The Adventures of LoneStar & The Iron Butterfly...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by LoneStar, Jun 22, 2016.

  1. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Honestly, I stayed away from Mexico for almost 20 years after I got the worst stomach bug I've ever had in my life about 1980 in the Yucatan. When I finally got enough guts (pun intended) to cross the border again, I didn't care if I got shot or machete'd as long as I didn't get sick again. Course I've never been shot or machete'd, so I might change my mind on that...

    We knew it would be statistically impossible not to get sick on a 3 month trip, so I guess twice was pretty good :D

    Absolutely YES, the travel will continue - South America has been my quest and hopefully soon, though not sure when and what form.
    Ushuaia needs to be reached by February +/- so the window for South America is approaching quickly. My mother has stabilized and made improvements (thankfully! and thanks for the prayers) so we'll see. May have to skip Central America and ship from Houston to Colombia then catch Panama and the other countries on the way back up.

    That said, I have been working on my dance moves in the garage, just in case...
  2. SpiritAtBay

    SpiritAtBay Been here awhile

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    Great update. Lordy, what misery to be overheated, exhausted AND sick. Whew.
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  3. Buckee

    Buckee Scott

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    In a few years, after a few beers, you'll speak about the stomach bugs with the same reverence as the high twisty roads and gracious people you met. It takes all the stuff to make the adventure.

    But I am clearly preaching to the choir here. Be safe & carry on!
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  4. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    :photog:beer
  5. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    The next day we awoke after 14 hours of sleep, stomachs still iffy... amongst other things. The day was spent recovering and resting. The hotel was perfect though it whacked the budget, but it felt so good to have a great place to stay after so many challenging ones.


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    Midday we had to move our gear to another room, but felt good enough to wander out and take in San Cristobal de Las Casas in it's sunlit glory. It was yet another beautiful Mexican town, the same but different if you know what I mean. It was a clean place with its own set of colors and building designs, surrounded by mountainous terrain and great walking streets.

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    The main square was filled with native Indians selling blankets, wraps and various other things. Most of the women wore skirts made of black lamb’s wool with tufts pulled loose. The effect looked exactly like cheap, fake black fur from the fabric store in the U.S., but I convinced Kim it wasn’t. It didn’t take long to find out they wanted no part of being in pictures, so I tried to be as surreptitious as possible with the camera, but I got plenty of angry stares. They apparently have eyes in the back of their heads as well.


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    The town was a great mix of Indian culture, Spanish architecture and a modern Euro-hippie funkiness, replete with many coffee shops, art and funky shops. There were a lot of street musicians as well. The town definitely had a great vibe.


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    We found several churches and squares to explore, stopping for a while to watch a children’s program put on for poor children in front of a church. It was fun watching the kids just excited to be getting prizes - pretty heart tugging I’ll say.

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    Surprisingly, the town had almost no street food vendors, quite a change from most of the towns we’d been in, so it took exploring the depths of the side streets and the rambling mercado to find food. I wondered if somehow the city had decided to limit food on the street in order to drive business to the myriad street cafes and restaurants.


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    That evening we had some pizza on a sidewalk cafe, sharing tables with some European folks. Down the street we heard great music, and after a while the musicians, playing African drums and jazz mix parked across from us and performed.

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    Folks wandered past and dove in with crazy dances. We had fun watching the spectacle and tossed some pesos in the hat.

    Selfie Dance



    Dammit! She stole my moves




    It was after dark and on the way back we found an "EZLN" souvenir shop. For those who aren’t aware, the EZLN are a local rebel army that had formed in anger after years of the region being ignored by the Mexican government. They invaded and took over the town of San Cristobal for a few days until the Mexican army drove them out. A guerrilla war ensued until a shaky peace came when the government backed off and allowed the area of the rebels to be somewhat self-governing. There are a great number of people who support the cause in the area. The EZLN are known to set up roadblocks throughout the countryside and charge “tolls” for people to pass. They are famous for the black masks they wear. Anyways, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to slather a few EZLN stickers on the bikes in the hopes they’d give us a break on the “fees” charged at any roadblocks. It couldn’t hurt right? Unless of course we had to stop at Mexican army checkpoints which are frequent. But whacha gonna do??? I left with a handful of cheap homemade stickers printed on somebody’s inkjet printer and felt much safer...

