SF to Panama... eventually

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by stickfigure, Jan 25, 2008.

  1. Nina

    Nina Been here awhile

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    LOVE the title of this blog entry, Jeff Are you back in SF now? We are returned from our secret location and trying to break the bike out of Changuinola. Bored in Panama City right now. Looking forward to your news.
  2. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=corozal,+corozal,+belize&sll=18.421802,-88.463287&sspn=0.074918,0.107975&ie=UTF8&ll=17.85329,-89.143066&spn=4.809082,6.9104&z=7"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3180/3071886047_243bb6898a.jpg"/></a>

    We spent less than 24 hours in Belize. I took only two pictures. There really is no excuse for this silly rush; Belize was quite nice and it was pleasant (although shocking) to speak English again. However, Scott was waiting for us in Tulúm and a thorough exploration would have required leaving the bikes on the mainland to explore the islands. Belize is best explored by sailboat.

    Belize may have the Most Delicious Rum Ever. It's called One Barrel and finishes with a surprisingly strong taste of molasses. Sadly, I have yet to find it for sale outside Belize.

    We spent one night in Corozal, near the border with Mexico, and crossed the next day. The good news is that flights to Cancún are remarkably cheap and getting from there to Belize is easy. I'll be back.

    My two pictures...

    This "ferry" was a barge on a cable with a hand-crank that pulled it across the river:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050861237/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3008/3050861237_a5df741586.jpg"/></a>

    A random bridge:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050862089/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3207/3050862089_7aa9268ae8.jpg"/></a>
  3. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    I am back in San Francisco!

    I will try to fill in the rest of the trip chronologically, but the upshot: The bike is in San Antonio getting an engine rebuild, so I flew home with a return date randomly chosen for the 16th.

    The San Antonio shop (a huge Yamaha dealer with a growing KTM business) took the engine apart and found there was no oil in it. Since the bike never consumed oil, I must presume that the mechanic at Motoaltavista forgot to refill it. I feel like an utter moron for not double-checking the work. Naturally, the oil pressure light is not working - maybe a burned out bulb.

    So, just in case you ever wanted to know: You can run an LC4 for about 700 miles without oil before it fails. Respect.
  4. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    Any hope the bike will be free soon? Has it at least stopped raining?

    If the weather is not too miserable, go out to the San Blas islands and hang out with the Kuna. You can even rent your own private island for something like $20/night. On the other hand, camping in the rain is not much fun even on a Caribbean paradise island :(:

    Drifter: Most of the problems I've heard about are around Lago Atitlan. There is a short and very rough stretch of dirt between San Pedro and Santiago that slows down vehicles enough that pedestrians with guns can easily stop vehicles. Highway robbery happens elsewhere too but (as I've heard) it tends to be around the tourist areas - just don't stop for anyone or anything.
  5. Bgunn

    Bgunn Mucha distancia

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    I seen your thread in the Latin America section. Glad you were able to get the bike back North of the border.

    One of the best RR reports I've read. Looking forward to the next installment.
  6. mookymoo

    mookymoo Mookish Mook

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    Holy crap :eek1
  7. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    Like reading a guide book getting me ready for the big one, Great Job :clap :clap . Please finish:evil
  8. sp4ce

    sp4ce Orange Invader

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    Just now retrieved bike from emergency storage. Word is the road is open.

    Must. Escape. Panama.


    So is your repair going to be covered by warranty?
  9. mikebikeboy

    mikebikeboy Adventurer

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    I love seeing a picture of a place I've been to, from a different perspective...in your case "just passing through", from a far (not so far actually) off land...

    I hung out on that bridge for a couple lazy sunny afternoons, swimming in the river below it and relaxing...
  10. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=Tulum,+Solidaridad,+Q+Roo,+Mexico&sll=20.11107,-87.46778&sspn=0.005078,0.008379&ie=UTF8&ll=19.601194,-89.483643&spn=5.214664,8.580322&z=7"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3264/3097496732_b61a7ac753.jpg"/></a>

