Gustavo's Mexico Adventure 2006-2007

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I step off the train,
I'm walking down your street again,
and past your door,
but you don't live there anymore.

It's years since you've been there.
Now you've disappeared somewhere
like outer space,
you've found some better place,

and I miss you like the deserts miss the rain.

Back in the days I used to drive to Albuquerque to see Lizbeth, this was playing on the radio often (it had just been released, and it was popular...). I love driving/riding in the southwest desert, and often Missing gets stuck in my mind as I drive through it. It was playing in my mind (OK, I admit I was singing too. Luckily, the drivers around me couldn't hear me, so nobody was harmed in the process of keeping myself entertained on the road) as I was heading east from Palm Springs, having gone past the large wind turbine farms, suddenly the floor drops, and the wide open spaces of the SW desert are spread in front of me. The sun was getting low, the desert had these beautiful golden brown colors. I was not missing the rain...

Backtrack one day. Itís Saturday morning and Iím headed out to Phoenix for a work trip that I am about to combine with a trip to Mexico to see my MotoAventuras buddies. I have been watching the forecast every day for the last two weeks. Will the Siskiyou Pass be passable by motorcycle or will I have to ride down the coast? Two weeks ago, it would have been the coast, and maybe not even that. It has been dry for a couple of days, it started raining today, but itís warm enough not to snow in southern Oregon today. Straight down I-5 I go.

It wasn't that bad, surprisingly. It rained a bit, but nothing heavy and there was light traffic on Saturday morning. As I get to Roseburg, the skies clear up, and the ride through the pass seems like it's going to be a piece of cake. There was almost no snow at the Siskiyou summit. Very surprising, but I wasnít complaining, that section of I-5 is much more fun than any highway has the right to be. Then I start to descend into CA and the skies look thick and black. I was hoping this would be the case only until I got past Mt. Shasta. No such luck. There was a short break around Redding and then the skies opened up... As I was approaching Sacramento, the rain was coming sideways, it was gusty and the spray from other cars and trucks around me made it difficult to see the road.

Just when I was thinking it couldnít get any worse, I see the tach going nuts. At first I thought the engine had a problem, but it was quickly apparent that it was just the tach, not the engine. I guessed something got wet and it's shorting out. What I didn't think was that soon thereafter, all my instruments will short out too...  So, I'm now around Stockton, my instrument panel is dead, it's pouring rain and I canít see a place to pull over to look at this. Well, I know I can make it to Tracy on the gas I have, the bike is running fine, no reason to stop and get any wetter than I already am. Push on to Tracy.

Motel 6 doesnít have covered parking or private garages (boy, am I disappointed). Should I try to identify the source of the short in the rain? No, I donít itís a good idea. Knowing how fast you are going is way overrated. Knowing when to stop for gas, OTOH, could be useful. Did I mention that the instrument panel is dead, i.e. I canít see the odometers or the fuel gauge? This could be a problem.

Well, it could have been, but knowing how far the V-Strom can go on a tank of gas, I just highlight on my map stops at ~150 mile intervals (to be on the safe side, strong winds and fast CA traffic will decrease the range). Sunday morning dawns with just as much rain and wind as Saturday. The local forecasts donít give me too much hope either. The only place where itís not raining in their forecast is south of LA...

Did I mention Californians drive fast? I pick rabbits to pace and help me keep out of trouble (I really donít need an HPDA), but by the sound of the engine, they are not going the speed limit. I have to let a couple go, as I am not willing to risk that HPDA. It must have been entertaining, because before I knew it, I was climbing into LA. And the forecast was right. I could see the blue skies on the other side of Tejon Pass. I was so excited to see clear skies I stopped at the pass to enjoy the sun while I had a snack.

I did the usual loop around LA through Pasadena, and as seems to be the case every time I am in LA, I got buzzed by a CHP moto cop. I saw him coming in the HOV lane to my left, next time I look in the mirror, he is behind me, and closing fast. He must have been going 90 (65 MPH zone, mind you) when he went by. Traffic was heavy for a weekend, but not anything like you see there on a weekday, so I quickly made my way out of LA and east towards Indio.

And there I was, looking at this beautiful, wide open, golden brown desert, thinking to myself it was worth it. After those long miles of putting up with cold and rain and suddenly here I was singing in my helmet - like the deserts miss the rain Ė even though I wasnít missing it at all...

Terry has offered to help posting pictures so I can post these trip updates with visual aids. I am spending the week in Phoenix for work, not much to report on other than long meetings. I havenít figured out what was the cause of the short in the instrument panel, but it does look like it's the panel that bit it. I was going to get a bicycle computer to replace it, but couldn't find anybody that was willing to splice 18" of extra wire on one to make it reach it's location on the bike. I tried several electrical and computer repair places, and nobody would even look at it. "Sorry, we don't do that kind of work" What kind of work do they do? Are people that afraid of liability that they wont take on simple job like that? You'd think that a guy that repairs computers and I can see has a soldering iron on his bench could do this in less than 10 minutes. I wasnít asking for favors, I made it clear that I was willing to pay for his time, but heíd still rather surf the web (thatís what he was doing when I walked in to that shop) than try to do it. Luckily, I can always count on my friends to bail me out. Tony bought one, spliced the extra wire and is mailing it to me tomorrow. On Friday I get back on the road towards NM, where I am going to pick up my new bicycle computer. I think I owe him big.



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