    The activity picked up as the night got later. We found a doorway to sit in and watch the vendors spreading their wares on the streets, selfie sticks, cell phone accessories, jewelry and the ubiquitous indigenous wraps, tops and blankets. It was fascinating watching the interchange and exchange of goods as natives traded between themselves, one family inspecting the colors and fabrics, before agreeing to swap goods - three of these wraps for two of that pattern and such.

    As we wandered back towards the main square, a fireworks show over the plaza was our entertainment until it finished and the sound of Led Zeppelin came to our ears. Walking into the main plaza a cover band was rocking the 70’s classics, including the best Janis Joplin cover I’ve ever heard. We listened to some great music while I did my best white-man head bob.

    Kim noticed some people across the street staring up in the night sky, and we turned to see what they were looking at. We looked up and saw a clear crescent moon, several pin sharp stars, and in the midst of them, a small, cloudy, soft, glowing cluster, almost as if seeing a galaxy. It was bluish green and moving slowly. Around this glowing mass were groups of sharp white lights, circling slowly and moving towards the colored mass.
    The individual lights eventually disappeared but the gaseous aura moved slowly across the sky. I pulled out the telephoto and was able to focus on the stars at infinity, but the mass was soft, and changed color from green to blue. Around it were other small orbiting clouds which changed color as well. I tried taking some shots but the camera reading the black sky went wonky and locked up in long exposures.

    I handed the camera to Kim so that she could see through the lens using the manual focus magnifier to try to bring the heavenly apparition a bit closer, but it just was too difficult. I noticed several groups of the Indian women who sell blankets and such, all staring as well. One woman looked at me as if to say "Are you seeing it?" then she and her children continued to watch it moving across the sky.

    When it was finally far away, I looked back at the Indian woman and said "la luz?" She said something to me as she turned away with her stacks of blankets, children and mother, of which all I heard was "Este es porque...", which means "This is because…” Wish I could have heard the rest of her statement.

    I've never seen anything like it. Kim is the ultimate skeptic, but she turned and said “I was not a believer in any of this crap until tonight”. I hesitate to call it a UFO, as I would classify it as a “sign in the sky” type deal. Our minds were well blown. All I can say is, anything that can make Indian women stop selling stuff for 10 minutes straight, must be pretty special.

    That night we slept well, having been informed all the hotel rooms had been reserved previously, and we’d need to find another accommodation. The strange phenomenon we'd seen in the sky swirled slowly in my mind as the darkness of sleep came.
  6. yamalama

    yamalama wet coaster

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    gorgeous pics, as always!
    upon reflection, what do you think you witnessed in the night sky?
    it certainly has the potential to change one's perspective, no?
    LoneStar likes this.
  7. Hootowl

    Hootowl Long timer

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    "It didn’t take long to find out they wanted no part of being in pictures, so I tried to be as surreptitious as possible with the camera, but I got plenty of angry stares."

    Joseph;
    The locals were angry because they expect payment for having their photo taken.
    A 10 peso coin or note will reverse the anger and provide the opportunity for proper picture taking.
    I was reluctant at first to pay but the cost is low and I was missing too many interesting portraits.
    Richard
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  8. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    [​IMG]

    The next morning we moved to an old hotel, parking the bikes in the quiet, central courtyard, trashing the room with all our gear and then coming out to find a camo wrapped F800GS parked next to our bikes. We never saw the rider but, but Mexico has been loaded with BMW 650 singles and all the twin variants including plenty of 800’s. Occasionally we’ve seen a 1200 on the tollways passing the other way with a wave but it’s been rare. Other than our friends Fanda & Kaschka and Tibor & Anna, we’ve only seen one other couple traveling - they were in Puebla but we couldn’t coordinate swinging around to meet them. The only other riders were three guys on the Devil’s Backbone outside Mazatlan.

