My new 2017 Africa Twin Adventure Bike


Months ago my 2009 BMW F650GS went over the 40k mile mark.

wp-image-1371459181My new bike picture goes here!

So – In about two months I fly to Miami, Florida for the best out the door dealer deal in Florida to pick up my new 2017 Africa Twin.  The advantages are plenty.  Visit family.  Great deal on new bike.  And, an opportunity to break the new Africa Twin in before the start of our Key West to San Diego Adventure ride.  More to follow.


The 59 Willys V8 project is now on hold.  It was a great winter project that thanks to Jason finally came together.  More to follow.


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2017 Year in Review

Ralph’s 2017 year in review OR how to write a quick year in review? First, start out by looking at pictures you took in 2017. The landscape ones are just too hard for others to really see the adventure. Pick one or two with people, animals or mechanical things; then just walk down memory lane. Like for example: “While waiting for friends to catch up from my vantage point, (rarely used Canadian forest service road) I spot an worn down wooden sign; it probably sat for years on a long ago rotted out post that years of winter snow felled it long ago, leaving the sign to also rot away and compost itself back into the landscape.” wp-image-1604750122 The “No Through Road” sign tickled my humerous funny bone. I recall smiling then laughing out loud when I thought of making this sign my new road mascot. The thin hot air in this elevation is incredibly hot and 2017 we skirted numerous Canadian forest fires trying to get away from the smoke. I am now covered in road dust, dirty, smelly, thirsty and even hungry. The grade down at one point is 25 degrees to the river below. Soft sand, banking turns and no guard rail to catch the unwary. Before long I find myself duct taping this hand-made wooden sign to the port side of my BMW adventure bikes luggage rack. I initially just wanted a picture of the sign and now the sign is part of the bike. The sign is a hit with the other riders and if I discard it one of them will take it. Several days later as we continue rounding the entire British Columbia and board a Prince Rupert ferry – the sign is now zip tied to the bike. Today, sitting on the floor behind my desk, I look down and smile at the sign. A momento of that two week motorcycle road trip that started in Bellingham, WA and rounded British Columbia. wp-image-1078028392 0707171144b In 2017 I find myself finally free from years of obsession with anything boat and boating related. Did I finally get my fill you might ask? What happened? Possibly experiencing the full extent of purchasing a trawler in Portland, Oregon, driving 1,000 miles each way to get it sea worthy over a two-year period; sailing it down the Columbia river (150 miles) out the graveyard of the Pacific; down the coastline, subsequently settling down on the Sea of Cortez side. Then two years later baja bashing my way back up may have something to do with it. The “Western Flyer” in 2017 found a new home. Perfect timing. We moved from seaside to inland. The money is long spent, I add a new 4Runner and several new mechanical toys to the mix. I trade the final water vessel, my Seadoo (affectionately known as Ol Blue) that took me through a few adventures to this 59 Willys Jeep.



This sailing addiction that hit me hard at around the age of 14 years old is finally gone at just past the 60 year mark. My own silent years of boatless suffering. Over the years I began to find out that my only cure was to endure years of intensive sailing, boating and Jet Skiing. Miles and miles of water moved under me. Never really stopping long enough before it was time for the next adventure. 2017 turned out to be the year that I finally beat this boating addiction and even though they say that complete cures are very very, highly unlikely! I beat it! In 2017 yours truly finds himself at a VW car show and ends up with a much neglected and not wanted 1945 MB Jeep. And if you know me I just can’t leave well enough alone. So, the new to me vintage jeep has got to be just so and so. If it sits in the garage too long; to me, it’s well sort of like an itch. An itch that must be scratched. By scratching I mean it must be made just so. For one, it must be useable. Not of museum type quality but, one that needs to go out on a new adventure to fit it. Route 66 just happens to be the adventure that one of these jeeps will go on – from LA to Chicago! I find a new friend with a similar affliction and we both begin the planning stages of this future adventure.

