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Thursday, 29 December 2011

Desert to Alpine Mountains and the Sea .... Week 5/6

I guess I'll still be following Route 50 all the time hopefully without getting lost, heading West. 

My aim is to find the old Pony Express Relay Stop at Middlegate Junction.  This place sounds like a true definition of the old Wild West just offering gas, food and inexpensive overnight lodging.  Apparently known as the place in the middle of nowhere.
 
Then it's south to leave Nevada and get into California up to somewhere close to Crowley Lake and Bridgeport in the Sierra Nevada for a few days R&R.  Found a lovely little gem of a place where I can hopefully ride horses or hike up into the hills and countryside.
I need to get onto the West Coast and from here there are only a few places to get across the Sierra Nevada Mountains - Tempted to take Route 150, otherwise known as the Tioga Pass which is only open about 3 months of the year due to its 10 000 foot elevation with snow on it most of the time.  Have heard the 90 mile road is incredible weaving through Yosemite Park and climbing to heights to give amazing views.  The gate leaving this route on the West is then fairly close to San Francisco but still don't know where I'm headed, except South!

Would like to get to the Pacific Coast as soon as possible and probably drive leisurely down Highway 1 ... 
Too good to be true, but I already have a very generous invite to stay at one of the famous oceanfront Malibu beach homes, apparently next door to where Two and a Half Men was supposedly filmed!
Wow what a way to end the journey. 
Well not quite, I'm sure another adventure will only have just started in trying to navigate the LA highways.

Imagining the sound of breaking waves, the smell of the ocean and blue sunny skies makes the cold miserable winter here seem bearable.

My wishes for the New Year -
Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes couldn't have said it better ... "Wake Up Everybody" ....
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-TDfPgd3Kyc&feature=related

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Carpe Diem - Seize the day - Week 4

Terribly sad news received today that dear, lovely Angus died of cancer in October and only diagnosed in August - he left his recent wife and little boy only 18 months old - he was only about 40.  Why does this have to happen to the kindest, nicest of people?  My friend who told me, said without knowing my trip "keep in touch ... life is too short xx"  Yes, it definately is.

So even more now, I have to keep going on planning the trip ...
Should be strangely a fairly spiritual and moving week -  Planning to get from Monument Valley up through Bluff and get to one of the "special" places I've already booked just outside Moab and Arches Parkland. 
Red Cliff Lodge on the Colorado River.
Have already got in contact and will hopefully head out on horseback with the head wrangler who knows our mutual acquaintance Les Vogt , 15-Time World Champion known for training winning reining and reined cow horses.
Les has been honored in the NRCHA Hall of Fame three times and I had the privilege of being tutored by him on one of his beautiful Quarter horses (in front of a big audience!) in the main ring at the World Equestrian Show in Germany when I was organizing the US group to the show. 
May even see if we can meet up again on the way back through California.

Then up to Salt Lake City to get to one of the main reasons for the trip ...
BONNEVILLE SALT FLATS!
Amazing land world racing records have been set here and if I have the audacity to get out onto them and not get lost or bogged down (although the weather at that time should be incredibly dry and hot)  and ride at speed across the Bonneville flats on my Triumph Bonneville then that would be incredible.
This is where the bikes name comes from!

More hundreds of miles across Nevada's deserts, onto Route 50 the "Loneliest Road in America" where you can travel up to 30 miles without seeing a single vehicle.  Ely, a former stage coach station with the Hotel Nevada & Casino famous for its illegal gambling & bootlegging in the height of the 1920's prohabition - sounds like my kind of place as it's also biker friendly! 

Then continuing along Route 50 and the Pony Express Territory (www.ponyexpressnevada.com) to Eureka a remote, old gold rush town.  I love what they say about the Pony Express -

"Wanted: Young skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen.  Must be expert riders, willing to risk death daily.  Orphans preferred". 
In 1860, this ad appeared on posters advertising openings for one of the most dangerous, heroic jobs in American history, the Pony Express trail rider.  From April 1860 to October 1861, dozens of brave young riders carried the US mail by horseback between Sacremento, California and St. Joseph, Missouri.  Today, Highway 50 roughly parallels the route of the Pony Express trail.

Young Pony Express trail rides sat atop the fastest horses available and carried mail in a special pouch saddle called a "mochila".  Each Pony Express trail rider would cover a certain distance to a relay station, where the next would grab the mochila and continue the journey until the 2000 miles of wilderness had been crossed.  Conflict with Native Americans, gangs of robbers and other troublemakers were common, and numerous riders died in the line of duty.

My next stop is finding that relay station !
                                        

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Week 3 ... Cowboy country ... totally cool ...

I sometimes think that in a previous life I was either a cowboy/girl or a native Indian - this way of life and the vast expanses of country in the Mid West have always fascinated me (maybe being born in Hereford the place of the famous and beautiful white faced Hereford cattle created this intrigue). 

I'm already excited visualizing the enormous landscapes, the sounds of horses galloping and the thundering hooves of cattle being rounded up ... mmmm...

So hopefully if all goes well (including the Bonnie)  I'll start the week in Oklahoma City  for a well deserved days rest; but hey what is rest when there's so much to see and do? 
The highlight will have to be visiting the National Cowboy and Western Museum and definately trying to creep in and experience one of the auctions at the worlds largest cattle market and stock yards with the cattlemen, horsemen, farmers, ranchers and real cowboys buying and selling - it's just another world - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_rQG-X6fLc

Next day the plan is to cover 300 miles along the "Mother Road" or Route 66 to Amarillo - this road trip wouldn't be complete without riding at least part of this famous road. 
I'm hoping to stay at a Horse Hotel - literally! ... where the cowboys stay with their horses ! 

