2-Up to Samana Peninsula - cavebiker & cavegirl

cavebiker

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Feb 10, 2012
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Just about every day cavegirl and I ride five or six miles along the north coast to Gold?s gym, and that means we are likely to hit rain once or twice a week. Last week we are caught in a downpour that conked out the bike. WT_, bikes are supposed to be able to get wet. We coast over to a driveway that leads up to a ranch and the rancher just happens to be at the gate. In the rain, the rancher comes over to talk and see if we needed any help. While trying to restart the bike he smelled gas and suggested we shut off the petcock, thinking we flooded it. He tells us he was into motorcycles when he was younger and had a bad accident once spending three months in a hospital. Anyway, he suggests we just wait a while before trying it again. He talks about his ranch, about when he lived in New York and how he likes his life here in the DR. Heidi mentions how we love the island. He says ?Yes, the island is beautiful but some of the people are not? We know what he means, we know first hand. Heidi says ?Yes, there are bad people everywhere?


After a few minutes, I try the bike again. It fires right up. Heidi and I both thank the rancher for his help and say we enjoyed talking with him.


So what the heck is with the bike? I remember riding my first bike, a Suzuki 100, through the snow. When I rode on salted streets, the sparkplug would short out and kill the bike. I remember wiping off the plug and plug wire with pure snow to get it running again. I thought that having our bike parked a hundred yards from the ocean surf everyday was our problem. I am sure the plug and plug wire is coated with a layer of salt slime, just like the slime that coats our sunglasses every day we walk the beach. My guess is that the salt slime mixed with rainwater is what is shorting out our bike.


We are getting ready for a week long ride to the east end of the island, and chances are we will hit rain. I do not want to have the bike stall with Heidi on board, ever, especially in a heavy rain. Because of the radiator on the engine and all the plastic cowling that goes along with that, the plug, wire and coil are hard to get to. I purchase a can of WD-40 and spray it all over the plug and wire in an attempt to clean off any salt. I will not know if I did any good until we get caught in another heavy rain. Fingers crossed.


All Right, Heidi and I have our island life routine down. We lift, swim, windsurf, beach walk, read, write, try to eat healthy and play cards. We call our life ?our job?. We like what we do but like with any job, sometimes we need a vacation (wink).


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We are off to the Samana peninsula, the extreme eastern tip of the island. It is a long ride so we get up early, slam a fruit and yogurt shake with plans to eat a more on the road. Fifteen minutes down the coast, we stop at our favorite Dominican restaurant in Sabaneta.


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Two fried eggs and a mound of mashed potatoes is a perfect way to start a long motorcycle ride.


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The north coast of the Dominican Republic, east of Cabarete is a beautiful ride filled with incredible scenery, palm trees and ocean surf.


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Our bike is a Yamaha DT-125 Enduro. I love the bike, we both do but the seat is not a touring seat. So that means when we are on a long tour we need to stop often. OK with us, that is the way we like to ride anyway.

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When we see a spot to pull off the road with palm trees and an ocean view, we stop, rest our behinds and talk. We have this cruising system down. Our conversations are geared to our ride, our planned destinations, what we need to be thinking about while on the road and what we need to be looking out for. I light up inside when Heidi is into the conversation as much as I am. I am so lucky to have her as a riding partner. I have never been so in-sync with anyone. But, I know I need to be smart, I must constantly be vigilant, I must keep us safe and I need to help make this fun. It is not an easy job, but it is a job I accept with every ounce of my being. The payback is huge!


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We love checking out the beachside homes here and envisioning the Robinson Crusoe life people must have who live in them.


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I see another nice looking spot to pull off the road but Heidi thought it intruding on the game if we rode through. We stop short of the beach and get off the bike. The players stop the game and tell us to pass. We tell them that we are just resting and will enjoy watching the game. I said ?!Republica Dominica beisbol es primero!? (Dominican Republic baseball is number one!)


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I prefer to stop at places like this to buy water or juice while on the road. I do it mainly for the cultural experience. Plus, we enjoy helping support the rural economy. I cannot get anyone to wait on me here. I try several polite ?Hola? s but no one appeared. Then a person sitting at the restaurant next door comes over to help and shouts ?!Pedro! !Pedro!? That works. Pedro pops out of a room in back and sells us a couple bottles of water, perfect.


