The Achievable Dream 5-part series - the definitive guide on DVD for planning your motorcycle adventure. Get Ready! covers planning, paperwork, medical and many other topics! "Inspirational and Awesome!" See the trailer here!
Gear Up! is a 2-DVD set, 6 hours! Which bike is right for me? How do I prepare the bike? What stuff do I need - riding gear, clothing, camping gear, first aid kit, tires, maps and GPS? What don't I need? How do I pack it all in? Lots of opinions from over 150 travellers! "This DVD will save you a fortune!"See the trailer here!
So you've done it - got inspired, planned your trip, packed your stuff and you're on the road! This section is about staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. And crossing borders, war zones or oceans!
On the Road! is 5.5 hours of the tips and advice you need to cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike and deal with breakdowns and emergencies."Just makes me want to pack up and go!" See the trailer here!
Tire Changing!Grant demystifies the black art of Tire Changing and Repair to help you STAY on the road! "Very informative and practical." See the trailer here!
Ladies on the Loose! For the first time ever, a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! These intrepid women share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! Presented by Lois Pryce, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose', and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles.'
"It has me all fired up to go out on my own adventure!" See the trailer here!
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Achievable Dream The definitive guide to planning your motorcycle adventure! This insanely ambitious 2-year project has produced an informative and entertaining 5-part, 18 hour DVD series. "The ultimate round the world rider's how-to DVD!" MCN UK.
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The weather was warm when we had left Moab, Utah, but it got much cooler as we entered into Colorado. It was a drastic change leaving the dry, sandy bedrock for dense fields and valleys that looked painted with autumn colors. The mountains were gorgeous with beautiful red peaks and there were areas where the soil was such a deep yellow that small rivers looked like they were flowing with liquid gold. As we rode through many switchbacks and gawked at USA s little Switzerland, I was afraid that Rocky was paying more attention to the scenery than the road because the view was truly captivating.
Darkness approached quickly as the sun set behind the tall mountains but we continued to ride so that we could escape the bitter cold of the high altitude. Once we reached Durango, Colorado, we stopped at McDonald’s to warm ourselves with a hot cup of coffee and to use their notoriously shitty free Internet to search for a public park. We rode up to what seemed to be a perfect spot to set up our tent and I immediately recognized the soft plush grass to be a sign of an irrigation system. I spent a few minutes crawled on all fours feeling for sprinklers but I wasn’t able to find any. Tired and anxious to relax , we unpacked and just as we finally got comfy the damn sprinklers turned on. I panicked at first because we were being sprayed from every direction but luckily none were spraying in our tent. Just as we had mentioned our luck, the cops arrived. It was awkward timing and I wanted to pretend I couldn’t hear him over the sound of splashing but his lights were blinding me. I needed perfect timing as I ran out of the tent to avoid getting soaked and I hoped that that was enough reason for him to allow us to stay. He asked what we were doing and he told me we would have to leave, especially since the motorcycle was prohibited from being in the park. Exhausted and irritated I had no other choice than to batt my eyelashes as I told him about our trip and explained that it was too cold, wet and dark to continue riding. My lady skills worked and he kindly gave us permission to stay for the night.
Early the next morning it was interesting to wake up to an old fashioned coal-fired, steam-powered locomotive filled with passengers as it choo-choo’d by. The park was busy with people starring at us as they jogged past and I was confused when an older man tried handing me ten dollars for breakfast. Minutes later the police showed up again but it didn’t matter what they had to say because we were leaving anyway.
After we packed up, and went to subway for breakfast, it began to rain. We decided to hang out there until the sky cleared but it only began raining harder. Shortly after arriving, the manager stopped to talk to us, he noticed the motorcycle fully loaded and was curious of our travels. We had asked if he minded us hanging out there to use the Internet as we searched for a place to go and he told us to stay as long as we needed. Hours later and with no luck couch surfing, the manager approached us and said that he had phoned his wife and got her approval to invite us to stay with his family for the night. We were very surprised and obviously happy. When we arrived at Mikes house, we were introduced to his wife Stephanie, their son Davis and daughter Stevi, they immediately made us feel very comfortable and welcomed. After a cold rainy day it felt great to have a hot shower and a bowl of stew for dinner. Mike and Stephanie were a very funny, charming couple, and their kids were extra cute. While Mike and Rocky talked about what routes we should take, I got to relax while Stevi played the piano for me. I really enjoyed hanging out with this family and I especially liked the gift and note that Stevi and Davis had made for us. It felt great to spend the night in such a comfortable environment.
The following morning we were well rested and ready to visit Mesa Verde National Park. The area features numerous ruins of homes and villages built by the Ancestral Puebloan people (sometimes called the Anasazi), and is best known for cliff dwellings, which are structures built within caves and under outcropping in cliffs. It was beautifully well preserved, and before I nearly squashed a tarantula as I was walking, I imagined that it could have been a fantastic place to live. I am not a fan of spiders, I am petrified actually but as soon as I noticed this one, I couldn’t help but stare at it for a few seconds, it was huge. As I was admiring it, a girl, maybe 7 years old, was running backwards laughing and singing. She wasn’t paying attention to where she was stepping and as she came awfully close. I had to stop her and warn her to be careful not step on the spider. She starred at me with a very bratty expression on her face, she was probably wondering what kind of person goes out of their way to protect a spider from getting stepped on. I pointed to the tarantula for her to see it and her reaction was priceless as she screamed in horror and cried hysterically. Maybe I’m mean, but I laughed about it most of the ride back into Utah.
The beautiful colours of The Colorado Rockies
Up in the mountains near Ouray, Colorado
Crystal Lake, up in The Colorado Rockies
Davis, Mike, Stephanie, Stevi and Paula
Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde National Park - Colorado
We pulled off to the side of the road where we seemed to be in the middle of nowhere yet in the center of it all and decided it was the perfect place to stay for the night. The scenery was incredibly wondrous and definitely the most memorable place I have ever awoken to. Utah is impressive! Different than what I’m used to seeing, it displays imposing mountains and flat-layered plateaus brightly coloured red, orange, peach and beige sandstone, sculptured from an ongoing process of wind and water. With over two billion years of accumulated rock, climate and erosion have exposed an extraordinary diversity of geologic structures with little vegetation. It was no surprise that the area was named Valley of The Gods.*We awoke, packed up camp early and spent a long moment staring into the calm distance that surrounded us before stopping by Monument Valley for a few pictures.
All I could think of on our way to Lake Powell was the grumbling of my empty belly. Even though there was nothing in sight to eat except for some shrubs, I was tempted to cook one up and sprinkle it with salt. Once we arrived to Lake Powell we had planned on taking the Ferry across but we missed the chance and the next Ferry crossing wasn’t until the following morning. Starving, there were no restaurants, just a convenient store. It was shortly after 5pm and luckily we walked through the door just before it was locked for the night. It was a tiny room with only a few brands of chocolate bars, a couple of cans of beans and few bags of potato chips. We bought what seemed like half of the store and sat at a picnic table as I attempted to cook the beans on our camping stove.
I love to cook but since being on this trip I have had the opportunity to do so only sometimes while couch surfing. Otherwise, we are eating a $5 foot long from subway because it’s affordable and somewhat healthy. Dinner was made! Cool Ranch Doritos, Pork and Beans with a Snickers bar for dessert and Ginger ale to drink. It was gross but I appreciated something other than Subway. Once we were done eating we began to unpack and prepared to set up the tent. Since there was nowhere to really hide, we had no choice but to be exposed. A man walked over to us and then explained that we would be fined if the park ranger caught us, he told us that he was in charge of a nearby camp site and invited us to stay there for free. We obviously agreed and were thankful to sleep in a great location that overlooked the lake.
