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October 31, 2009

Roaming Around The Planet

I found this post tonight on Reddit: I quit my job and have travelled for eight months through SE and Central Asia and the Caucuses.

I've been travelling since March this year through:

Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, China (incl Tibet and Xinjiang on the day of the riots), Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Karabakh and Russia.


Useful travel sites: http://www.couchsurfing.org- make friends and find somewhere to stay for free anywhere in the world, invite other travellers into your home and be inspired to travel http://wikitravel.org/ - I use this over guidebooks (I haven't found any guidebooks in most of the countries I've been to) http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/index.jspa - Lonely planet forums I also use wikipedia, search for my passports (Australian & Russian) to find where I can go visa free.

UPDATE: If you want to read more of my stories or want pics, look at my blog. Want to get into Tibet without a permit?, Changing currency in the Uzbekistan black market, Being offered heroin while crossing from Uzbekistan to Kazakhstan.

You can find me on Twitter and take a look at my couchsurfing profile.

Heading out to a halloween party and will answer questions when I'm back on the internet.

TL;DR I've been travelling the world for eight months, ask me anything or read the story from the beginning.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 31, 2009 at 9:01 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

2006 XR650R

I got the title to my 2006 Honda XR650R in the mail today from the California DMV. Woohoo! Like an early Christmas present. Now, I have a few options on what I can do with it. I could sell it, or I could throw the sand tire on it and take it out to Glamis for a spin around the dunes.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 31, 2009 at 5:33 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Trick or Treat at Obama's Whitehouse

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 31, 2009 at 3:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 30, 2009

The Trouble with Dreams

The trouble with all of this snow is that, when you get this much, it's too deep for the ATV's to take full advantage of. Oh, sure, you can plow your driveway and drive the ATV on the roads, but once the snow is three feet deep, it becomes too deep for any stock ATV. You can back up and get a full head of steam and plow off into it, but pretty soon you're just like an ice breaker pushing a big wall of snow/ice about headlight height and this only works for a little while on level ground. Going downhill is suicide because, if you get stuck going downhill, well you're screwed, obviously. But I got the green one out and busted loose with a little figure 8 on about about 1/2 acre. It's pretty fun because you're just bouncing around in it like a slot-car or a pinball in a chute. Turning the handlebars does next to nothing at this point. It's kinda fun, but it's more fun when you can take full advantage of the property and just roll all around pulling the sleds. Maybe tomorrow it will pack down enough so we make some longer runs for the sleds.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 30, 2009 at 6:20 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 29, 2009

Daily Photos

Above: Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) eating grass seeds.

Above: Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris).

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 29, 2009 at 10:31 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 28, 2009

October Blizzard Photos

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 28, 2009 at 11:14 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Global Warming Update

We're getting kicked in the teeth by global warming today. Really snowing hard now. We've got two feet and counting. Power is up and down like a yo-yo. Not sure how much longer this site will be up. Not supposed to let up until Thursday some time. Pray for us victims of Global Warming. Send a big fat contribution to Al Gore so he can save us from these stifling temperatures.

Update: Number of days since the last blizzard-induced power outtage at my house is Wednesday October 28th 2:00 p.m. MST - Friday April 17th 9:00 a.m. MDT. The time between blizzards is exactly 164 days and 5 hours. (If you discount the hour we're throwing away this weekend, then it was 164 days and 4 hours.)

So, imagine squeezing Spring, Summer and Fall into 5.4 months, and that's what we did, pretty much. Ouch.

And I'm like so clueless, that I've still got my hummingbird feeders up. I think the last hummingbird I saw was in Cabo though, so I figure I'll build a fire and pull down the hummingbird feeders. I've already filled both bath tubs with water. Pray for those of us suffering nobly from the wrath of Global Warming.

Maybe we should make a prayer for the victims of Global Warming. If everyone around the world that reads this website could stop and say a little prayer, then maybe it would help:

The Prayer Of the Faithful Global Alarmists
Lord, please be with those unfortunate souls,
Who suffer so greatly
The constant wrath of warmer climates.
Please be with each and every victim,
And their loved ones too,
Lord, keep them from freezing
in these desperate days of Global Warming.
Pray that their fires might burn long into the night.
That their power might be restored within a few short days.
That they might have enough food in the pantry
To carry them through this sweltering blizzard.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 28, 2009 at 2:38 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Pat Learns Kids to Ride a Unicycle

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 28, 2009 at 12:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 27, 2009

The Big Red Pig in the desert

This is not my video. Just some guy riding an XR650R through the desert outside of Dubai. Of course, I'm sitting here watching the snow fall. Makes me want to eat my hands.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 27, 2009 at 4:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 26, 2009

Larry Goes to Market

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 26, 2009 at 1:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 25, 2009

U.S. National Debt Clock


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 25, 2009 at 3:50 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

JP Racing Across Mexico

For those of you that like enjoy a little lunacy now and again, nothing says "I'm insane, please help me" like racing 2,000 miles across Mexico in a Maserati 3500 GT. (This is not a repeat of my 2,000 mile journey across Mexico on a dirt bike). Follow Predator Race Team George Tuma and Jim Pace in La Carrera Panamericana 2009 on Byron DeFoor's website.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 25, 2009 at 9:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 23, 2009

Postcards from Nowhere: Baja California

I shot my 50,000 image for 2009 this week during my 2,000 mile adventure through Baja California, Mexico on a dirt bike. I figured I'd sit down and cobble together a brief slideshow of the images from the trip. Most, if not all, of these are shots I posted during my travels over the last 2 weeks. However, I did go in and straighten the horizons on a few and try to improve the contrast where possible.

These photos were taken in October of 2009 in San Diego, Baja California Norte (Rosarito, Ensenada, San Quintin, El Rosario) and Baja California Sur (Guerrero Negro, San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia, Loreto, Mulege, Ciudad Insurgentes, Ciudad Constiticion, La Paz, Los Barriles, San Jose del Cabo (Los Cabos), Cabo San Lucas, and Todos Santos).

These images were all captured on one of the following:

Note: I managed to break the EF-S 17-85 mm lens (again). I also managed to lose my ET-83C hood for the long lens.

The images are compiled into a 25 Meg (4:19) Adobe Flash slideshow(baja.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (baja.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.

Image post-processing was done in Adobe Photoshop CS3 Extended. The slideshow was created using Imagematics Stillmotion Pro.

The soundtrack is Please Don't Go by Barcelona. I chose this song because I stumbled across it not too long ago while I was surfing the intertubes and I thought it sounded pretty cool.

Lyrics in the extended entry.

Click here to view the other slideshows.

Continue reading "Postcards from Nowhere: Baja California"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 23, 2009 at 6:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

No to All

I'm always copying groups of files back and forth between the computers on my network here at home and if Windows Explorer encounters a duplicate file (i.e. a file with the same name in the location you're copying to, it will prompt you to ask you what you want to do.

"The folder already contains a file named [filename]. Would you like to replace the existing file with this one?"

If you are copying multiple files, then your options are 'Yes', 'Yes to All', 'No', and 'Cancel'.

But I wanted a 'No to All' option, and it finally bothered me enough to look it up. According to this site, you should hold down SHIFT when you click 'No' and Windows Explorer will act as if you just pressed a magic 'No to All' button.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 23, 2009 at 2:30 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Don't Suspect a Friend...Turn Him In.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 23, 2009 at 11:32 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Network Performance Issues

My network sucks. I'm trying to copy my photos from my laptop onto my home network and it takes aproximately 1 minute and 20 seconds to transfer a 4 MB file. This copy should take less than 1 second, I would think.

