Overland Expo 2016

Last year, the Overland Expo (OX) was the start of my journey around the back road of United States.  This year, I will be working the event as an ASL interpreter for an attendee.   Now, I need to figure out which mode of transportation I want to take to the event. Plus, I need to see if my partner, Mark, wants to attend the event as well and if he does, how much vacation time he can take off.  Also, if he does want to go, then this will also determine which way we will travel to OX.

After much discussion, he decided that he wanted to go and we will be taking the van.  Several months ago, we bought a 2006 Ford diesel e350 van to convert it into a camper van.   Our plan was to use it as way for me to continue traveling since the arthritis in my hands can’t handle long trip anymore.  The camper van would allow us to travel to a base camp and then bring along the bikes to do short trips from there.  We originally found a contractor to help us with the conversion but he wasn’t able to help us right away and we haven’t been able to find another contractor that would work for us.  Summer was approaching, so we decided to put the project on the back burner for now until winter.

So, we figured that we might as well utilize the van for this trip since it does have a reclining bench that can be used as a bed.  Realistically, it is not big enough for the both of us but we will make it work for now.  Also, this trip would be a good practice run for us to learn what would work and what doesn’t work of the camping gears that we have bought so far.

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Getting to Mormon Lake, AZ from our house is only about 6 hour drive but Mark was really excited to be attending his first overland adventure event with me so we took off on Wednesday night.  We took our time driving and made a lot of stops along the way, we ended up stopping at Kingman KOA for the night.  Even this late at night, it was still quite hot and realized that an A/C should be on the top of our list for the camper van conversion.

We got up early the next morning and headed on out to our final destination, the OX.  Once we arrived, I was surprised that Roseann managed to obtain a camping site right next to the presenter’s Moto Village so I could be close to all of my friends.

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We arrived in plenty of time before I needed to be at the presenter’s meeting where I will be introducing myself to all of the Nicole’s instructors to give them the 411 on what to expect while I’m interpreting during their class.

The four days spent as an ASL interpreter was challenging and rewarding at the same time.  The challenges were taking on the persona of four different presenters in the same class, the long days or having to come up with technical signs for the various type of winches when there is only one sign for it.  However, the rewards were knowing that the attendee was able to grasp what was being said in the presentation and building a friendship with her.

 

I have to give a special thanks to the Land Rover Team. The instructors went out of their way to make sure that the attendee and I were taken care of while out on the course for the Vehicle Marshalling Skills class.

Well, it wasn’t all work and no play, there were a couple of gaps in her schedule where Mark and I were able to catch a couple of classes ourselves.  The first one we were able to squeeze in was the DIY Overlander: How to convert an ambulance, bus or military truck.  Even though we don’t have any of those vehicles but thought that we might learn a few tips and tricks that would be beneficial to us.  Boy, it sure was!  One thing we learned that we did the right thing by taking the van on short trip to figure out what we need and want to have in our van before doing the conversion.  The second thing was when they asked us a question, “where do you typically park your camper?”  Most people try to find shade to park under so installing a solar panel on top of your vehicle is the most practical thing to do.  So they recommend getting a portal solar panel instead so you move it around to face the sun.

The other class that we managed to attend was the Overlanding Survival for Couples.  After traveling solo the past year, I going to need learn how to deal with the challenges of the constant togetherness on the road.  Oh boy, I haven’t laughed so hard in a class, Simon and Lisa Thomas sure made it enlightening.  My favorite tip was that if I can’t get Mark to do what I want then I can start withholding foods and sex and then he will come around.🙂

 

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Photo by @classglass

We also were able to sneak in some times to wander around the exhibitor’s area to look at products that would be useful for our camper van.  Remember, in the DIY class, we learned that a portable solar panel is a better solution than the built-in one.  So we were on a mission to check out all of the vendors that were selling portable solar panel.   We finally came upon a vendor, overlandsolar.com, with the quality and the price we were budgeting for.  He had several different wattage solar panels available and convinced us that we didn’t need the biggest one for our van.  He even had a converted camper van as well and welcomed us to step in to see what he has done to it. So, I would highly recommend this vendor if you’re ever in need of a portable solar panel.