Lake Powell is a very pretty, large lake but the short ferry ride across it made it seem much smaller. As soon as we were on the other side, we began our day with a delicious breakfast omelette, I was very pleased to eat something wholesome. We traveled on a gravel road named The Bird Trail for some time until we reached a paved road. I remember being surrounded by smooth stoned mountains but as we slightly rode higher in altitude, the sky suddenly opened up and both sides of the narrow road dropped down significantly shocking us with an intense change of scenery. It was simply beautiful. As we continued, we expressed to each other how wonderful it would be to have a nice cup of coffee but knew that we wouldn’t be approaching a busy area for a while. Or not. Out of nowhere, in the middle of nowhere was a Kiva Koffee house overlooking the entire area. Sweet! We stopped to enjoy the scenery and our yummy cup of ridiculously-priced coffee.
After a nice short rest we continued riding and just as I thought to myself that Utah couldn’t possibly be any prettier, we arrived at Bryce Canyon. I was speechless as my jaw hit the ground. The scenery was incredible, oddly, the only thing my mind could think of that related to what I was looking at was Orange Creamsicles. We took a long hike through the slot canyons and then rode through the park to visit other areas but it became extremely cold and there was snow, clearly a sign that we should make our way south towards Arizona.
I had contacted a family in Colorado City at the Utah/Arizona state line and they welcomed us into their home. As we approached the city, Rocky suggested that we take a shortcut through some back roads and mentioned that we were running low on gas. We eventually found ourselves on a dirt path encompassed by beautiful pink sand dunes. It was slippery and unstable to ride on and I began to fear that we would crash and/or run out of gas. Of course, Rocky was much more confident than I.
Finally arriving, Colorado City seemed unfinished. There were only a few paved roads and houses were partially built. We found Lori’s house and once we met she explained that her husband and daughter were currently away but we were introduced to most of her eight sweet children named Kimmy, Jasper, Jamie, Alma, Rosa, Vera, Charles and Carol. Immediately upon getting there we were offered a bite to eat and a hot shower. While I was washing up, Rocky hung out with Carol while Lori left to drive one of her other daughters to a party. I walked in to Rocky and Carol’s conversation as Carol was describing life in Colorado City. We listened ignorantly, about the history of polygamy and were surprised to discover that Warren Jeff’s compound was located in their neighbourhood.
For those who don’t know of Warren Jeff’s, it is rumoured that he had 70 wives and he 31 daughters. He belonged to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and held the official title in the FLDS Church as the “President and Prophet, Seer and Revelator”. Not only does he believe that a*devoted church member is to have at least three wives in order to get into heaven, and the more wives a man has, the closer he is to heaven but he was*the sole individual in the church who possessed the authority to perform its marriages and was responsible for assigning wives to husbands. Jeff’s also held the authority to discipline wayward male believers by reassigning their wives, children and homes to another man. Personally, if I had many children to care for, I would definitely consider one or maybe even a few wives, but to have to ask for permission from anyone other than my husband, is redonkulous.
The next morning, we were spoiled with a delicious breakfast before going to Zion national park. For many reasons, I wish I had spent more time with Lori and her family. It would have been interesting to know how she manages being such a positive, spiritual mother, living in the midst of a complicated community. With such a large family, it was nice to spend time in a home that was filled with a lot of heart and bright personalities.
Zion National Park was a lot of fun. We were able to ride through parts of it on the motorcycle, that took us through tunnels inside of a mountain but there was also a shuttle bus that took us to some walking trails where we were able to hike through one of nature’s finest sceneries. After a long day of site seeing, we got back on the road and witnessed a perfect sunset as we approached Page, Arizona. Hungry, we pulled up to a McDonald’s because it bribes us with free Internet. A guy named Rex noticed us with the bike and had begun a conversation with Rocky. He mentioned that he was picking up his girlfriend Kayla, she worked there at McDonald’s. Rex later described himself to us as “hillbilly”, I disagree, Rex looked BADASS. He resembled a typical biker with his shaved head, goatee, crocked nose and many tattoos. But then again what does a biker look like? Me? After exchanging many words, he invited us to pitch our tent at the trailer park where they lived, we gratefully accepted. A while later, we met them there and, after preparing for our night stay, we were invited into their trailer for some laughs.
Somewhere along our travels, we were thoughtfully handed a nice bag of herbs, so I asked if it was OK to share. Seconds later, we smoke filled the trailer with a lovely scent. Many people would probably shy away from the looks of Rex and his extremely obedient Pit Bull. And, they probably would have run when he grabbed for his gun that was resting beside me. But I was only afraid for a second because I was high. I quickly came to my senses and knew that he just wanted to put it in a safe place. Rex, his dog and his sweet girlfriend, Kayla, were really kind, friendly and interesting. We had a great night getting to know and laughing with them. After a short sleep, we packed up and said our goodbyes.
Our plan was to spend the day at Antelope Canyon. We had seen pictures of it on the Internet and were excited to visit. Antelope canyon is on native land belonging to The Navajo Nation. It was formed by erosion primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to rainwater, especially during monsoon season. Although, rain does not even have to fall on or near the Antelope Canyon slots for flash floods to whip through, as rain falling dozens of miles away ‘upstream’ of the canyons can funnel into them with little prior notice. Over time the passageways are eroded away, making the corridors deeper and smoothing hard edges in such a way as to form characteristic “flowing” shapes in the rock. It was definitely worth visiting but I was a little annoyed when we first arrived. We rode down a driveway that led us to a hut where we were asked for $6 admission each before entering. We were given tickets and once parked, we walked towards the crowd of people on the other side of the field. We were than told that we were not allowed to go without a tour guide and that would cost us an additional $25 each (if we changed our mind, the $6 admission we each paid would NOT be reimbursed). It was worth seeing, yes, but very deceiving to not be forewarned that we would be paying over $60 between the both of us. I thought it was ridiculously priced, especially after paying approximately $100 for us both to enter into all of the national parks in the US for the entire year.
After a couple of hours and many pictures, we left Antelope Canyon and tried to make it to our next destination before the sun set. We were planning to visit a high school friend who had moved to Flagstaff, Arizona a few years back. It had been a beautiful warm day but by the time we reached Flagstaff, the sun quickly hid behind the large, gorgeous mountains and left our bones chilled with the night’s air and high altitude. Ok, chilled isn’t the proper word, I was frozen and my teeth wouldn’t stop chattering. I hate not being prepared for climate change, had it been a bit cooler during the day in Page, Arizona, I would have worn the liners in my Rev-it gear because they work great to keep me warm. However, I was wearing my rev-it gloves and if I haven’t mentioned before, they suck! Rev-it *H20 claim to be waterproof no matter what the weather, they lie. They are constantly cold and wet (soaking wet) from either sweat or weather and they take days to dry. I love Rev-it gear but paying almost $200 for them is a rip off. Just saying.
The sun had retreated for the night leaving none of its warmth behind. When we arrived at Rob and Christina’s doorstep, we were immediately welcomed to sit by the fireplace to thaw our bodies from the chill we had just endured during our ride there. Brrr. I was frozen cold and extremely happy that we wouldn’t have to set up the tent in Flagstaff, Arizona that night. Although camping is a lot of fun, I was looking forward to sleeping on a bed and relaxing at Rob and Christina’s for the week. It seemed that I had finally gotten used to being on the road, it took a long time to find comfort with all of the change I had gone through but I also felt as though I was ready to take a moment away from traveling to enjoy a nice vacation.
Christina and Rob lived in a large home that was shared with roommates mike and Martin, and a miniature Doberman named Pony-Boy. It was a home filled with active athletes who were either competing for the Olympics, running races, finishing marathons or simply leading an active healthy life style. Rocky and Rob were close friends from high school and that is how I first knew Robbie, more than 15 years ago. I remember him from track and field but I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him. That didn’t matter though, because the moment I walked through his door I was treated life a life long friend.
