Category Archives: adventure

Highlights From Wandering Through Central America

I spent 9 months wandering between Guatemala and Panama, on my way from Canada to South America, and will share my highlights with ya. Keep in mind that I didn’t go everywhere. I won’t attempt to cover that which I didn’t do myself.


Guatemala

Quetzaltenango (Xela)

Known to the locals as Xela (pronounced /ˈʃela/), this mid size city is a gritty bustling example of Guatemala. The few tourists in town are mostly there to climb the large volcano Santa Maria and take Spanish lessons.

Lago Atitlan

A beautiful crater lake set between two dormant volcanoes. San Pedro la Laguna is the touristy town, and is it ever touristy, making it easy to find a place to stay. I never visited San Marcos, on the other side of the lake, but it’s supposed to be a smaller, more tranquillo hippy town.
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Antigua

The old capital, now a small tourist town done right. With a large market area open every day, a perimeter of large active and dormant volcanoes, and a plethora of nearby outdoor activities, this is one of my favourite places. Hike the dormant volcano Acatenango on schedule to peer down into the active maw of Fuego, though you can sometimes see the action even from the town at night. Do the coffee farm tour at the Centro Cultura la Azotea, within cheap taxi distance.

Semuc Champey

Set in the rain forest. Check the weather, though the warm rains of Central America don’t bother me. Nearest large town is Cobán, nearest small town is Lanquín, nearest small village is… well I can’t remember, but the Q’eqchi’ kids from there gave me terrible directions on purpose, those runts! Stay at the Utopia Eco Hostel. Go caving with a small group, wading through an underground stream by candlelight. Hike the park trails, including a high viewpoint of the turquoise pools above the underground river Cahabón. Take a dip in them, too — the water is usually very clear.
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El Salvador

If you’ve been to Guatemala or done more than a few hikes in your travels, don’t bother with the “Ruta de las Flores”, a hyped tour along cute towns in northern Salvador. Suchitoto was alright, but, really, there’s better things to see. The beaches however, are second to none.

Sunzal and El Tunco

Surf, or at least try to, at these gorgeous beaches. The gentle point breaks give everything from perfect half meter swells for beginners to small barrels. These gringo surf villages are within walking distance of each other, north of La Libertad. Hang out and relax.

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Honduras

Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula, the two largest cities, are supposed to be some of the most dangerous in the world, and I’m not one to argue with statistics (I will argue vehemently on conclusions drawn from them, however). Try to book your beds and arrange transport ahead of time and arrive in daylight. They are gritty, confusing, and interesting enough for a half-day wander, but no more. (I stayed for about a week in each for other reasons, and that was too long.)

Copán Ruinas

The main highlight is the Mayan ruins, the most important one south of Tikal. The tourist town, though, is itself a highlight. I stayed for 3 weeks waiting for a package and was seldom bored, wandering every day with my camera. Have the best beer within 2000 km at Sol de Copán, a tiny german brewery.

Lago Yojoa

There are four draws to this swampy lake: the local wildlife, the sunsets from the east side of the lake, the Pulhapanzak waterfalls, and the small brewery and hostel D&D Brewery. You’ll figure it out. Worth two or three days.

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Gracias

Cute little town, but not worth more than overnight. I was there a week and did ‘the grid’ of the town more times than I want to remember.


Nicaragua

Cañon de Somoto

Hike, wade, jump, and swim down the stream, exploring the deep valley faces. Stay at Hacienda Somoto, an out-of-town animal farm and bed & breakfast.

Granada

A popular tourist town. Walk around, take a boat tour of the small islands (Las Isletas), and party. Then get out, ’cause you’ve got better places to be! You can visit the crowded Apoyo Lagoon as a day trip or overnight, nearby art town of Catarina, and peer through the sulfur clouds into the Masaya volcano (it’s not that impressive, see photo).

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San Juan del Sur

The biggest surf town I’ve ever been to, with all the amenities. Albeit chilly but bearable water with decent waves, great hot beaches, some free, some not, and a relaxing pace set the tone during the day. Parties, babes, drugs, and a fun crowd set the tone at night. Get your own quiet room at Casa de Olas or live it up in a dorm at neighboring Naked Tiger, both just outside of town with the best view around. Get away from most of it by staying on Maderas beach, a few kilometers away. Have a good time!


