The start of an addiction; 176 days solo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by EvanJ, Sep 16, 2020.

  1. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    This will be a report of a trip taken from July 20 2019, to March 23 2020, from Minnesota up to the Northwest Territories, Alaska, then down the west coast to the end of Baja.

    I only rode solo from 9/23 to 3/18 so I will focus mostly on that , but I will also include a little bit of info and a few pictures from July-Sep, as there was lots of riding and some great pics. Hopefully this falls within forum rules.

    I didnt keep a journal, or post regularly anywhere during the trip. I’m now bed-ridden from a work related injury, so now is the time to share I guess. I will be recalling this based on memory from the Iphone 5s pictures I took.

    Also, there won’t be much info in terms of route taken throughout the various places.

    So, let us begin.
    #1
  2. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    4/16/19 I buy my first bike.

    I’m 25 years old, I live in Minnesota, and I am working self-employed in construction.

    I had the week off work, so naturally I decided to browse craigslist. I thought to myself: “Hmm, never looked at motorcycles before. Snow is just melted and I have a job coming up real close to my house. I wonder what I can get a good bike for?”

    I came across a 2012 Yamaha XT250 that had been posted about 3 hours prior that same day. After some brief internet searching, I determined it was a great bike from all reports and contacted the owner to set up a time to look at it.

    I met the owner a couple days later, he started it up and drove it around to show me that it ran and shifted. I told him I wanted it but I would have to come back in a couple days with a friend who knew how to ride so I could pick it up. He in turn offered to just trailer it to my house that say day. I said sure, sounds great, and handed him $2700.

    Got the bike back to my house and started it up. I understood the mechanics of how to ride, so I tried just puttin around my front yard to get the hang of the clutch and what not. I killed it about 6 times trying to get into first gear, and then after that never had a problem.

    The bike is all stock besides handguards, and about 1k miles on the clock. Basically a brand new bike, always garage kept and runs great. Look at how clean she looks!

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    It will turn into the best impulse buy I have ever made.
    #2
  3. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    6/15/19

    The last couple months my mom has been asking me if I want to go to Alaska for 6-8 weeks with her starting in July.

    I have a job, and a girlfriend, but I have also been living a semi nomadic lifestyle the last couple of years as a professional musician on the road, and this is the longest stretch I’ve ever been in MN without taking a trip in my adult life (about 11 months). I am beyond itching for an adventure, and am looking for any reason to throw it all in the bin and head in any direction for anything.

    Sometime around the 2nd week in June I finally give in and commit. I tell my mom that I will go if I can bring the bike, and she agrees.

    It is also around this time that I come across ADVrider and learn about other people traveling by moto. I think to myself “Well, I can do that.” and start outfitting the bike, researching and buying gear, and practicing my riding skills on the street when weather and time allows. This is also when I first learn about the riding opportunities in Baja, and determine that I want to ride from the north all the way to La Paz in Baja California Sur. More on that later…
    #3
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  4. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    7/20/2019

    Quit my job: Check
    Left my girlfriend: Check (She didn’t love me anyways)
    Haphazardly distributed my belongings among friends and relatives all over the Minneapolis metro area as fast as possible? Check

    Been spending tons of time the last 5 weeks getting the bike ready, ordering various shit online, seeing a couple friends, etc etc. Don’t have as much money as I would have liked left over for traveling, but I am used to living poor on road (musician) so that’s not a show stopper.

    Everything is all packed and shoved into the van, bike on the hitch carrier, and heading north.
    #4
  5. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    August 2019

    Blah blah blah canada, something something freeway…

    Now we’re to the Alaska highway in BC and the fun begins.
    A cool river camp spot.
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    None of use knew anything about the NWT until we got to BC and kept seeing awesome pamphlets and shit about it, so we decide to take a brief 7-12 day detour to Yellowknife and back. Pretty impressive place.

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    After the foray into NWT we’re back to the AK highway in BC. Starting to be really blown away.


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    Into the Yukon, a little off the beaten path. Getting some fun riding in compared to the long open mostly flat NWT roads.

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    #5
  6. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    August 2019 Part 2

    Crossed high into AK and headed up the Dalton highway.
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    Back and cleaned up in Fairbanks.

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    Ended August with a couple days in Denali

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    #6
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  7. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    September 2019

    Starting to test out my side bags and getting used to some weight on the end of the bike. Hatcher Pass + somewhere outside Valdez.

