Jammin thru the Global South

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Jammin, Mar 4, 2010.

  1. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,128
    Location:
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Sounds good Jay. You've done enough miles on your DR to know what works for you. When I traveled in Latin America I did not camp. Once in a while I missed camping. When stuck somewhere I'd ask in villages for someone who could take me in for the night. My Spanish is fair as I spent 7 years working, traveling, living there. (Guat. El Salvador, Argentina)

    Sounds like you can handle the DR well off road, this is a good thing if you plan to get off the Pan Am and see interior regions. You could spend years
    doing side trips/exploring.

    I'm impressed by your tire reports. The Kendas sound awesome, and YES they are available in Latin America. Cheaper than most others. 8000 miles is excellent! I just put the Kenda on my list! (I've only used the K270)

    Sounds like you are right on top of the electrical issues :trp I'm sure you'll be fine as you're paying attention. I hope you have an electric jacket, you'll need it in the highlands, especially the Alti-plano in Peru' and Bolivia. Gets cold up there. I like it because my main riding jacket can be lighter and vent better and I can go with fewer layers in the cold. My Gerbing packs small. Well worth it but do note the current draw. :eek1

    Air box
    I've ridden in rain but never noticed water in the air box. My air box top is cut off, a La Jesse air box mod. I use a Filter Skins cover in very dusty conditions. Keeps filter clean(er).

    DR's do pump some oil from the crankcase to the air box, especially on a new motor .... or if you overfill oil level a bit. I drain it off using the drain tube. You may find the lower sealing lip of the air filter soaked with oil at times. This is pretty normal if you are running on the highway at 75 mph all day. Thumpers do pump a bit of oil at higher RPM's.

    I've only crossed water to just above the skid plate, not very deep. No water in air box. Use the drain tube and keep water drained out .... and YES ... do keep the drain tube ON and plugged up. Do not leave cap off as it would suck dirt and water in. Only remove Cap to drain.

    Also keep in mind you have a crankcase vent hose that enters the air box. (this is where the oil comes from) Make sure that rubber hose stays in place, is not ever kinked and is free flowing. (mine popped once after I was fiddling with the shock ... pain to put back on, hard to get to)

    I am not sure, but I think it may have a ONE WAY anti-back flow valve on it to prevent WATER or FUEL going from the air box back into the crankcase. If this hose does not have a one way valve, I would consider putting one in-line to prevent water ever going into crankcase in the event you fall in a river crossing. This has been a disaster for other RTW riders in the past. (see Colebatch's BAM road thread) I plan on doing this to my bike, have not done it yet as its a pain to get to.

    Heat/Engine Temps and the DR
    If your engine is correct and it seems to be, then just forget the temp. gauge. I would disconnect it, it will only bring worry. You do not want to know and in any case there is NOTHING you can do! :evil

    Best I can suggest is run good Synthetic oil and relax. I have ridden through Death Valley a couple times in extreme temps (118F). One ride, after hours riding I stopped and let bike idle. I just wanted to listen to the motor. I removed helmet and ear plugs (don't ride without them) and just listened to the DR motor. At this point it had been running hard for hours at 75 to 80 mph. It honestly never sounded better. Perfect. Very impressive.

    Read up on the Suzuki SACS Air/Oil cooling system. Its really quite good, was developed for road racing in the 1990's. Basically, your DR will never over heat, but of course do try to keep moving. You were right to turn it off when stuck in traffic. I do this too .... can't help myself, even though I know the motor never really gets hot enough to do damage.

    Synthetic oil makes all the difference with an Air/Oil cooled motor.

    I hope you will post your RR link over on the BIG DR650 thread. There are some really good mechanics over there as well as dealers (Jeff at ProCycle) among others. I know they would all love to help you out anyway they can.