I could compare staying with Rob and Christina to the best resort in the world but it was better. It all began with simple things such as labels left throughout the house to guide us to anything we may need. There was a constant supply of delicious wheat that became my favorite kind, and a fridge filled with yumminess. They were vegetarian and all of their produce was organic or picked from their garden. Christina was such an incredible cook and was constantly preparing the most amazing meals and desserts. Mmm Christina’s homemade peanut butter ice cream will forever remain on my mind. I probably put on a few pounds during our visit. I always imagined that meat was a necessary part of a meal but heck no, I was wrong. She had so many ideas of how to prepare vegetables that I now believe that I am a carnivore only for selfish reasons.
Our first few days there were spent repairing the bike. She was in need of an oil change and valve clearance check. Rocky does most of the work but I’m a fine little helper. It was also a good time to wash our riding gear. It reeked and was covered in dead bugs. I regret buying the grey Rev’It! gear instead of the black because it looks filthy quickly.
Flagstaff is a great place and I can certainly understand why Rob had moved there. It was surrounded by mountains and an active community. Rocky and I went riding through some trails that lead us to ski lifts where we took a long peak at our surroundings from the top of a mountain. Being on this adventure and constantly on the go is great but taking a moment to stop and stare at the beauty of this planet is the most rewarding gift that I could offer my soul.
Mid week into our visit, Rocky and I were invited on a hike that would lead us to a cliff edge. The plan was to go rock climbing. I’m not going to lie, I was intimidated. I am so scared of heights that climbing stairs is a challenge for me. We put on some climbing shoes, harnessed ourselves and I took a long minute to gather my thoughts to conquer my fear. Rob went first so that he could hook up the ropes to support us, he made it look effortless. Christina went next and easily climbed the 90 feet to the top. I began to feel more comfortable. When it was my turn to go, I caked my hands with talc to absorb all the sweat and I began climbing. I concentrated on either looking up, forward or at my next move but I knew not to look down. I caught myself repeating the thought in my mind ‘don’t look down, you’re almost there, whatever you do, don’t look down!’. Almost half way to the top my little chicken arms were burning and I began to struggle with my next move. Flexibility was key because there wasn’t anything close to latch on to. I could hear everyone trying to help me from the bottom but I was unable to make sense of the direction. I looked down to read Christina’s lips as she tried to direct and encourage me… Oh shit! I looked down! Suddenly my knees began to convulse and my heart began to race. If nobody stood beneath me I would’ve peed my pants. I was petrified. It took what seemed like a lifetime to regain a normal breathing pattern and calm my heart back into my chest. It took a lot to convince myself that I was going to be fine and I finally mustered up the confidence to stretch my leg up and wide to pull myself high enough to reach my arm. I did it! Holy sheep shit, I actually did it and the relief brought me to the top with a better sense of confidence. I was proud to have climbed a 90-foot cliff and happy to have conquered my fear, even though I am still afraid of heights!
A couple of days later, Rob planned a fishing trip with us and his friend, Stephan. We packed a lunch and headed a couple of hours away towards the Colorado River. I had never been fly-fishing and assumed that it meant catching fish with actual flies. I was wrong. In fly-fishing, fish are caught by using artificial flies that are cast with a fly rod and a fly line. The fly line is heavy enough to send the fly to the target. The main difference between fly fishing and spin or bait fishing is that in fly fishing the weight of the line carries the hook through the air, whereas in spin and bait fishing the weight of the lure or sinker at the end of the monofilament or braided line gives casting distance (did that make any sense? If not, blame Wikipedia). I put on a waterproof pair of pants that covered my toes and came up to my chest that were held up by suspenders and put on boats that were wore over it. I looked extra sexy. I walked in slow motion through thick mud that pulled me into the earth and carefully walked out into the middle of the river. It was fun as I walked over slippery rocks with the river rushing past my legs as I tried to keep my balance while holding on to my fishing rod. Once I reached the center of the river, I cast my rod far through the air. Apparently, I was good at it but I wasn’t sure if Rob was just telling me that for encouragement. Between catching a few fish and relaxing on the shore as the sun began to rise beautifully over the cliff that hugged the river, it was an incredible day!
Our stay in Flagstaff was coming to an end and with the motorcycle back together, Rocky and I decided to take a road trip to visit the Grand Canyon before we left. It was a warm day and it felt nice to be riding the bike bare without all of our luggage. The Grand Canyon was awesome! I saw it in pictures many times before but they could never describe the view as I had felt it, being there. We spent the day exploring but mainly just simply starring into the distance. When we finally headed back towards Flagstaff, the temperature dropped and night fell quickly. I hate riding at night. Especially on dark roads that hide large animals as they cross. It surprises me that we have never hit one and I was glad to have arrived back safely.
It was time to move on and although I secretly wanted to be adopted into Rob and Christina’s home, we had much more to see and experience. It was nice to be spoiled and great to have had so much fun but the road was waiting for us. I loved Flagstaff! Stay golden, Pony-Boy!
We finally just got the new frame for the motorcycle last month, and I'm trying to find the time between work and the effort to start the rebuild.
Your pictures are stunning! May I ask which camera(s) you are using? Do you edit the photos a lot through a photo editing program? And where did you learn about photography? Really fantastic! Keep 'em coming
Thanks! I am using the Canon 5D Mark II. Some photos are edited, especially the HDR photos, but I try to edit photos as little as possible now since it's just too time consuming. I usually use Aperture to color-correct and Adobe Photoshop for spot removal and some other retouching, resizing and watermarking, etc..
I learned about photography just by looking at a lot of photos (photo.net has some amazing photographers), and by taking a lot of photos. The best way to learn it to use a digital camera with only manual settings. I still have a bunch to learn, but I did see an improvement throughout the trip since I was getting my camera out everyday.
Your HDR pics are excellent.
Any idea when you will be ready to continue your journey?
It took 4 months to finally receive the motorcycle back in Canada (we were told it would take 30 days), and the new frame took almost 3 months to arrive. The frame had to be shipped from KTM Austria to California, and then to upstate New York, where we picked it up, and the vendor bungled up the ordering of it which added quite a bit to the time it took.
This left us with little time to repair the bike and to head out before the end of the summer. We decided to stay the winter, repair the bike and head back out next spring or summer.
It was a good day to get back on the road. The weather was beautiful, we had reorganized our belongings, gathered our thoughts and our riding gear was feeling fresh. It was a relaxed ride through Arizona, the sun was warm as the earth became flat and the sound inside my helmet was pure bliss. Oh, I miss that sound. If peace and calm made a noise, I am certain it is this.
Our general direction for the day was towards New Mexico. There were a few interesting stops on the way and the first would be Meteor Crater. The story is that 50,000 years ago a nickel/iron meteorite crashed into the Earth and the damage created is supposedly the most well known, best preserved meteorite crater on Earth. I know this only because it was written in the description at the entrance beside the admission fees. We decided not to go see it once we discovered that it would cost us over $30 to view this large space of nothingness. I would have paid something to see it but $16 each is a bit much when you’re on a tight budget. Maybe I’ll regret that someday but I certainly don’t yet.
Our next stop was Petrified Forest National Park. Back when we were riding through Yellowstone National Park, we rode past a gated area that held a sign reading ‘Petrified Tree’. I didn’t understand. There was a tree stump in the center of the fence but it was too far away to notice anything special about it. It seemed odd that it was called a petrified tree, and I laughed at my own thoughts when I imagined that perhaps it had encountered the Texas Chainsaw massacrer. Arriving at Petrified National Park, it began to make sense as I read the definitions posted throughout. The word petrified comes from the Greek root petro, meaning rock or stone, not scared. Petrified literally means wood turned into stone. This park had many fallen trees from the late Triassic period (approximately 230 million years ago), when I looked at them up close I was shocked to see that the wood was solid rock, sparkling with colorful stones and crystals. If I weren’t concerned with preserving this awesomeness, I would’ve stolen a few chunks to make myself some lovely jewelry.
