Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finally, a New Tour plan unfolds

I have been off the road for almost 6 months now. I have been living in Southern California at Fort Irwin, an American Army base, out in the Mohave Desert. I spent my days mostly helping take care of my grand children. I have not been riding my bike much because for the first three months it was over 100 degrees everyday and then since it cooled down I have had some health issues that prevented me from riding.

But a few days ago I bought plane tickets to New Zealand and then to Australia. The tour is limited to six months because I am doing it on a shoestring and hoping it all works out safely for me. My funds are critically low and most people would never consider even trying to do a major tour of riding around the North and South Islands of New Zealand and then riding in Australia for three months if they heard my budget. I am going to need to rely on help from the wonderful hosts at Warm Showers and spend a lot of nights camping in the bush to be able to survive this tour. If I run over any snakes in Australia they just might end up on a stick over a campfire.

I lived in Australia for two years so I do know what I am getting into there. I have also been to New Zealand so I am somewhat familiar with the country. I will start in Auckland New Zealand and circle both islands and do as many fun activities as my crippled old body will allow me to do and then I fly to Sydney and will likely ride down to Tasmania and back to Sydney then go North to the Gold Coast where I used to live before I fly back to California.

My routes and travel plans are still very much up in the air. I am reading blogs from other riders to get an idea of the road and riding conditions in New Zealand. I have enjoyed reading the blogs. I did not know that Kiwis, as New Zealanders are called, are rated as the third worst drivers in the world!!! They have a very high accident rate for hitting bicycles with a very high mortality rate as well. So my riding there will need to be very defensive with me ready to jump off the bike to the side of the road at a seconds notice. I just mastered jumping off my bike to the right side and now I need to learn how to do it on the left side since they still drive on the old British side of the road which is the left side. I am used to driving on the wrong side of the road after many years or driving all around the world so I hope I will be OK. The numbers statistically speaking are not in my favor as for my personal safety while riding in NZ. I also learned that the crime rate in NZ although a low rate overall is very high with tourists being robbed at an alarming rate. So again I hope I have a safe journey.

All the blogs talk about how nice and friendly the people are in NZ so I think I will survive. The scenery can be spectacular there so I am looking forward to getting some decent pics.

Wish me luck and as my plans gel I will post some more updates before I leave.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Update on my riding or lack there of

I am now back in California. I came back home to visit my kids and grandkids and the rest of my family. After a short stay in the San Francisco Bay area I flew to Wisconsin to celebrate my Mom's 93rd birthday at Castle Rock Lake. The weekend was a great time. It was good to see everybody.

Then I flew to Las Vegas and after a night there I took a bus to Barstow California where my daughter picked me up and took me to Fort Irwin which is the army base she lives on. I will stay here for a couple of weeks helping out with her kids and getting to know my grandkids better.

Ft Irwin is truly in the middle of nowhere with nothing going on as far as entertainment for me. The temperature is very hot averaging well over a hundred degrees until the end of October. I will get very little bike riding in here because I left my bike in San Francisco. My daughter did borrow a bike for me to ride here so I will get some riding in. I have previously posted pics from around the base here so I won't subject you to a lot more of the same dreary landscapes again.

I finally bought a new computer to replace the last one that went up in smoke while I was in Costa Rica. I bought the cheapest one I could find. It is an HP half tablet half pc type of computer with windows 8.1 for the system.

I have only been using Windows 8.1 for a couple of days now and I hate it. The system is not designed for the user, instead it is designed to extract the maximum personal information about the user as it can squeeze out and then my bet is it interpolates even more things by tracking everything and assuming the rest. Did I say how much I hate it? By the way I strongly dislike HP as much as I dislike Microsoft. HP screwed me over with an earlier computer and I swore I would never buy another one from them but unfortunately poor people can not always make choices like that. I had to buy the cheapest computer I could find because that is all that I can afford. I hope it lasts as long as my last MSI computer did. I liked my MSI computer way better than this one. New and improved is usually not an improvement.

I will not be posting again until I start planning my next ride. I am leaning toward finishing my ride to Argentina. I was disappointed that I had to end the ride this year due to my health and the wet weather in South America, but, I'll be back.....

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Update from Costa Rica

I am living in Manuel Antonio Costa Rica for now. My body loudly told me I needed to stop riding for a while and the doctors at the hospital took my body's side and told me not to ride for two months. I did ride down here from San Jose but since then I have not been riding at all. I thought I had a prostate safe seat on my bike but I guess riding 600 miles a week was just too much irritation for my prostate to take and it rebelled. I got checked out at the hospital and after lots of invasive testing, they told me nothing was seriously wrong just an irritated prostate from rubbing against the seat of my bike too much. I will heal and then try to find an even safer seat to ride on.

I do like it here in Manuel Antonio. I have a view of the rain forest and the ocean from my house I rented. From my deck it seems like I am out in the middle of nowhere but in fact I am right in the center of all the action for Manuel Antonio. I am trying to walk for exercise. I have trouble walking from nerve damage but here where it is hot and humid my body seems to allow me to walk further than anywhere else I have lived. I walk the beach and it may also help that there is no impact walking on soft sand. I end up walking about two miles a day here and back in the San Francisco Bay area I can only walk maybe two blocks and even then I get high pain from just walking those two blocks. Such is life, I deal with it as best as I can.

