Tuesday, November 5, 2013

USA (old blog post for site migration)

I am in the process of combining my original site with this current blog. These posts are from the start of my trip back in June 2012. Please excuse the poor formatting as it is from the original posts. But they do bring back memories from over a year ago!

June 1 2012
The travel gods must have had mercy on me as the start of the trip went off without a hitch. The U.S. border took about five minutes and I was able to give the border guard a good chuckle when he asked me where I was headed. No search no seizure or bodily inspections, just a friendly have a good time. I read from a previous world traveler to always chose smaller borders. In his experience they were always faster and friendlier, so I plan to follow that advice where I can.
June 2 2012 (Osseo, WI)

Managed to put about a 1000 K behind me the first two days so time for a good rest and a chance to test out the camping equipment. Spent the night in Osseo WI in a great campground with Wifi. Very happy to report that all my research on equipment paid off and everything worked to a tee! 

My first road meal with my little campers cook set. That's right, what you see is what you get one pot for all food and liquids. The goal for adventure motorcycle travel is light is right. So meals just take a little planning: step 1) only shop for food for 1-2 days max; step 2) make coffee/liquids first then food second in same pot. ( I know what you are thinking damn he's living a culinary dream). Great little stove though as it uses the same fuel as my bike, which means I will always have fuel for the stove or a litre of backup fuel for the bike.                                                                                     
June 4 2012 (Wisconsin Dells)
Decided that since I was passing through the Dells I should bring my inner child out for a much needed adrenaline rush at "Americas Largest Water Park". 81 degrees and no lineups on a Monday! I did see signs for busier days that said "if you are here in line your approximate wait time is 1 hour". Who the hell would pay to wait in line an hour for a 5 second ride? Actually it brings back memories of my past sex life.....hours and hours of waiting for a 5 sec ride (if you can't laugh at yourself who can you laugh at).
June 5 2012 (Madison, WI)

I am currently overnighting in the city of Madison WI, which is the capital city for the state. Since this trip is all about new experiences I decided to book myself my first ever stay in a hostel (yes they are for people of all ages). You can book individual rooms or dorm rooms, but since they were out of individual rooms I opted for the six person male dorm room. As the saying goes nothing ventured nothing gained. Found a great concept called "Flip Night" that every bar should have. When you order a beer the server flips you for it, if you lose you pay, but if you win you get your beer at 75% off!!!!!!! Guess who got two beers at 75% off yeah baby.......
June 7 2012 (Chain of Lakes, Ill)
Over the past two days I started to experience what this trip is really about and that is meeting people. I have been asked why am I going solo? For one simple reason, an individual traveler is more approachable. I have had so many people stop me and ask me where I am going, that I am starting to get a rockstar complex. I met one gentlemen (Bill) in a bar who bought me a beer simple because he said " I will never meet someone doing something so cool again in my life that I have to buy you a beer". This morning in the campground I met a pastor named Rocky from Syracuse New York. Rocky offered to make me a morning coffee where we proceeded to chat. By the end of our conversation he insisted on wishing me the best and wanted to give me a gift that he thought would become useful in my travels. He then proceeded to give me a brand new traveler's water purification straw. It allows you to drink any water through the straw with built-in purifier and will remove 99% of bacteria. 

From Madison I headed East to Milwaukee and of course no visit to Milwaukee would be complete without a visit to the Harley Davidson museum. This bike is the oldest known Harley Davidson in the world. The bike is called One because it is believed to be their first bike manufactured and the majority of the parts are stamped with a number 1.

June 7-9 (Chicago , IL)
Meet my gracious hosts for the weekend in Chicago Jeff, Julie and of course Tucker (Tucker also has a sister named Pixie, but unfortunately she had to go to the hospital and I could not get a picture). I can't say enough about how great of a time they showed me in the windy city. A lot of great food, drinks and much needed relaxation. It was my first time to actually tour downtown Chicago and the architecture was amazing as expected. I also had the opportunity to take a canal/lake tour which provided great views of the buildings and the city as a whole. 