 

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During the evening, I am able to get some free time to catch up with some friends that I haven’t seen since last year when I left for my trip.  We were able to catch up as if no times have been lost.  However, I’m still amazes of the camaraderie that is shared among motorcycle riders.  A lot of them know my stories and they welcomed Mark into the circle of friends like he has been a part of it the whole time.

After we got home from OX, Mark asked me when the next event is, itching to get on the road again.  I smiled and said next month to the Touratech Rally in Plain, WA. I think Mark got the traveling bug now.

 

 

 

Prelude to Overland Expo 2016

There are events and rallies throughout the world for all types of overland adventurers such Horizon Unlimited, Overland Expo, Overland Rally, and Touratech Rally.   It was at the Horizon Unlimited event where Russ and I got the travel bug and started dreaming about life on the road.  As you know, our dreams got cut short. So when I made my promise to Russ that I will pursue our dreams now rather than later, I began researching and preparing for the big trip.  While reading up as much information as I could about overland travel, I came across an event called the Overland Expo.  They offer classes, roundtable discussions and demonstrations for different type of travel whether it’s by 4-wheel or 2-wheel.  In addition, the event also host over 200 vendors of adventure travel equipment, camping gear, bikes, vehicles and services.  I figured that this will be the perfect place to get as much information as I can.

This year was my third year attending the event.  Originally, I wasn’t sure that I was going to attend this year.  I was still in a funk since returning home from my trip so I didn’t sign up to be a presenter. Plus, Purple was still under construction.  However, a couple of months before the event, I across a Facebook post by the staff of Overland Expo requesting help in finding an American Sign Language (ASL) interpreter for an attendee.  Hiring an ASL interpreter to provide the service required by law is expensive and they haven’t budgeted it to accommodate for that added expense.   Some of the comments on the Facebook post wasn’t very supportive to the needs of this attendee.  I was a little put off at first by these comments and was going unleash my opinion but realized that these comments were being made by ignorant people and doesn’t know what it is like being deaf or hard of hearing.  As being hard of hearing myself, I know what it is like not being able to understand what is being said and miss half of the presentation or show.  That kind of frustration makes you not want to go the movies, concerts, or any type of shows.

This remind me of the first time that I have had an interpreter provided for a comedy show.  Russ and I got invited to see the Blue Collar Comedy Tour with Jeff Foxworthy with some friends of ours. I was dreading going knowing that I would be lost in the translation and frustrated with missing half of what was being said.  You got to remember that I depend a lot on lip-reading to understand what is being said.  I have a 65 to 75 percent hearing loss but with the assistance of hearing aids, I can hear almost at the same level of a hearing person.  However, even with the assistance of the hearing aids, I can’t hear ‘s’, ‘sh’, ‘ed’, any sibilant (hissing) sounds, the intonation and/or the pitch of a voice that signal sarcasm or indicate the feelings on what is being said.  For example, if you ask a person how they are doing and they said good but with a flat voice tone.  A hearing person would know that the person is not being honest with their answer.  For me, I would have to look at the person facial expression to see that the opposite is true than what is being said.

Having that said, one of my girlfriend, who is a teacher for the deaf suggested that I get an interpreter for the show.  Me? I said to her. Mind you, sign language is my native language but was raised orally from fourth grade on and to this day, I do not use it every day.  I was raised with a mind-set that I’m not handicap and don’t require any assistance in functioning in a hearing world.  My friend finally convinced me that it would be helpful with the sarcasms, idioms and the meaning behind the jokes.  So, I called the event organizer and requested an interpreter for the show.  The event organizer change our tickets from the balcony to the front row so we see the interpreter up close.  I’m so glad that I went with her recommendation, it was the first time I could truly understand the meaning behind some of these jokes.  Actually, the interpreter and I became the centre of the show when Jeff Foxworthy started noticing that the interpreter was having difficulties with a sign for “Widjadidja” widjadidja(a redneck slang for “with you did you”).  Since there isn’t a sign for it, the interpreter had to spell it out and it took a while.  So Jeff noticed that and kept saying it over and over standing right behind the interpreter.  To the point where the audience was getting upset at Jeff Foxworthy for pulling this joke over and over again.  As an interpreter, you can never get out of your role but the audience was starting to boo and I had to tell the interpreter that the joke was being played on him and convince the audience that it was okay.