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    Fishing anywhere besides AK is a joke. Pretty stoked about my fish. I’m 6’ tall for reference…

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    Road from Valdez.

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    Headed south on Cassiar highway. A bunch of side trails above the salmon glacier made for a couple good pics.

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    #7
  8. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    September 2019 part 2

    Crossed into WA. Cascades are some of my favorite mountains.

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    Split ways with the van, now on my own in Seattle. Stayed with some friends for a couple of days. Ordered a new helmet to their place and some other miscellaneous items.


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    Bring your bike to your friends work, day!


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    It was my birthday on the 29th, and was glad to spend it away from home. Feeling like I’m in the right place doing the right thing.

    Ready to roll from seattle solo, headed to the peninsula. My only goal at this point is to never pay for a place to stay throughout my trip.

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    #8
  9. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2016
    Oddometer:
    512
    Location:
    CANADA-100 ft N of International Falls, MN
    Pretty good start to your report.
    Will be following along.
    Thanks for posting.
    #9
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  10. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    October 2019

    Alright! Time for the good stuff! Now on the olympic peninsula.

    Met a guy through an XT250 facebook group who said I could come by for some maintenance. Oil change, rear brakes, lots of other minor things were needed from the beating it took up north. I was so grateful to be able to use a lift and for his generosity. Probably rode about 3k miles so far this trip.

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    Getting use to the whopping 18hp this baby puts out. It’s always funny to me when I hear people on drz’s and dr650’s talk about slow.

    Traffic? I don’t mind. Lake crescent.

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    I have been to the peninsula a few times before and it is always a phenomenal experience. A little wet, but it’s not unexpected.

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    Further down the coast:

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    Little bike, big trees.


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    Trying out some dirt with the loaded bike. In retrospect, I had no idea what I was doing. Capitol state forest, if I had to guess.

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    Stayed with a gentleman and his pups for two nights in Grayland WA to get out of the torrential rain. Had an absolute blast hangin with him and learning about the area, couldn’t have been more thankful.

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    A picture he took of me leaving his place. My fat ass and all that gear make the bike look tiny eh?

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    Had fun riding on the beach.

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    #10
  11. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    October 2019 part 2

    Met a guy through a dual sport page that let me ship some hippo hand knockoff type things to him in Warrenton OR to help with keeping my hands warm in the rain as I don’t have heated grips. He was generous enough to offer me his couch to sleep on too.

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    Caught a couple sunny days further down the coast, absolutely perfect weather for camping. Oregon coast is somethin else. More beach riding.
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    Found a nice road that was more or less not being used, found a sweet camp spot right off of it.

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    Onwards to some other national forest land. The standard camp setup. Loving how much public land is available for free camping. Haven’t spent a cent for a place to stay yet, don’t think I’ve bought a meal yet either. Breakfast lunch and dinner comes from the food pack off the bike. Same food plan every day keeps costs to a minimum and my body fueled evenly.


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    Banana slug is big slug

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    #11
  12. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    October 2019 part 3

    Left the coast for Eugene OR to see a friend and get some new tires. Can’t believe what a difference it makes.

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    Ended up wanting some new handlebars too. In retrospect: huge mistake on the bend and style I chose, but I didn’t know any better so I just learned how to ride em.


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    My buddy is one of them fancy cocktail types. It was not an early start the next morning to say the least.

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    Back to the rain… but at least it’s pretty. Forecast calls for next 7 days to be rainy in this area.

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    Up over the mountains on the way to Bend. Don’t know the name but it’s a big field of volcanic rock, cool stuff. Roads were snowy, thought I was gunna lay the bike down for sure but luckily I didn’t. Probably the closest I’ve ever come to frostbite on fingers and toes. Can you see the desperation in my eyes? Haha.

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    25min from here, down the other side and it’s sunny and 69F. Unbelievable.


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    Stayed with a friend for two nights in Bend. I got one blurry photo of a photo to remember it by. I really don’t enjoy taking pictures much. Just seems like work to me.


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    Leaving Bend


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    Back to the forest. Deschutes NF I think? Air down to 12psi F and 17R and new tires working way better than old ones in snow. Just happy to be back on the dirt… or snow…? whatever. My balance up on the pegs and clutch control improving by necessity.