As one example, I understand the process to be as follows… We start out with a tree, on a much warmer tropical earth million of years ago. As time goes by the tree gets old, or the weather changes, and it dies and falls into mud. As the tree decays the cells become hollow and the water seeps into the tree and into the cells. The water is filled with minerals like calcite and silicone and as the water evaporates it leaves the minerals behind filling up the cells and creating a petrified tree. Since Opals are silicon and water, that is the exact same ingredients that make petrified wood. So most silicon based petrified wood is really Opals, of various forms and qualities.
Unfortunately, we have no pictures to show because ——-*SPOILER ALERT* my point and shoot camera was stolen before I got the chance to copy my pictures to a hard drive. ——- Rocky didn’t take any pictures, he was feeling too lazy to push a damn button. Ok, I can only honestly partially blame him. We kept the camera, lenses, flash, battery chargers, cords, and all that kind of stuff in the tank bag. Although the bag was easy to get to, it was perfectly packed in order for everything to fit in it, so, removing anything from it meant constantly reorganizing. Packing and unpacking was annoying at times, this was one of those times.
After leaving the Park, we rode until we got hungry and stopped at Subway in Springerville, Arizona. Uhgg, I was getting real sick of eating Subway. We decided to spend the night nearby and asked the girl behind the counter if she had any suggestions of where to camp. She recommended a park and gave us directions but we ended up behind a police station, and when we rode a bit further we ended up at a grave yard. I wasn’t about to sleep at either place so I was excited once we finally found the park. It was a great place to camp, there was a large overhang with a few picnic tables and BBQ pits. We set up the tent in the corner and got ready for a comfortable night sleep.
We awoke the next morning and prepared to enter New Mexico. Our first stop was to check out a Very Large Array. (VLA) is a radio astronomy observatory consisting of 27 independent antennas that serve multiple purposes, but it is not, despite rumours, used to assist in the search for E.T. or any of his alien friends. After gawking at all of this amazing machinery for a while, we continued our journey until we finally reached Roswell, and found most of E.T.’s friends.
Roswell, New Mexico has been a popular conversation since 1947 when an extraterrestrial spacecraft and its alien occupants crashed in the area. The U.S. Armed Forces say that what was recovered was debris from an experimental high-altitude weather and surveillance balloon. But, many have refused to believe that, and Roswell continues to attract attention and tourists interested in UFOs, science fiction, and aliens. It was kinda weird to see green Martians displayed throughout the streets, in the shops and pretty much everywhere. It was dark when we had arrived and after using McDonald’s for their wifi, we found a park to sleep in, I’m surprised that I didn’t have creepy dreams that night.
It would be our last day in New Mexico but we he had one more stop to make before entering the state of Texas. Carlsbad Cavern is one of the most incredible places I have visited. We took an elevator 750 feet below ground that led us to a few different chambers made of natural limestone. This cave was insanely huge (4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and 255 feet (78 m) high at the highest point) and it took a few hours for us to walk around. I have no words to describe the intense beauty of theses caves, we got a few awesome pictures but they don’t show how amazing it was in three demential form. We spent the rest of our day in the cavern but still had a lot of road to cover before reaching Texas. The weather had been increasingly warmer as we traveled south and I was excited for all the warm days ahead.
To be honest, I wasn’t too thrilled about going to Texas and I’m going to blame that on politics. If I were asked to describe Texas with 5 words, they would be Bush, Cheney, Halliburton, guns and oil. I’m not a fan of any of that and I could tell that Rocky wasn’t either as he flipper the bird to a Halliburton vehicle we rode past.
The land was flat in comparison to all of the small volcanos we rode past in New Mexico. There were oil rigs, pickup trucks and cowboy hats everywhere. As the day came to an end we finally stopped for a bite to eat and to search for a place to sleep. We came across a small town and decided to sleep at a truck stop with an Ihop near by. Mmm I was craving bacon, eggs and pancakes. Even since the maple syrup was not real maple syrup, it was only a little disappointing. Anything but subway was delicious at this point.
We packed up the next morning and headed to San Antonio, Texas. Back when we were in Boise, Idaho, staying with Kent, we met his employee Jeff. Jeff had mentioned that he was moving to San Antonio right around the same time we would be in the area, and he kindly invited us to stay with him. Before arriving at his house, we were hungry and stopped at a BBQ restaurant named Rudy’s. It was a picnic table kind of place with a large sign that read ‘Rudy’s, the worst bar-b-q in Texas’. The sign lies, the food was ridiculous deliciousness I will never forget! Shortly after eating we rode to Jeff’s house, he lives with his son Arden and his dog Sadie, and we were warm welcomed when we arrived. It was easy to be comfortable in their home, we were immediately treated as if we lived there as well. Literally, he gave us our own set of keys. Jeff has got to be one of the most thoughtful men I have ever met. He went well out of his way to be sure that we were comfortable. The day after we arrived he told me that I probably missed a nice bubble bath and that there was a deep tub he scrubbed clean and purchased a few different products for me in the case that I have missed being a girl while on this trip. It meant a lot to me that he was so kind and that i was able to soak in a nice hot bath.
During the first few days of our stay, we were able to change a tire and find a store that sold PacSafe. PacSafe is an adjustable high-tensile stainless steel locking device, designed to cover and protect a variety of bags and packs from thieves. Since most of our belongings are accessible to anybody, it is a good idea to purchase another PacSafe so that we can lock up our riding gear and helmets as we leave our bike to wander around. Very convenient and I highly recommended it to most travelers.
With all of our errands taken care of, Rocky and I were able to wander around town. San Antonio is a very large city. We explored the city center and took a stroll through Riverwalk, where the San Antonio river winds and loops under bridges as two parallel sidewalks are lined with restaurants, shops and hotels, and there are river boats that carry passengers from one end to the other. As the day turned to night we found ourselves wandering throughout the city and stopping to see the Alamo. The Alamo, originally known as Mission San Antonio de Valero, is a former Roman Catholic mission and fortress compound and was the site of the Battle of the Alamo in 1836. It is now a museum in Downtown San Antonio. We enjoyed discovering San Antonio, it is a really nice city to visit.
Over the weekend, Jeff and Arden planned a day trip to take us to Corpus Christi, a coastal city in southern Texas. Jeff, Arden, Rocky and I packed a picnic and got into the SUV for a nice road trip to the beach. Once we finally arrived, the road lead us to a booth before entering the beach area. We were greeted by a park ranger and we became a bit confused by his demeanor and ascent, “Enter if that’s what you want to do. Go ahead, at your own risk of course.” What kind of a greeting is that? We all joked about him as we drove away. Suddenly, our throats got itchy, our eyes burned, we were feeling symptoms of something. The beach was vacant. We entered the tourist building and the park ranger was very helpful and explained to us that there was a Red Tide. Red Tides are caused by tiny, single-celled marine organisms that are normally present in the Gulf of Mexico as resting cysts or ‘seeds’ on the ocean bottom. When certain conditions are right (salinity, temperature and upwelling) a dense concentration also called a ‘bloom’ exposes these organisms to the surface and when hit by light the ocean appears as a brownish red colour. Certain species are toxic and kill fish, contaminate shellfish and cause an irritating aerosol in the air. It was horrible, I felt bad for the park rangers that had to be exposed to this all day/week/month? We ran back to the SUV and headed away from the beach for plan B. Hungry, we decided it would be nice to find a good place to have a picnic and we conveniently found a man selling some tamales to eat with our lunch. Rocky and I had never tried tamales, they turned out to be tasty. After having lunch and walking around the coast, we stopped to check out a museum before heading back to San Antonio. It would be our last night at Jeff’s house and we decided to relax for the night and watch movies on the big screen.