"A well designed 100 Mbps ethernet should see throughput in the range of 10 MB/sec maximum. A well designed gigabit ethernet LAN should see throughput in the range of 100 MB/sec."

But if a 4MB file is 4,000,000 bytes (it's close enough...technically it's more..I don't care), then I'm getting 4,000,000 bytes across the network in 60 seconds roughly, so this is 4MB/60sec = 67KBps or 0.07MBps.

Alternately, if we look at bits per second (bps) instead of Bytes per second(BPs), then I'm getting (4,000,000 bytes * 8 bits/byte) / 60 seconds = 533Kbps or 0.5Mbps.

So I'm going to try to figure out what is going on with my miserable network.

First, I disabled the wireless network card on the laptop. Didn't seem to have much impact on the speed. It still takes about 1 minute to transfer a 4 MB file.

Now, I'll turn the wireless on and unplug the ethernet cable and see what impact that has.

Continue reading "Network Performance Issues"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 23, 2009 at 9:26 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 21, 2009

Parting Shots from Baja

Here's a shot of me taken yesterday, immediately after I walked back across the border into the United States. In 8 days, I traveled over 2,000 miles across Baja California alone on a 2006 Honda XR650R, without so much as a map. I did not plan the trip at all. I never looked at a map. Never planned how far I'd go on any given day. I was surprised to learn that they have 110 outlets down there, the same as ours. I could not read the street signs. I had no clue what they meant.

The bike was not street legal, nor was it titled in my name. It has no brake light. No turn signals. No horn. No speedometer.

I had several other motorcycle riders mistake me for a local rider, as they were all shocked at the fact that I had almost no gear with me.

I was told by everyone I talked to that I'd be tortured, raped, killed, or frog marched from ATM to ATM and then mutilated and decapitated. None of this happened.

I came back with everything I left with and without a single scratch. My worst injury was a slight sunburn on the first day to the backs of my wrists where my leather jacket didn't quite meet up with my Walmart riding gloves. After the first day, I put sunscreen on my wrists. I also got a blister on my right hand (throttle hand) on the inside of my ring finger from the throttle. A few times, I had insects hit a bare spot on my neck/collarbone which sort of stung. Once or twice, I had a small rock/pebble hit either of my shins which hurt, but didn't leave any marks. Once, I had some type of insect fly inside my jacket and it may have possibly stung me, I'm not clear.

But, for all intents and purposes, I came back unscathed.

The people in Baja are among the nicest people I have ever met. I met many fine people on the road and encourage all of those out there that harbor a bit of wanderlust to remember that the goal of the media is not to inform, but to sensationalize and distort.

Bien Voyage.

(More photos in extended entry...)

Continue reading "Parting Shots from Baja"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 21, 2009 at 10:25 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

A Long Strange Trip

Well, that was pretty wild. I'm back in Colorado, cooling my heels at the house. What a long strange trip it's been. I'm not sure I can handle the transition. Part of me feels like I could never go back to Mexico and I'd be OK. Part of me feels like I could fly back to San Diego in the morning and start again.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 21, 2009 at 9:57 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Baja California: Day 8 - Secondary Screening

I sit down at La Tortuga Restaurant in Ensenada on the corner of Riveroll and Lopez Mateos surrounded by Palm trees and peasants. The waiter comes by and asks what I'd like for breakfast.

"I see you have Tortuga on the menu," I say, pointing to the name of the restaurant on the front of the menu. "I'll have that."

"No, senor. Is illegal to eat turtles."

Now, just for clarification, the people in Mexico are still eating turtles. I spoke to someone yesterday who ate one the day before and he said it was delicious. So people are still eating them. I just need to figure out where to sign up.

"The only thing that's free with your continental breakfast is the toast and coffee," he explains.

"Then I'll have toast and coffe," I reply.

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 8 - Secondary Screening"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 21, 2009 at 1:14 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

October 20, 2009

Baja California: Day 7 - Espinazo del Diablo

I am alive and well and resting on the shores of the Pacific Ocean in the not-so-quiet seaside town of Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico,

According to the GPS, we went 518 miles today, a record for me on this trip. We drove from Mulege to Ensenada pretty much non-stop. By this, I mean, we'd stop occassionally, but we weren't screwing around. We were rolling from 4:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., but I'm not really clear what time it is. I found out today that you change time zones when you go from Baja Norte to Baja Sur.

I didn't sleep much last night. Honestly I didn't. When you drive all day, and then write, publish photos, and publish GPS trax every night, it doesn't really leave a lot of time for sleep.

I got to bed at about 1:30 a.m. and set the alarm for 3:30 a.m. Two hours ought to be enough sleep for anyone, right?

I packed everything up so that I could basically stand up and walk out the door. I hate hotel rooms. The list of reasons that I hate them is so long it would take another book just to begin to scratch the surface of these issues, but one of the things I hate the most is checking out of a hotel room. The problem with checking out is that you tend to lose things. Cell phone chargers, socks, you name it. And then, 2 hours later you're in a different time zone thinking where in the heck is my cell phone charger?

There's an art to checking out of hotels that involves a fairly elaborate ceremony of burning candles, incense, sprinkling Holy water around the room, and finally looking under the bed to find your USB cable before you leave.

The alarm goes off about 4 seconds after I close my eyes and I get up and run out of the room like the whole place burning down around me and I get down to the lobby to meet my new friends at 4:00 a.m. But they're not there. (Note: I apparently forgot my gallon of premium gas in Mulege. I don't sleep with it in the room as it stinks, and in the dark, I think I walked past it and left it outside my hotel room door in Mulege.)

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 7 - Espinazo del Diablo"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 20, 2009 at 12:14 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

October 19, 2009

Baja California: Años Pasado

In the morning, the young man shuffles into the lobby and knocks on the door where Sylvia sleeps. He works in the hotel, smoking and surfing the internet mostly. He touches the dog on the worn sofa as he shuffles by.

It's 4 a.m. and he's gently knocking on the door.

"ma MA."

Just so. After a few minutes, she awakens and calls out in the night.

She rouses from her slumber and comes to the door and greets him. She turns around and closes the door to get dressed as he shuffles back past me in the lobby. There is no man in the picture. I wonder where his father is, but it's not something you can ask.

There is a photograph on top of an old upright piano against the wall. In the photo, an very young nino clings to his mother's neck.

"Is tu y tu hijo in años pasado?" I asked her if it was a photo of her and her son, from years gone by.

"Ci. In años pasado." And she kind of sang it as she said it. I just sort of put that together on my own. 'Años' is years and 'pasado' means 'past tense', essentially. So 'Años pasado' means something like 'years gone by' and she picked it up right away.

So he's not had a father for as long as he can remember, and I wonder what that would be like. Growing up without a father. I think it would be a

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 19, 2009 at 4:36 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Baja California: Day 6 - Photos

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 6 - Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 19, 2009 at 12:52 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Baja California: Day 6 - GPS Tracks

Once again, I can't get the freaking GPS file to upload to the magnalox website, which is probably explains why I'm the only one using the website.

My odometer shows I drove 301 miles today, for a total so far of 1,580.4 miles. The gps says I went 307 today.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 19, 2009 at 12:52 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Baja California: Day 6 - Hurricane Rick

I am alive and well and resting in the quiet seaside village of Mulege on the shores of the Sea of Cortez, awaiting a vicious beatdown by Hurricane Rick, second-strongest hurricane in the eastern North Pacific since 1966, when experts began keeping reliable records.

