Oct 19

And I Am Home


Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/19/and-i-am-home/

Oct 19

The Ride Home – In Two Day

Sleeping in Balmorhea was like sleeping under a bright light.  The full moon covered everything with a layer of pale silver.  When I woke up, the sun was starting to peek out of the East, behind one of the mountains.  Yesterday morning was the last camping morning.  So, I took my time and prepared my last portion of [freeze dried] scrambled eggs and bacon, and took out the portable espresso coffee maker to prepare a good old cup of java.  Out of one of he pockets in my jacket came a piece of graham-toffee fudge, which I had saved from several days ago, when I stopped by an old lady’s coffee shop in Moab.  Still rich and delicious.
From there it was time to pack the tent, which was drenched in dew, and get the sheep skin from the BeMWu’s seat over to the bathroom to dry it under the stream of hot air from the hand dryer. I packed up, and was on the road.  It was a warm sunny day.  What else could I ask for?  Just as I left the campsite I had noticed that in the distance, there seemed to be an interesting ‘wall’ of clouds that started at ground level,  and separate the area from the mountains.  I had not been riding for more than 15 miles, when I came into contact with said ‘wall’.  It almost felt like Balmorhea had been inside the ‘Dome’ [I must confess I have never watched the TV series though].  The experience of riding through this ‘wall’ was quite surreal.  I could make the ghostly shape of the eighteen-wheelers in front of me, while I navigated in this very bright white mist, with a deep blue sky right above.  Fog is the closest way to describe it, but it certainly has a different feel to it.
After clearing the ‘wall’ I continued on IH-10 for a few miles until I was able to get off the interstate and onto 190.  I had been so happy at the start of the day to not have to wear so many layers, but now, as far as the eye could see, which granted in my case is not as fas as it should, the sky was pewter colored and threatening with heavy rains.  So out came the rain suit, and the tick was riding again.  Highway 90 leads to Iraan, and from there on West, through a series of wonderful hills and mountains.  This is prime motorcycle riding slab.  I rode in my tick suit for about 100 miles until I reached El Dorado.  Not a single drop of rain had fallen on me.  At that point it looked like the sky had started to clear, and I was able to put away the rain gear.  From El Dorado it was a short hop to IH-10 again, for a brief stint on the Interstate, and then back to back roads, just past Junction, where I got on 290.  Wow, awesome road for biking again, all the way to Fredericksburg.  Past that I took a series of FM roads that took me through Luckenbach, where some kinda big time motorcycle rally was going on, and then to Blanco, and finally, 410 miles from Balmoreah, Wimberley.  It almost seems like tradition that I do get rained on every year on the when I ride into Wimberly.  Yesterday was full of clues pointing towards the continuation of that tradition.  Finally, 30 miles from Wimberley, a few drops of rain, and a light drizzle kept the tradition alive. 
In Wimberley I was finally reunited with my sweetheart Sandra, and we spent the night in the guest house of our dear friends Gale and Lucy Wiley.  Dinner was a wonderful treat courtesy of Don and Nan Perkins, where we spent a good part of the evening conversing about the latest government shenanigans.
Today I ride back home, with Sandra pulling sag wagon duties.  I will have covered a bit less than the projected 5,000 miles that I initially set out to do.  By the time I make it home, I expect to have raked in about 4,200 miles or so.  It has been a very interesting two weeks.  A combination of beauty, and weather challenges, unexpected events and unexpected finds.  I have learned a lot.
This is to be the last entry for the 2endslavery ride of 2013.  I am so thankful to all of those who have contributed to the mission of this journey, which is to support, not me, but the amazing and dedicated work of International Justice Mission, and the Polaris Project, as they tirelessly work for those that are, today, enslaved, and to keep others from becoming victim tomorrow.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/19/the-ride-home-in-two-day/

