Page 4: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
Las Vegas - Hard Rock Casino:
Hey! If you’re lucky enough to have a riding partner that’s into everything you’re into, great. But every ride I’ve been on with others involved compromise and constant tweaking. Riding with Heidi is no different. She has been a total champ in my book enduring all the camping and roughing it stuff that I like but now it’s time for some payback. ””Las Vegas””, Heidi is on the phone with her sisters exclaiming that she wants to live at the Hard Rock. A room on the eleventh floor with big patio doors overlooking the pool and the strip.
This is not a bad thing for me either so I try to endure it. The patio doors are wide open, air conditioner cranked, bloodymarys in hand. We are getting ready to go to work (Hanging out at the pool or beach is what we call work. It’s not easy ya know)
The walk to work is interesting.
On the job:
Two nights at the Hard Rock is great. The singer of the rock band Incubus was down at the pool with other band members. WEF (World Extreme Fighting) had a match at the Hard Rock also. A lot of the fighters are hanging around. This is an A1 place for people watching, that is if you don’t mind beautiful women in small swimsuits drinking tall cocktails. At one point a couple of hot guys are hitting on a group of babes in bikinis. The guys rented a cabana, one of a couple dozen cabanas that surround the pool. The cabanas have big king beds, a huge flat screen TV and constant service from the staff, $200 for the cabanas for the day. If you are a group of guys with a cabana your goal is to attract in bikinis. Well these guys are doing pretty good with some girls, ordering them $25 Tiki head cocktails. In a flash a big dude with Rocky Mountain shoulders and a WEF t-shirt walks over and says a few words to the girls. In no time the girls are on their way to the WEF guy's cabana. The 3 hunky guys were once again alone together in their cabana, trying not to look too disappointed.
Its a fun time here with the scene. The prices for a day at the Hard Rock are over a hundred dollars mid-week but starting Thursday the price rise to over $250, Friday and Saturday over $350. Thursday (Yesterday) we move to the Super-8, $54 a night and again just up the street. Today we will try to hook up with my niece and nephew and maybe take a long walk along the strip later.
Keep tuned! Things should start getting more adventurous from here on. This US tour has been great fun and has worked well as a shake-out for Heidi and I as riding partners.
Update: Continued: Friday:
The Super-8 hotel is connected to the Ellis Island casino. I’ve always heard stories of great and inexpensive places to eat and drink in Vegas but I’ve never been to any of them. Well the Ellis Island casino has to be the standard, 1 dollar big micro-brewery beers, $4.95 full steak dinner or hungry man breakfast. I saw on TV the Wisconsin Badgers were playing the UNLV Rebels. Red Badger shirts were everywhere. Cheap beer, lots of food, you know Wisconsinites are going to find this place.
Of course the temperatures for where we are heading are expected to be 108 degrees, Yuma AZ. We are waiting for a piece of mail to arrive at the Super-8, it’s a day late. We want to be on the road early but instead are stuck in the hotel lobby awaiting the mail person. We’re not even sure it’s going to be in the mail today or exactly when the mail will arrive.
The mail shows up at one PM. It’s getting hot. Highway 95 south from Vegas is rough rocky desert. Anything under a hundred degrees feels good to us now but this 105 degree stuff is tough to handle. We do just under 200 miles and find ourselves on old route 66 and a handful of inexpensive motels. We crawl into our room and crank the AC.
The plan is to hit the road early and be in Yuma before noon, it’s only 200 miles. We pass through Lake Havasu at 8 AM and the temperature are already 97. Ouch ouch. I gas up just before an 81 mile stretch of nothing. It Is Hot… We buy a gallon of cold water and fill up all our jugs. We’re thinking survival here.
OK again I’m not making any of this up. We’re 20 miles down this hot road with nothing before we hit Yuma. The bike just dies. I tried the starter while we were coasting and it seemed to turn over weak. We have plenty of gas. I’m wondering if the battery shorted out internally, or maybe that stupid power adapter I installed shorted. A few days ago we lost our right blinker, it’s not the bulb. I wonder if that’s related.
Heidi and I start to prepare for a long haul in the hot desert sun (we are in the middle of nowhere!). Five minutes later I try the starter. The bike fires right up. We hop on and start to head back to the town 20 miles away. After a mile we change our mind and decide to risk it and turn around and point it to Yuma with fingers crossed.