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    We grabbed a quiet lunch on a side street and wandered towards the square.

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    As with all things Mexico, a religious festival parade broke out on the streets, replete with religious icons and children, clowns and demons. True to biblical tradition, it also included Jim Carey’s Grinch, space aliens, drum bands, disco dancers, werewolves and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I knew the Catholic Bible differed from the Protestant, but dude… :D


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    BTW, I found out that anti-gringo-photographer feelings are officially removed when a party's on :D They flock to you and pose with big smiles


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    The fiesta stopped for a lunch break at the main plaza, then continued on with a little less enthusiasm as the tortas, tamales and heat sank in.

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    A couple of transvestites joined the mix for a little spice, one of them doing a shakedown dance on the guy next to me - I think he regretted his decision to wave at the tranny.




    Throw in some space zombies and anything else you can think of, including beer drinking cowboys at the end and you’ve got yourself a religious parade, but hell, it’s Mexico.


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    The parade continued on for distant parts of the city, the sound of the bands, explosions and general hubbub continuing as the noise slowly drifted away.



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    We wandered as the afternoon passed, exploring, walking and sitting on the curb people watching until late in the golden hour.


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    A couple of days earlier, I'd received a text from family that my mother was not doing well and did not appear to have much time left. The doctor had prescribed some heavy antibiotics and advised waiting three days to see if they would have an effect. We’d planned to leave for Guatemala in a couple of days, but had, obviously, decided to wait it out. If she improved we would continue slowly into Guatemala and if not we’d head back for Texas.

    We'd decided to find a place higher in the mountains after being in the city center and located an AirBNB host with a great cabin on a hillside overlooking the city. We moved again, her cabin absolutely awesome, replete with deck, fireplace and funky designs. It was new construction with high energy efficiency and artistic design. The place cost her a measly $250 US per month which included all utilities, internet and cable. Sheesh!

    In conversation that evening, our host had been a mortgage banker who’d had enough of the U.S. after the crash in 2008, and decided to find a life of freedom. It started a time of travel and searching, ending up in San Cristobal. I asked how she made money to live… turns out she traveled to California each year, working on a pot farm near Humboldt for a couple of months. She earns enough to live a year or longer in Mexico and put money away for travel.

    When she first told us, I thought she meant a pot farm in Chiapas, and breathed a sigh of relief when she said Humboldt, CA. She warned us of the occasional EZLN blockades, but said they were generally not bad situations, also warning us that the teachers in the region had a strong union and their own blockades and protests, occasionally taking over the tollways. Sometimes they let all the traffic go through free, to hurt the government's income, and sometimes they charged tolls to build their own treasuries. It sounded like the region of Chiapas was an interesting place to live and she confirmed that the area was considered pretty “independent".

    I asked about the nearby indigenous town of San Juan Chamula, response being we should go with a guide, not that it would be dangerous, but that they were a self governing city and known to have their own laws, executing criminals and dealing with crimes in their own way. The Catholic church there had been taken over by the local indigenous people and now is a place of tribal rituals and hearings, exorcisms and such from the medicine men. There are some gruesome rumors about things that happen to folks who anger the tribe. A guided tour sounded good, as I figured the one time in my life I would accidentally run over someone on my GS it would be there and I’d be flayed alive. Plans were made for the next day.

    It was not to happen, as early the next morning I received a text that my mother had significantly worsened. The decision to return was cast. Kim and I faced an almost 2000 mile run back to Dallas, throwing on all our gear and packing quickly to get on the road. I told Kim we’d just go as far as we could each day and see what happened.

    What happened was, that as we approached Tuxtla Gutierrez from San Cristobal, there was a major traffic jam on the tollway. Cars were stopped and parked everywhere. As we weaseled our way to the front, I saw crowds of protestors all around the toll booths waving signs and such. No cars were entering the booths, so I crept up slowly not knowing what the response would be since no cars were coming through...