Oct 17

The final stretch – almost

Yesterday was essentially a driving day.  My route would have taken me East of Albuquerque, over the Sandia Mountains.  However, once again, temperature played a role, and I had to rethink my way to Midland.  So, instead, I took IH 25 to Socorro, going South instead of East, and from there, on beautiful 380 towards Roswell.  Beautiful landscape over all, and the fact that I was not totally freezing, just partially, did a lot for my mood.  I had a couple of good encounters in Carrizozo, where I stopped for lunch, and spent some time with fellow riders, who were headed to Taos, talking about the Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery issue.
For the most it was a day of riding.  I was very happy when I arrived at our friend Sherry’s house.  She provided a wonderful meal, and we spent quite a bit of time talking about both the complexities of human trafficking under the law, its implementation, and how, in the end, is the making a difference at the individual level where we can see some of our work.  However, we also talked about God’s call for stewardship of our lives, and our world, and how we need to honor the gifts that we are given, and act when we see injustice.  Some will be called to act at a local level, and some at the systemic level.  Some will be called to act in one area, and some in another.  Nonetheless, we cannot remain silent in the face of injustice.
Today has been quite different.  While yesterday called for a 460 mile stretch of road, today I had planned to only ride about 140.  However, instead of going East and closer to home, I went West, to Balmorhea State Park.  The whole idea was to not spend the whole day in the saddle, but  rather to arrive early, and spend the day in reading and meditation, as well as prayer.  I made it to the park by about 1:30.  I took the back roads to get here, and had lunch in the town of Balmoreah.  Believe it or not, this has been the first meal with tortillas I have had in the last two weeks.  Since the weather is supposed to remain nice, this meaning no lower that 52 tonight, I decided to do the last tent stint of the trip.
After setting camp up, I spent a great deal of time reading another Chapter of The Just Church.  Today’s reading spoke a lot to me because the author shares how, even though he is a pastor, he has reached many a breaking point when facing injustice.  In the end, he has had to put all of his faith in God, trusting that He does actually care about all victims of injustice.  Something very similar has been brewing within me.  Even though I had been putting a lot of effort in becoming involved in the battle against human trafficking, and have become very familiar with specific cases, and with demographics, that paint a horrific picture about the suffering that modern day slavery brings to millions of people, it was the massacre at Sandy Hook which started in me an erosion of faith, and a systemic questioning.  At the same time, the flame that has burned to intensely inside of me has lost some of its fire.  I realize now that in many ways I have not lost faith in God, I am losing faith in humanity.

This is where the turning point arrives then.  As I was finishing my reading tonight, I have realized that I was also coasting in my own actions.  I found a set of practices that I felt was keeping me engaged in the process, week in-week out, year in-year out.  I see now that I need to revise my own engagement, and continue to move forward, exercising the stewardship of the gifts I have been given.  The challenge ahead: to draw on a new plan.  Just like every day of this ride I was forced to revise my plans due to changing circumstances, in my engagement in the battle against modern day slavery, I need to constantly revise my course of action.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/17/the-final-stretch-almost/

