Simplicity…

We’ve been travelling in one way or another for just less than two months. On motorbikes for the majority, with a break for two weeks flying Las Vegas to New Orleans and back. We’ll be away for another month-six weeks before before getting home.

We are both very much enjoying this lifestyle. I think we’re both appreciating the simplicity of seeing how little stuff it takes to be happy and comfortable travelling. We have been camping and staying in Air BnB’s, and less expensive motels along the way. We are not hard core campers, and the budget is a bit more flexible to match our needs.

When it comes to travel, these are the things we don’t do:

  • Camp one night and leave. Set up and take down time is high for us. Everything has a place in the packing, and it takes a fair bit of time to get it oh, just so.
  • Camp where it’s buggy, mosquitos or gnats. We’ll continue on, or find a motel.
  • Camp in excessive rain. A shower here or there, ok, but nothing greater than that if we can help it.
  • Camp in excessive cold, <5 celcius. I am a wimp in the cold.
  • We’ll opt for a cheap motel, this isn’t an endurance event, and between us, the cost of a motel or air bnb is pretty reasonable.

The things we do:

Take our time. Not in a rush, and understand that it’s impossible to ”see everything”. We both try to enjoy the moment, where we are, without thinking about what’s next on the list and rushing off to see it.

Break up the physical exertion days with easy days. Lars calls where we’re at as being in a ”steady state”. Our bodies are under a certain level of stress all the time, whether it be longer/tougher ride days, trying to find accommodations, food, etc.. So when it comes to the hiking and physical expenditure, we won’t do a number of hard hikes in a row. One hard day is fllowed with at least one easy day. I think this is a smart way to go. The other stresses are weather and exposure. Being out on the bikes, and being exposed to temperatures and environment, hot, cold, wet, and then the wind, buffeting and noise all can be very tiring. We aren’t on vacation; we’re living. We just happen to be living on the road, instead of in our house.

Food can be all consuming, finding it, cooking it, cleaning up or going out for a restaurant meal. We have adopted a style of intermittent fasting, which seems to be working for us. Lars eats breakfast, and I skip that. We will eat in the afternoon, a bigger meal, and while there may be a small snack or drink in the evening, that’s pretty much it. It makes things so much easier. All the overhead involved around eating is lessened. We’re really enjoying the simplicity of this, and the time that it saves.

 

People!

We have met some amazing and wonderful people on our road trip. Motorcyclists often seek one another out, and there’s a kinship of a shared hobby or activity that connects people.

We have been sharing contact info with folks, and if we have met you, we truly would love to hear from you again. Keep the lines of communication open!

Some of the awesome people we have connected with on this trip. (We would have met you in March, April, May 2018):

  • Jeanne, Bob, Dylan, Mandy and Colefax, we met you at the Slickrock Campground; and expect to see at least, Jeanne and Bob in Victoria in 2019, right?
  • Sarah and Doug Greer, from Kentucky. We met you in Ely, Nevada. Wehave never met a couple who have had and ridden so many bikes, on so many adventures. Prudhoe Bay on GS1100’s; Trips to Canada and other on DR 650’s; to Utah on Yamaha 225’s. You seem like really awesome people, I hope our paths cross again!
  • Doris and Rolf from Germany; we met you at Echo Bay Campsite at Lake Mead. Do drop us a line and let us know how you got along with the Tiger fork seal in Las Vegas;
  • Rick, who was the Campsite Host at Death Valley; Lovely fellow, great with people;
  • Russ, with his wife (whose name we didn’t get); we met you at the campground across from the Corona Arches Trailhead. We connected because you have an XT 250 – way to go! As we said, feel free to email about that KLX 250…
  • Ray, from Nanaimo; we met you at the Stovepipe Wells Campsite. You put us onto the Mesquite Spring campsite. Thank you! This set us up so well, I don’t think this would have been as wonderful an experience at any other campsite in the park.
  • Rich, the TW200 rider; we met you at Mesquite Campground in Death Valley. You gave us some good tips for Las Vegas, we did end up spending a fair bit of time there getting our bikes sorted out.