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    #12
  13. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    October 2019 part 3

    Climbed up some more snowy 2 track in the Fremont-Winema NF couple days later to get a primo camp site, one of my favorite places that I stayed. I decided to indulge in a… “meditative” type rest day, lets say. This turned out to be a major cornerstone to set the course for the rest of the trip. Amazing how things work out sometimes.

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    Made it to crater lake! Lots of great forest riding north of the park. Been wanting to go here for a few years now. XT250 rides like absolute trash at this altitude. Mental note: Next bike needs FI


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    Got down from altitude as more snow was in the forecast and it was scary having the bike run so poorly, and found a nice piece of forest to do some light maintenance and swap my front 16 sprocket down to a 15. Just too slow up these big inclines around here.


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    Forgot about a relative of mine that lives in the Medford area, so contacted them about coming over for a bit.

    Other than altitude the bike is doing great, I’m getting into the rhythm of things. Camp 4-6 days and then stay someplace with a shower. Still haven’t paid for accommodations anywhere thanks to various online resources and the extreme generosity and good will of strangers. Ate out a couple times in bend, and spent some money on beer but other than that food/lodging/gas expenses are still very low.
    #13
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  14. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    November 2019

    Well, I guess I will have to admit to cheating a little bit. I ended up staying in southern Oregon for most of the month of november and first couple days in december. Hangin with my relatives, finding some work here and there, helping with some exterior and interior construction projects as that is what I do for work in MN.

    I was still sleeping in my tent 100% of the time, and got to ride every single day no matter the weather. That counts for something, right???

    Riding 2-up on the XT is hilarious. it will never cease to entertain me how slow this bike is.

    In the national forest:

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    I like to check out the local flavors, since I’ll be here a little bit I thought I would imbibe. I don't ever drink when I'm traveling/camping off the bike. 6 pounders in a tank bag? Not bad, not bad!


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    About to crack 7k. Seems like not that long ago I was just trying to get it into first gear in the front yard! Oh wait, yeah, it wasn’t that long ago….

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    Some more national forest riding.

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    I am starting to fall in love with Oregon. Starting to be more confident on smaller than 2-track but not quite singletrack type trails. Learning a lot, riding a lot, constantly shooting to improve balance, clutch control, and maintaining speed through corners.

    The first snow was last week of november and after that I determined it was wayyy past time for me to get out of here.


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    #14
  15. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    Nov-Dec 2019

    Time for an art project?

    A small (large) interjection. Is that the right word? I don’t know.

    Halfway through november I was chattin with some people, and I found out one of them was an artist. I say “oh cool, can I see some of your work?”. They go on to show me some unbelievably cool paintings. I ask “Would you draw something for me?”, and they agreed.

    Ever since I took the factory decals off my bike, I have been looking for an artist to draw on my plastics. I finally found the right person! This was over the course of a few weeks, and part of the reason I decided to have an extended stay in Oregon.

    Two of the plastics wet sanded with high grit paper to take the outer finish off.


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    If you google “sharpie lamborghini” you will see where I got my initial inspiration from. I rounded up some pictures from the internet to send to her as a rough guideline, along with two specific images (early yamaha emblems) that I was hoping to get on there too. I left the rest up to her to decide what she wanted to do. Check out how it turned out.

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    It was way beyond my expectations. The phoenix was upside down, but it was my fault for not specifying which side of the plastic was right side up. I didn’t care, I was just happy to have some sick ass art. We have stayed in touch since, and I will have every bike I own from now on done up in the same way by her.

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    #15
  16. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    December 2019 Part 1.

    Leaving Oregon.

    Time to prep for back on the road! I am ready.

    Like I mentioned before, I eat cheap. I am not picky about foods other than the 2-3 that I hate, and I will happily eat the same thing everyday. It is odd to me that more people are not like this, and it is odd to other people that I am like this. So strange.

    Ya’ll like tuna? I’m feelin rich.

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    Trail mix is my go to for lunch. Easy, fast, calorically dense. Heavy in a pack but who cares I’m already slow. The key is dark chocolate espresso beans. Stay tuned for this bags re-appearance later…

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    I’ve been on the once every 8 week haircut scheme. Before and afters are always entertaining. the before was taken mid-cut to make me look extra homeless.

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    Geared up and ready to roll with my new art. So stoked on the way this bike looks.

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    California

    Some redwood action! I’ve always wanted to come here but never had the chance. Bummer that it refuses to stop drizzling so no motivation to explore too much, but whatever, this place is awesome.

