Mexico City to Miami, to NYC, to... Tierra de Fuego!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Nttra, May 30, 2013.

  1. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
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    Hello ADVriders!

    My name is Ed, but most of the people call me Dudû. I am from Mexico.

    After about 13 years of working my ass off as an economist, and dealing with the day-to-day boredom, bureaucracy, and BS at work, and after a wrecked marriage, that ended up in divorce, and as well with almost all my money and material possessions, I finally snapped and quit my job last year, paid all pending debts, and sold what I had left, including my dream bike ( which took me about 2 years to gather both money and courage to buy it!), I bought a smaller but more reliable bike to perform my dream trip: America from corner to corner.
    The now/gone dream bike:
    [​IMG]


    So I started riding last September 2012, departed from Mexico City, and headed south first to visit family and get to know my own country, which everyone kept telling me it was awesome, but I never had the time, nor money to get a glimpse by myself.

    [​IMG]

    I bough a 220cc carbureted Indian made motorcycle: a Bajaj Pulsar 220f, because I know there are a lot of enthusiasts about this particular brand in South America, where I planned to spend most of my time of this trip. My first stop was the Sierra of Guerrero, then I turned to Veracruz (the whole estate, is really awesome as people said!!), and there I got a call from my sister who lives in Miami inviting me to visit her and her family, before heading south.

    Since I had an open schedule I accepted with no hesitation, and here I am with my little bike, after being here for almost 4 months, enjoying the Sun of Florida, and waiting for the bad weather of the North to pass, preparing to continue the trip.

    I am heading now to the southernmost point in the USA at Key West, and from there I will head up north all the way to Niagara Falls, with the plan of visit the following places, so far (Thanks PirateJohn, DolphinJohn for the hints on the Florida area) :
    + Key west, Fl
    + Everglades City Fl,
    + Matlacha , Fl
    + Venice,Fl where the Ringling family built a museum
    + Congaree National Park, South Carolina
    + Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee/North Carolina
    + Shenandoah National Park, Virginia
    + and whatever city, town, and joint that lies in the way :)

    [​IMG]

    I am budgeting 13 days to get to Niagara Falls, stoping, and camping at the mentioned parks, and here is where I summon the great collective knowledge of this great forum: Am I budgeting enough time for the proposed trip? What are your experiences in regard of camping there?

    I did a similar trip in SouthAmerica back in 2009, on a KLR I bought from another traveller, with the initial plan of going from Buenos Aires, to Mexico City, but I was not aware of the oil-consuming issue the 2008 model had and ended up seizing the engine about 1,000 km before the Border of Venezuela. Because of that I left the bike in a little town called Cacoal, Rondonia (Brazil) and continued by foot all the way to Caracas, where I had to take a plane In a rush, since I had depleted my time off, and the boss had given me a warning of arriving next day, or else...loose my job.
    Since that experience, the travel by motorcycle bug bit me, and I did no wanted to find the cure, but to travel again.... That is what I am doing now.
    [​IMG]

    Now, back to regular programming:
    Since I am new at camping in the USA,
    -Do you guys know where can I get a guide, or map to see all the places where I can camp along the trip?
    -How easy is to camp in the USA?
    -Can I place my tent whenever I see an empty spot in rural areas?
    -Or what is the usual protocol regarding that?

    [​IMG]
    Any help, tip, and know-how WILL be greatly appreciated!!


    (more Pictures to come)

    -Ed

    Ps.- please forgive my bad English, and my even worse grammar: I am also new in writing in tablet computers :(


    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. sendler

    sendler Been here awhile

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    Have a great trip.
    #2
  3. Goofy1

    Goofy1 Been here awhile

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    Good Luck on the trip! There are lots of campgrounds along your way. One resource is:

    http://www.woodalls.com/

    or just google "motorcycle campgrounds" and a bunch of them will pop up. National parks usually will have camping available as well. Here is another site you might find helpful::D

    http://freecampsites.net/usa/
    #3
  4. DunlopC

    DunlopC Canadian Import

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    I'll see you Saturday Dudû.
    I look forward to seeing your Bajaj Pulsar also as I have never seen one before.