But Hereford, TX is also closeby and this is somewhere just out of sentimentality that I want to try and get to.
Then back on Route 66, heading north to Santa Fe before heading into Colorado to Durango and jump onto the incredible steam narrow gauge railway trip through the San Juan Mountains up to Silverton http://www.durangotrain.com

Still westward bound but getting into the ever incredible landscapes - maybe heading via Four Corners to experience a small thrill - of being able to stand in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah all at the same time. Then approaching the spectacular buttes and mesas in the desert of Monument Valley.  Imagine John Wayne on horseback contemplating the unknowable vastness of the Wild West or UFO's landing - the backdrop of many films. 

As they say, Hollywood showed the world how to make westerns. Monument Valley showed the world how they should look. 
All the classics were done there; John Ford's Stagecoach, My Darling Clementine and yes Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and ... 2001: a Space Odyssey, Thelma & Louise, Forrest Gump ....

By the end of the week I'll hang my hat (helmet) up at maybe Mexican Hat,  about 40 miles north of Monument Valley,  at an old indian bar and dance hall where they'll hopefully have a room for me. 

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Week 2 ...

They say that maybe 2 of the best roads in America are next to each other in a 130 mile loop and close to Asheville or at least approximately on my route westbound - this is potentially a long day ...

The famous Tail of the Dragon US129 - 319 curves in 11 miles is they say one of the true Bikers routes - don't know if I'll have the courage or time to do it all  but exciting to know I'll be  nearby.

Maybe more interestingly is the Cherohala Skyway - apparently any TV ad for cars driving through incredible scenary was done here.  Robbinsville, North Carolina to Tellico Plains, Tennessee side about 54 miles.  880 feet in elevation and over the next 30 road miles climb nearly a mile higher reaching more than 5,000 feet - also apparently far less travelled than the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway.

But I'm planning to get to Nashville by end of play that day ... mmm let's see.

Nashville - dreams of country music, hats, chaps ...

On to Memphis where I'm hoping to stay with Liz, a good friend I used to work with in Boston.  Will see if she'll indulge me to visit Gracelands - it feels pretty momentus at this stage alone!

Then in this same week from Memphis I'm planning to take 3 days to get to Oklahoma City - I'm currently needing ideas on the most interesting route but the Talimena Route sounds good - instead of stopping at Little Rock it sounds like an idea to go onto Hot Springs, AR (natural spa town in the mountain with its hey day in the early 1900's), and take this route .  Something about Oachita National Park on the way to Oklahoma ?  Will have to find out more ....

Then hoping to get into Cowboy (yipee!) country/capital at the end of the weekend where my first place has been booked - beautiful what I'd call "boutique" horse ranch just outside Oklahoma City, also showcasing some of the best local artists - best of both worlds - will be a great base for the next few days!

Monday, 12 December 2011

So this is the plan .. so far ! Week 1 ...

Now that I have the T100 sorted (even paid the deposit - gulp!), my journey is coming to life. 

I'm being careful and trying not to loose control on the potential miles on the more things I want to do and see but this is how I see it starting to look. 
The secret I believe is to tie down and secure key places along the route so these can be used to time and shape the trip.

On the other hand, confirming too much will stop the spontanaeity and freedom on choosing new routes that may be recommended or that I know will be better once I get started :
June 2012 - Week 1 - East Coast/Blue Ridge Parkway
Day 1 - Boston - While I'm staying with my friends I want to take advantage of the first day with the bike to get used to it, maybe take it on a short ride, see some friends and even meet up with some other local Massachusetts bikers who've kindly given some advice on possible routes.  Also sort out packing  the bike!
Day 2 and rest of week - this I feel will probably be the most daunting day.  The first day on my own.  I want, no I need,  to cover a lot of miles to get as close to the Philadelphia/Baltimore area so the rest of the week can get onto these incredible scenic routes starting in Virginia at Front Royal the gateway to the Shenandoah National Park which leads into the Blue Ridge Parkway. 

The Blue Ridge Parkway (leading down to the Great Smoky Mountains) covers  469 beautiful miles through Virginia & North Carolina with 203 viewing points and 26 tunnels.  I want to stop at some of the boho art and music scene places like the little place of Galax known as the "world's capital of bluegrass music", visiting maybe the guys who supplied my beautiful bike bags in Independence and staying over in Asheville over the weekend. 

This week will cover almost 1000 miles.

Friday, 25 November 2011

What gives me a high ? ... Well "Flights for an Epic Journey" for a start ...

"It will be an epic journey. 
Or a.k.a. Bijoulatina's motorcycle diaries. ..."
 
... no not me saying this but an e-mail sent to me today from my good friend Stewart at Flight Centre who confirmed my flights to America!  The first solid commitment ...

As I'm getting back just a few weeks before the Olympics start here in London, I really needed to get the best price and make sure I could get back - still seems a long way ahead but I'm already spending that hard earned cash.
And I've still only got 50% of what I need for the trip !

Lesson for today - damn hard to earn but damn easy to spend!  So spend wisely!   

Don't want to give details yet, but everything is snowballing .... again when I'm going is key summer travel time so wanted to make sure that the "special" places I want to stay at will be available.
 
