Juvimax adventures

An account of our lifestyle and family adventures around the world

 

News 

On this page you will find all our journal entries, starting with the latest, ending with the old news, like a blog.

January 12th, 2011

Happy new year to all, we hope you have had a good holiday season, whether you were on the road travelling, alone, or surrounded by friends and family.

Also we wish you all a happy, healthy, succesfull and adventurous 2011!

As for us, it sounds like this coming year will be spent at home and work. We are excited to be spending some time at home, and are trying one totally different dream this year. As we were travelling, we often talked about having animals at home, horses, pigs, chickens, etc. I have to say that yes, as much as we always dream of travelling, ofcourse we both love animals and we do dream about having a little hobby farm. But since travel is still the number one for both of us, we decided that a hobbyfarm would not be a great option for us, as it would require too much devotion and it would complicate our travel 'addiction'. Therefore we have (almost) decided to get some chickens this year, just for fun, and to kind of please that farm dream. 

The word dog has been coming up a lot too lately. I know I have been pushing Philippe's buttons on this one a bit, every time we see dogs it just reminds me how great it is to have a four legged companion. And I instantly check for puppies for sale or what's available at the local shelter. So who knows what surprise decision we might make regarding dogs this year...

Also, for those wishing to visit us, or those planning to pass through the area, think of us! we now have a website up for our home. the link is here

I have started a new hobby, fur mitten making. I am selling them online on my own website, linked here

That's the news from the sunny north!

-Leandra

 

 

 

October 11, 2010

the fire in the woodstove is knispering away behind me, the kettle is whistling, Two comforting sounds reminding me that winter is on it's way. With a cup of hot coffee in My hand I sit on the couch looking at our splendid view of the mountains, now covered in snow. The white blanket shining in the bright sunlight, what a day!

Fall has gone by fast here up north. In September the leaves turned and were blown away by the fall winds in a matter of weeks. The weather is moody and unpredictable, Rain, Snow, Sun. I have to admit that the first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is to look out of the window and hope for snow. The snow does not stay yet as the temperatures during the day hover between 5 and 10 degrees celsuis. But  that doesn't keep one from building a snowman (actually it was a snowpenguin) early in the morning! 

Philippe and I have always been interested in the traditional ways of First Nation and Eskimos. Now that we're home, we're back to living off the land as much as we can.  It takes you back to those days where that was just how life was, also it makes you feel  connected to your surroundings. 

Last month an English couple stayed with us for a couple of days. T and Jess were riding their motorcycles from Vancouver, hoping to reach Alaska (which they did). It was a great joy for us to share our lifestyle, the 'sprit of adventure',and to get to know them. We now have some wonderful new friends, whom we hope to see again!

That was the news for now, greetings from the sunny North! 

 

August 3, 2010

 Time goes by when you're having fun! It's been a splendid month with the kids. We've started this magnificent month by going on a 3 day fishing trip, we took our rowboat and a couple of kayaks. Everybody caught at least one Northern pike. When we fished our qouta of 10 fish, it was time to return home to turn our catch into Fish sausages! 

After resting a couple of days, we introduced the kids to travelling by foot. So far we have only done cyclotouring trips with the boys, and we wanted to try out something else! We went on a 3 day hike, leaving from home following some of the numerous historic mining roads, the wonderful leftovers from the Goldrush in the 1800's. Mining is still active in  our hometown of Atlin, and we've had some goldminers stop and show their Golddust and nuggets to the kids. Along the mining roads, the kids learned about the gold rush and the people that still have gold fever and come to mine in Atlin every year. We explained them about the ways gold is found and extracted nowadays.   To ease the hike for the kids, we borrowed 2 sled dogs from a good friend. Peanut and Jude were helping the kids, and were a good help for bear protection in addition to our bearsprays and flares. We enjoyed watching 2 big beavers as they were constructing a dam. This hike was a good upportunity for Philippe and me to try out our wheelies. We bought the wheelies a couple of years ago, when we were planning on hiking in Siberia (remember that didn't happen since they rejected philippe's passport due to stains in it.. only a week before leaving... same weekend our dog Nanook passed away). So the wheelies had been sitting home waiting for a day where they could serve us, and here was the upportunity! The wheelies are great on good trails, on rough terrain the cordura rips.. for rough- and off trail hiking we'd go for the carrix. Anyways, the wheelies did their job! They take a load of your shoulders and if the kids get tired and you haven't found a good camping spot yet or if they don't want to wet their feet at a creek crossing... they can ride on the wheelie! The 3 days were wonderful. We hiked about 50km.

The last week of our holidays with the kids, we spent down south in the Okanagan. Valley. We spent a day cycling the Myra canyon trestles. This is an ancient railroad track. The tracks are gone but all 18 trestles and 2 tunnels are still there. The trail is very well maintained and it is an exciting and fun family bike ride! As we stopped for a drink there were 2 chipmunks that came to eat from the kids' hands! It was hard to get them to go again after!  We rented the bikes from Myra canyon bike rental. This business is owned and run by my family and is found on the parking at the beginning of the trail. They rent bicycles for kids and adults, also they rent bicycle trailers. The 24km trail took us about 4 hours, and was a fun day trip for the family.  Their website is www.myracanyonrental.com . The myra canyon trestles are part of the trans Canada trail. so you can go much farther than just the 24km of trestles...

Also, we are now on Facebook, yay! you can find us here.

Happy trails to all,

-Leandra

 

June 26, 2010

Philippe and our friends Pascal, Wilfried and Vincent successfully completed their 7 day glacier crossing! That makes 10 days total from Atlin to Juneau; 3 days kayak, 1 day approach, 5 days on the glacier and one day descent to Juneau. Congratulations to all 4 of you for your amazing efforts!

The 3 days on kayak were stunning, we had glass like water, no wind, and cooking hot sunny weather. All that and great company, what more can one wish for! Once arrived at the far end of Lewellyn inlet, Leandra left the group to take care of the logistics, as in; returning the kayaks to Atlin and arranging the arrival back to Atlin.

The foursome had a long day of approach to the Lewellyn glacier from where they would access the Juneau Icefield. The trail to approach Lewellyn glacier has not been used for a while and was getting overgrown, making for some bushwalking with a heavy pulka on their back. On the glacier and the icefield the foursome encountered blizzards and had white out conditions only. Except for the one or two hours a day where finally the clouds would clear up, only during these short periods of time the guys could see the breathtaking surroundings.  They crossed the entire icefield with compass and gps as during white out conditions you can not tell the difference between sky or ground.after 5 days of hard work, they arrived at the end of the icefield. from where there was another long hard hike down. The lemon creek trail leading to Juneau was very much overgrown with big trees etc that had fallen over, thus lots of climbing, crawling, bushwalking and even a rivercrossing with the pulks on the back.

But, with their strong will, their strong mindedness, the teamwork and their strength, they all made it all the way! What a great achievement!!! 

Upon return to Atlin, we enjoyed another couple of days together to explore some future adventures (there are countless possibilities around here) to be done.

That's the news for now. The pictures of this journey are to be found in the photo gallery.

 

June 15, 2010

Time flies by when you're having fun! Everytime I write on this page I say to myself ''oops it's been a while!" But, then we don't want to feed you boring stories about life, we want to give our readers something interesting to read... 

We had a great time with the kids, and ofcourse went for another Cycling trip. The cycling trip have an amazing popularity with the kids, they totaly adore it! This time we went for 3 days. We didn't aim for the 'as flat as it gets' area and had many valleys to cross. The boys gained quite some mental strenght on the going up, and they learned that after a going up, there's always a going down!

June has been busy. We have returned to our home and have been preparing for the current adventure. Together with 3 friends Philippe went back to winter as they are crossing the Juneau Icecape.  We left last week and I joined them for the 3 day approach by kayak. The approach was splendid, we had mirror water, blue skies only and hot cooking sun. What a blast we had. We laughed a lot and enjoyed the magnificent breathtaking scenery along Atlin lake. Thursday we arrived at the beginning of the trail that leads to the foot of the Lewellyn glacier, from there I returned to Atlin with all the kayaks and the 4 guys continued on their way. Currently they are 5 days into the Icecape crossing and they are doing well! They have had stormy weather on their first day and therefore could only make 18km. They will arrive in Juneau (where I will pick them up) in the next 4 days. Once they get back, we will give you some more details and ofcourse show off the pictures!!!

-Leandra

 April 20, 2010

Here we are, stranded, as so many others... It is weird to imagine that we were in iceland almost a year ago and yes we cycled right through the area that is currently so (vulcanically) active !