I still know lots of people here from when I used to live here a few years ago. We hang out at the beach or at the cafes and bars shooting the shit and solving the world's problems. I do not go out at night, maybe that means I am an old fart but during the day I have a good time. I am going a bit crazy not being able to ride my bike but I will be back in the saddle soon enough. Until then, PURAVIDA which means pure life. It is used as a greeting here and for saying good bye and many other things. I like the positive message.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Ride Day 182 San Jose to Parrita

I had some medical work done in San Jose and the docs told me not to ride for a month. I made it 8 days before I just had to get out and ride or I would go crazy. The ride from San Jose city center involves a lot of lousy city riding in heavy traffic on narrow city roads just to get out of town. The road to Santa Anna was good once the city was in the rear view mirror.

There is a shoulder on CR27, a new unfinished toll road, and big signs that say no bikes but nobody seems to care or enforce the no bike signs. It is easy to just ride around the toll booths. There is about a 7000' descent from San Jose to the pacific beaches and only a couple thousand feet of climbing in the ride so it was pretty easy with lots of gliding time. The weather was good, overcast with rain predicted and threatening to come down all day. Traffic all played well today with no safety concerns at all on Costa Rica's roads which are ranked as the most deadly roads in the world by the Dutch company that ranks driving safety around the world.

I stopped in Jaco for a second breakfast of gallo pinto and eggs this time. I do like the typico breakfast of rice and beans called gallo pinto and a couple eggs, fried plantain, cheese or sour cream and coffee. The ride from Jaco south was mostly flat with a few small rolling hills. It finally started to rain lightly just south of Jaco but I kept riding. The rain actually felt good and I felt much cooler than I did before the rain started. I had to stop a couple of times when the rain got too heavy for safety reasons. Then when I arrived at Parrita, just 12 miles from my destination of Quepos, the skies opened up with heavy rain, lightning and booming thunder. I love boomers and lightning but not while riding a bike in the rain.

I stopped at a typico soda and had a casado lunch which is a typical lunch a married person eats, casado means married. It is usually rice, beans, a meat. some vegies of some sort and a salad or two. I like eating them since they are pretty well balanced and cheap and fast since all the foods are precooked and ready to be served on a plate. I waited around after eating but the rain kept coming down hard and showed no signs of letting up any time in the future.

I started to stiffen up as I sat around waiting so I decided to just check into a cheap hotel for the night. The hotel is clean, comfortable and has good wifi so I am not complaining about my decision to stop for the day. Tomorrow I will ride the last 12 miles to Quepos and then I will stay there for a couple of months resting up and trying to get healthy enough to keep heading south again.

The pics are from a May Day parade in San Jose and some flowers for my daughter Sally then a couple from the Jaco area and the incoming storm from near a surfing competition that was going on at Hermosa Beach that I stopped and watched for a while...PURAVIDA

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Resting and healing in San Jose Costa Rica

I finished up all my medical visits at Cima Hospital. I caught up on all my medical needs since I had to be there anyway to find out about my bleeding problem. Turns out the bleeding was minor and not caused by any cancers or anything like that. My bike riding may have caused it by irritating my prostate and or my urethra causing it to bleed a bit. They gave me antibiotics in case of infection and told me to stay off my bike for a month and to also stay out of the sun and get some rest. That won't happen. I can not just sit around for a month. I also can not stay out of the sun and I most definitely can not stay off my bike for a month. I also went to the dermatologist and had my skin checked out. The dermatologist removed about 15 growths and things from my face and body. He calls it decorating a christmas tree because it leaves red balls all over your body. My face took the brunt of this work and it made my face swollen and with bright red welts all over it. It looks pretty ugly and would scare children if they saw me. I heal fast so I am not worried about it. I can just wear a Jason mask on my face for a week.

San Jose and Costa Rica have changed since my last visit. The one big change I noticed right away is how the size of the people has increased, especially around their waists and butts. When I first came to Costa Rica the people lived on beans and rice with eggs and chicken plus lots of fresh fruit. They almost all looked thinner and healthier on that diet. Now there are American fast food places like McDs, Wendy's, KFC and lots of other burger and fried chicken places all over town. The Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves, are lining up for all this unhealthy junk food and it shows as they are getting fatter and fatter quickly. I am sorry to see this change. Ticos were known for their long lives but this new diet will change that quickly as they start to die off of heart attacks and strokes and other obesity related health problems. Maybe the government here can do something about this problem before it is too entrenched if is not already too late.

I am spending my days reading cops and robbers books that I find or else I just go down to the square and sit in the shade and people watch. I wish I could find some better books to read. Today it is raining and it is predicted to rain through Monday. The water is needed so I am not complaining. There have been water rationing restrictions due to water shortages because of drought. I hope this rain helps with that. Let it rain now while I am sitting around instead of while I am out on the road riding my bike. I will try to catch up with my pics backlog but the wifi here is again very slow and even though I have lots of time I seem to lack the patience required to deal with the slow wifi without throwing my computer across the room or out the window.