    #4
  5. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    hola DUDU!!! or should I say Ed? no mames wey!!! jajaja. OK I will keep it in English for everybody to read, comment and say other wise.

    First, I am your fan for life man!! and today I will eat some quesadillas with tortillas de harina and will be thinking of you!!

    second. Don't camp anywhere with out asking for the owners for their authorization. Many people will shoot first and ask latter, and in the USA the law permits to have many guns (shotguns and sometimes even assault riffles and they will use them to deal with invaders of their lands), there will be many here that could welcome you in their homes, TENT SPACE is your friend!

    Last, enjoy it!!!! I will be reading!!

    Your amigo Profe Dámaso
    #5
  6. EmilianoXR650L

    EmilianoXR650L Been here awhile

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    Estaremos pendientes de tu ruta !!!
    #6
  7. GlennR

    GlennR Playin' in the Fire

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    #7
  8. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
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    Hey Profe! Glad to see you here!! I kind of hate you now, because I am starving and all I got is a tin of SPAM, with no crackers! And you tell me about Tortillas de harina!! May karma do justice!!

    Thanks Glen for the links, those are very helpful and I will take a look now. I tried CouchSurfing, and the few answers I have had said a very polite NO! because I have no vouchers nor friends on that network. That kind of reminded me when I started working fresh out from college, and the employers told me they couldn't hire me because I had no working experience, but how was I supposed to have working experience if nobody would had hired me?? Well, carry on!

    Dunlop, up until now I have logged on, and found your message. Thanks to letting me stay at your place. I will give you a call at a more proper time, since its 3am, and I don't want to be a nuisance. I will try to take LA INDIA (my bike) the most presentable as possible :)

    Emiliano, thanks for follow me up! stay tuned for some first world adventure, with a third world adventurer... But a first world day dreamer!!. Lol!
    #8
  9. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
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    Today started well. I couldn't sleep at all last night, probably because of the excitement of returning to be on the road.
    Anyway, I started preparing myself to set off at around 4am, I mounted the tank bag on the bike. The panniers, top case and camping gear and clothes were already there, since a day before, so I didn't need do do anything about those.

    I cleaned up the room were I stayed for the last months, gave back the keys and remote control, I thanked again for the time I stayed there, and then jumped on the bike, ready to blast off! Since the moment I threw the leg over the bike, I felt that unique emotion related to biking. Is then moment when you finally realize your life just have changed and there is no way back.

    I headed up to Key West, but since I had been there before by car, I decided to take the long way, and avoided all kind of toll roads. So I took the freeway 826 all the way until it ended, and there I continued on the US 1. I stopped to fill the gas, since I felt that Key West, being a holiday place, I would find higher gas prices. I wasn't wrong. Where I filled up the bike the gas was 3.40 a gallon, while at KW the same gallon would have costed me 3.80. Yikes!!

    I continued all the US1 and stopped by Homestead to take some pics, but since it was really early in the morning, the lightening in the pictures wasn't so perfect, so I continued the route. I passed several interesting places, and business, with, lets say, "interesting" names (smugglers cove, hog paradise, etc). I arrived KW at a little before 10 am, and immediately, as usual, I got lost. But since I had no hurry I started roaming the streets to appreciate the buildings and the people's and their expressions.
    By some estrange reason, I ended up at then place I intended to go: the southernmost marker in America. That curios buoy-shaped concrete monolith, painted with solemn colors, which was indeed the ONLY reason I went to KW, to take a picture of my bike and myself with that marker. Talk about estrange motivations!