Even though, it became the centre of the show at one point, I became aware of how much I was truly was missing at event such as these.  I began requesting interpreter more and more.  I can now enjoy going to the show and not find excuses to not attend them.

With not seeing anyone stepping up to the plate on the Facebook post yet, I decided to reach out to the organizer of Overland Expo, Roseann Hanson, to let her know that I may be of assistance to them.  I was honest and up front with her stating that I’m hard of hearing and that I’m not fluent in ASL.  I suggested that they keep trying to find someone but will be available as a backup just in case.  I also let her know that the attendee may not accept me as an interpreter for a couple of reasons; one is that I’m not a certified ASL interpreter and two that I am known in the deaf community as “little d” whichoneMEDwhich mean that I was born deaf but do not socialize or immerse myself into the world of the deaf culture.  It can be viewed as a derogatory term when a deaf person who chooses to function and socialize in the mainstream society.

She took the information under advisement and contacted the attendee to see how she felt about it.  The attendee suggested that we have a Skype interview to see if my signing would be acceptable to her.  Man, I was so nervous about this interview that I actually hooked up with a friend of mine who is a child of a deaf adult (CODA) to practice conversing in sign language.

I guess the practice paid off! After the interview, the attendee had emailed Roseann to let her know that we had a good conversation and she doesn’t mind having me as an interpreter for her classes and workshops.  Now, I just need to start researching and learning the sign for some of the more technical words in overland travel such as “winching” which is the same sign as “towing”. towing

 

 

The Transformation!

A couple of months ago, I mentioned that I purchased a 2014 Yamaha TW200 with only 97 miles on it from Ed Tamayo of 2wheelridersschool.   20160423_084826After a long consideration, I decided to name her as “P2” since she is the second generation of the original Purple People Eater.  Plus, her new vinyl wrap will contain both Pink and Purple in it which also hence the “P2” name concept as well.  So after several months, I’m finally finished with the transformation.

Here’s the low down of what changes I have made on it and why.

Footrest

The first thing I change are the foot pegs.  The stock one are soooo skinny which make it uncomfortable when you riding standing up.  So I ordered the fat peg from Amazon.  Look at the size difference in the picture below.

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Tips: The foot pegs are offset from one side to the other. There are foot pegs on the market to make them even. Just be aware that they tend to be a little bit more expensive.

 

Vinyl Wrap

The very first thing I did was ordered some vinyl wrap for my bike. Now some can say this is mainly for cosmetic looks but living in the high desert, it is the best thing you can do to protect the plastic from drying out. Plus, since I’m know to be crash prone on my bike, it has saved the bike from being scratched too badly.  Actually, from all of the crashed I have done on Purple, it has never ripped.  So naturally first I went to Metrostyling.com which is where I got the wrap for Purple.  It has the best bang for your buck.  However, I couldn’t find another purple theme that I liked on their website for P2.  So I did a google search for other purple theme and came across the Muddy Girl design.  It has more Pink than I care for (I’m not a girly girl) but it was the best design I liked so far.

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Tips: Make sure you buy a heat gun if you’re going to do the vinyl wrapping yourself. It helps with all of the curves on the plastic.

