Prairies To Penguins Alberta to Argentina

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by DRRambler, Aug 24, 2013.

  1. kalahari-k

    kalahari-k Kalahari-K

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Well done getting through. One of the border challenges must be keeping your patience.....having some sort of constructive perspective. We become task oriented and effective in as many aspects of our lives as possible......then at borders we are a lot less effective and the process quite arbitrary, especially where you are now. It might be my undoing if I were in your position! I have enough trouble shutting my mouth at the Canada/US border.

    It could be inappropriate, but is it acceptable or worth considering photographing (cell phone) some of the border paper stamping etc? I imagine not, especially if there is some sort of collusion going on north to south. Probably better not to be 'right' and just pay the various 'taxes' as you go through.

    Vancouver is having an Indian Summer which ends in about 3 days according to the forecast. Your postings will be more and more enjoyable very soon as we sit here in the gloom. I'll probably even wish I was at a Honduran border by February! Is the DR650 still running like a top?
  2. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    At the end of the ordeal it was just me and the three guys standing on the highway. Me wondering how far I could press them before they got hostile. I decided not to find out.

    The DR is almost perfect. It developed an oil leak which I have 95% concluded is the counter shaft oil seal (front sprocket shaft). I have a seal retainer installed due to a nasty DR habit of expelling the seal all together. Obviously the retainer does not prevent leaks. I have sent an email to a Costa Rica Suzuki dealer inquiring about availability and await their response. At this point it's not a dire situation but one I'd like to correct.
  3. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 63 October 25 Leon to Myogalpa

    CLICK for MAP

    Last night I made an audible and changed my plan a bit. Instead of the beach today I decided to go to Ometepe Island. It’s the world’s only volcanic island in fresh water. Formed by 2 volcanoes, it looks like an hourglass from above. The island is home to many hostels and hotels catering to backpackers, hikers, and eco tourists.

    First I had to get there. I fully expected nothing but good pavement today but the dual-sport gods smiled upon me. I was very surprised when the perfectly good highway turned to crap. And then it turned crappier. But on the DR it was a blast. From potholes and broken pavement to narrow one lane sections there was a bit of everything. It was hard packed most of the way but there was soft sections as well as some muddy areas to traverse.


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    Odd looking concrete structure at the entrance to a small town

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    I stopped to look at my GPS just to make sure it wasn’'t leading me astray again but it was a legit highway. It turns out that there is also a highway to the north that also goes to Managua. Perhaps that’s the road most of the traffic takes because this road sure didn’t look like a major thoroughfare. Eventually the pavement improved and the fun dirt ended so once again I had to follow speed limits.


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    When I arrived at the ferry I learned that I had a two hour wait. To kill the time I found some lunch and a 1 litre Victoria Classic to sip on.


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    Loading the ferry was like fitting together a jigsaw puzzle. On board there was one large truck, 2 small cars, and a bus. Skelly got sandwiched between a car and the bus with the help of a worker the size of a sumo wrestler. He picked the back end up and swung it into place right up against the cars bumper. The bus pulled up so close I had no way out so I had to hold my breath and squeeze to get past the truck beside me.


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    Proper Moto tie down technique

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    Underway, the buses suspension flexed so much it almost touched my bike with every wave. And with each swell, the alarm of the little car let out a wail. VIDEO



    The ride was windy and if up front quite wet until we were on the leeward side of the giant volcano.

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    A fun looking strip for all you pilots

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    After disembarking the ferry at Moyogalpa I quickly found the Hospadje Soma for $10 tonight.


    Tomorrow I’ll ride around the island and then take the ferry back to the mainland with San Juan del Sur my destination.
  4. davidbrundage

    davidbrundage Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2008
    Oddometer:
    172
    Location:
    costa mesa, ca
    There is a place just south of San Juan Del Sur called Playa El Coco. I passed through and stayed at a nice little spot called Lug's Place. The owner is a chef from Canada I believe and cooked a seriously impressive dinner. The best part, in my opinion was avoiding the huge party scene in San Juan Del Sur. Then leaving there, just keep heading south, and there is a nice dirt track that leads from the coast back to the highway where you'll cross into CR.

    Excellent report, keep up the good work!
  5. AK Smitty

    AK Smitty Self life coach

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    473
    Location:
    Somewhere in South America
    Be ready for CR, you will need a lot of patience.

    There should be no hidden fees and you dont need a helper but they have 2 aduanas that you will have to run back and forth between for copies and stamps. It was the second most painful process next to Panama.

