Mexico, First Two Weeks

Well the weather finally cleared enough for us to get going toward Mexico. The skies have cleared, the temperature is above freezing and the wind has diminished to about 20 knots out of the Northwest. Gypsy is in her fleece sweater and her cover is on keeping her protected from the wind. We are full of anticipation as the miles left in Texas tick down to zero as the Mexico border appears at the Brownsville crossing.img_20161220_134637472

I hop of the VStrom and head in to immigration to get my Tourist visa while Melanie stays with Gypsy and the bike. I let too much information out about where are headed, south through Central America, leading the official to only get us a 30 day via for Mexico. No matter what I say he doesn’t budge. Oh well. The rest goes smoothly, the bikes visa/bond, Gypsy and Melanie. After about an hour and a quick check by border officials, we are on our way. img_20161222_095258227

Our route takes us down through Ciudad Victoria to a small place called La Florida, about 400kms away. We will be spending the night here in a little bungalow with horses walking around freely. A friend of mine, Marco Almaraz, has put out the word to the local IBA Rat Riders that we are traveling through so they are watching is on our SPOT to make sure all is good.

Continuing on we pass many small villages and the going is easy, except for the many huge topes, like a speed bump on steroids. We are loaded down pretty good so some of the topes have us bottoming out, no matter how slow we go over them. We knew of a waterfall that we wanted to see and headed towards it through massive sugar cane fields. As we got closer the road was getting worse by the kilometer and we finally aborted the attempt when I was bouncing off of baby heads, rocks the size of babies heads. Taking a turn south as a short cut seemed like a good idea until after about 30 kms void of people and vehicles, Melanie said, “What is that up ahead”. About a half a km ahead we saw two people in the middle of the road. My American propaganda fears came to the surface and I stopped the bike on the side of the road. Pulling a pair of binoculars out of my tank panniers I stared down the road at two young men at the roadside with shovels, and no obvious transportation.  We sat for a bit watching them and taking about what to do. We decided to follow what we knew from other travelers, that they meant us no harm. We had a plan of we were wrong and proceed cautiously in second gear ready to go. Closer and closer we got to the boys, we were ready, and when I waved they…smiled and waved back, just as we had hoped for. We stopped for a bit in the Magical town of Jalpan, checked out the cathedral and the square set up for the Christmas celebrations. Melanie gave out some stickers to the children playing and chasing each other.

Traveling by motorcycle with a dog gives a new set of problems, inexpensive hotels that accept pets. We booked ahead of time using booking.com in the Magical town of Bernal. This town has a large monolith, Peña de Bernal which is the tallest in the world and a UNESCO site, that overlooks the town. The town of Bernal has been designated a Pueblo Mágico town. We arrived at the Hotel Feregrino and were told that pets weren’t welcome at their hotel. Melanie argued and showed them their ad on booking.com and they finally agreed to let us stay. The hotel had a great view from the top of the downtown and the monolith.img_20161222_153633869

We got settled in and walked downtown and wandered around watching all the families milling about as Christmas music played through loudspeakers in the downtown area. We sat and drank Sangria and microbrewed beer while munching on a delicious wood fired oven pizza. It was so much fun to sit and watch kids playing in the square in anticipation of Christmas.

The next day we ride to our friends house in Aguascalientes, Marco Almaraz and Abby Beüger, who run the Iron Butt Association of Mexico. They welcomed us into their home with fantastic hospitality for the Christmas holiday. On Christmas, Abby put together a fantastic turkey dinner with all the trimmings. Our days there went to quickly and soon we were on our way again with the memories of spending time with our new friends.

Categories: 2-up motorcycle travel, 2WANDRRs, adventure travel, Horizons Unlimited, Mexico, motorcycle travel, Uncategorized, VStrom | Leave a comment

The Long Way Round to Mexico

img_20161215_210739.jpgWell, it has been an interesting, to say the least, three months. After returning from Canada we had a couple commitments to fulfill, then time on the schedule to see our spread out family. The first event was Overland Expo East, held at the Biltmore Estate this year. If you aren’t familiar with this it is the world’s most unique event for do-it-yourself adventure enthusiasts, with classes, films, demonstrations, discussions, all gear to 4-wheel drive and adventure motorcycling. This event is hosted by Jonathan and Roseann Hanson and is held twice a year, once in the west, near Flagstaff, and this event in the east.