    Instead of being shaken down, we were greeted by friendly, smiling teachers, handing us flyers and waving us through with grins, shouts and thumb up's. We’d just encountered our first tollway takeover, having just heard of them the night before. We motored slowly past parked cars and pedestrians heading for the toll booths, a mile or two into Tuxtla-Gutierrez, memories of the hellish stop-and-go, 106º day there fresh in our minds.





    As we got further into town, we encountered additional roadblocks and could see streets blocked in different directions. We couldn't waste time with so many miles ahead of us, and decided to take advantage of the chaos. We rode directly around barricades and into the midst of the crowds, people looking at us incredulously and a bit confused. One half-mile long blocked road was cleaned by passing through the crowds and spectators, intimidating the folks with the size of the GS's. No one was aggressive, but they weren't happy either after the shock of us busting their lines wore off.

    At the end of one stretch, there were policemen across a busy highway, watching us pull out of the crowd. I didn’t know what they’d do, since it appeared we were part of the protestors. As I sat waiting and Kim rolled up, the police started walking out into traffic toward us and I hesitated. Then they stopped traffic, gave us big waves and smiles, letting us into the the traffic flow. They didn't seem too worried about the whole scene and I guess it was frequent enough no one cared much. Hey, it’s Mexico.

    We finally broke free of the town and faced the long road ahead, passing through jungle terrain and mountains toward Coatzacoalcos in Vera Cruz on the coast. The heat and humidity rose as we rolled along as fast as possible. By the time we reached Cordoba and the beautiful mountain passes around it, we were feeling the day but decided to push on for Puebla. It was dark when we finally arrived and stayed with a previous host. We’d made 600 miles or so despite all the delays.





    Early the next morning, we reluctantly gassed up and ate some junk food for breakfast, unsure where we would end up for the evening. The choice was to continue north in the familiar direction of Saltillo and then Laredo, or try a new route along the eastern edge and a crossing at Reynosa. Eventually we decided to go for Saltillo, since we knew the route. The decision proved to be correct, as by chance the same day there apparently was a gun battle and vehicle blown up by the cartel in Reynosa near the bridge. It was a long, hard day to make Saltillo, but we did it, only to find the hotels booked. After an hour or so of searching we found a pricey place and crashed for the night.

    The next day would bring Nuevo Laredo, leaving early and passing through the cold, windy, foggy pass west of Monterrey before entering the long endlessly flat stretch for the U.S. At the turnoff for Colombia International Bridge, we headed north to bypass the massive traffic jams at the Laredo bridge. Colombia is about 30 miles north of Laredo and adds an hour of ride time to go up and back to down to I-35, but generally it has far less bridge traffic. We arrived and canceled our motorcycle import permits, complicated by the fact my deposit had been made on the credit card that was stolen and replaced.

    A few minutes in the Aduana, my Gomer Pyle impressions and much arm waving to explain that the $400 vehicle deposit refund needed to go onto a new card, was easily accomplished, with a few xerox copies and pesos added. A few more minutes getting our visas canceled and we were on the way across the bridge. I wondered aloud to Kim if they’d want to search us since we’d been in Mexico for three months. There were ZERO cars in the line, the US Border Patrol Agents were almost friendly, definitely bored, checking the passports and asking a couple of questions, then smiling and waving us through with no problems. It felt weird as hell to be back in the U.S., not that I don’t love it, just the awareness of control you feel versus the feel of Mexico.

    An hour or so later we rolled into Dilley to see Motohank on the way through, grab our tent bag we’d given him in Teotihuacan to keep for us, grabbed some lunch with him and headed for San Antonio. We decided to be “smart" since it was already the afternoon and to avoid the hell traffic around Austin, swung way out east on I-10 to catch the 130 tollway north.

