A prelude to meeting Montezuma

After locals in Matehuala, SPL, Mex asked if we had been to Real de Catorce and told us to look it up and check the place out, Brandon was convinced to check out the cool little ghost town of a former silver mine town in the mountains. He forgets that I had been trying to talk him into this side trip for a while now, the place having been mentioned in our trusty guide book. Ah boys….
 We arrived after a 20 some kilometer ride over cobblestones that took us up to 9000 feet and through a 3km tunnel to arrive in a town of ruins sporadically rebuilt into homes, hotels and storefronts. I got off the back of the bike and lead Brandon down the only somewhat flat street in the city. This proved to be a  crowded pedestrian market during what we later learned to be a festival.
 Fiesta de Revolution. aka Buen Fin.( Buen Fin seems to have been bastardized in the cities a shopping holiday similar to Black Friday in the USA) Real de Catorce celebrates the Mexican Revolution in Style with reenactments, live music, burro races, and best of all, a food festival.
As I type this post, I’m sitting in the hotel room with Brandon, back again in Matehuala, both of us suffering from our education of traditional Mexican street food… Worry not, we shall survive to ride on, Montezuma shan’t beat us this easily!

Before I get into the photos did I mention that Brandon keeps a blog too? and that he’s better about posting often than I? Check it out and enjoy!  www.freewheelings.com

Cruising around Matehala looking for a hotel,
we passed by a shop full of kid sized pinatas

Looking down toward a little plaza near our hotel. 

La Abueltia down the block. 

Tell me, Brandon, how do really feel about these cobblestones?
We are currently about 1/4 of the way into Real de Catorce. 
Move along burritos this road is bumpy enough
The light at the end of the tunnel, we’re nearly done with the cobblestones!
Or are we?

Secure parking in the Hotel San Juan required us to get the bike to the courtyard…
Up 3 steps using a 4″x 2′ piece of steel along with help from some new amigos.
No easy feat when the steps are 8″ high and the ramp kept sliding. 

Bike parked and secure, we wander the town and check out some ruins

And the rain clouds roll in while we explore, lending a shroud of mist to the atmosphere atop the mountain. 

The cobbled streets slick with drizzle, the stones show their true colors. 

Tiny flowers grow from crumbling walls.  

Twilight is falling, my tired eyes blurring in the failing light….
For once the camera captured things exactly as i was seeing them.  
Other motorcyclists assure Brandon that he is not alone in the challenge
At least we made it into town before the rain.
This poor guy stalled out 5 times trying to make the corner on the wet bumpy hill. 

One of many 1942 Fords in the town used for taking tourists down to the old mine
We rode on (yes on) this one the next afternoon. 

The marketplace quieting down after the rain 
Breakfast!
What is it?
Delicious, that’s what. 

Local kids in period dress for the festival

Oh so much good food cheap! Cheese enchiladas anyone?

Indian girl making and selling her beadwork
While a local pup tries his best to look pathetic for scraps. 

Our somewhat musty hotel room
(musty is to be expected in a refurbished ghost town)
The road down to the mine… check out that dropoff!

Brandon and me atop the mine, waterfall behind us.

Our ride to and from the mine.
We got bamboozled… Thought we were on the 3 hour tour,
we ended up paying 200 pesos for one hour…
 Language barriers will occasionally result in such happenings.
Ah well.. it was a heck of a ride on top!

Our new friends, Will, Elizabeth and Brandon, from Monterrey
So nice to have a conversation with new people… in English. 

The top of the Cathedral in Real de Catorce

Looking down from the highest point in town,
cold cervezas under a full moon. 

Out is easier than in. Only took one guy to help this time… took 4 to get in. 

A little point of view for the streets in Real de Catorce.
San Fancisco, eat your heart out!

Almost home free… these streets are no joke… and our brake pads are due to be replaced.
Notice… I was holding the camera and not riding along in town. 

