Well I made it. Riding the last 160 miles from Portland to Seattle seemed like the easiest thing ever after 500+ mile days. Not that many miles on roads I know well. That said I was actually more concerned about todays miles then I’d been about most miles in my journey. Not because they were technical, but because I know well enough that most accidents happen close to home. Plus someone had told me a story about a couple that had done some big long journey and never ran into any trouble until they got within a mile from home, and then they had some horrible accident and were in the hospital for a very long time. The closer I got to home the more diligent I became about my SEE strategy (lord, I’m a dork! That’s for any moto instructors out there that might be reading this!). Fortunately I was able to keep myself from zoning out, keep both hands on the handlebars (I’d picked up the bad habit in Baja of riding with only the throttle hand, thanks to a sore shoulder and lots of miles) and keep focused on all the crazies around me.
Pulling into home territory was uber weird. I was happy to be home but after so many miles not knowing where I was, or at least not being familiar with where I was it was strange to really know again. Yup, I know what’s down that road. There are no cliffs and it doesn’t turn to dirt. Seems almost strange really.
I have a few thoughts on what I’d like to change about my trip that I plan on writing about, maybe tomorrow or the next day. Not because I think anyone who is interested in going to Baja should do what I’ll be saying, but these things are something to think about. Each person’s mileage may vary of course. But for now I’d like to post some of my favorite pictures and talk of some of the highlights of my trip before I forget.
One of the best interactions (or certainly the more memorable) was actually at a military checkpoint. I was waiting for the car in front of me and the guard next to me asked me something in Spanish. Seeing that I couldn’t respond he asked if I spoke Spanish. No, I’d tried to learn but nothing stuck. Fortunately he spoke English. Where was I going? Where was I coming from? Originally Seattle. I know Seattle he said! And Tacoma, Olympia and then he really shocked me. Puyallup! No one from the northwest would probably claim that they knew Puyallup. But there he said it. I was born there! I said. Really? Yeah! It was fantastic to have someone know where you’re from. Why that is I don’t know, but I do know that having a conversation in a land where that is rare is a real treat. To top it off with someone who has been to your hometown is beyond excellent. The fact that this happened at a checkpoint oddly makes it all the better. We’re all just people and sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get to find the connections.
Another great exchange happened oddly at the McDonalds. An old Mexican man walked up to me and asked me something about the bike. I couldn’t figure out what he was saying and he was getting a little exasperated with me. It sounded like he was asking what make it was, but with the BMW logo all over the bike (and me for that matter) that just didn’t make sense. Turns out that was what he was asking and I was only confused because I thought it was obvious. Eventually he said to me in half Spanish and half English that see, he spoke a little English. I replied in my horribly broken half Spanish and mostly English that I spoke a little Spanish. We had a great laugh at each other and ourselves, connecting in how bloody hard it is to learn another language after the age of say, 3. It doesn’t seem like much but his desire to just talk and our shared lack of ability to do so was both funny and uplifting.
And now for some of my favorite pictures and some captions, since I couldn’t really upload much until now. (oh, and forgive me if I’ve posted these before… I’m being too lazy to check on the few pictures I was actually able to upload).