Way out West - Canada to Central America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Motojournalism, Sep 30, 2009.

  1. especialk

    especialk Adventurer

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    alrighty....I just opened my eyes and noticed the watermark and your avatar. Motojournalism.com

    sweeeet
  2. RiderJones

    RiderJones sketchy

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    NYC pix look great! Ahhhh makes me want to go ... Good work.

    :clap
  3. Dr. Benny

    Dr. Benny Enjoying the Journey

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    :thumb Always amazing!
  4. aDave

    aDave Lovin' Life!

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    A ride report of nearly 2 years on 75 pages...I love it! :clap

    You have given me so many ideas on the composition of my photo images...further courage to tackle a trip south of the border and encouragement to s l o w down and enjoy the journey.

    Best of luck on your future travels and business ventures.

    Dave
  5. Country Doc

    Country Doc Wanderer

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    Man, Anton, your photos are getting better and better. I really like the style you've developed. IMHO your skills continue to improve every time I look at your shots (take that for what it's worth - I'm only a rank amateur hobbyist!).

    Just absolutely terrific stuff.

    dc
  6. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Thanks so much for the Margus and Kariina interview. I loved it and can't wait for part 3.

    You asked Margus about medium format digital backs. He uses a Pentax MF in film. Did you ask if he planned to ever switch back to digital MF, such as the new Pentax 645D? I would be interested in his thoughts about that camera. It's much less expensive than the cost he mentioned, though I'm sure it's still too much for them at this point. I loved his thoughts on planning for a perfect shot versus shooting several shots from the same perspective.
  7. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

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    Time was up at the rented apartment, but I hadn't gotten my fill of the city. I needed an extra day to explore - I wanted an extra lifetime. I battled my way through the yellow cabs and panel trucks, back down to the AdventureLoft™.

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    Dr. Rock was still at his conference in Italy (not as fun as it sounds) and LDF was getting ready for their own eastern US trip. I gave LDF a hand with the chain matainance and we checked the oil in her F650. (so was it synthetic or mineral after all?)

    I thought the location of the F650 dipstick was sutably civilized, though I certainly prefer the sight-glass on the KLR.

    LDF meticulously maintains her motorcycle

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    Before hitting the streets, camera in hand, I scanned through my twitter feed, getting word that the Mermaid Parade on Coney Island was the thing to catch.

    Around the corner and down a flight of iron edged stairs. Out of the heat of the city, in to the dank of the subway.
    A long ride on an elevated track - more than 20 stops over the redbrick buildings and the baseball fields of Brooklyn.
    Last stop. Everybody out.

    A cool salt breeze off Brighton Beach. Throngs of people fill every last spot on Surf Avenue, conversing boisterously in English, Russian, Spanish. People cling from scaffolding and jam up against the parade fencing.


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    The din of the crowd and the blasting music is periodically broken by the arthritic rattle of the wooden roller coaster and the screams of it's passengers.

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    Coney Island is a a world apart from the santized New York of Times Square and Central Park. It seems to be able to cross it's arms and resist the gentrifying force that is taking over places like Williamsburg. Coney island seems to be the last hold-out for the working-class, for the Eastern European and Puerto Rican New Yorkers, for the freaks and geeks. A place where people can be themselves.

    This is the home of reastaurants with signage and menus written entirely in Cryllic, the home of freak-shows and burlesque, home of the Nathan's Famous hot dog eating contest. The record - steeped in controversy - sits at 69 bunned hot dogs in 10 minutes by the diminutive Takeru Kobayashi, a competitive eater from Japan.

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    But the main event of the day is of course, the Mermaid Parade -a haphazard procession of marine themed madness.

    "The MERMAID PARADE is the oldest and largest art-parade in the United States of America. The parade is best known for its eccentric collection of mermaids from mars, walking/talking cans of tuna fish, crusty pirates, scantily clad wild women and the like.
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    *Just a heads-up! The following photos are ALL technically Safe For Work, but there are one or two that might take some 'splaining if the boss/wife were to suddenly appear over your shoulder...