Oct 15

A day in New Mexico: encounters of the unexpected kind

I did not write yesterday primarily because I was tired, but also, because there was not much to report on.  I left Moab a bit later than I wanted to, mainly because the morning temperatures in Monticello, UT, and Cortez, CO, were being reported in the 30s.  Given that it had rained the night before, I did not want to risk black ice encounters.  I am also not a big fan of riding in cold weather.  This has been a major crimp on this trip, and it has taken some of the joy and purpose away from it.  This is because the constant rerouting, and then the physical wear and tear of the travel has left my spirit with very little desire to take time for meditation and introspection.  Yesterday was probably the coldest riding day of the trip, and I was so bundled up that I felt like the little kid in “The Christmas Story”, like a gorged tick about to explode.
The landscape itself was beautiful, but I always experience a sense of loss when I leave the red and black navajo sandstone behind me.  I made it to Albuquerque about 5:30, arriving at the Bieniarz house, where I always feel so wonderfully welcomed, and experience very warm hospitality.
Today was spent primarily in Santa Fe, a short 45 miles away from Albuquerque, where I arrived around noon.  One objective was to get to the Sandia BMW dealership to get a new front tire.  While the one I had seemed to have enough thread to take me to Houston, I had been bothered over the last few days about the fact that some cracks were showing around the pucks.  What was totally unexpected was that as I rolled into the dealership I saw two motorcycles in the parking lot that I recognized immediately.  They belong to Simon and Lisa Thomas.  These are two Brits that many years ago sold all their belongings and decided to travel around the world by motorcycle as long as they were having fun.  Sandra and I met them in Houston at one of their presentations, and they inspired me to step out of my comfort zone and experience the life I had been longing for.  So, my own long motorbike touring trips were inspired by them.  It was David Batstone, and the Not For Sale campaign, that inspired me to do this with a purpose, and this is, in part how the 2endslavery process got started. 
Simon and Lisa are in Santa Fe, and tomorrow will be making another presentation.  We spent quite a bit of time talking and sharing experiences.  This was quite the unexpected treat.  Now I can say I have photos with 6 ‘famous’ people: Simon and Lisa, Allan Bean, Edward James Olmos, Sandra Organ, and Adelina M. Solis M.
While I was at the dealership, Roxi and Peter Weston, dear friends from Houston, and who spend time in Santa Fe regularly, came to pick me up.  We had a great time eating lunch, and visiting the market place and the local basilica.  From there it was back to Mark and Stephanie’s for an evening with the boys, and a tasting of Taos Burbon.
While I waited for the day to warm up, I spent more time reading The Just Church, by Jim Martin, and thinking about the true magnitude of my worries, irritations, and concerns, and comparing those to the ones of people who historically, or presently, experience real problems, and oppression.   The search for my true mission in life continues, and I hope that, as Martin calls for in the book, I can find the courage, and the way, to step out in faith and trust, to follow and serve where I am called to do so.
Tomorrow I am off to Midland, Texas.  410ish miles.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/15/a-day-in-new-mexico-encounters-of-the-unexpected-kind/

Oct 13

Starting the Long Way Back Home

Let me start by asking you to consider making a donation tonight.  Here are the donation links for IJM and the Polaris Project.  I have reached they half way point of my journey, but their work seems never ending.
Tomorrow morning I embark on the first leg of the journey home.  I will be riding between Moab, UT, and Albuquerque, NM.  This 300 plus mile leg should see me,. God willing, at the house of Mark and Stephanie B.  This seems to be now part of the ritual.
Today I got up at 7 to gusty winds.  Dawg, I thought.  This is no good for bicycling.  Still, if nothing else, the last few days have showed me that it pays to not make assumptions.  So, I headed out to the bicycle rental place, and, after getting a mountain bike with 29 inch wheels, dual  suspension, and hydraulic disc brakes [really?] is was off on the shuttle to the Slick Rock bike trails. I will just say that I was no match for even the practice look.  This business is in now way anything like road biking.  The equipment used in both vaguely resembles each other but the skills and riding style, are so vastly different that I could not get anything done.  However, this does not mean that there was no fun to be had.  I spent the next 4 hours riding the gravel roads atop of this area, along with getting on jeep tracks that ran over the slick rock, and downhilling it from there.  WOW, what a thrill.  I pushed the bike up  this gigantic smooth rock, and rode down maddeningly fast, jumping and bumping for until I reached the bottom, only to repeat it again.  What was so amazing about this was that this is something I would not have been able to do on the BeMWu.  The slow pace, and the new opportunities that the bicycle provided, opened up a whole new set of freedoms to explore, absorb and experience.  This was true the rest of the time I was on the bike, as I rode Moab’s bicycle friendly paths, all the way to the Colorado River.  It is truly amazing what this community is doing to promote bicycling.  From bicycle friendly paths in the city, to bicycle specific ways along the major canyons.  They even close road sections while they develop new, fancy, bicycle ways.
Once I finished the cycling section of the day, I still needed to talk one more motorcycle ride.  Scenic Byway 128 parallels the Colorado River in an East, North-East direction.  It cuts through majestic canyons of red oxide cliffs.  Just miraculous!  The road is a motorbiker’s paradise, with winding sections and up and down hills.  My objective was to reach the Fisher Towers, a majestic group of rocks, that, well, towers up into the air.  Along the road, I stopped to get some pictures,   and I met two ladies that, if I had to guess were in their sixties, and who were about to finish the La Sal loop [60 miles].  Sandra and Barbara, we have a new goal here. 
Further down the road I decided to take another turn away from the road I already knew, and explore the road to Castle Valley.  Wow, what a great choice.  This leads into a valley [duh] which is flanked by a gigantic rock formation what looks like a Castle on top of a hill, and two small towers on a crest next to it.  Totally awesome.  From there it was back to the scenic byway.  I did get to see the Fisher Towers from the distance, since the road the leads to it is a dirt road, and while it seemed doable on the BeMWu, I have learned not to venture on dirt roads when I am by myself.
It is now dinner time.  After I submit this it will be time to go to my cabin, pack and go to bed.  First thing tomorrow, get a stack of pancakes and hit the road.  I am feeling tremendously blessed today by the gifts and opportunities that I had the choice to experience because I am free,  Please help others enjoy freedom by making a donation to IJM or the Polaris Project.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/13/starting-the-long-way-back-home/