    While I was at KW, I decided to rearrange the distribution of the items I carry in the bike to make the trip more comfortable. As I was doing so, a couple of ladies, on their 40's parked their car besides me, got out of the car, and started doing some Yoga stretching movements. Man, I am easily distracted by pretty much everything, and in that situation it took me like tree times the required time and effort to end up what I was doing!!

    I finally finished by noon,mans decided to start my way back, and while I was throwing my leg over the bike, a gentleman and his girlfriend were attracted by the stickers (maps) on the panniers and asked me about the trip. Resulted that the guy was a biker aswell, but more chopper inclined, and since the lady was from brazil, we started speaking portuguese about the trip, the experience while in USA, and places I should get to while I am in brazil. They were a really nice couple, I am glad I chatted with them.

    On my way back, I stopped at Bahia Honda, and there I decided I should rest, I fell immediately asleep for about 4 hrs, until some thunders waked me up, so I resumed the trip back.

    I stopped on homestead again, and I felt like being in California (I lived there about 13 yrs ago). The markets places, business, and people are very similar. It might have to do with the Mexican origin the majority of the people have. I felt like home when I stumbled upon the "Michoacana" an ice cream and Aguas frescas (fresh beverages) parlor. I wondered where were the Oxxo, and the HSBC. :)

    I kept going all the way to the Big Cypress park, at the everglades, but the day was already gone, and I decided to stop to rest. I looked up for a place to camp, an the only one had a $20 fee. I decided not to stay because of the mosquitoes, which would have been eager to have me as a guest, all 14 million of them, LOL.... but I just kept going, and rested for about 2 hrs at an Welcome center. The mosquitoes again convinced me to continue riding, an so I did... That is how I ended up here, at one beach park in Naples. It's 2:41 am, and going to get some rest lying on the beach until dawn.
    Who would have imagined? My stay for tonight is not 4 nor 5 stars... Is a million stars, and is priceless!!!

    Today I am a happy Dudû


    Pics to come, As soon as I find the adapter to extract them form the camera :(
    #9
  10. AirborneAndy

    AirborneAndy Vagabond

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    Ok... Im in! Cool to see you are riding a small bike on such a long trip. I like the idea of low budget adventure travel. :clap

    I have traveled all over the U.S. camping on a motorcycle. Most privately owned camp grounds here are set up for travel trailers and motor homes although some will also have a few tent camping spaces and the prices are quite high compared to central and south America. But, they usually have showers and are close to cities and towns without much wildlife. The national and state parks will usually be less expensive (still more than you are probably use to but some are inexpensive or even free) but often they do not have showers and they are usually farther from cities and towns in more of a nature setting with more wildlife.

    Thanks for sharing your travels Ed. Stay safe.
    #10
  11. GlennR

    GlennR Playin' in the Fire

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    Glad you found the tent space thread helpful.

    Hopefully you will meet some cool people and tell us about them. Good luck getting away from mosquitos, we even have a few up here in the mountains, but only a few.

    If you want to get away from the summer heat for a little while you should ride up some of the highest mountain roads. Some places it never gets over 75f all summer. Mt Mitchell is the highest, the Blue Ridge Parkway crosses it. Beech Mtn is the highest town in the East.

    You will enjoy the curvy roads up here. Bikers come up in droves to enjoy the curves & cool air. You probably don't want to travel much of the BRP (Blue Ridge Pky), because the maximum speed limit is only 45 mph, but the views are incredible. It roughly follows the ridgeline of the Eastern Continental Divide and from some of the views you can see 100 miles on a clear day. Everybody there is on vacation, so you have to go slow. It's probably the most famous road in the US, so you have to ride at least a few miles of it. You'll feel like you are riding through a picture book, because it's so beautiful up there. No stop signs, stores, cities....just one very long road through nature. All the flowers are in bloom right now too.

    be safe,
    #11
  12. damasovi

    damasovi Long timer

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    no me odios por tener tortillas!!

