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A Slight Change of Plans

December 30, 2011

Due to the cold front causing some rain and too cold of temperatures to ride after the sun goes down, we’re behind schedule so Matt and I have decided to change things up a bit: from Madison, FL (where we stayed at the Super 8), we rode to Loxley, AL, through Mississippi, to where we are right now, Baton Rouge, LA.

The ride to Loxley wasn’t that pleasant because of the cold- even at the hottest point of the day it was still chilly out.  To help this problem, we stopped at a Good Will where Matt purchased a plain black sweatshirt and I picked out an ugly turtle neck and black pants to go over my jeans; they improved the comfort of the ride immensely.  Still, when the sun was no longer above us, we had to call it quits and stay in yet another Motel. Exciting news! Matt taught me how to ride the motorcycle! He taught me how to start it (push the button), and he taught me about the clutch and the throttle.  It was exhilarating. I rode a few feet in the parking lot and walked it at a slow and control pace for about 40 feet.  By then I had broke a sweat and had enough. I’m sure I’ll get better soon.. Ah! So awesome.

Highlight of Alabama: Having lunch at a BBQ restaurant in Mobile.  We had to stop at a motorcycle shop to fix the stripped bolt and tighten the chain (plus the friendly mechanic tightened up the brakes) and while the bike was being worked on, we walked to this restaurant called Dick Russell’s for brunch.  It put a smile on my face. Pulled pork BBQ has a special place in my heart (if you know me, you know why).

Highlight of Mississippi: We blew through here in no time, only stopping once for gas. You might think this doesn’t seem worth mentioning, but I bet you’ll think it’s at least mildly funny: a women in her mid twenties asked us where we were going (I’m surprised at how many people ask us that by the way), we answer “Argentina”, she replies “Uh, where’s that?”.

Success! We made it to Baton Rouge (part of our revised plan from the night before (I’ll get to the rest of that soon)).  After laundry and relaxing in the Hotel hot tub, we had a nine dollar dinner at Subway, picked up breakfast for tomorrow at Wally-World, and headed out to see the city.  I was impressed at how new and clean everything in Downtown looked (I’m use to Washington DC where everything is old and construction is nonstop).  We bar hopped at a couple places and called it a night. Luckily at the last place we went, there was live music. I’m a big fan of live music- shows, events, festivals, bring’em all on.

As for the new and improved plan, we are going to spend tomorrow and New Years Eve in New Orleans.  Google told us that New Orleans is the number one place to spend the holiday and since Monterrey, Mexico doesn’t have a huge celebration and it would be a struggle to get there in time (a.k.a. not on the fun side of things), Matt and I are slowing down the trip few days.

After New Years in New Orleans, we’re planning to ride through Texas, do some line-dancing, and make it to Mexico! From there this “vacation” Matt thought up has now turned into a quest– details to come.

Bad Omen

December 28, 2011
Hello blog readers. Thanks for taking an interest! I’m Anna Gochenour.  I think Matt did a suffice job introducing me.  How has everyone liked his first few filler *cough* I mean, pre-trip posts?
First day on the bike and I was extremely excited! I have been talking about this to family and friends for a while now and I’m too thrilled to have finally got the show on the road! Since Matt and I are trying to spend the least amount of money as possible, we each had a banana and an apple for breakfast- this is way different form usual, which is definitely going to take some getting use to.  After we get the saddle bag situation figured out and have a failed attempt at installing the motorcycle alarm WE TAKE OFF RIDING (yay) at 12 (quite behind schedule due to a few unseen circumstances). Five minutes later, no joke, it starts pouring out – can you say bad omen, or what? We wait it out for about a half an hour and hit the road. My bum is in pain an hour and a half into the ride (so much for the Airhawk helping.. jk, it probably did).

Speeding through the air, seeing all the palm trees- I love riding!