June 11  2012 (Indianapolis, IN)

This is for all those who have never stayed at a hostel and wonder what the rooms look like. This is a pic of my six bed dorm room hostel in Indiana for the price of $29 all in. Cool thing is I am the only one in the room as they are not booked up so I decided to stay two nights.


Well I knew somewhere on my trip I would get conned, I just did not expect it to be so soon or by a sweet little old lady. When in Indianapolis of course you have to visit the home on the Indy 500, so off I went to the track and museum. When I get to the front desk I ask how much for a museum tour ticket and she replies "tickets are $5, and for another $5 they will take you for a lap around the track". Now of course I am excited as I am thinking awesome for only $5 I get to go around the track in a stock or Indy car! So I proceed to walk through the museum enjoying all it has to offer. When completed I walk out and ask where do I go for my lap around the track and she says "out the doors pass the picnic tables and there will be a bus waiting to take you to the track". Well if you look at the picture you will see a shot I took of me crossing the finish line at the break neck speed of 10 mph from inside the bus!
June 13 2012  (Knoxville, TN)

Well the past two days were both frustrating and educational. I left Indianapolis and rode all the way to Burnside Kentucky which is near the bottom of the state. Plans were to visit the cities of lexington and Knoxville, but I have come to the realization that I need to find a hostel in the cities I want to visit as campsites are never anywhere near the cities. 

So how do you know you are now in the south? When the campsite next to you is fishing for catfish and turtles for turtle soup!

June 14 2012(Stecoah, NC)


Ok so I wake up go to brush my teeth and this is what I see back in the mirror. Who the hell put the poodle on my head! Did perms not go out back in the 70's? I have realized that growing my hair out is NOT conducive to the high humidity found here in the south. Definitely need to go get a haircut the first chance I get. Can't go wrong with the old number 4 on top 2 on the side haircut.

June 16 2012 (Stecoah,NC)

Spent the past two days riding both the Cherokee and Smokey Mountains that run through Tennessee and North Carolina. I cannot describe how beautiful the area is other than it is majestic. Everyone must come here to visit! I met Keith a fellow rider who is from Florida and comes up here a few times a year to ride. Keith took me on some amazing roads through the mountains. Here we are pictured at the top of the BRP (Blue Ridge Parkway) elevation 1777 meters (5830 feet). This is the highest elevation so far on my trip. I also had a chance to ride the Tail of the Dragon twice (the original reason I came down here). It is infamous for it's 318 curves in just 11 miles, but ironically I found numerous other roads that felt the same. Keith also introduced me to deep fried pickles which were extremely tasty dipped in Ranch dressing.  

June 18 2012 (Chattanooga, TN)

Had to spend two nights in Chattanooga while waiting for my bike to get its !0,000 km service completed. While there I stayed at the coolest hostel yet called the Crashpad. The owners built the complex specifically to be a unique hostel. You can check it out a www.crashpadchattanooga.com 

Also found out that the South is fond of their peanuts either deep fried or boiled. Yes you heard me boiled! Here is my take on boiled peanuts. They are a peanut in purgatory, not quite soft enough to become creamy peanut butter or provide the crunchy goodness that we all know. Bottom line they are a soggy peanut! I figure someone down south discovered this great way to eat peanuts (sarcasm) when they left their bag of peanuts out in the rain for a few days.

June 19 (Lynchburg,TN)

Visited the famous Jack Daniels factory to see the process involved in making whiskey. From what I gathered the difference between going from moonshine (what comes out of the stills) to the actually whiskey is moonshine you do not age in the barrels. It is this aging that gives the whiskey its golden colour. Another interesting note is the town of Lynchburg is in a dry county. Thats right you cannot buy alcohol  in the town! June 21 2012 (Biloxi, MS)

Well in the spirit of companionship for the trip I decided I needed a travel partner. So I decided to finally give the bike a name. The name Fred just seems like a person you can trust and provide some good old company. Here is a picture of Fred kick'n back on the pier in Biloxi Mississippi. Later we headed to the beach to catch some rays. 