Oct 12

A Crown Jewel and a Small Tail of the Dragon

This is starting to sound like a broken record, or like we would say in Guatemala. a scratched disc.  So here it goes: “What a difference a day makes” or in this case, “What a difference a few hours make”.  I awakened in another funk. Pretty down with the weather and the seeming lack of experiences.  Trying to figure out how to make this reach the deep levels of excitement and plain old ‘This is what I am talking about’ kinda feeling.  Surely, staying in the cabin was not gonna do it.  So, I just grabbed my stuff and rode into town.  I went over to the bicycle place and they were not doing canyon tours.  Dog!@,  Strike One.  Well, funk is better addressed with a full stomach, so I went to grab breakfast and after getting some protein in me I decided that I needed to create the moment.  So I called the camp site, ask them to extend me for another night in Moab, and then went over to the bicycle rental place and reserved one for tomorrow.  If they were not doing tours, I would make my own.  From there, following Beat’s advice, I was off to look for Corona Arch.
The initial approach is through the same road that takes you from Moab to Arches National Park.  However, before you get there, you take a left hand turn on to Utah 279.  The turn is actually marked as the road to Potash.  I had seen this before, and it always struck me as a road that leads off to some kinds industrial complex on the side of the road.  It seemed at first like a dud. However, all of the sudden you find yourself flanked by the Colorado River on your left, and the most incredible red cliffs on your right.  The cliffs are adorned by the black patina that characterizes the area, and turned out to be a rock climbers paradise.  The cliffs also are adorned, in a couple of places, with ancient petroglyphs.
This was plain old bliss.  I made it to the parking area for the Corona Arch trailhead.  I changed into hiking clothes, and off I was.  The mile and a half hike is a bit more strenuous than one would think, but is is well worth it. Leading to Corona Arch you actually come across two more arches, but nobody pays any attention, seemingly.  To me though, an arch is one of the treasures and gifts of creation.  Even though there were a number of people on the trail and at the site, this is still a less visited site, when compared to Arches National Park.  So, when I finally saw the Corona Arch, I was in heaven.  Corona Arch is a partly freestanding arch with a 140-foot by 105-foot opening. It sits at the edge of the canyon, and next to it is Bowtie Arch, which looks more like a skylight to me.  WIth the blue sky shining through it, I decided, that this is so good, that this would be a good alternative site to have my ashed spread.  Are you listening Sandra and Adelina?
From all this you may justly infer that I finally beat my funk.  Indeed, Corona Arch can definitely be considered one of the crown jewels in my book.
I spent the next several hours walking around in the area, getting off the path and exploring.  At some point, when I ran out of water, it was time to head back to Moab and get lunch.  While waiting for my meal to arrive, I decided that there would be no grander way to end the day than to got watch the sunset at Grand View Point in Canyonlands.  So off I was and indeed it was grand.  You will have to wait for the pictures until I get back. 
Oh yes, and whit is this Dragon Tail business? Well, in almost every motorcycle rider bucket list is riding the tail of the dragon, which is a segment of road in North Carolina which is 11 miles long and has 311 curves. Well, in the last 0.9 miles of road, leading to the Grand View lookout, there are 23 curves. I always considered this exiting little segment my mini Tail of the Dragon.
In the meantime, Good Nite.  And if you like all the stories that freedom makes possible, please consider donating to IJM.  They make freedom possible for those who are otherwise denied.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/12/a-crown-jewel-and-a-small-tail-of-the-dragon/