    Chris T, the MC


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    &#9835; He is the judge, he is the judge, everybody know that he is the judge &#9835;

    "Chief Justice Mark reporting for duty. ...this was the most fair judging we ever had. Which is to say it was a modicum less capricious than it has been in the past. We instituted a new ballot counting process. Or I think we did anyway.
    Bribes seemed to be a little weak this year...then all of a sudden they came flowing in. Of course they had no effect at all on our decision making process."



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    There were more photographers than mermaids - Gear-geeks loaded to the hilt with photo backpacks and quick-draw camera holsters. Carbon fiber monopods supporting glass sutable for capturing hummingbirds at a two hundred yards. A frenzy of megapixels at 11 frames per second. it waz a zoo. I was envying their freedom of access from my spot on the sidelines, but I soon discovered that if you had camera with more than one lens - and looked remotely like you knew what you were doing - it was possible to sneak past the police and the security fence for free reign of the parade route.


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    A very clever photographer carried a picture frame, which he passed to his subjects to hold on to.

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    After the parade and on to the boardwalk, Folks and peeps, freaks and geeks. Everybody having a good time.

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    The Nuyorican contingent weighs-in HEAVY, these guys were great.


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  8. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    love the film. scratches and all. :thumb Warm and fuzzy, kinda like old vinyl. Or what the nephews asked their mom when they visited us: "what are those, big CD's?"
  9. mb8

    mb8 One planet, no option.

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  10. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

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    @especialk

    I have used HDR a bit, Like the float-plane all the way back on page1 and the Spruce Goose on page14
    But for me, it's only useful to shoot HDR if the scene is really high-contrast and there's no other way to get it. I'm not a big fan of the obvious HDR look.
    In my opinion, if you can look at an image and say; "Oh yeah, that's HDR alright" you've overcooked it :puke1
    I do shoot RAW with the SLR (only JPG with the LX2 compact) and use lot of fill-light, recovery and curves in Adobe Lightroom. That helps pull all the dynamic range out of my cameras.

    Yep, looks like you found the blog :thumb

    I have a post about what cameras and lenses I use. There's nothing that could be called "high-end", it's just basic, decent gear.
    And I still haven't gotten my D200 fixed since it conked out in Palenque :lol3

    @Dr.Benny
    You're coming up in the next part of the ride-report :ricky

    @aDave
    Go for it! Mexico is such a great place, and super chill once you get a bit south and away from the cities. Lots of good people there, spectatular scenery, amazing cuisine. It's hot now here in Montreal, I miss the "liquado" fresh icy fruit drinks you get in mexico...
    Slow is definetly the way to go if you are interested in more than motels and gas stations :ricky

    Heya CountryDoc :wave
    Yeah I don't think you ever stop learning, checking out the MOMA photography exibit was definetly inspirational.

    @dave6253
    Glad you were in to the From Estonia with Love interview :thumb
    Not sure if Margus knows about that Medium format digital Pentax, he probably hasn't been spending much time on DPReview these days :lol3
    Yeah the Pentax is cheaper than the digital backs he mentioned, but it's still ten-grand :eek1:lol3

    The interview sure got me interested in the possibilities of medim format though... Crazy what a large imaging area does for the photos. I'll be keeping my eye out for a used film-based kit.

    @Dr.Rock
    BIG thanks for the roll of T-Max 400 film, that made my day on Coney Island :freaky
    It's amazing the "hit-rate" you get with film, 28 of 36 exposures were keepers. The pictures look *amazing* right out of the camera.

    I think having a simple camera to shoot with helped, other than focus, there's nothing to adjust on the Lomo LCA+, so it was all about composition and getting the right moment. Pure and simple.

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  11. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    but check the edge -- I thought it was Tri-X :ear.
    d
  12. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

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    Ah, that's right! It's Tri-X, not T-Max

    I haven't shot much film since using a darkroom in highschool 10+ years ago, didn't know there was difference. :norton
    I just found this article on the subject, good to see photographers have been arguing minutiae since the days of Niépce

    And you mentioned CDs? Was that what you guys had before iTunes?

    I do have a hefty stack of wax here though, and I was impressed with your collection too :thumb
  13. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

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    Cool and fresh in the morning before the day's heat sets in.

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    A quiet Sunday. I've caught the City That Never Sleeps napping, rooftop air conditioners snoring away.

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    A sincere thanks and goodbye to LDF, and I hit the starter button once more. I ease the bike out of the city past the taxis, descending into the shining bathroom tile of the Holland Tunnel.

    Why is it New Jersey reminds me of Guatemala? There's something about the green hills and rough freeways, maybe it the mini-buses with Vaya con Dios written in the rear windows.

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    This whirling mass of metal has shrugged-off the rough treatment of a neophyte rider; it's been exposed to the salt winds of Newfoundland and been pinned full-out over the endless straights of Saskatchewan; it's climbed the heights of the Rocky Mountains, survived Death Valley, the Mojave and Sonoran deserts; it's pulled through the mud of Guatemala, the heat of Honduras; the mad traffic of New York, El Salvador and Panama. It's asked for nothing more than gas and oil. I am in awe.

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    The bike, luggage and clothing are worn into place. The soles of my boots are chewed in the right place by the spiked footpegs, the black tank is lightly scuffed between my knees, the slight bend in the bars goes unnoticed, the grey rubber of the grips is slightly tacky. The hours spent in the saddle have made it more comfortable than any chair.

    The familiar routine of checking the map, aiming for the small and winding roads. Roads that follow the contours of a river or a mountain, roads that pass through parks and forests - never planning far ahead - just enough to have the compass indicate NorthEast. The engine settles into the right number of revs and pulls through the rolling green landscape over the backroads past tiny towns and flapping flags. The states roll by; New Jersey, New York again, Connecticut, Massachusetts, into New Hampshire.

    I've arranged to meet Ben (Dr.Benny) at his place in New Hampshire. We've been in touch a lot over the last few months about our respective motorcycle projects, and we didn't want to pass-up a chance to meet in person. I was welcomed with food and beer, safe parking and a place to sleep. There was plenty of reminiscing about our Latin American adventures, about the people, the places the food, the life on the road. We had a laugh over how frustrating we find driving North of the Border, with it's distracted drivers, it's obsession with painted lines and signage, it's reliance on legislature rather than logic.

    I got a preview of Ben's next project too, it's just been posted to YouTube now...

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    On the road again early in the morning. Ben's KLR has my mileage beat by a long shot, but how much longer is unknown. The odometer is busted.




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    I see the scars from his crash in Central Argentina held together with bolts and a steel plate.


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    The bikes warm up and we are soon on the road. It seems like Ben waves to somebody, but he's actually signalling a right-turn. His indicators haven't worked since South America. We turn on to the highway and open the throttles, the exhaust notes of the KLRs go in and out of phase, like tuning the strings of a guitar against each other.
    I get a hand signal from Ben - keep going straight as he turns off to go to work. A wave and a honk. Hasta la proxima amigo.

    Ben has suggested some routes to take on the way back toward Canada, I've written shorthand directions pencilled in on a scrap of paper on top of the tankbag. Through the lakes at Laconia, across the serpentine Kancamagus where I lead myself straight up the wrong side of Mount Washington.


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    It looked like the right way...

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    But unless you are riding one of these they are just not interested in allowing you up this side of the mountain. I'll come back with a steam powered motorcycle someday.



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    Back to the other side of the mountain, to see what I could see...
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    The road twists back on itself and the views are vast, but the fun is dampened by the low speed limit and the prohibited passing.


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    Plenty of power to be harnessed this close to the windiest place on earth. This truck carries a single blade of a wind turbine.

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    Almost at the border, upstate Maine I think...


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    So long Estados Unidos, see you next time.