Best way out is the way we came in… the market place.
No hay una calle mas facil por los motos.

Yes, that sign does say pedestrian zone.
But that street is flat… ish.

Waiting for our turn in the tunnel

I’ve found a new chauffeur… Brandon might get jealous.
Okay he took the picture.
El hombrito se gusta los motos. 

“Happy travels”
Can’t you just see Brandon’s excitement for a 23km cobblestone road out of here?

Sunny view from the top of the mountain bumping along, only 22 km til asphalt!

I realized after getting through all of these photos that i skipped a good portion  of the trip on the blog… Brandon’s blog can catch you up if you want a bit more verbal detail with the photos!
www.freewheelings.com

On a new adventure.

I find myself wanting to write my blog… but trouble in actually getting it to happen.
a number of reasons, not the least of these is the fact that the adventure I’ve recently embarked on is via motorcycle.  Thus the primary model in my photographs will not, this time, be my ever faithful, furry companion you’ve gotten to know in the past, but the gentleman who’s found a place of his own in my life.  Not sure he really knows what he’s getting himself into.
Undoubtedly, after this trip, we’ll both know.
What’s this trip? You ask, Well… We are riding together on an overloaded motorcycle to Panama ( the canal, not the cheesy spring break destination om the Florida panhandle.)

But! Let’s start off  with a little re-cap.

Okay so excuses excuses, not writing the blog… here’s what I’ve been up to.
I spent my summer back in West by God Virginia on the rivers experiencing a record high water year. 
My season started with a long, very cold swim in a rapid called, Mile Long, on the New River Dries in March . This freaked me out a bit. Not that it was a particularly nasty swim, mostly in the way that it beat the hell out of my confidence for a bit as I was unable to get myself back onto, then into the raft.  When you’re that cold, you lose strength and dexterity pretty quickly.  At this point, it’s a laughing matter and a funny river story; but 6 months ago, I was longing for low water. 
Low water never came. In fact the only low water I saw at all was on the Rio Grand when I drove with my (now) boyfriend, whom you will get to know in due time, to New Mexico, on rescue mission for his ’71 VW bus. 
A record high water year, a record carnage year high water.. thousands of boyscouts… A record learning year. 
I’m sorry it’s just been so much that i’m only going to mention it but not get too into it.  I would have done a post with pictures from the summer as a recap… But I shattered my computer screen a day before embarking on my current journey. 
Shortly, I will get back into the photo journal format… it keeps me off of tangents. 
Onto the current adventure. 
Currently, the boyfriend and I are en route to Mexico and beyond.
Our goal is South America, via motorcycle. A 2001 Honda Shadow 750 Spirit to be exact.
We Have about 5 months to reach our goal or to get wherever we decide to stay then come back…or..see how far we can get then sell the bike and fly home.

Brandon and I coerced my mother, with no little difficulty to sell her motorcycle to us.

Now,  it had been for sale for some time, the asking price very reasonable, Mom just wasn’t actively seeking a buyer. With our idea for winter firmly decided upon, we came to visit my parents with cash in hand… But when Mom learned what we had in mind for the motorcycle suddenly it was off  the market.  Weird.
After much debate and the comment from her, “If you’ll just take that money and buy plane tickets to Ecuador, I’ll just give you the damn bike!”
My response being, “Well then we’d have to lie to you about our trip.”
She finally caved, then Mom and Dad proceeded to sweeten the deal for us by providing us both with learthers, helmets, rain gear, etc.
  My parents are pretty awesome. They’re also dogs sitting for us. Shelby has her own furry companion now, Pablo. They started dating early in the spring…and Brandon came with Pablo, so I win.
anyways…
Following the end of river season, I designed a  much larger cargo rack, and with my dad’s help, brought it into fruition at his machine shop. To do this, he taught me to use the old manually operated mill, a machine that I, personally, have only ever used as an over-sized drill press. 
We installed the new rack, loaded onto in everything we need to camp and live on the road for months on end.