Gas Tank

The stock tank on a TW200 is only 1.8 gallon which is fine if you’re only doing short trip since the fuel economy on this bike is 78 mpg.  However, I love doing long trips and needed a bigger tank so I don’t have to gas up so much.  I went with the Clarke Tank which is 2.7 gallon. (FYI – if you wish to purchase one, just contact me since now I’m a dealer for Clarke Tank)

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 Seat

The stock seat is not the most comfortable thing to ride on for a long time.  I have tried several things to make them more comfortable but nothing really last.  One time, I borrowed a friend’s TW which had the Seat Concept seat on it.  It is really comfortable but it added an inch to the height of the bike.  Since I’m vertically challenge, the added height made it more difficult to handle the bike.  So I thought I would give Seat Concept a call to see if they can make a custom seat for me.  They were more than happy to and since they’re a local company they suggested that I ride the bike down and they will build it while I’m there.  Before I headed down there, they asked for my height, weight and inseam to get it started and if needed to they can shave it down some more.  To my amazement, it nailed it on the first shot and didn’t need to any shaving to it.

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Tips: Since customize seats are expensive, ask your fellow riders if you could sit on their bike to see if you like the seat before making the purchase.

 

The other modification I made to the seat was added Mule Hitch seat clips to them.  The idea was originally created by a fellow T-dub rider, Jeff Bowman.  Originally, the seat is bolted down by screws.  The Mule Hitch seat clips help make it easier to access to the battery.

Turn Signals

As I sit here and write about why I changed the front and back turn signals, it instantly bring back memories from my first group ride I ever did back in 2009.  I just started learning how to ride a motorcycle again and Russ took me on a group ride with other fellow T-Dubbers out in Joshua Tree, CA.  It was my first serious off road ride and man I crashed more times than I can count (at least 30 times).  So of course with any crash, things tend to break. So naturally, the first thing that break are the turn signals because they stick out like sore thumbs.  On this ride, I broke all four of them!  Therefore, I needed a solution where they were less likely to break if I ever crashed the bike again.

So with this transformation, I decided to go with which I purchased at Cycle Gear for just $20 buckaroo a set.

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Warning: If you’re ever in an accident and have modified turn signals, be forewarned that the insurance company may not pay out your insurance claims.

Handlebar

I have made several modification to my handlebar.  One of them is adding riser to the handlebar.  At the normal state, when I stand up, I feel like I’m leaning over.  So by adding risers allows me to stand up straight.  This allows to control the bike better out in the sands. On Purple, I originally had the fat bars which allowed me to use the ProTaper riser with it.   However, on P2, I did not purchase a fat bars and bought the BikeMaster Aluminum Bar Risers from Cycle Gear.  This allows to choose the height that fits me.

The other thing I change are the grips.  Having Osteoporosis and Arthritis, I need to minimize the vibration on the handlebar.  I really love the Pillow Top grips but the problem with those are that they tend to wear down fast and become sticky.  So the next best thing that seems to help me are the ProGrip 714 Dual Sport Motorcycle Grips.

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The last thing I add on the handlebar are the brush guards.  Just like the turn signals, on my very first ride in Joshua Tree, I also broke the throttle sleeve.

Having the brush guard protect the levers and the throttle sleeves.  It also help to keep the wind off of your hands as well.  Not much but every little bit helps when it is cold out.

TCI Skid Plate

Okay, I’m not the most fluid rider and have crashed several times out riding in the desert.  You may remember in my previous blog post “Flying Nun”, I was traveling up a bolder waterfall and suddenly made a left turn and head over the side of the hill.  That crash could have destroyed my bike.  However, with the TCI skid plate, the crash did not damage my bike at all.  This is the most expensive aftermarket product on my bike but I would definitely recommend it.  There are other cheaper aftermarket skid plate out there.  I would suggest replacing the stock one which it doesn’t do much to protect the bike.

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Tires

I also changed the front tire to Shinko 241 Trial tire.  When I first did it on Purple, I noticed that it handled the sand and turn so much nicer than the stock tire.  However, it wasn’t I borrowed a friend bike while Purple was being worked on.  I took his bike to the Overland Expo and it was an uncomfortable ride due to the stock tire.  It was then I noticed how much nicer is the Shinko 241 tire is and will always replace the front tire on all of my TW200 in the garage.