It sounds surreal to think that this is happening in Iceland, yet i'm craving with curiousity to know what it looks like now and how the area will have changed when this is over. Hey, we've got some kroner left!

The very sad part about this story is that we were half way on our way to France when we got sent back home from Montreal because our flight was cancelled. I wonder the reason why they closed european airspace just before we landed at our stopover in Montreal. If they would have closed a couple hours later, we would have been in France with the kids now.

As much as there is a reason for everything, we are currently hoping and prayingt hat we can leave on Wednesday.

Otherwise, we finished the season at sun peaks on Sunday the 11th of April. It was hard to say goodbye to all of our 42 fluffy friends and we miss them quite a bit. The first night back in the 'city' it was hard to sleep without the dogs howling, weird as it sounds! you're subconsciously wondering what's going on and why it is so quiet. I kind of missed not having to bang on the walls to make the dogs quiet.

Here some video footage of our winter season. enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

March 3, 2010.

 

Well well, It has been a long long time since we have given you an update on our whereabouts!

We are still loving our work as dogsledding guides in Sun Peaks, BC.

There has been an article published in this month's Senior living magazine about us and the dogs. Senior's living is distributed only in the lower mainland.  But here is the link so you can read the 'online' version! 

http://www.seniorlivingmag.com/articles/bridging-the-gap

Also There has been a photo shoot this week, the pictures will be used for promotion of dogsledding and sun peaks. Leandra has been part of it so look for her in next year's brochures!

We have just added some of our favourite pictures to the photo gallery so pelase check them out!

Hope all of you are doping well.
Cheers

 

December 29, 2009

Well, there we go. Christmas is officially over and so was the sunshine today. It snowed a little, and has been cloudy. We are having a great time here. We have tried to take a picture of every dog (we haven't got all 39 of them yet), and write their name on the picture. Check out our many friends on the Photo gallery, along with some pictures of sledding and us with the dogs.

Enjoy!

Happy new year!

 

December 27, 2009

It's been 2 weeks here at Sun peaks and we are loving it.

We will be adding some pictures in the next few days!.

Happy new year to all. 

 

 

 

 

 

December 11. 2009

Hi to all of our readers out there.

 

Monday we are moving to Sunpeaks, and the tourist season will start on Tuesday. We're excited to experience the life at the ski resort, having the ski trails and runs within 5 minutes walking and ofcourse giving life changing dogsledding tours to tourists!

Until the next time, and if we don't get to write before the holidays:

Merry Christmas and a Happy, healthy and adventurous 2010 to all!!!

November 15, 2009

It has been a busy while for us!!

We worked in the vineyard. Following that, we worked on our house to convert the big open space on the second floor into 4 beautiful bedrooms.

Just last week we came back from a 10 day trip to France where we enjoyed some time with Victor and Maxime. THey enjoyed our short cycling holidays this summer so much that now they were asking to go again. Ofcourse we didn't hesitate! Victor had a new bicycle, same style as us with front suspension and 21 gears. Maxime could take Victors old bicycle.

We decided to go for 3 days. We started taking some small roads, and ended up on  a 'jungle adventure'. We followed a small historical trail along the Aveyron river. Here the trees were covered with moss, often creating a tunnel, also we had a few little creeks to cross. We came along many middle age abandoned villages, mills, and dungeons. We were happy to be able to do some wild camping and the boys were very excited to make their first campfire and roast some yummy marshmallows. All 4 of us were happy with our little '4x4 adventure' and will sure be doing more cyclotouring! pictures of this trip are on the Photo gallery.

Currently Philippe and I are in Clearwater, training the dogs.

 

September 14, 2009

Sorry for the wait!

I can't even remember when we arrived back in Canada. It mus have been the 8th of September. 

Since then, we have been busy in our current adventure. We are in southern British Columbia, in the Okanagan region, working in a vineyard. The vineyard is owned by some good friends. They are just starting, and so there is lots to do and learn, for them and for us! We have been helping them in the field, we hang nets (so the birds don't eat the grapes) and we leaf thin (cut the leaves in front of the grapes so the grapes can enjoy the sun and sweeten in the last weeks before we harvest). Also we are busy in the Winery itself, the tanks (8000l tanks that will hold the wine) arrived last week and Philippe has been helping to put them in the winery. Soon we will be harvesting the grapes and assist in the process of crushing etc. until the 'grapes' are in the tanks, waiting to be drunk next year! We really enjoy this work, as we are outside all day, surrounded by friendly people, and it is so very interesting to see how much work is involved in making wine!

Besides just working, we have been looking for some interesting work for the winter. Doing this,  we learned that travelling is life changing while you travel, but it opens up oppurtinities even long after you have travelled. We are the living proof of that....

10 years ago, Philippe did a 5 week camping trip on the Yukon Quest trail, with a dogteam. Now, 10 years later, we are going to be spending our winter at the second largest ski resort in BC, giving dogsledding tours. We will be taking care of 40 dogs and give tours every day. for more info, or to book a tour, check http://www.sunpeaksresort.com/activities/winter.aspx and click on dogsledding tours.

For now, we're in the heat, having a blast! And we are happy to continue our adventures through work, together. 

 

August 24, 2009

Today it has been a year since our best friend Nanook passed away. Together with the kids we have baked some dogshaped cookies, and looked at Nanook's pictures, to remember our friend.

Thinking back of the same day last year, it feels like it was just yesterday that we were riding that rollercoaster of life changing events....

At the time, we were ready to go to Siberia, where we planned to cycle for 3 months. Philippe would have a fully loaded bike and would pull a trailer  with Nanook. I would have only rear panniers and pull a trailer with gear. 

Everything was going well until the Thursday, we received a phone call that the Russian embassy denied Philippe's passport because of a stain. That meant no visa in time. We lost the time and money invested in the visa and the planetickets. Also all the wintergear we had invested in, for us and our bicycles, was now not needed anymore. And yes that weekend, Sunday evening, Nanook suddenly passed away.

I remember how lost we felt, our planned journey fallen apart, our best friend gone. It took at least a week before we decided to at least keep travelling. We had to find ourselves another route. We decided to go eastbound, our goal was to reach the black sea....

Our 'spontaneous' adventure ended up much further than the  Black sea, in North Africa.

It's hard to believe it has been one year already. Nanook has been, and still is, on our mind very often. We hope to one day enrich our family with another samoyede. His name is already decided for: Nanook.

 

August 13, 2009

I have decided to give you one of our special travelling recipes. While we travel it is often impossible to carry along fresh food due to many circomstances.

In Egypt, we came across a traditional dish that is actually a mix of lots of stuff. It doesn't look very attractive, but the taste is great.

As we were cycling from France to Norway, in the grocery store I found some fried onions that reminded me of this Egyptian dish...... since then we have been eating it a lot to change from pastas with cheese...

http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/koshary.htmKushari is a traditional Egyptian meal that consists of a strange combination of macaroni, spaghetti, rice, black lentils, chick peas, garlic sauce and a spicy tomato chili sauce, all topped with fried onions. It is sold from carts by street vendors, in restaurants or even made at home and each is considered a different taste experience. 

Our 'expedition' version of this dish is very easy and very yummy. We buy instant rice, macaroni and fried onions. Check the cooking time of both rice and macaroni. 

Boil the rice (300gr), add the macaroni (200gr) at the right timing so rice and macaroni are cooked at the same time. drain and serve. add fried onions on top and enjoy!

If you are interested, here is the 'real' recipe:

 

KOSHARY (EGYPTIAN, LENTILS, RICE AND MACARONI) 

1 1/8 c. brown lentils
1 c. elbow macaroni
1/2 c. long grain rice
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

SAUCE:

 2 minced onions
2 crushed cloves garlic
2 tbsp. oil
16 oz. can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
1 chili pepper, crumbled (either fresh or dried)
1 tbsp. chopped parsley
Salt
Freshly ground pepper

Place lentils in saucepan and cover with boiling water. Bring to boil and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Fry onions and garlic in oil 5-10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes, vinegar, and chili pepper and simmer 10 minutes until thickened. Add parsley, season to taste.

While sauce is cooking, boil macaroni and rice together in water for 12 minutes. Drain. Mix together lentils, macaroni and rice, season to taste. Place on heated serving dish. Pour tomato mixture over all. Serve hot.

August 15, 2009

Our last week has been busy, we are enjoying our time with the kids in France.

