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Don't think twice it's alright. Vancouver-Argentina on a CX500

44216 Views 404 Replies 50 Participants Last post by  purplecx500
I've started this new thread since the other one was getting confused with tons of posts going on for ages before I left.

You can see that at Running Away

My dad called and told me not to ride at night to visit them. Spray paint can in hand, I was just about finished painting the racks, so I was really just about ready to go. Didn't want to hang around past the day I'd said I'd go yet again.

I rode out and was the only bike on the 9pm Ferry from Vancouver to the town I grew up in Victoria, BC. The ferry takes 90 minutes so I pulled in around 10:30 at night. After a series of mix ups and dead cell phones I sat at a gas station in Victoria with no friend's place to crash at. I decided to camp since I'll be doing that for months to come it should be good practice to start in a place I know.

As it turned out the place I thought I knew well had changed a fair bit, all the parks and beaches had new gates, and have signs advertising all the fines and penalties for daring to exist there between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

I tried several beaches, and two local hills, Mt Doug and Mt Tolmie. Victoria is a no fun place now, I remember driving around all of those places watching stars, now it's a fine for stopping there. I wonder what the high school kids will do now, sit and make out in cars at the walmart parking lot?

Finally risked sleeping up on Mt Doug, rode my capable offroad machine up the foot path and back onto the road past the gates, then rolled out a sleeping bag after a nice long ride up. beautiful but cold night so I wasn't sleeping much. I relocated to the lee of a nice warm stone wall to sleep, just as I drifted off, I heard a radio acknowledgment and somebody with a light having a good look around. High tailed it out of there, I didn't know I could pack so fast. By this point it was 3am, I was tired, frustrated and getting sloppy. I rode back out the Pat bay highway to try out a trick I read on ADVrider about sleeping up beside the exits/overpasses since that no one ever looks.

I took the first one that looked good, ignoring the foot high wet grass's effect on the traction of my old Spitfire street tires. Found a perfect bowl to sleep in, so I rode down into it, intending to park the bike on the far side and sleep there. For some reason I still can't figure out I stopped sideways on the slope and turned the bike off, dropping my damn keys in the process. Reaching around uphill for them, I started to slip, and leaned out to keep the bike upright, forgetting the downhill side wasn't going to have any footing. We fell over into the bush. No amount of cursing and heaving would convince Aurora to budge, I couldn't get traction for my feet on the wet grass, and the bush was preventing the bike from getting clear even if I could have lifted her more than a few inches. I realized later she'd dug in so well that the kick stand, mirror, and left cylinder were all pretty well stuck, and the tires were right up in the air.

After a few failed attempts to drag the back end around so I would at least be lifting from one side, rather than trying to lift uphill I was about ready to throw in the towel call my parents and get a car jack to push the bike up. I pulled off all the bags, unbolted the gas tank and seat, and just dug in and lifted, dropped her on the uphill side, bolted back on the gas tank, reattached all my bags and only dropped her once more getting out. Took about three hours, I was so tired I just parked on the top of the hill and went to sleep as the sun came up.

Lost almost all my gas before I took the tank off, and burned blue from all the oil in the cylinders later that morning.

looking down the hill, gas tank already off.

Finally over lying on the uphill side so I can clean off the dirt and load my bags again.

It was about a half an hour before I got Aurora to budge that I realized that this trip is where I belong. I wasn't miserable, I was frustrated with myself, but I found that same peace kneeling in the mud in that bush trying to move a bike that got me hooked in the first place while riding an out of oil GS400 with a slipping clutch from SK to BC. I would rather be here than living in quiet desperation in my comfortable suite at home.
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I think you can edit your username. You could probably put a * or - at either side. Then you have the name that you want without any problems.
That's correct, Stitch. In your user settings the rule is this......

"You are permitted to make 3 changes in a 30 day period.

Changing your display name will not affect your log in details."
Click your name in the top right and choose My Settings.

blindstitch said:
What kind of camera are you using for you adventure?

I'm using all Pentax. I'm sure a lot of this explanation is redundant to you since you do a lot more photography than I do, but I figure some of the details might help someone else choosing gear.

Main camera:

a used Pentax K-7 DSLR body(600$), I love Pentax. Other brands have enticing features, but overall nothing comes close for a traveling camera in my mind, mostly because of the layout, weather sealing and lens choices.

I find that the colour Pentax gets is so close to what I see that I don't need a lot of post processing,and the controls all work just right for me without taking my eye off the viewfinder. It has it's weak points, primarily jpeg artefacts and noise at higher iso settings, they are not negligible, and require a fair bit of working around, but the positives still outweigh the negatives.