Couldn't believe it but hit the jackpot!
Scored 3 out of 3 this week in securing 3 incredible eclectic places in Oklahoma, Utah and California ... more to follow. 
Some of these places are so remote, small and boho or high up on the wish list of most people that leaving them any longer to book would have created a real disappointment to me.  They will really add to creating a really eclectic and diverse journey. 
OK I don't care staying in small highway cheap places for the rest of the trip but these places will be ones to remember - or maybe the smaller, more insignificant places I still need to find or spontaneously stay at will be more memorable - only time will tell.  

This therefore means that my road trip is quickly solidifying and what scares me probably most is the potential amount of mileage I'm going to have to do each day and the reliability of the Bonneville.  Don't want to do marathon day trips but will probably average between 250 - 400 miles a day.

To tell the truth, I'm actually starting to feel a bit scared on what I've now convinced myself to get into! 

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Spontaneity = Saddlebags !

Spontaneity; unplanned, impromptu, natural, instinctive, suddenly feeling the need to do it...  That's what today was all about ...

It was obvious since the last couple of days that as soon as I got the word out to the handful of companies in the UK to try and source me the Bonnie through their contacts in the US that I realized it was through the same supplier in Los Angeles!   

Didn't want to waste people's time, seemed like everyone wanted a decision quickly but needed to feel I was getting the best possible deal but more importantly deal with someone who understood what I needed. 
Tim from The Lost Adventure www.thelostadventure.com was the guy.

And why not be spontaneous and meet up at the Motorcycle Live Exhibition at the NEC which just by coincidence (or is it ?) was happening this same weekend!  He also mentioned Jim his partner and well known motorbike journalist based in New York would be interested to interview me on what already sounded like an interesting trip - I was flattered and felt now that this trip really was maybe something special.

So today, trained it up to exotic Birmingham to confirm the trip.  Tim introduced me to the lovely Tamara at Eaglerider www.eaglerider.com.  

The best bit of news which made the trip up even more worthwhile,  was what she was willing to do!    I explained about wanting to use my own saddlebags.  The idea of travelling on my own with all my possessions strapped to the back of my seat in a bag doesn't totally appeal.  I would always be wondering, each time I stopped that if I left the bike for a moment would the bag be OK.   

Could they maybe put a holding frame on the sides of the bike to strap the bags on?  Guess what?   Genuinely seemed like Tamara was only too happy to please and said the (no, my!) Bonnie which would be shipped to Boston would have saddle bags put on for me at no extra cost!  That's some cool tailored service ... what a great person - maybe might even have a drink with Tamara when I get to LA.   And no, they haven't paid me to advertise them ! :). 

So the sources of how I'm getting the T100 Bonneville and getting it picked up from Boston, which has taken me more than 4 years to sort has been finalized.

Thanks to Tim, with his existing experience on travelling in the US on a Bonnie, just his honest advice with no pushy sales spiel, and very importantly helping to get the deal on the same cost East to West trip makes me feel sure I've made the right decision.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Is the trip East or West bound now ...?

I never take anything for granted until 100% confirmed.
A small, no a BIG set back yesterday!

Nothing can be done, like finalizing routes, booking flights, searching for fab exciting places to stay and visit until I had the bike and knew where I would start from!
The initial research, which took me ages last year, in sourcing where I could maybe get a T100 Bonneville had paid off.   I could now make contact immediately to try and start seeing availability and compare costs.

Something I'd never thought would be an issue - getting the bike to start the trip on the East Coast and from Boston as I thought I'd found the right contact!
This week I was told by everyone I contacted and in no uncertain way that apparently "it would be difficult, not possible and probably very expensive (yes way over my budget!) as the bike would have to be specially taken there and return fees would be added .... so why not consider an Eastbound trip! 
Hell, why not consider hiring a car and making it even easier :) !

What? ... you must be joking ! 
"Positivity, determination and not taking a No" is today's motto ...

A Westbound trip across the American continent has all the connotations to me of exploring, pioneering, adventures, going into the unknown, approaching the vast open expanses of wild landscapes and eventually arriving around the other side of the world on the Pacific coast. 

An Eastbound trip just doesn't excite me too much after so much effort - it means I'm probably travelling away from the amazing landscapes, having seen the best and just heading home ... mmmm what to do ?

Then this morning I get this email - "Good news. After speaking to the head of the rental fleet in California they've agreed to price your rental the same east to west as west to east.
As its such a long hire they have said they will make it happen."  Wow - I'm sorted!
Preparing this is a trip in itself
- yet another lesson to learn today 1) dont worry until you know the outcome - might be a lot better than you think ....!

So now I have to decide who to hire from - not mentioning names until 100% sure but I was flattered that one even wanted to post my blog on their travel site - they were also the ones who seemed genuinly interested in the adventure and that made me feel good. 

Things will all happen quickly now, even booking some of the special places will need to be done soon to ensure availability and not being disappointed .... here we go !

The secret of a good, no an amazing, trip is preparation and doing just that little bit of extra research.  There are 2 special places I'm now going to have to book very soon - all will be revealed soon ....

Friday, 11 November 2011

11 11 11 .... this is where it begins ... the trip ...

A very special day .... emotional Remembrance Day but also confirmed yesterday that we're all go from my great company that I can go, go, go on the trip - better than I had ever expected ...

So here's the very, inaccurate, initial idea that has taken almost 4 years to put together.