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    A few relics in no-man's-land, windows smashed, yellow paint peeling. I hope they are left like Haida totem poles, to be reclaimed by the earth.
    (Photo by pegase1972 via panoramio.com)


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    Back home across the border to Quebec. Back home? No, I'm only at home on the road.


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  14. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list Supporter

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    Just so nice, Anton. I love your shots and your words are so soothing. Makes me want to head south. But north is more my style!:D Maybe I'll see you around up there, somewhere someday??

    ps was just practicing with the camera, had your books out and the camera manual. I inherited a LX2.
  15. marior97

    marior97 marior97

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    Hey Antonio !!! como estas? I see you keep on riding your KLR , muy buena moto !!!!
    Bravo por las fotos de Nueva York y los Land Rovers :clap:clap:clap:clap:freaky

    When are you riding or flying down south ??
    Saludos de El Salvador
  16. Motojournalism

    Motojournalism motojournalism.com

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    @Hardwaregrrl

    I thought Atlanta was south? You oughtta head West too, it's great out there :ricky
    Super-cool that you got an old LX2, I'm still using my LX2 every day, more than 60% of the photos on this RR are from that great little camera :thumb

    Glad you're enjoying the writing. I've been reading a helluva lot of books this summer, so it's fun to try my hand at it. Maybe I should try writing some magazine articles or something...

    @Mario97

    Que tal jéfe! :freaky
    Great to hear from you amigo! Yeah, I remember you telling me your father had one of those old Land Rovers for the finca, rode like a tractor, I recall...

    El Salvador was so cool, I've got to come back for a visit someday. Great roads, amazing views and scenery, and you can drive however the hell you want! I really miss that freedom! :ricky

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/antontrax/4374411007/" title="Way out West-0770 by Motojournalism.com, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4068/4374411007_06ec6f464a_b.jpg" width="1024" height="681" alt="Way out West-0770"></a>

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  17. tsiklonaut

    tsiklonaut the (in)famous boxer perv

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    Hi Anthony,

    Absolutely LOVE the real b&w film shots you posted! The tonality, grain and overall feel makes me almost cry that I should shoot more film in a proper way instead of playing (literally!) with that "tarty" digital. :lol3

    I consider Tri-X 400 a good film with oldschool feel but if you have a chance try Kodak's Tri-X 320 - it's a world different and I consider it the best allround film currently around (with Ilford Delta 400 close second!). Tri-X 320 is not push/pullable like the 400 version, but ASA320 speed covers most of my needs and boy the overall feel is completely different - I'd say old national geographic high-dynamic range romance with a modern day B&W "punch" in it. Although it's supposed to be the same film the images look worlds apart with 320 surpassing the 400 in almost all departments for my liking (minus the real "oldschool feel" where the 400 version excels). I've developed Tri-X 320 always with Kodak's TMAX developer for best results.

    T-MAX film (developer chemistry has the same name) itself is completely modern-day B&W film, tack sharp "powerful" feel and almost no visible grain (except the 3200 version) - I use 100 & 400 versions mostly for architecture or if I want to emphasize any fine details - it's a little too harsh for portraits and landscapes for my liking. Currently testing the new revised version of T-MAX 400 claimed to be the least grainy ISO400 film in the world, but haven't got the scans yet.

    Right about MF digital gear for us tightly-budgeted bastards, 645D included - way too much money compared to running MF film gear through affordable flatbed scanners and spending the rest of 10+ grand for a very decent South-American tour for example.

    Will definitely keep my eye on this thread - very fine pictographic work and smells like there's a real artist behind it all! :wink:

    Margus
  18. Thumpermeister

    Thumpermeister roost maker

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    More great pics Anton! :thumb

    Thx.
  19. roddy409

    roddy409 Adventurer

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    Hi Anton.. Just a few quick words of thanks! I've read this RR off and on for more than a year and I really enjoy your photography and writing style. Yours is one of the best stories on here and I do envy your travels. Thank you so much for taking the time and effort to document your trip so well and thoroughly. :freaky

    Roddy
  20. Solo Gato

    Solo Gato long in the tooth Supporter

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    dang- fan tastic.