The plan for Monday is to get up at 4:00 a.m. local time, check out of the Hotel Terrazes in Mulege, load the XR into the back of the truck of some people from Mexicali, and drive like mad for Ensenada. Update: But now, I'm not sure if what the deal is. They said to meet in the lobby at 4:00 a.m., and it's after 4 and I don't see them. One of the trucks is a GMC Envoy with Baja California Norte plates BEF-69-18. The people I'm going to be traveling with are also guests in the hotel Terrazes in Mulege. The guy that's driving my truck is named George (Jorge). Should be an interesting ride across the desert.

Baja California: Day 6 - Hurricane Rick

I wake up this morning and I'm kicking around the hotel and I really don't have a plan. Do not.

And it's sort of weird, being in a 3rd world country with things so out of sorts. Like, who in their right mind would intentionally drive a motorcycle into a third world country that they didn't have a clear title to? I ask you. I never even when through customs, for Christ's sake.

It's only Baja. They just wave you through. There's no customs when you go into Baja. It's just like someone opened the prison door and everyone just goes across the border and goes hog wild. That's pretty much the size of it.

Some part of me must crave this sort of chaos. Subconsciously, or otherwise, I must enjoy this on some level, though it's hard to imagine why. First my camera broke, and now they've slammed the door on my plans to go the Mexican mainland.

I'm sitting here in my hotel room, trying to decide if I should fly out of Cabo and leave the bike at the airport, or drive in to Denver, or something in between. Trying to figure out what to do.

And this is the hard part, I think. Knowing when to double down and when to pull back. This is the greatest dilemma in my life, anyway. It's so hard because no one can tell you who you are. They can only tell you what they would do. And then you have to think...does that make sense for me?

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 6 - Hurricane Rick"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 19, 2009 at 12:03 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 18, 2009

Hurricane Rick


National Weather Service
National Hurricane Center
Hurricane RICK Public Advisory

WTPZ35 KNHC 182049
200 PM PDT SUN OCT 18 2009








MILES...280 KM.



LOCATION...16.4N 109.4W

800 PM PDT.


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 18, 2009 at 7:34 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Baja Trip Winding Down

I'm sort of running out on time/money/energy for the Baja adventure and I'm looking for an exit strategy. I can get a plane ticket home. This is not a problem. The question is what to do with the bike. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated. Ideas at this point are:
1) drive it to the airport, pull the plates off, toss them in the trash, and fly back to Denver
2) park it somewhere(?) near the San Jose/Los Cabos airport at someone's home and leave it, which gives me the option to return for it later, sell it remotely, etc.
3) auction it on eBay
4) take it apart and ship it back to the U.S. in pieces
5) find someone else that wants to carry the torch for a while and turn it over to them in exchange for sex, drugs, or a suitcase full of dirty pesos.

If you have any thoughts, please use this post for comments. I do read the comments, although I've not been replying to them much due to my crazy life, obviously.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 18, 2009 at 10:29 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Baja Day 5 - GPS

According to Garmin, I drove 146 miles yesterday. A pittance, of course. The odometer on the bike is at 1275.2, which means I drove about 135 miles according to the bike odometer. I'm not clear for the deviation. Possibly the new tire is a different size. That must be it. Now that I have the new tire, the bike thinks it went 135 miles, but it GPS says 146.

I get an error trying to upload this gpx file to the site I normally use. It says it has too many map points or something. I'm not clear what the deal is.


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 18, 2009 at 9:57 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Baja California: Day 5 Photographs

(more photos in extended entry...)

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 5 Photographs"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 18, 2009 at 9:19 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 17, 2009

Baja California: Dia Numero Cinco - Retorno a La Paz

I am alive and well and resting in the town of La Paz, on the shores of el Mar de Cortez.

Baja Day 5

I wake up this morning and I'm in the Comfort Inn in Cabo San Lucas. Cabo is the place where Mexicans on the baja peninsula go for special occasions, like a birthday party or a vacation.

The weather is nice now. It's fairly hot, but there are plenty of pools and of course, there's always the coast. (In Mexico, it's illegal for foreigners to own the land on the beach.)

Per usual, I sleep in, and get up and wander past the pool but this time, something odd occurs. I'm not the only person wandering around the hotel. Other people are here eating breakfast, swimming in the pool. Every other morning, people got up and fled like rats because we were all on our way here. Once you get to Cabo, there is no where else to go, really. This is a destination, not a stopping point along the way.

Continue reading "Baja California: Dia Numero Cinco - Retorno a La Paz"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 17, 2009 at 9:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Broken lens

Ruh roh. My 17-85mm telescopic zoom lens broke (again). I'm going to have to upgrade my camera gear, because this Canon pro-sumer crap isn't cutting it. Sucks.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 17, 2009 at 10:21 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Daily Forecast: Retorno La Paz

Today, I plan to drive back up the Peninsula about two hours to La Paz, beg and plead them to let me on the ferry, pray that my credit card works (it was rejected yesterday at the Yamaha dealership and I called the credit card company and they told me I was in the clear and that they didn't show it had been declined, so I'm hoping the woman was just retarded.

The ferry leaves at 20:00 tonight, so I should have no trouble getting there. I may try to find a western union because all the fear mongerers had me so convinced I'd be robbed that I left my ATM cards in Denver. Thanks, fear mongerers. Where would we be without you?

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 17, 2009 at 10:16 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Baja California: Dia Numero Quatro - GPS Tracks


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 17, 2009 at 9:59 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Baja California: Dia Numero Quatro - Photographios

Mas photographias...

Continue reading "Baja California: Dia Numero Quatro - Photographios"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 17, 2009 at 9:46 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

October 16, 2009

Baja California: Dia Numero Quatro - That Girl in the Elevator

I am alive and well and resting in the not-so-quiet sea side town of Cabo San Lucas.
Trip Odomoter: 1,139.7.
Garmin GPS says I went 94.7 miles today.

Baja Day 4

In the morning, I awake in the Hotel Pescadores, in the quiet sea side village of Los Barriles, on the shores of the Sea of Cortez. Patricia is up making coffee, doing the books. I sit and type on my computer as the butterflies float between the yellow Palo de Arco and the red Flame trees.

I spy another tree I don't recognize and Patricia says it's a Ciduella tree - a fruit tree that produces two small fruits, one red, one yellow, that the locals love but they're so acidic that they'll peel the enamel off your teeth.

Also, she has a Nim tree which the locals say repels mosquitos and also has gained much acclaim as a sort of natural air conditioner.

I talk to Norma for a minute or three over coffee. A lot of people down here are Americans that dropped out. That got tired of winter or tired of work or just plain tired and came down here to enjoy the beach.

"Why don't people have license plates on their cars here?" I ask her.

"Well, really, you're supposed to have your car registered, but I think that only two people in town have them registered. A couple of weeks ago, some police came down from La Paz and they sat up a roadblock on each end of town and were writing tickets to everyone that didn't have a license plate.

"So everyone got a ticket?" I ask.

"Well, no. What happened was someone got a ticket and then got on their cell phone and the word got out so everyone just drove down the beach instead."


Continue reading "Baja California: Dia Numero Quatro - That Girl in the Elevator"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 16, 2009 at 9:49 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Baja California: Dia Nombre Tres - Photographias

Mas photograhias...

Continue reading "Baja California: Dia Nombre Tres - Photographias"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 16, 2009 at 10:12 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Baja Day 3 - Mulege to Los Barriles GPS Tracks


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 16, 2009 at 9:23 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 15, 2009

Baja California: Day 3 - Maneje Con Precaucion

I am alive and well and resting in the quiet sea side village of Los Barriles on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.

Wow. Today. Um.. Hmm. Where to begin. Seriously...

