jungle, along the river for a bit, then down the road. We climbed to the view point first to take some photos and have a look around, then descended to the pools for a swim. Food isn't always available at the park, but since it was Semana Santa, there were several stalls selling meat and (illegally) beer. Utopia Hostel serves only vegetarian meals and I don't mind it (I was vegan for eight years), but sometimes meat is nice. Of course the vendors at the park charged outrageous prices since there's no other option in the vicinity. On our hike back it rained some and I decided that I better head out in the morning before the roads (composed primarily of clay) get too slick to ride on.

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    The "stone bridge" composed of pools.
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    A bird...
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    Water under the bridge...
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    Out of the caverns...
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    The next morning I broke down camp and packed up the bags. I parked the bike on a flat spot near the top of the very steep road that leads to the hostel as it was dark when I arrived and I was sliding down the part I did ride down. When I brought my bags up the first thing I noticed was that my rear tire was flat. Bummer. My first flat of the trip and it shouldn't be a big deal. As it began to rain, I got down to business. What should have been a one hour job turned into a 4.5 hour ordeal. For the life on me, I could not get the tire (Anakee 2) off the rim. It's a tubeless tire (with a tube on a KLR) and it is so stiff, only after hours of trying (and prying), with sweat literally pouring off of me (and a lot of bad words pouring out of me) was I able to get it off. Leon helped me put everything back together or it might have taken a couple of hours more. By then it was too late to leave so I decided to celebrate with some drinks, relax to some movies and leave in the morning. Luckily I was invited to share a room with another guest so I didn't have to set up camp in the rain.

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    Oh yeah, camping at Utopia was 25Q and sharing the room was 60Q (120Q total, the cabins are cheaper). The meals ran from 25Q for breakfast to 35Q for dinner and were well worth it (plus no other option really). I highly recommend this place as the owner, John, is super cool... but watch out for when it rains! Details next entry...
  15. Cal

    Cal Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the report from Semuc Champey!! I love swimming in those pools! Things are thawing out up here in the north country.
  16. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Glad it's finally starting to get warm up there. Pretty soon you'll be swimming in pools of your own :D As I recall, Calgary is amazing in the summer! Heading north now. Hopefully will catch warmth on my return...
  17. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]

    It rained all night. It rained hard. I was dry and warm in my room, but the next morning I learned the ramifications of so much rain in a place with clay for soil. The roads were completely impassable for all except some daring 4-wheel drive trucks. It was almost too slippery to walk anywhere that had a slope of more than 10 degrees. I realized this fact as I was trudging up the hill to load my bags onto the bike (at least the tire patch job held). After unsuccessfully trying to ride up the hill from the hostel to the road (Anakee's are not great mud tires), I decided to wait a while and see if it would dry out. It didn't.

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    Several hours later I finally conceded the point and (as was done recently by a guy on a BMW, I was told), I had John (the owner) call a truck to get me to the nearest non-clay-and-slick-as-ice section of the road. A few hours later when the truck arrived it took me and three other guys to push, pull and slide my bike up the hill to where the truck could get to it. With head lowered in shame I got in the truck and left Lanquin, hopefully not for the last time in my life.

    Unloading.
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    The truck dropped my off at the top of the hill where the pavements starts and the clay ends, about 20 Kms from Lanquin. I think I could have ridden the last 15 Kms myself (the section from Utopia to Lanquin, ~12 Kms was impossible, but from Lanquin to the pavement, another 20 Kms wasn't too bad), but I already paid for the ride so I took it, plus unloading the bike with just me and the driver would have been a difficult endeavor (he didn't have ramps) until we got to the top and there was a hill we could use as a ramp.

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    There was only a few hours of light left, so I rode as far as Sayaxche to spend the night before crossing via short ferry to the north. I had no trouble passing through Cobán this time so the way was smooth and easy with nothing exciting to report.

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  18. Keithert

    Keithert Been here awhile

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  19. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

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    Great update and pictures 0t. That was some mess with the flat tire and slippery crud. Glad you got going, no shame in that. You gots to do what you gots to do. to keep moving. Such great views you capture.
  20. 0theories

    0theories Been here awhile

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    Welcome Keithert! :freaky

    Thanks Sunday. Yeah, if it wasn't such a beautiful and amazing place, it maybe wouldn't have been worth it... Oh who am I kidding! It was a fun little "adventure" :1drink Nothing unexpected or challenging has happened in a great while and the story was almost not worth telling. I think for "looking back" sake, I would like more adventure and less "just travel" on this journey. Having said that, I hope nothing else "bad" happens on the trip home :lol3

    So having thought through some more of the bike changing debate, I'm now considering stepping it down one more notch and getting a KLX250s... I think I'll really enjoy small-bike adventure. But, still thinking...