On the sharing economy, AirBnB and Uber;

Two hosts come to mind, Shira in Windsor California and Anthony in Las Vegas. Great hosts, we would like you to know how much we appreciate your hospitality. Thank you!

Uber; we’ve met some interesting people on our rides, allowing us to get a window into the world and communities we have travelled in. We both were negative to these business models, but now, see such benefits in the way they can connect people.

Mississippi, Katrina, Nola

We left New Orleans yesterday, just closing out our trip in the southern states. Ocean Springs Mississippi was our end destination, before we did a turnaround to begin the long journey home.

How can I say, we have had just a wonderful time. We stayed with Marie and Ray and their super hyper but terribly adorable black lab Winnie. Marie and Ray are pretty adorably too, and considerably less hyper.

Being off the bikes for this part of our trip was a nice break. We left them in Las Vegas and flew to New Orleans and rented a car to get to Ocean Springs. It is so different there, where the land rarely exceeds sea level, and the bayous, where the sea water from the Gulf of Mexico, mixes with the river water. So much of the Mississippi coastline is dotted with the bayou marshy wetlands. Unreal to have alligators and tortoises as the local wildlife! The bugs are pretty incredible too, the gnats… tiny, but horrible little creatures! It was a cool spell, so the mosquitos hadn’t quite joined the party. So, that was the worst part of being in the south, except for the hangover in New Orleans… anyway…

We learned that during Hurricane Katrina, the damage was definitely not limited to New Orleans. There, the damage was from the levees being breached, and the areas there being flooded asking with the damage from the winds, up to 150 mph. The storm surge there was 25 feet high, which is incredible to imagine…

Ray was a fire fighter during Katrina, and told us much about the disaster and damage in Mississippi,  Alabama and Louisiana.

The storm spanned 500 miles, from Louisiana to Florida.

Across Mississippi the coastal towns of Gulfport, Pass Christian, Biloxi and Ocean Springs experienced storm surge from 25 feet, to a maximum of 50+ feet! The damage from the surges off the Gulf of Mexico was immense, key bridges were destroyed, thousands of properties also. According to Ray the houses were battered from the incoming surges, and the damaged houses and debris inland took out houses as the storm surges receded.

Its evident that many houses have yet to be replaced, driveways lead to vacant lots, mailboxes sit infront of  foundations of past dwellings.

Nonetheless, it was so very interesting, fascinating and saddening to hear of this destruction.

The next chapter of our education was in New Orleans. The state museum had display about Katrina, first voices, the kinds out thing one expects to see in a state-run display.

One off the reasons I’m loving uber so much is the connection with people of the city. Our driver was vey honest and frank and shared his experiences of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

He had family who drowned during Katrina. His daughter was stranded by the high water; she wasn’t saved by the national guard, but was passed by them. Apparently they saved the whites and the blacks were left to fend for themselves… the girl was saved by a black man who had a boat.

After the damage, he was promised federal/insurance money to help, it never came. According to him, the nice “white” areas received federal funds.

“People wonder why we’re angry, no wonder we’re angry!” Is what he said.

It has been interesting, to say the least, to talk to people who had first hand experience living through Katrina.

Mobile Alabama

Photos from our daytrip to Nola:

Some travels, New Orleans and Mississippi

 

Practically reflecting

We’re just back from a month away from home, finding some sun from the wet and grey west coast Canada winter. Travel is always a wonderful opportunity to get perspective on things, our home lives. This little post is a combo of topics from our Canary Islands trip; the practical and some musings.

Our primary destination was La Palma, Canary Islands, and got there via Gatwick. For anyone interested in travelling there from western Canada, we flew Westjet, Victoria to Gatwick (return); Easyjet from Gatwick to Tenerife, and from La Palma. We flew Binter Canarias (Canary Islands inter island airline) from from Tenerife to La Palma.

Flight costs worked out to be approximately CDN $1200 return per person. Breakdown below, for two people.