    All was well, other than the toll charges clicking up, until we got within the vicinity of Austin, hitting a massive traffic jam. W.T.F.!
    We were beat, it was hot, hot, hot and we had a long ways to go. After sitting in the heat and looking at the wide gaps between the miles of vehicles, as well as a sexy, wide, blacktop shoulder, Kim reverted to her Mexico training and took off down the edge. I told her it was a bad idea and we might get shot since we were back in Texas but I had to follow along. We made it a half mile until I saw the head of a motorcycle cop over the railing of an overhead ramp, rolling down to merge into the traffic jam. I whipped into the edge of a lane as much as I could, but Kim was too far ahead and didn’t see him. I knew the jig was up and moved beside her, to the sound of a siren behind us - and I’m sure the cheers of folks in their cars as they put away their guns.

    The Texas Highway Patrol motorcycle officer rolled up slightly behind us - I didn’t even know DPS mc cops existed - and began yelling at us. We had slowed to the point of severe wheel wobble and he wobbled along with us as I shouted in my best Gomer Pyle and idiot smile “We’re sorry! We’ve been in Mexico and forgot!” He grouchily yelled back “Get in line and sit in the traffic. It sucks but we all have to.” Whew what a relief Goob!

    To my consternation however, he pulled right behind me in the stop and go traffic. Though I was happy we didn’t get a ticket, my license plate had expired a couple of months earlier (it’s a long story) and now, a cop who didn’t like us was literally right behind me. For miles. And miles. I wandered back and forth in the lane in the hopes of distracting him. I tried to subtly change lanes, and no matter what I did he ended up right behind me. For a moment he pulled into the lane adjacent and rolled up beside Kim. She asked him something loudly and he got distracted just a bit too long, almost running into the car in front of him. He got flustered and embarrassed, and took off ahead a few car lengths. We kept our pace behind him all the way to the I-35 merge where he finally turned off... amazingly, two tickets averted and noted on the first day back in the USA.

    It was full on dark by the time we got back on I-35. The exhaustion caught us both, kicking us harder by riding the highway in the dark, surrounded by semi’s and redneck diesel pickups, but pushed on. We reached Dallas around midnight, numb from our 17 hour day, crossing borders, with heat, traffic jams, stress and two previous 600 mile days. Our three month Mexican journey had ended…
  9. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    And BTW, don't piss me off or I'll post EVEN MORE parade pictures...
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  10. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Yeah, I've seen and had some encounters in life I don't know how to explain or quantify, but that sign in the night sky was absolutely undeniable. Witnessed by so many for so long. I've analyzed it a thousand times in my head and can't deny it or explain it.

    The mass was transparent and changing shape. It was soft and glowing and the stars around it that night were crisp and clear, as was the moon and a planet or two. Not a cloud in the sky and the stars were crystal clear and pin sharp. There were several stars in the sky and somewhat near. As we all watched, several were moving slowly towards the mass, slowly enough that if you glanced you'd think they were stationary. From different locations and distances, several - maybe 8 or 12 - moved towards the blue glow and then as they got very close slowly began a spiral pattern around the hazy swirl that looked like a pic of a swirling galaxy. Kim doesn't - or didn't - believe in any shenanigans until then. It moved across the sky very very slowly - nothing like the speed of a satellite, jet etc. She looked at me and we both were like "Wow". I was able to use the 55-210 zoom (roughly 315mm equiv) to try and view it better by using the manual focus on the lens which pops up a highly magnified image. Unfortunately the lens is so slow, and the magnified area is simply screen magnification, that it was really difficult to see much. However it was enough to see other smaller orbs circling the larger one, changing from blue into aqua and then pale green. Crazy cool.

