Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Mauritania to Senegal was another difficult border crossing. We chose the sleepy border crossing of Diama instead of the more popular Rosso border crossing. The road to Diama takes you through a national park. Its a dirt road, heavily corrugated, but fun to ride. There are plenty of warthogs to see and local birds. We lost a few screws, shaken loose from the corrugations, and Janell broke a fuel line about 15km from the Senegal border. She only realised because the fuel was pouring on to her foot and it got really cold and stopped to investigate.
The broken fuel line had to be addressed asap. The rocks from the gravel road were flicking up and had cracked the plastic connection for the Touratech auxiliary tank. We've had this part damaged before so its no surprise and we were carrying one spare connector which we simply fitted on the spot. To protect the connector however we grabbed an empty 500mL ...
The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitement and trepidation. There is so much to see in Africa, such different cultures to explore. But it is a challenging continent (roads, climate, poverty) and a volatile continent (conflict). We had rested enough in Europe and felt ready for the next adventure, not to mention warmer climates!
We took the Trasmediterranea ferry from Algeciras to Tangier Med. This is the slow, run-down looking ferry and coincidently the cheapest option at €77 for 2 people and 2 motorbikes. We'd checked the prices online which indicated a cost for dogs but decided not to book online after our recent ferry debacle in England resulting in a missed ferry, additional 600km+, hotel expenses and more riding in the cold, wet, England rain. So, when we turned up to the ferry terminal in Algeciras we were happily surprised the dogs were allowed on for free and when we were on the ferry, motorbikes tied down in the parking area, the girls were allowed to sit insid...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.It was a big decision to take a break from travelling and to work in the UK. To this day we debate whether it was a good idea or not. Janell felt she needed some stability, to know where she was going to sleep every night, buy food for more than a few days and have some routine in our daily life. It could also be an opportunity to make some money for Africa and money to spend enjoying ourselves exploring the UK. Stu wasn't so sure about this plan, by his calculations we had enough money for Africa and wasn't keen to be sticking around in England through the cold months. It would give him time to work on the Pillion Pooch design and run a kickstarter campaign, an idea he'd been playing with in the US but just never had the time to really sit down and work on.
It was agreed, we'd spend 6 months living and working in England. Janell was happy to get a job, she knew she'd enjoy the social aspect of wor...
Stuart's vision blurred and dimmed, the room began to spin, he gasped for air in an attempt to fill his lungs with as much oxygen as possible given the elevation. His body had gone into autopilot, thrusting again and again in an animalistic fashion. Stuart finally climaxed and immediately after his body weakened and we both collapse on the bed. Earlier that day we had woken up at 800m (2,700ft) of elevation, we'd ended the day at 4200m (nearly 14,000ft) and it was our first experience at any substantial height. Lesson learnt; when you reach elevation for the first time, keep your sexual activity tame.
So what about our sex life?
We decided to write about this taboo topic because we believe its important and that many people will have a very real interest. When travelling, sex is easily forgotten or ignored, there is so much excitement all the time, why add more, right?
Whether you're travelling as a couple, solo or in a group, sex is going to be on the mind at some point, probably ...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.We were to travel from New York to Southampton in the UK via Cunards Queen Mary 2 (QM2) cruise ship. Although Cunards had previously provided a vehicle transport service between New York and the UK, it had suspended this service with the decommissioning of the Queen Elizabeth 2 (QE2), the last Cunard ship to boast an on board garage. We'd heard that luggage on the QM2 was unlimited but each piece could be no more than 20kg. We seriously considered breaking the bikes down into 20kg sections and taking them into our cabin, but knew this could end badly with us stuck and our bikes in pieces. The next best option was to send them in a container.
We contacted a company that shipped out of New York as this was the most convenient port for us. Schumacher Cargo Logistics quoted us $500 per bike plus £150 port fee at the other end. We didn't shop around but had done plenty of research and this price seemed ...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.After nearly two years of exploring the America's, it was time to move on. We hadn't seen everything by a long shot but there was more of the world to see. So we needed to get two people, two dogs and two bikes from the US to somewhere, anywhere in Europe.
We'd dreamed of taking the Cunard's Queen Mary II (QM2) cruise ship across the Atlantic since we first heard about it. We were already a fan of cruises having first experienced one for our honeymoon and then sailing on two others, each one just as good as the previous. Being dog lovers we were quick to research if dogs were ever welcome aboard but it was limited to just one ship on one particular transit, the QM2 from New York direct to Southampton (and occasionally on to Hamburg).