We just returned from a 4 day cycling adventure with Victor and Maxime. Maxime had broken his arm just one week before Philippe and I arrived, therefore he was not capable of cycling. Luckily we still had the dogtrailer that was once supposed to be for Nanook. We transformed the trailer into a luxurious little 'cabin' for Maxime. Also we succeeded in mounting one of our front racks on the rear of Victor's bike, so he could carry some luggage as well (on his own request).

By car we were dropped off at the top of a valley. We spent our first day descending along a creek to arrive at the river the Viaur. After 20km we arrived at Laguepie, a picturesque little village along the river. The camping right by the water was very much welcome. We enjoyed ourselves swimming and playing mini golf in the afternoon.

Day 2 we cycled 32 km, from Laguepie to St Antonin. We picked some prunes from one of the many prune trees along the road. Picnicked on a cute church square. We stopped to pick flowers and to admire a gorgeous caterpillar that was traversing the little road we were on.

Day 3 we cycled 35km from St Antonin to Najac. We had to climb out of the valley. 3 long kilometers up. We figured out a way for Philippe to pull Victor and that worked very well. The descent into Najac was great. Once again we swam and we hiked up a steep hill to reach the Castle of Najac and had some ice cream.

Day 4 we cycled 20 km from Najac to Villefranche de Rouergue, where we were picked up in the afternoon. We had another big climb this time 5km long. Philippe sweat lots as he pulled victor and the rest of his load (that includes Maxime) up the hill.Once on top the road was relatively flat all the way to the end. Once picked up and in the car, we figured out the Temperture was 35 degrees celsius!

We have been throwing water on eachother all these days, wetting our baseball caps and eating lots of ice cream to keep ourselves cool in these roasting temperatures.

All 4 of us loved this short trip. We will be doing another one with the kids next year. Then 4 of us on the bike (unless Maxime decides to break a leg just before we show up just so he can go in the trailer again...).

Pictures are on the Photo gallery!

 

August 7, 2009

90 days 7500km

The windgods have been playing with us on our last stretch. Lucky for us it has been mostly in the back. It would push us at 44 km/h! No wonder why cyclists going the other way were taking the bus! Once arrived in Vik, the most southern point of Iceland, the wind was so strong that on the camping,  some tents were litterally dancing in the wind and tentpoles were breaking. We were happy to have a strong tent made to withstand hurricane winds.

Together with the wind, we had some rain: We haven't had good weather for the last 2 weeks. 

We followed the ringroad towards Skaftafell, a national park well known for its many beautifull hiking trails. We spent an hour hiking towards pretty Svartifoss and learned about the Jokulhaups (the flood of water etc that occurs when a volcano erupts underneath a glacier) that happen in the region. The biggest Jokulhaups was in 1998:

During the Grimsvotn Eruption From December 18 to 28, 1998 a 1300-meter-long fissure eruption took place on the south edge of Grimsvotn Caldera, much of which is buried beneath the Vatnajokull Ice Cap. The ash and steam column reached heights of 10 kilometers. This eruption occurred 10 kilometers south of the 1996 Gjalp subglacial eruption that melted 3 cubic kilometers of ice, causing a huge glacial outburst flood that destroyed the road and communication lines across southern Iceland.

We cycled for many kilometers over the long, flat, grey, rocky moorland that is caused by the Jokulhaups wiping out everything on its way. 

The road became very impressive as we were squished in between the ocean on one side and the countless glaciertongues on the other. One of these glaciertongues drops into a lake, creating a lake full of icebergs. The lake slowly flows out into the sea, creating a perfect fishing spot for the seals that hunt in between the twirling icebergs. This lake is known as Jokulsarlon (glacier lagoon). we were lucky to find a campsite just by the shore of the lake to enjoy the icebergs for ourselves.

Slowly but surely we were progressing towards the west, we left the Vatnajokul area and the shoreline. The road became hilly and the wind came from the side. We took our time as we were ahead of schedule.

We arrived in Reykjavik 3 days before departure and spent those last 3 days walking through Reykjavik and eating our favourite snack, Skyr (Skyr is an Icelandic cultured dairy product, similar to strained yogurt. Technically it is a very soft cheese).

Ofcourse on our last kilometers to Keflavik airport the rain decided to give us a last pooring, so we arrived pretty wet at the airport. But that didn't bother us as we knew that in a few hours we would be arriving in the very welcome French heat!

We are currently back in France. 

Make sure to check back on the pictures of Myvatn and the Interior as we have placed the missing pictures of the ice caves, the geothermal crater lake, etc.

July 20, 2009 

81 days, 6800 km  

25 km after leaving Akureyri, just after climbing a long steep pass, Philippe blew his rear tire on a sharp rock. We used the one and only spare tire to replace the broken one. Knowing we would be spending lots of time cycling rough roads in the weeks to come, we decided to ditch the bikes and hitchike back to Akureyri and get a new spare tire. 3 hours, 4 rides and a 5km walk later we were back at our bicycles with 2 spares (we didn´t want to take a chance).

The next day we arrived in the Myvatn area. We visited some pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions when molten lava rushed over wedland. After these, we visited a volcanic crater, Hverfell. This crater is 140m deep and has one of the largest tephra rings on the planet.

We found ourselves a nice campsite between some small trees, we had some eggs as a treat. As we woke up the next day, Leandra had pain in her stomach and didn´t eat much. We went to visit an area with boiling mud, steam vents and solfataras, followed by a visit to the Krafla (volcano) area, where we walked on very fresh lava (1984) that was pitch black, still smoking and sometimes sharp as glass. Unfortunately Leandra started a very bad stomach flew as we were visiting. 

Leandra felt a little better the next morning so we decided to go on. We left the ringroad to head into the interior. After 40 km on the rough sandy road, we both felt very sick. As soon as we found a little pond in the sandy desert we set up the tent. We learned that Philippe had a 39.1°c fever. Both sick, we could only rest. We couldn´t eat a thing, must have shared one loaf of bread over 3 days, but didn´t touch our rations. We stayed stranded for 48 hours, laying in the tent, motionless, with no other desires than laying still. Still like this weird desert around, motionless also, no animals, no plants, no colors, nobody. If not for the breeze, we could very well be on Mars or on the Moon.

When we felt a bit better, despite the fact we were not back to normal yet, our curiousity and our fascination pushed us to get us going farther.

The hot days we had now turned into foggy cloudy and rainy weather which was great because it made the sandy roads more compact, thus less pushing the bicycles!

Once arrived in the Askja area, we walked up to the Viti crater through the fog, which created a very special atmosphere. We scrambled down to the geothermally heated milky blue lake in the bottom of the crater and had a swim.  

At this point we had both totally recovered from our mysterious sicknesses and were starting to eat like normal again. We decided to cycle deeper into the interior towards a special place where the biggest glacier in Europe and a Volcano meet. A rough and long, narrow track led us to a mountain hut a few kilometers from the hot spot. The tracks first go through another one of those moonscapes, a desolated vastness of volcanic ashes, sands, volcanic bombs and pumice. It is actually in this very same place that NASA tested the landing module and lunar jeep for the Apollo missions.

For a while the track then goes through lava fields, endlessly winding its way through. We find the tracks challenging but very exiting and despite the long hours spent bouncing around on rocks, pushing our bikes through sand and many river crossings, we are really loving it.

Passed the mountain hut, we wade through the most challenging river crossing ever, with icy cold glacial water (the glacier is only a few dozen meters away), holes, and big boulders. There is enough current that, when we cross the river holding the bikes by the handle bar and the saddle, the strong current pushes the bikes nearly horizontal trying to take them away from   Phil´s strong hands. Even though the whitewater is coming up to his thighs, Philippe still takes Leandra on top of his shoulders to take her across (isn´t he the sweetest).

After a short walk, we then find the ice cave. The main entrance must be 15 meters in diameter and steam is pouring out of the huge hole. A surprisingly warm river is coming out of the glacier (the warm river made the caves). It is easy to walk inside the first 100 meters under the glacier. This is very special. We see some light and find the roof of the cave had fallen down, from here you could look up to the crevasses towering high above you, this was quite impressive.

We later walk in the surroundings and even on the glacier, looking for the fumeroles and other steam vents hidden somewhere else on the glacier, but because of fog and a bit short of time, we decide to go back to the mountain hut. 

We cycled the same 45 km tracks back to the gravel road, where we turned east. The road was very sandy, the desert was gorgeous, lots of sand and some big volcanic boulders (basaltic organs). Deciding to camp there we took a walk to the river to get some water for cooking and realized we had set up the tent close to a mighty canyon! We scrambled down the jaw dropping canyon and once again realized how awesome is it to stumble upon these ´unknown´ (or at least unmarked) natural goodies just by yourself instead of being surrounded by tour busses.