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Tips: Make sure that the tires are DOT approved because you can get a ticket for non-DOT tire when riding on the street.

Windshield

Last but not least is the Trailway Café Shield.  Some say it does help and some say it doesn’t.  For me, it does make a difference.  Plus, I think the TW200 looks naked without it.  The Trailway Café Shield was designed by a fellow T-dub rider, Jim Carter, and he make it in Neon Yellow, Blue, Smoke and Clear. (He does not have a website, so if you wish to order one, just send him an email at trailwaycafe@cox.net)

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Conclusion

All of these modifications above were done to meet the performance, aesthetic and comfort of my needs.  I would recommend riding your TW200 for a while before making any modification to it.  After a while, you will decide which part of the bike you would like to upgrade to meet your needs.

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A trip down memory lane…

You remembered in my last post, I have gotten a new TW200 and have been working on the transformation.  Well, she is almost complete but I needed to take a time out from working on her and to take her on a short road trip down memory lane.  You see, two weeks ago would have been our 5th wedding anniversary.  So, I hopped onto my bike and first went to the cemetery 13174117_10206013864217604_7660469739128796068_nto sit awhile and talk to Russ.

Once I was at the cemetery, I decided that I needed to visit the Harvey House as well to continue down the trip down memory lane.  That is where we had our wedding ceremony.  As usual, I didn’t hop onto the interstate to get there.  I decided to take the long way around and get my kick on the old Route 66. 13248581_10206015533979347_463893088809359330_o

Let me tell you a little bit about the Harvey House and how our obsession began with that place.  It actually began back when Russ took his horse trip across United States in 1993.  One night he camped at the Harvey House in Barstow, CA.  At the time he was there, it was stood empty and abandoned.  He was fascinated with architecture and the local history behind the Harvey House.  He actually envisioned that when he got back was to buy the building and restore it to its former glory.  Little did he know that back in 1990 the city started a preservation project on the building already but it was halted back in 1992 when the Landers earthquake hit the desert area.  It took the city and the preservation group another 8 years to receive Federal funding and finished the restoration.

So what is a Harvey House? It all started back in the 1800’s when traveling by train was glamorous and the Wild West was beckoning the adventurers to explore new area.  An entrepreneur named Fred Harvey decided to open up a chain of dining rooms and boarding house for the weary travelers.  Fred Harvey is actually credited for the starting the concept of “restaurant chains”.  The dining room offered fine dining with food and drinks being served in crystal and china.  The rooms in the boarding house were luxurious and comfortable.

However, it was the Harvey Girls gcr_HarveyGirlswho created the Harvey House reputation for friendliness and hospitality.  Their job was not only to serve food but to provide conversation and information to the weary travelers.  Originally, Fred Harvey hired men to work in the restaurants but found that they were as wild as the west was.  So he began hiring women to do the job.  In order to qualify as one of the “Harvey Girls”, the women had to have at least an eight grade education, good moral character, good manners, and be neat and articulate.  They were paid good wages, as much as $17.50 per month with free room, board, and uniforms.  In return, they would agree to a six month contract and agree not to marry while employed.  In times, it was the most sought after jobs by the women.

Okay, so I got a little side tracked with the history of the Harvey House but I can’t help that since I’m a little bit geeky and passionate about local U.S. history.  Anyway, today, the Barstow Harvey House, “Casa Del Desierto”300px-Harveyhouse3 is now home to an Amtrak stop, a Route 66 museum, a Western Railroad museum and rent out their ballroom for events.

While I was there that Saturday, the Barstow Area Chamber of Commerce was setting up for another event for that night which brought back memories of the time we were setting it up for the reception after the wedding ceremony.  I was getting emotional so I knew it wasn’t a good time to get back on the bike so I decided to check out the Route 66 museum.  It’s a place that I have visited so many times but knew it would be a good place to clear my head.

