Western Sahara & Mauritania

Western Sahara & Mauritania

January 26, 2017 1 Comment

We crossed the Sahara from Morocco to Mauritania in January. Unlike countless adventure rider predecessors, it was an easy ride for us along an excellent sealed road that runs parallel to the coast through the disputed zone of Western Saraha. We camped in coastal towns all along the coast. The days were sunny and warm and the evenings were cool and perfect for camping. These coastal towns were small, only a few shops and restaurants were geared for tourists so on the pricy side. We decided to make all our meals because we set up in each town for a couple of nights and had the time an inspiration. Generally it was scrambled eggs for breakfast, fruit for lunch and then a tuna Couscous concoction for dinner. Supplies in the mini supermarkets were basic, theres no Trader Joes, Coles or Aldi's. Before we knew it the Sahara was gone. We didn't die of thirst or heat exhaustion, we didn't sink in sand dunes and it was really very pleasant. It would have been fun to deviate from the ro...

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Entering Africa - Morocco

Entering Africa - Morocco

December 09, 2016

The Pack Track entered Africa with great excitment 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 resutling 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 w...

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United Kingdom 2016

United Kingdom 2016

August 28, 2016

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 work as well as the routine and exercising parts of her brain that hadn’t been used in a ...

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Translantic Crossing on the QM2

Translantic Crossing on the QM2

January 10, 2016

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 it was too late and we were placed on a waiting list. Luckily it didn’t take long to b...

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I left my bone in San Francisco

I left my bone in San Francisco

November 10, 2015

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. The house wasn't anything to write home about, or was it? There was limited power and no...

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The Wild West

The Wild West

October 25, 2015 1 Comment

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 between the two setups was barely measurable and with weight difference taken into account ...

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Brain on Fire

Brain on Fire

October 09, 2015

Our next stop was visiting Door County which we had been looking forward to since Patagonia eight months earlier. Back then we had a great time in Ushuaia, a two week wait for a replacement sleeping bag meant a forced break from the riding. What better place to wait than the end of the road, a place of daily celebrations as someone new arrived having endured the long road by car or by bike, motored and human powered, or arriving by sea. Not only was the city full of adventurers but there was usually a cruise ship or two docked or anchored in the harbour. During the day the high street was bustling with tourists while at night, with the cruise ships having set sail for their next destination the bars were loaded with bikers, cyclists and backpackers from everywhere. It was here that we met Erin, a solo traveller who had shared sections of road with various other adventure riders and now celebrating her arrival in Ushuaia. Like a lot of people, we saw her come and go in our time but o...

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Canada

Canada

September 29, 2015

We hadn’t seen Stu’s brother since he flew down to Cancun right at the start of our trip. We’d also never met his new girlfriend Diana or seen him in his new life in Ottawa. So after spending a lovely time with Janells family in New York, we felt spoilt to be riding to Greg and Diana for more family time. We had planned to spend a few nights with them and then ride up to see Montreal, Quebec City and some more to the east before making our way west, but Shadow had something else in mind. Since finding Shadow, 6 weeks previous, she had started to put on weight and was looking more like a guinea-pig than a dog. This is to be expected when you take a dog from the streets but she was so ravenous. Its unchartered territory when you adopt a street dog, nobody can tell you anything about it and Shadow was so much smaller than any dog we'd ever had so we had no idea how much food she should eat. She reduced the food she was eating but the tummy still got bigger. ...

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East Coast - USA

East Coast - USA

September 08, 2015

We were back in the US in a new state for us, Florida. After the eventful departure from Botoga it was nice to enjoy a relaxing flight and collect our babies on the other side, safe and sound. We must admit, the LAN staff at the airport in Bogota were very helpful, we were really messed around with the dogs flights so they waived their pet freight fee ($50/dog) so the girls got a free ride. Thanks LAN. The process for collecting the girls after the flight was very different at Miami Airport compared to Dallas where we flew in with Skyla from Australia. The girls were in their crates literally sitting next to the conveyor belts in the baggage claim. Anyone could have walked on up and taken them. When Skyla flew in from the US she was taken to a separate secure location and we had to get a heap of stamps and approvals before they released her to us. It was one extreme to the other. It was a long flight but we were keen to get them outside to go to the toile...

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Leaving South American - Bogota, Colombia

Leaving South American - Bogota, Colombia

August 09, 2015

When will someone bite the bullet and build a road between Panama and Colombia! For now, adventure riders can either fly (by aeroplane) or ship (typically sail boat or ferry) themselves and their motorbikes between North and South America. Of course this depends on the politics of the time and how well Colombia and Panama are getting on. On our way to South America we chose the seven day sailing option from the San Blass Islands off Panama which proved to be an adventure and overall fun experience. This time, returning north with time against us, we decided to fly and from our online research and communication with other motorcycle travellers the easiest way to fly was with Lyn Cargo.   Stu had spent a lot of time requesting quotes from various airlines to crate our motorbikes from Bogota to a range of destinations in North America including Miami, Mexico City and Montreal. Ideally we wanted to get as far north as possible to see Canada while it was still...

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Return to Venezuela

Return to Venezuela

July 31, 2015

After a productive visit in Bogota sorting our shipping quotes and getting Negrita’s paperwork in order for flying to the USA, we decided to take a 3 week trip back into Venezuela to visit some friends and attend a Moto Event in the state of Falcon. There is always plenty of excitement and drama when visiting Venezuela and this occasion didn’t upset. We entered near San Cristobal and as is usually the case the border was busy. When we first entered Colombia we had conducted a temporary import of both our bikes which was valid for 3 months, it was now less then a month later and so we pleaded with the Aduana officials to allow us to keep the paperwork and skip the import when we returned. Initially this request fell on deaf ears, but after struggling to transfer our VIN to their form with carbon paper, they reconsidered thinking it was a great idea and that it would be silly any other way. Thanks guys. As far as Venezuela goes, we still had insurance lef...

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Salinas, Ecuador

Salinas, Ecuador

July 01, 2015 1 Comment

From the mountains of Cuenca we traveled a few hours to Salinas on the coast of Ecuador. The distance wasn't far, 350 km, but the journey took most of the day. From Cuenca we climbed up further in to the mountains on a narrow, windy road through thick cloud cover and very wet, cold conditions. Our visibility was dangerously low, sitting in 2nd gear with hazard lights and high beams on trying to increase our visibility to other drivers as much as possible. The locals power around those mountains, perhaps they know them like the back of their hands, we certainly didn't and often didn't know if the road was curving to the left or the right until we saw a rock wall in front of our tyre. As you could imagine the descent was a welcome change along with a coffee break and the removal of all our layers as we moved in to warmer coastal climates. Passing around Guayaquil was also slow and traffic was particularly bad because it happened to be the week that the Pope was visiting. Never mind, w...

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