We were happy to reach the pavement again as it meant returning to the known world but we were sad to have left all the oddities of the interior desert.

We are currently in Egilsstadir,  we are all cleaned up, tomorrow we will be back on the road towards Hofn. 

We are having issues with our photocamera!! we have about a week´s worth of photos on our videocamera for which we do not have the cable (to transfer the pictures to the pc), so we can not show ALL the pictures at this time, but we will publish them when we get back to France in August. 

 

July 7, 2009

We arrived in Akureyri the beginning of the afternoon.

We will now be heading towards the area of Myvatn lake, spend a couple of days exploring the area around the lake and towards the Krafla volcano. After this, we will go back into the Interior where we hope to make our way over unbridged roads and tracks to the Askja volcano. We will then decide where to go from there. We might take some tracks to visit ice caves dug into the Vatnajokull ice cape by underground steam but this all depends on how the roads and river crossings are. We are planning to be back on the ashfalt road (and civilisation) in about 12 days, and therefore are quite heavily loaded with food!

We have placed our photo´s on the photo gallery!

Greetings to all and thank you for your encouraging emails and messages in our guestbook!!!

 

July 6, 2009

Keflavik - Varmahlio, via the Kjolur and other interior higlands roads. 

6 days and 500km on this stretch, 6100 km and 65 days since we left from France.

We arrived safely in Reykjavik on June 30. We had quite a surprise though, when our bicycles were brought into the luggage area. The boxes were exploded open! We were not happy at all but thankfully nothing was lost and the bikes seemed ok.

We packed up 7 days of groceries in Reykjavik as we decided to go though the interior roads to reach northern Iceland. That meant going through  rough gravel roads in the middle of volcanic sands and rock deserts. Nobody lives in the higlands but a bunch of sheep roaming free. We travelled through the F35 gravel road as well as parallel unbridged monster truck tracks. We had lots of fun doing it and are eager to go on some other tracks again later during our trip.

On our way we have visited Pingvellir, Geysir, Gulfoss and Hveravellir. We have travelled between two large icecapes in the higlands, along lava flows and geothermal areas.

Crossing through a river we discovered that the bob trailer floats! On another track we had to turn around because of a too wild too deep and too strong river. The tracks are only used by local monster trucks and we now  understand why!

We should arrive in Akureyri, the second biggest city in Iceland, tomorrow. There we will find a place to upload our pictures!


View Iceland in a larger map

June 29, 2009

En route to Iceland, leg 5

 

We've had 5 days for regrouping. Our time has been spent fixing up the bikes, doing research on the internet, taking little walks and reading.

 

We fixed the freewheel problem on Philippe's bicycle. We looked at it with a bicycle mechanic and decided to buy a new wheel instead of just replacing the freewheel for which we (and the bike mechanic) had no tools.

Leandra has been cycling with a broken wobbly rim for a while and we helped her out by switching Philippe's old rim onto the spokes and hub of the wobbly broken rim. We were happy that we were able to do this by ourselves, the rim is dished and true.

Our bicycles have been starting to show their mileage during this trip. It is becoming an annoyance that our bicycles are not equipped with the 'standard' worldwide brand. Therefore the parts we find along the way are not compatible with ours and often neither the mechanics or us  have the proper tools to deal with the gear on our bicycles. 

We have been spending quite some time researching our route in Iceland. We have decided to make a combination of cycling the ring road and as well exploring the challenging interior rough gravel roads.

In the late evening today, we are leaving on our way to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, where we will arrive tomorrow, on Leandra's birthday. For the last time today we bought our favourite cheap goodies at the store. We'll be missing the super cheap 500gr marzipan for $2! 

June 24, 2009

Sortland - Nordkapp (North cape)

5534 km from Southern france to the Northernmost point in Europe, cycled in 54 days.

We had bad weather leaving Sortland, but the wild rugged coast with waves pounding the rocks alongside us was a true enjoyment. We followed the westcoast of Andøya, there was barely any traffic and very enjoyable. We reached Andenes from where we took an hour long wavy ferry ride. An hour was long enough, even though there were plenty of puffins to look at, our stomaches were starting to let us know they would not be able to swing from left to right much longer anymore..

In Tromsø we were happy to find Leandra's new gear shifter had arrived just before we showed up. Leandra was very glad to have her speeds back after 2 weeks with only 3 speeds.

These last days since Tromsø we were cycling through tundra like landscape. Sometimes with small birch bunches. There are lots of reindeer herds everywhere. They are roaming free in the mountains but are actually cattle. They are not scared of cars and cyclist, and therefore we have lots of close encounters.

It is now tourist season, we see as many RV's on the road here as there are on the Alaska Highway.

The day of arrival at Northcape, the weather was gorgeous. Blue skies and not too much wind. Which was motivating as we had to work hard till the last meters. The day of arrival we went through our longest tunnel yet, 8 km long and going 212 meters deep under the ocean (very long, cold, dark and steep). We had major hills for the 30 last kilometers, from Honningsvåg to Nordkapp, plus the 30km back (North cape is at the end of the road)

We had our first tire blow up at 5000km, it was Philippe's rear. Quite surprising as we were expecting the tires to let us down at 3500km. Also Philippe is having problems with his free wheel that doesn't lock properly anymore. His bike barely made it to North Cape, so we somehow need to find a way to fix the problem as he will certainly not be able to bike more than a few days with his bicycle in this condition.

We'll be spending a few days here in Honningsvåg waiting for our flight to Reykjavik (Iceland) on the 29th.

Our photocamera has been causing us some problems as it doesn't want to work some days. Thankfully we can take pictures with our videocamera, but unfortunately we do not have the proper cable with us to upload the pictures from the videocamera to the computer. Because of this problem we can not show you all of our pictures, but at least a good idea of what we have been seeing.


Vis to northcape i et større kart" />

June 15, 2009

Bodø - Sortland

4700km in 46 days

Just after writing the last news, we took the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes, Lofoten Islands. The Lofoten Islands have even more dramatic landscapes than the western fjords thanks to sharper and higher mountains.

We have caught up with the time and are now certain that we will make it to Northcape in time. Therefore we can now take it a bit easier. This morning we woke up to pooring rain, we decided to take the day off so we can rest a bit and spend some time on the website.

We have about 2-3 days to Tromsø, here we will pick up the new gear shifter for Leandra, that should be there on Thursday.

We are also preparing our trip around Iceland, which is to come after reaching Northcape.

June 12, 2009

Tynset - Bodø

We have pedalled 4500km in 43 days.

As much as we were supposed to have rain, we were totally not prepared for snow! 3 days in a row we had cold weather with lots of snow. Reaching the coast the snow turned into rain and thankfully stopped once we arrived in Trondheim. Even though it was snowy and rainy, from underneath our hoods, the scenery was still very nice.

In Trondheim we got some spare parts for the bicycles, we both got new chains and cassettes, Philippe a new front derailleur and Leandra a new front plate.

From Trondheim, we were now on the western coast lined up with fjords and inlets dotted with many islands. We were using a combination of small roads and the former main road, the rv17 (http://www.rv17.no/), a scenic winding road going along the coast. The road isn't continious and there  are many short ferry rides, as many as 3 per day.

We are spoiled with all the fjords, inlets and islands forming a complex water maze protected from the wind,  that must be a dream for kayakers. We see more and more snowpatches on the mountains around us, giving us the sign that they are getting higher and higher as we progress northbound. Most of the mountains are rounded by glaciers that nowadays are gone.  Some mountains still have razorsharp edges, these must have been sticking out of the late icefields. We often try to imagine how big the icefields must have been.  

As a little surprise we saw a samoyede! On our last trip we saw a 'Nanook' in Switzerland, and now we came across another one. Of course we stopped for some hugs and kisses.

For campsites we have been very very lucky as well, finding mountain lake shores, deserted fjord beaches, or mountain passes with breathtaking views.

Leandra's gear shifter quit on us and the puzzle of springs and tiny parts was impossible to put back together. As we were trying to fix this problem, a friendly fellow named Karsteinh invited us for some coffee and cake. he is a pilot who flies in Northern Norway. He usually flies the flight we will be taking on June 29th. 

Leandra has been riding on 3 speeds for almost a week now. She is realizing that you can do quite some amazing stuff with only 3 speeds, which is good because we have to wait until Tromsø untill she gets a new one!

We meet many people driving this road with their RV's, one evening we have been invited by a French couple for a drink. 

