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Posts Tagged ‘ New Mexico ’

July 13th, 2010 - Short Way Round

What I heard the most in past few weeks was the question: “Are you back already?!!!”

I never thought that I would see Montana again, at least not for a long, long time, but here we are, back to where I started a year ago. Since I started this journey on my motorcycle, I have covered Alberta, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Alaska, British Colombia, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. It seems like forever ago but such a short distance, more like a shakedown ride to me.

I learned a lot about riding and more importantly living on the road. I met some amazing people, saw some beautiful places, and built a sophisticated touring machine out of a 1982 Suzuki. But my true discovery came in the form of a dawning comprehension of the struggles that go on every day on every corner of this planet: in particular, the travesty of extreme poverty and malnutrition.

Well actually that wasn’t it. I discovered that I’m not the only one, and there are hundreds if not thousands who share the passion to help bring relief to those suffering from hunger. This journey evolved beyond the scope of my one-man band, and eventually I founded and incorporated the Transcontinental Humanitarian Corp., a non-profit 501(C)(3) organization to bring together those with a similar passion and desire to give a helping hand to ordinary people during times of extraordinary tribulation.

This is not an impressive resume for a so-called adventurer. From the minute I got back to Montana, I had the itch to get back on the bike again and head out for the unknown. But you know how it goes, when the bike is ready, I’m not, and when I’m ready the bike is not. Since I had a warm dry garage, I figured to fix everything I could possibly fix and with that in mind, I tore up the bike to pieces again.

I had some problem with the steering head bearings (which turned out to be far more gone that I thought), the rear brake needed new pads, the headlight wiring had to be redone to fix the voltage drop, wire the new fog lights, add some reflectors to the boxes for more visibility, add more lights to the back to mark the width of the bike, hardwire my GPS, Install the new camera mount, sand and clear-coat the side covers (cosmetic only but they had been bothering me for a long time), fix the oil leak form the cam-chain tensioner, head gasket and oil pressure switch, Install an alarm system,  change the gearbox and drive shaft oil and grease everything.

The bearing races were in awful shape; no wonder this bike wobbled a lot in low speed. I could run my fingernail across it and dig in deep in the grooves made by the roller bearings. The rear brake pads were almost to the metal, and they were so far down that I could barely see any brake fluid in the reservoir. After adding 5 relays, the electrical system is now in tiptop shape and the headlight is as bright as it can be. I also added a security system with a screaming siren to ward off bored and crazy kids in third world countries; it also gives me a peace of mind while sleeping as I know it will go off the second a bird lands on it.

By the time I was done with all these chores, the bike looked and felt so good that I didn’t want to ride it anymore! In the meantime, Cynthia went back to California to give her two week notice and quit her job for the long run. She has come a long way. To be honest I didn’t think that she would make it more than 3 days, but she braved the road for 3000 miles and 40 days and she was eager for more. She quit her job of seven years as a social worker to join a crazy expedition on a motorcycle around the world. I did the same thing, but this was my dream. She wasn’t a rider, nor had she ever camped out more than a couple of nights at a time in her whole life without being close to her familiar surroundings. That’s adventurous in my book.

I picked her up at the airport in Missoula, and we are packing again, this time even smaller. We’ll be on the road before you know it, and this time no return for at least five years…

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May 24th, 2010 - Las Vegas, Baby!

As we rode up the 25N, we felt a little bit like we were in the twilight zone, each of us privately musing over our recollection of US geography and wondering how in the world Las Vegas could be on our route. Hadn’t we left that back West, miles ago? But sure enough, sign after sign kept pointing towards Las Vegas. Turns out there is another Las Vegas, in New Mexico, although this one doesn’t come up in the first five pages of a Google search, if you just search for Las Vegas instead of Las Vegas, NM, but it should given its colorful and storied history.

Las Vegas was established in 1835 after a group of settlers received a land grant from the Mexican government. The town was laid out in the traditional Spanish Colonial style, with a central plaza surrounded by buildings which could serve as fortifications in case of attack. Las Vegas soon prospered as a stop on the Santa Fe Trail. Historian Ralph Emerson Twitchell once claimed, “Without exception there was no town which harbored a more disreputable gang of desperadoes and outlaws than did Las Vegas.” Among the notorious characters were such legends of the Old West as: dentist Doc Holliday and his girlfriend, Big Nose Kate, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Wyatt Earp, Mysterious Dave Mather, Hoodoo Brown, Durango Kid and Handsome Harry the Dancehall Rustler. A number of films were made in this town, and Patrick Swayze, American actor, dancer and singer-songwriter, had a ranch in Las Vegas.

After grabbing some New Mexican grub in Vegas, we headed out into the fierce winds, like 2 bugs on a bull. The wind was blowing around 45-50 mph. and pushing us back and forth all over the highway. Sometime during the ride, the plastic cradle for the GPS which was mounted on the front left side of the bike broke off. Luckily, Chris was able to grab the GPS before it fell and smashed to bits on the highway. We pulled over at a rest stop to get a reprieve from riding in the winds. Chris latched his helmet onto the front left pannier as he had done hundreds of times before, and the rack supporting the pannier sheared completely off and fell to the ground with the pannier.

Thankfully a friendly family traveling in their RV came over to chat and gave us some rope to help strap the box to the rear left pannier. It’s important that the weight on the bike be properly be balanced and distributed so as to ensure the maximum safety while riding. We were already having trouble riding in the wind but after having to re-position the left front pannier to the back, we were wobbling back and forth in the wind.

With miles to go until Denver, Colorado, we were trying to make good time to reach our couch surfing host, Paul Cornelius, but had to ride between 45-65 miles per hour. This slower place made it easier to spot the antelope dotting the plains as we drove by. The sun set gloriously against the mountains, and we still were hours from Denver. We threw on more layers to help beat the wind-chill and pushed on until we arrived exhausted at Paul’s doorstep. Paul opened the door before we even dismounted from the bike and came out to welcome us. Although our stay with him was short, he took the time from his busy schedule to visit with us and share stories about life and travels around the world. He’s traveled all over Central and South America as well as lived in Europe and will be leaving shortly on a back-packing trip to Asia and Africa for the next 2 years. The next morning we lucked out and found the coolest guy on the planet with more tools that I could care for. We’ll be fixing the bike here in Denver and get on the road. Stay tuned!

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