Backup: Pentax Optio W10 P&S I still use this camera a lot, it's small, waterproof, takes nice pictures. After 5 years of hard use and abuse I don't mind using it where I am risking damage or theft as much as the DSLR.

Lenses: Da 35mm f2.8 Limited Macro (450$)

At least 80% of the entire trip, and all of the build except the inside engine shots, I'm using this lens, it's the equivalent to shooting a 50mm prime on film cameras, due to the smaller size of the digital sensors. It's close to the field of view of your eyeball, and as a bonus it's a pretty good macro lens too. All metal construction, built in lens hood etc and small size make it a my favorite all purpose lens, if I could only take one this would be it.

50mm f1.7 automatic aperture.(5$) This lens came off an old camera, best bang for the buck in lenses still. All metal and ground glass, in lenses they really don't make them like the used to. I use this one for portraits, and night shots. On a digital it's equivalent to 80mm a close to ideal portrait lens, I use it for low light like evenings and mornings too.

18-55mm f4-5.6, and 50-200mm kit lenses(0$), nothing much to recommend them except they were free, compact and light, and there is occasionally a shot where my two primes won't do, either a wide angle group shot/landscape, or something like the moon/sunset shot on day 3, which is the only shot so far on the trip with them.

Vivitar 3500 flash(0$) I just use this to give me a bit of fill flash sometimes without draining my camera's batteries.

Aftermarket battery grip (50$) This gives me a bit more stability for shooting while riding, lets me shoot left handed holding under the body and across with my index finger. Most importantly, lets me run 6AA batteries which I charge via a small USB charger, and can stay running without the grid.

Infrared remote(10$)

So I can shoot the DSLR remotely, letting me set up ahead and ride past it etc. The Optio has a timer/multiple shot function which I might use the same way.

Tripod(25$ I think) for the riding shots, and maybe some long night exposures/mounting on the bike.
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Well not to kick your pentex but one thing I learned in this industry is the big names are the way to go. That's why I do Nikon and I do like the controls. I hate the Canon controls.

But that being said I don't dislike the name. If this were a film world still a lot of our friendly cameras would still be in use. Between Melody and myself we must have a bag of Minolta film stuff. I think it's a Minolta SRT101. Probably about 7 lenses and 2x converter.

I have been with nikon for 8 years now I think. And had a few of their film cameras. One of which was stolen with a bag of gear convincing me to insure everything else.

But when I was looking for a small digi dslr I thought long and hard about the Pentex IST. But the Nikon D70 called my name and I put it to work. Paid for itself in 3 months while I was in college.

As for the old faithful I have a lot of good, expensive, and vibration reduction lenses but when it all comes down to it my nikon 50mm 1.8 has bailed me out more than the $50 I paid for it.

I guess in the end all that can really be said is it isn't the equipment but how you use it.

And any chance you get if you have a lot of pictures download them to your computer and also upload them to a place like photobucket. If you can a dedicated web server would be good. I don't trust compact flash cards, digital memory or computers as far as I can throw them. I had a friend who went to alaska and put his whole trip on a 16 gig card and he got home and downloaded them to find some corruption. 100 good photos out of thousands. Eventually recovery software brought almost everything back but he was near tears.
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I seriously looked at a Nikon d7000, but the price vs performance compared to Pentax just wasn't quite there for me for what I'm doing.

I mean I'd love to have a Canon 5d MII with the full frame sensor, but for what I'm doing Pentax makes the most sense. If I were to ever be in situation where I would or could be sharing equipment or affording higher end stuff, I'd be shooting Canikon for sure.

The reasons I went Pentax:

-Ergonomics: Size vs grip, smaller body, but much larger grip in relation.

-Durability: magnesium body, cold resistant(rated to -10F) completely sealed, it's at least rainproof and splash-proof. Canon/Nikon doesn't do that anywhere near my price range.

-Shake/vibration reduction: Pentax puts it in the body instead of the lenses like Canon/Nikon in the body, that means my 5$ 50 has shake reduction all the way up to the 35 LTD.

-Focusing assist, in Manual focus mode, pentax keeps the light that goes on when focus is locked enabled even on old lenses, last I heard Nikon has it disabled.

-Split screen focusing, I have an old style mirror going in my camera, making manual focus even more precise.

-Colour, to my eye pentax gets the closest to what I see or am trying to create with the least post processing.

-power options, specifically AA battery compatibility.