  • EasyJet Gatwick to Tenerife $253.14
  • EasyJet La Palma to Gatwick $231.55
  • WestJet Victoria to Gatwick $1,770.36
  • Binter Tenerife to La Palma $152.79
  • We rented cars twice, worked out to €460 for 27 days. $720 CDN, or $27.00/day. La Palma was actually cheaper, as we had the car for 22 days. This is an average of Tenerife and La Palma costs together.
  • Our exchange rates for this trip
    • €1 to $1.56 CAD;
    • £1 to $1.80 CAD.

Generally, food and alcohol were much cheaper in the Canary islands than in Canada. We shopped at HiperDino, a Spanish supermarket chain, and SPAR, a German supermarket chain. We found HiperDino/SuperDino to be superb well stocked and very reasonable. We noticed that the staffing levels of HiperDino to be better than what we experience where I live. Things are definitely more “businesslike” at home. Never extra staff in the stores; just enough to keep people moving. On La Palma, it seemed as though the service jobs were careers, often held by older employees; a different approach to the booming job shortage that we’re experiencing in the service sector here. An observation only. I could be totally wrong on this.

It was the high season on La Palma, it’s a very popular destination for German tourists and expats. Some Dutch, and UK tourists; tho I think Canadian travellers were less common there. Accommodation costs can vary; we stayed at a lovely place Amana’s apartment, (we had met Amana ten years earlier during our first stay there). On average, costs are about €50/night, if you can find a place. It is very popular, and depending on the “altitude” of accommodations, they can be hard or easier to find. La Palma is a very steep island, with many microclimates. In my interpretation, on the west side of the island, anything under the 250 metre to the coast/”sea level”, is very coveted. Higher up, and it’s hotter in the summer, cooler in the winter. Our accommodations were at the 180 metre mark – perfect. As the island is incredibly steep, the views are incredible from pretty much anywhere. The eastern side of the island, from Santa Cruz to the airport is very touristy. There are more resorts on this side, it is more dense.

As there is a very strong German influence on La Palma, there are some really awesome pastries and breads from the konditorei’s. The baguettes from the Spars and SuperDino’s were really good. We visited this coffee shop on  more than one occasion for cafe con leche, and yummy apple strudel(s)!

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La Palma is a hiker’s paradise, and probably one of the reasons why Germans travel there so much. Lars and I like to hike too, and we did a lot of it. We were away for a month, and hiking and walking in the Canaries our treads counted 100 kms. The elevation gains were enormous also… Most of our hikes are documented here.

We easily walked 10+kms the day we were in London too. So, walks r us!

Driving is windy and curvy and a lot of fun. Generally, we found the drivers, whether German or Palmero, or whatever, to be great. It was interesting to see the vehicles, so much smaller than here in North America. Even the work trucks are smaller than the massive pickup trucks that are so common here. “Normal cars” are small – often diesel, and almost exclusively manual transmission. Trucks and busses are narrow – and quiet. We need some of those here. Motorcycles are small too, the Honda Grom 125cc was a very common site, along with scooters. Bigger motorbikes were less common. The attitudes of drivers was better, I think. Where we are in Victoria, there’s a painful sense of entitlement with a lot of drivers, and I don’t think it’s for the common good. Hard to explain, but very interesting to observe. Again, the things you experience when you get out of your home bubble.

The other thing we noticed was the two wheeled tourism. 29’er suspension mountain bikes, and road bike riders. La Palma is very steep, 18-20+ per cent grades are not uncommon. We watched a few mountain bikers on the San Nicholas hike – suspension was mandatory. They were bumping down those trails headlong. Good on them, but not for us! On our first visit in 2008, we brought a folding bike – a Dahon 18 speed with us. On some uphill climbs, I remember having to work to keep the front wheel on the ground as the steepness is so extreme. We were avid cyclists then, but we aren’t anymore. The hiking suits us better.

There seemed to be a level of simplicity and support on La Palma and Tenerife. Apartments and houses weren’t huge, by any stretch; not like home, where things having just gotten way out of control. Houses here are massive, and it’s ridiculous. It just seemed like a more reasonable way to live; smaller dwellings, smaller cars, less to maintain more time to live. Not sure how to transfer that lifestyle back home, but to try to live more simply is always a good thing.