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Heidi enjoys taking photos of the scene and the local traffic.


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We pass through a few large cities and several beach communities before reaching the Samana peninsula.


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We stop for a rest and hydration at the village Sanchez, this is the start of Samana peninsula. Our plan is to loop the peninsula. Samana village, a couple nights in Las Galeras and a few in Las Terrenas, sounds good to us. When we rode through here back in 1995? there was no place to stay in Las Galeras and the road to Las Terrenas was so bad we never made it. However, the word is that things have changed a lot in the past fifteen years. We will see?


Hang On, more is on the way?
 

frank12

Gold
Sep 6, 2011
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Great photos, great writing, great writing voice!

I was crusing down the north coast today from Cabarete to Cabrera. i was on a KTM 950sm, and my Swedish friend was on a Honda 250xr. this was around 230pm to 3pm. we went to Hotel Catalina in Cabrera to skinny dip. I don't think we passed you?

I go to Gold's gym every weekday monday thru friday. I can't recall seeing your bike in the parking lot, however, i go in the afternoons, so maybe that's why. If you ever see a KTM 950SM or a blue and yellow 550 Husaberg supermoto in the parking lot, then i'm either in the gym or in the restaurant with my topless cavegirl girlfriend. we always have our helmets sitting on the table in front us or on one of the sofas if were sitting on the sofa. they have very good wifi at the restaurant--very fast!, so i'm usually writing, working on a book.

I'm not easy to miss...i'm a cross between a homeless person and a badly dressed drag queen with unruly grey hair. my clothes never match, and despite working in gay bars half my adult life, i don't know how to dress right. My cavegirl girlfriend is not easy to miss either...she looks like someone who just stepped out of a "Girl's Gone Wild" video--she never wears a bra (she's Russian)--her boobs are usually resting on something solid...like the table in front of us, her hair is big and messy, and she's usually doing shots of vodka, unless it's before 12pm; oh, she wears shorts three sizes too small, and as a result, things tend to hang out.

Anyway, if you see any unusual motorcycles in the parking lot--including a red CBR1000rr, a red yamaha 125 Zuma, the Husaberg 550 Supermoto, a unicycle, or a beat-up police car with the lights still flashing, then you know i'm there. Let's have coffee.

Frank
 

cavebiker

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Feb 10, 2012
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Hey frank12,
Man I sure wish these trip reports were current because we all would have a great time together being neighbors and all. But we are back on the mainland US now working toward our next residentancy in the DR. But please say hi to all out friends at Gold's from Heidita e Tomas, and don't forget! We hope you two are still there when we bust-out again.
 

cavebiker

Have a dream, live it. Set a goal, achieve it.
Feb 10, 2012
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www.justadventuretravel.net
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Samana is a beautiful port city where sailboats often spend extended periods of time because of the protection from the trade winds and some hurricanes. Some boats never leave…

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I pull over in an open field to take a few photos. A Russian tourist is nice and takes a couple photos of us together.

Heidi and I spent a few nights here back in 95’. Back then, the city was real low key but on our way through this time, it feels like the city is bursting at the seams. There is a huge cruise ship anchored off shore with hundreds, maybe thousands of tourists milling about. All we want to do is look at our guidebook and talk about where we want to spend the night. I pull in front of a row of open-air bars, we just need to chat and order a couple bottles of water. Well, the bars are all packed with tourists and pounding with loud music. Immediately a waiter tries to seat us, then a tourist woman rushes at me saying that the beer here is the coldest she has ever had. I thanked them both. Heidi and I jump back on the bike and roll out ASAP. We agree to just wing-it and head for Las Galeras.

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Heidi asks me if I know where I am going. I say “We just hug the coast. If we see water on our right, we are going the right way” Heidi gives me a little jab, meaning ‘Yeah! OK Tom!’ But I knew its a little love-jab also because she knows I’m confident and I know what I’m doing.

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We see some kids watching a baseball game.

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We like how people hang laundry. On a fence, on rocks or just about anywhere.

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Las Galeras is a stunningly gorgeous beach. When we lived here between 95’ and 97’, it was our favorite motorcycle destination. Back then, the road from Samana to here was all dirt with nothing but coconut plantations in between. Now there are several resorts and a few small communities.