    I would love to have heard and understood what the indigenous lady was saying it was in relation to



    Si! I was quoted 100 pesos lol - they figured it was worth a shot to try for a 100 :D
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  11. asphaltsurfer1

    asphaltsurfer1 CatManDew

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    LOL. I like the parade. Great pics and stories as always J. I like the Scully and Mulder experience. Can't say I've ever seen anything like that. Closest I might come is I'm thinking of riding to KS for the Solar eclipse in August. In Mexico it certainly can't be explained away as swamp gas. Glad you and K only had two stomach issues during the trip. I owe you another cup of coffee for chapter 3.:)
    LoneStar likes this.
  12. Ken0312

    Ken0312 Adventurer

    Joined:
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    McKinney, Texas
    Your pictures are truly stunning and I'm sorry about your Mom. I'm not sure what your needs are here in Dallas, but I wanted to let you know that I live in McKinney (north Dallas). I have a garage, some tools (I also have the big GS) and accommodations if you need anything, just let me know. Ken
  13. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Ken I really appreciate the offer man! We're good as we both have family here and some basic stuff we need.
    Thanks again
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  14. 230Rocket

    230Rocket Adventurer

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    Fabulous people pictures Joseph, utterly beautiful, perfectly put together, you are a master.

    Cheers
    Dean
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  15. Merfman

    Merfman Cape truster... Supporter

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    I was going to make the same comment, I'm jealous, very nice work!
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  16. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

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    Thanks guys I appreciate it!

    Camera Thoughts:
    I've been happy overall with the Sony A6000 kit for street and travel work, with caveats. It's got some frustrations and flaws but I can't complain too much. Fuji is my preference for IQ, but the Sony fits in smaller spaces, such as my low profile tank bag.

    For the Alaska segment of the trip I used the Lumix GM5 with two kit zooms and a 45mm fast prime. An absolutely great little travel kit that I dearly love. I found it slower in use for fast shooting, especially people. I missed a few shots I'd loved to have captured. It's perfect for landscape and travel but when shooting people it's a bit slower than I'd like just due to the small viewfinder and autofocus points. Not knocking it as it's just an awesome little travel system.

    For Mexico, Central and South America, I wanted a faster "people" system. I took 2 Sony A6000 bodies with 5 lenses - 16-70 Zeiss, 55-210 Sony, 55 1.8 Zeiss, 30mm Sigma 1.4 and 12mm Rokinon. Two bodies were chosen, mainly for a backup on such a long trip, but also to carry a second mounted lens for shooting. I've added the new Sony 85 1.8 for the next segment, and it's amazing 2 bodies and 6 lenses fit in the 3" x 10" x 12" leather bag I had made in Guanajuato. That's a complete pro location system! Sheesh.

    In Use:
    On the bike, my tank bag has one body with 16-70 zoom attached, 55-210 lens and batteries. The two zooms give a range of 24mm to 315mm equivalent for any situation I come upon. The leather bag with second body and other lenses reside in the locked top case. Besides the obvious inability to carry all the kit in the tank bag, having a split system leaves me some gear in case the tank bag kit gets stolen.

    On the streets, I carry a body w 16-70 over my shoulder and tucked under my arm. The 55-210 in a cargo pants pocket on short walkies. On exploration days, I carry the entire kit in the leather bag, both bodies with lenses mounted.

    16-70, 55-210 and 55 1.8 are mainstays. Least used are the 30 1.4 and 12mm 2, both of which are razor sharp btw - as are the 16-70 and 55 1.8. The Sony 55-210 is a mixed bag - sometimes very sharp at some length/aperture combos and at other times just average. I've never figured out the "sweet spots" of the lens, but the size and range are perfect for travel. All other E-mount zooms in a similar focal range are massively larger.
    I suspect that the 85 1.8 and 16-70 will be my main walkabout lenses.

    I've never found the perfect system or way to carry, so it's a variation of all the above - sometimes all in the bag, sometimes just a body and lens, lenses in pockets, etc.

    Other Options:
    I think a high end pocket camera such as the Lumix LX series, Sony RX100 and similar in a coat pocket is a great way to go and would allow one to dismiss a tank bag completely. All my old ride reports were done exclusively with the LX3, LX5 and LX7 series, but the short zoom range was frustrating. For any trips less than this one, I'd be perfectly fine with the GM5 or a pocket camera as mentioned.


    A6000 six lens kit w 12" wide bag vs GM5 four lens kit in 6" wide bag...
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    Images captured with the GM5 system are as good as with the Sony, save the 16 mp vs 24 mp image size. The quicker autofocus and larger viewfinder of the Sony are pluses.

