Author Topic: Maine to Oaxaca Ride Report (pictures aren't coming through)  (Read 542 times)

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Offline GeoffreyH

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A Teetotaller turns 60 riding Solo to Oaxaca from  downeast Maine
Ride Report
November 2017

This is Maya Plum, my 1999 Kawasaki Concours which I will be taking to Guatemala (ended up being Oaxaca, Mexico)!

This is the first of my journal entries for the trip.  Today is the 12th of October, 2017.

I have less than two weeks to go.  I am nervous as hell.  All I've been doing is planning for so long that I am packed and ready.  The bike is as ready as I can get her.  I'm as ready as I can be.  It's now a waiting game.

One week to go.  I'm anxious to the point of being almost sick.  I've run myself down working and trying to keep in shape.  The bike is ready to go and my bags are packed.  I've planned my tools and put them in a tool bag and stowed them,   It's just enough tools to allow me to do work on the bike and no more.  Every time I used a tool I put a piece of blue tape on it so it made the cut off to go in the bag.  I have a simple tire pump and a tire repair kit. I've included a spare set of brake pads.  I figured brakes are the one thing I can't do without.  The concours seems ready to go.  It's such a solid bike.  For some reason I have way more confidence in her  than I do in myself right now.  I believe she wants to get going as much as I do.

10/30/17 Natural Bridge, VA
I'm staying in one of those old strip Motels from the fifties.  It's $40 a night and I love it.  The bike is right outside.

Up til now it's been a fleury of getting things done for the trip.  I visited all of my children and grandchildren.  Spent a night visiting a college friend.   It's been a great couple of days.  I've been so nervous.  Money is always an issue.  I've got enough but I'm trying to hold on to it as much as I can.

The biggest deal has been ordering tires.  Such a decision.  When I got down to the day to order I found out the dealer in Texas was going to charge $85 per tire for mounting.  So I found another one in Brownsville for $50.  I finally made the agonizing decision. After too much research I settled on Dunlops so as to have matching brands.  I know more than I need  to about motorcycle tires.
The bike is doing great.  So am I!

10/31/17 Natural Bridge to Gadsen, Alabama
It was in the thirties when I started the day.  Didn't think I was going t make it but here I am at the Budget Inn in Gadsen Alabama.  It cost $38 a night plus tax and is a serious dump but it's only for a night and it's near the highway.  I achieved my goal to be near Birmingham.  Tomorrow I will make Louisiana maybe even Texas.  I don't think I'll push as hard.  The bike seems to want to go as much as I do
Tires!  Unbelievable, the tires I thought were crap have turned out to be good. (this was wrong, the Shinkos were worn thin by the time I made Brownsville) Probably could have made the trip but now I've sent the  new tires to the shop in Brownsville and  I'll put the new ones on there
(smart move). I can't believe I've agonized over the tire decision, it's ridiculous.

I spend every moment jockeying for position on the road that is safe and gives me room to negotiate possible problems ahead.  The physical aspect is daunting as well.  Staying in the saddle for 10 hours a day in tough. Weather can take its toll but it keeps me feeling alive.  Planning on finding a place to rest for the night keeps me focused on the day not far into the future.

Made NOLA.  Not a great decision.  Stayed with Chaz in an apartment (via AirBnB) complex in Greatna.   Not the best but it could be worse.  Had to strip and lock the bike. Texas is tomorrow. Rained a lot today. Walmart salad for  dinner.   Still wearing winter gear, sweat pouring off of me!  Tomorrow, finally, no liner for the coat!

New Orleans to Somewhere in Texas
Good day.  Smooth sailing most of the time.  Lots of wind.  Got caught in traffic in Houston.  Should have taken the coastal route which is what I'll do on the way back.  I kept forging through and took a motel again.  I'll be glad to get to Mexico where a night stay is cheaper.  Tomorrow is Brownsville.  New tires and prepping for the final push to Mexico.

11/6/17 MEXICO
It’s been 4 days since my last entry  .  I've got to say that so far the trip is a bust.  The traveling is hard.  The only glitch on the bike is that the speedometer cable broke which is an inconvenience but doesn't slow me down,  Entering Mexico was as planned.  Having my documents ready was a big plus. You need the following documents to get into Mexico.  Title, Mexican insurance (research this! I got mine for just over $100.  Some places wanted $300 you can get it online and print it out before you cross), registration, license  and passport.  Make copies to save time.  If you are organized it will save you a headache.  The importation tax was $51 plus a deposit of $200. You will get the deposit back when you leave Mexico  if you are smart enough to get to the right place before leaving Mexico.  It has a name like CIEE or something of the sort.  I missed the sign, got into the States before I realized I had missed the place.  I had to turn around, cross back over, wait in line for an hour but I did get my money back. 
I have gotten lost too many times to count.  One time I headed back the way I came  for miles costing me time and serious discomfort to my butt.  My leg is in pain a lot too so I stay pretty uncomfortable.  And yes you GPS guys are right I should have a GPS but I didn’t want one, I wanted to go the old fashioned way by using a map. I don’t think this was a great idea, a GPS would have saved me time and angst.The heat gets unbearable by noon yet I have been forced to continue in the heat to find a places to stay.  The last nice night I spent was at the Lighthouse Inn at S. Padre Island. 