To start off the event was a Cool Ride contest held at the Wedge Brewing Company in Asheville. You entered you ride and by popular vote it got narrowed down to 8 finalist, all competing for the $500 prize, plus bragging rights. We came in first of the four final motorcycles but lost to 4-wheeler. It was a fun night seeing good friends, meeting new friends and sharing some of the incredible brew from the Wedge Brewing Company http://www.wedgebrewing.com  , hope to see you again next year.

The OX is held behind the Biltmore in a huge field and they put the motorcycle camping area in a location at the very back of the event, nice because we were all alone, with “Positional Authority”, you had to be there, or ask Cyan, Alain or Alison for more info.

We ended up with many friends at the campsite, and although there was a fire ban on we succeeded in our own type of campfire, telling stories from the road, and ended with the tradition circle of friends around the “campfire”.img_20161009_230256102_top

From there we found a campsite in the north Georgia mountains where we based ourselves, spending time between Our son Dallas’s, in Ringgold, Ga, our son Rick’s, in Dallas, GA, and my Mom, sister Laurie and brother Barry, who in Port Orange, FL. We visited, drank, played cards, babysit, went to Disney World and just had a fantastic time.

Finally it was time to head to Mexico. We left the LT in storage with the truck in Ft. Worth with Melanie’s sister, Sharon and headed south trying to beat a quickly arriving cold front.


We headed toward South Padre Island to see some friends from Australia, Lynette Williams and Alan Curtis, http://www.twoxtw.com , who are on their RTW adventure. They have been on the road over 2 years now. Funny story getting to SPI. There happened to be a wind from the south at about 20-25 knots, directly in our face. This reduced my gas mileage to the point I knew I wouldn’t make the next fuel stop, 60 miles between. I stopped and poured in my can of fuel for my stove but the wind blew some on the tank of my bike. We took off again and ran out of gas, 1 mile from the pull-off to the station. I stuck out my thumb and got picked up by a couple Hispanic kids who took me to the station, waited and took me back to the bike. As we were filling up the bike we decided to eat a couple of pieces of our left over pizza. Standing there in the middle of a bite I see two bikes, obviously on a big trip, pull into the station. It was our friends from Australia, small world. We ended up having a wonderful evening chatting, drinking and eating seafood at a little joint called Dirty Al’s.



In the morning, as we were packing to leave to cross the border into Mexico it became apparent that the weather was quickly deteriorating, with winds at about 35 knots and gusts at 50+. We were advised against crossing the bridge as it was deemed entirely too treacherous. within the next two hours the temperature had dropped about 25 degrees so we postponed our crossing until tomorrow, and instead will enjoy a Scotch and some more stories from Australia.

As Simon Thomas would say, “Chin-Chin”.


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Old Yugoslavian communist runway

It has been a busy 3 weeks since our return from the Eastern Europe ride. We ended up riding through 15 countries and having a wonderful time.


After the long flight back to California via Moscow, we repacked and headed to Montana to first see Melanie’s sister and brother-in-law, Denise and Kyle, in Helena. On the way we rode parts of the historic “Route 66”, and stopped into visit the first nuclear power plant , ERBI, in the world in Arco, ID. Thanks to Denise and Kyle for their hospitality and we had a great time drinking and boating. While out on the lake, Kyle’s son, who flies Blackhawks for the National Guard, was out flying on the lake practicing water dumps for forest fires and treated us to a good show.

We left their house and headed north to Kalispell to see my sister and sister-in-law, Laurie and Chris, and a visiting friend. They were camped for the summer on a fast moving river that runs through there. The first day there we rafted firm the river in small inflatable tubes complete with alcohol coolers and watched the unspoiled wilderness first by complete with a Bald Eagle fishing for a meal out of the river within 40 meters of us.

After a couple of fun days it was time to cross into Canada for a month or so of camping and riding. We ended up on route 40 that meets up with the Trans Canada highway which was a incredible road with Mountain Sheep, tall snow covered peaks and virtually zero traffic. Just a taste of what was awaiting us in the undiscovered jem of a town, Canmore. While we were on route 40 a massive thunderstorm swept in over the mountains forcing us to take cover at the first shelter we found, a casino. A couple beers and half-priced pizzas later, we just decided to make camp in the parking lot, the rain wasn’t ending.