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Heidi is trying to take over my job as photographer…

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Out in the bay is the island we photographed back in 1996’ we remember saying to each other that we wanted to live there.

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1996’

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We park the bike at an open-air restaurant at the end of the road.

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There are several hotels and B&Bs in Las Galeras now along with a bustling but small village, perfect. We get out the guidebook to look for a place for the night. This is our favorite way to travel, make plans as you go.

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I start to setup the camera to take a timed photo when an American named John offers to take the photo.

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John and Linda from New York. What a fun couple. We talk, laugh, tell stories and drink beers, good time. We could not believe how much we had in common. We intentionally don’t seek other North Americans to hang out with when we travel, but sometimes we meet some super interesting people and are glad we did. If you’re an independent traveling couple in Las Galeras, chances are you could be interesting indeed.

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Heidi wanted a little pampering, what a score.

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The owner designed and built this B&B, its a work of art. And, the breakfast is as much as you can eat and drink (I love coffee in the morning). It is more then I like to pay but well worth it, especially if you consider the breakfast and how the owners make you feel like you are at your home.

--> check it: Sol Azul Hotel Bed & Breakfast Las Galeras Samana - Sol Azul.

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Before leaving town, we stop for water. When I went to turn the cap back on the water bottle, I notice the cap seal is not there. I cannot remember if the seal broke and fell off when I first opened the bottle, but I don't think so. Heidi and I looked at each other with a ‘OF’ look. We left the remaining water behind…


Hold On! This ride is far from over.
 
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william webster

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Jan 16, 2009
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I know that route on the north coast towards Nagua - very well - I do it often.

I have stopped at that colmado in Sanchez.....

Nice pics.

Why did you change barbers since 1996?
Get that one back....;).......... makes you look younger!!
 
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cavebiker

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Feb 10, 2012
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2-Up to Samana Peninsula

Here we go--->

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Its a perfect day. We need to ride back down to Samana village, than take another road across the middle of the peninsula to Las Terrenas, then on to Playa Bonita.

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The road is scenic but in bad shape. It is a fun ride but fatiguing and brutal for Heidi on the back. We rest?

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A lot of construction and a few traffic jams.

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A stop to look at the map near Samana to make sure we were taking the correct road. These kids help confirm we were going the right way.

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The road from Samana to Las Terrenas leads high up into the mountains that run through the center of the Peninsula. The road is steep, good at times and bad at times and passes through several small communities.

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On the other side of the mountain, the road is scattered with places like this to pull over and chill.

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cavebiker

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OK! Las Terrenas

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Heidi mentions that she would like a little more pampering here. I decide to look in Playa Bonita for a hotel in the $60 price range with a pool. Playa Bonita is a beach just a short distance from Las Terrenas. The maps in our guidebook make it seem like it will be easy to find.

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Las Terrenas is a busy tourist town with confusing one-way streets everywhere. If we miss a turnoff there is no option but to ride through the entire tourist section of town all over again which also leads through a part of the busy Dominican section of town, which is also a one-way road. We find the way leading to Playa Bonita. It is an extremely rough dirt road along the coast. We bounce, dodge and water cross our way down the road only to find the road leads to a private area and is now blocked-off to traffic. Our only option is to go back into town and try to find the back road leading to Playa Bonita. I am good with maps, I have a visual of where I think the back way to Playa Bonita is. We head into the busy Dominican section of Las Terrenas (again) and look for the road. I think I found it but this road is twice as bad as the other road we were on. Pot holes, large chunks of partial pavement with steep edges and many huge puddles. I dodge around the maze like a pro and was having no problem but my riding partner is taking a beating on the back of the bike, we have been on the road for hours by now and we are feeling it. After we ride down this road for miles and are nearly to the end, we pull over for a chat. Playa Bonita (Pretty Beach) is much too far off the beaten path for us. We expected to be able to walk into town from where we were staying. When we get somewhere, we park it and walk, here we would be locked in.

Plan-B: We ride back to the crappy road we were on before. Our guidebook has three or four good hotel options listed here, just what we are looking for, a short distance outside of Las Terrenas. We ride back and forth along the torn up dirt road looking for the hotels I have marked. Well of course, it seems that our Rough Guide guidebook publishers did not bother to research this area for their latest addition because none of the hotels they have listed existed or they are no longer open for business. Suck! I try a couple other hotels but they are over $100 a night and they are not even on the beach. No Freaking Way.