Visiting with Jeff, Arden and their pet Sadie, became another amazing moment and memory of our journey. Texas will now mean a little more to me than just corrupt policies and politics. We packed our belongings the following day and prepared to approach the Mexican border but not without stopping at Rudy’s BBQ one last time.
Sounds like a nightmare time getting the bike back but your both ok and thats the main thing.
Keep those pics coming as it gives me ideas, 6 years until we can start out RTW tour. Till then the furthest we can do is Europe, and just outside, due to work etc.
Looking forward to following your travels.
6 years is a while to wait, but it will be worth the wait. I've started geotagging all the photos on my website so that people can see where they were taken. This will help give you a better idea for things you might want to see and places that you might want to go. The link to my website is in the first post in this ride report.
As we traveled through Canada and the USA we remained in our comfort zone but now that we were about to enter Mexico I was feeling a little bit anxious. Mexico had been having a lot of bad publicity and it wasn’t the safest time to be traveling through it. We spoke to many people, asked a lot of advice and we were warned that the violence was out of control. Mexico was in the midst of a drug war and to make things more complicated the police and politicians were involved in the corruption. I was nervous and I seriously considered skipping past Mexico. Not only had gun shootings become common but many decapitated bodies had been found. I was afraid, and of course, Rocky wasn’t. He believes that the brave may not live for long but the cautious do not live at all. And I on the other hand believed that his new mustache gave him a false sense of security (I still think he deliberately grew it to fit in).
We decided on crossing into Mexico through Nuevo Laredo, Texas. This town reminded me of an 80′s gang movie with all the teardrop tattoos, thick gold crosses and low riding Cutlass Supremes with hydraulic systems and fat, shiny, spinning rims. From what we were told, border towns were the most dangerous. We spoke with various people we had met throughout our travels, many had told us we were going to get killed and the others had given us advise and rules on crossing into Mexico.
We were to:
keep a distance from the border at night
cross the border in the early morning
get all the proper necessary paperwork from the border officials (to avoid fines when exiting Mexico)
not, for any reason, pull over on the highway (high jacking is common)
keep driving until we are as far south from t-he border as possible
do not -stop in Monterey city
avoid cops and drug dealers
We were going to spend the night in Nuevo Laredo and cross the border early the next morning, so we found a place to camp down a dead end street. The road ended where a gated field began and bushes kept us hidden from the open space. It was a large farm area with an abandoned trailer and at least a half a dozen of the most beautiful pure white cows I had ever known to exist.
It was a warm night and the outer layer of the tent was unzipped, exposing the mesh and ourselves to a nice breeze. As we laid in the tent that night watching stuff on the laptop, I had this creepy feeling that we were being watched. Rocky blamed my paranoia on the weed we just smoked and I tried to convince myself that he was right. Almost an hour had passed, I couldn’t shake the feeling and I kept turning my focus outside of the tent. Suddenly, I saw something or someone move in the darkness. My heart dropped and I stopped breathing as my eyes caught more movement. “Rocky, now did you see that? Look over there beside the fence, watch. I just heard a noise in that direction and I saw something move.”
With our faces pressed to the mesh of our tent we both noticed an arm wave through the air in the distance.
“Holy shit Paula, there is someone out there. I’m going to go talk to him, it looks like he’s waving me over. Are you coming with me?”
“Hell no, are you ****ing crazy Rocky? I’ll stay here, I’m freaking out. “
I watched as Rocky approached the figure and then walk back over to me shortly after.
“That was weird. I’m pretty sure that man lives in the trailer. He smelled like he’s homeless and he was wearing his belt over his shoulder. I told him that we were going to spend the night here and he told me that he wasn’t from this realm. Everything else he said was in and out of coherence. ” -Oddly enough, I didn’t feel threatened or frightened anymore. The man just seemed to be curious of the the two homeless people camped outside his realm.
The following morning we decided to wait one more day before crossing the border. We wanted to make sure that we were well prepared by exchanging some money, organizing all of our ID and documents, getting a good night sleep for an early long morning and leaving behind the pipe we were given in Colorado to avoid being charged with paraphernalia. So, if you ever find yourself in Nuevo Laredo, Texas without a pipe, look HERE, hidden along the fence.
With everything ready, we decided to spend the night back at our comfy dead end boulevard. We decided to get up at 6:30am so that our things would be packed and we’d be having breakfast by 7:30 and crossing the border at about 8am. It sounded like a solid plan until Rocky woke me up at 4:30am trying to get me going early. It was the middle of the night and there was NO way I was willing to go at that time. For the next hour Rocky acted like a snooze alarm I was ready to smash his button. It was 5:30am and I was not happy to be awake. We packed our belongings and rode in the dark to Subway for breakfast. It was closed of course, because you would have to be crazy to be up that early, so we rode to another subway a few blocks closer to the border. By the time we got there we just had to wait almost half of an hour before it opened. Exhausted and grumpy about getting up extra early for nothing, we finally got to the border.
There was a huge line of people trying to cross from Mexico into the US, I was happy we were the only ones crossing into Mexico. We entered awkwardly as guards just simply stared at us from a distance. ‘Are we going the right way? Do you want to know who we are, where we are going, why we are going, whether we have passports?’ We crossed without being questioned and I wondered if they were intimidated by our helmet camera.
The moment we were in Mexico everything was different. The air was warm and thick, people were on the streets shouting for our attention to sell us insurance and probably other things. We ignored the commotion and drove two blocks and through a parking lot before finding an immigration office I thought it was inconveniently hidden. It was still early morning when we got to the building but after waiting in a few long lineups to have all the necessary documents to enter ourselves and the motorcycle through the country we were finally getting back on the road well past noon.
I had contacted a guy through couchsurfing.org named Orlando and he welcomed us to stay with him and his family in Ciudad Victoria, a city far enough south from the border. We wanted to ride all the way there without stopping but there was no possible way of that happening. We needed gas and became hungry. As we rode though the (allegedly) dangerous and beautiful city named Monterey we decided to stop (even though we we warned against doing so) and we ate at Pollio Loco (Crazy Chicken). We ate quickly and got back on the road as soon as possible. A full stomach was not helping with our exhaustion as we rode down the highway, and Rocky decided he had to pull over. We had already broken a rule by stopping in Monterey and now Rocky pulled over so that he could take a quick nap on the side of the highway. I wondered if he was crazy and I reminded him of the rules we were to follow but he told me we had two options, either crash the bike as he fell asleep riding or take the chance of being hijacked. Uhgg, my nerves were tweaking and I kept attention as he took a power nap. A half hour later we were back on the road, Rocky was refreshed but my eyes were burning with exhaustion.