    Dudu I found this link for places to camp in the US and Canada
    <!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:AllowPNG/> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]-->[FONT=&quot]www.USCampgrounds.info
    [/FONT]

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    saludos!
    #12
  13. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NNJ
    I see mt. Mitchell is about 8 hrs from here. I could ride all the way to Congaree Nat. Park, camp there, and resume tomorrow early in the morning in order to get there before noon. It really interested me to ride there, you are the third person who recommends me to go there, and I am not that stubborn to not to go, hehe

    Later today I will compile the ride report from yesterday and today.. Stay tuned!!

    Thanks!
    #13
  14. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NNJ
    Thanks a bunch profe!
    I have already bookmarked the site in my phone to use their mobile version! That webpage is awesome!

    Quiero tacos! Ya tengo hambre!!


    #14
  15. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NNJ
    Day 2: from Naples to St. Augustine, Fl

    I woke up really early with the first sunray. It has been so long since I hadn't sleep by the beach. I guess the last time I did that, I was still in college, and this experience brought back some good memories.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    While I was trying to get a grip of myself, a nice man approached to me. His name was Eric, 36 years old, same old as I am. Married and a happy parent of two kids. We started talking about bikes, but then the conversation topic turned about how fair (or unfair) life is, an some other good stuff. He said that he also enjoyed traveling by motorcycle, but time and money are always getting in the way for doing so. I told him that I used to be like that, but somehow things self arranged in my life and now I am penny less, and doing a big trip on my bike. And the only material things I have left I life, are the ones I carry on the bike, nothing else. We discussed about the illusion of need we are all trained to believe in and the deep impact it has on our personality and standard on the long run.

    I am starting to believe that what we really need in life, are few pounds of food each day, heat and shelter, some little space to lie down in – and some form of working or physical activity that will yield a sense of accomplishment. Everything else will become a burden in life.

    We said goodbye, and then headed up to the closest McDonald's to do my daily McDiet: coffee, bread and lots of free WiFi to trace the next route.
    While at McDonald's I encountered a very interesting person, Tom Tiger, who is riding his heavily modified bicycle though Florida. He claims to have read about 2,000 books already. The discussion with him turned very interesting, ranging from topics like traveling the USA, to the applicable logic of The Matrix to "real" life, having in between A Course of Miracles, as a mandatory stop in the conversation. I also met a Mexican fellow, who recently moved from California to Naples to start up a fancy restaurant.
    [​IMG]

    Sadly, time doesn't forgive, and I had to start hitting the road again if I wanted to arrive on time to Chris's house at St Augustine, on the other end of North Florida.
    I took only secondary roads on my way to St Augustine, and right after passing Homestead, Fl I stopped to rehydrate a little, and there I made some conversation with a couple of Mexicans working in the "shadows" nearby.
    They mentioned some very deplorable work conditions, they have to stand because they arrived to this country with no legal documents, and they can't go back to Mexico because the rising violence by the Cartels down in their towns. I was surprised to hear the common practice of not receiving their paycheck (even for months!) as a way their employers have to keep them in "captivity" and from looking for another way to sustain themselves.

    I jumped on the bike again, and because I took only secondary roads, and it was heavily raining, the trip turned from the original 6 hrs planned, to almost 10 hrs! Amazingly I didn't end all smashed. I guess I am getting really used to my loyal and comfy India!!
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    I finally Arrived to st Augustine really late, and as we say in Mexico "con la cola entre las patas" REALLY ASHAMED, for such a late arrival to Chris's home. Chris and his girlfriend welcomed me very warmly, and the original idea was to camp at their backyard, but he insisted I should stay at their guest room!! I even was given the chance to take a shower!! After that, I fall asleep as a baby until next morning.
    Chris's and his girlfriend are among the nicest persons I have ever met so far in my trip, and I will be always grateful for the nice words they shared with me.

    Ps.- I am still having some troubles uploading pics. I had to use Tapatalk server since photobucket and google drive mobile versions don't seem to like my devices at all!!

