Thursday, September 29, 2011

So it begins ...

Chuck and I aren't the best traveling partners (that's Chuck on the left).  We have known that for some time.  We are argumentative, stubborn and crotchity.  One of our fellow riders compared us to the two old guys on the Muppet show who sat in the balcony.  Probably a good analogy.

But somehow together, we have ridden every state in the US except Hawaii (no road) and every province and territory in Canada except three (one of which you can't get to by road).  We have managed to do this without killing each other and with very few personality related changes in plans.

So, we are setting off to conquer the countries of the Americas.  Our plan is to be at the end of the world (Ushuaia- Terra Del Fuego) at the end of the world (12/21/2012) .  We also plan to visit every country in North, Central and South America during our trip.  That's our plan, we will see ...

How it started
I have had a motorcycle endorsement since the early '70's.  After totaling a Kawasaki 500cc in a high speed wobble and a '76 Kawasaki Z1 when an elderly gentleman turned in front of me, I agreed with my then wife that perhaps riding a motorcycle wasn't responsible for a man with a child.  I sold my bike, but never failed to renew my drivers license with the endorsement.  Chuck, on the other hand, had wanted to ride but never found the time nor was he given permission to get an endorsement or a motorcycle.

The kids grew up, each of us divorced and we took control of our lives.  Perhaps similar to the captains of the Titanic and Exxon Valdez we were heading for disaster?  In 2001, Chuck took the BRC (basic riding class) and got his motorcycle endorsement.  Then he received a days rental of a Harley at EasyRider as a birthday gift.  Everyone knows riding is more enjoyable with a buddy, so he called me and I rented a Harley as well.  Our first trip was 600 miles in two days to Luckenbach, Texas and back.  I still remember just how much my butt hurt after that first ride.  The person renting us the bikes had to leave early and told us we were welcome to keep the Harleys an extra day.  My butt hurt so much, I said "no thanks, I will bring it back early!"

Later that year Chuck bought a Honda VTX 1800, the first year they were made, and he bought an '83 KZ1300 from ebay.  He must have been desperate to have a riding buddy.  In 2003 we made our first long distance ride to California.  The picture above is from that ride, we are standing in front of the Bixby Bridge.  Our intention was to ride to Vancouver on the PCH.  There are at least two versions of this story; but, somewhere in Santa Cruz there was a misunderstanding, that found each of us heading our own way, me back to Houston and Chuck on to the pacific northwest.

We managed to patch things up the following year and I purchased a used '04 Goldwing in 2005.   We made trips then to Key West in 2005, Alaska in 2006, Colorado in 2007, New England and eastern Canada in 2008, Washington DC, BRP and the outer banks of NC in 2009 and finally up through the Midwest Heartland in 2010.  At this time we had ridden every state (except Hawaii) in the US and all but three of the Canadian Provinces.  Here is a photo from the our entry into Alaska in 2006.

The Dual Sport Era
In 2011 we got the dual sport craze.  Earlier we had started talking about riding to the tip of South America and began debating which bike would be best and how to gain the experience.  We decided the best approach was to buy something without a lot of emotional investment that we could learn on, destroy and then buy a new one.  We thought that the right bike might be a KLR to ride to South America.  One day Chuck called and said he had purchased a used KLR on ebay.  On Friday he flew to North Carolina, picked up that sucker and rode it in the rain back to Houston by Saturday evening.  The dual sporting era had officially begun.

Reacting to Chuck's purchase I bought a DRZ-400 here locally in Houston.  I think it was a great purchase, pretty much ready to fly.  My first dual sport ride was with a bunch of crazy maniacs at 60 mph on the beach in Bolivar.  Chuck and I began riding Sam Houston National Forest trails and on the Beach.  Later we branched out to Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park.  I bought a used KLR in June, 2011, then in August we dual sported through Creede, Ouray, Marble, Grand Junction and points west in Colorado.

Of course I am leaving a lot out. And there have been the usual Bumps ... and Bruises:

But there isn't enough time to write it all down.  The bottom line is; as of June 30th, 2011 I left the company I had worked for for 30 years and Chuck retired October 12th, 2011.  So we are now both unemployed and our plans for our next big adventure are taking shape ...

The Better Half
Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the VERY sympathetic support from my lovely bride.  The only real input I have received about the journey is "I will not come to South America to retrieve your dead body!"  I can understand that!  Actually, Laura has been very supportive and understanding.  She and I are planning at least two visits to South America during the trip; one being to Ushuaia for the Christmas season.  After several months on the road, I will be happy to see her cheerful smile when she comes to visit!

Am I a lucky man or what???