In 2017 we took a little road trip down baja way just to see the annual whale migration up close and personal. These friendly creatures turned out to be like puppy dogs. I think I’m hooked on wanting to visit them in 2018. They are as curious as the rest of us and enjoy the touch. And days later we even swam with several whale sharks. A cheap trip if you discount the fuel. Around $100 for the panga ride, no reservations, spur of the moment camping, we just showed up, the adventure unfolded itself.

Making new friends played the biggest part of 2017. Family and grand kids played a huge role as well. 1014161450a_hdr.jpg We built a garden shed and grew our first vegetable crops. We planted and then transplanted lots of trees. In 2017, outside of going overseas and baja I have never experienced such hot weather in my entire life. My “hot” threshhold is now much higher.

We became good friends with friends who like to drink a little wine. The little wine led us to do a little traveling where we drank a little more wine and even brought a few bottles back. And the rest is just history. Happy 2018 to everyone in our lives! At this point in my life all I can offer is a little of my time. Trawlercat (Trawler for boat and cat for catamaran – a boat I set out originally to purchase from which to sail the 7 seas) Life is too short. Live a little.)

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59 Willys Jeep V8 project

Sharing some before and after photos before the history lesson is long forgotten.  This 59 Willy’s jeep project is still a work in progress but, as of today she starts right up, has a new crate Chevy 350 V8, automatic, power brakes, power steering and very ergomomic seating.



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Adventure Motorcycle British Columbia Back Country Ride

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San Ignacio Whale Watching Trip


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Road Warriors Baja Road Trip – 2017

Subject:  Road Warriors Road Trip Baja – February 2017

This year I turn 62 and since I don’t have to work within the confines of vacation time I decided to take a little trip down baja way – to see the grey whales.  My trusty steed, a road worthy 2004, 4Runner, also known as the Road Warrior is fast approaching 180,000 miles; similarly equal to my 61-year-old stature, except that the warrior looks much better.

And almost at the last-minute I make a command decision to pick up a passenger whom I’ll call  Johnny Reb; an expat now living in Ensenada, aboard a 50′ fishing boat.  And just like that we go from a simple drive to La Paz to stopping to see the grey whales in San Joaquin or San Ignacio, the Western Flyer (41′ Defever trawler), possibly a visit to Copper Canyon, La Paz and other adventures in baja land, Mexico.  Perhaps this tag team duo can put a smile on your face or take you along on this adventure.  Only time will tell.


The Road Warriors – Update:  My 2004 4Runner made it to 181,000 miles before she was traded in for a brand new 2017 4Runner.


The rest of the story:  The trip was a total success without so much as a break down or near death experience.  Also without making reservations we showed up unannounced at San Ignacio and camped out the night before.  The next morning after a wonderful breakfast John and I boarded a panga with a third paying passenger, a guy on a KTM adventure bike touring baja.  $50.00 each and well worth the trip.  Within 30 minutes a three year old grey whale came by acting like a puppy dog that wanted and needed to get petted.


And then we drove some more eventually making our way to La Paz.

And in La Paz we swam with the whale sharks.  $60.00 and a panga picked us up right at our dock.


Since earlier I stated that this is the rest of the Baja story then I need to include here that my crew (Jeff and Robert) and I bashed our way up in 2017 aboard the Western Flyer.   The Western Flyer is now in her new berth in Huntington Harbour and with a new owner who is taking excellent care of her.  And in case you want to know spring time is not the best of times for bringing a boat up the baja coastline.  15 foot seas and crappy conditions prevailed.  For a while it felt like I was on a roller coaster ride that we could not get off.


For me the voyage started in Portland, Oregon.  We made it as far as La Paz and now a return trip to Huntington Harbour, where we parted ways.