    !Suerte!
  2. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    March 5 - 16, 2010

    With everything finally buttoned up in Chicago, I was ready to hit the road and head south. I was definitely nervous the last night before leaving as is normal, however, I was now ready and there was nothing to worry about and I actually got some good sleep one last time in my bedroom, on the floor since the bed was sold. :)

    On the morning of March 5th, I said my good byes to my shelter and life here in Chicago and as I rolled out of the garage one last time, the butterflies in me were free and I was comfortable and excited knowing that there was no turning back to this previous life and I had taken a step into a new chapter.

    Even though temperatures were about 22F in the morning, I knew things would warm up as I was heading straight south out of Illinois to Memphis. I was riding around the cold and avoiding crossing the high passes of the Rockies because there was still snow up there.

    The plan for the first leg was to head to San Francisco to regroup at my friend Shridhar's place. We both connected after my Mexico trip and have been discussing this trip since then and I figured I needed a forward staging location, as such, from Chicago so that if something wasn't working on the bike, I could rearrange things before heading for the border. I also shipped a few last minute things to Shridhar that wouldn't have arrived in time.

    The ride wasn't too cold and I was happy to be jammin to my tunes, on my motorcycle, heading south.

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    Stayed with Gabe in Memphis on the first night through CouchSurfing and we went out for a nice dinner on Balboa in the downtown area.

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    I'm going to miss the Mid-West. Check out the crazy headline, haha. Somewhere in Arkansas.

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    Seeing my first long horn in Forth Worth, Texas. Even though I lived just a few hours south while going to Texas A&M, never saw a proper long horn.

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    James, my host from ADV (texasyeti) with the full horns.

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    He treated me out to an awesome steak dinner at the revived stockyard and I like it rare.

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    James has a few bikes and here is a classic BMW Dakar.

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    And he's a dog person. Dog people are always good people in my books. Cute beagle.

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    His other dog is this cute pit bull, Gidget. They're such lovely dogs and too bad they suffer a bad reputation. I lived with one for a while that a housemate had and really enjoyed how smart and lovable those dogs are. Pouring over a map to see what excitement lay ahead as I went through West Texas heading to Las Cruces.

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    Riding into the sun near El Paso, where the road finally got interesting as elevation climbed and the road twisted a bit.

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    Staying with John from ADV (barko1) in Las Cruces. He also belongs to the purple frame DR club :) And he was actually flying out the next day to Australia to borrow a DR from an ADV member to ride it across from Sydney to Perth.

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    Heading out into 40F temps and a strong head wind. Just my luck that when I get to the lower latitudes a cold spell swung into place. The head winds were quite strong through Arizona and I figured it was training for the winds of Patagonia.

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    Staying with Dave from ADV (dave6253) in Phoenix.

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    He's got a KTM 990 Adventure and an Aprillia sport touring bike. He's a prolific ride report poster on ADV and I got some photo editing tips from him (Adobe Lightroom).

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    Packing up the bike in the morning. Here comes living out of a pannier for the next few years.

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    Leaving Dave's house under the auspiciousness of grand saguaro cacti.

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    Taking US-60 across west Arizona towards California. Wasn't that exciting but had to change it up from riding so much Interstate. Battling head winds all day long.

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    At least all that wind was being put to good use here in eastern California at this massive sprawling wind farm. There must've been over a hundred windmill towers and they were all spinning fast.

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    Staying at David from ADV (scorpion)'s lair in the high desert outside Los Angeles in Landers.

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    Cooking up a spaghetti and pinto bean meal after a chilly and windy day. Winds were battling hard all night and I got up once to make sure the bike hadn't been blown over.

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    Heading north through California up to the Bay Area. I didn't realize the pass between Mojave and Bakersfield would be as cold as it was. It was snowing and sleeting at just 4,000 ft.

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    Staying with Chris in San Jose, whom I met and rode with on my Alaska trip. He recently moved into this great location right on top of a small hill.

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    He keeps hassling me to just get a BMW and be done with it, haha.

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    Meeting up with Shridhar in Silicone Valley, where he works for Paypal now. Had lunch that day with Rajen, an old high school friend who works for Yahoo there.