Oct 11

Getting to the Middle of the Journey

I skipped writing yesterday because not much of consequence happened.  I basically tried to sit tight in Page, but the wandering spirit kept calling, so I made an attempt to ride over to the Navajo National Monument [since it is run by the Navajo, the Feds cannot keep them from running it 🙂 ]  However, the brief moment of morning sunlight turned into a chilly wind, and rain started advancing towards me as I rode.  So, I did a 360 and made it back to Page, where I hung out with Beat [pronounce Beh-at], a dentist from Switzerland, and a fellow BMW rider.  We ate Texas BBQ, which was really good, and exchanged travel tips.  Towards late afternoon, it cleared enough for me to go get some more shots of the Canyonlands Dam [closed of course] and then I rode out to Antelope Point where I nabbed what I think will turn out so be some pretty awesome photos, and managed to strike a conversation with a guard.  One of the things that came up,. was the fact that people who have been on the 15 year waiting list to raft down the Grand Canyon were out of luck.   WOW! talk about peeved.
I left Page this morning.  I packed the BeMWu under the admiring gaze of a boat load of German tourists that were boarding a tour bus.  I guess it was a bus load then.  What a difference a day, and some better preparation, can make.  Part of my route was the same one I attempted in the morning yesterday.  One of the things that makes it hard to leave Page is the fact that the landscape, not matter which direction you go, is magnificent.  So, even in the cold of the morning, it was great, and sad, to be on the road, leaving all this beauty behind.  It did help to know that I was headed to Monument Valley, and then Moab, via Newspaper Rock in Canyonlands. It is hard for me to recap it all.  I must say that I have never approached Monument Valley from the West and South.  It is probably more amazing.  There were spots along the way that made me laugh.  For example, when I crossed the bridge at Mexican Hat a few years ago I had dismounted to take a few photos, and a dog seemed to take exception to my invading his territory.  I did come quite close to getting bitten.  With all the beauty around, the cold wind was still getting to me and fatigue was mounting.  As I made it to Blanding, I saw dark clouds ahead of me and courtains of rain.  Enough.  All I needed to do now was to make it to Moab, and skip Newspaper Rock.  However, as I cleared a high pass, the rain stayed behind me and when I got to the turn off to Newspaper Rock I decided to ahead and stick it out.  I rode the 12 miles to the rock.  The road has postings warning that this area is open range, and sure enough, the cows in the area made sure that the little yellow metal diamonds on a stick were telling no lies.  In about 3 different places, the cows did not seem to care that their hooves were trampling on asphalt, and the BeMWu just made them jump around.  This made for interesting games of ‘Guess which way the calf will jump, and the biker will go’.  I finally made it to the rock, which bears a collection of pictographs that were put there by people from several points in history.  The surrounding oaks announce that fall is indeed here, their leaves turning yellow.
From the Rock to Moab was just another 45 minutes.  Signs on the side of the road happily announce that the Parks in the area are actually open.  As it turns out, starting tomorrow, they will open at 8 am.  The governor Utah figured out a deal with the Feds to allow him to open the parks, on the state’s $ so that those whose livelihood depends to these precious assets can still make a living.
For me this means that I will visit Corona Arch tomorrow, outside Arches, and then Arches itself.
So, after a week on the road, I have seen more cold that I care for, more make it  up as you go than ever before, and laid down over 2,000 miles in tracks.  I am in some kind of funk, in awe on one side, and desperately wishing for sunlight and warmth.
Day after tomorrow will start the rode back home.  I am basically escaping this fall that feels like winter, and wishing for warm nights and days.   