( I think the 21 days of pure sunshine and 90 plus degree weather may be getting to me). 

June 22 2012(New Orleans,LA)

Now if we start to talk about real people again. I continue to be amazed by the diverse and generous people I have run into. Just in the past two days I met a woman named Cheryl, who took me out to a local watering 
hole for beers and burgers. A man named Boudin who offered to cook me up a fresh batch of corn, and I had a great chat at the bar with Steve who is in the U.S. Air Force. Steve also follows the adventure riding circuit and has seen numerous places in his military career that I will be going.  

To put the icing on the cake a gentleman approached me today and discussed how his son is currently in Costa Rica and is doing the same thing as myself. Now this is where generosity goes above and beyond. Richard asked me if I would like some watermelon (plus 90 degrees you bet). When Richard returned he not only brought me HALF a watermelon to my campsite, but also a cold beer, two cold sodas, assorted bags of chips and chicken McNuggets! I new Richard for a total of 15 minutes prior to this....

I truly believe the majority of the people in the world are inherently good and want to help others. Do something nice for someone today.

June 24 2012 (New Orleans,LA)

Visited the famous Bourbon street Sunday night and it did not disappoint. I could only image what a weekend  or even Mardi Gras would be like. A very diverse group of people just wanting to have fun! New Orleans is a beautiful city and should be on the list for all travellers to see at least once.

Crawfish Etouffee my favourite food so far in the south. Consists of Crawfish and rice and a perfectly spiced sauce. I have also had the chance to buy boiled spiced shrimp in a bag. You can find road side stands/shops to buy either boiled shrimp or crawfish mmmmmmmmm good.

June 25 2012 (Avery Island, LA) 

Fred visiting the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island

June 26th-July 1st 2012 (Corpus Christi, Texas)

Well Fred needed a new pair of shoes before we hit Mexico so we  needed to stay a few extra days in Texas while waiting for the new rubber. We are now ready for the back roads of Mexico and Central/south America with this fresh set of Heidenau K60 Scout tires.

In keeping to the spirit of adventure for this trip, I realized that our Canada Day (July 1) and the U.S. Independence Day (July 4th) celebrations were going to fall on the same weekend. I needed to do something big to celebrate. 

Anyone who has driven a lot of miles on a bike knows that you get a lot of time to think up crazy ideas in your head, so I came up with the idea of what if I celebrated it naked. Yup,  you guessed it folks I spent the weekend at a nudist resort and had a blast. I figured what could feel better then letting the laundry all hangout after 26 days of wearing full riding gear in 100 degree temps. The experience was fantastic and I met an unbelievable group of people, had lots of sun, drinks and a crazy amount of laughs. Where else could you go and say you watched  fire works being set off by a guy only wearing a hat with the U.S. stars and stripes on it. That people, is what you call one of those priceless moments. And as the Dos Equis man says "live life well my friends".

But the most interesting take away from the weekend was the first side effect I discovered about travelling round the world as I am. Everyone asks me what is the thing you are enjoying the most about your trip and the first thing out of my mouth is always the great and diverse people I have met. So what is the side effect? I have realized that for all the people I am saying hello too, I am always going to have to say goodbye. It is actually very hard when you connect with others and know that if the situation was different you would have become very good friends.

I found this article in a bike magazine that tries to define RTW (round the world).

When the motorcycle adventurer sleeps, he (or she) doesn't dream of Daytona or Sturgis or common motorcycle destinations. Their fantasies are of exotic places where you communicate with the locals in a combination of hand gestures and monosyllable words. Those who have done  it say the experience is both a blessing and a curse. The trip heightens the senses and focuses the mind, but like a drug, the excitement and adrenaline become addictive in a way ordinary motorcycle travel no longer fulfills.

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