-Lens options: nobody else is doing small, high quality primes anymore, never mind all metal bodied high end ones in such a variety of focal lengths. My 35LTD is an all purpose lens, and a quality macro all in one. For the kind of shooting I'll be doing, it's much better suited than a larger zoom.

-I download almost every day, back up to a portable external drive, and the blog is with a hosting company, I have set up a gallery program on there so I can FTP all my pictures up after editing.

-functionality, in M mode I can control shutter speed/aperture with the finger wheels, and ISO/exposure compensation all without moving my hand or taking my eye off the viewfinder.

I'm sticking to smaller cards(new 4gb Sandisk Extreme III) I've heard of too many unreliability issues with the larger cards, these are more durable, and have the faster write speeds that are needed for video.

+1 on the old film stuff, I still play with Minolta/Pentax/Olympus film stuff.

Well not to kick your pentex but one thing I learned in this industry is the big names are the way to go. That's why I do Nikon and I do like the controls. I hate the Canon controls.

But that being said I don't dislike the name. If this were a film world still a lot of our friendly cameras would still be in use. Between Melody and myself we must have a bag of Minolta film stuff. I think it's a Minolta SRT101. Probably about 7 lenses and 2x converter.

I have been with nikon for 8 years now I think. And had a few of their film cameras. One of which was stolen with a bag of gear convincing me to insure everything else.

But when I was looking for a small digi dslr I thought long and hard about the Pentex IST. But the Nikon D70 called my name and I put it to work. Paid for itself in 3 months while I was in college.

As for the old faithful I have a lot of good, expensive, and vibration reduction lenses but when it all comes down to it my nikon 50mm 1.8 has bailed me out more than the $50 I paid for it.

I guess in the end all that can really be said is it isn't the equipment but how you use it.

And any chance you get if you have a lot of pictures download them to your computer and also upload them to a place like photobucket. If you can a dedicated web server would be good. I don't trust compact flash cards, digital memory or computers as far as I can throw them. I had a friend who went to alaska and put his whole trip on a 16 gig card and he got home and downloaded them to find some corruption. 100 good photos out of thousands. Eventually recovery software brought almost everything back but he was near tears.
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Back on the road tomorrow, rain or shine but most likely rain:( heading to San Francisco tomorrow.
I hope you have some rain gear. Even cheap stuff is worth it's weight in gold. I actually ran into a set in good condition at a thrift shop. I use it over the brand new one I bought.
I imagine you've heard of him but I haven't seen the name come up yet. Greg Frazier. I think he's done 7 full circumnavigations. Dead Horse to Terra Del Fuego. North Coast to Cape of Good Hope. He's got a few books but he's also got fabulous blogs online, including a few from sections of a trip he did on a GL650i riding two up through South America. Some great ideas and advice interspersed w/in the blog.

I hope you realize you're responsible for having enough adventures for all of us
. Kudos for the balls to do it. I know I'd love to do the same some day. -nick
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I had planned to stop early and camp on day 4, but when I stopping for gas and talking with the attendant around 4pm I think, since my watch strap broke I don't have exact time anymore. While talking I found out it was supposed to get even colder, well below freezing, and that area has hit some record low temperatures, so I kept on going.

I ran into a couple riders in a little town who's name I can't recall that didn't even have a gas pump, this whole stretch had been very tricky and pushed the limits of my tank and spare gas can often, with detours to find gas.

bear carving at a gas station, I rode with another rider

who has a blog as well,

I stopped for gas and he rolled onwards to catch up with his friend, They were trying to make it to Burns, Oregon that night. After tanking up, I rolled onwards too, when I started to notice some signs of incoming bad weather from the north. Rolling through Burns, I stopped for gas as usual, and a UPS driver in the gas station warned me that it was supposed to start raining during the night, possibly freeze and not stop for several days. It was already cold up on the passes, so I wasn't looking forward to riding in rain equipped as I was.

I made a decision to push on, at least to Lava Beds National monument. It's an incredible place to explore, I've waited years to get back since I was there when I was a lot younger and planned to spend a couple of days there. Since it was already fully dark, and I felt the risks of heavy rain, cold conditions and very old street tires would put me in more danger than continuing as I already was. It was a calculated risk, and it paid off, seeing what followed me the rest of the way.