    I'd love to have the GM5 and the two primes with me to complement the Sony. The GM5 and a couple of lenses are easy to slip in a pocket, and so small they don't draw any attention. But then again, if I had the room I'd also like to carry a drone. And an Italian espresso machine.
  17. woody250xc

    woody250xc n00b

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    Location:
    Wichita Falls, TX
    I hope all is well! any updates?
    roadcapDen likes this.
  18. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,242
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Hey Woody - about to update on upcoming adventure :D
  19. freewaystreak

    freewaystreak Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    El Paso, Texas
    Yahoo! Lonestar rides!

    Sent from my SM-N910P using Tapatalk
  20. LoneStar

    LoneStar WhoopDeDoofus Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2006
    Oddometer:
    2,242
    Location:
    Texas, Zip Code EIEIO
    Well, the last 3 months have been a bit traumatic and exhausting. A LOT has happened and it feels like a year has passed. My mother improved significantly, but another family member had a major health crisis. Life's been in limbo. In the interim, The Butterfly snagged a good job and will be staying in Texas. We'd agreed the Mexico leg would be definite, but afterwards unknown, so the timing of having to return was good in that aspect. She's well set up.

    The confluence of the two issues in life have met - time and money - and the delay has put me in a serious "go now or go never" situation. The time window for Ushuaia is closing and if I don't take it, I'll have another year to kill. My budget has dwindled in this waiting game to where if I delay any longer, I won't be able to head south. Thus, the difficult decision to "GO" has been made and I will be heading south solo in a week.

    I've debated whether to ride back through Central America in the rainy season, or ship RORO from Galveston to Colombia. Getting information on shippers, costs and such has been very difficult, and the few shippers who actually responded seem to have spotty reputation issues...

    Bottom line is that the pre-delivery to the port, unsolid shipping dates and delays, vague rates and airfare costs made what seemed like a good idea at the time less inviting and heading back for Central America on the bike more attractive. I'd rather be seeing new terrain in the heat and rain than risk waiting in Texas for a month or longer.

    Since this leg will be solo, I've been repacking and rethinking gear to get it all down to one bike. It was much easier carrying spares with 2 bikes, but now it ain't gonna happen. I've whittled it down once again, and am still bringing some BS I'll probably toss on the road. Each time there's a system change it takes a while to figure out what works and I need to bring some options to edit as I go.

    Several things have been rethought, including stove and some camping gear, adding and deleting tools, and the ever entangling digital cords, chargers and foofooraw for computer, camera and other electronics. Being a photoho, the cameras, backup drives and a laptop are essentials.

    The "waiting in limbo game" has worn my ass out, and not knowing each day whether to stay or go has burned through cash I couldn't afford to lose. Its been in the last week or so that prepping has begun again, and the process of trying to think of all that's needed for the trek south. The basic gear doesn't change, but the extremes require some thought, hard decisions about spare parts, backup and such have to be made. Some things can be bought along the way, but the three months in Mexico proved the task of finding things can be challenging so I'd rather buy now and toss later.

    In the midst, the middle-of-the-night panics hit and you think "Oh my God, I need to bring the inflatable raft and that electric donkey biting dog polisher I saw at Bass Pro!! Jeezus how I could be so stupid to forget that?!?!" And the next day wonder what the hell I was thinking...

    Aside from my tent, everything fits into my 3 cases and I'm happy with that.

    It will be a real relief to get moving and dealing with daily travel issues instead of all the "What if's"... my brain and nerves are fried.
    I've not had the time to do any real planning for the countries ahead, and will have to do so from the road. I have little idea of what lies ahead other than reports of rain and heat. I'd like to hit Colombia at the end of September at the latest if possible, and then slow down a bit once on the continent.

    Though Ushuaia is my goal, honestly, with the way things have been, I'd rather just say I'm "heading south" and leave it at that :lol3


    Anyway, packing is mostly done and wanted to show what gets taken. YMMV.
    Right now there's more crap than I desire but again, once my system comes together I'll toss some things.

