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Istvan Szlany, Canada

Alaska to Ushuaia

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from Twin Falls (ID)

Hi Everybody!

I met a KLR rider in front of the Twin Falls library. The rate was 3$/15min at the library, so I passed. He offered me unlimited e-mail for free. He's a computer geek and musician, too.

I left in a snow storm from Calgary, and ever since I'm pushing hard south to get out of the cold. Today was the first time I started to peel off some clothes.

I hope you're doing all right. There are tons of things to see here, but it's very expensive, even the gas has gone up!

Bike is running fine. I just discovered some missing bolts and a non-functioning headlight. I got to fix it! I had a fall on ice at only 70 km/hr (I just slowed down from my usual 110), so I had a chance to crash test the riding gear and the boxes and the Canyon bags. They worked great!

I got only two bruises on my elbows, but I'm fine. Don't tell my parents, please.

At the US border they treated me like a criminal, they took the luggage apart, checked everything. Spent about 2.5 hours there! and meantime the snow was just getting deeper. What can I expect on the Central American border crossings if Americans treat a Canadian this way?

I'll be in the desert for a while, most likely you won't hear from me for about a week. Then I'm heading towards California and San Francisco.

I wish you all the best. Cheers,

Trip Report #5 - Nevada and California

I'm in Millbrae, again, just arrived back from Singapore (11 day vacation, hehe) It was great, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Except the w95 installation, that froze the machine 4 times. For the computer geeks among you: I did a BeOS installation, it took only one trial, about a half hour, and there were no problems what so ever! http://www.be.com - if you want to know more.

What I want to talk about is my MC trip - so far. I'll continue with October 7th night, after my last e-mail I just discovered that while I was fiddling with the 12 V outlet I busted the headlight fuse. It was hard to find a campground after dark, but it turned out to be a great one. During dinner I heard a deeper howl in the night, it wasn't a coyote, but a wolf. This guy paid me a visit around 4am.

I woke up to the sound of sniffing around my tent, then something touched my toe that was resting against the inner wall. "smelly, eh?" I said, but I shouldn't have. I could hear only the running away steps of the wolf, and I felt sorry for scaring him/her away. I should have know, I shouldn't talk. Words can be misunderstood.

The road towards Jarbidge was very nice, except that I almost got a heart attack, when after a hill the pavement continued in gravel and it was turning. An emergency break from 110 km/h helped, but I was very close ending up (I mean down) in the canyon.

At Elko I thought I'll take the interstate across the pass towards Battle Mountain, but it was getting dark, so I decided to camp. Bad mistake! I woke up in a collapsed tent under the weight of the snow. Shivering and scared I rode back to Elko. The pass was impassable, so I decided to go east instead of west, then south on hwy 93. I reached Great Basin Nat. Park, but it was too late, I missed the last tour in Lehman Cave. No problem, they gave me a free personal tour. It was very interesting, but I just can't stop trying to imagine how did it look before it was turned into a show cave.


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Szlany's Home

Travel Stories

October 2000,

November 2000,
Nevada and
California, USA
via Singapore?

December 2000
in Mexico and
Central America
Screw-ups in
roads, malaria
pill blues,
feeding fish
the hard way

January 2001,
in Ecuador,
South America
An Ecuador
customs saga,
the Galapagos

February 2001,
Peru, Bolivia,
dealing with
unfriendly dogs
crossings and
lessons learned

March 2001,
guide to
Wherein our
hero's tire
reduces him
to hitchhiker

April 2001,
Argentina to
Tao and more
bike trouble

More to come...
Top of Page.

Off to Caliente - 'cause I was very cold and tired from the winds. Well, it might normally be hot there, but not for me. The arctic weather is chasing me since Yukon! What did I do wrong? what's my sin? why am I punished?

Las Vegas! Oh, God! It's the most unusual city I've seen so far. I have no words for it, you better go and check it out for yourself. What amazed me the most are the church and the striptease bar next to each other and the wedding chapel that's open 24 hrs a day (I didn't find a 24 hrs open divorce chapel, but I'm sure there must be one somewhere, hehe) and no, I did not gamble - believe it or not!

Outside of Las Vegas I camped on in the desert. I was enjoying the starry sky after dinner, when I noticed in the dark desert something moving. No sound could be heard when two desert foxes appeared. One just a meter or so from my feet sniffing the air as he would have say "I know you ate something, but what? Do you still have some? Oh well, I can find my own.

Bye!" and left with the same noiseless ghostly steps. The second came only 5 m close. Suspicious, pretending that he doesn't even see me. I interpreted him this way: "I know you and your 2 legged kind, you always chase us with thunder sticks and you eat weird things. I don't want nothing common with you" And he was right. I've seen gun shells everywhere along my trip. I think you hunters outnumber the existing North American game population to something like 10 to 1. I've seen beautiful strong bucks tied on the top of the truck, and but the driver who filled up the gas tank was an overweight asthmatic fellow, with thick glasses. Without his supersighter sharpshooter thunderstick he would be nothing. There are guns in every truck on the road. Why? Are they hunting day and night, anywhere they go? or are they afraid? of what? where the fear comes from? does bravery come from their guns? I'm just an outsider here, who doesn't understand this, and cannot comprehend how can an automatic handgun match the Stetsons.