By the time 7 rolls around, Matt and I make it to Gainesville FL; the sun is set and it’s chilly out. Matt and I decide to tough it out as long as possible since we’re already behind schedule (did I mention this was the first day?). An hour passes and we are ice: I’m sure it’s worse for Matt since he’s riding straight into the wind, but my feet are freezing, my legs are close to numb, my arms and hands aren’t doing much better, and to top it all off, I had started talking to myself inside my full-face helmet – I think I was starting to loose it a little. I hope it doesn’t get that cold again for the rest of the trip.

To end our magnificent first day we had Denny’s for dinner and we’re staying at a Super 8 (which is where the picture was taken). Classy, huh?

Can’t wait for more mañana.

The escape plan

December 12, 2011

Time is flying by before we hit the road on Christmas day. We have just 2 weeks left and that’s probably not enough time to get everything in order but we’ll figure it out as we move along.

I’m headed down to Tampa, FL next week where I’ll finish up getting the bike in movable condition.  I’m mainly doing a tune up and checking out the important pieces to see if we can make it to Monterrey without losing a chain or a wheel.

  • Dec 25th – Drive down to Tampa from DC in our fancy rental car
  • Dec 27th – Leave Tampa for Panama Beach
  • Dec 28th – Leave Panama Beach for New Orleans
  • Dec 29th – Leave New Orleans and drive as far as possible into Texas (Houston, San Antonio maybe?)
  • Dec 30th- Leave the US for Monterrey, Mexico!

Border crossing is supposed to be a pain due to getting weekly insurance on bike.  We’ll find out soon.

Our route map

December 9, 2011

The route as it looks right now.  We’ll definitely be making some changes along the way.

View South America 3.0 in a larger map


Remember there’s two pages.  The first one shows up until Cartegena, Colombia.  The second one shows the route up to Alaska and back.


December 3, 2011

Last time I travelled I was kicking myself because I didn’t bring a better phone with me on the trip.  I bought a piece of crap phone in India and used that until I got back to the US.  The way phones work in most countries is you buy a SIM card for each country that you’re in and prepay it with some minutes and text messages.  It cost something ridiculous to call home to the US, but it’s great for calls inside the country you’re visiting.  This time I bought a cheap but recent blackberry that’s designed for use in other countries.

For computers we have an iPad and a little netbook.  We’re trying to keep the electronics to a minimum.  I don’t think we’ll have anything stolen but I don’t want to be crying about anything expensive if our stuff does end up missing.

The clothes we are packing as light as possible.  1 pair of jeans each for when we’re on the bike, a few shirts, some socks, some knickers and a swimsuit or two.  I can’t begin to describe the lack of space.  The thing that takes up most room in the bag is shoes.  I bought a pair of trainers that squish down into nothing but I’m also taking a set of dress shoes.  Double that with Anna’s and that’s most of our bag right there.

The Shadow doesn’t come with a center stand so I ordered one and will mount it before we leave.  I will need to be working on the bike a ton and I wasn’t about to waste bag space on a jack.  It was kind of expensive ( $180 ) considering it’s just a hunk of steel and a couple of springs.

Un Mes Más

December 3, 2011

In a little less than a month Anna and I start our journey from the US to Ushuia (the bottom of South America) and back with a quick detour to Anchorage Alaska.  The trip will be at least 40,000 miles and take about 6-7 months.  The really fun part is our budget.

Our mission:

To set foot in every country in North, South and Central America.  Meet amazing people in amazing places and return with all appendages intact.

The bike:

A 2006 Honda Shadow 750 with very little modification.  Engine guards for the inevitable crashes and mustang seats for the inevitable aching butt.  The total space available in the luggage on the bike is less than what is  allowed in a carry on suitcase.  A set of saddlebags for the bike gear and a main bag on the back for our clothes.

The motorcycle is completely the wrong bike for the trip but she’s pretty and we love her still.  Typically, for a trip like this you would take something more like an enduro or a touring bike.  Our girl is a street bike made for nice paved roads, not for snow covered mountain roads or dirt highways in south Argentina.

My companion:

A recent GMU grad named Anna Gochenour who is not afraid of what is ahead.  Anna is most excited about the beaches of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and the famous nightlife of Sao Paulo, Brazil.


Wish us luck!