Saturday, May 3, 2014


A few quotes from the past 5 months:

From Juan our guide at Tikal "personal property isn't lost in Guatemala, it just finds a new owner".

From Jesse, fellow adventure rider from Ottawa: "You know when you think about it — a lot of what we are doing is legitimately dangerous". He is talking from experience as he had a serious crash while trying to avoid another motorcyclist who made a turn (without signaling) in front of him.

From Robin, our guide while taking a boat tour in the Amazon jungle and informing us of the number of species of fish in a lake he then adds: "this lake also contains many species of I phones, camera's, laptops and purses". 

From Alex, fellow rider and Stahlratte passenger describing us on her and Nathaniel's blog: "At just over 50 years old with grey hair, a serious tan and standing over 6’4” in his motorcycle boots he was not the most likely person we expected to join our party. His wife was out front and at barely 5 feet tall they make quite the pair riding two up on his 1200GS BMW motorcycle."

From Jesse, "what a shit hole" when referring to a situation or place he didn't like.
An announcement  on the ferry during the sailing between Buenos Aires and Colonia, "Our food services are now open to take care of your dire desperation". I suspect they used Goggle Translate for the translation. In my years of ferry travel I have never been desperate to have a meal prepared on a ferry.

What worked and what didn't:
I really liked my Revit pants and jacket and the only thing that I would do different would be to buy a black jacket so that it would stay cleaner looking, the light grey gets to look grubby really quickly. I chose Revit because they are one of the few brands that make riding gear for shorter people, but after wearing the gear almost every day for five months for long periods of time I would recommend it to anyone: it is lightweight, fits very well and with the waterproof liners in place you stay dry.  My Alpinestars Newland Gore-Tex boots withstood the water test and were totally waterproof and great for walking in. The Arai XD4 helmet I loved; lightweight, comfortable, good venting and the visor keeps a lot of the sun out of your face. It was expensive, but well worth it I thought.
I found the Klim riding gear too heavy and hot for most of the trip and would have preferred a non Gore-Tex jacket and pants with a two piece rain suit for those few days of wet weather. The Sidi Adventure Gore-Tex boots saved my ankles on more than one occasion and although my feet were hot it was worth it for the protection. The Arai XD4 helmet is the best helmet I have owned, it has great ventilation, the sun visor although large has great aerodynamics and most days you wouldn't know it was there.
This was the message on the back of my helmet, just a reminder to Diana that just because we had helmet communicators she didn't need to talk my ear off. Both Diana and Mark accused me of talking too much as they were always waiting for me while I talked with the locals .
The BMW performed flawlessly over the 28,818 kilometers that we traveled. Other than regular maintenance, the only repairs required were one headlight and one signal bulb along with 2 sets of rear brake pads. It's a good thing that the bike was reliable which is more than I can say about the BMW dealer network. I would however highly recommend the dealers in Lima, Peru and Montevideo, Uruguay, both had good parts departments that worked closely with the service department.
The Heidenau K76 tires were great on the asphalt and dirt but the K60 tires were better in sand and gravel. They were both long lasting when you consider how much weight we were packing and the road surface temperature.

By the numbers:
*Distance traveled: 28,818 km (17,907 miles)
*Number of countries visited:15  
*Fuel cost for the whole trip was $1,995.
*Number of photos taken: 5,977.
*Liters of beer drank: lots, but Diana drank most of it!
*Repairs, tires and maintenance totaled $3,050 (Canadian dollars). *Shipping the bike back to Vancouver cost $1667 (US dollars).
*Number of crashes: 5, mostly minor and at slower speeds.
*Number of flat tires, 0 (I still can't believe it, this was one of my     biggest concerns during the planning of this trip)
*Number of tires replaced during trip, 2 rear and 2 front tires.
*Number of hours spent in "Sex Hotels": one night was enough (in El Salvador immediately after crossing the border) but Diana doesn't like to talk about it, man that mirror on the wall was huge! 
*Number of times with food poisoning: I quit counting after Medellin, Columbia.
*Best sights: Machu Picchu in Peru.
*Worst sights: Discarded dogs, particularly in Bolivia where they were literally stacked on the side of the roads.
*Favorite country: Each country was special in one way or another so it's difficult to come up with a favorite and really, it was the people we met who made their country special.
*Worst day: (other than being ill for 2 months) getting lost in the Bolivian Andes and not knowing where we were or how to get to Chile. I still feel terrible for not giving the four young girls we met my M&M's that day.
*Best day: many, they always included fellow bikers or making a personal connection with the locals.
*Scariest day: actually happened at night (on the highway during a thunder and lightening storm) nearly having a head on collision with a semi in Mexico. We can only mention it now as mom would have worried non stop had she known.
Diana also witnessed a dozen people being lead into the forest by a guy carrying a machine gun while we were passing through a Mexican village, her words to me were "don't stop, just drive!"
and it was only later that I learned why.
* Windiest day: Mexico, as Taylor described in his blog: " Today we dealt with 70mph gusts that nearly took myself and Ken off the road and into the ditch. We both has several very close calls." The winds in Patagonia were relentless but didn't gust like they did in Mexico.
*Worst photo: Diana was so proud of getting some photos of the foxes at the Chile border that she didn't realize she caught the fox taking a dump until Mark and I started laughing. Actually, not true, oh, the photo part is, but him and Mark only knew because I told them because I was a little mortified when looking back at the picture and realizing what I had taken. Oh well, not the first tasteless photo that's been taken, I'm sure! 
The infamous Chilean fox photo.
The bike arrived in Vancouver without any damage and on schedule. The Air Canada Cargo employees in both Argentina and Canada were terrific from the first email to helping put the front wheel back on the bike.
 Mom, Diana, Karman and Kirk in Edmonton, we really could have done without the spring snow to greet us.

