Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Chapter 8

Well we are now in Vancouver and almost ready to go. The flight up was the usual long haul so to lighten up we did put our helmets on -

In case of severe turbulence!

However I might add that we deemed it a good idea to take them off before we met land of Uncle Sam immigration and Customs in San Francisco even found that my lens cleaning cloth in my pocket was regarded as a suspect item!

We have now cleared our bikes through Customs and got them off the wharf. Clearance through Canadian Customs was interesting. Because the bikes are classified as personal effects you have to front up in person at Customs head office in downtown Vancouver. This was an interesting exercise in itself! When we went in we were met by a receptionist who was wearing a bullet proof vest. In addition she had her can of pepper spray and a big truncheon hanging from her belt. And this was just the receptionist! Ken was intrigued. "Are you armed as well?" he asked as he tried his best to charm her. She replied that some officers in each office were. Ken was intrigued. " Have you had to use a gun?" he asked. Her answer had us smiling as she said that Customs right across Canada had only drawn a gun once to her knowledge and that was to shoot a moose that had been hit by a car near a border crossing. I had visions of a herd of mooses ( or is the plural mice? ) stampeding into the downtown Vancouver Customs officer and being put down by the gallant front desk receptionist.

Anyway on the same day as we cleared Customs we got to the bikes and uncreated them , put them together and rode back to the hotel. They are now in the car park and all ready to go.

Getting ready to hit the road

So the next despatch should be on the road and Day 1 is about to start!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Chapter 7

                             CHAPTER 7

Well, it is now 24 hours to we head off to Alaska. Last minute preparations are all in a flurry. The next blog entry should be from Canada

I have now got my riding gear all sorted out. I wanted a New Zealand theme that overseas people could relate to that also recognised my great age ( and also great wisdom !) So I will go forth to the Americas as "Dick the Grey" in true Lord of the Rings fashion.  Here we are all dressed up and ready to go ( on a borrowed bike).  Yes, that is really me under all of that. Should give the Alaskan bears a scare !


Anyway back to reality. We have also been doing some quiet planning on the Mexico leg. At Hubbard Foods Ltd we are fortunate to have Aaron Gazza as a Food Technologist. Aaron is from Monteray in Mexico and he kindly talked us through a route for us through Mexico taking in all the interesting bits. We had Aaron round and he  plotted a safe and interesting route through Mexico for us. The trick sems to be to avoid the Northeast and particularly the border with Mexico and Texas. We are now all fired up about visiting Mexico now and are looking forward to it. Here is the proposed route -

View Larger Map

Sunday, 17 June 2012

chapter 6

                             CHAPTER 6

It is now down to one week before departure and final preparations are now on the way. Another trial pack has been done.  It is now definately 3 pairs of socks instead of 4!  Diana has weighed her clothing bag for the bike in at 4.7kg which me thinks is pretty impressive for 5 months. Perhaps I could put the rest of her clothes.......no, I won't go there!

A number of people have asked about our proposed route down through the grand old US of A. Well, that still seems a long way off at this stage but below is the tentative route from Calgary south to Los Angeles.

The aim is to incorporate as many of those iconic American National Parks as possible as we sort of zig zag down through the wider Rockies.  As we know the Americans , bless them, are very keen on and indeed pioneered the drive thru concept. It seems as much the same sort thinking has gone into National Parks so as a result you get some wonderful roads meandering right though the middle of the parks which of course is heaven on wheels for motorcycles.

So here is a list of the probable National Parks we will go through.  Ken and I have not really discussed the details of the route yet.  No doubt some may get dropped and there will be a few modifications as we meander down to the "City of Angels."

View Larger Map

National Parks to be visited -
                                              Glacier National Park
                                              Yellowstone National Park
                                              Grand Tetons National Park
                                              Craters of the Moon National Park
                                              Rocky Mountains National Park
                                              Mesa Verde National Park
                                              Monument Valley
                                              Canyonlands National Park
                                              Arches National Park
                                              Capitol Reef National Park
                                              Bryce Canyon National Park
                                              Zion National Park
                                              Grand Canyon National Park
                                              Death Valley National Park
                                              Yosemite National Park
                                              Joshua Tree National Park

I feel tired just looking at the list and I strongly suspect we will not get to them all. In addition we are going to try to visit the Bonneville Salt Flats to see if we can do "The worlds slowest BMW!"

Bring it on Uncle Sam!

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Chapter 5

                                                       CHAPTER  5

A number of people have asked me for details of the route we are to follow.  Well, here is the "North to Alaska" bitty.  We will probably do a side diversion to Anchorage or at least Denali National Park as well. Remember that this map of our route is interactive - you can blow it up with the keys on the side to see the details of the route.  Such technology !

 Last night we used googlemaps to zoom in on a view of the 'hotel" at Coldfoot  in Alaska. As we zoomed in on the picturecam of the petrol bowser outside the hotel would you believe there was a yellow BMW GS parked in front of the bowser there that wasa the same as my one, albeit it that it was very muddy.  However a good sign me thinks.

View Larger Map

Ken from Wellington sent through some interestiong advice on how to deal with bears on our trip through Canada and Alaska. It seems as if there are three things you should do to protect yourself from bears if you go out into the woods.  Firstly you should carry a little bell and ring it reasonably loudly. Secondly you should carry a can of pepper spray. Thirdly you should learn to distinguish between the faeces of a brown bear and a grizzly bear. The faeces of a brown bear are apparenntly small, round and slighly shiny. The faeces of a grizzly bear however are  easily identified and characterised by containing bits of broken bell in them and having a peppery smell ! This was seen on the internet - it must be true!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Chapter 4


                                                          CHAPTER 4

 Well,it is now about two weeks until we take off to Vancouver.  There has been quite a lot of preparation going on and last minute details to sort out.

Firstly the bikes are on the way. They got delivered to the Mr BMW bikeshop where they were serviced and both bikes got their full 10,000km service check. Both bikes have new tyres and the theory is that the tyres should get from Vancouver up to Prudhoe Bay and back down to Calgary before changing.  That should then synchronise with the need for the next 10,000km service. We should be due for a nice break by the time we get to Calgary. In Calgary we should be able to trade the bikes in for horses if we have to!

Now Ken, exactly where is Alaska ?   Off to be crated. The journey starts !

Anyway back to shipping. BMW crated the bikes up in the packing crates that were used to ship new bikes out from Germany. With good German thoroughness they are as sturdy as. Then it was off to the Shipping Company and on to the good shippe "Captain Vilano."

Not bad being able to watch loading from the deck of our apartment.  Careful Fellas!

And the ship sails out under the cover of darkness at 9.15pm
Meanwhile all the other preparations are coming together.  Bike insurance has been arranged. Travel insurance has been arranged. Hotel is booked in Vancouver.  Medical checks have been done. Final gear has been purchased.  Bills are being paid in advance! Business matters are being tidied up.  Spanish lessons have increased in intensity.  Diana has done a First Aid Course. Lonely Planet books have been purchased and read. The fitness regime has been upped. The weight loss program has been intensified! The list goes on.......!

I decided to be a thoroughly modern man and practice writing and posting blog updates from my Ipad just to check it out in advance. Woops and whoa baby!  It is not as easy as that apparently. It seems you need special aps to be able to do this.  Investigations are a continuing as they say.. If we cannot get it sorted out as to how to do this then plan B is to write up and post in internet cafes. That might keep the writing a litle briefer which may not be a bad thing.

And there will be a little less writing anyway and a few more pictures on the blog as Canadian and Alaskan vistas start to come into view.

So now just roll on the 23rd of June when we roll out of Auckland for Vancouver.