More than 4,500 miles across more than 15 states, from New England's Atlantic Coast to the sunny Pacific Coast;  to include more importantly the most incredible and unknown biking roads across the most beautiful diverse landscapes and emotional destinations I've always wanted to visit. 

And hopefully meeting a lot of exciting, diverse friends throughout the trip; Bob and Bev in Boston, maybe Daphne in DC, friends who supplied my bike bags in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Elizabeth in Memphis, a famous Western horse trainer who travels the world and others in Malibu, California.

And to test that Bonneville (yes, I do still believe I can get one !) to what it really wants to do .... drive, drive, drive, ... be my travelling companion, taking me to amazing places, getting me out of trouble and keeping me safe. 

Just writing about it is bringing it to life and more importantly now talking to people is creating the reality that means I've got to do it !

Just wait and see what I'm going to do - it will be incredible ... 

Friday, 28 October 2011

Very bizzare ... but it is Halloween weekend !

For some very wierd reason this very song with its'amazing lyrics played very loud in the office today, of all days .... and I'd never heard it played there before ! ....  Was it telling me something?
Amazing film too .. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rMbATaj7Il8

Born To Be Wild lyrics / Steppenwolf
Get your motor runnin'
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

I like smoke and lightnin'
Heavy metal thunder
Racing in the wind
And the feeling that I'm under

Yeah, darlin'
Gonna make it happen
Take the world in a love embrace
Fire all of your guns at once
And explode into space

Like a true nature child
We were born
Born to be wild
We can climbed so high
I never wanna die
Born to be wild
Born to be wild

Amazing BIG DAY - Thursday 27 October ... and let there be many more!

I amazingly overcame my biggest fear yesterday.
I finally knew I couldn't leave it any longer and took the courage to ask my work to take this special "time off". 
What would the answer be?  I had no idea!
And why was I so nervous ?  I don't know but maybe it was because I really wanted a positive answer.
So what do you think the answer was?
All these months of palpatations and worry erased ...

YES! YES! YES! YES! and another YES! Thank you!

The most wonderful answer, silly me, but a bit emotional knowing one of the biggest hurdles (besides having already told Mum) had been successfully overcome and I have security to come back to.
So the reality of making  it possible is getting a little closer - or maybe a lot closer!

Life is funny - it's everything or nothing, famine or feast - sometimes everything happens all at the same time - like today !

Amazing thing #2 - I took my Bonnie in to be repaired and was given a brand new Bonnie from Jack Lilley Triumph to use and wow what a bike and a half !  Amazing to ride it and know this is the same bike I'd be trying to get over in the US - so much power and acceleration - I could just feel that wind and warm sunshine on those long roads!

Amazing thing #3 - I talked to them about the trip when I dropped the bike off, just by chance meeting the owner and they seemed genuinly interested in the sort of trip I was planning with the unique slant of this woman travelling on her own across the open roads "less travelled".   Really thought they would think me 1) unrealistic and/or 2) heard this story so many times before ..

Amazing thing #4 - My good friend Bob (and an incredible film screen writer) over in Boston where I'm looking to start the trip is a the fantastic journalist for one of the Boston newspapers and is interested to do some coverage as I used to live over there ... As he emailed back "I just realized that we might be able to do that because you are a former Weston resident!!!! and we cover Weston, (aka  -town outside Boston).  If you could send me a few lines about your trip I'll see if I can get them in the paper!"

So creativity got the better of me for an initial strap line (he has a good sense of humour)
"Weston resident going West...on ... a bike !"

So let's see - but it all sounds like a good start in the right direction .... Westbound!  

Saturday, 22 October 2011

3rd time lucky ...or do we make our own luck ?

So I've now welcomed lodger #3 this week and just hope she stays longer than the others! 
That was a  job in itself finding someone and also whose paying a lot less than the other 2 but at least it's some money coming in for the trip - something is better than nothing.  Greed could also have stopped me but I'm now at the stage where months are running away and every little bit is good.

The bet on the Arc in Paris was a no go and didn't even come in 3rd - so not lucky on that front which makes me realize that we don't get things for nothing - you have to work for it ....

Talking about work, I received good news this week that I'll get a bit of commission on some business I generated from France for the rugby 6 Nations - Merci beaucoup ! :) 

So lesson from this - do we play the lottery and dream of winning - yes of course we can,  but we'll never have control in the outcome ...

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Heat's now on !

The heat's now on both physically and mentally ...
It's 4.30 on Sunday morning and too warm to sleep.  So let's blog.  This weekend has recorded the highest ever temperatures since records started - 30 degrees in October - something is not quite normal !

The heat's also rising, with time helplessly going by too quickly, to really know if I'm ever going to be able to do the trip in the shorter and shorter timescale.

Like horse racing (I'll come to that!) there's lots of obstacles - tenant is leaving next week so I need to find a new one quick - I'm seeing a possible new one this morning - so let's see!  Not that easy, already saw 2 last week who finally found something else - Lesson - don't get de-motivated - there must be a better solution somewhere!

I've also decided that if I'm doing this trip, I'm going to tell the bosses at the end of the year to give them enough time to digest and sort the short sabbatical away (for god's sake it's not a year I'm wanting just one and a bit month! :)).  Otherwise I'lll also have too many palpitations over Christmas thinking about it !

Oh yes, horse racing ... It's the L'Arc de Triomphe today and I'm going for "So You Think" ....
Yes I do think I can and I hope he can win too!

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Take a risk .... and gamble ... or play it safe ...