Enjoy life and PURAVIDA

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ride Day 181 to Rivas Nicaragua

I have been remiss with my blogging lately. Between slow internet connections and taking time off to rest I haven't gotten much writing in. I will try to catch up here.

But first, I have one memory of Granada that is sticking in my mind. It was just near sunset and I was walking across the central square when all the noise and commotion suddenly became crystal clear to me. I could hear the thousands of grackles screaming as they fought for and found their favorite roosts for the night in the trees around the square, the horses were making horse noises and clip clapping along the roads with all the traffic noises, cars were honking their horns like the drivers here love to do, people were talking and laughing, walking sellers were calling out their specialties, ice cream carts were ringing their bells, shop owners were hawking their goods, children were trying to sell me gum and nuts and little carved bird shaped whistles, police were blowing their whistles while trying to direct the traffic which was mostly ignoring them, the cathedral was ringing their bells and a choir was loudly singing inside with organ music playing and I was trying to have a conversation with my friend. It was really very noisy when all this is going on at once and very loud. I had to explain to my friend why I suddenly started to laugh like a madman because of all the noise and commotion going on around us.

The ride from Granada to Rivas was only about 80 kilometers but it was a long slow grade over Mombacho Volcano followed by a slow downhill on the other side. In the 100 degree heat and 100% humidity I was leaving a small stream of sweat on the road behind me as I rode. When I went around the volcano and headed south as the road flattened out, there was a strong headwind blowing in my face for the three hours it took me to get from that point to Rivas. So the day was short distance wise but it was still a major workout. I did enjoy the ride despite its hard physical work. The views of the various volcanoes like Mombacho and Olmetepe made the work worthwhile. The people were all great also. I stopped a few times to buy water from small tiendas along the road and talked with them each time. Very friendly all of them and they were interested in my ride also.

When I arrived at Rivas I thought about riding the last 15 miles to the border with Costa Rica but my body told me it was time for a break. I ate a good lunch at a small restaurant and talked with them. They were disappointed with their business over the Semana Santa week that had just ended. Nicaragua has been shaking with hundreds of earthquakes and they caused people to not go on their annual vacations in the usual numbers. It hurt a lot of businesses pretty badly like this one was hurt. They pointed out their over ordered items stacked up that they would now have to try to sell in a slow market and they were not happy about it. I felt sorry for them. They tried and failed this time but they will make it next time.

I started to feel like I was getting heat stoke or something after my lunch so I immediately checked into a hotel and for a change I got air conditioning. I started to get dizzy and felt light headed in my room so I quickly laid down on the bed. I woke up later still feeling like what the hell, did I pass out or what. I was still not feeling well with weakness and felt dizzy. I drank some more water and went in to pee. I had a hard time starting to urinate then I was shocked to get a stream of blood instead of urine. It was not pretty. I pondered what to do about it since I was feeling so bad and then was bleeding on top of it. I decided to go see a doctor to get an opinion and found one real close to my hotel. The doctor had me pee in a cup and then told me I should go to the hospital because all the labs were closed at this time of day so the only place that could check me would be a hospital. Then he told me that most bleeding like this is caused by minor things and that it usually looks worse than it actually is.

I went back to my room and looked up my issue on the internet and it did not sound as urgent as it felt to me at first. The doctor had told me not to ride my bike anymore because the riding might have caused the problem. I ended up deciding to just take the bus to San Jose Costa Rica and going to Cima Hospital there since I was planning on getting some things done there anyway, this problem merely sped up my visit.

The bus ride ended up being almost nine hours instead of the scheduled five hours due to road construction in Costa Rica. I did make it to San Jose but it was too late to get to the hospital so I waited until the next morning. I checked into a cheap hostel in downtown San Jose and ate some food before going to bed. In the morning I went to Cima Hospotal and got injected, detected and all sorts of fun stuff as Arlo Guthrie says. No big deal they said, just take these antibiotics and stay off your bike for a month and do not go in the sun. That is not going over so well in my mind right now. I just can not not ride my bike and I am not able to stay out of all sun for a month either. I will be lucky to make it a week of further rest. We shall see but meanwhile my blog will suffer with no riding to report on, sorry about that. I will update here and there. I am having trouble with slow wifi lately so I am finding it very hard to load pics but here are a few

Friday, April 18, 2014

Just some pics from Granada Nicaragua

These are just some pics from Granada during Semana Santa or Holy Week which is the week before Easter. The donkey was meant to carry the statue of Jesus in a procession but like some stubborn ones tend to do, it refused to cooperate. I also love the way people double up or more on their bikes. I will be taking more pics of that in the future. It has been nice taking time off here. Granada and Nicaragua have changed dramatically in the last 10 years. It has gone from a scary war torn country to a legit tourist destination. It is still building up and could use some more infrastructure but it is well on its way to becoming the new Costa Rica which has priced themselves out of the running.