Posts Tagged With: travel

Rules to Travel By

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I was asked by Cee Cee Broughton to share my rules to follow when traveling in third world countries. It’s really quite simple and has worked for me for over 60 years. Respect the culture; remember you’re a guest; leave entitlement at home; listen more than speak; show admiration, gratitude and humility to your hosts; smile and greet people with kindness, no matter the situation; remain calm and act with confidence and assurance; always move slowly and think before you speak; and most importantly, smile. Actually, that works everywhere. Remember, if nothing goes wrong, it’s not an adventure.

I have to confess, these rules work me for simply living.

Categories: Baja, motorcycle camping, travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

The Back Story for the Almost Human Series

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I’m often asked what the backstory is to my Almost Human Series. Recently, I wrote a short collection of some of my stories. In one way or another, they’ve worked their way into my novels, Almost Human and Becoming Human. You can get a free copy by signing up for my newsletter on this blog or email me at decrkl@charter.net. These experiences served as the foundation on which I built my characters and settings. The plot came from a deeper place, late at night, when the characters came to visit me and tell their stories as I wrote.

Ernest Hemingway once said, “In order to write about life you must live it.” While I’m not Hemingway, I believe this and have tried to write about what I know and have lived.  Most of the time, my writing is loosely autobiographical.

I hope you enjoy them. For those of you who have read Almost Human or Becoming Human, they will seem familiar and you’ll get the connection.

Here is the first chapter of Animal Days. I hope you enjoy it!

Chapter One, Animal Days – Kenneth L. Decroo

One evening the mid-eighties, while working as the technical adviser and chimp trainer on the movie Animal Behavior, I relaxed after a long day of filming on location in Albuquerque, New Mexico with the movie’s human stars, Karen Allen and Armand Assante. After a few drinks, Armand commented on how humanlike my chimp Mike seemed. Mike, the animal star of the movie, played a chimp who used American Sign Language.

I put on my university professor hat and pontificated on all the traits we humans shared with chimps. I mentioned that they differed from us by only one chromosome; that we could catch a cold from them and them from us; that they had the same ABO blood type groups like us, and that they were more closely related to us than a gorilla. I talked about my work as a linguistic research assistant on a project in Reno that had successfully taught chimps to communicate using American Sign Language (ASL) as used by the deaf.

The information fascinated them, and Karen asked, “Since chimps are so closely related to us, could they breed with humans?

“The famous primatologist Robert Yerkes once mentioned in one of his lectures that it was not only possible but also it’s rumored that the Soviets had attempted it in the 1920s,” I replied— remember that we’d had at a few drinks! “The rumor goes as far as suggesting that the Soviets had had success but the hybrids were on a ship that had burned at sea.”

My audience’s eyes widened, and we continued talking into the evening.

After the bar closed, I drove back to my accommodation, rolled some paper into my old Royal typewriter, sat down, and wrote chapter two. The setting is the University of Nevada, Reno, where I’d worked. In that chapter, Dr. Ken Turner gives a lecture filled with the information I’d shared with Karen and Armand.

The hour grew late, and I had an early call time. I’d just finished chapter two and was preparing for bed when Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald played on the radio. Inspired by the music, I rolled in another paper and wrote the first chapter in which a Soviet cargo ship carrying a mysterious cargo runs aground during a big storm. And so The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald is another link in the circle that became the Almost Human Series.

I wrote those two chapters in 1984.

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Becoming Human – Paperback is Out!

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Unplugged!

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We’ll be headed to the GSG Mountain Meyham in West Virginia because everyone said I had a good time at the last one! http://mms.gsgiants.com/Calendar/moreinfo_responsive.php?eventid=9034&org_id=GSGI becs

We will stop at a few rallies going and coming, BMW MOA International Rally (Des Moines, IW) and the BMW RA (Wellsburo, PA).

I’ll be speaking at in Des Moines and Wellsburo; Motorcycling in Baja: Is it Safe? and Moto Camping: Everything You Want to Know.

So I will be unplugged for a few weeks unless I get lost and wonder back onto the tarmac!

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The Ride of My Life

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Here’s the latest video posted on The Ride of My Life. I have a story in about the middle of the clip. Check it out!

 

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Adventure with Greg Rossler

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Here is a link to Greg Rossler’s recent trip report to Baja: Click Here! Greg is a close friend and fellow rider. He and his brother, Dave, are worldclass riders and adventures. Thanks Greg for letting me share this great adventure.

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Camping Article – BMW MOA Magazine

As summer approaches and many riders are getting ready to head out on the roads and trails, I thought I would make available a reprint of my July 2017 article on motorcycle camping.  Please click the link for my full article with strategies and lists of everything about motorcycle camping: CampingFeature copy. I hope you enjoy it!