I'm only too conscious that time is flying away and I'm making no massive dent into getting the money for the trip.  Everything hinges at the moment on keeping the "MIRACLE" tenant who is paying good cash but knowing he may move out at anytime! 
And Jesus, I've just had to pay another mega bill in paying for a new fridge after the old 80's one gave up the ghost last week!  And then I've got to find money to repair the kitchen walls before the fridge is fitted and oh yes, I had to pay for an unexpected drainage bill last week - everything now is in 3 digits to get anything done - not anymore a couple of quid but always more than 100 quid !  How do people survive with the unexpected!  But I promise to myself that I will not touch the hard earned money for THE TRIP!

OK - so I made a big decision this week in making life just a little bit exciting and endeavouring to make a bit of money! 

I haven't mentioned this yet, but I love horses and I had an almost unbelievable and incredible adventure with historic flat racing  "Sea The Stars" racehorse a couple of years ago in betting on every race he won - which was everything from the 2000 Guineas to the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Luck, destiny or being in the right place at the right time - an incredible season and no horse has ever come close to him .... except maybe for Zenyatta in the USA who unfortunately didn't win the US Breeders Cup last year ... but came a very close 2nd - I became too confident and from what I'd done before, thought she'd automatically win her 20 races but nothing is ever sure and she didn't ! 
So I stopped speculating but hey the US Breeders Cup is coming up again and the ante-post on the favorite this year was just too tempting ... not a lot but look out for "So You Think" currently trained by Aidan O'Brien.  This might just help to pay the bills :)

My next predicament is when do I take the courage to speak to my bosses when I feel I may have a chance with the money to fund the trip (probably won't know until the end of this year if I have the majority of the money I need).
A good piece of advice from a friend today ... don't conclude or worry about the outcome when it could be totally what you want to hear !  So does this mean my company will agree to giving me a 6 week "absence of leave" ?  Only time will tell ...

Then I'm thinking of getting sponsorship money - why not contact  my lcoal Triumph dealer where my Bonnie was originally bought from - would they be interested in having a link here or being branded on the bike - oh, I don't know ... maybe, maybe not ... don't know until you try ...

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Everything for nothing ....

Escaped from London a few weeks ago and drove the Bonnie a couple of hundred miles up to beautiful Herefordshire and Wales to attend the Big Chill Festival (www.bigchill.net/festival) at Eastnor Castle.  The bike rode great - even tightened the chain myself before leaving!  Great performances from Dionne Bromeld who made her tribute to Amy Winhouse her godmother, Janelle Monae, Brazilian stuff from Wara but Kanye West just ranted on about stuff - not good!

Just to say, the bike had taken me out of contact with the rest of the world and over just a few days found out afterwards that the whole country had been rioted and looted !  Sad, sad, sad.

London, Birmingham, Bristol you name it! 
Total discontentment from so many people living in an "Everything for Nothing Society".  It makes me sad that there are people out there that feel it is their right to just get anything they want immediately - without thought, remorse or guilt! 
Only reason I'm bringing this up is that (and I'm definately not a preacher and respect that everyone has to do their own thing) what I'm trying to achieve on this "Go or Bust" Trip is the EXACT OPPOSITE. 
If I can't get the money or get the time off, I'm probably not able to do it - oh yes, how easy it would be to get a loan or pay thousands and thousands on credit cards for that immediate adrenalin rush and easy way to obtain something.  Think of the nightmare of then trying to pay it off!  Would that make me feel that I had achieved something special - probably not.

I guess I was brought up with stronger values - statements I remember in childhood from my father like "don't spend what you can't afford", "just tie your belt in", "save for a rainy day", although not taken on board seriously at the time must have made some kind of impact. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not Mother Teresa - I've had to pay off massive bills and debts in the past but survival is more and more nowadays about keeping your head above the water in this stormy, unpredictable world we live in. 
America and Europe are currently facing incredibly tough times, wages don't go up but we're all expected to pay more for basic stuff like food and energy bills. God, I thought food and keeping warm were essential for the developed world - obviously not! 

Enough banter on nothing to do with bikes - only good thing that may come out of this is that the exchange rate with the US Dollar may be good next year when I want to go over -  I'll certainly and hopefully get more for my £'s!  That means more adventures and things to do on the road trip!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

OK, what this is all about ! ... The TRIP - "Atlantic to Pacific" using great bike routes ...

I can't believe I've been writing for the past couple of months and haven't yet discussed what the trip / route / adventure is all about. 
Having lived in the US for a couple of years in New York and then in Boston, work never gave me enough time to explore this amazing place.  Since getting a real bike and exploring places here in the UK and over to France I now know what it's like to have the wind in your hair and be free to find unknown treasures and things out of the norm.

The idea is to start on the East Coast. 
Ideally I want to start in Boston where I could shack up with some very dear friends to get used to the bike for a day or two before setting off.  Research has revealed that to hire a Triumph Bonneville in the USA is almost impossible, let alone pick it up on the East Coast and then be able to drop in off on the Pacific West Coast -  Research has been essential and sometimes very dis-spiriting with not a lot out there - the idea of taking my own bike over there is now out of the question due to costs/reliability etc etc.
I've  basically found a few options - one is an outfit based in New York with a place in L.A. where I could drop it off. 
Then by pure chance I started chatting on-line with a new outfit starting this year with Bonnevilles going across the US!  They have said that although the trips start in New York, they could get me a bike to Boston! 
But wow the cost of renting a bike like a Bonnie for a period of about 28 days is painfully expensive - again all relative - I know ! Some people I know would spend what I call a fortune just on  a couple of weeks holiday with family ... that's why I try never to compare my lot with others !  Just have to get on with it.
I haven't as yet calculated the number of miles I will do because as we will see, this is not a simple straight trip across the US on Route 66 like everyone else! 
I'm going to see the places I've always dreamed of seeing on the perfect bike!
Oh boy (that already sounds American!), I can't wait to start writing about the ideas on the first part of the trip ...