It did however get colder, and with no windshield, heated gear or insulated pants I had been feeling it from a couple hours before sundown. Saddly I didn't take many photographs, but I did end with some pretty vivid images in my mind I'll never forget. The trip took much longer than riding fast down I5, including many small highways who's names I didn't even learn at the time. I have always enjoyed riding at night, I would go as long as 4 hours without seeing another vehicle on the road, and enjoyed it despite the physical misery of the cold. As it was night, the travel time got even longer, while riding in the dark was an acceptable risk, as a couple hours after sundown and the deer tend to be gone from the road. the potential injuries from over-riding my headlight was not. I rolled along between 45 and 50 miles an hour, alternately warming one had then the other on the engine heads to keep my fingers working, a bit of a trick while riding and keeping the throttle open. I learned many new innovative seating positions to try and keep my legs from cramping up and stay out of the wind.

I also started to ride on the edge, a trick I've used in the past to push through on projects and work when I would normally be unable to keep going. To get on the edge is simple in concept, using your body's own survival mechanisms to keep going. The human body has many mechanisms built in. The simplest I've found to sharpen that edge is hunger and cold. By staying hungry when you are cold, your body will refuse to start shutting down for sleep and making you drift off or lose focus, honing the edge takes some practice, just like sharpening a knife, if you go too far you get dull again, too hungry, too cold and you lose that edge as surely as you can roll the edge of a blade. The trick is to keep a balance of the right amount of food for your body to be digesting and expecting more, and just cold enough to keep alert without the dulling effects of hypothermia. This is why it is virtually impossible to fall asleep camping unless you are well fed and warm.

One in the morning I rolled through the California border to find an inspection station like I would have expected at the border of a country not a state. It turned out to be an agricultural inspection station checking for fruits and vegetables that should be entering the state. The man working there was a great guy, an avid outdoors and fisherman, as well as a fellow rider. I ended up staying a couple hours swapping stories, and he let me warm my frozen gear and cold body inside his station. The unexpected kindness of strangers has started to become a theme on my journey.

Rolling onwards it started to get still colder, Riding along the edge of a lake, without any buildings or light within hours of riding and seeing lightning and thunder up on the peaks with the moon glowing off the lake, and the wind gusting waves up was an experience won't soon forget, as well as the continual concern about fuel. Getting off 395 onto some unamed two lane road I started to feel truely alone. It was an eerie ride, as the road descened continually into the black, riding through a narrow cut in the trees, with a small meadow interspersed occasionaly along the way. As usual I ran out of gas, during the day this was an irritation, at night it was frightening, even knowing I was only going to stop and refill from my gallon can strapped to the back, there is something about feeling the engine sputter and stop before you coast to a halt that really leaves a lasting impression. Fueled up and moving again I came across another inspection post where a lady gave me directions to find gas, this part of the state was so empty there were no stations open at night. It was such a small community that she offered to phone and wake up the owner of the closest station to let me fill up. I declined and rode on to find it, a tiny town, one general store with a gas pump and a population of maybe twenty, located on an old back road into Lava Beds. I crashed on the porch of the general store for a couple hours until someone woke up to leave for work, and he turned the pump on to let me fill up, with the wind picking up I didn't waste any time packing up and riding into Lava Beds.

The backroad was the kind of riding I'm hoping to find the rest of the trip, rough pavement and a few gravel sections twisting through the badlands and scrub. Part way into it I surprised a hermit walking along the road, he didn't look best pleased to see me so I didn't stop to talk or take his picture. The rest of the ride the light was amazing, I'd stop, jump off the bike and shoot for a minute then it would vanish again only to reapeear from behind the clouds a few minutes later.

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With the road's condition I was expecting to find it unchanged from my memories of years ago.

When I came upon the ranger's station the old saying about never being able to go back again finally hit me, with a wave of real sadness. Like Yosemite did, so too Lava beds has grown, from a small wooden shack to a large visitors post with all the associated t-shirts and memorbilia. Several new shiny rangers vehicles including radar trap vehicles pulled up and parked to start their day. I now believe I have learned from that and Ted Simon's experience retracing his route from Jupiter's travels and the sadness he found along the way, I won't go backwards again.

I was hoping to spend a night and explore the area, but the weather disagreed, I bought a patch for my pack, filled my water and took a quick nap, by that point the gathering clouds started to feel like rain, and a few drops made my decision for me.

I was reminded of a story my dad used to tell about a Norweigan climber who wanted to climb Everest, he rode his bicycle from Norway for years just to climb it, and made it to within a few hundred meters of the top when the weather and time turned against him. Turning around he went down and never made the summit. On such a long trip I believe it's critical to dispassionately evaluate every decision and risk.