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My 1945 MB Jeep

Subject:  My WWII 1945 Jeep

My new to me 1945 WWII MB Jeep roughly two months ago went straight from a previous owners garage to Norco Automotive to sort out fuel problem issues.  Today is the first day I was able to drive it.  And if I got a “redo” on this project I would blow the $$ on a European vacation.  Hesitation on my spouse’s part – oh well.  A redo in case you don’t know is the opportunity to do something again or differently.  As the 1945 MB Jeep now sits in my garage it waits for various parts that still need addressing, removing or replacing.  Parts that will continue to add up to the bottom $$ cost of this new to me vintage WWII hobby.  And, if you know me you also know that my “stuff” does not usually gather dust or sit unused.  Once it starts to do so, then it is out of here.  Also add to that that I can’t let any good thing alone, for me, it needs to be improved upon until it becomes somewhat bullet proof.  Word to the wise – don’t ever volunteer to help anyone drive a classic car to a car show.  Once you arrive, everywhere you turn to will be innocent looking civilians with car deals too good to pass up; deals that before the day is done will likely transfer from their money pit to yours.  The greater fool theory states that the price of an object is determined not by its intrinsic value, but rather by irrational beliefs and expectations.  Really, just keep it a few years; they aren’t making WWII Jeeps anymore.

And now for the positive spin.  Before this 1945 and I are done we will go through some adventures together – I promise.  Initially I thought that it could conquer the TransAmerica trail.  Today I wonder.  The word Jeep probably came to being during a solider to soldier conversation.  One soldier or GI (Government Issue) as also commonly known; probably said to another GI; this here is government property (GP) and not your own personal driving machine.  And the soldier behind the wheel probably said to the other soldier this here geep (GP), that later morphed into jeep (JEEP), is signed out to me and I can take it anywhere I wants to!

They are also known as a ¼ ton, a 4×4 or four-wheel drive utility vehicle produced from 1941 to 1945.  What you may see on the streets today is the Jeep CJ (Civilian Jeep) or maybe it’s a JK, TJ or YJ or XJ.  For many years my youngest was also known as CJ.  Today my 1945 is painted an Army olive drab color.  It is also small and a full foot narrower and nearly 3 feet shorter than a newer Jeep Wrangler two door.  It stands at just over 4 feet tall at the top of the windshield and easily fits into my third garage door plus I have room for a leather chair, my motorcycle, shop benches and a tool bin.  And I can still easily walk around it.  When my red headed grandson reaches the pedals no matter what his age he is going to learn how to drive this here military Jeep.  No matter what you say – GramPatti!

My 1945 Jeep never saw action as the war ended before it could be shipped overseas. Thank goodness or else it would’ve likely ended at the bottom of the ocean like the rest of them.  No car maker after the war wanted competition with a tried, true and cheap to run product.  The previous owner told me that my jeep was given to the U.S. Forest Service in 1946 where it spent its lifetime before it’s retirement.  A Forest Service employee then purchased the jeep and believe it or not, he installed a Corvette engine in it.  The previous owners plan was to convert it back to original and enter it in parades and WWII re-enactments.  He started his hobby by taking out the old engine, repainting it from forest service green back to WWII Army colors and then sending it to JeepsRus.  About $8,000.00 later the 1945 Jeep came out of JeepsRus with a new Chevy S-10, V6 engine and other internal modifications.  When I acquired this jeep, the fuel tank was rusty causing the entire fuel system and fuel tank to fail.  First major expense as the 1945 now has a new fuel tank, hoses and rebuilt carbureator.  The previous owner also lost interest sometime ago as a result of a skin cancer condition.  No more driving in convertibles for him.

The first civilian CJs that rolled out had such alterations as vacuum-powered windshield wipers, a tailgate, side-mounted spare tire, civilian lighting and amenities like naugahyde seats, chrome trim, and came in a variety of colors.  In Vietnam, the most used jeep was the then newly designed Ford M151, which also featured such state-of-the-art technologies as a unibody construction and all around independent suspension with coil-springs.  By going from leaf springs to a now bouncy coil springs roll overs went way up.  Fast forward to what most of you see and know today; enter the Hummer or HMMWV (Humvee).


My FlatFender is also getting a new low profile air filter plenum and K&N filter so I can close the hood and radiator shroud to keep my fingers intact.  More to follow.



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Baja Bash Update 3/28/17

More to follow soon but, for now sitting at a restaurant called Tortuga, in Bahia Tortuga.  Yes, we now have wifi and if my crew can stop talking I might be able to concentrate long enough to crank out a story and offer up an update.

