Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Planning, Planning, Planning

Planning and preparation for this trip is progressing.  This past week I took advantage of the unusually warm weather in Western North Carolina to complete my self-servicing of the bike.  I have replaced the rear brake pads and changed all fluids in the bike.  Saturday was so nice here I decided to take her out for a little test ride.

I also began the Hepatitis A&B series and next week I will make my appointment for my typhoid vaccine and begin my anti-malarial prophylaxis.  All of this needs to be done now because some of the vaccines take about six weeks to take effect.  I have also heard from other travelers that taking probiotics can help to prevent "Montezuma's Revenge" so I have begun eating a probiotic yogurt each day.  I know I am over thinking this, but it is funny what you do when you have time to plan the utmost detail.

I have also begun a Spanish refresher course at AB-Tech Community College.  ¡Más tequila por favor!

I have researched a route through Mexico and Central America.  Mexico was the most difficult because I really want to avoid the toll roads and travel exclusively by libres.  Central America was easy because of the lack of road infrastructure and the Pan-American Highway.

It is nice to have this time to get all of this out of the way before the trip begins on March 15.  About three weeks before the trip begin things will get a little hectic around here.  I will have a trip to Germany to contend with at the end of February.  The Central American trip will begin about ten days after I return from Europe.

I have already begun to change my route in my head.  I have started to consider changing the trip to include only Mexico, Belize and Guatemala.  If I did this it would allow me to spend much more time in each of those countries and save me about ten border crossings.  If I rode through all of the Central American countries to Panama I would basically be blasting through the area and not being able to see much of each country.  This is a decision that will probably be made on the beach in Belize.  By that time I will have much more experience riding in Latin America and in a better position to make such a decision.

I also want to remind you of my photography web site Kurt Nugent Photography.  Here you can see photos that do not make it to the blog.  Photos of my non-motorcycle travels are available as well.  You can also see my beautiful granddaughter, Lexi, there!  You can also follow me on Twitter @nugentch.  I would appreciate the follow!

Well you will just have to keep checking back to see what happens.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

More Prepping the Bike

I took advantage of an unusually warm day to check my motorcycle's valves and replace the spark plugs.  It was a very rainy day in Asheville and other than read this seemed like the best way to make use of my time.  All I have left to do myself is to change oil and replace the brake pads.  I really like working on my bike.  Pirsig had it right in his Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Tuesday I am beginning my second course in Spanish at AB-Tech, our local community college.  I speak German, but I think that will be of little use in Latin America.  I know I will not become even close to fluent, but I want to make an effort to speak to the people in their own language.  I do not want to be an "ugly American" while there and expect them to speak English to me.  I have heard many travelers get by with speaking no Spanish on a trip such as this, but I think that defeats the purpose of travel.  Travel should broaden your horizons.  Oh well, enough of the philosophical ramblings.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preparation of Kurt Has Begun

I have just returned from the Buncombe County Health Department, Travel Section.  It seems they recommend Typhoid, and Hepatitis A & B vaccines for Mexico and Central America.  Note that these are recommended and not required.  Should I take them or not?  They are expensive (about $250) for all.  But contracting these diseases is a distinct possibility in these areas.  I mean, there was a Hepatitis outbreak here in Asheville a few years ago when a cook at a popular restaurant (locals know where this is) failed to wash his hands after taking care of "business" in the restroom. I already have typhoid vaccinations.  I got them in the army during basic training...35  years ago.  Uhhhh, that's gonna have to be updated.  Yeah, I will go ahead and get the shots (that's "jabs" for my British friends).

While watching Race to Dakar with Charley Boorman I realized that I have time before this trip, but no plan.  So today I sat down and wrote a plan to get every thing done in order that the trip can actually begin on March 15.  Here is my plan so far:
          January 23 - appointment for immunizations
          January 31 - have the maintenance I plan on doing my self completed on the BMW

          February  1  - obtain AAA International Driver's License and Mexico map
          February  7  - blood work for physical exam
          February 14 - physical exam
          February 15 - have dealer servicing of BMW completed
          February 20 - obtain MedJetAssist insurance
          February 22 - complete federal and state income taxes
          February 25 - depart for Germany

          March   4 - return from Germany
          March   5 - dental cleaning
          March 12 - final inspection of equipment
          March 15 - departure

For those that don't know MedJetAssist is an insurance policy that will fly me (or my reamains) back from a foreign country should I become ill and cannot be treated in a local hospital.  They will even return my motorcycle if necessary.

I think this will work.  During this time I also need to improve my physical condition.  Leaving in March I will have have to get my riding muscles fit on the road.  For those that don't ride, it takes an entirely different set of muscles to ride a motorcycle 8 to 10 hours a day than you can work out in a gym.  The muscles that give me particular problems are my throttle (right) hand and the muscles between my shoulder blades.

Well, I have enough to do before this thing gets going!  Please feel free to leave a comment or ask questions.  That is the only way I will know that I am writing for an audience and not just for myself.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Bike Preparation Has Begun

I took advantage of the unusually warm January weekend we had to begin prepping my bike for the trip.  On Saturday I changed the final drive lubricant.  After changing the lubricant I notice a slight bit of play in the rear wheel.  This may be no problem at all, but this model BMW is known for having final drive problems.  I will have it checked out by my dealer before heading out in March.  The last thing I want is to be stuck in Honduras with a broken bike.  I still have to change the transmission oil, spark plugs, air filter and set the valves.  The dealer will have to replace the brake fluid and hydraulic clutch fluid.

While working on the bike yesterday I injured my left thumb somehow.  This kind of injury takes a long time to heal and I will be using this thumb a lot on the trip.  For those that don't know the clutch on a motorcycle is operated by the left hand.

I have also begun planning my route.  This trip is not only about going to Latin America but the American South and West as well.  I have planned a route through the south that I think will take about 5 days before arriving in Texas.  I have also planned a route across Texas to Big Bend National Park where I will spend a few days exploring the park and visiting Terlingua before riding to Eagle Pass, TX to cross the border into Mexico at Piedras Negras.  Planning a route through Mexico becomes more complicated because I plan on sticking to the libres (free roads).  Mexico has so many cuotas (toll roads) that planning a route around them get very interesting.  For Mexico I am planning about a week.

Stay tuned and check back for more planning updates or better yet "join" my blog to keep up with all developments!