Costa Rica

This country is known among travelers as an expensive one. My budget didn’t change from Nicaragua, one of the cheapest. Expensive and tempting options are available where they usually are not in other countries, yes, but you don’t have to spend your money. You don’t have to do that zip lining, hire the private van, stay in expensive places. Cheap to free options are always available.

Montezuma

A hippy town that sometimes gets some surfing swells. Visit the waterfalls. Jump into the top two! Love the local monkeys, especially when the howlers wake you up at 5:30 in the morning.

Monteverde

A cloud forest park. Yep, there’s clouds, trees, ferns, and the occasional weird bird. I didn’t get to take part as I had a motorcycle, but one can travel to nearby La Fortuna by taking a shortcut in a 4×4 to the lake, a boat across, then another 4×4 to town. There isn’t much of a road, this way, hence the 4×4’s.

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La Fortuna

At the base of a volcano and near a big lake, this place is more hype than value, but you can still have a good time for little. You’re not allowed to approach the volcano but you can hike some set trails in the national park, going through the not-so-old enormous lava flow paths. There are many costly waterfalls, swimming holes, and thermal pools nearby, and just a few free ones.

Cahuita

Tranquillo to the point of being a bit boring, fill the day by exploring the small free park and laying on its beach. Really, there’s better, and it’s next. I never went to Puerto Viejo, just 15 km down the road, but, from what I know of it, Cahuita would be a welcome respite for a day.

Uvita

The best place in Costa Rica. I had planned on staying for 2 days, ended up staying for 32. Sleep at the Flutterby House. Rent a surfboard for the next day, get some groceries in the nearby village (there isn’t much, where you’re staying), make some dinner, and get to bed as you’ve got a big day ahead. Get up early and surf by yourself as the sun rises on the easy beach breaks. Make yourself a big breakfast because you’ve earned it. Nap in the morning heat, on the beach in one of the many hammocks. Head off to Cascada Verde when you get too hot. It’s a bit over an hour walk, so taxi or borrow a bicycle. You can slide down the main falls like a waterslide. Try not to think about it too much. Get some lunch on your way back to the beach, as it’s time to try the waves again. You have the surfboard all day, anyway. You’re exhausted, so paddle out past the foamy surf one last time and just chill; watch the sun set as you bob in the ocean. Get back to the hostel, make dinner in the bustling communal kitchen, and remember that you can’t cook in a group without a few drinks. If there is little moon, have another few drinks then gather a few adverturesomes to dip in the sea, as it is often spectacularly bioluminescent. Try not to sleep in your salty wet bathing suit. Repeat.

Parque Nacional Corcovado

“The most biologically intense place on Earth in terms of biodiversity” — National Geographic

Stay outside of the closest town, Puerto Jimenez, at Bello Horizonte Jungle Hostel. Book and pay for your stay in the park the day before, I recommend 3 days, more if you can carry in (and out!) enough food and are up to the challenge. Here’s an edited transcript of a story I was telling someone.

There’s this wilderness park in Costa Rica, dubbed the “most biodense place on the planet”. The jungle grows thick. Real jungle, not the pansy rain forest most people call jungle; dense vegetation, not even stopping at the beach. Palms litter the water, ferns pattern the sand, like the forest grows outwards, constantly pushing them into the sea. There are no roads. You can’t even walk along the beach most of the time and only at low tide at that. No camping spots. Bugs, everywhere.

Millions of leaf-cutter ants march during every daylight hour along super highways 6 inches wide that split in to freeways 2 inches wide that split into local arterial roads less than an inch wide, but still flow with more than 100 ants per second, in both directions. Unladen streams pour towards the unfortunate destinations, criss-crossing the jungle floor, over logs, up the 50 ft tree, onto the dieing branch where they nibble away little bits for their business. Then all the way back. It must take hours to make a single lap. Millions of ant-hours, every colony, every day.

