Tom Petty was onto something when he sang, "The waiting is the hardest part".
We have been in San Antonio since mid-December, which has forced us into preparation-mode for 2 months. 2 WHOLE MONTHS. We're getting a bit stir crazy... in fact, my leg is twitching at this very moment.
It turns out that it takes a ton of work beforehand to do a trip like we're planning. That being said, I can't lie and pretend like we've been entirely committed. We've spent a good number of afternoons hanging out with friends, watching stupid sitcoms and bumming around our parents' houses with Bacon.
Though there has been a healthy amount of procrastination, we are actually almost ready. Getting tolls together was a major ordeal. The pile I created originally (which I'm pretty sure had become self-aware) was ridiculously over-the-top. There was no way that it would have ever fit on BigBoi. I'm pretty proud of the way I was able to cut it down in order to fit in one bag:
I was very thorough in making sure I still had what I NEED as opposed to what I WANT. If I could take everything that I want, I would have kidnapped the head mechanic from the BMW dealership here in San Antonio and had him come along. We'll have to resort to our own meager understanding of mechanics instead.
One thing I've learned over the past couple of weeks: BMW part are EXPENSIVE. Like really, really expensive. Like $180 for a set of brake pads expensive. Here are some BMW specific parts that we're taking along:
- fuel pump controller (no fuel filter in our GSA - crazy)
- front and rear brake pads (due to the weight of the rig, they wear quickly)
- oil cap and various o-rings
- alternator belt
- various light bulbs (we've already had a headlight burn out)
- octane booster and fuel system cleaner
- repair kit for wheel bearings
- air filters
- various cables
My biggest concern at the moment is fuel quality. I have a feeling that the horror stories I've heard are a little exaggerated...
I've also decided to buy a winch, just in case. I ended up going with a fairly compact unit from Northern Tool. I bought some extra cable that will attach to a boat anchor (which can be driven into the ground) if there is nothing else to loop the cable around.
I originally thought that a Madam rope puller would be perfect, until it came in the mail. I suppose I should've read the specs more carefully. A little too big even for us.
Among the gear we collected is a new waterproof bag from Bass Pro Shop (with roll-down top) that will lay behind me on the bike. I like to have something to lean against and our trusted North Face duffle was no longer repelling water.
To satisfy my nerd-dom, we got a Spot Connect (thanks to Kristen's dad) that will allow us to send emails and texts from anywhere we can get hooked up with a satellite.
Kristen has spent a lot of time making sure all our camping gear is ready to go. We decided on our smaller MSR tent instead of the beast we've been lugging around.
We also made a few minor modifications to the rig. The inside of Kristen's camera compartment is worth mentioning - she's added some padding which was sorely needed.
I decided I wanted a gas can holder that was lockable, so I called up Adventure Trailers (http://www.adventuretrailers.com/) and made a purchase. They got it to me quickly, but I just didn't feel very good about the mounting system. So, my dad and I came up with a plan to beef it up and I think it came out nicely.
After our snafu on I-10, I made one last check of the wheel bearings as well:
Just when I thought we were on top of things, we received an email from our shipping broker to let us know that we needed to get the bike down to Houston and crated by the next day. It turns out that customs requires vehicles to be in their possession for 72 hours before being exported, a detail that had slipped my mind until we received the email. So, we went into hyper speed and barely squeezed BigBoi onto our trailer.
Before we left, my little sister (who happens to be 6 feet tall) let me know how much she wanted to come with us. She also confirmed that Bigboi is indeed huge.
As is normal, at least for us, we had to throw everything together at the last minute. We stayed up way too late and then my dad and I headed off to the coast early the next morning.
We arrived at MEI Crating and put on quite the show. MEI was very professional but they are used primarily to crate parts for oil rigs to be shipped overseas. BigBoi stood out quite a bit, especially when I rode him through the warehouse.
We let the rig to be crated and immediately headed back to San Antonio so that Kristen and I could finish getting all of our gear together while the box was being built.
The next day, Kris and I drove back to Houston again to put all of our gear into the now completed crate so that we wouldn't have to check bags when we fly down to Chile ourselves. We walked into the warehouse to find BIgBoi like this:
Very Raiders of the Lost Ark. With no time to waste, I jumped in and we packed our stuff away for its journey overseas.
After making sure everything was secured in case of high seas (how amazing is it that I can legitimately type that sentence?), we left the crate to be completed and delivered while we jumped in the car to head to the port. This is where things got hinky.
We arrived to find that the port was very serious about security. In fact, we weren't even allowed on the premises until our crate was delivered and when we were, it was necessary for us to have an escort to lead us to the port offices in a golf cart.
It was as we were getting our paperwork settled with the port that we were given the bad news: the customs office, which was on the other side of town, closed at 4:00 PM. It was 3:15 PM. Bad, bad news. The port officer was extremely helpful and rushed to get us out as quickly as possible. Our escort, who had drifted off somewhere, had other ideas. 10 minutes later, he finally showed up and led us off the property.
After battling the lovely Houston traffic (remind me to never move here) we arrived at Customs at around 3:58 PM. We sprinted inside where we were given the quote of the day from a sassy officer. The dude just didn't like me. He did, however, like my pretty bride and I was reminded of how beneficial her presence will be at border crossings.
Our broker had given us some instruction about what we needed from Customs and the officer wasn't complying. Eventually he asked where our broker was from, we told him Gaston was from Miami, and he died laughing. "Well that's Miami...this is Houston, BABY!".
As we walked out the door, we promptly executed a perfect Top Gun high-five. We had done it. BigBoi is headed to South America!
So now we're back in real time. The bike arrives in Valparaiso, Chile on February 19th and then is taken to a warehouse in San Antonio, Chile (weird) where we will eventually pick it up. We fly into Santiago on the 22nd and will immediately head to the bike to take it through to Customs (Aduana in Spanish). It's happening. This is happening. We're going to South America.
Until we leave, we'll be taking joyrides on Elga while we can (she's super jealous of what's happening).
We'll also be pouring over maps trying to figure out where we're supposed to go when we get there. I should clear that up, Kristen will be pouring over the maps as she's the official navigator. I'm just a chauffeur.
We've also been taking some Spanish classes seeing as neither of us paid much attention when we were in high school...
And the inevitable finally happened: my facial hair changed to an gentleman's mustache. I have to admit that I'm very pleased with how it turned out. In my mind, if I were to ever stumble across Sam Elliott, he would greet me with a firm handshake and a wink. He would also whisper the password to the secret club that he, Tom Selleck, Groucho Marx, and Super Mario created for men of their particular caliber.
More as we get closer to our departure!