    Nir and I met up with Scott and Yael in Tulúm, a cute town at one end of the "Riviera Maya" coast of Quintana Roo. The town itself is situated inland, but the beach is a short cab ride away. The water is crystal-clear blue and the sand is bone-white. There was also a lot of wind and rain, so we eschewed diving in the ocean.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3051725200/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3240/3051725200_a3962c0ecd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3059937637/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3250/3059937637_7a878bf12c.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    Tulúm also has a Mayan ruin right on the beach. The architecture is not spectacular by Mayan standards but you can't beat the location. If I were a Mayan emperor, *this* is where I would want to be.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050891513/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3238/3050891513_775a68ee4d.jpg"/></a>

    We hung out on the beach:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060781154/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3218/3060781154_9cb9b6612b.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    We ate weird local fruit:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050880715/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3049/3050880715_04b68ebfb7.jpg"/></a>

    We made more Israeli friends:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3051721160/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3010/3051721160_3c1d0e84e7.jpg"/></a>

    We made dinner:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3059947039/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3031/3059947039_ae782ef319.jpg"/></a>

    ...and what I mean by "we" is "Scott":

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3059958831/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3152/3059958831_52ed9a6a48.jpg"/></a>

    Yummy. Not pictured: More ceviche than a whole hostel could eat

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060804216/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3209/3060804216_bb21136732.jpg"/></a>

    Since diving in the ocean wasn't an option, we went diving in a cenote. Cenote water is filtered through the limestone of the peninsula... the visibility was staggering. It's like hanging in midair in the middle of a giant underground cavern. Flashlights barely throw a dust trail. Sadly, my camera isn't *that* waterproof.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050913109/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3243/3050913109_435fee3ac6.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050907871/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3281/3050907871_db3f1063fd.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3050909061/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3029/3050909061_7470245dcf.jpg"/></a>

    After four days, we moved on:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3059984083/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3007/3059984083_911c7383ba.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060010063/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3290/3060010063_41bd48ac1f.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    This is where Yael pointed out to me that my camera was set to -2.0 exposure bias... and apparently it has been f'd up since Guanajuato. I hadn't looked very closely at the pictures after downloading them, but now I realize that most of my pictures are far too dark. Sad. Beware handing your camera to drunken friends!
  11. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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    Jeff :wave ,

    I went to visit your KTM 640A today - easy to do since the shop is only about 4 miles from Casa Tricepilot:

    [​IMG]

    The engine is on the work table :sick

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    She seemed lonely, so I started to read her a few pages from Pirsig's book, and then the shop manager kicked me out. :dunno

    Before you fly down here on the 16th I have an update for you :deal

    PM sent :thumb

    Bob :jose
  12. mookymoo

    mookymoo Mookish Mook

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    Out of curiosity, how did you not notice you had no oil?
    Surely the engine would have been noisy as heck?
  13. sp4ce

    sp4ce Orange Invader

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    SET IT BACK!

    I've loved your pics (think Tikal) because they were a little underexposed if anything and not the standard washed out overexposed snaps. I just thought you were a competent photographer!
  14. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    I didn't notice anything wrong right up until the failure. No unusual noise at all. According to the San Antonio folks, it had "less than a quart of oil", so maybe there was just barely enough to keep it operating.

    I also ride with earplugs and music, but not so loud that I wouldn't hear/feel something wrong with the engine. Also, my first ride to the gas station every morning is without earplugs.

    Still not sure about the warranty, but it looks good. Unfortunately most of the KTM dealers neglected to add service information to the ktmdealer.net central database, but I'm hounding them and they're responding.
  15. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    So sad! :2cry

    Thanks Bob, that was awesome. When I finally do get there, the beer is all on me.

    Jeff
  16. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=playa+del+carmen,+mexico&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.572881,68.642578&ie=UTF8&ll=20.817741,-87.506104&spn=2.474687,4.290161&z=8"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3050/3101519214_ba56138112.jpg"/></a>

    Playa del Carmen is a big party town, full of norteamericano tourists, fancy shops, restaurants, and expensive hotels. It's actually quite pretty but we only stayed one night, pushing on to Isla Mujeres the next day.