Mosquitos so thick you can see clouds of them obscure your view several meters away, giving you just enough time to start running. The rain took away your repellant hours ago, hopefully it took enough of your body heat that the skeeters will have trouble locking in on you. This area is the way it is partly because of the rain: there’s a bunch of it.

After a three hour ride from the 2-bit nearest town along a mud trail, crossing two streams the hard way, you get to hike 8-9 hours, 20 km — it’s slow going, even when there is a trail — to the first ranger station. It’s a gorgeous site, that station.

There is a point, hopefully, to all of this. Jungle animals! That weird mini elephant-pig thing, and those pointy-nose raccoon-things, loads of Scarlet Macaws, 4 types of monkeys, and whatever else is supposed to be there. Did I mention mosquitos?

So you get to the ranger station, pray to your God, and inspect your bloody feet. Because you’re a huge wimp, your blisters have worn down the the bone and you just wanna cut them off at the ankle and be done with it. But you can’t. You have to walk out the same way you limped in. And you can’t look like a pansy in front of the 70-year old couple and the prissy class of teenage girls already at the ranger station.

The next day is supposed to be full of exploring, and you do your best. Luckily you’re alone so you can complain all you want. Hey look, a family of prairie chickens! Didn’t even know they lived in the jungle. More sproingy springy mini pigs. Cool.

Play time is over. Your camp spot at the ranger station was for one night only, unfortunately, and there’s a long way to go. It’ll be even longer, as now the rain is sustained and your ankles are pulped. Plus, everyone was talking about all those crocodiles in the rivers you waded across on the way here, none of which you saw. Best to cross in daylight, you think.

You start cursing at the Scarlet Macaws. They have the ugliest call in the jungle, a true banshee screech, like a Janis Joplin death curdle. You laugh at the hermit crabs eating each other in great piles on the edge of the beach. Trudge, trudge, rain, kick hermit crab, trudge trudge. Another hour. Another.

As you wade across the final stream — no, it’s a proper river now, after two days of downpour — a surge of water rushes through. You barely make it to the other side, both banks falling in and washing to the open sea. You don’t really care. Trudge, rain, trudge… gravel? Nature doesn’t normally make gravel. So you’ve made it. You sit on a wooden bench.


Panama

Boquete

A mountain town surrounded by old retirees in huge houses. Climb volcano Baru.

Bocas del Toro

Diving is pretty cheap and pretty cool, here. The best beach is Red Frog Beach on Bastimentos island. Party in the main town or chill on any of the various islands.

Santa Catalina

A cute crap town (yeah, both) with great surf and diving. A travel friend went diving around Coiba island for the day while I went surfing. The surf was good, a rocky point break. Apparently the diving was better.

Panama City

Cool town, in a period of growth. The tourist area is fun.

San Blas Islands

Perfect Caribbean islands. Perfect. Take a multiple day trip on a sailboat to these islands. I recommend Blue Sailing. Many leave from Portobelo. Travel to Colombia this way.

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Country Driving Lessons

Seeing a friend’s photo of his daughter zipping around in a mini ATV reminded me of my first driving lesson. A stretch, you’ll find, but that’s the way brains work y’know.

Dad and I were bombing around the country gravel roads in early fall, following flocks of ducks and geese to find an optimal hunting spot for the evening. Windows all the way down and eyes straining for specks of movement on the neverending horizons. Hundreds and thousands floated just beyond our vision, wisps of imagination.

Suddenly a flock of ducks zipped out from behind us, coming up off of a nearby pond with a crescendo of calls. They would surely pass directly in front of us, quite low. “Grab the wheel!” dad shouted, diving across the cab and tossing me into the driver’s seat. I’m 11 years old and just learned to ride my bike. Terrified and not able to reach the gas and steering wheel at the same time, I was nonetheless doing my best to control this 70 kmph Nissan pickup.

Meanwhile, dad had crawled two-thirds the way out of the passenger window to snatched his pump-action 12-gauge shotgun out of the box. Having unsheathed and loaded the boomstick in record time, he sat in the open window, gun swiveling. We were then going about 30 kmph (as I couldn’t reach the gas pedal).