Made it to Yuma, we thank our lucky stars. We’re checked into a cheap motel with a pool and life is good. Yesterday I got two new tires and a new battery. The blinker wires inside the wheel well were all fried and shorting out. I’m confident the shorted wires had something to do with the bike dying the other day. I’m glad to have a new battery anyway. I removed the electrical outlet also just for peace of mind. I’m sending the AC inverter home.
We are on schedule to be across the border on the 15 th, just as planned. So stayed tuned! Much more fun to come. VIVA MEXICO.
I can feel a buzz inside my body:
We are taking care of business in Yuma. I bought all new padlocks. One of the Brinks locks refused to open one day and another started getting sticky. Luckily the frozen lock was not on a pannier. I had to get it cut off. We have Master Locks now. Picked up 3 more water proof stuff sacks from Wal-mart for $10 and some toiletry stuff. Today I’m picking up motorcycle liability insurance for Mexico at a local Sanborn office. I’m getting out the Baja Map. I threw away all our USA maps, except a small section that includes the route between Yuma to Mexicali. I’m thinking of all the stuff I want to do before crossing the border, I can feel a buzz inside my body. Should we head for San Felipe the first night or go straight to the west coast near Ensenada? Ahhh....
Before leaving Yuma we went through all our gear. We sent home a package weighing 9 pounds, all stuff we decided we can do without. It felt good to lighten our heavy load.
This is what is left of our survival kit (the beer is not part of the kit :)
Ok, we planned it just right and entered Mexico early on a Sunday morning, just like I’ve read one should do to avoid the long lines and hassle associated with crossing on a busier day. We first went to register the motorcycle with customs. We find the building right away and a guy tells us that we can’t do it here today and that we will either have to wait until tomorrow or do it somewhere else. We look at each other with a big F formed on our faces. How could this be, we crossed here on a Sunday 2 years ago with our jeep and had no problems. It doesn’t matter. We can’t get it done here today. We discussed going back to the US and crossing again tomorrow. The US is less then 100 yards away but that means we will have to pass through the US customs and that could be a real hassle. They could require us to unpack all our stuff for a search and probably would. Double F. We went to the Immigration office to get our tourist card while we were still thinking what to do. The people there were very polite and told us we could clear customs for the motorcycle in La Paz where we are planning on taking a ferry to mainland Mexico, 'Great'. We hop on the bike and proceed into Mexico relieved.
We’re tooling through Mexicali looking for highway 2 heading west. This is a big city of a million people. Downtown there were people lying all over the sidewalks. It looked like most of them were sleeping on the street. It’s so weird thinking the USA is just over there a stones throw away. We wondered if these people came here from all over Mexico hoping to cross the border illegally and failed and are now down and out living on the street. Yesterday was Mexico’s Independence Day, a big day of celebration, maybe these people had been out partying hard the night before and are just sleeping it off. Possibly a few but there were just too many of them.
We expected to just run into highway 2 but the road we were on suddenly had a roadblock with police directing traffic. I pulled the bike up to the roadblock and asked a police officer, in Spanish, how to get to the road to Tecate. He replied in English “Do you speak Spanish?” I said “Un poco” (A little) He replied back with a big smile “Good, I don’t speak English” We all laugh. He calls over to another officer who came walking over saying “Parle vouz Francais” Now we are all laughing. This guy spoke English well and was very helpful to us. It was still a challenge to find the highway but Heidi and I are used to this. Don’t panic and just try the roads that feel right.
The predicted highs for Mexicali were 105 degrees. I was dripping sweat on the counter while filling out my tourist form. Soon after Mexicali we started going up in elevation and the temperatures started to cool. This was a great ride, double lane freeway through rocky mountain scenery. At Tecate we turned south on highway 3 toward Ensenada.
Ensenada was a lot bigger than we expected. It was great seeing the Pacific Ocean and all the seaside scenery but getting through town took forever. There were still a lot of celebrations going on for Independence Day. This seemed to add to the slow traffic.