We are now in Bodø, above the arctic circle. We have sunlight 24 hours a day.

 

June 2, 2009

Halmstad (Sweden) - Tynset (Norway)  click here for map / click here for photos

We have pedalled a total of 3472km in 32 days. We cycled southwestern Sweden, more or less following the coast.  We reached the Norwegian border about 100km east of Oslo and since then have been cycling northbound in the central mountains aiming for Trondheim and the western fjords. 

Though Sweden is the size of France and has only 9 million inhabitants,  the roads are still well travelled. The hills became higher and higher and we were riding along many lakes. Often surrounded by glacier carved hills and rocks we travelled back in time along Copper age burial mounds and other historical sights. We have had the opportunity to camp  on lakeshores, and along fresh mountain creeks. 

Our flights from Northcape to Iceland are booked for June 29. The day we booked these plane tickets we were counting on the cycling distance from southern France to Northcape to be about 4500km. With the time we have learned that we underestimated the distance, and it might just be more than 5500km total. We are and have been biking against the clock, making a minimum distance of 120km a day, 7 days a week. We needed to catch up with the mileage of the first weeks in France, where we couldn`t make much mileage due to pains in knees and Mountains. We have now made enough mileage to bring our total average per day of all 32 days to 110km.

Just a few days ago as we were doing random maintenance on the bikes, we noticed a crack in Philippe's rear rim.  Taking a closer look, we actually ended up finding 3 half inch size cracks. This was quite a shocking discovery! We are expecting our bikes to do much more mileage!  We both didn't sleep too good that night, wondering how we could fix this problem.

We decided to switch rims, Philippe's rear rim went on Leandra's rear. We took off the cassettes so each of us would keep the same drivetrain. Of all wheels, Philippe's rear wheel is the one dealing with the most stress: pulling the trailer, carrying the food, and carrying Philippe. The bikes have ridden a total of 11000km by now and we expect them to double this distance before the end of the year so they better behave! haha.

We have stopped counting pimples and abscesses on our butts, crotch and groins. Since day one we have been rubbing an antiseptic solution on eachother every night. but all of this loving work does not seem to do much so far. Some days Philippe has to bike the entire day in standing position, not able to sit. Funny because on our previous trip, we didn't suffer any of these sort of things.

The heat has been having it's effects as well. Leandra with her blonde hair and fair skin, got sunburned on her left leg and left shoulder (we always go the same direction so the sun is always shining on the same spot). Thanks to her sunburns she was forced to wear full pants and a long sleeved shirt. Half way through a mountaineous day, Leandra (who is dealing with Raynaud's syndrome in her daily life) started a heatstroke that we stopped with the icecold water from mountaincreeks around us.

As we are now in higher elevation, the temperature has cooled down. The weatherforecast is predicting us a mix of sun and rain for the next days.

We should be reaching Trondheim, and thereby the mid-Northwestern coast in a day or two.

     

May 25th, 2009 

Wageningen (Netherlands) - Halmstad (Sweden)         click here for map

So far we cycled 2600km from southern France.

After spending 2 days visiting friends and family we left on a rainy Sunday morning.

We cycled northeast through The Netherlands for another 2 days to reach Meppen in Northwestern Germany. We continued Northeast through the fields and villages. As we were going along, we noticed what looked like a life-size decor of a fairytale movie to our right. An old castle surrounded by picture perfect brick houses. Going towards it, we realized it was real.  Looking in our guidebook we quickly learned we were standing on the edge of a Unesco world heritage site,  the town of Lubeck.  

Finished visiting Lubeck, we followed sea shore promenades and dikes to Puttgarden, from where we took a short 45min. ferry ride to Rodby, Denmark.  Our first night there, we camped in a forest full of ticks. We killed a few ticks in the tent but nevertheless Leandra woke up with a tick on her leg.

In Denmark the bicycle routes were signposted very well! We Stopped and had a few hour tour through Copenhagen where there was a Marathon going on, this was a reason for many festivities. Some tourists from British Columbia came to talk to us. Good to see some people from home!

As we left Copenhagen it started to rain. We had rain for a few hours untill we reached Helsingor. In helsingor we took a 15min. ferry ride to Helsinborg in Sweden.

We have succeeded in finding spots for wild camping almost every night so far. Soon we will reach less populated areas with more wilderness. On top of that, here in Sweden and in Norway they have the so called ´allemansretten´ meaning that in the countryside, by law, you have the right to camp in the wild. as long as you are not on private property and 70 meters from the nearest house.

Otherwise, people have been very friendly and helpfull since the day we left. Mileagewise we have been able to make up to 150km a day in the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.

Just so you know, Internet cafes are scarce in the countries we are cycling through. We try to make the news whenever we can...

At this time we are unfortunately unable to upload our pictures because of internet safety measures at the internet cafe..

 

May 15th, 2009

Already 1410 km in these last 2 weeks!

We are currently in Wageningen, the Netherlands. 

We started once again from Philippe's parents home in Southern France. We biked north, following small roads connecting remote villages in the 'Massif Central" mountains. We cycled through Auvergne, a French vulcanic region. Here we cycled along scenic mountain farmland landscape overlooked by snowcapped vulcanoes.

In this region many of the hamlets are built from rough stone from the roof to the foundations, finely renovated and subtily modernised. Yards and gardens are a wonderful harmony of utilitarian and ornomental things and plants. The tiny roads are winding in between the small cereals fields and cattle grazing area.

After passing the last volcanoe of the region we had a long way down into lower hills.

We visited Vichy on our way to the Nivernais Canal.Here we took a paved path that follows the canal for 180km and 65 locks. The path used to be the barges hauling road.  The canal took us along fields, rocky hills, and limestone walls where we did some fossil searching.

Once finished with the bike path, we continued our way north in the constant sunny weather. We bike through the Chablis area, a vineyard region famous for his wine.

Later on we crossed the Champagne vineyard area famous for...guess what? Yes, Champagne.

Then we biked through the French Ardennes sadly famous for WW1 battlefields with his numerous military cemeteries.

We then finally reached Belgium through the Ardennes in Wallony. The morning we arrived there, the northern european weather greeted us. We had pooring rain without a break, two days in a row.

After ten days of sunny weather we were cougth off guard by the rain and we got wet, cold and miserable.

Because of the weather condition we didn't see much of the Ardennes keeping our hoods tight on our heads all day.

 We visited the downtown of Bastogne (where there was a big battle during world war 2). The downtown was full of cafes, stores, and hotels, luring you inside with their neon ligthning and yummy smells.

Our smiles returned a few dozen kilometers before the border with the Netherlands, when the weather cleared a bit and we could finally take off our hoods and look at the forested hills around us. We did get a glimpse after all!

We arrived in the Netherlands on a wednesday morning, wednesday and friday are the dutch Market days, so we spoiled ourselves with some traditional harings and onions on the market in Maastricht.

The typical dutch brick housing, fields, cows, windmills and canals were surrounding us instantly and the sunny weather was back.

The last 30km before arriving in Wageningen must have been the most frustrating so far. We had to cross 3 different rivers and had to take ferries for each. First river, the 'Maas', no problem. Nice ferry and cheap (€ 0,55 each). Second river the 'Waal', we couldn't find the ferry so we asked someone and apparently the ferry hadn't been there anymore for 30 years! They explained us where to catch the ferry but once arrived there, it turned out the ferry crosses only in the weekends. We continued on the dike, against the strong wind to reach the closest bridge.

After crossing the bridge, we had a mechanical problem. One of the bolts holding Phil luggage rack got loose and lost on the road. We stopped at a gardening centre to replace the bolts and the gentleman was so happy to help us. He offered us coffee and gave us the bolts for free. Thank you (dankjewel)!

We arrived in Wageningen yesterday and will spend some days here to visit friends and family.

 

April 30, 2009

On the road again!

Currently bicycling from southern France to Northcape and then around Iceland.

We'll be travelling through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Once we reach Northcape we will fly to Iceland where we will cycle around the country. This trip is planned to take a total of 3 months.

We arrived at Philippe's parents in southern France a couple of weeks ago. We've spent some time with Philippe's 2 sons, Victor and Maxime who joined us in our training and cycled alongside us.

This last week has been busy, fixing up our bicycles, getting our gear ready and taking a closer look at our route.

Tomorrow morning we will take off, and head towards the Cantal region, north of Aveyron which is where we are now. 

We will update our website every week. We hope you enjoy following our travels.

For more info on this journey and a map, click here. For more info on our past journeys, please go to our homepage and click on the more info button by each leg.