    Sent from crappy iPhone
    #15
  16. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NNJ
    Day 3 St. Augustine, Fl, to Congaree National Park, SC

    After a night of really good and repairing sleep at Chris's place, I headed to the historic area of St. Augustine, which was smaller than I had expected, and because it was Sunday, it was flooded with tourists.

    I wandered around town, getting off and on the bike intermittently to read the information plates regarding the history of the place, or to take pictures, or so.
    Its small streets, antique houses, the fort, the Spanish "Galeón", and the overall vibe that floats in St. Augustine's air, made the visit to the town really worth. I strongly recommend you guys to go here, at least once in your life (just not on a weekend). The instant shot of history is awesome.

    I stopped by a Dunkin' Donuts, and while I was there, some people asked me if I was the owner of "that thing", for which I answered "that little think" is taking me places I had never expected to go otherwise. When I described the plan of my trip, they were surprised, but when I mentioned the tiny size of the bike's engine, an the fact that I am traveling with almost none pennies, their faces froze. That's becoming my new hobby: to see how many people's face I can froze in a day. Lol

    At that place, I also met this guy that used to ride his bike, and told me about that time when he rode his bike around Europe, and the police officers tended to stop him because he was riding a bike (Honda 500cc) with an engine almost 10 times the size of the police bike's engines. That guy's was named HAPPY.
    When I asked about his name, he said that that was not his original name, he had had it changed some years ago, because 1) he could, and 2) he wanted to have a daily remainder to stay in a happy mood. How awesome is that?

    I hit the road again at about 2pm, heading north the US1. I entered Jacksonville to get a glimpse of the city, then continued all the way to Georgia, where I stopped to sleep a little and recharge the gadgetry I carry.
    While at there, a group of really nice people, from Nicaragua, stopped to take a look of the bike. They KNEW about the Pulsars and were amazed to see one those here. I shared with them the details of the trip, and that I am looking forward to visit their country, since I have heard so many good things about it. We stood there chatting about road safety, bikes, the Central America do's and don't's. etc. I felt immediate confidence about those guys, they were really fun and easygoing people. Eventually, we said goodbye to each other, and they took off. I finished rearranging the bike's luggage, and at the very moment when I was ready to go, those guys reappeared, approached to my bike, and out of the blue, they handed me some bucks as a donation for my trip. This time MY face froze. I didn't expected that kind gesture from complete strangers. God's ways are mysterious indeed.


    It was around 6pm when I hit the road again, and since it was late already, I took the I-95 and didn't stop until the border with South Carolina. Both my bike and I were hungry, so I exit the highway, refueled the bike, and for me I did the McDiet I am starting to like a lot: one hamburger, one coffee, and a lot of free WiFi. :)

    While at there, I looked up about the Congaree National Park, at Hopkins, SC. I realized I still was 2 hrs away, so I ate fast, jumped on the bike, and kept going until I got to St Mathews.

    What a beautiful town. It reminded me to my home town, just a lot more cleaner and organized, but with that touch of Early-American style, that lies a charm on you. Had it not been raining so hard, I could have taken some amazing shots with the camera.

    I finally arrived to the Congaree Natl Pk at around midnight. There were no artificial lights but that was not problem at all, since the Rigid LED lights on the bike performed flawlessly. it was raining even worse than before, the mosquitoes population was compared to the ones I faced at the Everglades, Fl, so I immediately empty the OFF repellent on me, but the insects seemed to be accustomed to the OFF brand, or so it looked, because they kept coming at me! So I had to call the repellent cavalry, and unburied from the panniers, the little bottle of GoReady Insect Repellent (Deet 98.11%)... It was a heaven from there on... The Mosquitoes and flies seemed to have left the park!!
    [​IMG]

    I settle self-registered as instructed on the Park website at the entrance of the park. Then I looked for a place to settle my tent, did so, put all the wet stuff outside, the dry ones inside, closed the lid, and slept as a baby.... Until the Park Ranger called me out the tent, to let me know that's prohibited to have the bike near the camping ground, so I had to take it away to the parking area. He warned me: if I did the same again, I will be issued a ticket . Oops!

