Slowing Down

Jay and I are still learning how to travel.  The past five and a half months have been a constant process of discovering what we like, what we don't like, how much is too much, when we need to rest, how to reach decisions, how to compromise, and on and on.  We recently found that it's easy to go on autopilot taking the highways from city to city without really thinking about what we want to be doing and seeing.  Not thinking about what we need to feel fulfilled, rejuvenated, and at peace.  Neither Jay nor myself are "city" people, meaning we prefer small towns, back roads and nature to the hustle and bustle of a concrete community.  We also set out on this adventure excited to slow down, to enjoy what the journey offers us rather than shoot toward a destination. Our experiences over the past few weeks have allowed us to relearn this about ourselves and break into a more thoughtful and pleasurable travel path. 

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Arrival on the Mainland

Gorditas, clavadistas, tollbooths, and tequila.  It has been a wonderful 2 weeks.  We arrived in Mazatlan on November 24th after a spectacular ferry ride across the Sea of Cortez.  

It began in the ferry's parking lot in La Paz around 4:00pm on November 23rd when a handful of other travelers rolled up behind us and the semi-trucks. First, a beautifully restored VW van from the 1960's carrying Alex, Roxanne, and their two kids (7 and 5, respectively).  Second, a 1981 Dodge camper van that was purchased in British Columbia by a Swiss couple (Deni and Sue) and which is on it's way to Panama where it will be sold again to another wanderlust (or two).  Third, our friends Andrew and Tom whom we met the night before at our hostel in La Paz.  Tom is riding a 2001 Suzuki DR650 that he bought used in Canada and Andrew is on a WR450R that is relying on a hefty supply of JB weld to keep the oil inside the engine (the result of an inadvertent righty-tighty, when the Dr. ordered a lefty-loosey).  Like us, they're headed to South America.  Fourth, Tim and Lily - an English couple riding Yamaha XT250's from New York to however far south they choose to get by May 2015, at which point Lily and the bikes will fly home and Tim will continue by bicycle to Tierra del Fuego - or somewhere else.  Fifth, Charlie and Janet - an older Kiwi couple also on route to Tierra del Fuego aboard a Yamaha Super Tenere and a Yamaha 660R.

Save for Andrew and Tom, we knew none of these folks when the ferry ride began, but we knew them well 18 hours later and we look forward to bumping into many of them again along the way (indeed, we already have).

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Adventures in Baja

On Saturday, November eighth The Live It Right Dream Ride went international.  For five weeks before our departure we were stationed in Southern California at Jay's mom's house.  While some of that time was spent enjoying family (and feeling extremely lucky to have such a supportive, generous, and loving mother/mother-in-law), most days were spent agonizing over every detail of our impending adventure south.  Jay worked tirelessly on the bikes - changing the tires, putting on bigger gas tanks, adding tank panniers for expanded storage, hooking up a USB charger, and trying to decide how much perfectionism was too much perfectionism.  I slaved at the computer researching travel warnings in order to assure we take the safest route, getting our documents, copies of our documents, and copies of copies of our documents ready to go, setting up our DeLorme InReach satellite communication device (which we love), purchasing last minute items such as warm gloves and socks so my fingers don't fall off, creating and sharing our emergency and safety plan, purchasing health insurance, and trying to decide how much preparedness was too much preparedness. Several times during those five weeks we questioned whether or not this was worth all the work we were putting in.  The night of November seventh we realized that ready or not, we just needed to take the plunge.  

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Down the Pacific Coast

After 2 ½ weeks riding down the beautiful Pacific Coast we made it to Jay’s mom’s house in Sun City, California on September 23rd.  The jaw dropping magnificence of this portion of our travels cannot be described in words, nor do the multitudes of pictures and videos we took do it justice, but hopefully this gives you a little taste of our journey down the west coast.

 

In our last blog entry we talked about our five week hiatus spent celebrating several life events with family out east.  We flew back west to Portland, Oregon on September 3rd with a heaviness in our hearts, sad to be leaving our families and unsure of the next time we would see them.  The transition was made easier, however by the wonderful hospitality of Jay’s aunt and uncle and their families in Portland.  His uncle Jon drove us around the Portland neighborhoods where Jay’s dad grew up, allowing a peek into a part of his past Jay was too young to be privy to.  His aunt Fern and her partner Pat threw us a send off bbq at their house where Pat presented us with a “survival kit” complete with toilet paper, safety pins, a bungee cord, and maps.  The support and encouragement was just what we needed as we prepared to take off the following day.  We can’t thank you enough Portland Wilgi!!

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Our August Hiatus

(First part written by Jay)

Well…well….it’s been a while since our last update because we’ve been busy visiting family all over the country.  After our last blog post, we spent 3 beautiful days on McKee’s Beach (outside Stanwood, WA) with my Uncle’s family and 2 days in Portland, OR with my other Aunt and Uncle.  On August 5th, we stowed our motorcycles safely in my Uncle’s garage (after a deep cleaning and routine maintenance) and hopped on a plane headed to Boston, MA.  Our plan was to spend the next 3 weeks with Emily’s family celebrating a handful of important events, including her sister’s wedding in Button Bay State Park south of Burlington, VT.  From there we would fly to Chicago to meet my sister’s new baby.  That’s exactly what we did. Here’s more of the story.

On July 31st, we made an important left turn.  After travelling westward from Michigan to Washington over the course of 28 days, we turned left in Burlington, WA on to I-5 South.  We had turned left before, but this particular curve meant more than others because it marked the end of our westward progress and the beginning of our journey south.  We would now be hugging the west coast of North and South America for roughly 12,000 miles.  Our first stop: McKee’s Beach.

Later that day we arrived at my Uncle’s lake house which sits on a private stretch of Puget Sound known as McKee’s Beach.  McKee’s Beach was “founded” in the mid-1950’s (or something like that) when Bill and Fran McKee decided to sell parcels of property to folks seeking a slice of Washington serenity.  My great Uncle was one of them, so parts of my family have been going there ever since.

We spent the next 2 days crabbing, eating, reading, running, skiing, and enjoying marvelous sunsets.  We also had fun looking for wildlife.  While there, we watched four Bald Eagles hunting from perches high above the beach and we waterskied next to a school of dolphins who were kind enough to show themselves to us.  All-in-all, it was absolutely beautiful.  Thanks Uncle M. and Aunt S. for a wonderful visit. 
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