It is the 11th of January, 2023. This is supposed to be day one of my Epic Journey to South America, and it has started slow! It is past noon and I am still at home. I should have been on the road at 5 AM. Why am I still home, and not on the road toward the most Epic adventure I have been planning for years? Well, because I ordered a set of SIDI Adventure travel boots from Europe about nine days ago. They were supposed to arrive three days after I ordered them. I found out on the 9th of January that they had not even been shipped yet! So much for trusting overseas companies! I emailed the company asking about the boots and letting them know I was expecting them before I left on a long trip, and they immediately sent me an email saying that they were on the way. They shipped them a few hours later. And now FEDEX tracking shows them arriving a day after I am scheduled to depart. January 12 was too late. I couldn't wait! On the 10th of January, FedEx sent me an update that the boots had arrived in the US. They were on their way to Washington DC and would arrive on the 12th. No, this is not the way I am starting this journey. I called FEDEX immediately and asked very nicely if there was any way to expedite delivery. A very helpful agent said very politely that the boots were scheduled for delivery on the 12th. Only the shipper could change that, and I would have to call them. The boots are coming from the Netherlands! I explained my situation and let the nice agent know about my epic trip across the Americas. She asked me to hold and then checked the system again, and somehow my boots were now, possibly, to be delivered on the 11th. Sometimes you just have to ask nicely! This FEDEX agent was my first angel on this epic journey, but there would be many more. Why do I tell you this, and why is this important? Because in less than two months, these boots would play a huge role in saving my feet and legs from significant damage in an epic crash in the Andes. But who knew that? Only fate and the heavens.
My FedEx angel didn't guarantee it. She said, there's a good chance you may get them tomorrow! That was enough for me! I had made arrangements with Rafael Banquetero Borja, and Cynthia Franklin to meet in Texas. We meant to cross into Mexico on the 12th and start this extraordinary journey of a lifetime, intent on crossing central and South America on our motorcycles. A journey few people in this world dare even attempt, and even fewer complete. We decided to meet in Laredo, Texas, and cross into Mexico through the Nuevo Laredo border.
So, back to the boots. Impatient as I was, I am tracking the boots from the FedEx facility to my house every five minutes! Holy smokes, they might just make it here this afternoon!! I go outside to recheck my bike. It's fully loaded. I decide to go for a quick test ride around the neighborhood! I put all my gear on and get on. Starts great! She feels balanced. I drive around the neighborhood once, and then go by my house, about to turn the corner, when I see what looks like a FedEx van! My boots must be in there!! As I watch the FEDEX van start to turn onto my street, I begin to turn my handlebar, but I'm going so slow that the full weight of my bike shifts to the left, and before I can put my foot down, it is too late! This would be one of more than six times I drop my bike in the next two months. Guardian Angel number two would turn out to be the FedEx van driver. As soon as she saw me fall, she stopped in the middle of the street and came to help me lift my 800-pound fully loaded bike, and then drove to my door to drop off my boots! Embarrassed and thankful, I grabbed my SIDI Goretex adventure boots, went in the house, tore open that box like a five-year-old on Christmas, and then I put them on! Badass! Awesome! These were the boots I have always wanted but never knew about!
The journey has officially begun! I get on my bike, and on the road! Let's burn some rubber and eat some miles! It's late in the afternoon, and I have to be in Texas tomorrow. I'm going to Mexico! An hour into my ride, the check engine light comes on. Damn it! I'm not going back home. The nearest HD dealer, going south, is Stonewall HD in Orange, Virginia, about 20 minutes away. I stop there, have my bike checked, and buy a new set of heated gloves and a heated vest. It was 46 degrees when I left the house. The low tonight was forecast to be in the 30s and the weather is predicted to be severe! Virginia to Laredo is far!! 1700+ miles is not a bad ride, when you've already done at least 20 much longer trips before, but suffering through severe weather, snow, cold rain, and strong winds while riding in the dark in VA forced me to stop early this evening. Anyhow, I got less than 300 miles from home, 278 to be exact, and 1439 miles to Laredo. Need sleep! I text Rafael and Cynthia and let them know I will be a day late. Texas was still 15 hours away. Laredo would take me at least a day and a half! I stop at a Holiday Inn Express in Pulaski, VA, for the night, and take out the very small doll my 6-year-old made for me. She named her after herself, Amy, and asked me to take pictures of her along the way!
I woke up at 4:30 in the morning on the 12th, and it was below 40 degrees and forecast to snow on my route. It isn't just cold. The winds are high, and the road is wet. It will be an interesting day, for sure!
I take a few moments to video my bike. She will not look this neat and clean again this entire trip. In truth, she will not look this new or whole again during my trip!
I am determined to ride to Texas, even if it is through rain, fog, sleet, and snow. Like a madman, I drive 1046 miles, stopping to refuel, use the bathroom, and eat a light snack now and then, making it past Dallas. In the biker world, that is what we call doing an Iron Butt. or 1000 miles in less than 24 hours. It is madness. It was a long day, but I will make Laredo before noon tomorrow. Along the way, my bike's fuel pump started to make an awful sound, like a banshee screaming in agony. This sound will haunt me for many days to come. Day two is done, and it has been a cold and dreadful ride, but I'm smiling. Tomorrow is another day.