Mexican hotels have been crappy but cheap.  The road to Tampico was good but that's where the good roads ended.  I slogged my way through Tampico, tried to find the hotel I had booked but there was no hotel and the area was deplorable so I moved on.  Now I'm staying at the worst place yet.  I was offered a woman with the room!  Right off highway 180. at Naranjos.  I'm glad I didn't see the mattress till the next morning.  What a pit!  Tried my debit card at an ATM but no luck.  I'm a little worried.  If the debit card doesn't work then the party is over.  I can change the dollars I have but then it would be an about face which is what I'm contemplating right now.  The road today was dangerous as hell.  I could not keep that up much longer.  I've never seen such large potholes.  They were everywhere!  Buses, trucks, cars and me dodging and  weaving continuously to avoid them.  So stopping here in Naranjos was a must .  I have made some distance though and tomorrow I will go to El Tajin with the last of my american money.  After that it will be to the bank to see if the trip can continue.  I miss home. I miss the US.

I've done this kind of thing too many times.  Never enough money and always worried. Tonight I had bread, a carrot and a yogurt drink for dinner.  I am running on fumes.

One thing though...I am safe for the most part and I have family and friends who love me and a beautiful loving woman who supports me.  So tomorrow is another day and I’ll get through it..

11/8/17 Paplanta, Veracruz, Mexico
The trip has been very difficult up til last night where I found a nice, not scary, hotel in a beautiful town called Paplanta.  I went to El Tajin yesterday. It is an Aztec/Totonc ruin.  It was impressive.  Unfortunately,  the accomplishment has been overrun with fear and trepidation.  The roads have been rough as hell and dangerous.   Last night's room was depressing to put it mildly the hookers next door didn't make the experience any better.

The bike is working better than I am.  My derriere is raw, another reason for a good break today.  I will press on to the beach tomorrow.  Then hopefully the ashram the next day after that it will be Oaxaca where I will stay for awhile and start the return home.  Guatemala is just too far, the dangers too great.  I will finally admit that it is dangerous on the roads here.  I  never had problems in the Yucatan.  In the north it is simply a mess and I have to be on my guard ALL the time.  By the time I return it will be he a long time on the road and still an accomplishment  However, the danger, the loneliness and the constant concern over whether I will break or the motorcycle will is too much.

I am learning.  It is a process and this is why I do these things.  There is such wonder in doing it yet the real truth is that I am searching for something I already have.  I am not a loner.  I do not always enjoy being in these wonderful situations with no one but myself.

I'm  sitting at a cafe on the square or Zocalo.  It's lovely.  I want to be appreciative and to want to enjoy it but there is always something missing; always not enough.  This feeling isn't just now it happens when I'm at home.  The feeling is that there must be more; something I must do.   Even sitting here, in relative perfection, I know there is more.  I wonder why it is always like this.  I went to the cathedral today but I didn't pray.  I waited to talk to the priest but I missed the point and the priest.  I'm going back tonight.

The cathedral lies above the square.  There is an enormous mural on a wall leading up to the building. It depicts the Totonic indigenous group that built El Tajin.  There is an oil derrick in the mural depicting the modern as in comparison to the old.  It is so odd that such amazing buildings stood where there is nothing to take its place.  The conquistadors are part of the mural.  What a conquest.  I can only criticize. I don't see the improvement.  I see a rather dull cathedral, a population doing what they would have been doing hundreds of years ago but there is no grandeur, no amazement. The pre-columbian indigenous population built buildings of such character.  The facades are so ornate they could only have only been driven by an incredible spiritual adherence to their spiritual beliefs.  The fascinating aspect of these buildings is that where one sees incredible stone facades they go  beyond that. The buildings were also covered with plaster. This means the buildings were smooth and often painted in blues and reds.  It must have been a sight to see.

I  didn't get a picture of it but I should have.  As I wandered the ruins I noticed children in their uniforms walking through.  One little boy disappeared into the jungle that surrounded the place.  Then I saw more of them.  It  became obvious that they were  walking home from school.  How incredible.  Their ancestors built  or in many cases destroyed these magnificent structures and they walk through them  as if they were, and are, part of their daily life.  As with most children they probably ignore them or play on them when  no one is around.  I know I would have.

When I got to Paplanta I was again confronted with the difficulties of traffic in the small Mexican streets.  I have reached the hills.  The streets can be steep.  I encountered another fear laden experience on the bike.  I got caught on a steep grade with nowhere to go.  Cars surrounded me.  I held the bike in place and when there was a gap I went for it.  I was more concerned about the clutch than I was of my own safety.  I have come to realize that although the bike is amazing I don't know how much more abuse it or  I can take on these roads.

In any case I am going to ignore my fears and press on for a while longer.  There is a part of me that wants to head back now.  If I do that I will fault myself later.  Oaxaca was my plan B.  So I'm going to take the option.  Tomorrow I will sleep on the beach if all goes as planned.  Then to the ashram in Coetepec.  From there it will be two days to Oaxaca where I will stay, recuperate and head north  My assumption is that I will be in Oaxaca for my 60th birthday.

Offline ron203

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Re: Maine to Oaxaca Ride Report (pictures aren't coming through)
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2018, 06:53:36 pm »
Wow. What a story. Can't wait for the rest of it.
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Re: Maine to Oaxaca Ride Report (pictures aren't coming through)
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2018, 06:34:56 am »
We added a GPS on the mirror tapped hole on the right clip on. Garmin Nuvi 2557 with North America maps has Mexico covered in surprisingly well detail. Road signs in Mexico make passing through each town or city very difficult. Highways are numbered, but staying on the correct route passing through towns is difficult since the route is rarely signed properly. Rather than the highway number distant towns or cities are used to try to delineate the route. Adding a GPS makes traveling in Mexico so much easier!
I value having a GPS in Mexico so much I bring two with me in case one fails. For less than $200 each they are a bargain.

I enjoy reading about your trip!