Thursday, 14 July 2011

When things are too good to be true, they normally are ... !

or maybe never count your chickens before they're hatched !

I was jubilent last week having found a lodger who was potentially going to contribute to a large percentage of the trip!  I couldnt believe what he was offering !  I was already calculating what a potential 10 months (at least!) would give me. 

Well now it seems that he's in reality wanting to share with a friend and may only stay for a month or two ... obviously he had a good tactic in offering such a high price that of course I had to accept and reject anyone else I may have had wanted to see!

And just think, I was going to start on a positive note and start talking about the trip, ... but oh, yes I will in the next few days ... watch out for this space!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Famine or Feast ... but it's all relative ..

I haven't blogged for a month but it doesn's mean I haven't stopped thinking about the trip and how to finance it ... in fact it's been in my mind all the time! 

Ironically, my current tenant who is already leaving at the end of the month, has only helped pay off some of my bills so I haven't even been able to put any of that away!  Oh god!  Well, at least it gave me some feel for what it's like to flatshare again.

I need to find a new tenant for the beginning of August so I started looking again - not that easy - they either want to stay for a short period or are just not willing to pay much.  I am adament about wanting and needing to ask for more,  otherwise this money making option just won't work!

Then miracles do happen ...
I saw someone this evening who is willing to pay almost double what I'm already getting and even said he'd pay for a cleaner!
He's a young contractual guy working for BP so money must be good - the brand new sports Audi he arrived in certainly proved that!  He loved the place and immediately said he'd love to move in for a minimum of 5 months and what I asked for (which was a lot more than I'm getting now) was well below his budget ... well I must have said the right things!

So there you go, there are some people with lots of money and others (like me) who literally have to scrape by with hardly any money (I'm also good at making a weeks supply of fried rice for lunches at the moment!) to pay the bills.
Hopefully soon, the main bills will be air tickets to the US!!

Next blog I'm going to start talking about the envisaged trip ...

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Mum's the word !

I'm sure it's the same for everyone... when we have a major thing to say or do it's usually the ones we love the most that we keep from saying it - maybe to stop them worrying or letting them discourage us or point out things we hadn't want to see?
When I first bought the Bonnie I dared not even tell my Mum for scaring her silly, even hid it down the road when she came to visit -  I did take the courage and drive it the 150 miles to see her last summer and quite incredibly she wasn't even phased - now that's a cool mum !
My dear mother is wonderful and I never want to worry her but I had to at some point tell her about my crazy idea of going across America on a motorbike, on my own etc. etc. Mmmm when is the best time to tell someone ?  I guess never but I knew when I told her it would let me move on one way or the other.
OK so how?
Why not show her this blog?
She's not at all a computer user and just trying to scroll down and read it was a laugh and a half!  And you know what?  The only comment was "Are you going to be safe" You know, that's a real mothers word of honest care.
 
To be honest my parents were incredible in every step of my life never analysing or telling me what to do or not to do, saying I would learn from my own experience;  from leaving home at 19 to go and find work in Paris to making one of the most terrible mistakes of my life in marrying a Mexican Charro in the back of beyond of Mexico (of course escorted to the church on horseback with loaded pistols!).

So this big thing has now been done and I can now think about the trip and ways of making it happen.
So maybe, reassuring her of my safety, the idea of no helmet and just wearing a bandana with my hair blowing in the wind will have to wait until I reach the Mid West ....

The wonderful song "I've got sunshine in my mind" by Avery Sunshine is what it's all about ...

Sunday, 8 May 2011

So how did the idea come up? ... and which Bonnie? ...

Wow, must have been about 4 years ago. 
As usual, I had itchy feet and thinking about a new adventure reading over the winter months books like Ted Simon's fantastic "Dreaming of Jupiter" which confirmed to me even more how we need to grab and make opportunities happen.
So the idea back then was I would (or maybe naively) simply take at least 6 months "out" and ship my own Bonnie out to the US.

I'd decided that a trip to Timbuktu or "up the Orinocho" or something similar would be full of unwanted hazards.  But I still wanted to create an adventure, to explore beautiful and eclectic remote scenary, ride majestic routes and encounter a dynamic mix of people and with of course hopefully good weather.  Mmmm, that option didn't take me long to think where .... I'd lived previously for a few years in New York and then lovely Boston.  My dream even then (had I not been working with such short vacation time) had always been to travel around and discover the beautiful and natural parts of America.
What better idea than to ideally start in Boston and take 6 months to go down the East Coast, down to the Keys, up and over to the West Coast.?  And I sure did plenty of research to find the best way of shipping the bike over.  Would have had to be brought through Canada due to customs at a fairly high cost.  I also love my Bonnie and the idea of having it in anyway damaged in transit or over there was also a turn off. 