    I got back to sleep until around 1pm, when a really heavy rain waked me up. I pulled inside the tent the Now-dry stuff, to avoid to have them wet again, and started to write this review.

    After the rain stopped (paused?) I was feeling kind of hungry, so I eat the most exquisite food in the world...at lead to me, today:
    [​IMG]


    Now that I have eaten, I move the tent closer to the parking area, and I prepare myself to enjoy the rest of sunlight reading some chapters of "Shoot the Damn Dog" by Sally Brampton.


    Sent from crappy iPhone
    #16
  17. nomadwarmachine

    nomadwarmachine Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    Two weeks seems a little tight to travel from Key West to Niagra Falls if you plan on really soaking in the Appalachians in the summer. You can defnitely make it in that time, but you will be pushing through some beautiful landscape.

    You probably already know this, but you have to take the "Blue Ridge Parkway" from Smokey Mtn National Park up to the Shenandoah. It is simply incredible. Excellent quality highway, plenty of places to stop and eat along the way, and the views are second to none.

    Have a great trip!!
    #17
  18. Rutabaga

    Rutabaga Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    737
    Location:
    Southeast Lower Carolina
    Welcome to your Northern neighbor. What a wonderful tale you tell of your adventure so far, I hope the hospitality I experienced in your country over a period of almost twenty years is matched by what you recieve here. Thank you for taking the time and effort to keep us informed of your travels.
    #18
  19. GlennR

    GlennR Playin' in the Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2010
    Oddometer:
    2,596
    Location:
    Boone,NC
    Nttra,

    I hope you're having a good trip and missing the rain somehow.
    #19
  20. Nttra

    Nttra My english is not very good looking

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    NNJ
    Day.. I kind of lost track of the days! Let's call it, other day of my sorry adventure

    I woke up around 7 am with the bird's chirps. Thankfully there was no bear , panther, nor another long-pawed mammal near my campground during the night, so I did rest peacefully, and my meals were intact right were I left them.

    As I was doing my way trough the morning, the manager's wife approached to me, and we started chatting about this crazy trip I am doing. She insisted to know the motives in doing such an adventure. I felt bad, because to be really honest, there are not deep or fascinating motives in doing the trip I am doing.

    ----commercial pause----
    One thing I have realized along the way is that several people tend to believe we all travelers are beings with an ulterior and unique, motivation to travel. Sadly I have no unique answer for that question. I started traveling in a "Forrest Gump- king of way": just because I felt like doing so.

    I could argue in my behalf, that the failures of character I had last year, could back up my decision to jump on my bike and go away. But now I know that I am a result of a lot of previous experiences, even dating back to my infant years. The alone time been having while riding the bike, or while camping, or walking through the woods, has been really helpful to get a glimpse about, let's call it, my "core and unbiased" personality.

    I will come back to this point later on.

    ---- end of commercial pause, back to regular programming---

    Both the manager and his wife said they had been in Mexico, once, in the 80's, and they flew all the way from here to Puerto Vallarta. When they knew I was camping, sleeping wherever I felt tired (rest areas, urban parks, behind Gas stations, etc) they didn't understand why didn't I take a plane, or stay in hotels, I would be more comfortable, they argued. I didn't want to discuss that topic any further, as I have realized that trying to explain the whole idea of that kinds of trips is just like speaking in a whole different language (leaving aside my horrible English pronunciation :( )

    I left the Park before noon, with my camera at hand, to capture the most possible beautiful sights during the ride of the BR pkwy. Well, it only lasted a couple of miles, since the more north I was going, the worst the weather turned. I had to stop, put the camera back in its case, and myself back into the stinky rain suit. The rain became even harder, and combined with cold air, and fog, reduced my visibility to almost none.
    I am not kidding about this. I only could see as far as 3 meters away from my nose, tops. The cars appeared I instantly out of nowhere, scaring the heck out of me... So did the road.
    I tried to keep my faith up, and continued going through the BRP for some more miles, at about 10 mph, until it became really stressful, so I call it quits. I went out on the first opportunity I had, under the hope that the weather would be better by the vicinity area of the Shenandoah National Park. So I could "cheat" the way if I go by highways.