After Ensenada the traffic almost vanished. We were thinking of maybe camping that night along the Pacific coast on a beach somewhere but we came across all the camping spots too early in the day. We wanted to get deeper into Mexico before stopping. We stopped for gas at San Vicente. I asked the gas attendant if she knows of a good restaurant in town “Puede dicerme donde es un restaurante bien” She points to a place right next door, a quaint little Mexican restaurant. The waitress there hands us the menu, opens it up and points to the selection ands says “Only Mexican food” Like she was thinking we wanted American food or something. We thought this was weird but blow it off thinking we are not that far into Mexico and there are probably a lot of Americans coming through here during the Baja races wanting American food. Well the food was fantastic, the hot sauce was hot and I shouldn’t have tried to finish the whole thing. It was just too good.
It was late afternoon and I was getting fried. We have been on the road since 7:30 AM. We cruised through several medium size towns. I pulled over and stopped in most of them to talk with Heidi and discuss an option of spending the night here. Heidi was adamant about pressing on and hopefully finding a camping spot on a beach. We get to Colonia Vicente Guerrero where there is a tourist sign with a palm tree pointing toward the coast. We head down that road. The road was dirt, rock and bumps. It soon became apparent that the beach was a lot further then we wanted. We turn around and get back to the main road. I tell Heidi that I’m toast and need to stop now, she agrees. We pull into a nice little place, motel Sanchez. Twenty bucks for the night and we are set. Ice cold beer is right across the street and we have a beautiful little courtyard with a huge tree in the middle to enjoy it under.
I had to take off the back of the toilet and manually flush it but what do you expect for twenty bucks? At least it flushed.
Right across the street from the motel was OK Disco karaoke bar. I slept like a rock and Heidi listened to bad karaoke all night. I did wake once at three AM to purge my fabulous Mexican meal but then fell right back to sleep. I guess my eyes were bigger than my stomach. At least I didn’t have food poisoning….
Mexico: What is wrong with the motorcycle?
I wake up hungry and had to go find food. Colonia Vicente Guerrero is a nice small village with several restaurants. I walk up and down the main street and pick a place where a lot of the locals were eating. Huevos rancheros and coffee. I feel like a new man. Further up the street I get some fresh squeezed OJ to go for Heidi. We enjoy a lazy slow morning at the motel knowing we are in Mexico and all is good.
We’re on the road by at 10:00 AM. The sky is clear and the temperatures are perfect for riding. I almost need gloves but opt to go without knowing it will be getting warmer throughout the day. Cruising south we soon see the Pacific on our right with beautiful sand beaches and dunes. This is where we were hoping to make it to yesterday but were glad to have stayed the night in Colonia Vicente Guerrero.
Just before the road turns inland we stop for gas. A couple miles later we see a road sign saying 328 km to the next gas station, 200 miles. If we aren’t experiencing a head wind or aren’t traveling too fast that’s near our range before hitting reserve. I’m glad I bought that 4.2 gallon tank from Ebay last year, without it we would be hosed.
The winds are strong, hitting us at an angle of near 100 degrees. The road is twisty, we are averaging 50 MPH. I know we are getting better then 50 MPG and should have no problem making it 200 miles.
We’re cutting straight across the Baja from west to east, from the Pacific coast to the Sea of Cortez. This road is mountainous and steamy hot riddled with constant curves and changing vegetation. At times we see just small rocks, other times we’re surrounded by 50 foot tall cacti and huge boulders. Up and down, twists and turns. The highway here is extremely narrow with zero shoulder and steep drop offs on both sides. There is no time to be thinking about anything except keeping it on the road. We’re sailing along 30 miles from the last gas stop, when 'BAM'. The bike just dies. No precursor, no indication anything is wrong. The bike just quits. I try popping the clutch. Nothing. Luckily we coast to a tiny pull off on the side of the road. This is the same thing that happened outside of Yuma a week ago. We dismount. Heidi and I look at each other with intense troubled emotions in our eyes. "What the hell is going on here!" We wait a few minutes then try the starter, the bike fires right up. No time is waisted getting back on the bike to continue on. My mind is racing with elation, confusion and concern seemingly all at once. Scenarios are playing out in my head one after another ‘we could have been stuck here’ ‘we could have been stuck there’. This is only our second day in Mexico and we are having big problems with our motorcycle. The road didn’t get any wider or straighter and I have little time to concentrate fully on a new plan. We just ‘ride on’.
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