The next couple days we explored and rode around the area and even took in a soak at the hot-springs in Banff. On the third day we were invited over to spend the evening and night at the Stowasis, the welcoming home of friends Nevil and Michelle Stow. They both ride and a few years ago Nevil rode around the world on Twiggy, his faithful DR650. Their new endeavor is the Nine Minute Moto Film Festival, the 9MMFF, which inspires travelers to tell their story in 9 minutes. It is brilliant idea and is gaining in success being picked up by Horizon’s Unlimited.

Anyway, moto-traveler and author Jeremy Kroeker joined us for an evening of food, alcohol and story telling by the fire. We had a simply fabulous time as the Stows’ are fantastic hosts and wonderful, warm people.

The ride over to Nakusp was incredible as we passed through steep, ice covered jagged peaks following streams with water the bluish-green color that only melting glaciers can make. Arriving in Nakusp the campground host helped us find a secluded site that we will use at times over the next three weeks.

The first day out we rode about 100kms south along perfect tarmac following the curves of a clear running stream under cloudless blue skies with the temperature around 60°F. Stopping for fuel we noticed the skies to the west and north (behind) us black as a storm had blown in. Cutting the break short we high-tailed it back toward camp trying to beat the bad weather. After about 50kms our paths met as the thunder cracked after the lightning flashed, the rain came down on us, along with getting hammered by dime to quarter sized hail. Since there wasn’t a place to stop, we continued on, and ran out of the storm after about 20 minutes.

The next morning was beautiful so we did something we rarely do, but need to do more often, just relaxed. Finding a secluded section of the river we grabbed our chairs and sat by the river and watched the birds of prey above our heads circle riding the thermals hunting for a tasty fish to pull out of the river.

Riding a big, lazy loop south of Nakusp made for another fantastic day. We stopped in Keslo for lunch at a little hamburger joint on the water, famous for their sour-dough bread and Halibut sandwich, SO good. Gypsy seemed pleased with the samples she was able to stare me down for also.

We headed over to Kamloops today for the 4th annual WestWind Rowdies 4-day party. The bash was held at our friends Ricard and Nancy Bell’s estate. The group all became friends at the WestWinds RV in Yuma where they all winter and is made up of mostly Canadians and a couple token Americans.

We arrived a day early with a few others and commenced drinking, eating and socializing, what we all do best. About 20 people stayed on site, sleeping in bedrooms and all other types of mobile sleeping and living quarters. Richard and Nancy are the best at entertaining and making sure their guests are taken care of. Throughout the four days we played golf and various other outdoor games, hiked and genuinely acted stupid. Our hosts also cooked breakfast, lunch and super for us every day, supplied MANY bottles of home-made wine and made the weekend just an amazingly great time. On the final day we were given the title of Honorary Canadians, very humbling indeed.

Thanks and kudos to the Bell’s for another brilliant summer camp, uh, I mean reunion.

We have fallen in love with this beautiful part of Canada so we headed back north a bit along Route 23, along Lake Revelstoke, which run north about 120 kms to Mica Dam. The tarmac is perfect and the traffic is light, and the views are amazing. Our few days were mostly blue skies with views across the narrow, fiord-like lake of glaciers scattered over half of the distance. We found a Provincial Park with lake front view of the toe of a glacier just across the river, at the top of the mountain, framed by blue skies.

After a few days of beautiful weather and a day of rain and snow on the mountains, which found us soaking in a hot springs, we headed back down to Nakusp and a Horizon’s Unlimited meeting. The meeting and presentations were great as usual. WANDRR Motorcycle Tours, us, set up shop with our new soft gear from Andy Strapz from Australia. We had a great time listening to tales from the roads of the world from the many friends that made it to the meet.

We left Nakusp heading back to see family in GA, USA, with a week riding in Colorado visiting some old friends, John and Kathy Walker, who extended fantastic hospitality to us for a couple days. Thanks guys, it was great seeing you. img_20160907_104535214We headed up to Estes Park and the Long’s Peak Scottish Highlands games for a day of fun, drinking, kilt wearing and parades. We came across a talented band while there, Albannach, which is the number one drum and bagpipe band of Scotland. They were so good I bought a shirt and CD.