The QM2 had 12 kennels on board and availability was competitive. We booked Weeti in 12 months in advance as was suggested on Cunard's official website, but even then ...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.The dilemma was to move Stu's motorbike from Los Barriles in the south of Baja, 2,000km to Los Angeles where it would be shipped to Europe. However, after the accident Stu was unable to ride. In addition his bike had a serious oil leak and wasn't in a state for anyone else to ride it to California. So the decision was made to truck the bike to Tijuana where it would be ridden the last 200km to Long Beach. In theory it was simple, but events needed to line up for this plan to succeed. And by succeed we mean boarding the Queen Mary 2 Cruise Ship from New York to England on the third of January that would transport us and the girls across the Atlantic Ocean knowing the motorbike was with the shipping company in LA ready to ship.
We were in San Diego when the large car carrier semi-trailer with a full load left La Paz on schedule with Stu's bike on board. It left early in the morning and was expected t...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Maybe it was an error, but it was booked and paid for online, one way car hire from California to New York for under $300. We were picking up from and dropping off at out of the way shops so maybe this has something to do with the cheap price but it was a bargain we couldn't pass, especially as the next best deal was well over a thousand dollars. When we walked into the car rental shop we fully expected to be told that an error had occurred and that we would need to pay substantially more. But this didn't happen, they of course tried to upgrade us to a larger model car but we resisted. We drove out of the parking lot before anyone could stop us feeling like we'd pulled off the heist of the century.
Our little blue hire car
We just squeezed all the luggage in
Weeti & Shadow's spot for the drive
We only had one commitment on this trip, to give a presentation in Dallas for a friend who'd been fo...
Told from Janell Clarke's perspective.I left Los Barrilles on the 04 December, with my girls on board, nervous and thrilled. The alternative had been driving or flying out with Stu but I really didn't want either of those options, I wanted to continue riding in Mexico for as long as possible, even if it was more or less back the same 2000km we'd arrived from Tijuana. Mexico is a beautiful country where I always felt safe and welcome. I had a really nice send off from everyone staying at Chris's place then I was off with my dogs. It was a beautiful sunny day and I settled in to riding quickly. I was determined to enjoy the ride, I didn't want to rub it in Stu's face but this was an opportunity for some girl time and to run everything at my pace including stopping for photos whenever I wanted.
Chris, Paige & Stu's Farewell
Janell & the Girls ready to ride
The route was fairly straightforward, I stayed on the main road through Baja. I knew places to camp from our trip south a...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Throughout the USA we had been using a forum thread called TentSpace on ADVrider.com to find hosts that would let us set up a tent in their yard for a few nights at no cost. The reality was, however, that we never once used our tent, the hosts were very welcoming and always had a spare bedroom for us and the girls to use. In San Francisco we stayed with Paige, a very experienced rider and very interesting person. She didn't have a spare room, but she did have a 3-storey haunted house next door that was ours for a few days over Halloween. We spent a bit of time chatting with Paige and she convinced us to return to Mexico and ride the Baja peninsula. She even organised accommodation for us at the bottom if we made it, staying with her friend Chris in Los Barriles. Remaining always flexible and having such fond memories of Mexico we were easily persuaded.
Head On Collision in Mexico route through the ...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.We arrived in San Francisco the day before Halloween and intended to stay just two nights before heading south but instead hung around for six days. Who can resist San Francisco, right? A great city is one thing, but what makes a stay "frantastic" is the company. We'd contacted Paige through TentSpace a few days before arriving, Paige had a no bullshit attitude, you wanted to stay with her you picked up the phone and called. We knew from the outset we were going to like Paige. Calling a TentSpace host is actually unusual, most contact to hosts is made via messages, in fact we'd never spoken to a host before arrival in all our prior experience with TentSpace.
Janell's bike outside San Francisco's Painted Ladies
Paige was a chef and part time property developer. What a combination, not only did she cook amazing meals, she put us up in a house next door which she had recently purchased to renovate. Th...
Told in the collective first person, jointly from Stu and Janell Clarke's perspective.Our route was to take us along the northern states to Seattle and then head south along the coast. We still had a lot of ground to cover and it would start with The Great Plains of the Dakota's.
The speed limit was a whopping 85mph (over 135km/hr), normally we wouldn't entertain the idea of travelling so fast, not with a Pillion Pooch attached, but the road quality was superb and the winds nonexistent. This also gave us an opportunity to experiment with fuel consumption and what impact the Pillion Pooch had on drag with one bike fitted with a Pillion Pooch and the other not. We took our measurements over a range of two fuel stops covering around 800km. Our first conclusion was that from the riders point of view the presence of the Pillion Pooch was not noticeable, we'd easily creep up to 90mph and have to deliberately back off. The second conclusion was that the difference in fuel consumption betwe...