Feel free to leave a message in our guestbook, or email us if you have  any questions or comments.

April 3, 2009

We stopped our business in October 2007, to take some time off for traveling the world. 

The first of March, 2008 we took off for our fist leg, a 500 km adventure on snowshoes. leaving from the front door of our house, finishing a few weeks later in Carmacks (Yukon Territory). After the breakup of the Yukon river, we continued from Carmacks, this time  by canoe. Paddling the entire river, 3500km, all the way to the Bering sea, where we arrived 42 days after leaving Carmacks.

After a short break, our travels continued in the fall of 2008. We cycled 100 days from Southern France to Cairo, going through central and eastern Europe, The Middle East and Egypt. We cycled in 14 countries and on 3 different continents during this trip!

Our Christmas was spent with family in France after which we left Europe to spent some time  in our home, 12km from a small village called Atlin, in Northern British Columbia. We have ever since been busy planning our next adventure. 

We were thinking of leaving from France and either cycle west Africa (France, Spain, Portugal, Marocco, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal)  or cycle northern Europe (France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland).

After lots of research we decided to take the Northbound route.

We are leaving the first week of May, and will cycle through France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, to reach the North cape (the most northern point of Norway). Once we reach the North Cape we will fly to Iceland, and cycle in Iceland.

While travelling we will try to update our website every week to keep you up to date to what is happening!

For  more information on our adventures, check out the maps, the photo gallery,or scroll down this page for news from our 100 day cycling adventure from France to Egypt.

For questions, comments or anything else, feel free send us an email, and don't forget to leave a message in our guestbook! 

 

March 3, 2009

Happy new year everybody! It has been a few weeks since we completed our amazing trip by bicycle, but the memories are still fresh in our heads. We have been very busy working on our house, and  serving for the Canadian forces, which gave us the opportunity to travel to Iqaluit in Baffin Island (Nunavut) and perform a patrol in northern BC and the Yukon.

 

December 15, 2008

Dahab (Egypt) - Cairo (Egypt) Final destination for 2008.

Cheers to a succesfull 100 days and 6706 km of life changing experiences!

We  arrived in Cairo after some crazy experiences on the Sinai Peninsula. 

From the warm and friendly village of Dahab, we rode through the desert mountains. We passed few bedouin settlements where children came running to the road to ask us for food. After a day in the heat, 120 km later and after 1000 m denivelation,  we arrived to Sharm el Sheikh. Sharm was quite a contrast from what we saw during the day. It has a place with only big 4 and 5 star resorts and casinos. It looks like a typical tourist only beach resort town (We didn't see many locals here). Incapable of making our way through on time before sunset, we had to stay in a hotel were we were not very welcome as independent travellers. Our bicycles seemed to be a real problem for them.

Remember the hotel we stayed at the port in Nuweiba? The one where we pitched our tent on top of the hotel bed since we were attacked by hords of mosquitos?? Since that night, Philippe has had dozens of extremely itchy and hard big bumps showing up all over his body, accompanied by a light fever. We were more and more worried as this continued for the next days. Wondering what was going on and what it was that was going on underneath his skin. We stopped in a pharmacy in Sharm el Sheikh where we were told it was an allergy to bug bites. We were almost convinced it wasn't, but decided to try the medicine anyways. Thankfully with the time the bumps did get smaller.

Happy to leave the surreal town of Sharm el Sheikh, we headed back in the desert on our way to El Tur. The road was now going across a flat desert along the shore of the Red sea. There was absolutely no trace of any kind of life in this sandy area. Not even one tree or shrub and no Bedouin either. We found it very monotone. We started to notice that the sea breeze we had in the morning was now growing stronger and stronger and our speed dropping. By noon the wind dropped our speed to 10km/h only, despite our great efforts. Also Leandra's rear bearing was loose and grinding. Since El tur was 120 km (and the first village) away from Sharm el Sheikh, we started to worry a bit if we could make it there, since we really needed more water in order to camp. By the end of the afternoon we were completely exhausted and still were 35 km away from town. The wind not giving us a break. Thankfully some bedouins stopped to check on us and offered us a ride to El Tur.

Once arrived in El Tur it took us a long time to find a place to camp since the desert here was under Military surveillance.

The next day as we came across just another checkpoint, they asked for our passports as usual. The guy in charge was suspicious about our intentions. The nearby canal of Suez is under tight military security. Therefore the officer decided (after checking our passports several times) to let us go through, but only if escorted by a noisy police pick up with heavily armed soldiers inside. For hours they have been following us and going no further than a meter behind us. We were frustrated. How do you go to the toilet in the desert with these people watching you constantly? And where is the peace if you have a constant noise in your ears, loud enough to make it impossible to talk? We were sure that if we would camp, they would camp with us and then follow us again tomorrow, that was not acceptable for us.

We cycled 120 km that day and were still 2 days away from Suez city (El Suweis). Looking at the current situation we realized that our only way out was to hitch a ride to get out of this annoying and ridiculous situation. Without advising the police, we decided to stop the first truck we saw.  The cops waited with us until a pickup stopped to give us a ride to Suez city. The police had to pass some phone calls to other officers and gave us an OK to take the ride, they seemed relieved with our decision (so were we) so they didn't have to follow us until who knows where. 

As we went through the tunnel underneath the Suez Channel, we left Asia behind us and now entered the African continent.

We spent the night in Suez and decided to cycle the last 150 km to Cairo in 2 days because of the wind conditions. It was quite a boring ride on a busy road, crossing the flat monotone desert in the interior of Egypt. The area was so flat that we had a hard time to find a quiet discrete spot for our last campsite of this trip. We waited for dark to sneak away in the desert and go pitch our tent in one of the many trenches dug for army tanks. We decided to wake  up at 4.30 am and go as soon as possible to make sure we would be gone before sunset.

We arrived to the outskirts of Cairo and found ourselves in thick smog and pretty challenging traffic. People driving very fast, and driving as if they were alone in the streets. Philippe almost got driven over by a bus. We found the downtown and a place to stay.

We arranged a tour to the Pyramids for the next day, the landmark of the end of this cycling trip.

In 100 days we have travelled through 14 different countries. We have set foot on 3 different continents. We have dipped our hands in 5 different seas. We have seen many different cultures. We have seen many breathtaking landscapes. We have cycled through many mountain ranges. We have had only 5 days of rain. We went way over our expectations of this trip, in many ways.

We will fly to France tonight, where we will spend our Christmas and New year's with family. 

We thank everyone for following our travels and encouraging us. Stay tuned as we will soon get our winter trip pictures posted and we will keep updating our website. We wish you all a very merry Christmas and a healthy 2009.

 

 

December 8, 2008

Petra (Jordan) - Dahab (Sinai peninsula, Egypt) 

We have sat in our saddles for 95 days and 6232 km.

We had a long steep climb out of Petra and followed a road that took us over the hilltops, going up and down but giving a breathtaking view of the desertic mountains surrounding us.

We made our way to Wadi Rum desert area famous for landscapes of red sand and towering peaks. We first stopped 20 km before the oasis-like village of Rum to sleep in the desert. As we settled camp, a bedouin came to visit us walking from his camp with a pot of tea and three glasses. After chatting a bit, despite no common langage, he went back to his camp and came again to offer us some wooden carvings. Bedouins hospitality and kindness is for sure not a legend. In the early morning after a quiet night in the absolut silence of the desert, we went to visit him at his camp, he offered us tea and gave Leandra a nice handmade wooden necklace. Our heads full of thoughts about the nomadic live of Ahmet and his generous kindness, we head towards Wadi Rum.

This part of the desert is very very sandy and it is impossible for us to bike off the liitle dead end road. So we decided to explore the surrounding of Rum the first day by Jeep, and the two following days by foot.

As much as we have been dealing with strong headwinds almost our entire tour through Jordan, our last day as we took off to Aqaba, we had the wind in our backs, and made the 87 km there in the morning. We arrived to the ferry terminal where we learned that the next boat would be Sunday. We found ourselves a camp on the shores of the turqouise blue Red sea. Leandra celebrated our arrival in the hot weather by going for a swim. 

We spend a full day to take the 1.5 hour 'fast ferry' to Egypt thanks to waiting times and delays with border crossings. We spent the night in a hotel just by the ferry terminal. Here we shared the room with some ########### and have been eaten alive by musquitoes all night, enough for us to set up the tent on top of the bed.

Jordan was a great experience, once again the people were very welcoming and friendly. We have seen so many things that our minds are sometimes having a hard time to digest it all. We are now excited to explore some parts of Egypt. 

 

December 1, 2008

Damascus (Syria) - Petra (Jordan)

We have ridden 6020 km in 88 days.

We left Damascus and had 120 km to the border. Our speed was fast, an average of 30km/h. We made 75km by 11am and reached the border around 3pm. It took us an hour to get through the process of getting our visas. We camped between two hamlets in a sandy hill.

Next day we decided to head towards Jerash, which was supposed to be just a little detour. Unfortunately we took the wrong road and it ended up being a 60 km detour. We enjoyed the roman ruins and continued on our way towards the Amman. The road was constantly going up, and in the hot temperatures it made a sweaty workout. We reached Amman as it got dark, it took us a long time to find a hotel.

We had a long going down from Amman to the Dead Sea. We visited Bethany beyond the Jordan, the actual site where Jesus was baptized by John. Also we saw the hill where  Elijah was sent to Heaven. We stood just a few meters from Israel as we were on the shore of the Jordan river. The wind was strong and (of course) against us as we rode towards the Dead Sea. We were stopped at a check point and as we were let through we noticed Philippe's rear tire flat. Just a few 100 meters after fixing it, Leandra's rear tire and inner tube blew. So we spent some time fixing and we were hoping not to have the same experience as we had in Romania (when we had 1 tire blowing a day for a few days). As we went on, past the fenced resorts we noticed many locals having barbeques on the shore. We saw some camels and nomad camps.  

Our campsite on the shore of the Dead sea was at 440m below sealevel. We only dipped our hands in the sea since we did not have enough water to rinse us off after swimming. There is 6 times more salt in the Dead sea than in any other seas.

The next day we rode along the Dead sea. The road was going between the sea and sandstone mountains, cut by deep canyons from which fresh water gives life to exotic plantations. Then we started climbing steep out of the Dead sea valley, heading towards Tafila. Many people stopped and asked us if we needed a ride, explaining the road would go up steep for 30km. Later, a car stopped and a fellow, Akef, invited us to stay at his home for the night, and we accepted. We had another good experience with his family.

Next morning we biked our way to Petra, where we are now. We spent our day today visiting the amazing site. 

The landscape in Jordan is amazing. We have seen sandy desertic areas, oases, red volcanic landscapes,  forests of tropical trees, and many rocky mountains.

 

 

 November 25, 2008

Adana (Turkey) - Damasus (Syria)

We have travelled 5600 km and 82 days since we left.

This last week has been very special.

The day we left Adana we tried to camp at the beach. Just before arriving to the beach a group of people invited us for some fish. We enjoyed their company and went on as it got dark. On the beach we noticed someone walking back and forth constantly, checking on what we were doing. We were not sure what his intentions were so we took off again, this time in the dark.

We found the big road and were not sure what to do, as it was dark and therefore dangerous. We decided to ask at the first gas station we saw, where we could find a hotel. Once at the gas station they told us we were crazy for driving by bike in the dark and offered us an empty room. We had lots of tea, food and laughs with the guys, followed by a good night of sleep. We would like to thank all the people of Turkey for their memorable friendliness, kindness and hospitality.

On our way to the Syrian border we had some weather issues. We had high winds, heavy rains, thunderstorms and fog while crossing the coastal range. We arrived at the Syrian border and crossed our fingers that we would be able to get a visa (since officially you have to get one from your home country). Fortunately everything was straightforward and went troublefree. It took us an hour to get through the line ups and the visa process.

Syria is very different from Turkey, we noticed this instantly by the housing. The houses here are built from sand colored stones or marble. The roofs are flat and many houses are finely ornamented. The landscape is beautiful, red earth, contrasted by sandcolored rocks and forests of olive trees.

We went to Aleppo to get some road maps. After visiting a bit, we took off towards the south. We later met Omar, who stopped us and offered us to stay at his home for the weekend. We accepted and thought it would be an interesting experience.

Indeed we had an unforgetable weekend. We enjoyed great food, and great company from his wives and some of his 16 kids. He received us as honoured guests. The first night he invited some friends and family for a big traditional feastmeal. We were offered some local clothing, so ours could be washed. The next day he brought us to visit the Mayor and other important people. Afterwards we went to Ebla where we visited some very well preserved roman ruins, after which we had dinner at one of his friends. We have learned many things, in many ways. We left yesterday with what we hope will be a lifelong friendship with them.

Omar dropped us on the spot where he picked us up, and we figured out that Leandra's derailler was badly damaged. as we were wondering how to fix the problem (most likely in Damascus), an 18 wheeler  truck stopped. Apparently it was Omar's brother, Mohammed. He offered to take us Damascus (300 km further), which we accepted.

We are now in Damascus, have the problem fixed and will be leaving again tomorrow.

We have booked our plane tickets for the 22nd of December. We have decided to leave from Cairo (Egypt) since that seemed the most logical option. We now have about 1500 km left and a time limit of 26 days.

Unfortunately we can not upload more than a few pictures at this time, because of internet problems at the internet cafe. We will upload them on our next update.

 

November 18, 2008

Goreme - Adana (Turkey)

We have travelled 5120 km since we left, 75 days ago. 

It has only been a few days since we last wrote, but we like to keep you up to date.

Leaving the Cappadoccia region, we decided to take a small road. There was barely any traffic and it was passing through magnificent valleys. We went through Canyons, along lakes, modest agricultural areas, and volcanic landscapes wıth more phallic rocks and caved churches. We also caught sight of the Mt Erciyes volcano that was floating above the clouds.

We went through snowy mountain ranges wiıth passes up to 1600 meters where we had cold nights. We had the water in our waterbottles freeze solid for the fırst time. One day where we went over 3 passes,  pushing our strengths to the limit.

After Ulukisla where we camped at 1400 meters, the road went down towards the Coastal range. Once we were down at 600 meters we had to climb back up to another pass at 1385 meters.

The landscape in the Coastal range was quite different from the high plateau, with broad pine forest and snowy peaks. On the coastal side we went downhill into dry landscape where we were surrounded by vineyards and cactusses. Once we reached 30 meters there were many orchards wıth clementines.

We are now in Adana, preparing our journey into Syria, where we should be within the next week. 

 

November 14, 2008

Ankara - Goreme (Turkey)

We left La Tapie 71 days and 4800 km ago.

We've made our way out of the Turkish capital, and climbed our way up, higher on the central plateau. The road was very hilly, and still is. We climb an average of 1100m a day. The effort is easily forgotten by looking at all the nice landscapes we paddle along, desertic valleys and volcanic mountains, beautifully colored in red, pink, yellow, white and blue.

We also found our best wild campsites so far in desertic or semi desertic volcanic moonscapes. IIt feels very special to pitch your tent on the red volcanic sand.  

We have arrived in Goreme, in the Cappadocia region, a few days ago. Cappadocia is well known for its troglodyte villages and churches carved in the volcanic rocks and cones, dating back to the X and XI centuries. 

We have been able to ride our bikes without luggages for two days on trails to visit the area. We rode through many gorgeous valleys and couldn't stop saying 'wow'. It is amazing here. We feel we could spend a lifetime visiting the region, but unfortunately we can't.

Make sure to check out the pictures!  

 

 

November 9, 2008

Istanbul - Ankara (Turkey)

4500 km and 65 days since leaving from France 

First of all we would like to thank everyone for the encouraging messages via our guestbook, and emails.

It has been an adventurous week, we arrived in Istanbul in the morning heat on Monday. We spent a full day enjoying some of the many sights this town has to offer. We visited the sublime downtown, the Grand bazaar, the Mosques... and walked the countless little streets filled with restaurants and small shops. After dinner we had our 'carpetseller' experience. We were taken into a basement full of carpets, offered a tea and a smile. They tried hard to sell us a carpet, we doubted, but left an hour later without a carpet and 2 dissapointed sellers.

We left Istanbul the next morning, we planned to take the bridge across the channel, to finally step into the Middle East. Unfortunately we found a huge traffic mess. Instead we took the ferry across. We spent the entire day biking through the suburbs. Sometimes along the shoreline, sometimes inland. The road was extremely busy and the level of pollution extremely high. It took us 3 days to get out of the polluted industrial area. It took us quite some motivation to get going, and we were wondering if we would ever reach rural Turkey and a place to camp. 

Luck seemed to have left us as we had forgotten to ask back our passports in the hotel in Gebze. We figured this out while looking for them the next evening in Adapazari, a 105km further. It took us a day to go back and forth to pick them up by public transport.