Plan-C: Ride back toward town then out the same way we originally came in and just wing it. Of course there is a funeral on the narrow one-way road in town and the traffic is stopped, except for motorcycles which squeeze between and around cars, trucks and other motorcycles. There is no way to properly describe the motorcycle road rules here in the DR. You just have to experience it first hand. I am getting use to it but this is a first for Heidi in this type of traffic, me going with the flow following the other bikers. Heidi called it ?pin-balling? At times I have to tip the bike sideways to squeeze between trucks and cars. And, if I don?t squeeze past I will be holding up a long line of other motorcycles waiting behind me. Anyway, we make it through, twice. Twice because we take a wrong turn and are forced to do it all over again. Heidi has had about enough of this. The next hotel we try is $100 a night. After I saw ?no?, they chase me down and lower the price to $80. Then they ask me how much I will pay, but I am not interested.

We are frustrated and Heidi is beat up and had enough of the crazy traffic. I need to find something and soon. The next roadway we pass has several hotels listed on it but of course, a new load of rocks and gravel is piled up at the entrance of the alley to the hotels. I tell Heidi to hold on and go for it. The first place we pass I recognize from the guidebook, Hotel Casa Robinson. It is in the $30 price range but I needed to get this done and am glad we did. We get a cozy room with an outside patio surrounded by a tropical garden. It is right across the street from the beach and next to a recommended pizza restaurant and another restaurant that serves breakfast all day. We do three nights and prepare to do Las Terrenas right. Wheew!

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Both our boots need a shine and we know no better way to spend a dollar.

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Las Terrenas is a buzz of activity. We enjoy watching it all happen.

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Cocktail are mixed in our room before we walk across the street to the beach to catch the sunset.

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Two motoconcho dudes ask if we need a ride. We thank them but saw no. I ask for a photo and saw I think it will look cool. Big smiles!

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We march up the beach in search of one more.

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There are many loose dogs here. Often they have a yellow tag pinned to their ear. We think it means they are fixed or maybe have had shots. Through years on the road we have found beach dogs to be some of the nicest and most well behaved dogs ever. And we know dogs.

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They seem to all love me. Heidi says I am a dog whisperer.

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Ahhh?. Sunset in Las Terrenas.

Not done yet!
 

william webster

Platinum
Jan 16, 2009
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We chased hotels in LT one time.........my wife had a clipping from some fancy magazine - recent clipping, less than a year.

The Tropic Banana.............. couldn't find it.......... out of business already.

She HATES to wing it.............. we wung it !!!
Awful roads... whole town was under reconstruction and it was raining....... mud city...... recipe for tears/crying

The Alisei............. fits the bill.
 

cavebiker

Have a dream, live it. Set a goal, achieve it.
Feb 10, 2012
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Las Terrenas has a tourist area and a local?s area. Heidi and I like to check out what the locals are up to.

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We take-off for a long hike, because,? that?s what we do.

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I spot what looks like empanadas. You cannot find these in the tourist section of town.

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YES! Fresh empanadas.

Still More -->
 

cavebiker

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We are going to see how far the beach goes and set off on a mega beach hike, east of Las Terrenas.

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The beach walking conditions are perfect.

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A few technical spots, but hey, it?s a beach, how hard can it be.

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At places the sand is course.

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Others the sand is as smooth as powered sugar.

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Las Terrenas?s beaches

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Oh yeah, the beach hiking is way good.

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Three hour hike. Our feet our toast, perfect, this is what we like to do when road traveling, ride, eat, ___ and hike, repeat ;)

Stay tuned. This ride is not over yet?
 

william webster

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Jan 16, 2009
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THe pics are getting better..... either new camera or new eyeballs.... I sense the latter.

There is an 'artiste' in your midst.........:glasses:
 
Feb 7, 2007
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Great pix ... Are you a tourist visiting, or do you live in the DR?

When you are immersed in work, and work, and work, you even forget that there's so much beauty lying around everywhere ... time to take a road trip again!
 

cavebiker

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The rain poured down all night long. We hang-out in our garden patio for over an hour before the rain lets up. As soon as we mount-up it is raining again. We did not even get out of Las Terrenas before it starts to pour. Waiting under an overhang of a building for the rain to ease, I wish coffee was nearby.