Back on the road

Several hours of boring interstate later, I was greeted with more cold mountain passes and an awe inspiring view of Mt Shasta.

I made it to Redding California early in the afternoon where I stopped at Mcdonalds again to warm up and use the internet to write and catch up on homework, at this point I let the edge dull, and decided to stay the night instead of pushing on to Sacramento.

I put up my tent in a small patch of grass behind a gas station across from the Mcdonalds where I made an unpleasant discovery regarding the waterproofing in my tent. It seemed that Kelty did a fantastic job waterproofing the floor, designed the tent body and fly brilliantly but declined to actually waterproof the top. Every hour or two I'd be woken up with the rain inside and dry the roof out again to get some more sleep.

Around ten am the rain stopped and I packed up and rode to Sacramento, for a quick stop and bike check that turned into three weeks of working every day with Larry Cargill, resulting in a one of a kind bike modified to take me to TDF and back in one piece.
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Beautiful photos man, I plan on taking at least two cameras with me when I go moto-camping, my nice Pentax 10mp point and shoot and my good old Minolta Maximum STsi, my Canon AE-1 that I usually use is too heavy, I'm an analog geek. The convenient valve cover hand warmers are just another feature that sets the CX/GL500 apart from all others
It has been bloody cold the last week here in Oregon, good to hear you made it out before the bad stuff hit.
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Analogue is fun, wouldn't want to try it on such a long trip though.

this is the point in the travel thread where you should hop over to the build thread, as I arrived in Sacramento immediately and uneventfully after Redding.
I could read this and look at the pictures for hours!!

WTG! Stay safe!!
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Well I didn't know where it was so I googled it. About 600 miles from Larry.

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Getting close to the Mexican border, better watch your azz.
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Maybe it's just me but doesn't it seem like this could be a cold ass time to be traveling?

So where is the point of entry into the place where all the home depot workers come from?
Good to see you are back on the road Jeremy. The weather looks clear for the next few days so riding shouldn't be to taxing on you. Cold at night though. Looks like it will be in the 70's most of the week.

Ride safe buddy. I bet you can't wait to get to Austin to get your tent replacement.
Ride safe man
Day 6.

It was a dark and stormy night, near freezing to boot. The perfect time to start riding a new bike, on brand new tires on the interstate. According to the developing trend in my motorcycle travels, every journey, like every story must start that way. I'm now three for three, riding from Saskatchewan to BC? Leave in torrential rain, harder than I've ever seen, late in the afternoon, then ride long days staying ahead of a storm.

First leg of this trip It wasn't raining at first, although late at night and dark, but it made up for it quickly by opening up once I couldn't do anything about it.

Second leg of the trip I started early for once, but made up for it by riding through the night in freezing cold again to stay ahead of a storm.

And now, after almost a solid month in Sacramento California, we're back on the road, and the weather is the same. I wish I'd bought a lighter helmet though, my neck is getting really sore, but the lighter one was 90$ more, mine was on sale for 100$, now I think I know why.

Always get nice weather after a couple days stopped when I won't need to ride for a while.

Not much to say about the interstate, it was fast with enough lanes for even the worst driver to have space, which of course meant they all felt the need to get as close as humanly possibly to us. With so many lanes I don't see any good reason for passing on the right, but pickup truck drivers(4) and General Motors SUV drivers (2) took it to a fine art. The fine art of passing a motorcycle at night in freezing rain is a complicated matter of timing you see. It's important to only pass on the right, next you have to crowd up to the line as close as humanly possibly or even over it a bit if you can. The ideal passing speed is as fast as possible, that way you can cut back to the left without needing to use a signal, as your bunper a few feet in front of the bike is all the signal a rider needs. Bonus points for timing it so that the bike will be passing a slow car, the smaller the space to squeeze through, the more points you get, since you'll be doing a good deed, giving the bike and rider a good shower and cleaning for the next mile. The two wide open left lanes don't offer nearly as much artistic opportunity, or chances to be charitable.

For anyone arriving in San Francisco via I-80 there's a 5$ toll to get in. Cash only no cards, and no way to turn around. They'll send you a 25$ bill in the mail if you like instead though, I'm hoping I get one, if I do I'll frame it. After reading other people's experiences crossing the bridge in the day, I'm glad I did it at night, light traffic, with the bridge and city lit up made for a beautiful view, the city is much more magical, felt like being an airplane gliding in to land. The smooth precise throttle control and steering Aurora has after Larry Cargill got finished with her surgery completed that feeling.