    I've found that organizing and packing smaller containers allows a lot of flexibility, more so than large items, and I do find the need to shift things around at times. The downside of carrying small container items means there's lots of little sh*t to deal with when digging around for stuff... I also tend to isolate items and pack them in padding, since I've seen a lot of stuff go south from vibration in the cases and that's always a concern.

    It's much easier to pack thin, rectangular items that can be pulled out like files from a file cabinet. Round things waste a lot of space, such as a sleeping bag, and I've found some stuff sacks that attempt to make them a bit more rectangular.


    Left Case - Primarily Tools
    [​IMG]

    1 - Paperz - title, etc

    2 - Guija Roji Mexico (map book)

    3 - Carry strap for cases

    4 - Spare Parts, Electrical, Grease, etc

    5 - (3) Oil Filters

    6 - Final Drive fluid

    7 - Oil 1/2 qt for top offs

    8 - 60 ml syringe and hose

    9 - Sleep bag 30º - sleep in layers if colder

    10 - Tire Irons

    11 - Camp hatchet - used more than you'd think

    12 - Tool Roll

    13 - GS-911, Spare parts, tent repair tape, lots o’ misc

    14 - Air Filter

    15 - FD seals, duct tape, etc

    16 - Digital Torque Adapter

    17 - Zip ties, misc Foto Clamps

    18 - Ultra Light Tripod Rig

    19 - Fuel Line, Silicone tubing, Brake pads

    20 - Camp Knife

    21 - Tire gauge

    22 - Metric Screws

    23 - Small parts

    24 - Silicon compression bands for packing

    25 - Secret photo item

    26 - Rim Protectors

    27 - Camp rope

    28 - Guess

    29 - Straps

    30 - Misc Photo doohickeys

    31 - Invisible AR-15 and 200 rds of armor piercing .223



    Right Case - Primarily Clothing
    [​IMG]
    1 Fleece Jacket

    2 Backup drives and cords, etc

    3 MacBook Charger, USB battery packs, etc

    4 UE Roll speaker - great sound in a bluetooth waterproof package

    5 12” MacBook

    6 Titanium Cook Set and Alcohol Stove, utensils and Silicon hot pad

    7 Pack Towel

    8 Shirts and Pants

    9 Hiking Sandals - my shoes are way too big to carry. Sandals compress

    10 Klymit Pillow

    11 Sea to Summit Pillow

    12 Sawyer Water filter and Steripen (for viruses)

    13 Spare Sawyer, electric water coil, misc

    14 Klymit sleep pad

    15 Underwear and Cold Weather layers

    16 Sox

    17 Meds, antibiotics

    18 Toiletries



    Top Case
    [​IMG]

    1 Camera Street Bag w 2 bodies and 6 lenses

    2 SAE, USB adapters etc

    3 Heated jacket liner

    4 Cards and decals

    5 GoPro Kit

    6 Nalgene bottle - tough as nails

    7 Rain pants

    8 Pocket Camera

    9 Etymotic earbuds

    10 Sunglasses

    11 Pencil light

    12 Rain jacket and Rain covers for Gloves - jacket doubles duty - for off bike wear and large enough to fit over riding jacket if needed

    13 On Bike Charging cables and helmet lock cable

    14 Neck Gaiter

    15 Folding cap

    16 Spare gloves

    17 Mtn HardWear glove liners

    18 Bike Cover - helps keep feely fingers off bike when parked outside at night



    Tank Bag and Duffle
    [​IMG]
    1 Camera, Peso pouch, note pad, head lamp, misc

    2 Tent, stakes, groundcloth, poles etc

    3 PacSafe Mesh - large enough to cover duffle, jacket and boots when off bike


    Touratech Tool Box (not pictured):
    MotoPump

    Tire plugs and patches

    (2) MC Tie downs


    Happy to answer specific questions about gear...
    RickCO, Allucaneat, arghhh and 9 others like this.