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We climb steeper and steeper into the mountains. This is the bad road. Our guidebook suggests taking another road that adds an extra hour to the trip because of how bad, steep and sharp the turns are on this road. The bad road conditions sounds good to me, in my mind it is going to be a highlight of the ride.

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The road is steep, I mean steep. I have to scream the engine in third gear to make it up the hills and to slow the bike on the down hills. It is raining but the bike keeps running. I am thinking I fixed the problem we had with the bike killing in the rain. Then it starts raining harder and the sky looks darker the higher we ride. Suddenly the motorcycle engine dies. We are in the middle of nowhere but luckily we happen to coast up, with the engine dead, to a walkway of a small home. We get off the motorcycle and are standing in the pouring rain. There are two young men and a small child inside the home patio motioning for us to come inside.

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We cannot believe our luck. We could have been caught miles from anything in the pouring rain. We are carrying a tarp for just such an emergency but that would not have been any fun for Heidi. I am kind of into that type of survival crap but I am a little goofy that way.

Check out the motorcycle parked outside with the plastic jug for a gas tank. And the cylinder head is from a different engine. I say to Heidi that I bet that motorcycle will run in the rain. We had a good laugh.

Next, a young woman appears from the home with two chairs and invites us inside to sit down. Again, we could not believe the kindness of complete strangers. We are soaking wet and they want us to come into their home and sit with them. Wow!
 

cavebiker

Have a dream, live it. Set a goal, achieve it.
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Great pix ... Are you a tourist visiting, or do you live in the DR?

When you are immersed in work, and work, and work, you even forget that there's so much beauty lying around everywhere ... time to take a road trip again!

We call the DR our second home but I am sure many locals consider us tourists. We like to stay for a year or two at a time and envision spending more time on the island in the future.

And thanks for all the words about the pics, this is an ideal island for taking photos indeed.
 

cavebiker

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My theory about the motorcycle is that the engine heat will eventually dry off the hi-voltage coil, or the plug wire or the sparkplug that is causing our problem and the bike will start back up. We wait for maybe fifteen minutes until the rain almost ends. I go out, kick over the bike and the engine fires right up as if nothing is wrong. Heidi knows this drill all too well. She jumps on ASAP. We do a pinky shake that means she is ?ready? to go now. You do not take off with a passenger on-board unless you know that person is ready and knows you are taking off. That?s what we do, and we like it.

We scream up hills, we scream down hills, we slow around steep and hard banked turns. The rain comes and goes. The engine kills temporarily a few times but kicks back on before we coast to a stop. This is freaking us out. We know all too well the danger this puts us into on these severe roads. One time we coast to a stop after the engine kills. Heidi gets off while I push the bike under a tree attempting to keep the engine from getting wetter. The side of the road is washed out where I stop. I wait. I kick the bike over and it starts. I start backing the motorcycle to get back on the road when my foot slips off the edge of the road. My heart almost stops! I could have tumbled down a five-foot ditch with the motorcycle. I hid this fact from Heidi. I position the motorcycle and tell her that I am ready for her to hop on. We pinky shake ?!Seguridad!? then ride off. I feel like I was shot with adrenaline directly into my chest. I will never come that close with a motorcycle to the edge of a washed out road again.

There?s more?
 

cavebiker

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We make it down the mountain to the village Sanchez. We connect up to the main highway that leads along the north coast. We come to a gas station. Heidi tells me that if I am smart, I will stop for gas. I pull in for a fill up. I ask the gas station attendant if he knows of a restaurant. We are hungry and I want coffee. He gives us the name of a restaurant one kilometer up the road.


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I kid you not. The rain starts to increase. The engine dies again and we coast to the front of the restaurant we were told about. I push the bike under an awning. Inside, Heidi and I look deeply into each other?s eyes. The skies are dark all over. The rain is coming down harder then ever.


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We feel better now. We have food and coffee. We just passed a hotel before the engine quit and I can see another hotel from where we are sitting. If the rain does not stop, we have a place to stay, and by the way it looks, it will not cost us much.


An hour later the rain almost stops. I kick the bike, it fires right up. We take off.


