I’ve been a bit irresponsible lately. . .
This blog has been a means of recording and sharing my experiences while simultaneously assuring my friends and family that I hadn’t slid off the road into a ravine somewhere in the mountains. Sorry for the delay, I’ve arrived safe and sound. New Orleans can be a distracting place.
I’m currently 1,500 miles from where we spoke last. Just after leaving Moab, UT, I ran into a fellow KLR rider unlike any KLR guy I’ve ever seen before, in person or online. This guy was an awesome example of adventure motorcycle touring taken to the extreme. I was at a stoplight in Pegosa Springs, Colorado, when a a teal and white KLR (a color scheme only made in ’95, affectionately nicknamed the Barbie Bike) geared to the teeth towing a fully loaded trailer pulls up next to me on the left with a 50lb cattle dog wearing an orange bandana sitting sideways on the seat behind him. You can see his rig below, and on the header photo at the top of the page.
We pulled over and got to chatting for a bit. It was already late in the day, so we decided to ride up in the hills and camp together. I learned he’d already traveled cross country twice on an ATV, which is where his dog Sadie got her balance training. His name’s Nate, a welder and a diesel mechanic out of Reno, NV. He traded his quad for the KLR three years ago, and I’d never seen a rig like his. Gnarly LED floodlights on the front & back, GPS, oversized fuel tank, on board air compressor, heated jacket, stereo speakers in the top case, ice chest, BBQ, and giant umbrella. Adventure ready, capable of traveling day and night in any weather. The newbie I am, I was quite inspired..
This guy was a great example of what a KLR can provide. He had the 400lb bike loaded with 350lbs of gear towing a 400lb trailer, carrying all the amenities to make a very comfortable camp in just about any environment. Once loaded with extra food and fuel, he could easily spend a week traveling through the mountains unassisted. I’d never seen anyone tow a trailer with a KLR, and I definitely hadn’t seen anyone with a dog that could ride a bike. In New Orleans I came up with a saying, “Cats for the cockroaches, canines for the criminals.” In addition to the companionship, the amount of security that dog provided made her worth her weight in gold. When you’re off in a foreign land with unknown dangers, an extra set of eyes and ears is invaluable. She’d sit right on the bike and keep watch whenever we were inside somewhere, a “redneck security system” at its finest.
We took 70 miles of dirt roads up through some mountains in central Colorado, where I did my first water crossing through a stream a foot or so deep. I learned a lot riding with Nate, and I am very grateful to have met such a character. Both of us were heading south through New Mexico, but I was heading East and he was headed West. We rode through the Rockies for three days, exchanged information and parted ways in Northern New Mexico. I then proceeded to ride harder than I’d ever done before, completing a whole third of the total trip in two and a half days.
In 60 hours I traveled 1,300 miles, which is no small feat on a single cylinder engine. I left Mora, NM around 10am on a Tuesday, and made it to New Orleans by 3pm on the Thursday before Halloween, completing the month-long trip two days early. It was a bit of a shock getting adapted to urban life, especially in a city like New Orleans. This place is so extremely different from any other place I’ve ever been, and this contrast was magnified by how many places I’d seen in the month prior. Arriving right before Halloween expedited the process of normalizing the incredible uniqueness here. In a city where people will readily throw on a wig and a costume on any given Tuesday, Halloween is almost a redundancy.
Counting the two months of preparing/learning to ride a motorcycle, and the month of travel time, the SEA2NO tour was my main focus for a full quarter of 2012. Like completing any major goal, once I arrived there was a sudden quiet that left me a little bit lost. It was strange to spend so much time off the bike, strange to have a bed of my own, a kitchen and a shower. The bike, so light without my home on it, felt unfamiliar. After a week or so of re-acclimating, I’m now settling in to my new home. New Orleans, baby.
The blog has been largely motorcycle/travel oriented over the last month, but with the completion of the tour I’ll now be writing more about street performance. In February, I intentionally started my career here because I knew it was one of the toughest spots in the country to be a street performer. There is so much competing for spectators attention, you have to be good or you won’t make it. You make it here, you can make it anywhere. When I returned to Seattle, busking was a piece of cake. Now that I’m back in New Orleans, I’m remembering that this isn’t a place to eat sweets, it’s a place to cut my teeth.
Now that I’ve broken the silence, I pinky promise to keep this blog updated more frequently. It’s a Saturday, the French Quarter is looking ripe, and I’m about to head back out into the trenches to earn my living as a free self-employed artist.
Fat Hats =)