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BAJA 1000

In case you were wondering why I spend so much time down in Baja. Here are some clips from the famous Baja 1000 a few years ago.  Thanks to my friend and fellow rider Tanner Jett of Herwaldt Motorsports in Fresno, CA. for providing the clip.

 

Categories: Baja | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Bahia de Los Angeles

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Headed to Bahia de Los Angeles in a week and a half! We’ll be working on our place at Campo Gecko and doing a little fishing. Most importantly, we’ll be unplugged so I’ll be able to work on the third book in the Almost Human series. What could go wrong?

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Hecho en Mexico! – Lessons from the Road

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Many years ago while traveling in the backcountry of Baja I learned an important lesson that I have carried with me ever since.

Several of us were on a fishing adventure slowly making our way down the old Mexican 1 which serpentines it’s way along the backbone of this wild peninsula. We were in the middle of one of the loneness and driest places on earth, the Vizcaino Desert, when I felt a hard jolt followed by a loud clanging. My jeep coasted to a halt next to a large Boogun tree, engine still running. My son, Sam, ran up the dusty road and retrieved the driveshaft. It is amazing at how quiet and empty the desert can feel when you are broken down in the middle of it.

After a little trouble-shooting we figured that we could limp back to the village of Catavina some miles away by engaging the 4WD, which still transferred power to the front wheels. And so we began a long and tedious trek back to that little pueblo.

Upon arriving, we searched for a mechanic to help us. Actually, this place had more abandoned dwellings than occupied. But as luck would have it we found a guy who had ran out of money and was stranded there waiting for an opportunity to continue his journey North and he was a mechanic—only in Mexico.

Julio examined the shaft by rolling it on the crumbling pavement of an old abandoned gas station to check its trueness. I remember looking at a peeling mural of a map of the peninsula with a star marking our location. We were a long ways from home. The station had shut down years before for lack of traffic. Since its closure, the only fuel available was gotten from fifty-gallon drums strained through a chamois. My attention went back to Julio, who was shaking his head while examining the broken strap. We would not be traveling far without a new one.

I began to worry when he shaded his eyes from the intense Baja sun and scanned the surrounding desert. Without a word, he abruptly left us and carefully picked his way through the cacti toward a line of wrecked vehicles. I watched him disappear underneath a rusting Chevy pickup with a cholla growing up through its missing hood.

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Upon returning, he told me he needed 80 pesos to pay the man who “owned” it. Sensing I did not understand, he explained that he would have to salvage the pin bearings from it and further he would need to buy a strap from another “owner” of an old Ford rusting on the other side of the road. He smiled sweeping his arms across the desert encompassing at least thirty old, rusting vehicles and said, “This is my parts department.” The parts he needed would need to be salvaged off these abandoned wrecks.

Without any further discussion, he began to work. Using the tools we always carried on these adventures and an old rickety jack, he worked for a couple hours in the sweltering heat. First, he replaced each pin bearing one by one and than slowly jacked the shaft back up in place using a cradle he had made from pieces of wood he had sent the village children out to gather from along side the road.

By now, we had attracted most of the villagers; us being the best entertainment in town. I remember my friend, Fritz, teaching the game of chess from the tailgate of his pickup.

I asked Julio at one point how he was going to balance the shaft so it would spin true when reconnected to the engine. He smiled as he propped one end on a rock and took a small hand sledge and carefully lifted it a few inches above and struck it. He did this a couple of times more with care and precision. When he finished, he proudly said, “Hecho en Mexico!” Made in Mexico!

I paid Julio less than a hundred dollars for the whole job, which got him on his way and us as well. We continued our journey south to explore many bays and beaches without names that fueled countless campfire stories to this day. Years later, I passed that jeep on to my son and it still runs and has never needed any modifications to Julio’s repairs.

When you leave the frontiers and venture down the back roads of Baja there is no Auto Club to call, no machine shops, no dealerships, or Auto Zones to stop at. You only have yourself and the kindness of strangers. These strangers, the locals, are geniuses at making do with what they have. They live by the adage that necessity is the mother of all invention. It is what surely attracts me to these lonely places over and over.

When not writing and adventuring on my moto, I work as an educational consultant here in California. Doing that work in these times is not much different. We are bombarded with an endless stream of regulations and directives from the state and federal government that cost large sums of money to implement while we are asked to do it with less.

We find ourselves spending more and more time out of classrooms meeting the needs of outside bureaucrats who claim to have all of the answers. But when all is said and done, the solutions are in the talent we have all around us. The secret to our success is the same as Julio’s; use our own talent and ingenuity to solve the problem.

We need to invest in ourselves for a change. This of course, will not make the test making companies, “consultants,” textbook publishers, software designers and outside trainers very happy in their quest for billions of our tax dollars.

But in my experience, a good teacher who makes positive connections with children will out perform any program, any time. That is were I have always put my money because I am used to betting on winners.

 

Categories: education, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments