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Riding the globe...

Horizons Unlimited
Motorcycle Travellers'

in cooperation with
Quality Touring equipment worldwide.

Are you a TRAVELLER? Are you interested in the Steel Rat, frozen screaming guinea pigs, ferociously dodgy documents, frustrated people-eating bears, de-loused in Costa Rica, self-harming in Colombia, held to ransom in Mozambique, on a geriatric pizza bike in Sudan, winter sidecar-ing in Siberia, hit by tropical storms in Mali, cart wheeling in Argentina, soulmate superheroes in snow and much more...?

Then you're reading the right newsletter!

In this e-zine:

Community News
Final Thoughts
Home Again
In Progress...
Leaving Soon
New Links
Repair Shops on the

Seen on the road
Travellers Community
Whatever happened to?
Who's on the Road
Your Privacy
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Motorcycle Travellers' News Report

November 2009, 76th Edition

Welcome to the 76th edition of the HU e-zine! It feels very much like winter now, after an extended autumn here in London. In Canada we called this 'Indian Summer'. It has so confused the tree in our front garden that it just dropped its leaves and put out spring buds at the same time! I fear this can only end in tears, as soon as it realises it really isn't spring! Christmas shoppers are out in force here, the retailers hope the worst of the recession is over, and so do we :-)

I am very happy to report that Part 3 of the Achievable Dream DVD series - 'On the Road' will be going to final production on Tuesday. The last of the 'Murphys' in the onlining and authoring stages having been sorted, we should be shipping in mid-December.

The numerous missed deadlines on this project have reminded me of an old joke: 'Q - What's the difference between a car salesman and a computer salesman? A - The car salesman knows when he's lying to you!' In our case, we're the clueless computer salesmen when it comes to producing high-end DVDs. With the best of intentions, our naivety / ignorance of all that's involved has led us to promise dates that seemed realistic at the time and have turned out to be hopelessly optimistic, on a number of occasions :-(

To help envision the scale of this project, imagine the two of us producing 15 hours of content, which is the equivalent of 6-7 lengthy feature films, with a cast of over 100 actors, using professional camera crews, shot on location in the UK, Germany, Spain, Canada, several locations in the USA and even Samoa. The credits list is quite impressive!

Between the equipment, scripts, original music, camera crew and over 11 months of full-time professional editing, sound and color balancing and various technical tasks before production of DVDs, out of pocket costs are well over £100k, without placing any value on our time. And we're not done yet! Sponsorships cover less than 10% of the costs, so we've been financing the project on credit cards for the past 18 months.

The good news is we've sold over 2,000 DVDs since February, so that has helped a lot with cash flow. The bad news is that over 900 of them are pre-sales and haven't been produced yet! For 'On the Road', we'll be shipping out almost 500 pre-orders as soon as we have them in hand.

The response and reviews to date have been very gratifying, and hopefully we'll recover our costs in 3+ years. We plan to keep updating the content, plus branching out into related topics. Maybe we'll even get to travel again, whilst shooting content along the way :-)

But enough about us. Our intrepid travellers are on the road, some of them in cold climates, wondering what they're doing, and many more sensible folks in or en route to the southern hemisphere. We've got great stories from Colombia, Siberia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Canada, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Argentina, Peru, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Panama, Mozambique, Tanzania, Mexico, Mali, Australia, Brazil, Switzerland, Cambodia, Turkey, Iran, Singapore and San Salvador. And those are just the ones we tracked down! So, get out there on the road - we want YOUR adventure stories and pics!

Susan Johnson, Editor

The new 'Achievable Dream' DVD Series!
Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD1 - Get Ready!

Have you been inspired by the stories you've read in this e-zine? Or perhaps you watched the 'Long Way' series and it's got you thinking of a motorcycle trip to distant climes – the markets of Marrakech, the Karakoram Highway in Pakistan, the salt flats of Bolivia, the Bungle Bungles of Australia, the Pan American to Tierra del Fuego?

Did you finally fork out for that dream bike built for high adventure, and you know every highway and byway within range of an annual vacation? Is something indefinable calling you farther afield… to the next country… the next continent?

We took what we learned from our own travels, and since then, from helping other travellers, to create the new 'Achievable Dream - the Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide' series. We also asked the many veteran travellers who attend Horizons Unlimited meetings to tell us their stories, give us their opinions, and share their hard-earned knowledge from their amazing motorcycle trips to every country on earth. And they have lots of opinions, sometimes contradictory, so you'll get lots of great ideas. You'll hear from Sam Manicom, Chris and Erin Ratay, Greg Frazier, Austin Vince, Lois on the Loose and many others. We've even interviewed Ted Simon in California, and Peter and Kay Forwood while on location in Samoa!

What's covered? Everything you ever wanted to know about motorcycle travel!

