After three years of thinking, planning, reading, researching, and getting rid of stuff, I am finally on the road on my grand adventure. When I quit the corporate world three years ago and got back into motorcycling, an idea began to form that I would take a 'year off' and ride to and through the Americas ans Central / South America. The idea blossomed as I met more and more motorcycle travelers doing just that--taking a year off and riding their dreams. Originally I planned to ride to South America with my cousin, Ken (ADV = lildirtrat), leaving the USA Nov 1, 2009. In March Ken had something come up that prevented him joining me. Bummer. Disappointed, but still determined to go, I continued on with my plan. Part A of my year off began July 1, 2009, when, ahead of schedule, I was able to rent my house and motorcycle-friendly B&B business (in Falls Village, CT). That meant I could ride the Trans America Trail with my boyfriend Questor ( Our RR= http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=510958 ). Part A also included riding the Continental Divide trail (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=530998) . What a lucky girl! TAT, CDT, then Mexico-Central America-South America. Anyway, I put about 15,000 mostly dirt miles on my poor little DR350SE, and she's now burning oil like crazy, So I circled back to Connecticut for three weeks in October, and bought a 2003 DR650SE. A little heavier, but better for the long highway down to south of the border. The engine looked nice & clean so I snapped it up: Again, I got lucky, and Twisted Throttle (www.TwistedThrottle.com) sponsored me. So I brought my DR650 up to them, and they threw tons of staff time into getting my bike ready in less than 2 weeks. Monster Energy Boy (Dereck) was the main mechanic, and he thought of *everything* to make my new ride work well, perform well, and give me maximum comfort for the 30,000+ mile trip I am embarking on. Questor helping me figure out where to put everything. Twisted put on every accessory they could think of ! While setting up the bike, they also suggested with the extra weight I was putting on the bike (a 37 liter side Trax box, a 45 liter side Trax box, and a 38 liter Trax Top box) I should consider beefing up the suspension. They directed me to Cogent Dynamics in Fletcher, NC (www.motocd.com), who also came on board as sponsors. We shipped the rear spring and front forks to them, and amazingly they turned them around in two days. For those of you setting up one of these lighter bikes for Adventure Travel, I highly recommend upgrading the stock suspension. It's amazing how quickly the weight adds up, even though you think you are "packing light". My left (45 liter) Trax box + contents ended up weighing 38 lbs, the Right (37 liter) Trax box + contents 34 bs, and the 38 Liter Trax top box 22 lbs (and this was supposed t be EMPTY for my helmet and GPS at border crossings!) The most amazing thing to me was my riding gear...I carried it in a bag up to Twisted Throttle headquarters in Peacedale, RI for their send-off Oct 31, and out of curiosity put the bag on the scale...FORTY 40!!! pounds including my motocross boots (I since decided to ride in my Daytona touring boots so take off a coupe of pounds). Jeez, and I thought I was packing light. I spent a day organizing, packing, culling, reorganizing, repacking (I've done this about 15 times now, taken everything out and done a cull). I think I'm around a similar weight because I did add some stuff that people along the way suggested. (Hennesey hammock, Steripen water purifier, extra tools, etc.) <> So Nov 1, 2009 I began Part B of my Year of Motorcycle Vagabonding. It took me 3 weeks visiting friends and family to get to Big Bend, Texas, where I stayed with international BMW superstars Voni & Paul Glaves. They are just awesome folks. and Voni rode with me the morning of November 24th when I crossed the border into Mexico at Presidio / Ojinaga.