Changes in Latitude...8 Countries, 90 days

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by BullShatter, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Scottsdale, AZ
    Recently, I was reflecting back to my first "real" motorcycle, and by "real" I mean something other than two wheels attached to a lawn mower engine. It was a ''81 Suzuki DS80. I was in 7th grade. Each spring break my parents and I would strap the bike to the front of our Jeep and drive 2 1/2 hours from Akron, OH to Marienville, PA, just outside of Cooks Forest in the North Central part of the state. Our destination was the “cabin”, which translated means our trailer and 12 acres that was adjacent to the Nat'l Forest and it was located on a lonely dirt road.

    Each spring break I got to invite a friend, this year George's parents allowed him to go with us, and this would be his first experience on dirt bikes...

    George was familiarizing himself with the DR by buzzing up and down the dirt road...and no, neither of us wore helmets, but at that time it was also okay to ride in the back of pick-up trucks, stray out of the back yard and play at your friends house a half mile away, and celebrate "Halloween" in school, not “Harvest” Day....but I digress!

    Through the trees, I could see George riding down the road toward me yelling hit me if you can. He was always a little wise-ass, and I way always proud of my rock throwing skills. As he neared, I picked up a medium sized rock, medium sized relative to a 7th grader, I mentally did several advanced trajectory calculations, assumed a throwing position, and launched the rock at George. My lead was true and would have made make any skeet shooter proud...that rock hit George square in the head. Shocked by this immediate and intense pain in his head, George lost control, the bike went one-way, he went the other, both bouncing to a stop about ten feet apart.

    In the end, the bike suffered bent handlebars and George was pretty scraped up. The whole scene wasn’t as funny as I had pictured it in my mind.

    To my knowledge, George never rode another motorcycle in his life!

    Fast forward to 2011...

    I had just found myself the proud owner of a 2004 BMW 1150RT that I purchased from a Bankruptcy Sale, sight unseen, in Dallas, TX. The attorney that I negotiated the sale with assured me that the bike was in great condition and that it had only 14K miles on it. When it arrived at my doorstep in Scottsdale, the tires were bald, the battery was dead, and it desperately needed some TLC. Two weeks later it was a new bike and ran beautifully, but in the interim I had read the “Long Way Round”, and I knew this was not the bike for me. Within 3 months, I had sold the RT and purchased an “09 BMW 1200 GS. Now this was the bike I was looking for...it only had 4K miles, Jesse Safari Bags, a Zumo 550, and a new Russell seat.

    Let the Trip Planning Begin...

    Who
    Well that one is simple, me, of course. My name is Tom and I live in Scottsdale, AZ. I've lived here since 2000 and it truly is a great place to call home. I'm a Realtor by trade and over the last 4 years have done nothing but list and negotiate short sale transactions. So, after dealing with our esteemed financial institutions for so long I have decided that it is time for a well deserved break, a sabbatical if you will, although some might argue that I'm suffering a mid-life crisis!! And, I have been known to have a very sarcastic personality, so, if you choose to follow this ride report at some point you will need to realize that I will offend you. If you're fine with that, then by all means read on...

    What
    This is a ride report, my first one I might add. Loosely translated, that means I will try and be as detailed as I can and relate my first hand experiences to everyone, both good and bad. Feel free to ask about my preparation, route, equipment, finances, or just general trivia.

    One of the first ride reports that helped inspire this trip was Crashmaster's "No Fumar Espanol", by the way Crashmaster, if you read this, that was a brilliant name for a RR, and I intend to incorporate that phrase when I encounter a sticky situation. Others I have followed are RTWPaul, Lightcycle, Kedegi, just to name a few.

    When
    Tomorrow Morning, Jan 18th, I will be on the road, out of town. The time I have allotted is 3 months. This will be my longest journey yet. This past July 4th, I rode to Telluride, CO for 5 days. In October, I rode to Boise, ID, and then Yellowstone for a 10 day trek.

    Where
    From my home in Scottsdale, AZ, I'll be traveling through Mexico and then Central America and back. Up front, I'll have you know that I hate to have an itinerary and when I travel, I tend to fly by the seat of my pants. I do have several things I want to see and do along the way. Ironically, my first 4-5 days are pretty rigid. I'll be going down through Baja with planned stops in San Felipe, Guerro Negro, Loreto, and La Paz. From La Paz, I'll take the Ferry to Mazatlan and beyond.

    Most of my Mexican route will be along the Pacific side along the coast (as much as possible) with trips inland to Durango, Guadalajara, Tequila, and Oaxaca and then up to Palenque.