So I started seriously looking to see if I could buy a 2nd hand one... and you know what ?
Suprise, suprise, buying a decent 2nd hand Bonnie was almost impossible.  But a Harley no problem ... people even strongly recommended I go with a Harley due to better maintenance, cost etc etc.  But the idea of travelling on one with the different engine noise Harley's make was not for me.   Call me a dreaming romantic but I didn't want to be defeated immediately.    Can you imagine anything better than driving a beautiful Triumph Bonneville with that wonderful engine noise across the American continent.  There must be one somewhere !

Then 2 years back, I have a reality check.  Maybe 6 months is too long.  How am I going to foot the cost of doing this and secondly, although this sounds crazy, one of the girls at work who took a 6 month sabbatical was quickly forgotten and replaced!  Unfortunately none of us are indispensable, although we'd like to believe it.  So simply put, I guess I've got to get my brain to rule my heart for once and find out what really is possible.

So why don't I reduce the time to say 6 weeks ... and take the gamble that work will accept the time I want to take off (we'll deal with that topic later).

6 weeks should be plenty of time to get from East to West with the journey I'd planned.  Yes, OK, a few refinements to the big picture, but maybe still possible.  So how was I still going to source a Bonnie to do the trip?  Buying one and shipping mine over was now going to be too expensive so the only other option was to try and find somewhere to rent one.   Incredibly there just aren't that many places in the US that you can hire a T100 Triumph Bonneville and then say "hey I'd also like to drop it off somewhere else like the other side of the country and yes not for a couple of days but for about a month!"
So another period of researching and finally found just a few options; one potentially to pick up from NY and drop off in LA (sounded good but they only have Bonneville at that time),  the other one  from Chicago which wouldn't have been the right route I wanted to take and then just recently a set up who are sourcing Bonnevilles and renting them out to go across the US as group escorted trips -  Made contact who said they could even potentially have the bike taken up to Boston for me to collect.  Only issue on all this is dinero - at least £100 per day just for the bike so more ideas are needed to get the budget down or make more money.
So at least the framework on time and getting the bike are getting nearer to a possibility.....  We'll see.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Show me the money!

Just a short piece of news to say Mr Lodger moved in today and handed over his 1st months rent in cash!  Involved in film production here and overseas so hopefully conversations will be entertaining ... 

Nice new £20 notes were carefully counted out and put on a pile on the table - Thank you very much !

Will help a little bit to maybe a handful of days of bike rental budget!  We're off to a good start.  Gotta keep positive that it will start rolling in - ha ! ha !

Next time, I'm going to start talking about more interesting stuff on how the trip was thought out and plans for the route. 

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

I must be serious ...

OK, so after the eBay fiasco, the most important money earner is still (deep breath) to rent out my spare room to make the dosh for the Trip!.
Most people would think it's the most natural thing to do but I really like my own little flat and my own space.  So I've thought long and hard about inviting a total stranger to share my lovely place which I just moved into last summer - but business is business.

So I thought I'd go into overdrive and get into the right mind set and so got the room ready for a potential "lodger".  Installing my old TV, i-player etc. so they feel it's a good deal. 

So since February, I've advertised in places like www.mondaytofriday.com and www.spareroom.com thinking it would be easy ... mmmm another slow one off the starting block and no answers until about a couple of weeks ago.

But as they say, sometimes the tortoise can sometimes win with enough determination - which I thought after a month I'd better have! No answers and hundreds of places to rent so how would I make myself different? 

I guess being pro-active ... so I started contacting those looking for places ... and hey, presto a bit of good news !

The first guy was moving to the area and needed a Monday to Friday but after a bit of procrastination had an offer from a mate living near his new work.   
Then I get contact from a guy in the film production business shooting a film for a couple of months in the area and needing a place for a short time - seems a good option to see if it will work out sharing with someone.  As they say in these on-line postings "get to know your contact before meeting up with them" - so this we did and emailed for a period of time before he came over to view the place.

Good news ... seems like it's a go, he was very happy with the pad and is happy to move in for 3 months which isn't the ideal solution as I need to make money for the next 12 months - but at least it's a start.
You'll never believe this but he saw my bikes (I also have a 125cc Aprilia scooter for travelling to work) and confessed he had been a Piaggio motorbike mechanic - that will be useful !  Might even reduce his rent if he services my bikes - joking !
Then believe it or not I get another contact from a girl moving to the area, visits and loved the place and wanted to move in straight away for at least 6 months!  Did I make a decision too quick ? ... that's the problem in that sometimes you have to grab the first opportunity thinking there may not be something else out there - however I did think quickly and offered the place from August onwards - hoping she'll grab it - that would be the ideal scenario as she'd probably stay until I leave for the trip.
Ho hum, ... patience is the key word to this endeavour ...

You're all probably thinking that I'm still not -
1) talking about bikes
and
2) talking about the trip

Don't worry all this will come very soon as soon as I have jump started this initial  dilemna in getting and finding ways of finding some dinero to give me confidence that it's possible to save for the trip ...

So a week today, the lodger moves in - hopefully also with the bike spanners !

Friday, 22 April 2011

Money makes the World, no Trip, go round ..

God, sometimes I think Money is the original 4 letter word but spelt incorrectly - I'm working full time but now never enough!

I have to say, I used to have high flying jobs travelling and living all over the world (even headhunted to go over and help set up something in the US) but following a few major redundancies I finally realised that I had to down scale my life for more job security & less hassle. 
But that all comes at a cost - literally!  It now means I don't have the cash to splash on this mega project of a trip.