After such a prolonged period of time on the road I'm thinking that Diana may need a refresher course in domestic duties as she may not remember how to clean house, cook a meal or turn on the washing machine.
For you bikers out there, just remember; Ride hard, you can rest when you're dead!

Next trip will be to Alaska via the Dempster Highway to Inuvik, NWT in mid 2015.

Thanks to all who provided words of encouragement, we really needed them at times.

Diana & Ken

Friday, April 11, 2014

April 3, Buenos Aires, Argentina

April 5
In an effort to reduce the air fare for the bike we hit the streets of Buenos Aires to exchange our US dollars for peso's. The official rate gets you about 800 peso's for 100 US dollars but due to 30% inflation in the country the locals are trading money on the streets.
We manage to negotiate a deal for 1030 peso's for 100 US dollars. The largest note available here is a 100 peso and as you can tell by the photo below we now have quite the wad of cash.
I felt like a drug dealer after I exchanged our American money for Argentina pesos.
April 6 
 The parks in Buenos Aires have many statues.

Diego planned to take us for a bike ride around Buenos Aries on Sunday but the weather didn't cooperate so instead we went touring in his car. We were able to see much of this huge city and enjoyed a wonderful mid afternoon meal with Maria, Diego and son Ivan. 
 Ivan, Maria and Diego at their home in Buenos Aires.
 With Maria in their backyard which reminded us of our old property in Nanaimo.
 Diego's 1971 Ford which is in excellent condition (as you can tell by the leaves on the ground, fall has arrived in the southern hemisphere).
April 7
It's off to the airport to dismantle the bike and prepare it for the flight home. Once we arrive there we wait for a hour before getting access to the warehouse where we can begin dismantling the bike. I drive the bike onto a wooden pallet and remove the front wheel, panniers, top case, GPS, drain the air from the tires, drain the oil and fuel canisters, disconnect the battery and lower the windshield.
 Disassembly of the bike marks the end of an adventure that we'll certainly remember and talk about for a long time to come.
 All wrapped and ready for Air Canada.
Diana's picture taking was stopped by a customs agent as they don't allow photo's to be taken in the secured area. I couldn't send my dear bike off without a parting photo, but only when the clerks back was turned. Alex from France was also packing his Yamaha to return home after 9 months and 90,000 kilometers, starting in Montreal, criss crossing Canada, Alaska, the lower 48 and south through Central and South America.
April 8
After sending birthday greetings to Kirk we are off to pay the air freight for the motorcycle and retrieve the tracking number. We have an appointment with the freight broker but are told to come back an hour later. When we finally get the final value of the shipment we go next door to a bank, stand in line, make the cash payment, get a receipt, return to the broker, stand in line again and finally get a tracking number for the bike.
In the evening we went to a dinner-tango show at the port. The three hour performance began with drinks and a three course meal followed by plenty of singing, tango performances and included a tango dance lesson at the end of the evening.
Puerto Madero at night.
April 9th
 What do you do when your sofa is 3 meters long and you live on the eleventh floor?
Moving the sofa using web straps.
 This ice cream shop had 15 motorcycles for home delivery of ice cream.
 Ice cream delivery by motorcycle.

 Mobile knife sharpening, the grindstone was turned by pedaling.

 April 10
Today is a national day of protest in Argentina shutting down all air, bus and train traffic along with public schools, businesses and hospitals. There was some violence reported on the morning news but we have stayed clear of some of the squares where we had seen police barricades being prepared in the last few days.

Diana and I went to the Recoleta district for lunch today and started a conversation with a couple seated next to us at a sidewalk cafĂ©. Ron and Maureen are from Edmonton, we talked about each others experiences in South America and Ron's motorcycle experiences. During our conversation it's revealed that they live next door to our friends Reid and Joanne. Once again we discover how small this planet is.