According to the GPS, Max Speed: 82.3 mph. Distance traveled = 407.32 miles today. Odd. Serendipity, I think. Because it also said that I drove exactly 407 miles yesterday. Be that as it may.

OK. So, where to begin. I suppose that I'll start at the beginning, read through until the end, and then stop. Fair enough?

This morning we woke up in Mulege and we I'm walking around shooting the Bougainvilla and Wisteria and I ask the lady that owns the hotel - Sylvia is her name - what the tree is with the pretty flowers and she says "Tabasheen".

Some locals tell me that you can eat the pods hanging from the tree. It's related to the Mimosa, I'm sure. Update: I find out that it's also called a "Fire Tree".

And I pack my things and we're headed out. I couldn't find the Pemex at first, so I turned back. Like, believe you me...after the nightmare of almost running out of gasolina in the desert, I'm not leaving town on an empty tank. Not going to happen. So, I turn back and drive around Mulege until I find the Pemex, and it's closed. But a guy pulls up and I ask him "donde gasolina?" And he tells me there's a station about 3 kilometers south of town.

So we roll south and I fill my tank and we roll out heading south on Mexico 1.

(story continues in the extended entry).

Continue reading "Baja California: Day 3 - Maneje Con Precaucion"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 15, 2009 at 8:39 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Postcards From Nowhere: Baja California - Day 2

Photos from the trip today from El Rosario, Baja California Norte to Mulege, Baja California Sur. Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Postcards From Nowhere: Baja California - Day 2"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 15, 2009 at 12:54 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink

October 14, 2009

Baja Trip Day 2: El Rosario to Mulege(Moo-leh-hay)

I am alive and well and resting in the quiet fishing village of Mulege(Moo-leh-hay), Baja California Sur, Mexico, on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.

My odometer says 659.3 (OK...it says 59.3, but it's rolled over six times since I left the U.S.)
So,that means that I drove 391.6 miles today, the furthest I've ever driven on a bike in 1 day. (Hold the applause.)

Here are the GPS tracks from today:http://www.magnalox.net/log/no.php?fmt=g&lid=18143&sid=d8cc2951

Also, I met this guy named Igor driving around the world on an BMW 1100 GS (enduro). He's driven across every continent and his english is horrible and his spanish is worse and I don't know about his czechoslovakian. Here's his link: http://www.mototour.cz

Baja Day 2

I am alive and well and resting in the quiet fishing village of Mulege, Baja California Sur, Mexico, on the shores of the Sea of Cortez.

My odometer says 659.3 (OK...it says 59.3, but it's rolled over six times since I left the U.S.) So,that means that I drove 391.6 miles today, the furthest I've ever driven on a bike in 1 day. (Hold the applause.)

Where to begin..where to begin...

I woke up early this morning in my hotel in El Rosario. A kitten mewing nonstop made sure of it. I wasn't sure what time it was, so I checked my cell phone. Normally, it knows what time it is, but I'm thinking it's an hour off these days. Not clear why.

But by the time I left the hotel, I was the only one in the parking lot, save a man and his wife - Americans driving down to Cabo. How sweet.

"You know, the next gas station is 300 kilometers from here..." the guy was mumbling. I was like "yeah." I wasn't too worried about it. Yesterday, whenever I asked, people would invariably tell me there were no gas stations when, in fact, they seemed to appear fairly regularly. So, I was used to the schtick now.

(Lunacy continues in the extended entry...)

Continue reading "Baja Trip Day 2: El Rosario to Mulege(Moo-leh-hay)"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 14, 2009 at 8:44 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

GPS Tracks - Baja Day 1


It looks like the fastest I was going was a little over 80 mph, which works out to something like 130 km/hr, and I can assure you that there's no roads down here with a speed limit over 80 km/hr.

It's tough going from dollars, gallons, and miles to pesos, liters, and kilometers. Here's the conversions I'm using down here:

1 US Dollar = 13 pesos
1 US Gallon = 3.8 liters
1 mile = 1.6 km

Good enough for government work.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 14, 2009 at 12:27 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 13, 2009

Day 1 - A Run For the Border

I woke up this morning in San Diego drowning in fear. I had a Mexican insurance policy that started at 8:00 a.m. My plan was to make a mad dash for the border during rush hour. Normally, I'd try to avoid rush hour but this is different. Safety in numbers. My motorcycle has the wrong license plate for it. And it's not insured. So, these are bad things. Bad. Bad. Bad.

But I don't really have time to deal with it all right now. There's no way California will ever give me tags that say the bike is street legal. That's not going to happen in a millennium. I'm not sure if it will be legal to drive in Mexico. Part of me wants to just can the whole trip and sleep in. Or fly home. Anything but getting stopped by the California highway patrol and thrown in jail with all sorts of felonies written up against me.

But finally, I just say...this is it. I'm going on my trip. I'm not waiting any longer. Screw the police, I'm going to make a "run for the border". And I'm not talking about Taco Bell, either. I'm talking about a mad dash, balls-out, take-no-prisoners dash down I-5 into Mexico.

Continue reading "Day 1 - A Run For the Border"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 13, 2009 at 11:35 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Postcards from Nowhere: Baja - Day 1

I am alive and well and resting quietly in the village of El Rosario De Arriba, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Aquaculture farm just south of Rosarito, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Aquaculture farm just south of Rosarito, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Aquaculture farm just south of Rosarito, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Military checkpoint near Ensenada Mexico with soldier manning an M2 .50 automatic rifle.

Above: Gringo Loco at Pemex in Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Ensenada, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Somewhere between Ensenada and Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Roadside seafood shack in Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: Roadside seafood shack in Bahia San Quentin "Bah-eeya San Kah-teen" in Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: El Rosario De Arriba, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: El Rosario De Arriba, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Above: El Rosario De Arriba, Baja California Norte, Mexico.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 13, 2009 at 7:25 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

October 12, 2009

Baja Trip Day 0: Denver - Phoenix - San Diego

It is odd to wake up where it's cold and snowy and then drive to the airport and land, an hour or so later where it's warm and sunny. In Denver, they had to de-ice the plane when we left. But at Phoenix and San Diego, people were peeling off layers. When I left my house, it was 17 degrees F. When landed in San Diego, it was 67 degrees F. I'm not in a position to say which is better. I'm not sure that I know. I can tell you that, if you talk to people that have spent a lot of time in San Diego, to a man, they miss the seasons.

First thing I did in San Diego was rent a car and drive to Baja Designs in San Marcos where I picked up my 4.6 gallon IMS desert tank, a rear view mirror, and a brake light. I spent the rest of the day working on the bike. I installed the desert tank, replaced my broken front brake handle, installed the new rear view mirror. I didn't even attempt to do the brake light yet, as that's a little bit more tricky.

I didn't have all the tools that I needed, so I actually had to ask a woman to loan me some tools. Borrowing tools from a woman was not only a demoralizing, crushing blow to my male ego - it also made me question my preparedness for this venture.

Continue reading "Baja Trip Day 0: Denver - Phoenix - San Diego"

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 12, 2009 at 11:31 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Phoenix Sky Harbor

I'm in Phoenix at Sky Harbor International Airport. We're going to be taking of for San Diego shortly. I flew out USAirways because it was a little cheaper to go through Phoenix, but I'm not sure how far I'll make it into Mexico today. I have a couple of things to do still before I cross the border later today.

This morning, I really didn't want to get out of bed. That's the problem with life, really, in a nutshell. It's hard to know when to sink your teeth in and when to pull back. That's perhaps the greatest part of the struggle.