So creativity has to be the key ...  I'm not at this moment going to say how much I need to save and find but suffice to say what with the transport of my bike or hire of a bike over a period of at least 30-40 days, accommodation, transport over to the US, food and some $$$ to make the most of the places I'll get to over that period  you can imagine it's more than a couple of grand!

So what have I done so far? 
Well, since over a year I thought I could save but 'cos of a few major things over the past year (future blog) that equals zero. 

So, I literally started rummaging through anything I could sell on eBay - not much luck and a bit of a disaster - such as selling my very expensive New York designer wedding dress and loosing a lot of money thinking the bidder given a 2nd chance would pay my asking price but it was me who had to accept their offer - so they got  a real good deal ! 
A lot of the other stuff I didn't even get bids for - bit of a joke - just too many things out there for sale !  
Ironically, the only other thing I did manage to sell were a pair of biker gloves - thanks eBay biker buyer !
I even contacted Sotheby's to try and value an item I thought might be of value and hey, suprise, suprise they were not interested!

So what else ?  ... Well although I didn't want to do it, I have tried to rent out my spare room on a Monday to Friday let - again this I've tried since February - just one enquiry which fell through and the thought of a stranger sharing space isn't ideal but I guess achieving things sometimes has to be done through compromise. 
So I've even been pro-active and contacted those looking for rentals instead of waiting for replies ... let's see.

And then, as usual, since the end of last year just trying to economize on food (and not buying clothes) - baked potatoes and pasta I've had enough of !  
But strangely the cost of living is still not allowing me to save ... but I'll have good news I know very soon  ...

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

And then the Mental Games that may stop the trip ..

These mental games that play in my mind, telling me am I crazy about thinking to want to do this trip, are probably more important by far than organizing the practical side of travelling across the American continent (and what a route - more to follow, of course)!
This is what is creating frustration!
The most difficult by far will be that at some stage, I'm going to have to pluck up the courage to present to my bosses at work my wish to take some time off -  I even prepped a note on New Years Day to persuade them not to say No !   Even thinking about it makes me nervous....
When is the best time ?  Too early and they may start to question my loyalty and too late and I may not have time to plan.
If they say yes, then cool, I have a job to come back to!
But if they say no?  Surely Life is full of remembering the good times and  surely not regretting what should have happened.

So then the next worry, is would I be able to find a job when I get back?  Stop, stop, stop !  They will say "yes, of course  you can take a sabbatical of 6 weeks - with all our blessing"

The mental journey to accept I can find the courage and making it happen will probably be more of a challenge to me than the actual journey.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The 3 big Physical Predicaments ... Why it's "go or bust" ...

OK let's cut to the chase.
At the moment, although I'm naturally positive, there's probably just a 50:50 chance of making this trip happen .... Why ?
Simple, 'cos I'm not a rich jet setter, with freedom to use time as I wish. 
I'm just a normal person who like most people on this planet has a normal 9 to 5 job (which I'm hanging onto) and which with the cost of living here (tell me about it!) only just about gets to pay the basic bills.
1st Predicament - MONEY
I've got to find a lot of extra dosh (that's another subject for another post - it's all relative!) from scratch to do this trip which I want to do for 6 weeks (there's me initially thinking I could do it for 6 months ! ha ha !).
I keep thinking I can put money aside but there's always another "necessity"
So I'll have to be creative (more details later).

Oh yes, IMPORTANT, forgot to say I'm working on a timeframe  ...
I want to do this trip next June - July 2012.
So I'm racing against time to find money - I don't want to take loans (not my mindset).

2nd Predicament - TIME
I've got a full time job - how am I going to take 6 weeks off????  The job market in the UK isn't good at the moment to just whimsically jack in jobs to travel (mmmm, funny , come to think of it - I did that with my 1st job in Paris having just left school - I needed of course the usual long summer break to holiday and go travelling to Thailand with my boyfriend at the time...!).
You'll laugh at this,  but  already on New Years day this year I had already thought and wrote down solutions and a proposal to present to my boss (another subject for a later blog).

But surely there must be solutions to these 2 big issues - Only time will tell ....

Oh yes and the ..
3rd Predicament - the trip has to be on a Triumph Bonneville !
How do I source one or do I fly mine over ?  A lot of research needed ...

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Prelude ...

Life is an adventure but sometimes it's not always easy or possible to do what we want .... here's the story on how I'm trying to make it happen to make an exceptional trip across America  ...

I've always ridden a scooter, mostly when living in Paris, but I took the big decision 3 years ago to take the BIG BIKE test ... I passed and immediately bought the love of my life, a 2nd hand 2003 Green and Gold T100 Triumph Bonnie ... just 4 weeks on I went on my own over to Boulogne sur Mer, France on the speedcat boat  but so scared the bike would break down or I wouldn't cope just stayed close to the docks and probably didn't go further than 10 miles down the coast ! 
The morning in leaving I couldn't start the bike and thought I'd never get back already wanting to call emergency services - I carefully thought it out and realized I hadn't turned the fuel switch back on (unlike modern bikes) and hey presto I was back in action !
I continued with a good friend from Merton Bike Mechanics College (thanks guys you were great in teaching the basics of bike stuff) to travel again to France - this time across the North coast - must have done at least 400 miles and then down around the Cornish coast and another trip around Wales.  All this wanting to clock up mileage with a big thought ..... A BIG TRIP ACROSS AMERICA ... why ? 

2012 is a big birthday for me and I want to do something BIG ... will tell you more later ...