Ducks and geese aren’t stupid nor do their instincts often let them down. This flock, like so many hundreds of others before and after, saw and heard our ruckus bumbling down the road and shouting at each other and made a quick course change to stay clear. ‘CRACK!’ Dad took a shot across the top of the cab. Futile for they were well out of range, but I can attest that it makes you feel better regardless.

We rolled to a stop and I made my dad get back in the driver’s seat, vowing to never drive ever again.

Wandering and in a Hurry in the Redwood Forest

On the first day of October, 2012, my Kawasaki and I were dwarfed by enormous trees in the Redwood Forest in northern California. I found a big one and put my bike in it.

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Fascinated by these giants, I decided to go on an impromptu hike in the woods. A quick glance at a roadside trail map showed many short jaunts, no more than a few kilometers long. I trotted past the trail head into the shadows.

You probably know how magical the Redwood forests are, so I won’t bother gushing about them. It’s all true.

Apparently I had far too much energy on this first day of October, as I decided to run throughout the hike. The warm weather soon felt drenchingly hot as I resisted chugging my water between gasps. The trails split and joined often, and it took a while to realize that I had gone much further than any of those listed on the trail map. A sign would come into view every once in a while promising just a few more kilometers, though I discovered that it defined only the length of that section of the trail, not the distance back to the trail head. Over 5 kilometers into my planned 2 kilometer wilderness run, I limped out of the trees onto a dirt road. This road continued for a while. I wanted to arrive at my next destination before sunset, which meant either doubling back on my trail immediately or finding my way back by another route in the same amount of time. After checking my position with my cameras GPS function to see whether I was getting closer to the trail head or not — I was not — I turned around and dove back into the forest.

Dropping with sweat and heaving like a pair of bellows by the time I returned to my motorcycle, the few photo snappers and sight seers stared, understandably. I dried myself off with my towel and cooled off in the shade of a giant hollowed Redwood stump.

The KLR waited, patiently. Then we continued on to San Francisco.

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Pelicans Glide Alongside The Pacific Coast Highway

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Some time ago I was cruising down the Pacific Coast Highway in California, enjoying the curves as asphalt followed the coastline, when I realized I wasn’t alone. A flock of about 8 Brown Pelicans were gliding parallel to the motorcycle, about 25 meters away over the waters. I sent someone an email about it:

A great moment about a week ago, while cruising at about 90 km/h along the twisting Pacific Coast Highway halfway down California, was having a flock of huge pelicans keep me company as they also followed the coast. They were hunting the surf, but in a V-formation flock and at 90-100 km/h and no more than 50 feet away from the bike! I had no idea they could cruise at that speed with so little effort, let alone hunt effectively.

Not able to contain the Narcissist within, I immediately related to these presently majestic creatures, ignoring the bustle of the highway, hunting at fantastic speeds, and not caring about much else. They were focused yet relaxed. As they were unperturbed by the noisy presence of the motorcycle, I adjusted my speed to keep pace with the flock for as long as possible, slowing to between 80-95 km/h. Ignoring the bustle of the cars piling up behind me, I hunted with the flock.

Riding alone the coast, I have realized that one can have a focused and relaxed mind while not thinking about anything in particular. A subject is not required for trained thoughts.

Silver Washington Beaches And More Sand

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The silver sands of Washington around Long Beach (no, not California) emulate those timeless emotions of ocean side sunsets, and sew in a mean streak of chilly breeze and reality. Sand gets everywhere and in everything. Of course, unless you live there, odds are you’re looking for romantic sunsets and self insight, so it comes pretty easily. The chilly breeze and reality are the kickers. Determined to discover the emotional filler of relaxing under a bronze sky on the Pacific coast promised by travel agency billboards, beer commercials, and camera equipment advertisements, I made tracks for several kilometres from the beach access road to find an appropriate camping spot.