The rain kicks up again. The bike dies again. We coast right up to the gate of a ?pequeno? (small) $300 peso hotel. Wow! Is this a sign? I kick and kick and kick and kick. The engine finally fires back up. Heidi jumps back on.


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We ride. The rain increases. The bike kills. We coast to a building overhang where two other motorcycles are taking shelter along with two other people. One guy is throwing rocks at a dog sharing the shelter with us. Heidi is getting upset by this. We are not sure what the problem is with this dog, there is another dog resting next to Heidi that no one has a problem with.


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I see a Tiki face. I go over for advice. Twenty minutes later, the rain slows. I kick the bike. We ride off.
 

cavebiker

Have a dream, live it. Set a goal, achieve it.
Feb 10, 2012
124
5
18
www.justadventuretravel.net
cavebiker & cavegirl do Samana Peninsula - conclusion







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We ride for a while with no rain. All is good. But, of course it starts raining again. We pull over at this cockfight ring for shelter. It looks super dark ahead and we do not want to take the chance of getting caught out in the open in heavy rain. We have pressed our luck too much to take another chance. I mention to Heidi that if we need to, we can spend the night right here. I say it with a little humor but she knows I am serious and she also knows that it is a good thing. We are safe and completely protected. We are feeling better. I know we are just miles from getting away from the peninsula’s mountain ridge. I mention to Heidi that it seems the weather front is coming from the north and as soon as the front hits the mountains, it dumps rain. I hop that if we can make it to the north coast, maybe it won’t be raining there. She knows what I am saying and agrees. We hang tight, we talk, we laugh, and we strategize. This is the life and adventure I dream of. This is my dream come true sharing my adventures with Heidi. I need to get her out of this. I need to get her back home to Cabarete. We will make it, we both know it, maybe not today, but we will make it and it will be good.


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Interesting red nuts on that palm tree.


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Nice looking cockfight ring.


The sun comes out right overhead. It still looked very dark in the direction we needed to travel. We push the bike out into the sun and try to dry it and ourselves. Heidi is cold. The sun is just what she needs. This is good. She tells me her teeth were chattering that last stretch.


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We take off again with no rain. When it starts to sprinkle again, we pull off to another buildings overhang. I tell Heidi that I do squats when I am cold while riding a motorcycle. The kid in the photo in red is mocking Heidi doing squats. We laugh with the kid and his mother from across the road.


I tell Heidi that I think we are chasing the rain. She agrees. We wait a while longer after the rain stopped before we start off.


As soon as we pass away from the peninsula, the road hugs the north coast. We have no more rain. We are correct, it is the weather front passing over the mountains that brings us the rain.


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We ride, we ride hard. No rain but Heidi asks me to slow down because the vibration at the higher speeds is making her feet and legs fall asleep. We pull over just to rest our butts. We are happy to say the least. Sore butts are not a worry, not at all.


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The longer we rest the darker it looks out to sea. We blast off…


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We sail along. The roads completely dry off. This is good. We are running late and we do not want to stop but we just have to, one more stop.


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We made it, time for a little chow and R&R.


Are butts are sore, our shoulders ache but we are happy. The more difficult the ride, the more diverse the conditions, the more uncertain the outcome, the bigger the reward. We feel a level of euphoria that was completely unexpected. I cannot tell you how pleased I am to share this experience with Heidi. I scream inside my brain “Oh Yeah! What a Great Ride… ”


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We hope you enjoyed our ‘2-up on a motorcycle Dominican Republic ride report’ of the Samana Peninsula. I got to tell ya, I sure had fun reliving it and posting it.


Cheers,
Tom & Heidi
 

paintedlbird7

New member
Mar 8, 2012
244
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0
wow beach looks amazing!




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We are going to see how far the beach goes and set off on a mega beach hike, east of Las Terrenas.

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The beach walking conditions are perfect.

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A few technical spots, but hey, it’s a beach, how hard can it be.

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At places the sand is course.

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Others the sand is as smooth as powered sugar.

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Las Terrenas’s beaches

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Oh yeah, the beach hiking is way good.

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Three hour hike. Our feet our toast, perfect, this is what we like to do when road traveling, ride, eat, ___ and hike, repeat ;)

Stay tuned. This ride is not over yet…