    Once I get close to Guatemala, things start to get fuzzy and I don't have a specific route planned. I do know that I want to see Tikal, Semuc Champey, and Antigua.

    As for the rest of Central America, I do want to get through each country, hell I'm in the area so why not swing by, right!

    In Costa Rica, I have friends that have a place in Jaco who have been kind enough to open their door for me for a night or two...other than that, I'm wide open for suggestions and ideas.

    My General Route:

    [​IMG]

    How
    Well, this is a ride report, so I’ll let you figure that one out!!!
    Seriously though, I’ll be on my 2009 BMW 1200GS. As of today, it has 23,700 miles and the trip should be around 10,000 +/- miles. I just had the 24K Service done, swapped out my aging Tourance EXP’s with a new set of Heidenau’s.

    By the way, I did squeeze almost 12,000 miles out of the Tourances, they were fantastic on the pavement, but got a little squirrelly in the dirt and gravel. My tires previous to that, were and older set of Heidenau’s, without the center strip, they lasted 9,00 miles and I could have squeezed another 1-2K out of them if I had to. What I didn’t like about the the older Heidy’s was that they were very noisy between 55-70 mph, it was an irritating whistling noise easily heard through my helmet. The new tires do not have any irritating noises, thank goodness.

    Farkles
    My panniers are Jesse Safari’s with the quick clip mounts, and I love them...easy on, easy off and they hold a ton of stuff. Fortunately for me, Jesse is local and if I need parts, I can just run over and pick them up. I did mount “D” Loops on each lid and I have a pair of Kreiga US5 Bags that will mount on the lid.

    As a shout out to Jesse Luggage...you guys are great, your service is top notch, and each time I have stopped in I’ve enjoyed just bullshatting with you. And to “No Shoes” who works in the shop at Jesse...a hearty and happy “#uck You”, I’m riding to Mexico, and you’re flying, hahahaha.

    Packing the Panniers
    On the muffler side is my computer bag, tool kit, sleeping bag, bike cover, jet boil w/ gas canister and other travel related things. On the right side is all of my clothing.

    Here is how the bike looks fully packed w/o the Kreiga's attached:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    My other farkles include a Touratech Day Trip Tank Bag, SPOT Messenger, Sjoerd Bakker's Mexico/CA Hotel Hostyel Guide, and a Zumo 550 GPS. I do have the BiciMaps for Mexico and CA, and I’ll let you know how they work as I make progress. I am far from a GPS Geek so I may be asking the forum for a little assistance from time to time. My paper maps are all Nat Geo Maps....Mexico, Nica/Honduras/El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Panama. The Mexico Map covers Belize and the northern half of Guatemala.

    I do have a spare dry bag that I may mount to my luggage rack, however, it just wanted to have the side bags and the tank bag, so when I have to leave the bike unattended, I can just grab the tank bag and everything else is secured on the bike.

    And Finally...Why
    Here is where I get all philosophical on your ass....
    I have always been of the opinion that when I am old and begin to reflect on my past life, my experiences, my success’s, my failures, etc., I never want to be left with the thought “ I wish I would have...” That is why I’m taking this trip.

    To many of my friends and family are trapped by the words “can’t, won’t, shouldn’t”, “that just wouldn’t be responsible”, or better “you don’t understand my situation”. It’s these thoughts that prevent many of them from acting on and fulfilling their dreams. Not that any of those are wrong, we all live by our choices, and our choices alone. To some, that is an acceptable way to spend your time here, to others, me included, it’s not an option. By the time most of us realize an opportunity, it’s already fleeting.

    “Being tied to many anchors for a lifetime is called "stability or responsibility" Never stray out of the tracks, keep your head down and keep pulling. Once your 65 or so THEN you can relax and have a good time? I think its better to just go, you never know what you might find out there.” Unknown

    When I read these reports one of my first thoughts is always “how do they get time away and how much does it cost?”

    Well, the answer is simple, you set a goal and work toward that goal until it becomes a reality. For me, I knew that my best opportunity for this trip was January through April. In Scottsdale, that is our “In Season” time, meaning, that is when all of our Northern Snowbirds fly into town and pay exorbitant costs for furnished housing for a two to three month period, and then return home after the snow melts. So, with that in mind, I rented my house for two months, fully furnished, utilities included to folks from Peoria, IL. Fortunately for me, they happen to be good friends and I trust them wholeheartedly. What that does for me is cover my mortgage, utility cost, car payment, etc., with a little left over to defray travel costs. Our transient Snowbird population is truly an asset to the Phoenix area. They certainly help our local economy immensely. Thank you Snowbirds!!!