When I say need, I mean NEED.  Down to the nittiest of the grittiest;  A tent, sleeping pad, bedding, 3 changes of clothes each, week or so worth of socks and underwear, a pair of flip-flops, each.  Brandon’s got his laptop(hence my posting ability) so he can work remotely. We have a small camp stove, a skillet and saucepan, my mini med kit (just in case) saddlebags, one  holds food, the other, tools and spare parts.  A pair of headlamps and our riding gear. Oh, and a couple useful books, Spanish/english dictionary (hablo un poco), a copy of Treasure Island which I’ve been reading aloud in the tent at night, and a really great pair of self published books by a Canadian Gentleman, Sjoerd Bakker, called Economical Hotels Handbook of Mexico and Central America. He’s spent 30+ years riding a motorcycle all over the continent and keeping track of the great and/or cheap places he’s stayed over the years.  Nice guy, made sure it arrived in time for our trip and covered the envelope with awesome superman stamps.

We found our way down through the Smokey Mountains and took the bypass through the national park to avoid Gattlinburg. The ride up and over the mountain range with the colors at a full peak was gorgous!  Photos, of course do no justice, however, this one is untouched and gives you a decent idea.   Many bike-back drive by shootings to come!

Incredibly difficult to take a photo of myself via an opposite side mirror and get Brandon in it too…
Best shot out of.. i dunno… 30?
fun to try .

I was just about to beg for a stop and stretch when we pull over into a massive antique store’s driveway… He knows me so well.

The one absolute rule on our trip is:
 NO CHAIN RESTAURANTS
Easier said than done in rural America. you find civilization, you find all the greasy staples, what you have to work to find, are the little locally owned diners that haven’t yet been stomped by the big guys.
This was a little Ma n Pa diner in North Carolina, good reuben.

Find the turtles! There are two.
I was watching the fish swim by under a bridge
 on a creek in Cave Springs, Al

Can’t really see the turtles in this one,
but it came out so pretty I had to share.
On a side note, the Creekside cafe in cave springs,
while not much to look at,
that place makes some delicious
fried green tomatoes!

COTTON!!!!
Brandon thinks that if you yell at the cotton while you’re driving by it will look at you.
I told him, that only works with “HEY COW!”

Our first free campsite, followed by our first time laying down the motorcycle.
Don’t worry, it was about 30 yards from this spot,  in very soft sand.
It looked solid enough… it wasn’t.

Behold!
The largest natural bridge east of the Rockies!  Pretty neat…
Incidentally, I noticed the bonus to this photo just before uploading it.    If you don’t notice it, it’s probably for the best. 
More natural Arch!
It’s in North Georgia, $3.50 to go hike around all you like and keep the gift shop’s lights on.
Looking out for the fuzz.
 Brandon’s walking in Johnny Cash’s footsteps, picking me some flowers in Starkville, MS
Harry (center) pulled up next to us in Starkville traffic and appeared fascinated with us.
We pulled into the parkinglot of a market and he followed and offered us his back yard to camp in for the night.
We ended up spending the evening and morning chatting with him and his wife about adventures, his and ours, and staying inside, sleeping on a mattress on a cold cold night.

Word to the wise…
buy leather. It doesn’t melt.
Oh… SOUL FOOD…
Reminds me of  CPM tour and church potlucks
So good! Just south of Jackson, MS
Natchez State Park entrance

In Concordia Parish, La  they don’t need grass, they have pretty pink flowers.
Fatboy & Skinny’s
Great burger, amazing fresh cut fries, and
milkshakes so thick you had to let them melt a bit to get through the straw.
Good way to start the 2 day break we greatly needed. 

Well… that’s all I’ve got for now,  We left the KOA in Bastrop, Tx this morning, in San Antonio tonight.
Brandon’s taking me out to the River Walk for an evening on the town. Last big city in the USA!
 I’ll post again soon from the real deep south!