Death Valley. Amazing scenery, great ride, pavement is too good and tourists are everywhere. If you look down towards Furnace Creek at Zabriskie Point, you'll see that ALL the hill tops have a path on it. I rather not comment on it, instead, I leave it up to you.

Around the junction to hwy 395 I decided not to go towards north, because there was snow on the ridge. The pass through Yosemite might be impassable for me, or at least very cold and/or icy/snowy. Down south to Mojave and Bakersfield.

The best ride on this section of my trip was the road up towards Sequoia National Park. Windy, mostly very good road, but because of the scenery there is no point rushing/speeding. Than you reach the big trees. I mean BIG! I stopped in the misty forest, and I was just listening to the deep silence. I cannot explain why, but if you stop for a while the spirit of this place and the spirit of the trees (Yes, I think there is such thing - and you can call me whatever you want) will go into your soul, and will give you this timeless sense of peace. I've been looking at these giants, and I asked one of them how should I live, and what is in fact the meaning of my life and Life in general. The giant didn't reply, but the whole forest conveyed me the answer, from the smallest creature to the largest one.


Top of Page.

I hate interstates and many-laned speedways, but I had to ride them towards San Francisco. Downtown was beautiful. At one point I've been as I've been enjoying the architecture, I got lost. Then I said "to hell with the 101" and got lost even more just driving all over. That's how I got to ride that zigzagging Lombard street section, and the Fishermen's Wharf, too. Really cool places! Beautiful city!

I got a flight to Singapore for $335 (Thanks to all of you who sent me all kinds of suggestions on where to try to get a cheep ticket!) but I had to waste one whole week. I decided to ride north to Red Wood Nat. Park. Bad timing. Arctic air was blowing in with its mighty power. "I have time, I can wait", so I camped somewhere along hwy 1 for 2 days. The wind still didn't die down, but felt even more strong. More wait, doing bike maintenance, cleaning, eating, reading, and leaning Spanish. I turned around at Noyo, riding hwy 20, then 16. I camped in howling wind at Vacaville in the industrial park, very similar place to what my workplace looked like. It was Saturday night, no one around, only the security guys car lights shined on my tent around midnight. I guess they know that I'm a traveller, I do no harm, so they didn't bother me. On/with motorcycle one can meet only friendly people. Does anybody know why is that?

I guess I'm quite a phenomena for some people. I cook and bake in the parking lot, and some people are very curious about what the heck am I doing. For me some of the tourists are quite a phenomena, like those ones who climbed to a vista point where I camped, after sunset and IN TOTAL FOG!

The visibility was so low, that they almost bumped into my motorcycle. I guess it's okay.

The night before leaving to Singapore (Oct. 22.) I went to Stanford University to check my e-mail. I thought I can e-mail to you all more comfortably from Singapore, so I sent out only a few e-mails to my parents and to very close friends of mine. The e-mail plan from my girlfriend didn't work, because of everyone's favourite Lose95 (some call that operating system "win95" - with no reason for it, or are they just being sarcastic?) I decided to sleep in the park somewhere - not too close to the sprinkler system. As I was waiting for the time to pass and the number of people around to be less I was approached by 6 racoons. Very curious and cute creatures! They came all the way to within 1 meter to me. "hey, what's up?" I asked them. ... and they ran away! ... I should really shut up, and let the gestures and our eyes do the talk. Words are useless, they are not needed, they tell lies. I would have been really happy if they would have come close to me so we could just stare at each other - that too makes a great conversation - but I have spoken, and they misunderstood my words. I'm so sorry!

Then I watched them playing with the water at the sprinkler system, they played tag with each other on the field, in the artificial rain, up and down the trees. It's so uplifting to see things like this. I don't know why, I don't even care, it's just like that.


Top of Page.

A few minutes later I met Chris, who in 1995 bicycled to Santiago de Chile under the flag of National Geographic. He told me some wild stories. He also introduced me to a great bunch of documentary film makers. We had a mild party, and around midnight I went back to the park at Stanford University to sleep a good one before I leave to Singapore. Of course the police helicopter found me, but they didn't bother me either. Could it be that motorcycles and tents are a normal site in that park? :o)

Singapore? it was great! but I won't talk about it much because it was not part of my motorcycle journey, but a wonderful vacation. All I'd like to mention is that I missed my bike, the riding and I was worried about it, because I left it at the airport with about 3/4 of my stuff on it. When I arrived back, nothing was missing, but I noticed an oil patch under the bike. Must be coming from the countershaft seal. I wonder if I should or should not change it. It leaked about 50ml in 12 days, and oil change is going to be due in about 2 weeks from now.

Another thing: the front of the bike is kind of wobbly (a little) around 50-60 km/h. Do I have to change the bearings?

Tire wear Rear: Dunlop D606 has about 12000 km on it, about 2/3 used up. Front: Cheng Shin C858 has about 5700 km, barely visible wear.

From here I'll be heading towards LA to meet a friend there before he flies to Hawaii, then I'll be heading towards Arizona and New Mexico, then Mexico. I'll keep you updated whenever I can.

I wish you all the best, take care, and if you ride, keep the rubber end down.

Cheers, Istvan

Story and photos copyright © Istvan Szlany 2001.
All Rights Reserved.
Grant Johnson

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