    Early in the afternoon, I agitated for a big party. Then I fell asleep early while Scott, Yael, and Nir went out barhopping. They came back at 3am and made grilled cheese sandwiches... and I never even woke up. I must be getting old.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060905425/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3288/3060905425_8a11e48004.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060915641/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3295/3060915641_5a81421de5.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Yael's photo</small>

    This must be the most boring Playa del Carmen story ever :snore
  17. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=isla+mujeres,+mexico&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=35.082817,68.642578&ie=UTF8&ll=21.051181,-87.41272&spn=1.291867,2.145081&z=9"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3181/3101610742_9de409ee70.jpg"/></a>

    Nir and I dropped our bikes off at our respective shops in Cancún (fortunately they were one block apart) and hopped on a ferry to Isla Mujeres. Despite being a mere hour's ferry ride from the land of gigantor hotels and package holidays, Isla Mujeres is a world apart. It has a quiet backpacker vibe, cute restaurants and bars, and no big hotels. There is only one bar open late - the bar at the Poc Na hostel - so everyone on the island knows where to go.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061773324/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3230/3061773324_68c2d4b904.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060934257/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3175/3060934257_679873fd7e.jpg"/></a>

    White sand beaches and blue waters! That is Cancún off in the distance:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060937175/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3154/3060937175_1f458e1bf9.jpg"/></a>

    The Lonely Planet describes the Poc Na as the "Club Med of hostels". It's true. The hostel is right on the beach and serves as the definitive the social center of the island. We spent a week there, getting to know some of the (other) Israelis that we had seen earlier in our travels.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061797918/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3291/3061797918_a9fd29ae3d.jpg"/></a>

    One day our gang rented scooters and terrorized the island:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061775230/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3209/3061775230_c0ab19010b.jpg"/></a>

    You can walk across Isla Mujeres the narrow direction in about two minutes. The long direction takes about thirty minutes away by scooter. Here's the southern tip, where the Spaniards found a small temple to the Mayan moon goddess. Thus the name of the island.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060940019/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3021/3060940019_02c34680d4.jpg"/></a>

    The rain kicked up so we ducked into a random resort-ish place towards the south end of the island.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scotthernandez/2965788470/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3034/2965788470_b7ec942ebf.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Scott's picture</small>

    When we tried to start the bikes again, only mine and Scott's (of the six) would start. Doh! The lame bikes were left behind for the rental company to pick up later.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/scotthernandez/2969954478/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3236/2969954478_99b2b1c8e6.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Scott's picture</small>

    Isla Mujeres was a good place to spend a week, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a laid-back but fun and social vacation. Flights to Cancún are usually the cheapest in Mexico. You can party, you can eat, you can hang out on the beach, you can windsurf or kitesurf or snorkel or dive. Unfortunately for us the weather was not cooperative; it wasn't quite too rough to dive but it was windy and rainy enough to dull our appetite for activity. I would love to go back and explore the reefs.
  18. Jamie Z

    Jamie Z Long timer

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    Would you believe I just read this whole report from the beginning?

    Jeff your storytelling and charisma are incredible. Nice pics too!

    I made a similar trip to yours last year and our experiences are quite different, except for your way with women. How you got the Mexican babes to go out I'll never know. I was stood up twice. :bite

    Like you, I thoroughly enjoyed Guatemala and Nicaragua. And though I enjoyed Costa Rica (I took classes at the University of Costa Rica--your pics brought back memories) I found it to be overrun with tourists and comparatively expensive, as did you. I didn't spend near enough time in El Salvador, only one night. And just like you, I spent less than a day in Belize. The $30 exit fee made me quite angry. We both took this picture:

    [​IMG]

    As well as several others. :1drink

    I also had trouble with my Garmin GPS, though not a Zumo. When I emailed Garmin to explain the symptoms and the GPS would no longer power up, the response I got was to turn it on and perform a reset. I found Garmin to be quite unhelpful until I actually showed up at their world headquarters in Kansas.

    You met up with a lot more people than I did, many more motorcyclists, a fair number more locals, and it amazes me how many of your friends from home met you along the way. Was that just by coincidence, or did they come down specifically to meet you?

    Your bankroll is clearly far more than mine on your trip, I spent just $25 per day, including lodging and gasoline. Your many pics of food and beer made me quite jealous. I ate lots of tortillas.

    In addition to all the Israeli travelers, did you meet any Belgians? Though not in proportion to Israelis, the tiny country of Belgium produces a huge number or young travelers through Latin America.