    Issues at Panaman were related to power outage and lazy insurance dude so cant quite blame the process. CR process just isnt logical or fluid.

    Lae me know if you want any additional info but it is reall just grin and grind it out process.

    Enjoying the RR makes wish I was back in all those places. ~ 10 months and counting before my next big multi-month push.
  6. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    I rode to Playa el Coco and did not see Lug's place but enjoyed the ride both directions. In hindsight this was good because it has been raining here a lot and I'm not in the mood for mud :D

    Thanks for the tips. Slow and steady, step by step, and I'll make it through.
    Where are you going?
  7. AK Smitty

    AK Smitty Self life coach

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    473
    Location:
    Somewhere in South America
    Thanks for the tips. Slow and steady, step by step, and I'll make it through.
    Where are you going?[/QUOTE]

    Plan is to finish what I started. Last winter was Mex for about 10 weeks then did all of Central America Colombia and Ecuador for about 4 months.

    Next winter about 6 months for the rest of South America. I hope. A lot can change between now and then, but I am setting up to quit my job so we will see. I am pretty focused so right now I believe it will happen.

    One of my many mantras to quit work:
    Bob 1 "So I see you've been missing a lot of work lately?"
    Peter "I wouldn't say I've been missing it!"

    Office Space
  8. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Classic!
  9. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 64 October 26 Isla Ometepe to San Jaun Del Sur

    CLICK for MAP

    The rain, not roosters woke me this morning. This entire trip I have not started a day in the rain (I think) so I was not impressed. It stopped coming down at about 6:30 so I quickly loaded up and headed out.


    My room mate

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    The exit from the hostal is a medium uphill grade with two concrete strips for vehicle tires to roll on. It is steep enough that the bike would not stay put in neutral while I opened the steel gate. In order to go through the gate I needed to ride off the little ramp and over some paving stones that are covered in wet moss. Guess where this is leading...yes, I dropped the bike. First time the whole trip! However I managed to pick it up without unloading anything. I’m glad I didn’t bring the V-Strom.

    I headed out northbound to circumnavigate the big volcano. The paving stone road ended and turned to dirt which lasted across the entire northern side of the island.

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    I reached paving stone again at Altrgracia. It was a great little ride but the clouds covered virtually the entire volcano most of the trip.

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    The road crosses the airport runway

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    By 8:30 I was back in Myogalpa having a breakfast of granola and yogurt.

    I approached the boat docks to a extremely loud drum and brass band. Trying to get information when you can’t speak the language or even hear is great fun. I finally figured out that I was to pay on board the boat and it was leaving right now so get your butt in gear. First I had to pay a 10 Cordoba tax (about 30 cents). This ferry had only one car and another bike plus some foot passengers so no stress about the tight squeeze this time.

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    The crossing was calm and relaxing.

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    Ferry No. 3

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    I recalled seeing a car wash yesterday so I began searching for it. The bike has developed an oil leak so I wanted to clean all the grime away so I could see where it is coming from. The lad at the wash did a great job and Skelly is gleaming once again. Later in the day I determined the leak is from the counter shaft seal. This is a common DR650 leak so before I left I installed a seal retainer to prevent a blow out but I did not pack a spare seal (more on that later).

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    The ride from Rivas to San Juan is really short so I was in town by noon. I decided to ride north of town to check out a way point I had saved called the Castaway. Unfortunately I turned around because the road was getting sloppy and the weather these days is quite rainy.

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    I did not want to get stuck out there so I tried south of the town to check out another way point called Lugz Place.

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    Good thing I got the bike washed today!

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    I couldn’t find it so again turned around and eventually found a hostal with great secure parking , wifi, and A/C for $25/night.

    Panorama photo, click to see full size image

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    Two German riders on BMWs arrived shortly after me and we compared border crossing stories. It’s nice to talk to someone who has also had the same troubles.
    After inspecting the oil leak I researched the part number and sent out a few inquiries. We’ll see what comes up tomorrow.
  10. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 65 October 27 San Juan Del Sur

    Today was a lazy day hanging out in San Juan and swimming in the ocean.

    I did have some work to do however to source an oil seal. I emailed a fellow that contacted me near the beginning of the trip. He lives in Costa Rica but heard about the trip when he was in St. Albert in August. Since Costa Rica is my next stop I asked if he could help. He has some good connections with moto repair shops both locally and in Florida. So worst case we get a seal shipped from the states and hopefully it takes a week. I can afford to stay in Costa Rica 10 days without stress so we’ll see how it goes. Maybe we can find one locally.

    Some more photos from around San Juan.

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    No, I do not want to buy any sunglasses

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    Camera has a mind of it's own

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    Rice with shrimp and of course cerveza

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  11. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 66 October 28 San Juan del Sur Nicaragua to Nosara Costa Rica

    CLICK for MAP

    One of the great things about this trip is that every day brings something unexpected. Today did not disappoint. I studied hard last night trying to memorize the steps of another complicated border crossing. I wrote out the process on a cheat sheet and drew a little map of what I thought the building layout would be. I was prepared and under no circumstance was I going to be taken for a fool again.

    I reached the Nicaragua/Costa Rica border at 8:00am in intermittent rain showers. I figured the rain and the early hour might keep the con artists at bay and I was right. I followed the process step by step just as I had learned it. 90 minutes later I was done and cruising into Costa Rica. I even had time to do a little shopping at the duty free store.

    Immediately I noticed a marked difference from the countries I had left behind me. Speed limits are clearly posted here both with signs and pavement markings.

    Nice Costa Rican pavement


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    The raised economic state is also apparent with fewer rundown buildings and more professional looking businesses. In the cities there are more familiar North American companies present like McDonalds (I admit it, I had a Big Mac). And yes, I know McDonalds is in other CA countries too.

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    There were a number of roads on the map leading to Nosara so I just picked the twisty looking one that followed the coastline. I had heard that during rainy times this road could have high water. I rode along the hard packed dirt road expecting a river crossing at any moment.

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    The track changed from high speed gravel to rougher potholed backroad and eventually I came to the first deep water.

    Looks easy enough

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    I watched a Toyota 4runner pass through the river before I made the attempt and it looked easy enough. But the river bottom was unexpectedly soft and slippery. That, combined with my worn out rear tire created a problem. I made it through the water but was way, way out of shape on the exit. I could not overcome the fishtailing rear end and spinning wheel. I dropped her at a slow pace but fast enough to do some damage to the right side pannier. A local man watched my spill and came to my aid by helping me lift the bike. The poor luggage did not rise with the bike. It stayed on the ground with the mounting points buckled in by the impact. In addition the tool tube under the engine guard smashed open and spilled its contents. The rider had nary a scratch. We moved the bike out of the road and I carried the bits and pieces to a safe spot to assess the damage. It was then that my new friend pointed out that I should have taken the bridge like that motorcycle just did....Doh!!!

    VIDEO Note: there are one or two bad words in this video



    “Mi amigo, hay rios mas abajo de esta carretera?” “
    “Si dos mas”
    “Hay Puentes para motos sobre ellos?!
    “Si no hay problema”

    Ok, there are two more rivers but they have bridges too. But first some repairs. I used a large rock to bash the mounting holes as straight as possible. It was enough to get the pannier mounted but not securely. I used two tie down straps to snug it up to the luggage frame which by the way sustained no damage at all.

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    After struggling to restart the engine I finally got moving again. But before I left another man approached. He asked if I was going to see the turtles come up on the beach tonight. He said the beach is just around the corner and the turtles start coming out of the ocean to lay their eggs at 4 o’clock. This was something I wanted to see so I decided I would come back after finding a place to stay in Nosara which was 15 minutes from here.

    But I had two rivers to cross yet. The fist structure was a narrow suspension bridge with cables running along its sides. I promptly hooked the spare tire on a cable and briefly thought I had lost it but only managed to snap a Rok Strap holding it on. The second bridge was a flat metal deck with no sides, a little hairy with wet muddy tires.

    I made it to Nosara and located Troy who enthusiastically agreed to go back with me to see the turtles later. After checking into a hostal I removed all my luggage so the bridges would not be so scary next time.

    We arrived at the special beach to see a hundred people busily working on a turtle egg harvest. Olive Ridley sea turtle

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    Tens of thousands of eggs had been collected and were being bagged and crated for shipment. There is only a 36 hour window that this harvest is permitted.

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    It was a little disturbing at first but we learned that the turtles are so great in number that they lay on top of other nests which destroys many eggs. The harvest they said had very little impact. Apparently late at night there are so many turtles on the beach they are climbing over one another.

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    Opportunist


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    A lot of interest in the event

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    Washing the eggs in the ocean as the sun sets

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    Naked Skelly. Note the dangling tool tube.