Diego puts on his tour guide hat and meets us downtown and we go for a walk through Recoleta all the while explaining the history of the many mansions, hotels and embassy's. We did get distracted by the coffee shops and of coarse had to make sure the ice cream was okay.
April 11
Our last full day in Buenos Aires is spent shopping (sorry Karman but I still can't find any jewellery that you would like) for a few souvenir's, visiting a museum and taking pictures. Due to the national strike yesterday most of the ATM's haven't any cash to dispense, damn, I feel like we are in Bolivia again! 
 Furniture from the mid 1700's on display at a small museum.
 The inlay on this piece was beautiful.
Our next post (about a week from now) will be the final post for this unbelievable journey. We have meet so many wonderful people, forged friendships, laughed until we ached and been touched by so many of the stories people have told us about their personal lives. 

The planning for the next adventure will begin in a few months time and will be a trip from Vancouver Island through the Yukon onto Inuvik, North West Territories on the Dempster highway (which my father worked on in the 1970's) and finally Alaska. An invitation is extended to all those who are interested in riding north. Our son Kirk is planning to purchase a bike this year and make this his first motorcycle adventure.

Please email me at  if you're interested and I can send you more information.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

March 29 to April 2, 2014, Punta del Este, Uruguay

Each country we have visited has it's own unique driving style and Uruguay is no different. Here, as in Argentina lane drifting is commonplace and it could take a few car lengths or a few blocks to complete a lane change, usually the later. It's not unusual for a driver to stop with their car straddling two lanes to talk or text on their cell phone. Another one is when a car passes a motorcycle they just barely miss clipping your leg as they pass. Other motorists on the other hand are very polite and frequently we are given the thumbs up signal, a wave or a short honk of the horn and some even pull close to us and talk while waiting at a red light. They are always impressed that we have driven all the way from Canada.
 La mano en la arena (hand in the sand) on one of the many beaches in Punta del Este.
Punta del Este is a resort city about 2 hours north east of Montevideo. We arrive here at the end of their summer season and the place is extremely quiet with many of the businesses closed for the winter season. We've spent 4 of 5 days at the beach just relaxing and watching the surfers and kite surfers, also doing lots of walking as the boardwalk and sidewalks follow the ocean front for miles. There are many high rise condo's for sale and we've seen prices from 100,000 to over a million USD.

Tomorrow we return to Buenos Aries as we need to meet with the shipping broker on Friday to finalize plans for the return of the bike to either Seattle or Vancouver. Which city we chose will be determined by cost and space availability on an airplane.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 28, 29, 2014, Montevideo, Uruguay

It's an hour and a half ride from Colonia to Montevideo, the country side resembles that of the Brandon, Manitoba area with rolling hills and a mix of crops and grazing cows. The highways in Uruguay are some of the best we've seen in South America and we cruise along at 110 km/h even on a bad rear tire.  The rear tire now has over 14,000 km's on it, we have bad cupping on the outer tread area and lots of cracks appearing in the rubber. A new tire here is over $500 and less than $200 in the USA-think I'll wait to get home to replace it. Our first stop will be the BMW dealer in Montevideo as our rear brakes are done. We tried having them changed in Buenos Aires which was another disappointment. We were at Cordasco BMW before they opened and after waiting two hours are told they don't have brake pads in stock, but only after I questioned why it was taking so long. The parts guy tells me he will phone another dealer to see if they have pads and after waiting 15 minutes for an answer we leave as he's no where to be found.
We have much better service at Motor Haus BMW, as we drive into the service area we are met by Al who is amazed that we have rode more than 28,000 km's. Al was born in Uruguay, raised in Atlanta, Georgia and returned to Uruguay to work at BMW. His English is perfect and he interprets for the parts guy. They have the brake pads at their second location and Al sends a text to Adrian to ensure we get looked after when we arrive there. Thanks for all the help Al!
 Highway from Colonia to Montevideo.
 Adrian changed out the brake pads in 20 minutes and we're on our way again.
Montevideo has many historic buildings and they are in amazing condition considering their age. We are only here for a few days but will post more when we return for a second visit to this interesting city.

 Quite a few horse drawn carts used for everything from hauling kids to school, picking up recyclables like cardboard and plastic bottles to general transportation.

March 27 Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay

Rather than driving 870 kilometers from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay we take a 70 minute ferry ride between the two cities. I'm shocked at the cost of the ferry ride compared to a similar ride on a BC Ferry. The Argentina ferry cost $176 compared to $57 on BC Ferries.
 Rio Uruguay in Colonia.
 Colonia has many restaurants that have sidewalk seating available.