From The Hill March 20, 2020: The State Department on Thursday also advised all Americans to avoid international travel or arrange for prompt return to the U.S. unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an extended period of time. Pompeo warned Friday that individuals who do decide to travel abroad could see their plans significantly disrupted.
(Note: This is a long post, just trying to wrap up the trip. Hope you enjoy.)
By March 20th we were halfway into our trip and the limited news we were receiving was getting more and more disturbing. As we rode south we had been noticing large caravans of trucks, vans and campers driving north while we were on mostly deserted roads riding south.
Tuesday March 17. “This is a pandemic,” President Donald Trump said at a March 17 press conference. “I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
The nice thing about travelling in Mexico is that we very seldom watch any television. The hotels have them, of course, but after a day of riding we are usually too tired to even turn it on and if we did, my limited (but improving) Spanish made the content rather useless. We were becoming more and more isolated from the cares of the “civilized” world and focused our energies on the road ahead.
We had a plan. A plan to ride with some friends to Baja California Mexico in March 2020 just as the world wide pandemic was starting to spread in the United States. One of the first US viral hot spots? Seattle, our city of departure.
Ok, this will be a different blog post from the others. This was the first time we ever traveled on a guided motorcycle tour. We went on this one because our friends Art and Carol from Mexico were going and invited us to ride along. Well, why not!
We woke to a damp cool Saturday morning at the Hotel las Grandes. Our room had a great view overlooking the dam and Embalse de Salime (Salime reservior), it was beautiful but I knew we would be in for a cool day of riding. We needed to be in Lisbon Portugal on Monday so we had a few more days to explore the area. The direct route to Lisbon would be 446 miles but that would be too easy so instead of heading south we went north back to the coast.
Dangerousroads.org lists the road to Cain as one of the most dangerous roads in Spain. A quick check of a map showed we were within 300 miles of this deadly road so we quickly decided to route south through the Parque Nacional de Los Picos de Europa and take the long way around to meet our friend Emily in Donosta San Sebastian on the northern coast.
As a “dangerous road” I wouldn’t really say it was too life threatening but it was a beautiful road through a narrow canyon.
It’s hard for Deby to keep her eyes on the road when riding past shear rock walls.
(Note: Want to see our exact route?? CLICK HERE for the route on Google Maps. Click boxes on the left of the map to select days. )
Sometimes the best plan is no plan…. We only had a rough idea where to ride in Spain with the exception that we wanted to visit Deby’s friend Emily in Monpazier, France, a small town a “short way” over the border. We had 10 days so how hard would it be to ride to France and be back to Lisbon in time for the guided tour? Right….
I’m going to blame Art Bone and his wife Carol for being a bad influence. If you read my recent post from March in Mexico (HERE) you may remember Art and Carol from the Hacienda tour. During our time together Art mentioned that they had reservations for a Portugal “Premium Tour” with a company called MotoXplorers in Portugal. Carol asked Deby if we would like to go, and without hesitation (or asking me?) she enthusiastically replied YES!
Next thing I know we are enrolled for their 10 day guided motorcycle tour in the middle of September. Ten days? Well, that’s just not long enough to justify the long flight and travel costs. After some research we decided to fly to Lisbon, Portugal at the beginning of September and rent BMW motorcycles for our own tour of Spain to get “warmed up” for the guided Portugal tour.
Thanks for all the comments on my last post. Writing these posts is fun and a good way for me to relive some of the adventure we’ve had this past year. The other purpose is to jog my memory if I ever am asked about a certain trip or place, and hopefully, I put enough information about roads and hotels that should anyone want to re-create one of these trips (like me!) it can be done.
Just a little more before I get on with the trip report….. Thanks Richard for the note and mentioning our 2013 trip to South America with Keith and Dave (link here: https://advdonnh.com/motoraid-ii/). That trip was the basis of Keith’s book, “The Whole Story” available at Keith’s site: http://www.keithsrides.com/the-whole-story.html and that trip is what really launched Deby and I to feel confident enough to explore Latin America on motorcycles.
We had a reunion of sorts in November at the LeMay Museum in Tacoma. I’m glad to report everyone is doing great. Here is a picture:
From left to right: Jim (Doc), Janice and Dave, Michael, Deby and Donn, Chris, Ann and Keith
Yes, that’s Chris from our 2019 Patagonia trip. So, on with the adventure……..
I’m writing this on New Year’s Day 2020. A new year and a new decade ahead, wow. Last year at this time Deby and I were getting ready fly to Patagonia and ride with Michael, Dee Dee and Chris for another visit to some of our favorite places in South America. I brought my laptop and managed to live-post on that trip from the road. Since then there hasn’t been much activity on this blog but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been busy!
In 2019 Deby and I rode motorcycles in Chile, Argentina, Mexico (twice), Canada, Spain and Portugal. That’s five countries and lots of miles, smiles, fun and good times. We didn’t start the year with that plan but it sort of just happened. We’ve met many friends along the way, new and old and everyone keeps asking if I’m going to keep up the blogging about our trips. Well, Yes! Let’s get caught up.