    So, I took the 75 to Virginia, and while reposting gas in my bike... And food for my stomach, I guy approached to me, interested abut my trip. He was Mexican as well, and he talked for about 95% of the conversation. He told me how he got in the USA about 16 years ago, and the adventures and misadventures he had while doing so. He eventually became a truck driver, but he has worked in pretty much everything, and he had such a funny way to tell his story, it became almost impossible to cut the conversation, which lasted almost 5 hrs!

    It was almost 10pm when we said goodbye to each other, and I was dubious if I should continue, or find a place to stay nearby and continue next day.

    Because almost the 1 liter of coca cola I drank while I was talking with Refugio, the Truck driver, I was kind of "hyper" on sugar at that point, and to try to sleep would be kind of useless, so I decided to continue riding north.

    Thanks of the Dually LED lights I installed on the bike, it was possible to see the road. It was like a "wolf's mouth", no light at all, and no traffic going my way. The only traffic I saw, was in the opposite direction from me, which repeatedly blinded me with their high beam light.
    When I was near the Natural Bridge, I started to feel the bike different, and it was making weird noises. I reduced speed, and opened the helmet lid, to try to identify the problem. It seemed to be related the chain, so I went out the freeway to take a closer look of the problem.

    -//////////

    Even though I tried to adjust the chain, it was already damaged, beyond the point of achieving a good adjustment. So I did what I could with my limited knowledge and tools available, and tried to find a place to camp, but the search was unsuccessful, so I jumped on the freeway again, and headed to the Shenandoah, where I arrived to by almost 5am, with the first rays of the sun showing in the sky.

    There was no one at the camping registration boot, just some indications of how to self-register for camping and pay, if late arrived. After some serious thinking, I decided to wait until 9pm to register, so I wouldn't pay an extra night if I self register.

    So I took the camera out, and took some nice shots (at least nice for me), but I started to feel really exhausted... No wonder! At that moment, I had been awake consecutively for almost 24 hrs, and had driven a decent mileage. So I rest my head on the grass at the picnic area (South River) but Mother Nature had apparently a schedule for me. It started raining, and blowing some strong and cold winds almost instantly. I had just enough time to jump into my rain suit again, and take cover under a tree with the hope of the rain would pass soon. It didn't.

    Not only not stopped, but worsened, and the weather conditions were at best, the same as the ones I found at the beginning of the BRP. I felt really disappointed at having chosen to go there. I had spent 3 days on that decision, and now that was a complete waste of time.

    Under a mix of fury and sadness, I decided to go to a local town nearby to try to find a place where to buy a new chain for the bike, but I didn't find any. So I texted a good friend living in Woodbridge, VA, to ask him if it was OK if I arrived earlier than expected to his place. Not only he agreed, but he told me to go directly to the mechanic shop he works at, and offer me help to fix, in the best way possible, the issues of my bike.

    On my way there, I started reflecting of how things had happened, but didn't reach to any conclusion there, it came a day later.

    The route was wonderful. I crossed several towns with constructions beyond my imagination, or what I had seen on movies or tv. Most of the town were apparently agricultural based economies, and there were some sort of specialized farm machinery. Really cool!

