By popular demand, I am doing to spend less time here on farkle, gear and mods and more on the “sparkle” 🙂 I am currently in Cuba, NM.  This is about 7000ft above see level.

So what have I been up to for the last couple of days?    Having stayed at the quaint KOA up in Las Vegas, I checked out Santa Fe for a little while.  I pulled over to chat with a random KLRista who turned out to be Ira Agins, the communications officer for the Iron Butt Association.  For my non-two wheeled readers, the IBA is an organization dedicated towards testing person endurance via long distance motorcycle riding.  It was nice chatting with you Ira.

Knowing that I am nearing Mexico, I didn’t want to new riding gear and proper tires too late.  Last night I stayed the Hostel 66 in Albuquerque — this is was good compromise between finding a campground and hitting a motel.  Knowing that I needed to be in the city the next day, it didn’t make a lot of sense to leave the city limits.  The staff were friendly and super laid back.  The room was super small but adequate.

I took care of my second course of Hep A/B vaccinations in Albuquerque.  The receptionist, mentioning having done some sociology course as college, was interested in my opinion about universal healthcare in Canada.  I attempted to offer some opinions.  What was interesting is that my Twinrix cost *twice* as much in the US as it did in Canada.  In Canada, this vaccine is *not* subsidized by the healthcare system.  So our receptionist friend and I learned an little bit more about this stuff as the doctor explained that the travel clinics in Canada are most likely buying vaccines at a “government rate” even thought the practice is private.  Not so in the US.  Interesting — and dammit, if I knew that I was going to pay *double* I would have planned better.  Live and learn.

So having been to *many* bikes stores between Michigan and Albuquerque, I have not had the *bless-ed* American shopping experience people speak of back home.  Honestly, it has been pretty frustrating trying to buy new tires and riding jacket and pants.  I suppose I have been shopping somewhat randomly but I have hit a lot of stores.  I guess the US as a great shopping Mecca is for those doing cross-border shopping and discount stores.

So eventually I had to make the decision about tires and riding gear.  There are only several major urban centers beyond Albuquerque and the Arizona/Mexico border.  It turned out that Sandia BMW in Albuquerque had some stuff that interested me.   Was it worth the risk to wait until Phoenix/Tuscon to more selection or a better deal?  I don’t think so.  It seems that most of the “dual-sport” or dirt oriented bike stores focus on smaller bikes meant for burning around the NM desert.  This is totally valid.

That said, “adventure gear” is not really found in these stores.  I ended up purchasing some TKC80 tires and an Olympia X-Moto jacket and pants combo.  I have a love/hate with Olympia for various reasons, but I am rather smitten with this gear so far.  I think I will be happier with it than the Speed and Strength Hell and Back stuff I had my eye one.

I want to give props to Sandia BMW — or at least the Motorrad guys.  Unlike some other Beemer/Bimmer dealerships I have been to, these guys presented themselves more as riders who happen to have a BMW or work for BMW.  They were very helpful including helping to ship my old gear home.  Pssst.  A least one guy who works there owns a KLR 😉

So…having complete my gear and tire purchases, my vaccinations, and earlier, beefing up my security with some home made stainless steel cables (manufactured by yours truly in the aisle of the local Lowes hardware store), I headed north-west with little knowledge or intention of were I was going to spend the night.  So writing from Cuba, I had initially attempted to go camp in the wild within the National Forest but I had started my search late and didn’t have detailed enough maps.  It was a pretty cool ride though.  It is very dark here right now and while attempted to find the Forest, I ended up doing a short spurt of dusty red dual track.  This was the first time that I got to test the TKC80s and new riding gear off the tarmack, and as well, my HID lights that I installed shortly before the start of the trip.  Using them as they were meant to be used, the HIDS really lit up the dual track — the were quite fabulous and all that I expected.  I haven’t had that much fun in a long time — but, alas, I was riding towards someone’s ranch and the signs indicated that trespassing was a big no-no.  So I gave up and found a motel.

So, I should say, that since I have cleared Albuquerque, my trip has “officially” started.  Toronto to Albuquerque via Chicago was basically a “commute”.  With my shots, tires and jacket/pants taken care of, I am well on my way.  I still need to pick up a heavier pair of boots.  What I really want probably won’t be obtainable so I will probably try to buy a pair of the most flexible motocross boots I can find.  Riding up the dual track tonight reminded my that my road boots were great for the ride out, but time to get something with more ankle and sole support.

All-and-all, today has been pretty darn good.  I have solid 50/50 (road/dirt tires) and gear that handles a multitude of weather conditions.  Hey — when I started out, it was about 35 degrees Celsius down in Albuquerque and it is about 25 degrees lower up here in Cuba.