I remember when Ron used to take me deer hunting and he'd wake me up at about 5:00 a.m. when it was cold and dark to go climb in a tree stand and I'd just wave him off. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but then later, you start second guessing yourself. Later, when they're skinning the deer hanging beneath enormous trees, you always wished you'd gone.

I'm going to convert some currency before I cross over. I'm not clear what is the right amount to convert. I'm thinking $500, but I'm not sure. Not certain what the play is here. I know the exchange rate should be about 13.19 pesos to 1 dollar.

There's a Army Suprplus store in San Diego I'm going to hit to see if I can find a military grade backpack. I'm afraid I've got too much packed into my backpack. I'm sure it wasn't designed to hold this much gear. Plus, a little more padding on the shoulders would make for a nicer ride.

Rosebud Army & Navy Surplus
642 Hollister St, San Diego, CA 92154
619 424-9034

I'm going to check in and see if, by chance, they've transferred the title into my name, but I doubt it.

If I had any sense, I'd have made the bike street legal before this little adventure started. A brake light would have been nice. Or turn signals. A horn. High and low beams. I do have 1 mirror, so there's that. But there's no time for adjustments at this point. Nothing to do now but ride.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 12, 2009 at 10:45 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink


I have registered my travel plans with the U.S. Embassy. I have the phone number to the Green Angels programmed into my cell phone. I intend to keep the website updated as to my location as I move down the Baja peninsula. Time permitting, I will drive from Mission Valley, San Diego and spend Monday night in Ensenada.

If possible, I'll post every night to indicate my location and travel plans. If I don't have internet access, but my phone is working, then I'll work with Robert Racansky to post some type of update. If I do not have cell phone coverage, or internet access, then I suppose that I may go a day or so without any updates.

I do not have any real concerns about my safety on this trip. I believe that my greatest risk is having a motorcycle accident, which I judge to be extremely slim. I may have to pay some fees to the police, but I should be able to handle this without spending any time in prison. However, I'm not planning on doing anything to attract the attention of the police.

The biggest wrinkle in the entire plan is that I'm having some difficulty with the DMV in California getting the title transferred into my name. However, they have assigned me a temporary permit which is good through the end of the month. So, I think that I should be OK. I may have to rent a truck to haul the motorcycle back into the United States, as the bike is certainly not street legal, but I don't think there will be any challenges to the ownership of the bike.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 12, 2009 at 12:41 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Exchange Rate

I'm going to exchange some currency on the border later this morning before I cross into Mexico. The exchange rate I'm looking to get is 13.25 Mexican Pesos per dollar. They take U.S. Dollars in Mexico, but of course, they give you the sucker exchange rate if you don't have the sense to use the local currency.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 12, 2009 at 12:35 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 11, 2009

Garmin Sucks!!!

Garmin burned me again. You'd think I'd learn, but for some reason I have not. Their dreaded MapSource software won't load on a PC that doesn't have a C: drive, so I can't install it on my laptop for the time being. Also, I made the mistake of going online and purchasing their Baja maps. Big mistake. When it downloads, it downloads as gmapsupp.img. So, they're downloading an image file, instead of the normal files that would be loaded into MapSource. So, this means that I can't combine my Garmin maps with other maps. Thanks, Garmin, you fucked me again. You'd think I'd learn. Well, they say the definition of a fool is a person who does the same thing over and over and expects to get different results. So, I'm through with Garmin. When I get back, I'm going to ebay this unit and get what I can for it. Then, I'll wade into cyberspace and see what their competitors have to offer, as I can longer suffer through this nightmare that is Garmin.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 11, 2009 at 10:30 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 10, 2009

Replace Laptop Hard drive

I decided that I'd go ahead and replace the hard drive on my Sony Vaio VGN-SZ120P laptop. I've not been pleased with how it's performing lately. When I was in Mississippi, I could not get it to boot up at all. I believe it was the humidity though because, when I got back to Colorado, it worked fine. It scared me bad enough that I ordered a new hard drive and copied all my files onto my new WD Sharespace as soon as I got home. But then, I never did get around to installing the new laptop hard drive because...well...it started working and I was traveling and I really didn't feel like messing with it. (Sometimes, it's wise to let sleeping dogs lie).

But now that I'm planning an extended romp down through the Mexican desert, I figured that I'd better get the laptop all torqued up because, if I get down there and my drive crashes, and I lose 20,000 images, I'd be seriously bummed.

So, I went ahead and yanked out my laptop hard drive following these directions. The directions were perfect except for when they talked about popping the keyboard...my tabs were at the top, not on the sides, but I figured it out. In any event, I got the drive swapped, now I'm reinstalling the O/S. Pray for me.

OK. Basically following these directions, I created a partition of 76317MB on the drive. I decided to go with "Format the partition using the NTFS file system" instead of the "Format the partition using the NTFS file system (Quick)" option because I wanted to scan the new drive for bad sectors.

OK. That got Windows XP Pro SP2 installed. But, no drivers. So, it would boot into XP, but nothing much worked. Video wasn't optimized. Couldn't connect to internet. So, I downloaded my drivers and burned them onto a CD and then installed the drivers. That got me connected to the internet via wired and wireless connections and fixed my video.

Then, I installed Firefox, IrFanView, TweakUI, ImageResizer, and AVG.

Now, I'm noticing that I don't have any sound. So, I installed my modem drivers and that got the sound working. Then I activated my copy Windows XP by entering the product key on the bottom of the laptop.

Now I realize that somehow I managed to set up my hard drive as the E drive instead of the C drive. The drive I replaced was a Seagate Momentus 5400.2 100 GB Model ST9100824AS. The new drive is a Hitachi 80 GB Model HTS541680J9SA00 from SEP 07.

So, when I get time, I'll try to figure out how to change it to be my C: drive, but I really don't have time to deal with it right now. I've got too many fish to fry.

Hmmm. I can't install my Garmin Trip & Waypoint Manager MapSource CD, because it's expecting a C: drive.

I tried to change the drive to be the C: drive following these directions, but it didn't work because "Changing the drive letter of the system volume or the boot volume is not a built-in feature of the Disk Management snap-in." Hmmm.

I'm going to try going into the BIOS to see if it says anything about how it assigns drive letters. I was thinking that it might be a jumper on the new hard drive, but I'm not even clear that the new drive has jumpers.

OK. This is driving me nuts. I went into the BIOS and there's nothing to do there. It's something with this stupid drive, I've decided. So, I went to Hitachi's hard drive website. The drive is obsolete, of course, and not listed. But I believe it's called a Travelstar 5k160.

The only thing that I can figure it's related to the jumper settings on the drive. But no, this is a SATA drive and there are no jumpers.

The problem has to be something with the fact that it sees the other drives first, for whatever reason. It sees my stupid Sony memory card drive, and then my DVD drive, and then maps this stupid hard drive after them for some reason. OMG this sucks!