While I was in there, a couple from out-of-town started asking questions to the museum’s docent, Steven and Karen Diffenbacher, inquiring where the James Dean memorial was and I politely interjected since I knew the answer.  I used to live in San Luis Obispo and everyone who lives there know where it is.

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While chatting, they noticed my motorcycle gear and asked what type of bike I was riding.  I started to explain what a TW200 is but they already knew all about them because she has one.  As we were discussing about the T-dub and how she doesn’t ride it much anymore.  They’re thinking about selling it.  However, her 90’s TW200 still have the original tires, no battery and the tank has been creamed by the previous owner.  Steve even mentioned that at one point he almost had a replacement tank when they met a guy several years ago who had several TW200 and was willing to give to him one.  However, they lost his phone number and was unable to get a hold of him.  I immediately knew who he was talking about because Russ loved going to that museum and he had 13 TW200 on hand at that time.

Of course, I told them that I knew who he was and told them the story of his passing and my journey since then.  It is interesting our how lives can cross paths throughout times and remind us of those times in the past.  They are there to help us with the trip down memory lane…

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Finding the Passion Once Again!

Believe it or not, I’m still alive and well.   And, yes, I know that it has been quite a while since I have last written a blog post.  My next sentence was going to be an apology for not keeping up with the blog but you know what, I’m not going to.    In the beginning, I posted for an audience but as time progress I learned to write for me. This blog eventually became a journal where I could write down my thoughts and express my feelings as therapy for me to get through the next chapters in my life without Russ. 

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These last couple of months has been a difficult transition for me from life living on the road to stationary life.  A friend of mine, Sandy Borden, once posted on Facebook, “Life is so much simpler on the road!”  As strange as it may sound, she is correct.  You only have to worry about finding the next place to camp for the night.  In another word, you only have to worry about today, not yesterday and not about tomorrow.  Just for today.

Ever since I have been back from my trip, I have lost the passion for writing and the passion for riding as well.  I have many half completed blog posts and I have not rode a motorcycle since I got back from the Horizon Unlimited event last September.  Yes, Purple is still torn apart as I try to find a piston that will fit the re-bored cylinder. Hopefully soon, she will be put back together since I may have something in the works from an old Yamaha BW350.

Last month, several things started to fall into place for me. One was realizing that it wasn’t the industry that I worked for is where I lost my passion but by the company that I used to work for that cause me to burn out.  This realization was brought on by another software company who hired me for a short term project coordinating network opportunities at the largest trade show of the year.  It was at that trade show that made me realized that I loved what I did for that industry and which in turn produce a job opportunity to allow me to continue to work from home.

The other was due to the 3rd Annual Lizrdbrth Memorial Ride in Joshua Tree National Park.  This ride allows the Southern California T-dubber to pay tribute to Russ, aka Lizrdbrth for bringing us all together in the first place.  Prior to this ride caused a frenzy on my part to find another TW200 on a short notice so I could attend the ride in his honor.  Due to the late start, I wasn’t able to acquire one before then. So my friend, Jeff Bowman, graciously allowed me to ride his TW200, Muley, for the weekend.  At first, I wasn’t sure that it was such a good idea.  I was so nervous about the thought of possibly crashing his bike and ruining it his beloved bike.  However, he has faith and trust in me.  I’m glad that he did because this ride is what I needed to restore my passion in riding motorcycle again.

On the first day of the ride, we first stopped at the memorial to pay our respect.  Russ’ friend, Ronnydog, made a very special ring for me and gave me a choice to either keep it or to add to the wind chime.  I chose to add it to the wind chime since I have Russ and mine on a key chain so I thought it was appropriate for him to have one on the wind chime. 

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After visiting the memorial, we proceeded up Berdoo Canyon to Joshua Tree National Park.  I did okay for the most part but I did fall twice on the ride.  The first fall was due to stalling out over a boulder, no biggie.  However, after the second fall, I did the girlie thing and waited for the sweep team to catch up to me.  It may sound strange but when I realized that no one was coming and I heard a whisper in the wind telling me to put on my big girl pant on and get the bike up myself.  Even though, it was on a slight incline, I was able to pull the bike up and continue on up the trail where the rest of the guys were waiting for me. 