  • Shipping in December - On the Road! What is it like to spend weeks, months or years on the road? In this 2-DVD set, our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure. You'll get the advice you need to help you cross borders, break down language barriers, overcome culture shock, ship the bike across oceans or war zones, and deal with the 'stuff' that happens such as breakdowns and emergencies. Demos include building a shipping crate and first aid for bikers. We're very happy with the material - we've got a fantastic and entertaining bunch of contributors with many amazing stories to tell and hard-earned wisdom to impart, enhanced with demos, video clips and heaps of great photos. We hope it will strike the right balance between information and entertainment!
  • Now Shipping - Get Ready! aims to inspire you to take the plunge, and start to prepare for the trip. Topics include planning, travelling solo or with others, money, paperwork for you and the bike, off-road riding, health and medical.
  • Now Shipping - Ladies on the Loose! Here, for the first time ever, is a motorcycle travel DVD made for women, by women! An intrepid band of well-travelled women motorcyclists share their tips to help you plan your own motorcycle adventure - choose and maintain a bike, decide what to take and tackle tough terrain. They also answer the women-only questions, and entertain you with amazing tales from the road! This DVD is directed and presented by Lois on the Loose, veteran solo traveller through South America and Africa and author of 'Lois on the Loose' and 'Red Tape and White Knuckles'. Lois' husband Austin Vince (Terra Circa, Mondo Enduro) is her director and cameraman for this production.
  • Shipping spring 2010 - Gear Up! covers the Kit - bike and other stuff, including which bike, preparing the bike, what to take and how to pack it. This DVD will also be a 2-DVD set!

For the new series, we have invested in professional filming, editing and production. Filmed in broadcast quality wide screen, incorporating multiple cameras and with custom written vocals and music.

Press reviews!

"The Ultimate Round the World Rider's How-to DVD - The founders of round-the-world riders' Mecca have produced a new DVD aimed at making epic bike adventures more accessible to ordinary mortals. The film is the first in a series – entitled 'Achievable Dream: The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide'. 'Get Ready' is available now and is receiving rave reviews. Visitors to include some of the hardest-bitten bike travellers in the world, so standards had to be high..." Guy Procter, MCN

"The 'Achievable Dream' part one DVD is a heart-warming and inspiring video. It simply makes you want to chuck it all for an adventure. Immerse yourself in the Achievable Dream for a few hours and I'll guarantee that you'll watch it way more than once. I am positively salivating for the next instalment. Two dusty riding thumbs up!" Motorcycle Mojo, Canada

"Having had an opportunity to view the entire DVD I can honestly say it is inspiring and extremely informative. It also radiates authenticity as Grant and Susan have been living the material they present for 20 years now. In this new version of the video the down-to-earth and factual nature of the material is reinforced by the inclusion of interviews and information from a number of different motorcycle travelers. The Achievable Dream is also very easy to watch. Not only are the production values of professional quality, but the organization of the material make it a pleasurable viewing experience. The different types of information are broken up into easily digestible bites which, for this reviewer who has the attention span of a flea, was extremely helpful.

If you are looking for information on long distance motorcycle travel Horizons Unlimited should be your first stop. If you want to get really fired up or just share in the adventure vicariously buy the video. I assure you you will not be disappointed." Cameron Weckerley, Road Show Magazine

More positive feedback on 'Get Ready!' and 'Ladies on the Loose!'

Received a very nice note last week from Chris Scott, author of the Adventure Motorcycling Handbook: "Hi Lois and Susan, just watched your Ladies vid and have to say congrats on a great job: the writing, shooting, the look and editing. For any AM'ers, you summed it all up very well and had a great cast of Loosards giving their PoV - something that I think with blokes might have got a bit too techy. It was odd - but then fun to see the adjacent guys shut up for once! Lucy who'd never want to ride anywhere on a bike thought it was very watchable too and of course inspiring. Can't have been effortless to make it look that good and not drag too much over 150 mins, so well done you! afn, Chris S"

"'Ladies on the Loose' arrived in perfect condition. Very enjoyable indeed, and not especially gender specific. You can be very proud of both DVDs to date and my pre-order for 3 and 4 will be lodged this week." Bob, Australia

"My wife and I have really enjoyed the first two dvd's in the series and are really looking forward to this one!" Scott, USA

When can you get them?

We are taking orders now for all DVDs. 'Get Ready!' and 'Ladies on the Loose!' are shipping now, at $24.99 each. These DVDs are approx. 2.5 hours each, so terrific value for money. We will ship the others as they come available, and we're offering free shipping worldwide on pre-orders only (i.e. until all DVDs are in production).

'On the Road!' will be shipping in mid-December if all goes smoothly. It will be a 2-DVD set, almost 5 1/2 hours of content, at $24.99 for pre-orders only. Once it is shipping, the price for new orders will be $36.99 to reflect the additional content.