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    Troy's surfboard rack

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    We returned to Nosara before dark and planned to find dinner and meet Martin. After multiple cervezas we said farewell for the last time. From here on there will be no chance that I’ll meet them again until we all return to North America. Guys, it was great to meet you both, I sure hope we can ride together again someday.
  12. kalahari-k

    kalahari-k Kalahari-K

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    196
    Location:
    Vancouver, Canada
    Great pictures, video + report. You could write + sell the "Border Booklet" for the Americas. Any thoughts about tires in general for this trip after this many days....dirt/pavement ratios etc?
  13. T0M_NASTY

    T0M_NASTY where ya too?

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    56
    Location:
    Edmonton
    subscribed
    me and my fiance are preparing for a similar trip on our KLR's next august
  14. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    I'm running Mitas E-07 tires which are 50/50. I have not seen the longevity I was expecting from them but I do like how they ride. The rear is almost at the wear bars at 13000km and the front are good for 3000 more I'd say. The first real long challenging dirt came as the tires became worn so my timing didn't take advantage of the aggressive tread block. Remember I rode on them from northern Canada so plenty of high speed pavement at the beginning. Next time I'd time it so I put new rubber on nearer the mexico border.
  15. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Fell free to fire any questions you may have my way. Comments are very welcome too! :deal
  16. Turk34

    Turk34 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2010
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Atlanta, USA
    Tom_NASTY@ we are preparing similar trip with my wife from Atlanta to Ushuaia possibly leaving September/October next year...Hope we come cross on the South...
  17. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 67 October 29 Nosara to Santa Elena/Monteverde 160km

    CLICK for MAP

    Today was a short haul. Destination, the cloud forest at Monteverde. Zip lining is on the list of things I want to do and Monteverde is supposed to be the best place to do it.

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    To leave Nosara I had to ride some more of the bumpy dirt but it was brief. A great morning of twisties stretched out in front of me.

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    After lunch at Tres Hermanas “Where’s the Bull” I continued on.

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    To get to Santa Elena one must travel on dirt. It’s about 35km of 2nd gear, bumpy and steep road. It climbed and climbed, into the clouds. Then suddenly the touristy town of Santa Elena appears. A quick search landed me at Monteverde Hostel Lodge, an upscale hostel. I opted for a private room at $30/night but it’s a damn sweet room and I actually had hot water.

    I booked a canopy tour at the front desk, went for a walk, had dinner and promptly fell asleep by 7:30
  18. DirtSquirt

    DirtSquirt Super Noob

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Western Canada
    Great report, I really like the video, you are living my dream! As I settle in for another Alberta winter it is great that you take the time to document your trip, I look forward to your progress every day!

    Thank you! :freaky:freaky
  19. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    I'm enjoying a little break in Costa Rica right now courtesy of a friend who gave me a few nights stay in a great resort. If it makes you feel any better it's raining like mad here and the thunder is so intense car alarms are going off. I hope the winter is a mild one for you :D
  20. DRRambler

    DRRambler AKA Albertastrom

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2007
    Oddometer:
    853
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Day 68 October 30 Monteverde Cloud Forest

    Sorry to my moto friends, this has nothing to do with Motorcycles :)

    Before the bus picked me up at 8am I gathered all my laundry to be washed while I was out. If you have ever traveled like this before you’ll know about hotel sink laundry. It works, kind of. The long days of hot riding and the dreaded border crossings create a rather manly smell. My washing attempts merely make the smell “less bad”. To get all my clothes laundered properly is worth the price. In Mexico it cost me $2, here it was a whopping $10.

    The shuttle stopped a few times to pick up others. On the bus was a trio from Brooklyn, a couple from New York, a brother and sister from Victoria and Toronto, two girls from Slovenia, and me. About half an hour up the steep bumpy road and we arrived at the tour complex. The group quickly got geared up and began the short hike to the first stop, an orientation session. The first line was a shorty just to get used to it.

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    Then twelve more lines of awesomeness up to 1000 meters long. Mixed in was the Tarzan Swing, a crazy leap off a platform to swing in a massive arc from the limb of a giant tree. I was the first to go and must admit was a little nervous!

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    The braking apparatus for the Tarzan Swing

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    After the adrenaline rush we took a tour on the eight suspension bridges high in the forest canopy.

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    This is one naughty looking plant


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    All in all a great morning.