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Once we cleared Berdoo Canyon and head out onto the Geology Tour road in Joshua Tree, I took off from the group which I normally don’t do but I needed some space with nothing around me but the winds so I could be alone with my thoughts.  This is where I realized that this isn’t just a thing that I did with Russ in order to be with him.  It was in my blood to ride and I needed to find another TW200 so I could continue riding every chance I get.

After the ride, I found an ad on Craigslist for a 2014 Yamaha TW200 with only 97 miles on it down in San Diego which is two hours away from me.  There wasn’t a phone number on the ad so I emailed the owner, asking if the bike was still available.  Edwin Tamayo immediately called me back when he received my email which has the link to my blog.  We talked about my recent ride around the U.S. and his motorcycle business.  As we discussed the price of the bike, he knew that the bike was going to be in good hand and I knew that he was being fair about the price.  We cemented the deal over the phone sight unseen.

Now that I have the new TW200 at home, I have begun working on the transformation to make her to fit my riding style.  Working on her has been very therapeutic for me and bringing back the passion of writing and riding again.

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So stay tuned for next week to see the before and after picture.  Plus, I will give you the low down of what changes I have made on it and why.

 

International Motorcycle Show

Since, I’m still waiting on test results and have various doctors appointments scheduled, I decided it was time to tear down the motor on Purple to get to the root of why she is drinking so much oil. Also to get her back together in time for a TW200 group ride in Joshua Tree. Well, it has been slow going project since it has been hard to undo some of the bolts on the motor. I would work on it for a day or two then I would need to take a break since my hands begins hurting again. At this rate, it does not look like I will get her put back together in time for the ride. Plus, once I took the piston out, it’s obvious that I was also burning oil too. I’ll need to order a new piston and send the cylinder out to a shop to have the scratches honed out.
  
So onto a back up plan, the Progressive International Motorcycle Show (IMS) in Long Beach, CA also happened to be the same weekend as the ride. We decided to make it a family day out of it. The best part will be that I get to spend the day with my granddaughter. She was so excited that she will get to see all kinds of “motorsickle” as she would pronounce it. I always get kick out of the way she say it. She also said that she will be just be like her grandma riding motorcycle when she grows up. I sure hopes so.

  

Once we got there, the first thing we did was made a beeline to the BMW booth to see the Adventure Trio. It has been fourteen months since we last went our separate ways. They were starting their journey south to the tip of South America and I will be escorting them part of the way. Unfortunately, that day was not a successful one for me. Originally, we planned to ride out of the Horizon Unlimited event in Mariposa, CA over the Tioga Pass and onto Benton Hot Springs for the night off of HWY 395.  

 The sky was sunny when we started out and was able to sight see Yosemite a little bit but as the ride progresses, the weather turned south on us. At first it was a light mist, then it turned to a constant rain which no big deal as long we kept moving. However, once we got to Tioga Pass, I came to a complete halt. We all pulled over to see what’s wrong with my bike and we discovered that I broke my clutch cable. Due to bad weather, the Ranger could not get me a tow truck, so he had to take me to an overflow campground to hunker down for the night. Since, I wasn’t going anywhere, I told the Adventure Trio to continue on their journey. It was great to see all of them in one piece and to catch up on their and my journey. I felt bad for all of the attendees who wanted to meet them, we were so lost in conversation that we didn’t pay attention to our surrounding. Well, it was time to let them go so they can entertain the other guests and we made promises to catch up again soon.
  

With catching up out of the way, now its time to drool over all of the bikes that were on displayed. Since, I have been living on a dirt road, I have been hemming and hawing as to whether or not to trade in my current street bike, the Honda CTX700 for a more dual sport type of a bike. I still have the dilemma of being vertically challenge so there weren’t many options for me. After Tessah and I tried on many bikes, we have narrowed down the list to two of our favorite, the Yamaha SR400 and the Honda CB500X.