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/11/getting-to-the-middle-of-the-journey/

Oct 10

Horseshoe Bend


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Oct 10

Changing plans and feeling like quitting

With only 180 or so miles to Marble Canyon, the plan for today had been to sleep in a bit later, have breakfast, and spend some time exploring the Homolovi ruins, before taking off.  However, I did not sleep too well.  My dislocated right collar bone keeps me from sleeping on my side for long, and sleeping on my back is something I have never been able to do.  So, I was up just before sunrise.  As has been my habit now, I checked the weather forecast, not only in the Homolovi ruins area, but also ahead to Marble Canyon.  A weather warning was in effect.  A Pacific system was moving into the area, bringing rain on Thursday, but ahead of it, strong winds between 20-25 mph, with gusts of 50 mph.  Not good.  Since I was supposed to able make it to Marble Canyon by 10:30 am if I left early, my best bet was to get packed and leave.  And so I did.  The only sightseeing I was able to get in was a ride through Winslow, taking a segment of the Old Route 66.
I was then on Interstate 40 towards Flagstaff, for about 50 miles.  The temperature was in the 40s, but with the wind chill generated by the movement of the motorcycle it certainly felt lower.  Still, I was bundled up and feeling pretty good.  However, with more than 30 miles to go West on IH-40 until my turn North on AZ highway 89, the predicted winds started hitting me with a fury from the South.  I was riding the right lane, being pushed sideways from the center of the lane to the white line to my right.  I started to lower the speed, and turned on my hazard lights being afraid that a big 18 wheeler might plow me down.  Fortunately they had to slow down too, though not as much as me.  This was nerve racking, and I felt my upper torso starting to tighten up with tension.  The only relief came from the brief moments when a trailer truck would pass me on the left, forming a temporary protective wall.  For a while I tried to keep up with them, but that did not work for long, since the FedEx truck I was shadowing showed me his displeasure of being locked onto the left lane.  So, my only hope was that as I turned North onto 89, the wind would be blowing from behind me, and things would improve. 
Just outside Flagstaff I turned onto 89 and things did indeed improve.  The wind was not as bad, but the temperature at 7,000 was still bone chilling.  Even though the whole process only lasted for about 1 hr, I was still contemplating giving up.  Thoughts of, ‘I hate this’, ‘This is not fun’, ‘This is the last one, and ‘I am too old for this’ were filling my mind.  Even with such a short ‘treatment’, I could relate to the life of victims of trafficking, whose minds are systematically broken through physical and emotional abuse, creating the chains of their captivity. 
Thankfully for me, I came to a gas station in Cameron, and after resting for a moment, a fresh cup of coffee, and a glance at the map, I felt like moving further.  However, while I was there, I rechecked the weather warnings.  They also mentioned that the rain predicted for Thursday could possible freeze, and there was also a chance for snow.  Another change of plans.  I could see, and actually wanted, spending the night near Marble Canyon, however, I did not want to drive in the rain, with a chance of sleet and snow, and spending an additional day there was not what I had in mind.  So, I rerouted and headed to Page, AZ, one of my favorites spots in the Four Corners area, where I would hunker down on Thursday.  The landscape started to open, and warm up, after Cameron, and the desert landscape, made up of red slick rock, and sands that range from grey, to yellow, orange, red and brown, filled my eyes. This is the kind of imagery that keeps me coming back.  My mind set was no longer on quitting.  Instead it was on rethinking my route to deal with the new challenges of riding in weather I am not used to, and dealing with the government closures of National Parks.
Another thing that the ladies at the gas station in Cameron had told me was that I would need to reroute into Page since 89 would not go all the way.  Ahead of me were 30 miles of more glorious scenery, until, right in the middle of nowhere, like the ladies said, I came to a gas station, and a road to the right.  On this I rode into Page, and after settling into my hotel, I was off to Horseshoe Bend, just 3 miles up to road  The place seemed like a shrine.  Tons of people were making their way up the red sand dune and down to the edge of the deep u-shaped river bed, hundreds of feet deep, carved in the red sedimentary sandstone, by the deep green river at the bottom.  I spent the next hour or more there, listening to people marvel at the Bend in all sorts of languages.  Among them was a man from the Netherlands, with whom I spent quite a bit of time in conversation.  What was more endearing about it was that he looked like my dear friend Matthias Kuch.  That is if Matthias was 70 years old 🙂