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Arriving at HUBBUK in Hay on Wye and staying at Baskerville Hall Hotel was everything we had hoped it would be. The accommodations and hotel has a old, historic quality that we had anticipated and the Horizons Unlimited event seemed to run flawlessly because of attentive volunteers that make these events happen. Thanks to everyone involved, and especially Caroline that helps us whenever needed and made my presentation on the Baja so easy to do.

Caroline Carver

The weather was typical of Wales, so we were told,  rainy. We arrived in the train and it ended up training almost the entire weekend. I didn’t set up a stand for WANDRR Motorcycle Tours, but passed out flyers and cards and did another presentation on traveling the Baja, Mexico. Traveling on motorbike presents issues when it comes to inclimate weather, no coverage. We had the opportunity to meet and visit with many people from the international community and had a blast. I’ll post a few pictures with captions that show a clip of the event.

The main Baskerville hall

One of our favorite people, the charming and witty, Simon Gandolfi.

Dylan Wickrama

Friends Billy Sherratt and Bernard Smith

Friend Tiffany Coates and her presentation on riding in Madagascar

With friends Ken and Carol Duval from Australia, Caroline and Jim Carver, and the Dirty Old Bags.

Trying out Tiffany Coates bike, Thelma.

We left the great times and friends of HU UK on Sunday morning. Riding out on Father’s Day and headed toward Kidwelly, Wales and the completion of a very important mission the weather was beautifully Welsh, dreary and rainy. My dad, 15 years prior, had found a couple of our distant Turp family. It seems all of the Turp family in America come from the same family from Essex, England. My Dad passed on 10 years ago never having had the opportunity to meet with the two Turps he had been corresponding with in Wales. Well we decided to stop in, unannounced, and surprise them. Pulling up to the address on the letter that my Dad had it was us that got the surprise, an ambulance in front of the house. As it turned out, Charles Turp had falling and was OK, bought was taking a ride to the hospital to be checked out. The paramedics let us in to chat with them before they left and just loved our story. The brother and sister, Charles and Caroline, remembered the letters to my father. To me it was a very emotional reunion and a completion of my father’s journey.

My distant cousin’s, Caroline and Charles Turp, born in Essex and living in Wales.

Skinny Canal boats at a local pub

Sunset in Wales

The other thing I wanted to do was visit the Coventry Transport Museum and see and touch my friend Ted Simon’s Triumph Tiger 100, that he rode around the world in 1973. This journey, told in his book Jupiter’s Travels, lasted 4 years through 45 countries, 103,000 kms and has inspired thousands of motorcycle riders to do journeys of their own. Thanks Ted for the inspiration and friendship.

Coventry Transport Museum

My friend Ted Simon’s Triumph, Jupiter’s Travels

Tomorrow we head back to mainland Europe and ride east.

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Overland Expo

We arrived at OX16 west on Wednesday for the pre party and couldn’t check in as the campground was wet and the staff didn’t want anyone out there. We finally made a deal with the formal campground staff to pay for a place to camp in the campground. It was a very small corner space, but at least we could stay. We set up our cargo trailer to sleep in instead of tent camping. Later that day, as othet people arrived, the tent campground opened up and they were allowed to camp.

The weekend was a blast with friends showing up that we knew and meeting many new people. The area got some rain, dried out and then became wind and blowing dust. I guess that trumps snow.

The first night a group of early arrivers ended up at the restaurant. We had a good time talking of past rides, where to ride next and talking of things that had happened over the past year. It was a fun evening.

Pre OX meal with friends

The next day we attended a couple presentations but the real fun always happens around camp. As new and old friends came around we just talked to each one as you never know from one year to the next when they will turn up again.

Nigel Grace looking pretty dapper

Melanie, Ted Simon and I

Sharing dinner with Sam Manicom

Sam Manicom and Randy Perkins

Fireside entertainment

Stefano Malgrati

Ed March being himself

Nicole, Carla, Lisa, Tiffany and Traci sharing the fire

Ginamarie and Melanie

Morman Lake

Ed and Rachel’s C90’s

Greg riding Ed’s C90


Etched by Al Jessie

Morning warmth with friends

All too soon the weekend of OX was over and everyone was heading out, some to home and other on continuing journeys, local and worldwide. Saying goodbye and so long is always difficult as you sometimes don’t know if or where paths will cross again. But with some they will and we know that we will always have this group to call friends. Overland Expo 2016 was in the books, without snow this year, and we look forward to attending this fantastic event again.

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