I've actually started to completely reformat the drive more than once. But, when I go in there, it says "c:\windows\..." That's the installation that it sees. So what I don't get is why does the installation (under DOS) say c: and then windows says "e:". That's what I don't get. Drives me nuts, I can assure you. Anyone with a lick of sense would throw the fvcking thing in the trash and pick up the phone and call Dell. But, as Will once observed, I can't stand to let a computer get the best of me.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 10, 2009 at 11:18 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Another Tijuana Incident

Molly pointed out to me tonight that they found a man's mutilated body swinging from a bridge in Tijuana. I do not plan on spending any time at all in that city and it's intuitively obvious to the casual observer that the city is not safe. I know how to get on Mexican Highway 1D, the scenic route to Rosarito and Ensenada and I don't plan on stopping until I get to Ensenada.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 10, 2009 at 8:51 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

You Are Here

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 10, 2009 at 4:38 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Dangers of Eavesdropping

<a href="http://www.cmt.com/video/" target="_blank">Tom Mabe: Eavesdropping</a>

Tom Mabe: Eavesdropping

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 10, 2009 at 4:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Man Who Saved the World

Stanislav Petrov saved the world from nuclear annihilation and the idiots in Stockholm gave the Nobel Peace Prize to an upstart that has done less for world peace than your average Girl Scout. Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on the same day he attacked the moon. Now the entire world knows that the Nobel Peace Prize is little more than a popularity contest like Class President. Alfred Nobel is spinning in his grave.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 10, 2009 at 9:01 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 9, 2009

Upcoming Baja Events

Next week there's a Billfish Tournament in Los Cabos and then the following week is Bisbee's Black & Blue Marlin Tournament in Cabo San Lucas.

And, of course, it's that time of year again where they're gearing up for the Baja 1000 (Baja Mil). The course is different every year and this year, it starts and ends in Ensenada and the race is only 672 miles.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 10:32 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Desert

"Only the desert has a fascination to ride alone in the sun in the forever unpossessed country away from man. That is a great temptation."
--D.H. Lawrence

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 10:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Garmin Sucks!!

If you've followed this site at all, then you know that I hate Garmin. Garmin sucks! But it never ceases to amaze me just how incompetent this organization truly is. Not only do they design GPS units that intentionally destroy 90% of your waypoints. Not only do they design software so poorly that it's nearly impossible to figure out how to copy the maps into the GPS unit. But now, I find out that Garmin doesn't even offer maps of Baja California? When I google Garmin Mexico maps, the third link down is an official Garmin link to City Select Mexico NT version 2. This map clearly excludes Baja California and the web page is copyrighted 2009. But then, I see a note at the top that says "This product has been discontinued. We are happy to help you with any questions or concerns. Visit our support web pages for further assistance." I hate Garmin. Garmin sucks so bad. So bad.

(Disclaimer: The photo above is not a photo I took. Just something I found on the web. Killing me just to look at it though. Dying here.)

So, I did manage to find this Baja map for GPS.

Update: OK. Garmin still does suck. Very hard. But I think that, after digging around, I've discovered that they do cover the Baja area with City Navigator® Mexico NT. So, apparently they recently made some changes so that they do cover Baja california, but they're just so incompetent. So inept. So blissfully unaware of and unconcerned about their customers, that they aren't even capable of getting their website to redirect to the updated software. Nice going, Garmin. Just what I'd expect from a bloated blundering organization of fetid, pallid morons.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 8:15 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Repeal The Speed Limits

The interstate highways were designed to handle traffic at 70 mph. During the nightmare of Jimmy Carter's administration, the speed limits were reduced to 55 mph nationwide (thanks dimocrats).

However, when the national 55 mph speed limits were repealed in 1995, there were all sorts of dire predictions about how many lives would be lost, but in fact, traffic fatalities (per mile traveled) actually fell when the speed limits were increased.

This is because people are like sheep. They get all bunched up in the highways and drive along in great clumps. Allowing for a greater speed differential allows faster drivers to come through and break these clumps of traffic and people spread out more as a result.

And now this new article from the lovely city of Detroit, which says much the same thing:

"Peterson said major contributors to aggressive driving include: speed limits that are too low for the road; traffic congestion; and poorly timed traffic lights. These act as instigators to drivers speeding, changing lanes and tailgating, all characteristics of "aggressive" driving.

Changes made to roadways where aggressive driving occurs have reduced reported incidents or road rage, he said.

As an example, Peterson pointed to changes made along a section of Interstate 496 outside of Lansing, which accounted for 40 percent of reported incidents of aggressive driving in that area. When the speed limit was raised from 55 mph to 70 mph, incidents of aggressive driving dropped to zero.

"The low speed limit frustrated many drivers, so they drove over the speed limit. This caused problems for other drivers who were driving at the limit. The speed differential caused the tailgating, passing, and speeding that were reported as 'aggressive' driving," Peterson said.

His data also showed accident rates in that area also fell when the speed limit was raised.

Surprisingly, the higher speed limit also improved traffic flow, nearly eliminating all symptoms of rush hour congestion along that stretch."

Well, it's not surprising to me. It is probably very surprising to the average idiot, but it's not surprising if you're a) intelligent and you have b) taken the time to think about it for a while.


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 7:36 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Life On The Road

Life on the road is a odd sort of existence, if it even is one. But I come to see life as more of a series of little victories, than one big one. Traveling means that I have so little time at home. So little time to do anything around the house or yard. When I'm home, I dart about like a hummingbird fixing lights, cutting down trees, mowing, paying bills. And what I find is that ever minute I have in the house is an opportunity to be doing something. Cleaning camera lenses. Repairing the motorcycles. Fixing the computers. All of this has to be done. And at the end of the day, I'm a little bit further ahead for every little task I've completed. Every little task completed is like a small victory.

But when I'm away, mostly all I can do is work and work is OK, in it's own way, but 15 hour days grow old fairly quickly. All I can remember from California is waking and going into to work and working all day and bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball in a dryer.

When I was in San Diego once, I was looking for an email in my inbox at the client site and, for some reason, I didn't have any email before Sept 1st. And I couldn't figure out why. And then I started thinking...how long have I been flying back and forth between Denver and San Diego and I couldn't remember. My life just seemed like this endless series of flights and rental cars and hotels. Lunch at the roach coach and and late night fast food runs.

And that was when I knew that it was time to go. When you're on a first name basis with the cleaning crew and the security guards and the people that restock the vending machines and the Mountain Man pusher. Then you know that it's time to go.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 5:29 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Desert Tank

One of the hazards of rolling across the Baja peninsula, is that there are long stretches with zeros sign of civilization. In these situations, having a larger gas tank reduces your odds of being raped or auctioned off at the white slave auctions in Ensenada. What you want is a 5 gallon tank (prerferrably red so it matches the bike).

So today, I called Baja Designs in San Marcos, California. The guy ("Tex" is his name) is like.."Man...I don't have any desert tanks in stock for the XR 650" and I'm bumming hard because I need one on Monday that I can go in, pick up, stick on the bike, and ride away with. And then he's like..."hang on a minute...I think the computer is wrong...I think I've got one downstairs...hold on...I'm going downstairs and look".

Tex returns and says "I've got an IMS 4.6 gallon tank here I can sell you. It's a floor model. I could let you have it for cheap."

"What color is it?"


What do you need for it?

"Well, you take off your stock fuel cock and put it on there and..."

"No. I mean what will you let me have it for?"

"One fifty."

"Sold. I'll pick it up Monday afternoon."

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 9, 2009 at 3:08 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 8, 2009

The Curse of the Village Idiot

I would say something clever about how tired I am right now, but if you're used to working 15 hour days in the wrong time zone, you probably already know how I feel. I'm not able to type words longs than a few letters with mucking it all up. My speech is mostly word salad.

I'm rolling off the project in San Diego. I came out here for a two week gig in April and now, six months later, I'm finally rolling off.

And I will miss San Diego. I've come to really like this cool little border town. The climate is about the mildest climate I've ever found. It's not like San Francisco where you're always wishing it was about 9 degrees warmer. It's perfect in San Diego. The flowers here bloom all year round.

I'll truly miss the Birds of Paradise, the Jakaranda trees, Coral trees, Agapantha, Plumbago, Bottle Brush trees, Tulip trees, Butterly Iris, Natal plums, the date palms and toothpick palms. The Alliums and ice plants. I'll miss them all. Crazy to think how nice it is here.