After passing Adapazari the landscape began to change. Less industries, smaller towns, and more agricultural land. Finally when we started to climb towards the Turkish interior plateau, we found some wilderness. Above 1000 meters high we biked through steppes and pine forests. Every hill seems to have a different scene, some are dry and grassy, some are covered with trees, some are of red or white colored volcanic rock. We noticed the road was constantly going up and down, and we were climbing several passes a day. Our highest pass we climbed in Turkey, was 1570 meters high. We camped there and woke up in the frost and found out it was -8 degrees celsius. Making us appreciate the winter gear we have been carrying around for so long without not much use. Otherwise, the temperature during the day reaches 25 degrees celsius. In the central plateau we are enjoying biking through semi-desertic landscapes with a low population density.

The Turks are very very nice, very helpful and sincerely friendly. Everywhere we stop in public areas, we are offered help and of course the traditional Turkish tea. Even on the road, most of cars and trucks greet us, honking and waving at us. We feel very safe and welcome to be here and among the people.

The sound of the call for prayer coming from the Mosks minarets is a true delight and something we look forward to hear every day. They wake us up at 5.30am, join us for lunch at noon and call the end of our day at 4.00pm before sunset.  

Because of the short daylight, we have changed our routine. We are starting to bike at 7am and finish our day around 4pm. we are making an average of 115 km a day     

 As we arrived in Ankara today, we were greeted by 2 men on bicycles. We asked them where we could find a hotel and after a few phone calls, they escorted us through the streets. Stopping cars and buses to let us through the traffic. They brought us to a luxury 4 star hotel, owned by one of their friends, where they gave us 'friendly' price. We shared some tea and lots of laughter with the 2 cyclists and the owner of the hotel. They explained us that they were kyrgyzstanese, Kurd and Turk, making the room filled with international backgrounds.

From Ankara we are now heading South East, aiming for the Cappadoccia region. We should arrive to Nevsehir in about 2-3 days.

 

October 31, 2008

Odessa, Black sea (Ukraine)

Our week off in this city of many wonders has been very delightful.

We have been busy strolling around the downtown area, the beach and harbour. Also, we have spent many hours on the internet, doing research on the destinations to come. We have puzzled out different options, and tried to fit them in the 7 weeks we have left.

Odessa was our ultimate eastern goal for this fall trip. Originally it was planned for us to come back to France using a combination of ferries and biking through; Turkey, Greece, Italy, and North Africa. Our plans have now changed and we have decided to do otherwise. Tomorrow (Saturday Nov.1st) we will be crossing the Black sea with a passenger boat to Istanbul, where we arrive Monday morning. From Istanbul we will bike Southbound towards Syria, followed by Jordany. in Jordany we will end our trip in the Wadi Rum and Petra area.

We are looking forward to the beautiful things that are yet to be seen with in our mind the amazing experiences we already gained on this journey. Our bikes are cleaned, fixed and adjusted and are ready to get going again. After a week of rest our knees are still a bit painfull, which is a little concern for us.

Odessa is the most lively city we saw since we left. The streets are busy night and day. The downtown area is full of chic boutiques, fancy restaurants, cafes and casinos. Men and Women, of all ages, are always dressed up very nicely (we notice many women wearing high heels and miniskirts) . Our hiking boots and tired outdoor gear really stand out and we notice people are staring at us. 

The old buildings are very finely decorated and come in many different styles, but always in harmony. Many modern stylish malls and other commercial complexes are seen here and many are still underway.

In the grocery store we find a wide variety of products like veggies, fruits, french cheese and sushi. The most interesting stays the unlimited choice of Vodka, cheaper than a bottle of pop.

We have been lucky to find a very good bike store (Bikers Store, on Malinovskiy street) where they sell western style bicycles.The staff was very happy to help us. They could supply us with spare parts, and make a final tune up on the bikes.

It has been more than 2 months that we lost our best friend Nanook and we still miss him terribly. We think about him very often and wonder where we would have been if he would still be with us. Here in Odessa there are many friendly streetdogs and cats living in packs, bothering nobody and bothered by nobody. We like to watch them go about and be free. 

We would like to thank everyone for posting messages in our guestbook, they are encouraging for us and therefore very appreciated!

 

October 26, 2008

Orhei (Rep. of Moldavia) - Odessa (Ukraine)

We have paddled 3853 km in 52 days since we left from France.

We enjoyed a gorgeous day off in Orhei (Republic of Moldavia), and left the next morning in the rain. On our way to Tiraspol, we were very excited to see the first road sign showing Odessa at only 175km away.

Aproaching Tiraspol, a city shown on the map as part of the Moldavian republic, we unexpectedly arrived to a Military checkpoint protected with a tank covered by camo nets, before crossing the Dniester river. The military guard opened the gate for us without asking any questions. We noticed that after the checkpoint there were grass and trees growing on the cracked road, showing no vehicle traffic for a long time. People were crossing the bridge by foot. On the other side of the bridge there was another Military checkpoint with a tank covered by camo nets, where again the gate was opened for us without any questions asked. We had no idea what was going on and where we were. Especially when we saw the flag and the plates on the car were different from the Moldavian ones. Also we noticed everything was written in cyrillic. We were wondering where we were and what was going on as we noticed many military people in uniform around us. 10km before arriving to Tiraspol we saw a group of cyclists. It had been a long time since we saw other cyclist so we worked a sweat trying to catch up with them, which we did. They pointed us to the neirest hotel, since it was already getting dark. Once arrived at the hotel we discovered that here they were speaking another language and had a different currency (Rubles). We checked the rubles and translated the cyrillic text on them, checked the maps and our 'Eastern Europe' book, trying to figure out where we ended up, but nothing made sense.

We learned later that we were in Transnistria, a part of the republic of Moldavia that has proclaimed themselves independent in the 1990's with the Military support of Russia. They have started a war with the Republic of Moldavia in 1992 and this ended up in a cease fire the same year, which is still an unsolved conflict. Transnitria is still not recognized by any other countries in the world, therefore we have not found any information in all the maps and the book we had about this part of the world.

From Tiraspol we thought it would take us another 2 days to arrive in Odessa, because we were expecting long line ups at the border. The bordercrossing was interesting, it made us realize that the European 'open border' system is unique. We had to fill in some forms and were called into the immigration office after being passed by the border control. In the immigration office we had an interesting experience. When we crossed the border into Transnistria we were not asked for anything, but apparently we were supposed to get a stamp in our passports. So the immigration officer was sending us back 240km to get the stamps in our passports! Well there we were, 80km from arriving to the Black sea, having to go back 240km, we were very dissapointed. Then the officers started talking about 'Philippe present'. We soon understood what they meant when they put a note in front of us saying 10 Euro... So we payed the 20 Euros to avoid making a 240km return trip just to get the stamps.

Thankfully at the Ukrainian border they were nice. After a few hour delay to cross the borders, we paddled and paddled against the wind on a very dangerous road. Looking for a place to camp or a hotel we found no hotels and only cultivated land. We ended up arriving in Odessa in the dark. We stopped at the first hotel we found, a little dissapointed that we had to arrive to this landmark in our trip this way. Exhausted and hungry we went to the Mexican restaurant across the street, unable to walk any further, we looked back on this crazy day while enjoying some excellent Mexican food.

The driving here in Ukraine is the worst we have seen so far. People drive very fast and are constantly passing eachother. No matter if there are cars coming on the opposite side of the road or not. We have seen some cars driving in the ditch to avoid the carr passing car someone on the opposite side of the road. We have seen cars making detours trying to hit an animal on the side of the road. Also we witnessed many very 'close to lethal accidents' situations and we have felt very unsafe.

Today we have spent our sunny day visiting Odessa, which is full of historical buildings and monuments. On one of the squares there were 3 different couples having their wedding pictures taken, which reminded us of our dreamwedding almost 6 months ago in Haines.  We visited the harbour and have been thinking about our next step from here. We have arrived one day late for the ferry to Istanbul, but we will be spending the week here to wait for the next ferry on Saturday. At the same time we are working on arranging ferries and bike routes to make our way back to La Tapie on time for Christmas.

 

October 23, 2008

Zalau (Romania) - Orhei (Republic of Moldavia)

We have 48 days and 3600 km behind us since we left from France.

It's been an interesting week. We kept traveling through Transsylvania under a sunny sky until we reached the Carpat Mountains. Unfortunately, we climbed the first passes under a heavy rain and thick fog.  The roads were under construction most of the way up and were very very muddy.

We got some nice weather again in the eastern side of the mountains and finaly were able to really enjoy the scenery. We didn't get to see any vampires or bears, too bad.