The sun was setting as we finally arrived at Orlando’s home, it was an incredibly beautiful home that his family had build over many years. He lived with his sweet mother Romy, his kind father Rigo, his younger sister Tania and his 3 dogs named Mick Jagger, Lolo, Chachara. Orlando was excited to hear about our journey and asked us to join him on a tour of the city. We unpacked some things and I immediately took a shower because I was hoping it would wake me up a bit, and living in a tent doesn’t exactly smell pretty. We walked around for a couple of hours as Orlando gave us the history on Ciudad Victoria, the capital city, of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas. We stopped at a patio to enjoy real fruit and herb slushies while exchanging thoughts on life. It was almost 10pm by the time we got back to his house and exhaustion hit me like a ton a bricks. My energy was completely drained, my eyes were crossing and I became very light headed and dizzy. I laid in bed to fight the hot flashes as my body was struggling to fight whatever was overcoming me. I became violently ill vomiting everything in my stomach past the point of anything being left in there but bile and I finally passed out cold. Morning came and we had plans with Orlando to visit his work and meet the kids he taught at school. He was a teacher and the school was having a BBQ party that day, unfortunately, I couldn’t go. I began puking again the moment I woke up and I simply had no energy. Luckily, Orlando’s mom Romy worked at a hospital and she offered to bring me into work with her, I gratefully accepted. We arrived at the hospital and I was immediately taken into a room to lay down. Rocky, Orlando and Romy were all with me for comfort. Soon after, at least 8 student nurses were surrounding my bed as a few other doctors gave orders and lessons on how to treat me.
As a child, I grew up in a Portuguese household watching Latin soap operas with my mother. They were called telenovelas and they featured the most beautiful Latin people. At that moment as I laid on that hospital bed I felt like I was playing a roll in a telenovela. The students and nurses were dressed all in white, wearing short mini skirts, tight buttoned blouses, baby doll shoes and adorable nurse hats. Their make up was perfectly painted and their hair looking professionally done. I had nurses touching my pulse, pressing my stomach giving me intervenes and needles in my butt cheeks all while a bunch of students are starring at me and Rocky is snapping pictures. It was quite hilarious and I couldn’t stop giggling at the drama unfolding before me.
I was told that I was dehydrated, exhausted and that I would need to rest until the intervenes rehydrated me, (I still don’t know what the needle in my butt cheek was for). Rocky and Orlando left for the day and Romy worked her shift while I slept, but she checked up on me every half hour until 4pm to make sure I was ok. After sleeping on and off for 6 hours, 2 Gatorades and 4 bags of IV, I was ready to leave with Romy at the end of her shift. I felt much better and I was extremely happy for the treatment I was given by all the hospital staff and my new foreign mama. Romy is such an incredible lady and I will always be grateful for her kindness.
We arrived back at the house and she cooked something for me to eat. Orlando and Rocky would be gone all day so I was invited to join mom, dad and sis to a birthday party. Feeling much better, I joined. We arrived at rented hall decorated in balloons and I was introduced to many kind strangers who kept trying to feed me. A live band played accordions and sang while everyone joined in to dance. It was truly a great moment to be a part of.
After the party, we drove to the mall for some ice cream and we waited for Rocky and Orlando to join us. Rocky and I shared our eventful stories, he was very enthusiastic of how great his day went.
Rocky had spent the day with Orlando, visiting the school at which Orlando taught. He boasted about the tacos he had for lunch that were made by the school lunch lady. According to him, they were the best tacos he had ever eaten. After travelling the length of Mexico, from the U.S. to Belize, Rocky still maintains, to this day, that he has never eaten a better taco. I sort of think he’s just trying to make me jealous. After visiting Orlando’s school, Rocky, Orlando and many of Orlando’s co-workers drove to a nearby town for a work BBQ party. There was live music, tons of food and . After the party, Orlando had decided to stop by a resort in the mountains on the way back to the city to take Rocky zip-lining. When they arrived back, Rocky told me that he didn’t try the zip-lining because he said he would have felt bad having so much fun without me, and that he wanted to wait until I was better so that we could both go together.
The next morning, Rocky and I joined Orlando and his father for breakfast in the city. We had what were called Migaldas; fried tortilla with layers of beans, meat, lettuce, salsa, cheese, sour cream. It was cut into four slices and eaten like a pizza; by far my favourite Mexican meal. With full stomachs, we took a walk until we found ourselves in a nearby museum, it was nice to see and learn a little history. After Orlando’s dad went home, we continued to walk around with Orlando and tour the streets and markets. I had visited Mexico previous to this adventure but I felt like this experience was completely different. The touristy places I had visited in the past did not contain nearly half the culture I had noticed in Ciudad Victoria.
It was a Friday and Orlando invited some co-workers and friends over for a BBQ party that night. We all hung out in his backyard and garage, ate tons of meat, drank many s and danced all night.
The next day, we gathered our energies for an eventful family day. During the first few days at Orlando’s house I kept hearing strange noises, I asked Rocky if he had heard them as well but he hadn’t noticed. It sounded like wild animals, it was really strange. Moments later we were told that we would be visiting a Zoo just a block down the street. I thought I was going crazy when I heard foreign animals roar in the middle of the night but it all began to make sense. After walking around there all day, we all decided go for a walk through more of the city and its markets. Rigo surprised me with a bracelet souvenir/gift and I felt it was really sweet how we were treated with so much heart. We arrived back at their home just after dark after picking up a large order of tacos to go. It was nice to sit around the kitchen table, eating tacos, drinking a bottle of wine that mom and sis had purchased in France during their past vacation and looking through photos of their journey through Europe. We spent the rest of the night preparing to sadly leave the next day, and excited to ride to new places recommended by Orlando and his family.
We woke up early on Sunday and were invited to share a traditional Sunday soup before leaving. We obviously agreed to join for breakfast and join in on the city’s tradition of eating tripe soup. Every Sunday morning this soup is prepared and it is rumoured to be a hangover cure. I’m not sure if tripe is the stomach or the intestines of a cow but it smelled like either one. I tried but struggled to eat it, Rocky didn’t, he ate his entire bowl full. Luckily for me, there was more food to choose from and I wasn’t forced to feel rude for not eating. I adore Orlando’s family and I am so grateful to have shared such an amazing experience in a country I was told to fear. His family is a perfect example of Mexican hospitality and it was very difficult to say goodbye.
Our next plan was to head towards the ocean. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org named Tito and we were welcomed to stay at his home in Tampico, still in the State of Tamaulipas. It took us a few hours before arriving and we had enough time to stop a MacDonald’s for WiFi and coffee. The Mexican McDonalds was strange, the menu was different and a huge jar of jalapeños were placed by all the condiments. My coffee was disgusting. Either it was really strong or there was something horribly wrong with the cream. It took 7 creams to slightly lighten my coffee and it tasted like thick, bitter, powdered milk liquid.
We arrived at Tito’s house before dark and had the opportunity to meet him, his father, Hector and his brother, Eduardo. We got ready and were invited to go meet a few of his friends at a local bar for a few drinks. Tito was a handsome guy with many lovely looking friends. It was nice to party with a young crowd and we had a great time getting to know everyone. Later that night, we stopped at a small sandwich shop for a drunken snack. ‘Tortas Mary’ offered the best sandwiches I have ever had. I thought that maybe it was the Coronas speaking but after trying them again a couple of days later, I was convinced of their deliciousness. mmm… Just please try and imagine… fresh, soft buns packed with very thin sliced ham and cheese, refried black beans, pork chicharron, ground beef, fresh fried Chorizo, shredded beef, lettuce, tomato, onion, sliced avocado and sauced with salsa verde (spicy Habanero chili salsa) And yes, it was obviously a huge sandwich.
Morning came and Tito decided to skip school because he wanted to hang out with us. We took a road trip to the coast on the Gulf of Mexico and I was surprised by how vacant such a beautiful beach was. Tito said that the ocean was going through a lot of changes from pollutants, many fisherman stopped fishing and people have stopped swimming in the water, such a shame on us humans. There were less than a handful of people swimming, I was one of them. I took a 5 minute dip just to satisfy my salty craving but then felt it would be best if I got out.