    I anticipate my costs will be between $3-5K, at least that is what I have set aside...we’ll see if I stay within my budget.

    As far as work...being a Real Estate Agent has it’s perks and it’s drawbacks. I like to think that I have been very successful as an agent. All of my business is done through referrals and a lot of my past clients have turned into very dear friends. I am confident that I can pick up again once the trip is over. The perk of the job is that I do not have a “boss” and I can take time off when needed. The drawback is that i am commission only, and if I don’t sell a house, I don’t get paid!!

    So, over the last 2 months I have been winding down my business and handing off new business to a great friend and business partner, Eric. I fully trust that he will take care of my clients as I would, with that, I don’t have any reservations about leaving. Thank you, Eric.

    My last order of business today is going down to the Mexican Consulate in Phoenix and get my TVIP...

    I'll report back and let you know how that went!!
    #1
  2. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Good luck and safe journeys, Tom!

    Looking forward to the rest of your RR! :D
    #2
  3. noshoes

    noshoes soñando con México

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    :cry

    Subcribed.
    Buena suerte.
    #3
  4. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Well, I hit a slight snag...I'll explain.

    Living in the Phoenix area Mexico travelers are fortunate enough to have a Mexican Consulate in town. I went to the Consulate earlier today to have my TVIP issued. I arrived at 11:30 am and there was a line out the door. Instead of waiting, I went into the Consulate, explained what I needed, and the Security Guard directed me to a separate office other than what everyone else was in line for. I was in and out within 15 minutes, and I had been the 2nd person in line.

    Here is a view of the Consulate from the outside:

    [​IMG]

    This is Jessica she works at the Consulate and issued my TVIP she was very helpful, but thought I was crazy for taking a moto over 10,000 miles...

    [​IMG]

    And, here is my final paperwork:

    [​IMG]

    Now, the only thing I still need is my Tourist Card, and I'll get that just after the Border Crossing.


    Now for the Hiccup, I'll let everyone decide if there was a coincidence...

    Within an hour of leaving the Consulate, I got a "Fraud Alert" call from my credit card provider, USAA. They asked if I had just tried to make an online purchase at Kate Spade (high end women's clothing store) for $5300...subsequently it was declined because the user wasn't able to provide any additional security info that was requested.

    In a nutshell, my only credit card was just cancelled, so they are over-nighting a new card to me which should arrive tomorrow by 12 noon...however my ride to San Felipe from Scottsdale is roughly 8 hours and I don't feel the necessity of driving after dark, so I'm holding off on leaving until Saturday morning....

    Any thoughts on where the fraud may have originated from?? Or am I being to critical?
    #4
  5. LKLD

    LKLD Been here awhile

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    I take it you used said credit card at the consulate, anywhere else that you used it, that was a first time?

    Have a safe and wonderful trip, I'll stay tuned.
    #5
  6. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    I used my credit card 3 times yesterday, all within a two hour period.

    2 times for Gas, which I manually swiped the card, and once at the Consulate where the TVIP girl had my card. I don't want to be accusatory by any means, however, I do find it a bit coincidental.

    Oh well, it worked out anyway. This gives me an additional day to wrap up any loose ends at work.
    #6
  7. vaara

    vaara Been here awhile

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    It could very well have been "skimmed" at the gas pump. I'm sure the consulate isn't entirely above suspicion, but the gas pump is a more likely scenario IMHO.

    Anyway, looking forward to your RR! I want to do a similar trip one of these years. :thumb
    #7
  8. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Vaara....Good Point about the skimming possibility.
    #8
  9. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Wow, it can be really hard to get out town on schedule and without hiccups! A couple of minor fires at work that need to be taken care of before I head out. I am now looking a departure date of Wednesday of Thursday...keeping my fingers crossed that things get resolved at the office!!
    #9
  10. noshoes

    noshoes soñando con México

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    Keep this up and I'll beat you to Mexico.
    #10
  11. Wal2

    Wal2 Been here awhile

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    i had similar thing with my credit card....... caught out when they tried to buy expensive jewellry in Denmark,!!! well over the card limit.........apparently some companies can be sloppy with security when you purchase over the phone.....

    anyway, hope you enjoy your ride.....
    #11
  12. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    No Kidding!!!:norton
    #12
  13. GoinPostal

    GoinPostal Been here awhile

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    Have a good trip Bullshatter. My buddy ADV Fool and I will be heading to Panama on the 2nd of Feb. At the rate you are going, we just may beat you out of town :rofl We'll keep an eye on your RR and look for you on the road. Have a safe trip! BTW, you mention a tourist card, why don't you just get a visa at the border. As for border crossings, seeing as you are headed down to La Paz, the easiest crossing we have found is Tecate. Quick and easy.
    #13
  14. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    My new departure date should be either this Thursday or but no later than Friday morning. I'm waiting on two things to reslove themselves.