As the project winds down, I find myself perched on the border of Mexico with an XR 650 and enough money to fill the tank and roll around for a few days.

And, of course it's easy to plan it and talk about it. Travel seems alluring from a safe distance. From a comfortable job beneath pallid florescent lights, anything seems better. Anything seems better than deadlines and 15 hour days and stress and work and sleep and bills and then suddenly, everything comes to a grinding halt.

The elevator stops and someone says "it's time to get off. thanks for playing. this is your stop."

And now, it's time to put up or shut up.

I'm in San Diego with an XR-650. In October. This is the perfect time of the year to be in Baja. It's cooling off. They're gearing up for the Baja 1000. All the motorheads are going to be down there, racing across the desert like mad. It's going to be a zoo down there. Insane.

And nobody out here makes you want to go. Without exception, everyone I talk to says "don't go. it's not safe. You'll be robbed. Or killed. Or kidnapped and held for ransom"

And, it's not like I haven't been here before. I have. The last time I pulled this, I was working in San Francisco and when I rolled off that project, I got in my prelude and drove down to Chula Vista. Right on the very border with Mexico. I got to the last U.S. exit and I pulled over for the night. I was planning on driving down into El Salvador. Same deal. But, the problem I ran into then was this. The further I run, the further I have to come back. So, that sort of sucks. I mean, I drove for 2 days straight to get from San Francisco to Chula Vista. I spent one night in Slo-town on the way down. But I recall that when I got to the border, I felt old and tired. So I turned around and drove to San Francisco and left the car at the airport, threw the plates a trash can, and flew back to Denver. So, that was the first time I chickened out on this trip.

And that was 5 years ago I'm sure. Maybe longer. So, it's not like I've gotten any younger.

And now, I've to got to go and do something that seems pretty crazy. I'm stepping way out of my comfort zone. I'm going drive across the Baja peninsula to Cabo San Lucas and, make no mistake. It's a LONG way to Cabo. It's over a thousand miles from San Diego. It's further than driving the length of the entire coast of California. If you look at Rosarita (the last place I went in Mexico), it's basically a suburb of San Diego. I think it's 60 km south of San Diego. It may as well be in the United States.

And, it's not like the XR is a good shooting platform. It's not. It's a great way to sight see, but a lousy way to take photos. The helmet makes it impossible to shoot through the view finder. The rear LCD panel does have a Live Preview mode, but then the auto-focus won't work (don't ask - i don't understand it either). So, you have to take your helmet off to take a photo. Shooting on a parked, idling motorcycle introduces unwanted/unnecessary vibrations into the photography process, so basically, to take a photo, you have to stop, kill the bike, take off your helmet, take a photo or 3, and then kick-start the bike again. Did I mention it's a 650cc bike without an electric start? It's hard to kick start, because there's a lot of compression. Like, without the compression release, I'd never make it past Top Dead Center.

My brother asked me today what kind of clothes I was going to take and I was like..."I'm taking the clothes on my back. That is all." It's not like the bike has a trunk. Or saddle bags. Or a brake light. Or anything like that. It doesn't have turn signals, a speedometer, an oil pressure gauge, a temperature gauge. Nada.

I'll be taking a small assortment of tools, a money belt, some pesos, a passport, a GPS, a helmet cam, two cameras, a laptop, and a cell phone. Just what will fit in my backpack and nothing more.

Again, for those of you playing the home game, this is not the brightest thing I've ever done. I don't even have a clear title to the thing yet. I tried to get it done, but the State of California was giving me grief, so I just pulled the plates off my bike in Colorado and threw them on the California bike.

And this is the curse of the village idiot, I think. Because I'm going to have to do it now, and, I mean, let's be honest here, sitting on a motorcycle for 10 hours at a time is not the average person's idea of fun. I have a lot to lose here. It would suck if I got paralyzed or tossed onto a cactus. Or broke down or ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere. Or got run over by some clowns pre-running the Baja 1000 (the Baja Mil). That's actually my biggest fear. Getting clocked by some clown running balls out through the desert.

But I could be robbed, of course. Or kidnapped. So, there's always that. I'll be flying solo...."gringo loco", was how Juan said it, I think. The crazy white guy wandering around on his own. Gringo Loco.

I'm not exactly sure how Gringo translates. I know that that's what they call white people, and I've even heard rumors of the origins of the term, but I'm still not sure exactly what they mean by it, as when I say "gringo loco", they always seem to laugh a little harder than they should if it just means "crazy white guy".

But, be that as it may, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. I mean, I'm going. If it's my role in life to play the roaming moron for the entertainment of others. So be it. If this is my cross to bear, then I'll live with it. If this is the curse of the village idiot, then it's a burden I'll try to bear with dignity.

I plan to spend the weekend in Colorado and then return and cross the border into Mexico on Monday afternoon. Probably drive down to Ensenada for the night. I'm going to notify the U.S. Embassy of my travel plans, and then head down to Cabo, taking 2-3 days getting down the peninsula. At Cabo, I'll check it out for a bit, and then hop the ferry across the Sea of Cortez to the mainland. From there, depending on how things are shaping up, I'll either try to get down into Guatemala, or I'll turn tail and head back to the U.S. Depends on how I feel when I get there, I think.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 8, 2009 at 12:40 AM : Comments (4) | Permalink

October 6, 2009

Autofit Tables in MS Word

Working with tables in MS Word is enough to make you want to start Killing Strangers. I finally found this tip, which helps marginally. Dealing with tables in MS Word still sucks though.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 6, 2009 at 7:33 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Delicious Autumn

There's a quote in the September in flight magazine for Frontier Airlines that goes like this.

"Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns. - George Eliot"

(George Eliot is actually a woman named Mary Ann Evans, and she was writing under a pseudonym.)

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 6, 2009 at 10:19 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

The Great American Desert

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 6, 2009 at 12:21 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 5, 2009

Colorado Photos

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 5, 2009 at 11:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 4, 2009

Clearing Land

I spent the weekend clearing the land out back. I couldn't say how many trees I've cut up at this point. I lost count. But I've gone though a gallon of chainsaw bar oil, and one chain. I've broken the bushhog more times than I can count. I went to Home Despot and got parts to repair the trailer and got it fixed. So, everything is sort of working at this point. One ATV won't go in reverse. Trailer and weedeater are in good shape. Can't run the chainsaw until I buy more oil. The mower is hanging in there, but it's not pretty. It's bent about every way it can be bent. The bar that connects it to the ATV is so loose that I can't back the mower up for jack. The back looks better, but it's slow going now. That land I'm clearing at this point is so thick, that I couldn't even find my property line. Sucks.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 4, 2009 at 7:24 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 3, 2009

Objects in Motion: Part 4

Pictures taken September 30, 2009. Sunset was at 6:46 P.M.

Martin and I started our ride a little after 5:00 P.M. The temperature was a little on the cool side -- cold enough that I wore my jacket and long pants. Since I had forgotten my water bottle, I was glad it wasn't hot.


I was, however, concerned about the wind. I don't know what the wind speeds actually were that day, but the forecast that morning called for gusts between 30 to 40 miles per hour.


The wind died down as we got a mile or two up Left Hand Canyon, making the ride easier than I thought it would be.

When we got to Jamestown a little after 6:00 P.M., it started raining. Fortunately, it didn't follow us as we turned around and headed back down the mountain, and we were out of the rain within minutes.

Because it was overcast, and close to sunset, I looked forward to getting some better pictures conveying a sense of motion. On earlier rides (see here and here), the exposure times ranged from 1/160 of a second up to 1/640 of a second, because of the bright sunlight. When I took the pictures below, the shutter speed was about 1/30 of a second, resulting in a more blurred background.