Keep in mind this is the first we touched land since Friday and today is Wednesday.

Short recap is, we left LaPaz to Muertos on Friday, with plenty of bananas on board.  That part of the trip was very uneventful.  Then on to San Jose de Cabo.

Got stuck there for three days waiting on weather.  The best coty in all of baja to do so.  At sunlight with 30 knots of wind blowing we made a run up the baja coast.

The first night was easy, second night we got pounded with up to 14 foot seas.  The next two days of more pounding waves, plenty of green water coming on deck.   The Western Flyer performed extremely well.  We had a few blips along the way but, I will add later in detail.

More to follow.  Brunch has just arrived.

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Baja Road trip 020817

Two motorcycle riders lost their lives; one here and the other a few hundred meters away.  One an American, the other a local, 12 years apart. This is the road the baja 500 and 1000 travels through.  The reason this location touched me ….. To be continued.  

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’59 Willy’s Project Update V1.0

For the original story click the link below:

Remember my latest project – a Willy’s Jeep?  If so, and interested, here is the latest update to keep me on track and possibly on budget.  Ongoing yes, progressing yes.  And yes, the guy who traded with me for ‘Old Blue’ my 2007 Seadoo GTX straight across, still has the upper hand on this deal but, I’m steadily closing in.

Sometime before the heat, rain and snow the Willy’s was towed out to the high desert to a Craigslist found fabricator who on the phone talked a good story.  Prior to this I interviewed at least three restoration or renovation auto metal fabricators and they all start about the same way. …. by telling you their entire life story.  In my short jeep renovation project life I have found that no amount of prodding, or effort to steer the conversation back to the said Willy’s project will occur, until the Bubba Gump like story is said and finished.

A metal fabricator is a guy who if so inclined can build you just about anything out of metal by cutting, bending, and assembling.  This is the type of guy I found myself needing on account of me; not leaving well enough alone, wants to be able to stop this here V8 powered Willy’s.  First project – build the new braking system into a power brake system. What this entails is nothing short of dispensing away with an over 60-year-old foot pedal, single master cylinder disc brake system and fast forwarding myself into front disc brakes, with a power steering power booster and a new Summit Racing brake pedal and voila – stopping without wandering to the left, right or anywhere but straight and in about a quarter of the stopping distance.

If the Willy’s was still sporting its original four banger L-head or F-head engine then possibly no-problem; fortunately, for me as I said earlier, the previous owner updated to a Chevy small block V-8, with an automatic transmission. Project 2 is the repositioning of the driver and passenger seats.  They need to be correctly repositioned requiring upgrades to the roll bar, the safety belt harnesses, adding grab bars and while he is at it a few other safety features.

Project 3 –  The fuel tank; the current 10 gallon gas tank is located just under the driver’s seat.  Not good for a freeway speed capable V8.  The upgraded set up will utilize a 20 gallon under the frame in the rear fuel tank – just like the rest of the jeeps now calling themselves anything from a Lareto, Sahara, Wrangler to a YJ (87-95); TJ (96-06) etc.

My metal fabricator is yet to deliver even though I have heard his life story countless times.  Why just yesterday the wife timed me at 90 minutes on a phone call intended to switch from our search for updated CJ axles, to a full on rolling chassis to back to just upgrading the current set up with a drum to disc brake set up.

Rolling chassis options:  77 CJ7’s

Due to shortly arrive is a drum to disc brake conversion kit courtesy of eBay. In case I didn’t make it clear the donor rolling chassis is now out.  Now just in case you don’t know; a rolling chassis is the chassis of a car or truck, minus the body, engine and transmission.  My plan of course was to upgrade the bottom of the Willy’s by about anywhere from 12 years to as much as 62 years.  Amazing how many wrecked or near wrecked jeeps are available for anywhere from just a few hundred dollars to several thousand.

The WWII jeeps below are not for sale but, were previously used for movie shoots, today they just sit.  1941-1944 era jeeps.



Should’ve kept the old one – my old 04 Wrangler X Crawler with Rubicon axles and a power chip capable of easily propelling me down this Alaska road at 100 mph.

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