Sand is difficult to ride in, especially with relatively thin, though aggressive, tires and a fully-loaded, 700+ pound motorcycle. This was news to me, never having ridden in deep sand, and I was forced to learn quickly. Allowing either tire to sink too far into the sand immediately destabilizes the entire ride. Too wet, as in too deep in the surf, and the sand hasn’t settled enough to support any weight; too dry, as in too far up the beach, and the sand has no cohesion. Speed has a factor, too: there’s a velocity sweet spot for sands of various cohesions. Too fast and the next instability incident — they’re inevitable — will more likely end with the wrong side up; too slow and you’ll sink, a factor made more pressing when in non-ideal sands. Basically, follow the edge of the surf and gun it, but not at speeds you can’t handle. I dumped it more than once. More than thrice.

After having explored miles of beaches, riding in the inches of water at the edge of the Pacific surf, I settled on a part of the beach remote enough to filter out the general public. The odd person would walk by. A few 4-wheelers with oversized tires ripped by. Seagulls flitted over the caramelizing surf. The tent and sleeping gear, as well as a time lapse photography setup, were quickly setup as the sun took a dip in the ocean.

Unpacking In A Washington Beach Sunset from Tyler Lucas on Vimeo.

Sleep was supposed to come easily, with the gentle lull of the distant surf and body-molding sand mattress, but I was restless. A bit of discomfort is required to keep my mind sufficiently distracted so it doesn’t spin up, thinking. Nature’s street lamp, the moon, was nearly full. It has no off switch, no way to escape. Luckily the chilly breeze picked up just after midnight, slipping through the open doors of my tent, pulling thoughts towards warmth and sleep.

My definition for morning dew was recalibrated upon awakening, the underside of the tent fly soaked in millimeters of droplets. Fog blanketed the beach, disallowing sight past 50 m. I could barely make out my lonely KLR, floating in the distance in a cloud. The camera and setup was soaked, but, as the seals can handle most ambient environments, uncompromised. A dead battery ensured that a full contingent of time lapse photos had indeed been taken, though the sky was mostly clouded throughout the night, blocking stars.

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The moon, the unrelenting nightlight, was no longer visible, having turned to the far side of the globe, so the Earth’s waters were now being pulled the other way. I was curious as to how far the tide had come up during the night — how accurate was my guess? Needing to move the machine to more stable sands before reloading it anyway, I trudged down the beach in my flip flops and underwear to investigate.

I could barely, mostly hear, the surf breaking over 50 m away as I inspected the chilled, sopping wet KLR. After a few more cranks than usual, it putted to life and I gingerly guided it down to the wet sand about 5 meters from the surf. Cold, wet sand gritted between my toes and in my underwear and behind my ears, a scene which normally guarantees misery, but the Pacific grants abnormal calm to those who would have it. I felt focused, at peace, and ready to take on the day.

Leaving the motorcycle to watch the waves, I returned to the campsite after my metaphorical cup of coffee. Packing up is always an unwelcome chore, more so when everything is soaked and developing a strong affinity for sand. Even so, I usually do it slowly and methodically, knowing that everything will have to be unpacked eventually, and I’ll wish I had taken my time if something is moldy or sandy. This morning was no exception, and I spent around half an hour fussing with my gear before returning to the pack mule with the first load. As I had had only a metaphorical cup, not an actual cup, of coffee, I was still groggy, not really paying attention to my surroundings. Something was wrong, and it took me a few moments to acknowledge this as fact and look around.

A small wave rushed by my feet, going a few meters beyond my parking spot and getting my socks wet. That woke me up. The following wave was not so small. I turned away to avoid being knocked over myself as the formerly described calming Pacific smashed into everything I owned. The bike could not turn away: though it was leaning heavily on its kickstand towards the Pacific, the ocean pushed it over like a domino, taking the small bags piled on top with it. All of my gear is packed in waterproof bags, not that I expected my luggage to go surfing, but for peace of mind during water crossings and heavy rainfall, so I wasn’t too worried about everything getting wet. Immediately feeling foolish and enjoying this new adventure, I laughed as I grabbed my luggage and sprinted for higher ground. The tide hadn’t come in during the night, it was coming in now! So much for my moon logic. After dumping everything up the beach near my campsite, I trotted back to the crime scene. Something was laying in the sand, half buried, but clearly unnatural and unsettlingly familiar. It was my Macbook, and it had clearly surfed its last wave. I could feel and hear sand caking the insides of the computer. After popping out the battery — wouldn’t want to also let a Li-Ion cell short and burst from the sea water, as well — I dropped the computer onto my pile of rescued luggage and tried not to think about it as I returned to rescue my fallen comrade, the KLR.

This bike was made for abuse, and today’s share did little to discourage its spirit: it fired up immediately and spat a rooster tail of sand and surf 10 m long as we ground our way out of the foot-deep rising tide onto dry land. The tide was coming in fast, the maximum of which would clearly take up the entire beach. Being several kilometers from the nearest access point and now riding much higher on the beach, where the sand was more dry and less stable, I had to cut the crap and give’r in order to have a chance of escape. This was by far the most technically challenging riding I had done so far, having to follow the quickly shifting surf at full throttle, trying to stay on the thin belt of sand that was wet enough to retain its structure long enough for me to rip over it, not so wet or dry as to turn into quicksand and allow the tires to sink in past the point of no return. Wind whipped sand into the air, stinging my eyes, and condensing fog made protective glasses or face shield a hazard, forcing me to suck it up and squint for the optimal path. The beach appeared to not have an end as the unrelenting tide ate away my road to freedom. The last few hundred meters were through completely dry and deep sand dunes, a route I would have avoided at all costs the day before, but today I never hesitated. Full throttle and gritted teeth skipped my elegantly overweight machine across the treacherous terrain, flying onto the access road and skidding to a stop as the tide licked the edge of the beach.

My gear was a mess, the computer was ruined, and I felt great! Having learned more during my 20 minute escape ride than during my entire trip thus far, I was on top of the world. Getting out of a tight situation using naught but raw power, skill, and determination is one of the best highs available. The highway was my automatic car wash, letting 130 km/h wind strip away the majority of the surface sand. After a thorough spray cleaning at a nearby town I was off, leaving the silver beaches behind. It was gorgeous and I was humbled in way that I enjoyed, though, nearly three months and over 10’000 km later, I’m still finding sand in my stuff.

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The Desert, Tron And The Universe

Pointing my motorcycle east, a promised bed on my mind, the sun sets behind me as I fall into an evermore contemplative mood.

You ever have that moment when you’re ripping through the desert on your purring machine in the pitch black of night, gazing up at the eerily bright Milky Way and trying to watch the road at the same time, when you’re having trouble not thinking about Tron as the yellow and white dots streak past, reflecting on the windscreen and face shield, and all you want to do is ponder the wonders of the universe? Nah, me either.

There is a gorgeous stretch of interstate cutting through the desert near the Mexican border. Regularly spaced reflectors dot the side and centre lines, their mirror-like surfaces glinting with uncomfortable brightness. At the edge of blackness I can make out a fenced border, keeping the natural and civilized worlds separate. A mutually appreciated apartheid, though both sides of the fence would prefer it wasn’t necessary. As the sun gasps its dieing breaths, the unnatural demarcation seems to guard travelers from the void itself. Not even shadow exists beyond the tall aluminium posts and taut aircraft cable lines.

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Reality shrinks with the senses, leaving only a motorcycle, a rider, and an expanding sphere of darkness. My Kawasaki companion is comforting. It’s warm, shaped to my body, and powerful. I lean forward, resting my chest on the packed tank bag and tucking my head behind the tiny windscreen, listening and feeling. The rough drone of the tuned exhaust and slapping valves, high pressure knobby tires skimming asphalt, lightly tensioned chain smacking the guards every once in a while to remind them of their function. Cool winds scream by the fairings, complaining as they’re mashed through the radiator and spat out the other side. The useless end of a tie-down strap flaps in the wind behind me. An adult’s stuffed animal, all metal and plastic and gasoline. I hug the tank and wrap myself around the frame, still crouched behind the miniature windscreen. Warmth from the engine permeates my boots and shins while fresh air slips through vents in my helmet and jacket. As the outside world disappears into the night, the inside world is revealed detail by detail, begging for personification.

I pass a lone semi truck and watch his headlights blend in and then fade away with the sun.