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    Riding the beautiful Skyline Drive through the hills from San Jose to San Francisco.

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    And finally making it to the west coast and the Pacific Ocean. I'm going to be seeing a lot of her as I head down south and looking forward to it as I just love coastal riding; something about all that water and vastness.

    I took a couple days off the bike to catch up on things that I didn't get done before heading out and servicing the bike at a mechanic friend's place of Shridhar.

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    Having dinner at Charanga (cuban, latin) and meeting up with old friends and new friends from ADV.

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    Shridhar and I doing the touristy things. But hey, it's a beautiful bridge.

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    The Golden Gate Bridge glowing at sunset.

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    Enjoying the first of many beautiful sunsets over the Pacific.

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    Rounding off the evening with a drink at Cliff House. Single malt scotch is my beverage of choice.

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    Pizza on Haight and Asbury: pesto with potato and garlic.

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    Having some South Indian food at Udipi since I know it's going to be tough to find this in Latin America. There's probably Indian restaurants down there, but specially South Indian cuisine is definitely more rare. This is a dosa and it's 2ft long and paper thin. It's a rice flour crepe that you dip into lentil soups and various chutneys. It was heavenly.

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    Shridhar had the Chole Batura, a huge fried puri (fluffy bread) that goes with garbanzo/chick pea curry.

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    Shridhar with all his toys. That's a para motor strapped onto the Miata and his V-Strom in the back. He also has a DR, not pictured.

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    Spending a few days at Stewart's place, a friend of Shirdhar who offered to help service the bike.

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    Mounting a new chain and the Motion Pro Chain Breaker and Riveting tool worked like a charm. Using a grinder to file down the rivets here. Hopefully the new chain lasts me through Buenos Aires.

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    Putting on new tires, Kenda K761 with heavy duty inner tubes to reduce the chance of punctures.

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    The old Kenda K270's that came off the bike. This is after 9,000 miles and I think it could've gone another 2,000 but figured best to change it when things were not rushed and had access to a shop at my own pace.

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    Elongating the valve stem hole, as advised by world traveler Adam (shortwayround.co.uk) to relieve stress on the valve stem to further tube life.

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    Stewart was a big help and he said he was glad to help me get on my way as he'd like to make a big trip someday himself.

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    He has a bunch of bikes in his garage and loves tinkering on them. That's a classic Moto Guzzi out there.

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    And I forget what kind of bike this is, but looks like a beautiful cafe racer in the making.

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    Taking a test ride around the city. Lots of great architecture.

    I'm all done in San Francisco and ready to hit the road again. I like this city and would definitely like to live here at some point in the future.

    Heading south to Paso Robles and then onto San Diego.


  3. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
    Oddometer:
    6,128
    Location:
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Couple things I noticed:
    Enlarging the valve stem hole in the wheel won't do much to protect the tube if you spin the tire on the wheel. If it really spins (very unlikely) it will tear the valve stem out anyway.

    What will happen is crud (sand, small stones, water and junk) will get into the hole and inside where it will grind up your tube and may cause a flat. This will happen off road riding. I would round up the hole (neatly) and find a rubber grommet to fit. Keep the crap (and WATER) out of there! Water inside will rust and corrode spoke nipples over time and potentially ruin the wheel.

    I also notice your spokes nipples and wheel look a bit corroded. (from Salt back East?) Watch for cracks!

    I was curious why you were grinding down the Chain pins? (Rivets) If you have the Motion Pro chain tool then you can just push the pins out in order to cut the chain. No grinding needed. A chain tool is faster and easier.

    I forgot to mention one thing I noticed on your bike regards overheating.
    Front Fender: I notice your fender is cut. There is a reason Suzuki (and off road bikes) have the back part of the fender there. Mud splatter.

    In mud riding, without the back part of the fender, you can get a lot of mud build up on the engine and Oil Cooler. Eventually you've built up a nice insulating barrier and air will no longer cool the bike efficiently. So if you want to run the cut fender then try to keep the motor clean of mud/crud build up. Some mud is like Pottery and gets cooked on there!