Leaving Sacramento at 8pm in the rain I rode to San Francisco, crossing the Golden Gate bridge at night I was actually able to poke along slowly without being packed in miles of cars, the ride felt like descending to land as a bird in a beautiful city of lights. I discovered a new ability of my front tire, the knobs follow the grooves in the pavement like a needle on a record, a very disconcerting experience at first.

As requested by a reader(which means the following is entirely their fault, and I hope they feel guilty for it.)

I'm having adventures already.

Aurora got a break for this one however.

I found a hostel on the internet, and remarkbly for those who know me, actually navigated my way there in only one try from memory of seeing google maps in Sacramento. No parking out front so I rode around and tried some hills that are so steep you're not allowed to drive up them(so of course I went up and down and almost tipped over). That was plenty of fun, but wasn't helping sort the parking. I found some proper motorcycle parking in front of Cafe Trieste, and went in to buy a tea. They took cash only, and I didn't have any on me, but the guy working loved bikes, owned several in the past and we talked bikes for a long time, then he gave me a free tea and sent me on my way saying "oh, the hostel you were looking to stay at is just around the corner, you can just walk over from here." I unloaded all of my gear, since I have everything but the kitchen sink, including a full sized claw hammer, it was heavy. Two saddle-bags, large rear pack, small backpack, tank bag, cooler with tarps etc in it, tripod bag, helmet and a spare rear tire. A lot to carry on foot, in a full insulated suit and armored jacket. Arriving at the hostel after 20 minutes hard work, a lot farther than just around the corner. Thankfull to have made it as my gear weighs more than I do, only to discover that they were full! They knew of a hostel just a couple blocks further, which turned into 14 blocks by the time I'd walked past it and back again. I would walk as far as I could, at first I could make it three blocks, stop and rest and lift it all and go again. By the end I was lucky to make it halfway down a block, and get moving again only with the realization that I had no other options, and a fair bit of cursing. I could feel every muscle in my back, and actually had muscles give out, something I haven't done since I quit working as a stone mason.

Finally someone in a bar saw me stumbling past, spotting the helmet and spare tire realized I wasn't just a nutter cursing at thin air and carting about a bizarre array of bags and a tire.

He came out, grabbed my bags, and took them inside, looked up the hostel on a computer, which was back the way I had just walked and told me I could leave my stuff there until I'd sorted out the hostel. Turned out he was a fellow rider, with a KLR250 for getting around San Francisco. I wouldn't normally trust my stuff to anyone, but at that point I wouldn't have cared if they sold it so long as I didn't have to carry it one step farther.

Dave, the manager of Pacific Trade Winds, the hostel I'd missed turned about to be another rider. He came down and helped me carry my bags back, poor guy had a speed triple stolen here. That story led to a sleepless night of worrying about Aurora for me. Definitely a great place to stay. The girl working the desk even stayed past the end of her shift to get me sorted out with a bed etc. As a bonus, on the weekend there is free parking out front of the hostel all weekend until 2am sunday night when the lane reverts back to bus only. If you are passing through on a bike, I don't think you can find a better place to stay. The beds have enormous lockers underneath that could even fit hard bags, or in my case 5 bags a helmet and a tire. The hostel is brilliantly run, and the cleanest nicest I've ever stayed in. Dave even knew all the local hidden spots to park a bike for free indefintely. Meals were all shared, and the age of the other guests ranged from 18 to 60, everyone talking and eating made for a great stay. Dave took us out for a night on the town, he knew of a Castro bar with an 80's night every monday, with 80 cent beer and 2 dollar drinks. For those of you who aren't from the USA, the Castro is the gay area of San Francisco. That was a different experience, I sadly managed to offend a friendly couple. A guy and his partner; either the most perfectly transgendered guy I've ever seen, or who was actually a girl invited me over. I didn't really expect someone to be quite so forward, or ask for what they wanted quite so bluntly, I do wish that someone had a chance to take a picture of my expression however. I was pretty embarrassed. In my defense, if I'd asked a girl something like what I was asked I bet I'd have been slapped, or had a drink chucked at me. I felt a bit bad, different rules for different places, but still, I wouldn't have minded at least being asked my name first.

The bar mixed the stiffest drinks I've ever come across, a large glass full of vodka with a small splash of whatever juice you were hoping for. Two drinks was enough for me, so I retired to a couch with all our coats for the rest of the evening. Proving that age is no barrier, the older gentlemen from the hostel, a filmmaker from Iran and a British traveler came along. They broke out some incredibly dance moves, if I can move like that when I'm their age, I'll feel younger than I do now.
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