    First, my credit card. I'd like to travel with a credit card and not rely soley on cash, especially in an emergency situation. It's just a feeling of added security. I realize however, that most places, especially away from more populated areas it will be cash only.

    Second, my work. I sell real estate, specifically I list and negotiate short sales. I have been slowly winding down my business. Last week, two of those listings began to fall apart. I need to spend the first part of this week ensuring that they are back on track and moving forward again. It's a duty to my clients. Once they are back on track I can feel confident in leaving, and working on the file remotely.

    To help supplement this I will have Skype account with a Skype number. This Skype plan costs my around $13.00/month but it allows to to call any mobile phone or landline in the US and Canada. With the addition of the Skype phone number I can recieve calls and VM's direct to my computer. Secondly, I'll be taking my iphone with me and once I cross the Mexican Border I'll be getting a new SIM Card and cell plan from Telcel. This will allow me to make local calls from my phone and have internet on the fly.
    #14
  15. noshoes

    noshoes soñando con México

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    So, uh, did you leave?



    :lurk
    #15
  16. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Well, after a week of waiting, I received my new credit card yesterday.

    Now, I have already delayed one week, so I think I'm gonna delay one more week and leave the morning of Feb. 2nd, next Saturday and here is why...I have had two "problem" files at work. When I say problem files, I do not mean my clients, but the banks that we are negotiating with on the short sale. The issues with each file worked themselves out this week. One will close next week, the other in 3 weeks. I also have an additional closing this coming week.

    By delaying the additional week a I can leave with the secure knowledge that I will not have to hand hold each transaction any further and anything extra that needs done can be done via the internet.....

    With that, I apologize for the delay, but in one week my trip begins!! And with far less work on the road than I anticipated. This delay does not cut my trip short, my idea is to add two weeks onto the backside of the trip...

    For what it's worth...it's pouring rain here in Scottsdale this morning.
    #16
  17. BullShatter

    BullShatter Been here awhile

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    Goin Postal...
    I'll be leaving the morning of Feb. 2nd and crossing near Yuma, AZ and spending the night in San Felipe, then working my way thru Baja to La Paz. Are you two going to be crossing on the 2nd as well?
    #17
  18. GoinPostal

    GoinPostal Been here awhile

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    Thats up in the air right now. Most likely on the 4th. Gotta watch the 49ers in the Super Bowl on Sunday.
    PM sent
    #18
  19. ADV Fool

    ADV Fool Been here awhile

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    Hey there,

    Who knows, maybe our paths will cross at some point.

    Safe ride, ADV Fool. :wave
    #19
  20. Zepfan

    Zepfan Been here awhile

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    Good Luck on your trip BS. Bullshatter = B.S. (lol), I like that!

    Did the same trip 2 years ago from San Diego.

    Had a great time even with a ONE MONTH break down in San Jose waiting for new rotor / stator, Vstrom.

    I took Free Dive fins and snorkel and was in the water to explore every chance I had.

    Baja and Sea of Cortez was beautiful. The pacific coast of mexico awesome, Puerto Escondido SURF's UP!
    Guatemala, really beautiful. I love the small neat and tidy farms, Lake Atikal, Antigua, TIKAL, TIKAL, TIKAL !!
    Honduras, Tegucigalpa YIKES, great dirt road on return Juticalpa, San Esteban to Truijilo "north coast."
    Nic, running fast both out and back. Managua nice colonial town.
    C.R., really beautiful, stuck in S.J. for a month waiting on parts.Arenal was awesome camping at night.
    Pan, Bocas del Toro, Salt Creek, amazing snorkeling, Panama city amazing.
    Belize, Best snorkling ever Placencia, Laughing Bird Caye. Laid back caribe style, ENGLISH, yee ha!
    Ran fst back through Mex. Autopista = $$$$$ ouch!

    ATM fees get tiresome ($$$). Citi has NO fee foreign transaction fees if 100k + bal. Know your currency exchange rates before you cross borders. Used "helper" crossing into Guat and got taken. Negoiate all fees up front if you use. $10. + visa/vehicle.

    I had no problems but I think I was a target on the dirt road in Honduras. I was stopped at a large mud hole water crossing on the road but my lack of spanish and friendly Hola, buenus tarde might have averted a robbery.

    I'm excited for you. SUBSCRIBED!!
    #20