    I finally arrived to my friend's shop. It had been almost 4 year since I hadn't seen him, and we had too much to catch up. He put on hold all he was doing, to take me to a couple of motorcycle shops to find the chain I needed to my bike. He even took me to a place to have something to eat... Apparently my face was not looking really healthy :)

    Then we returned to his place, he allowed me to help him with the thighs he was doing on the cars, and was very patient while explaining me the step-by-step about what the parts were, and how they worked.

    After his shift ended, he took me to take a look of the city, and he let me know he couldn't allow me to stay at his place, nor camp, because he lives in a tiny place, but he really surprised me when he sponsor me, paying for a night of hotel in his town, so we could catch up with events the day later.

    So I went to sleep, and took a well deserved shower. Babies do not sleep that well.

    Next day, he picked me up about 8am, and we went to his shop. He continued teaching me about cars, tools, how-to's, and that sort of thing, while he helped me replace the chain of my bike. He also helped me to grease the axels of the wheels, and checked the overall condition of my bike. He found out the front disk rotor is slightly bent, and that is the cause the handlebar vibrates like a wet dog while in movement. It needs to be replaced anywhere soon.

    Here is when I started to get the idea that, as grandma used to say "things DO happen for a reason". Maybe it was supposed to rain that hard over the BRP, so I could get earlier to my fiend's, so we could have more time to hang out, talk, and learn the thinks he taught me. I usually find it really hard to believe in a Greater Power, and things alike, but sometimes I just do not know what to think at all.

    I expected to leave early to visit Washington, DC, but the weather got really nasty in Woodbridge, and according to google, in DC it wasn't that different, so I decided to stay a little later, so I could head up directly to NYC, instead of visiting DC.
    So my friend and I went to a Mexican style restaurant, with karaoke night, and was a really fun night.

    At about 11pm, the rain suddenly stopped, and the sky opened clear, also the cold wind disappeared. So we said goodbye to each other, and I jumped on the bike again.

    When I was on my way to NYC, I passed besides the Pentagon, and I saw the Washington obelisk monument at the distance, and it was almost impossible to NOT to visit that city, so I got out the freeway, and headed up to the White House. Maybe my vast knowledge could be of use to some politicians down there. :Rofl But at that time, the only signs of living forms, were youngsters all dressed up, in cocktail clothes, with levels of alcohol intoxication above the permitted custom. :)

    I left DC, and kept going to NYC, but the piled up exhaustion, the bad eating habits I have keeping during the trip, the rains and the colds, and the deprivation of sleep, were taking their toll on me and my old and crappy body. So I stopped to rest for a couple of minutes behind a BP gas station, but I ended up falling asleep for almost 4 hrs. The sprinklers woke me up.

    I bought a cup of coffee to boost the startup cycle, and resume my way to the big apple.

    I stopped at a Service Area, and while pumping gas into the bike, a family of Porto Ricans (who by the way, were heading up to NYC to participate in the portorican event to take place the next day at the city), approached to me and told me I looked like a re-maked version of the Che Guevara, and his Motorcycle Diaries. They almost made me cry with that comparison.
    I am not going to deep on the good and bad about the Che, but only want to emphasize that his trips are a source of inspiration for me, and the fact that family compared my silly and humble trip with ones I have in great esteem, was a honor for me. They also gathered around me, grab each others hands, mine included, and made a prayer for me, and for the good adventures during my journey. My throat closed, I became speechless right there.

    I arrived by noon to Manhattan, as expected, in order to attend to a very important event happening tonight.

    The weather was awesome! Warm, and without a cloud in the sky. Although I had been a couple of times in Manhattan,this is my first time driving on the city. What an experience: Everybody is nuts!!

    Pedestrians cross street at any place or moment. Cars, specially the yellow killing machines, invade lanes at will. Everybody tailgates, and honk for no special reason, Gas prices are even higher than the ones in Florida, and there are homeless people at every other corner. I felt like at home!

    One funny think was that while in traffic, I noticed some tourist taking pictures of me on the bike... I guess I qualify now as a big apple attraction with all the luggage and silly looking outfit.
    #20