The Yamaha SR400 is the comeback of the old school style motorcycle. Low to the ground with a seat height of 30.9 inches, authentic kick starter with a decompression lever and an indicator window on the right-hand side of the cylinder to ensure an optimum start on the first try and 399 cc horsepower which is still enough juice for the highway. This look like to be a fun bike to ride around town.
  
Then there is the 2016 Honda CB500X which to look like the child version of the African Twin. It is not quite as low as the SR400 at 31.8 inches but the after market offers lowering kit for this bike. The biggest draw of this bike for me is the classic upright riding position like a dirt bike which will give me room for control and maneuverability on the road. Also it is a bigger bike than the SR400 which will still give me enough power for the highway as well.

  
We had a great day at the IMS, caught up many old friends and even missed some, tested out some new products, and even bought some at a great discount. Sat on so many different bikes and sadden that the motorcycle industry is geared for tall people. With more and more women riders maybe one day the marketing people will realize that they need to provide more diverse type of bikes.

Being at the IMS made me miss and long to be back out on the open road. Hopefully soon, I will be and who know it just might be on a new bike.

Desert Living

I have been living in the area of Southern California known as the High Desert (which the local calls it but the more accurate term is the Mojave Desert) for the last five years. The high deserts is defined as areas 3,000 feet and higher with an average annual precipitation of less than 10 inches. It tends to be much colder in the winter as low as the teens than the familiar low land deserts but just as hot in the summer. The Mojave Desert hosts about 200 endemic plant species found in neither of the adjacent deserts.Cactus are usually restricted to the coarse soils of bajadas. Mojave Yucca and, at higher elevations Desert Spanish Bayonet, a narrow-leafed yucca, are prominent. Creosote Bush, Shadscale, Big Sagebrush, Bladder-sage, bursages and Blackbush are common shrubs of the Mojave Desert.


Now that I’m back here, I have come to love and appreciate the beauty the desert has to offer even more. Since the weather has been good and to alleviate the feeling of cabin fever, I have been taking two to three miles walk every day in the adjacent unincorporated area of San Bernardino county next to my friend’s house. There are so many trails to explore in the area and I have taken my friend’s two dog, Bailey and Willie, along with me to explore different one every day.

Since I love following tracks, we have seen various animal and vehicle tracks such as deer, mountain lion, coyote, bobcat, jackrabbits, motorcycle, cars and trucks. One day, we even followed a set of barefoot prints that were the size of a teenager or young adult. The sad reality of the barefoot track led me to a homeless camp which is common to the area since the freeway is only two miles away. The other sad reality of being close to the freeway is all of the illegal dumping that goes on in the area. I have stumbled upon so many illegal construction materials dump. I even witness two illegal dumpers disposing trash during broad daylight. I tried to take pictures, however one was too far away and the other one I only took picture of the license plate which the Sheriff needed more picture where it show the person and the vehicle as well. Maybe I will get lucky next time.

  
I’m not a “greenie” but I do believe in respecting the use of the public lands for recreational use. I have been taught and have pass on the tradition to my children as well, that we leave the area cleaner than we found it. We have alway brought extra trash bags with us so we can pick up the trash along the way. However, it may not be enough anymore. More and more area are being closed for recreational use. Some “greenie” blames it on the off road vehicle users (OHV) and others blames it on the homeless people. From what I have seen, I believe it is a combination of the OHV, homeless and the non-local residents are the ones that causing the problem. So, how do we solve the problem? The “greenie” philosophy is to close the area to OHV uses which I disagree since we pay taxes and entrance fees for the use of those area. OHV groups have offered “clean up days” which helps but does not solve the problem.

In my personal opinion, we need to take back the concept of “responsibility” for our action. If we don’t then more and more public land will be taken away from us because that will be the only solution to the problem.