    :ricky
  4. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    I can't seem to get going on this trip, lol.

    I'm broke down about 40 miles south of San Francisco on Hwy 1 and it looks like it's a busted cam chain at the least. Shridhar's arranged for a friend to come pick me up.

    Once again the problem lies not with the bike but the operator! I keep making so many mistakes.

    What happened is that when the engine was being rebuilt, I asked my mechanic to explain how the cam chain tensioner works and when reassmebling everything, we forgot to secure the little screw cap that goes on the tensioner housing. And while riding thru southern cali on the way up here, that screw finally fell out and I was spewing oil. I put a replacement bolt in with RTV and was good to go.

    Then while at Stewart's place in SF working on other things on the bike, I found the original screw lodged in a cervice on the engine and figured I should put it back on. My problems started when I put a bit too much force and stripped that screw. Then I had to remove the tensioner housing to clean out any stripped metal. There were still enough threads for a longer bolt to catch. Then what I did wrong was when putting the tensioner housing back on the engine, I forgot to put tension on the bolt before putting it on the engine and releasing it to self-adjust the tension on the cam chain. I just started screwing in the housing with the bolt fully extended and that put too much tension on the cam chain.

    I should've released something wasn't right when doing the valve check as spinning the crank required more effort than I remembered and that was because the chain was too tight now.

    It still fired up fine and was running nicely, all though hotter than before but I told myself not to worry and everything would be fine. I had a funny feeling leaving this morning that something wasn't right and now it's revealed itself.

    Oh well, at least it's happening here in the US with access to knowledge and parts :)

    On Hwy 1, shifted up thru the gears past a town and shortly after the engine just died with no drive. No clunking sounds, no locked rear wheel, just quiet. Pulled over, tried to start again and only the starter motor was spinning freely, not turning over the engine. Opened the valve inspection caps and the intake valves are shut tight and the exhaust side is freely moving. Hand turned the crank and it's spinning effortlessly with no movement in the valves and I can see that the cam chain is also not moving. I think it snapped and has come off the gear on the crank.

    Going to get back to SF and tear it open to confirm the diagnosis. You think valve train damage is gauranteed? I hope not. Hope it's only a busted chain.

    Are there any ADV DR gurus in the Bay area?

    Does anyone have a DR motor that I could salvage the top end from in case I need to replace the head?

    I'm good. Spirits are not down and it's a beautiful day to be broken down :) Busy hwy, but 3 people stopped to offer help.

    The trip is already getting off track and I'm not even across the border yet, lol. It's all good, more time to spend in northern Cali.
  5. HiJincs

    HiJincs Dreamer

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    632
    Location:
    Cumming, Jawja
    Reading this breaks my heart but I like your attitude!

    You couldn't have picked a better place to break down.

    May this be the worst of your troubles and your trip be more enjoyable than your greatest dreams!
  6. advrider58

    advrider58 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    El Paso de Robles, CA
    Wow! It's been hard for you to get started! I was looking forward to meeting you tonight and learning a bit more about your trip. Hopefully that will still happen in a few days.

    Having broken before myself, both in remote U.S. locations and outside the country, it couldn't have happened to you at a better place. SF is about as motorcycle friendly as it comes with many quality dealers and enthusiasts to help out.

    Take care and stay in touch. Hope to see you in Paso soon!
  7. prince_ruben

    prince_ruben Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,734
    That sux Jay. My wife cleaned the pad for you early this morning and we were preppin for the St. Pattys' Day block party a few blocks away from my pad here in the Gaslamp! :freaky

    I hope you can source everything out and continue successfully. Too bad it's not an XR. Rock on man.
  8. Exile

    Exile The Mundane and The Magic

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    223
    Location:
    Sojourning
    Everything you're doing is amazing Jay! Thanks for posting up your rebuild and good luck throughout the trip.
    :lurk

    Btw, you couldn't have picked a better bike!
  9. TEXASYETI

    TEXASYETI Call me "thread killer!"