Velocity has little meaning without a frame of reference. Acceleration is comforting. It reminds you that there is potential for more, should you need it; should you want it. The reflectors blended into milky streams of white and orange. The scene in front was no different from that left behind. The stars did not move.

The skin of the bubble of comfort and warmth wrapped around the speeding Kawasaki continued to expand and dissolve. Soon it included everything. The stars provided warmth and comfort despite their distance, and local time slowed to a crawl despite the obvious indicators of speed. Why is our local perception so different from that of the universe as a whole? As consciousness expands, reality slows.

I was tired, and looking up at the Milky Way while zipping down the highway was dangerous, so I revved it up and screamed down the road towards Tuscon and a place to sleep.

Failure of the Senses: Motorcycle Maintenance

There’s a word for a sudden, startling realization, but it’s not coming to me.

Yesterday I was investigating the source of a periodic “whooshing” noise I could hear while on my bike. I can’t hear very well at the moment, as ear infections recently damaged my ear drums and whatever else is in there, so I knew this noise must be loud and not to be ignored. After studying the Clymer KLR 650 manual for a while, I had assembled a short list of possible causes, then went to work. The first step was to reproduce the noise: check, there it is, upon starting, warming and throttling the machine. The periodic frequency didn’t change directly with RPM, though it did vary for other unknown reasons. The first fix on my list was to reset the balancer chain tensioner (doohickey). After, I again checked for the telltale “whooshing” — still there! I didn’t want to take the next step: inspecting the valve shim clearances with the cams, as this meant major mechanical work and would take some time and possibly parts (new shims).

Contemplating this while listening to the “whooshing” a bit more, I flicked off the ignition without much thought, killing the engine. There must be a simpler explanation! The bike only has 8200 km on it. Did it overheat without my noticing? Dang! Then I realized I could still hear the “whooshing” noise. The KLR was off. It took a full minute of denial before accepting the truth: the sound I had been hearing was my own heart beat, isolated by my brain and the natural roar of the bike, and amplified by my messed up ear drums. We automatically filter out the din of the motor and other periodic sounds our brains deem useless, and we isolate and amplify those judged to be important. Apparently blood rushing by my temples is something to which I should pay attention.

I’ll get a friend to listen, but I’m pretty sure this case is closed.

Ah, epiphany.

All Packed And Not Even Close To Ready To Go


It’s 3:00 AM, and I’m all done. Well, other than the two dozen items left on the living room floor, including most of the tools and unassembled tool tube. Oh, and the house: it’s not quite ready to see me go.

There's still stuff left!?

What am I rambling about? I’m leaving! I’m riding a motorcycle all the way down to the southernmost tip of South America, Ushuaia in Argentina, and back. This trip has been about a year in the making, though it’s only since about May that I’ve been taking it seriously. The original start date was today; now it’s Monday, September 3rd, mostly because there’s so much left to do:

Shit. WordPress deleted everything. F#*% it. Here’s another shitty photo:

Time to crash on the couch, since all the bedding is being washed. Good night. Good morning.

Photos from hiking up Mount Ernest Ross

Many friends and I went camping for a weekend in September near Nordegg, staying at the Kootenay Plains Cavalcade campground. Several photos were taken!

click for photo album!

Click the image!
If you want a super-high resolution JPEG, around 10MB each, note the “Name” of the photo, click [THIS LINK], enter the username and password that I should have already sent you personally on Facebook, then download the file whose named matches the “Name” of the photo. For example, the name field of photo #2 is “P1011756”, as displayed on it’s ‘detail page’, go to blog.tyblu.ca/photo_2011-09-18_Nordegg-big/, wait for your browser (please not Internet Explorer) to ask for then enter your username and password, then right-click and save “P1011756.jpg” to your hard drive. I’ve tweaked almost all of the images in Aperture (a Mac OS X photo editing program), sometimes to extremes (’cause it looks neat!) — if you want the original [Olympus] RAW or untouched JPEG, it’s no problem to upload it, so just ask. If you don’t get a username and password, or have trouble downloading an image, ask and I’ll make it work.