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    Long story short I fried the clutch due to what I was riding in Oregon. It slips to free rev above about 1/2 throttle. Milked it for about 170 miles like this. Luckily found a shop on a friday before business close, and they said they could do it on Monday. Unluckily, I was stuck in the worse place I’ve ever been to find free camping for the weekend, and it was non-stop raining, some times down pouring the entire weekend.

    Best place I could find outside Eureka was a utility line trail that was uncomfortably close to a road. Also there was a very pungent fully intact elk carcass about 80ft away. Talk about fun! Was a little nervous about predators since I cook food for dinner, but was so wet and tired that I just gave in to the situation. Was extra cautious on the midnight pee run to scope out the bushes before I exited the tent though.

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    #16
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  17. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    New clutch, no more rain, got goin south, let’s celebrate! I said I don’t ever drink and camp. Well, I don’t, besides this one beer to celebrate. Gimmea break.

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    I saw a ton of deer up in the forest, so I assumed predators were also in high abundance. I found a spot to camp, then meandered about 1/3 of a mile away to cook just to be cautious. Came back to this spot for the night.

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    3:30 in the morning I am dead asleep. Minding my own business. I feel something primal. Something in my bones, my DNA. I open my eyes without moving, i hear a *sniff sniff sniff* and a slight nuzzle against the wall of my tent that my head is up against. I scream as loud as I can. Like, black metal death scream. The offending bears scamper away immediately. I do the mental math on the feet I heard on the ground and the directions that they went, was as least 2 of them if not 3. When I woke up in the morning there was bear shit absolutely everywhere on the trail that I failed to notice the night before when setting up, including some fresh.

    Rookie mistake. Lessons learned. Sheesh.


    Next day onto the Mendocino coast. Pretty shockingly beautiful.

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    Struggle to find free camping again but I weasel my way into a spot in the forest.


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    Big trees.

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    Ah, yes, my arch nemesis. Rain. It’s been so long since it’s rained. Oh wait, nope, only one dry day. Nevermind.

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    Onto Santa Cruz. Or Santa Rosa. It was Santa something, I remember that. Met another incredibly generous man offering me his workshop to do some deep dive wrenching on the bike over the next 3 days. Man, workin on a lift is so nice.

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    He even custom milled me this AIS blockoff plate from a piece of aluminum scrap.


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    #17
  18. EvanJ

    EvanJ Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 13, 2019
    Oddometer:
    47
    Location:
    Minneapolis
    December 2019 part 3

    A friend of a friend lent me their Yurt while I was working on the bike during the day. They left the day I got there and said “stay as long as you want”. I seem to run into unbelievable kindness from every direction when on this bike.

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    Headed south again on the coast. Absolute dogshit for free camping, but looked like nobody was using this construction site for christmas eve. Don’t mind if I do!

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    I’m not a religious person but christmas is christmas, know what I mean? Found a nice truck trail in the national forest and had a go at it. Set up camp and luckily finished cooking just before the weather hit. No joke, 30mph straight line winds, gusts close to 40. Haven’t seen a storm like this in awhile. All. Night. Long.

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    I was so grateful when I woke up to a sunny sided tent.

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    After that whole situation, I made it down to Malibu. What a wacky place. I was oddly impressed.

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    Met an amazing couple from a dualsport page. Offered me their spare bedroom in LA for a second night so we could go sailing on his boat. I love sailing so naturally I was super hyped. Saw lots of dolphins or porpoises or whatever in the water following the boat.

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    After stocking up on donuts, I left LA to cut across to Ocotillo where I had found a host that let me ship some tires and parts to them. Found a nice truck trail to camp off of. Starting to look a little desert-y... I am getting excited for a dry climate!

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    #18
  19. tricky.

    tricky. Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2013
    Oddometer:
    161
    Awesome stuff. It really shows that all you need for adventure is just enthusiasm and time. Also gotta love the RRs where the trip evolves along the way. Keep it up!
    #19
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  20. flei

    flei cycletherapist

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2013
    Oddometer:
    10,819
    Location:
    Western Mass.
    As a fellow XT250 rider I am really enjoying this ride! At my age I can't really imagine a ride like this one on a 250cc bike any more (I'm just too spoiled by horsepower, wind protection and heated gear). Thanks for posting to bring back memories of my youth!
    #20
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