After walking around for the day, Tito explained that he had to work that night and I was welcome to come with him. He owned a pole dancing studio named Polefit and I was about to take lessons on how to pole dance. It was so much fun! My instructor was a strong flamboyant man who was very well experienced at his job. I learned how to do a few moves but I also learned that I needed much more strength for the rest. After one hour Rocky picked me up and we went back to Tito’s house to get ready. While Tito worked the rest of his shift, his friend Roberto came to pick us up. We stopped to grab some more yummy food and ate at his house and drank a few s. I began to discover how much I truly enjoyed Mexican food. After many stories and much laughter, we all left Roberto’s house to meet up with Tito at a bowling alley. I love bowling and never imagined doing so while on this trip, it was nice to experience a little familiarity of home. We all ordered s and I was able to taste a type I had never tried. It was called Michelada, and it was a mixture of , lemon, salt, soy and Tabasco sauce. I found it to taste as gross as it sounds and I was glad I had ordered a Corona.
Visiting Tampico and meeting Tito, his family and friends was awesome. It’s a bit sad to have to constantly meet new friends that I have to say bye to so soon, but, it’s also nice to meet so many great friends I will always cherish.
We left Tampico the following morning and headed to Tamasopo, in the State of San Luis Potosi. The drive there was very beautiful with all the lush greenery around the mountains but it was a difficult ride. Driving through Mexico, you will quickly learn what word ‘Topes’ means on the road signs. Imagine driving down the street going 100km per hour when you see a foreign sign reading ‘Topes’ (sometimes other foreign words are used on signs to describe a Topes) and suddenly, you hit an enormous speed bump that has your tires catch air. Imagine now that these signs are placed randomly to warn you of a huge speed bump that is anywhere from a foot away, up to 50 meters away, also, any where from just one Topes to many Topes and sometimes there are no warning signs at all. Now imagine that you are sitting on the back of a fully loaded motorcycle and every time you ride over a Topes, all the heavy bags stacked on the back of the bike are slapping hard against your back. I don’t hate many things but i certainly HATE Topes. They make for a very annoying difficult ride.
In Ciudad Victoria, Orlando had recommended we stay at a camp ground with waterfalls in a town called Tamasopo. We finally reached it and our next mission was to ask where we could find the waterfalls. It turned it that we had a few places to choose from. We weren’t exactly sure which was best or exactly where it was located but when we stopped at one of them, we immediately decided to stay there. It was incredibly gorgeous and we pretty much had the place to ourselves. There were bathrooms, showers, a restaurant, a lounging area, thick cushy grass to set our tent on, and most importantly at the moment, there was a stunning waterfall surrounding us. Being there felt like bliss and for under $10 per night we decided to stay more than a few days. I loved how simple it was. Heck, I didn’t even care when I found out at night time that the grass beneath our tent was infested with the largest cockroaches I had ever seen (mind you, I insisted that Rocky was careful when entering and exiting the tent because I am super scared and grossed out by them). It didn’t have the nicest of bathrooms, showers or restaurant but that’s what I kind of loved most about it. It wasn’t ruined by greed or tourism. It was simply perfect and definitely a place I would love to visit again.
After three or four nights of relaxing, drinking s and swimming we decided it was time to move on. We packed up our bags, left our paradise and headed towards the city of Querétaro, located in the Mexican State of Querétaro.
Paula’s illness on our first night in Mexico resulted in a trip to the local hospital the next day.
Paula received a needle in the butt cheek, an IV, and a good part of the day resting in the good care of Orlando’s mother, Romy
Orlando (centre), his father (left) and his uncle (right)
Orlando and his family organized a Friday night BBQ party in Orlando’s garage with his friends and coworkers. In attempt to fit in, I attempted to grow the Chia-Pet peach fuzz seen on my upper lip.
Orlando’s father, Rigo and mother, Romy
Orlando & his beautiful family, in Ciudad Victoria, Mexico
We camped just next to these cascades, one of many located in the region of Tamasopo. We bathed in the water in the morning and afternoon, and enjoyed several days of relaxation.
Paula in Tamasopo, waiting for everyone to notice her.
We were back on the road and on our way though the state of San Luis Potosi. The weather was what I would consider perfect and the scenery was beautiful. We stopped for breakfast at the side of the road where a small food cart run by a woman and her daughter was parked. They were nice to talk to but the food was mediocre and if we had ordered meat, we would most likely have become ill from it. We then rode through the state capital, also named San Luis Potosi. It was a cute city but it was a bit too busy, and it didn't help that the roads were narrow and difficult to ride because they were made of cobblestone. We tried to find a place to park but weren't able, so we decided not to stop and instead we just rode through.
We rode into the state of Querétaro and continued riding until we reached the capitals city, named Santiago de Querétaro. I had contacted a guy on couchsurfing.org and we were welcomed to go stay with him and his family. We arrived at his home shortly after dark and I loved the introduction. Alex sat at the dining room table as his mother finished applying home made paint to his face, making him look like a skeleton. Alex was about to participate in a flash mob taking place in the city's center, in celebration of Dia De La Muerte. Meaning, Day Of The Dead, Dia De La Muerte is a holiday celebrated throughout Mexico, dedicated to friends and family members who have passed. The holiday is celebrated by building beautiful private altars honouring the deceased. Graves are visited and gifts are left, such as sugar skulls, marigolds, and the favourite foods, beverages and possessions of the departed. People gather at cemeteries as if it were a family park and they eat, drink and pray, some even spend the night. In most regions of Mexico, November 1st is to honour children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honoured on November 2nd.
We quickly freshened up and joined Alex, his mom, Bachiz, and his dad, Luiz, to the city center. Querétaro is simply beautiful, it is possibly my favourite large city and that says a lot considering I'm not a fan of cities. The city center was surrounded by beautiful colonial buildings with romantic balconies above patio cafes and outdoor restaurants. It was a Friday night and the city center was filled with people roaming around. There were groups of people performing, some were selling or buying things, some where singing or playing instruments and some were even peacefully protesting. We tried some delicious, twisted, sugar and cinnamon donut like treats called Churros and a bread covered in caramel, called Roles. The ambiance and energy of this city was awesome.
The Next day, Alex took us on a tour. While walking through the city, I decided I needed a haircut and walked in to a local salon. My hair was getting damaged from whipping in the wind, wearing my helmet and not using conditioner. I wish I had known how to say in Spanish, 'please trim it straight across' because my hand gestures were instead interpreted as 'chop it up in random chunks using texturing shears'. I wasn't upset though, it just felt good to get it cut.
We continued our walk and visited the ridiculously enormous statue of Benito Juarez, a former Republican president who resisted the French occupation of Mexico and overthrew the Second Mexican Empire. We walked through a museum that taught us of Maximilian, a former Emperor who was barely recognized by other countries, we visited the hill where he was executed and the small chapel built in his honour several years after his death. We then visited the aqueducts, the most prominent feature of the city. It consists of seventy five arches, each twenty meters wide, 1,280 meters long and an average height of twenty three meters and was built to bring water to the residents of Querétaro from the city La Cañada.
It had been a really nice and eventful day spent with Alex, but it wasn't over yet. We went back to his house to meet up with the family and freshen up. We were introduced to Betty, Alex's sister, and we were invited to her fiance's house for a BBQ. It was mid afternoon, the sun was warm, everyone was kind and the food smelled and tasted delicious. Suddenly, Rocky got up to excused himself and disappeared for a while. I found him laying in the shade moments later, it turns out that he wasn't feeling well and he had been puking. We had eaten some precut prickly pears when we were at the market earlier that day, I'm guessing that it may have been the culprit. Luckily, Bachiz was a nurse and practiced with natural medicine. Once we got back to the house she mixed a few ingredients she had bottled asked Rocky to take drops of it under his tongue. I'm not sure what the recipe was, but Rocky felt better a few hours later.