More tomorrow.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/10/changing-plans-and-feeling-like-quitting/

Oct 09

From South to North

This is where I start losing count.  I think it is day five, but …  It was great to sleep at the hotel last night.  Not only was the bed warm, spacious, and soft,  I did not have to pack tent, and all the sleeping stuff in the morning.  This meat that I was ready to go within 30 minutes.  I left Rio Rico by 6:45 am and headed North, and North West for a while, towards Tucson.  A good part of the morning was spent just marveling at the wonderful expanse of the desert, and particularly the saguaros. While for many, they are pretty much a spiny, giant, green trident stuck in the ground, to me they offer a seemingly endless variety of shapes and sizes.  Moreover, the also provide refuge to many a creature, especially pigmy owls, which build nests in the cactus itself.
For a couple of days I have been annoyed by a chatter that seems to come from the front end of the bike.  It is especially pronounced at speeds adobe 68 mph.  It bothers me because it adds vibration to the handlebars, and that makes me tired sooner. So, pulling out my cell phone at a stop, I looked up BMW dealerships in the area.  It just so happened [really?] that there was a dealership in Chandler, and it would only take me 4 miles off course.  My suspicion was that since a new front tired was mounted just a couple of weeks ago, they had messed up the wheel balancing job.
I rolled in to the service department of the Victory BMW dealers in Chandler.  I explained the issue and they quickly offered to check the balance.  While waiting they wondered if this had just started happening as I started the trip.  I really could not tell.  Soon they came back from the shop and said the rim balanced checked perfectly.  However, they suggested I stiffen the rear suspension since the added weight of the luggage and camping gear could mess the feel up.  Final bill? $10.00  WOW! This is the first time I leave a Beamer dealership with a $10 charge.  However, more importantly, the young crew started asking questions about the journey and all the stuff about 2endslavery written on the bike.  Divine appointment!  I was able to share with them the mission of the trip.  They also allowed me to leave brochures in the waiting area of the service department so that others can become aware, and they took one with them to study.  Awesome again.
From Chandler it was off to Mesa and from there the real treat started.  The road between Mesa and Payson, and especially between Payson and Winslow is absolutely majestic.  You climb on a highway surrounded by red rocks, and encrusted with saguaros for what seems an eternity.  The saguaros then disappear and conifers become dominant.  You spend most of this section crossing the Tonto and then the Coconino forests. Under the deep blue skies, you climb roads, while the temperatures drop as you reach altitudes of over 7,200 feet.  The road climbs and drops, and climbs again, as sweeping curves make you angle the bike in sweet delight.  What glory.
And then, all of the sudden, the pines disappear, and at 5,500 feet above sea level, it all gets replaces by pale yellow grasses and spiny shrub.  A bit later, Winslow comes into view, and to the East, the Homolovi State park.  Here is where I camp tonight.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.jaderiderjourneys.com/2endslavery/2013/10/09/from-south-to-north/

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