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2002
    Oddometer:
    1,943
    Location:
    Fort Worth, Texas
    Sorry to hear about the mechanical issues, Jay! Hope you get it buttoned back up and get on the road. You ARE having quite and adventure aren't you? Take care and let me know if I can help!
  10. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2010
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    6,128
    Location:
    Passing ADV Stalkers in California
    Ruh Row! Time to bring in a pro. The best DR mechanic I know in San Fran
    is Jennifer Bromme, owner of Werkstatt in the Mission. Jennifer is a talented mechanic trained in Germany. She is honest and has a real soft spot for low budget world adventure travelers.
    She knows DR's.

    From your description I don't think you've done all that much damage. (I hope!) But you may have BENT a valve or two. The fact the motor shut right off and no metal to metal sounds is a very good thing. I think you will escape cheaply (with luck) on this one.

    Looking forward to an update! Fingers Crossed! :freaky
  11. BlackBeast

    BlackBeast Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    936
    Location:
    Ontario, CANADA
    Jay,
    As someone already mentioned, you have the right attitude. Rather now than later. Hope you on the road again shortly. :norton
  12. F.P.

    F.P. Clown who is sick

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    San Josey, CA
    Fix it and forget it Jay..
    Let me know if I can help.
    Chris
  13. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    Thanx for the contact info on Jennifer. The friends I'm staying with tonight are real close to her shop and know her personally and will take it over there first thing in the am. Not going to mess with and try and do this myself. Ready to trust her in the hands of a proper mechanic who can sign off on the bike that she's running right before leaving SF :)
  14. jenx

    jenx misadventurer

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    553
    Location:
    Johannesburg, South Africa
    Sorry to hear about the chain issue Jay. But you're on top of it. We're all backing you up here buddy!
  15. Jammin

    Jammin Living on a DR

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
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    1,563
    Location:
    New Delhi - new 'home' for post RTW
    I got the bad news - lots of damage: broken cam chain, bent ex valves, cam shaft, cylinder head damage. $1200 in parts and $700 in labor to fix this engine or Werkstatt actually recommends to get a different engine.

    I've done it again, destroyed another DR engine, totally my fault.

    So, I think putting in a different engine is the better option. Any leads on available used DR engine?
  16. WOXOF

    WOXOF Just wander'n

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    706
    Location:
    SFO, CA
    Sorry to hear about the engine damage.


    But some food for thought, as $1200 is a lot of money to spend fixing your engine at the beginning of your journey.

    Would it be better to go off on a 2 year journey with a known engine. Your engine repaired
    or
    Save some cash by picking up a used engine with No-Known history.

    Hopefully you can find a good used engine with knowledge of its history.


    I'd feel better with an engine, with a known history, when heading off into the World where parts and maintenance availability is limited, questionable or unknown.

    Just my humble opinion.
  17. Morinite

    Morinite KLRista

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    Brandon, Manitoba, Canada
    Subscribed, God speed.

    Morinite
  18. F.P.

    F.P. Clown who is sick

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    413
    Location:
    San Josey, CA
    I recommend a visit to the nearest BMW dealer....ha.
    Sorry for the bad news....maybe hit Craigslist and get a whole different bike? I frequently see DRs and KLRs with low mileage for not much more than you will spend fixing the un-Jammin Jay proof DR boat anchor you now own.
    Bummer...
    Keep fighting on brother.
    Chris
  19. igorshen

    igorshen gypsy soul

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2008
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    401
    Location:
    SE Asia
    Hey Jay,

    Sorry to hear the bad news about the engine. Still better that it happened in the US than somewhere further down the road. Hope you get it sorted out and continue your awesome trip.

    good luck
  20. prince_ruben

    prince_ruben Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,734
    Dude that sucks. I'm sorry to hear it. Stay strong and keep us posted.