    Anyway, thanks for the report. It's a great piece or work. I'll be reading the rest as you post it.

    Jamie
  19. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    I started a separate thread about the unpleasant experience retrieving my motorcycle from the bike shop in Cancún. If you'd like the dirt (including the email exchange), take a look <a href="http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=416128">here</a>.
  20. stickfigure

    stickfigure Fiendish Fluoridator

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    <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=san+felipe,+yucatan,+mexico&sll=21.279137,-87.945557&sspn=2.579619,4.290161&ie=UTF8&ll=21.517601,-87.95105&spn=0.307257,0.716858&t=h&z=11"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3148/3103927744_0393e40642_o.jpg"/></a>

    This was a magical day.

    Nir and I made plans to reunite with Scott "somewhere west", then set out to explore the north coast of Yucatán state.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060975639/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3281/3060975639_4dd032e5bf.jpg"/></a>

    We reached the coast at El Cuyo, a small fishing village:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060978597/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3056/3060978597_ed8726df80.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069644382/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/3069644382_1bd10c8c73.jpg"/></a>

    From El Cuyo we rode west along the narrow stretch of sand you can see in the satellite photo. The rays of sun were even more vibrant in person:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061820796/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3037/3061820796_5eae24b6e7.jpg"/></a>

    The road became dirt:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3060990841/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3060/3060990841_da889f64a2.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069670732/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3152/3069670732_72f9c30be7.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061835794/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3016/3061835794_b9e65890ff.jpg"/></a>

    At times the bay covered the road:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061837782/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3229/3061837782_a107424074.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068846709/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3064/3068846709_2a37e0c816.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    Just wow:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068842759/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3293/3068842759_9a0fcb80d2.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061840304/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3173/3061840304_4eaa73a501.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068852593/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3253/3068852593_b85c9b006b.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    More two-track:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061842656/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3156/3061842656_bf1179ef93.jpg"/></a>

    Then the road opened up onto the pools of a gigantic <a href="http://www.isysa.com.mx/facility.htm">industrial salt mining operation</a>. You can see them on the satellite map.

    Instead of riding along the edge, we rode out along the burms that separated the ponds.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061003679/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3206/3061003679_6e1efb1957.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061014879/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3162/3061014879_7a4d1d7328.jpg"/></a>

    The ponds were full of flamingoes!!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069696420/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3166/3069696420_69920fcd76.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    We rode out into the middle of nowhere, giant pools of brine on both sides:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068862471/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3242/3068862471_d7a9a7c263.jpg"/></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068867935/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3222/3068867935_161d32ec3e.jpg"/></a>

    The sun was setting:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068872649/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3254/3068872649_90eb5af1f8.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069710760/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3157/3069710760_2ee5ec5dfd.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    Some of these shots should be used as KLR ads:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069716496/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3207/3069716496_f858afdaa5.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068883911/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3243/3068883911_77b2d2a1fb.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    The wind was picking up. Salt foam started collecting along the paths:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061019647/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3247/3061019647_f7f8ef4c2e.jpg"/></a>

    We stumbled across a huge mass of it that looked like a snowdrift:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3069728856/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3207/3069728856_9a9e79f0b9.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    I rode around:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3068893751/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3170/3068893751_77a55639a2.jpg"/></a>
    <small>Nir's photo</small>

    Nir rode THROUGH:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061863142/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3205/3061863142_c13cc83e9d.jpg"/></a>

    No, it really isn't snow!

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061865194/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3031/3061865194_dcfa619fa9.jpg"/></a>

    Hmmmmm, maybe it wasn't such a good idea after all...

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3061029079/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3244/3061029079_0363ce1ace.jpg"/></a>

    We rolled into San Felipe after dark. The first thing we did was hose off the bikes - the salt foam had already hardened into a solid chalky texture. The town itself was the perfect end to a magical day - a cute, sleepy fishing village with a clean, beautiful beach and a single hotel right on the waterfront. It might be the most picturesque town I found along the entire Gulf coast. Predictably, the fish was excellent.

    The view out the window in the morning:

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/lhoriman/3082866913/"><img src="http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3004/3082866913_46237c76f4.jpg"/></a>

    This day captured the essence of what I love about riding. I wanted to take a picture almost every 50 feet.