Since there was very little traffic compared to the weekends, it was easier for me to remain in position to get some better shots. That's something that's not always easy to do when you and your subject are both moving at 20 to 30 miles per hour, and you're trying to not get hit by a car.

I hadn't realized that this was the same day that the BBC's Viewfinder Photo Blog had published reader's pictures on the theme of "Speed."

Continue reading "Objects in Motion: Part 4"

Posted by Robert Racansky on October 3, 2009 at 8:37 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Italy's Amazing Amateur Space Watchers

On May 17, 1961, the voices of two men and a woman recorded from space at locations in Italy, Alaska, and Sweden by amateur radio operators. The voices were in a desperate conversation - "Conditions growing worse why don't you answer? ... we are going slower... the world will never know about us . . ." Then silence. The same words were picked up in Alaska and Sweden. Their meaning? No one will know until the Russians choose to talk.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 3, 2009 at 7:41 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Who Put This Idiot In the Whitehouse?

As unemployment continues to rise, Obama's solution is to...anyone want to make a guess? Anyone....Anyone? If you said "pay people not to work", step forward and claim your hammer and sickle. It's obvious to any free-market capitalist that the government cannot solve the economic crisis, they can only make it worse. If we were to shut down DC tomorrow and repeal welfare, unemployment insurance and payments, and repeal income tax, this country would take off like you've never seen. The government is the problem, not the cure.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 3, 2009 at 7:13 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Objects in Motion: Part 3

Reviewing the picture of the Porsche I took on September 25 got me interested in trying to re-create the effect.

On Monday, September 28 (which happened to be Yom Kippur), I decided to shoot some more pictures at the intersection of Broadway and Spruce in downtown Boulder.

I was there from about 7:30 P.M. to a little after 8:00 P.M. Sunset was at 6:49 P.M. that day.


exposure time = 1/8 second

Instead of using my 28-135mm I.S. lens, I decided to use my 50mm lens, since it goes down to f/1.8, whereas my 28-135mm lens only goes down to f/3.5. The lower the f-stop number, the wider open the aperture is, which lets in more light.

The downside was that I had to stand so far back from the street that the building I was next to obstructed my view of Broadway toward the south. I would have to stand on the corner, and when I saw a vehicle that looked interesting, I would have to take several steps back into position, and hope that I could focus on it and begin panning as it came into view.

Continue reading "Objects in Motion: Part 3"

Posted by Robert Racansky on October 3, 2009 at 5:43 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Objects in Motion: Part 2

Pictures taken September 27, 2009.


Continue reading "Objects in Motion: Part 2"

Posted by Robert Racansky on October 3, 2009 at 4:47 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Objects in Motion: Part 1

Photos taken on September 19, 2009, during a bike ride to and from Jamestown.


Continue reading "Objects in Motion: Part 1"

Posted by Robert Racansky on October 3, 2009 at 4:12 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Oktoberfest Promotion

Last week, I encountered a group of people in downtown Boulder promoting their upcoming Oktoberfest celebration. Yesterday, I went back to downtown, with a camera this time, figuring they would be doing the same thing on a Friday evening.


Continue reading "Oktoberfest Promotion"

Posted by Robert Racansky on October 3, 2009 at 8:38 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 2, 2009

Jennifer and Tess

Here's a photo of Jen and Tess that Peggy took at the Fun Run last week.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 2, 2009 at 8:34 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

October 1, 2009

Toyota Recalls 3.8 Million Vehicles

So, in case you missed it, Toyota recalled 3.8 million vehicles this week. The reason for the recall was a crash in Santee, CA (near San Diego) that happened about a month ago. At first, I heard the story in passing and basically my understanding was that someone was in a car where the throttle got jammed wide open and the car crashed resulting in death(s). But I was like...this doesn't sound right. If a car's throttle gets stuck wide open, you could just put on the brakes or turn it off or something. Must have been a woman driver.

Then, I asked around a bit and learned that it was actually a CHP officer driving in the accident and a call was placed to 911 during the incident, and the car crashed killing the driver and everyone in the car with him. This caused me to reconsider the accident. Like, if some woman crashes her car...sure..the throttle was stuck. Whatever. But a CHP officer..how could this happen? What had really occurred?

So, I went online and did a little research. I was still thinking that the guy could have put on the brakes or turned off the ignition. However, I learned that witnesses saw them driving 120 mph with "fire coming from the wheels" before it crashed, indicative of "long, constant, heavy braking," before they crashed.

And I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he had probably locked the emergency brake and the regular brakes as well, but the brakes overheated to the point of apparently catching on fire, at which point they are of very little use.

So, the guy is going 120 mph down California State Highway 125 and the brakes won't stop the car. So, the next logical question is "why not turn the key and shut off the ignition?" My hunch was that he was in one of those new fancy cars with the push button ignition. I was right. He was in a brand new 2009 Lexus ES 350 with the tricky push-button to start the car. It doesn't really have an ignition to speak off. You have the key in your pocket, basically. And you push the button and the car starts. It wasn't the CHP officer's car. It was on loan from a local dealer. So, he was probably about as familiar with this new technology as most people are, which is to say, not very familiar with it at all. Probably, if he had pushed the button in and held it for 3 seconds, it would have shut off.

So, the brakes won't stop the car, and you can't figure out how to turn the ignition off in this new fangled car, the next thing to do is to put it in Neutral or in Park. I'm not 100% sure that this would work but I assume that it would. I've been in a moving car when it was put in Park, and it makes a loud racket, because there's a "Lockout" feature which will prevent a car from going into park while it's moving, but it might disengage the engine from the transmission. I'm not 100% sure on this. However, putting it in Neutral should work, I would think. But I'm not certain on this either. I can tell you this...I used to have a 1987 Mustang GT 5.0 High Output 302 5-speed. What I learned while drag racing it out at Ennis, Texas, is that if you have it first gear, and the throttle nailed to the floor, you can pull back on the stick shift as hard as you want and the car will not come out of gear. Not while the engine is shoving 225 horsepower through the transmission it won't. True, if you push in the clutch, you can change gears then, but if you don't let off the throttle, the engine will red-line in under a second, and will blow in about 2 seconds.

Now, obviously, the vehicle he was in was an automatic, or else he would have just held in the clutch and let the engine red line until it seized. However, if a car with an automatic transmission is floored and you try to take it out of drive while it's floored, I'm not 100% sure that it will come out of gear. I think it will, but I'd hate to bet my life on it and find out going 120 mph up to a T intersection.

Finally, I think what doomed them, however, was not just what was going on with the car, which was unimaginably confusing and horrific. I think what doomed them was "group think".

I believe that everyone in the car deferred to the experience of the driver, and remained calm, assuming that he would figure it out. If you listen to the 911 call, they actually sound remarkably calm when you consider that they're careening down the road at 120 mph with the brakes on fire. The guy in the back seat has the presence of mind to call 911 and have a conversation with the 911 operator before they all plunge to their fiery deaths in a canyon.

What they should have done was got the other guy in the front seat to try to either 1) kill the engine or 2) get it out of gear or 3) get the accelerator unstuck. But I think that everyone just deferred to the patriarch and he was unable to process what was going on, in what must have been a nightmare - trying to control a car careening out of control at 120 mph that isn't even your car.

And I'm not saying I could have done any better, either. Don't get me wrong. I'm just trying to understand what happened, as are a lot of people I think. May they rest in peace.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 1, 2009 at 10:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink


Posted by Rob Kiser on October 1, 2009 at 8:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink