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

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

  1. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Hey Dorian. Belize is pretty awesome. I don't know why people don't give it a chance. It's really small so gas prices don't matter that much :D Thanks for the recommendation. I heard about Sarteneja, but have already passed it by. Actually I'm in Mexico City already and making miles to get home. Work starts in exactly three weeks and I still have over... 5500 Kms to go (holy shit!! Just looked it up. I actually didn't realize it was that far...) :eek1 Going to have to skip a bunch of stuff I was planning to see along the way :cry
  2. drifter dave

    drifter dave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    134
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    There's always next time!!

    How bout that Hummingbird highway heh? Has to be one of the best rides ever.
  3. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    543
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    The scenery is still amazing and the weather looks like it's good... It sounds to me like your still having a great time while getting to experience lots of really cool countryside on a motorcycle. Thanks for sharing it! :thumb
    Enjoy the warm weather for the next few weeks because it may still be cold when you get home. The weathers been a little crazy here, we've had snow the past two mornings. My front yard's covered right now and it looks more like February then April... :vardy I'm ready for Spring! :rofl
    Ride safe and keep taking pictures if you can. :beer
  4. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    There IS always next time! ...probably next year actually :evil

    The Hummingbird Highway is pretty sweet no doubt, but it pales in comparison to some of the roads in Mexico. Rt.175 that stretches from the Gulf (through Oaxaca) all the way to the Pacific is an excellent example. I rode it from Oaxaca to Port Angel on the way down, and from Tuxtepec to Oaxaca on the way north (sort of) and it is simply AMAZING if you like mountains, beautiful views and crazy curves! There are others, notably the roads around Cuetzalan and Zacatlan and Rt.200 along the Pacific.

    Guatemala has some really great rides too. Seems like every country has so much to offer. Belize is not to be ignore!
  5. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Definitely Wander! I'm certainly not burned out by the riding, just not doing as much of the backpacker stuff anymore. The riding is still great and the scenery is mind blowing! I feel a certain level of trepidation when thinking of being back in Oregon (and Utah son after). Maybe some cold will be a nice change (for about a day :lol3) but after that I'll miss how nice it is here. T-shirt weather so far...

    Many more photos to come :freaky
  6. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    [​IMG]

    Woke up early to see a beautiful sunrise (camping really helps with that). It's time to start putting in some big mile days interspersed with some rest days. I headed north for the Mexican border and it didn't take too long to pass through the mostly flat and straight section of Belize to arrive at the crossing. The border crossing didn't take long at all as I never checked the bike out of Mexico when I went south. All I had to do was get my passport stamped and they didn't even charge me the tourist visa fee (so I'll probably have to pay it on exit). Belize did charge me $18.50 to leave the country, but that was the only border crossing expense.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    North of the border the roads continued to be flat and straight. I decided I really didn't find riding through south-eastern Mexico stimulating. Originally I wanted to cut straight west through the south of the Yucatan, then north along the Gulf coast. What I noticed about this part of the country was: it's flat, the roads are straight, it's busy and it's expensive. Instead of following the coast I made a snap judgment to cut over to Palenque where I knew I could at least ride through some beautiful scenery and sleep on the cheap.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    A whole lot of nothing...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Eventually the road began to wind through the hills (at least for a little while) and I breathed a sign of relief after the hours of uninteresting terrain. I ended up staying at El Janguar again and it was only 80 pesos this time around ($6.70). I spent the next day there just hanging out and enjoying the jungle, reading books and eating good food when I made a run into town for good coffee. It was nice to be back in Mexico. It really is an amazing country.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  7. fourthree

    fourthree Adventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    63
    Location:
    nowhere special
    Hope you are having a safe ride home. Also, thank you for the time and effort you have put into this report, I've enjoyed it very much. Thanks again.
  8. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Thanks fourthree. I'm still planning on finishing up. Just have been putting in a lot of high mile days. Now back and repacking to move again :eek1

    But I *will* finish up this report and do a summary of miles and maps and finances and all that... :deal
  9. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Glad you are doing well, hope you are still enjoying the ride home on some of the high mileage days. Safe journey home.
  10. Pete_Tallahassee

    Pete_Tallahassee Out Standing Member

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2006
    Oddometer:
    176
    Location:
    Tallahassee. FL. USA
    It's been great. Looking forward to your summation and your thoughts on your next trip.:dllama
  11. jessepitt

    jessepitt Ride More

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    993
    Location:
    Redmond Oregon
    What a trip! Shame to see it over. Its not a bad time of year to be back in OR tho...
  12. NotAllWhoWanderRLost

    NotAllWhoWanderRLost Lost

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Oddometer:
    543
    Location:
    Bend, Oregon
    I'm glad to see you made it through those high mileage days on your return to the NW. I've enjoyed reading your ride report and all the amazing scenery! Thanks for sharing it. :clap

    Best of luck on your next adventure (move)... I hope you have a great summer season! :beer
  13. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Well, it's been a while but I finally got enough internet bandwidth to upload a few hundred photos so it's time to continue... Where was I?

    I left Palenque in the morning and headed north. Once out of the hills it was flat again and I rode straight west for a while, aiming for the coast. When I reached the Gulf (or close to it), I decided to take a random road, zigzagging to the south then the northwest in the hopes of seeing some interesting terrain. It was uneventful, but I think I would have enjoyed riding along the coast less, so it was all good.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Straight and flat...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I thought maybe I would spend the night in San Juan Bautista (near Tuxtapec) because I've read good things about it, but when I got close I wasn't ready to stop yet so I headed south on perhaps my favorite road in all of Mexico: MEX 175, which twists and turns it's way through the mountains, cutting the country in half north to south passing through Oaxaca. I already rode it south from Oaxaca to the Coast and was blown away. From the Gulf to Oaxaca was just as amazing! I wasn't really planning on going back to Oaxaca, but the twisties were too enticing to pass up and the city is great. There were still a couple of things I've yet to do there.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I made it a ways south, but it was getting dark. After searching for a nice campsite with no luck, I ended up staying at Hotel Valle Real in the small town of Valle Nacional, an up and coming adventure town, surrounded by mountains and a river running through it, with a National Park to the north. This day was one of my most expensive stays at $25 for the room and one of my longest rides (on this trip) at 703 Kms.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    In the morning I stupidly decided not to get gas (a problem I continue to work on), then decided to take a detour up some nicely paved hair-pin turns into the mountains. I figured I'd ride a ways then be forced to return to the village, THEN I would gas up and continue down to Oaxaca on the 175. The plan was executed to the letter except the getting gas part. This would bite me in the ass/present a great opportunity later in the day.

    Hotel Valle Real
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Camino Peligroso
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After cruising around unnamed side roads to the north of the village through the mountains, I got back on the 175 and continued on my way. The 175 did not disappoint! Narrow, twisty, blind curves up mountains and down valleys were only rarely interrupted by tiny villages as the KLR rolled me smoothly through the forest (she sure corners well!). Occasionally I had to slow down for large trucks or buses that were barely making the turns, blocking “both lanes” (yeah, like there were lanes) as they tried to get around the sharp corners. By this time I was well versed in passing on blind corners (a necessary skill in Mexico and south if you want to ride at a decent speed), so it wasn't a problem.

    [​IMG]

    Slow bus
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Eventually I made it to the summit of a set of mountains where I realized that I was just about out of gas. I went into a restaurant and asked where the nearest gas was (thank you several weeks of Spanish lessons) only to be told it was “hours” away in either direction. Bummer. Luckily it was all down hill for a while so I coasted (and sweated) for a ways. I stopped to ask again and was told there is a village down a side road that would have some gas. The side road, just a few miles further, led to a small town 8 miles off my path. If there was no gas there it would be a one way trip...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Newly paved side road to gas village.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Luckily after inquiring with many people in the village and going through the usual “getting directions from a local” fiasco, I managed to find an indistinct house where an older lady sold me gas out of her shed in the back. To my surprise it was barely more expensive than the stations and it saved my bacon. An added bonus was that the village was really beautiful, perched on a cliff edge overlooking a valley. Another hidden gem soon to be an eco-tourism destination.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Back on the main road I had an exhilarating ride the rest of the way to Oaxaca where I tried to find the hostel where Randy stayed when we were last here. Over the last couple of months I met several people who stayed at that hostel and knew my name through him. Plus he told me it was great and owned by bikers. Unfortunately I couldn't find it (well, it wasn't too bad) as I returned to the hostel I stayed at previously to find it was almost completely full, and all the occupants were lovely women... and they were friendly.

    [​IMG]

    Oaxaca (again).
    [​IMG]

    Best coffee shop in town.
    [​IMG]
  14. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Great to see you back to update the rest of the ride.:clap
  15. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Yeah, sorry for the delay. Right now I live in the woods where there's not even cell phone service and I work 12 hour days (saving up for that next big trip this winter). In "the office" in Utah for a couple of days so have a chance to get a few more days' worth up :deal
  16. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    [​IMG]

    I spent the next few days in Oaxaca, drinking great coffee, hanging out with some new friends and visiting some sites I didn't see the first time. Looking back I think I should have spent less time here as it cost me time in Mexico City and Guadalajara, both of which deserved more. But how was I to know I would be running short on time later... It was really fun though and it leaves me things to see next time!

    One of the sites I didn't see my previous stay was Hierve de Agua, a set of pools and rock formations reminiscent of Yellowstone N.P. to some degree. A few of the girls from the hostel and I took a collectivo to Mitla, a village where they went shopping while I drank coffee, and then to the pools for a swim. I'm glad I came back to see it. It was well worth it in every sense.

    A rare food shot from Mitla. Mmmmm... chili relleno...
    [​IMG]

    From the back of a collectivo. (is this allowed in the report?)
    [​IMG]

    Hierve de Agua
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Some friends from the hostel.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The good life.*
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Before I left for Mexico City I made contact with Gary on the ADV tentspace list and he was kind enough to offer me a place to stay for a couple of days. It isn't too far from Oaxaca to Mexico City, but I had to get there by six to meet him at his job (it didn't work out). I decided to get a good nights sleep and leave early in order to make it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    * Some date imprinted photos not taken by me.
  17. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Now we know why you decided to day in Oaxaca for the extra time.:evil
  18. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Leaving Oaxaca, I rode through some beautiful country. I tried to stay off the main (read: toll) roads as much as possible. Not only is it less expensive, but a lot more fun and a lot more scenic. Win win. I wound my way north through the forested hills. Eventually I made it into Puebla (the state) as the landscape around me turned slowly from forest to desert.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The riding was smooth and easy. As I was approaching Mexico City, there was a fire up in the hills which I mistook for an erupting volcano for quite a while. Before I knew it I was climbing up a mountain and entering Mexico City, one of the biggest cities in the world.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I've heard many stories about El Jefé (the BOSS) and about how difficult it was to ride through, and about how hard it was to navigate, and about how bad the traffic was (not to mention the air quality). To my surprise, none of those things really panned out as expected. It's true that the raised freeways and multi-splitting exits weren't very clear, and my hiking GPS didn't help much, but I didn't find navigating too bad. Although I did get lost (one wrong turn damn it, out of 50!) on the way to meeting Gary resulting in being late and missing him. This was nothing like riding through the chaos of Hanoi or Saigon surrounded by a flock of other bikes all weaving in and out with no semblance of rules or order. The traffic wasn't bad at all (I guess I got lucky) and the drivers were polite, and better than in many parts of the USA I've ridden through. It was a pleasant ride through a modern city with wide streets and plenty of signage (most of which I couldn't understand though). Overall I was really impressed with the city. I felt like I was in Europe.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    After missing Gary and not wanting to further intrude on his life, I cruised to the center to find a hostel. My first choice, Hostel 333 (to which I regrettably returned later [but that's another story]) was full, so I spent the night at Hostel Casa Vieja, down a sketchy alley off of a main street. The hostel cost $12.50. Mexico City is the first place I parked my bike on the street unattended overnight. Nothing bad happened.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  19. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    303
    Location:
    Lowell, OR
    Guilty as charged :lol3
  20. Sunday Rider

    Sunday Rider Adventurer Wanabe

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,270
    Location:
    North of T.Ho., Ontario
    Hey you are leaving out the gratuitous bike shot of the day.....

    Who would have thought going through Mexico City would be so easy. Glad you got through it okay.

    Beautiful pictures.