We woke up early the following morning and Rocky and I rode to Guanajuato city in the state of Guanajuato. It is a very cool looking city where many of the city’s streets and alleys run partially or fully underground through tunnels to follow the extreme irregularity of the terrain. The city is filled with mostly colonial era buildings, restaurants, bars, cafes with terraces and small plazas. We walked around for a while, stopped for lunch in one of the markets, watched a bike race through the city and even went to church (not really, we just peeked inside for a picture).
Getting out of Guanajuato took a few attempts. The roads are like a maze, making it very easy to get lost. I think it's funny that they have signs posted “Sal si puedes” which means 'Exit if you can'. Once we finally made it out, it took a couple of hours before we reached a city named San Miguel Allende. It was very pretty but difficult to ride on the cobblestone roads, especially when they became extremely steep. San Miguel Allende is known for its Baroque/Neoclassical colonial structures and has attracted many artists from around the world. It is now populated by many foreigners. We were only able to ride through the city because it was starting to get late but I was exhausted anyway and ready to go back to Alex's.
The following morning, we were invited to eat a delicious breakfast prepared by Bachiz. She made chilaquiles! It is quartered tortillas fried with onions, garlic and salsa, topped with cheese, sour cream and served with a side of refried beans. It was truly delicious. After we ate, we packed up our things and said our goodbyes. Bachiz even prepared us a goodie bag filled with snacks for our travels in case we got hungry. It was a great experience to stay with this kind family in the lovely city of Querétaro.
Back on the road, we went on our way to Mexico City. It only took a few hours to get there but driving through the thick of the city seemed to take forever. Mexico City was extremely congested. I don't think it would've mattered how bright the sun was shining because the smog was thick enough to hide it. As we rode through the city searching for a WiFi connection, we stopped at four different McDonald's before finding one with Internet that worked. OK, it barely worked, but what else is new. After many attempts, I was finally able to respond to a couple I had contacted on couchsurfing.org and I wrote to tell them we would be arriving shortly. Unfortunately, that turned out to be a lie. When we got to the bike we noticed that the front tire was completely flat.
It would soon get dark and we had no choice but to take out the tools and figure out how to fix the problem. It was the first time that we had to do an emergency repair to the bike and I felt a bit anxious. It obviously took a moment to fix but I was surprised by how quickly Rocky was able to take care of it. Before long, we were on the bike and on our way to meet Damian and Lilian. It was just past 10 pm when we reached their home and we weren't even sure it was their home. They lived on the hillside and there was a maze of small roads with houses numbered randomly. After final figuring it out, I felt bad about how late we had arrived but I was very happy to be there. Lilian and Damian are a beautiful, young couple that live with their adorable Doberman Pincer, their two cats and a tiny little kitten. Since it was almost 11pm when we arrived, we were given a quick tour of their gorgeous home and then went to bed.
Have you ever woken up in a strangers home? Cuddling their pet, and feeling like you're cheating on your cat. No? Well it's kinda weird. Especially when the home owners aren't even there. Damian and Lilian had to go to work in the morning and they let us sleep in. Since Rocky and I have been on this trip there have been a few times that strangers had left us alone in their homes. It is the kindest compliment to be treated with such trust. I felt as if I woke up in an art studio, their house was extraordinary and i couldn't help but look around. Damian is an artist and his work was presented throughout the entire house. From the renovations to the oil paintings to the sculptures and the metal work, I was in love with the creativity that surrounded me.
Rocky and I spent some of the day removing the front wheel off the bike. The tire was still slowly leaking so we decided to replace it instead of patching it because it was time for a new one anyway. The following day we took a taxi through the city to stop at a ktm dealership. All the taxis seemed to be old Volkswagen Beatles. Since it was a two door vehicle, the front seat was removed for easier access into the back seat and* there was a lever like the kind used on school buses for the driver to conveniently open and close the passenger side door. It was an interesting cab experience but because Mexico City is very busy, it took much longer to travel through by car because it can't lane split.
The following day was spent replacing the tire and when Damian and Lilian returned we went downtown and enjoyed tacos at a great little restaurant. I even discovered a new favourite drink named Horchata, made from rice, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, it is delicious. After walking around the city and picking up some Churros for dessert we dropped Lilian off at the bus station. She worked restoring art and had to go away for a few days.
With the bike ready to ride, we decided to spend the next day exploring while Damian was at work. We rode out to the town of Tepozteco, a popular tourist destination near Mexico City. Famous for the remains of a temple built on top of the nearby Tepozteco mountain but also for the exotic ice cream flavours prepared by the townspeople. As soon as we got there we stopped at a small shop for coffee and ice cream, of course.
I was really excited to see the pyramid of Tepozteco, I had never seen one before. It was located at the top of a cliff and we were about to burn all the calories we had just eaten. After climbing up steep trails and some stairs for about an hour, we were greeted by somebody collecting an entrance fee. I found it humorous because I doubted it mattered what the cost was after the hike to get there. I wonder if anyone has ever reached the top and said 'I have to pay to see this? Screw that idea, I'm turning around.'
We paid 37 pesos (approx. $3) each and we were granted access to the top of the pyramid. It was all well worth it. The view of the Earth, from that height, was truly sacred. I sat on a ledge starring out into the horizon and I imagined the history of at least 5 centuries worth of humans to have possibly sat exactly where I was seated, admiring the beauty of nature. I also wondered if anyone had ever been sacrificed on the highest ledge of the pyramid but my thoughts got interrupted by by a cute raccoon looking creature (Coati) standing a couple of feet away begging for food.
Tired, from the days adventures, we headed back to Mexico City. The ride seemed to take much longer than earlier and it didn't help that it started pouring rain. We were drenched and unprepared for the downpour. Traffic was horrible and the rain hit so hard that my thighs felt like they were being stabbed by hundreds of knives. Rocky was lane splitting through most of the traffic but there were many times that he wasn't able. I felt that it wasn't safe to be on the road but the rain wasn't about to stop any time soon and we weren't that far from reaching Damians, house. At one point, Rocky thought that he should pass on the right side of the vehicles along the shoulder but that was a bad idea. I noticed a meter long rectangular sewer hole was missing one third of its grates just as Rocky rode around it. I told him that I was glad that he also noticed the hole and he responded by saying he didn't, he was just avoiding the bumpy edge. We made it back to Damian's house alive and all I could think of was a hot shower, comfy dry clothes, deli sandwiches and a couple of s would be a perfect way to end the night.
The next morning, we went to visit more pyramids. Teotihuacan is an enormous archaeological site containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas. It was the sixth largest city in the world during its period of greatest prosperity, according to an estimated population of 125,000. The city seems to have functioned for centuries as a well-developed urban center until its rather sudden collapse, possibly in the seventh century. We walked approximately two kilometers down 'The Avenue of the Dead', the main street of Teotihuacan. We climbed the steep steps to the top of 'The Pyramid of the Sun', were we had a great view of 'The Pyramid of the Moon'. And with a birds eye view, it was still difficult to absorb the enormity of the city.
After a lot of sight seeing, we rode back into Mexico City to meet up with Damian. Since it would be our last night in Mexico City, Rocky, Damian and I took a city bus downtown to enjoy a nice dinner. We walked through the city before arriving at a really nice restaurant that featured live music and mainly served Italian food, it was a nice a change. After dinner, we had a fun late night roaming around. Mexico has a lot of entertainment on its streets, whether people are singing, playing instruments, performing in a fire show, cooking, crafting or juggling, something always seems to be going on.
Once again it was time to pack and say our good byes. Damian and Lilian* were such kind hosts and our experience in Mexico City was awesome. I won't miss the traffic but I will miss everything else.
Paula & Alex in Querétaro’s city center
Paula in Querétaro
Inside the Basílica Colegiata de Nuestra Señora de Guanajuato
There happened to be a bicycle race on the streets of Guanajuato on the day we visited the city.
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