'Gear Up!' is being edited now, and we have quite a lot of footage to review for it, but it is possible we may need to shoot more footage to complete some of the chapters, so it will be the last to produce. Unfortunately, we don't expect to ship it until late spring, but we'll have a firmer release date by mid-January (ROTFL - Grant). It will also be a 2-DVD set, over 5 hours of content, and will also be a higher price for new orders once it's in production.

We do appreciate the pre-orders, as the cost of doing all this has been staggering, and we're grateful for your patience. However, some of you have been waiting patiently for quite a long time! Since we don't want anyone to feel we took their money under false pretenses, if you don't want to wait and would like a refund, let us know and we'll be happy to provide it. We will then notify you when each DVD is ready so you can reorder at that time.

Watch the trailer for DVD 1 'Get Ready!' and order now!

Special thanks to our generous sponsors of the Horizons Unlimited Achievable Dream Series, Touratech and Michelin!

Everything for the motorcycle traveller.    Michelin Tires, quality tyres for motorcycles and cars.

Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travelers 2010 Calendar

The 2010 calendar is now available! Check it out and get your copy now, for some terrific travel inspiration! The calendars are available through CafePress, and the price is US$24.99 plus postage. The cost to us from CafePress is $14.99, and we split the $10.00 profit with the photographers.

2010 contest is now on!

The contest is now an annual event, where you can showcase your best photos, and they can help inspire others to get on the road too. The best 13 photos will be used in the calendar, and those photographers will share equally in half the proceeds. Winners will also get a free 2010 calendar, and 1 year Gold Member status on the HUBB. The Grand Prize winner will also receive a Trackpicker Qstarz BT-Q 1000 X (value €119 Euros) from Touratech.

To be a winner, so we can publish the calendar, you must have available at least 2300x1800 pixel or greater files, at a high jpg quality. Either dimension - or both can be larger! Photos must clearly portray Motorcycle Travel. The whole bike doesn't need to be in the picture, but it must be obvious that it's a motorcycle trip. Remember, contest closes September 1, 2010, so get your entry in soon! Anyone can win!

How to contribute, and become an HU Member

As always, thanks to all our generous supporters for helping us to keep going. For those who haven't yet contributed, or haven't recently contributed, here's how you can help, and the benefits to you!

Benefits of becoming a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

Can't/Don't want to use electronic payment? Support HU via Snail Mail


It's our advertisers, sponsors, and sales of the HU DVD series that make it possible for us to make the website and e-zine available to you. We hope you'll check out their products and services and if you plan to buy these products, do it from our site or links.

If you do use the services of one of our advertisers/supporters, we hope you'll let them know that you're buying from them because of their support for HU - and of course that they have a great product or service! :)

If you know anyone who should be advertising with us (anyone who sells motorcycles or motorcycle accessories, riding gear, camping equipment and clothing, transports motorcycles, organizes motorcycle tours, or has motorcycles to rent should be advertising), please let us know or even better send them to our Advertisers page with your recommendation.


If you've had problems receiving the e-zine due to spam filters or insufficient bandwidth, remember you can subscribe to the 'Notice' edition instead of the full HTML version. The Notice edition is a short, straight text message that contains a URL to bring you to the full text on the website. Because the Notice email is so small, it downloads in a flash, and leaves your mailbox uncluttered. Change to the Notice version here.

We now have an Syndicate this Channel RSS feed for the e-zine (you'll need an RSS Reader to use it) and all the travellers' blogs have their own feeds. The HUBB has a full RSS feed here. If you're not sure what that's all about, there's a detailed RSS Guide here.

Please submit news reports, web links etc. to us for inclusion in this newsletter.

We try to link to your website if you have one. And if you don't have a website, we can help, and it won't cost you anything.

This newsletter is provided as a complimentary service for travellers everywhere, both on the road and (temporarily ;-) off. Your support is greatly appreciated.

your editors, Grant and Susan Johnson, (about us, contact us)

up to top of pagespacerHorizons Unlimited Travellers Meetings...

Why Come to a Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers Meeting?

You can meet people who don't think you're crazy for wanting to ride your bike to South America or Africa or across Asia, or even around the world! Admit it, all your 'normal' friends and most of your family fear for your sanity! So, this is your opportunity to meet the people who will encourage you in that craziness, share their experiences and advice on how to do it, and maybe you'll meet them again in Mongolia or Timbuktu!

Also importantly, the meetings help to make HU more than just a website, but a community of motorcycle travellers - real people, not just e-mail addresses ;-) And last but not least, they make a significant contribution to HU revenue, thus helping us to keep the HUBB and website going! So thanks to everyone who comes!

Meetings and Events, 2009/10. Mark your calendars and sign up now. Grant says all registration pages will be up by mid-December if it kills him ;-)

Southampton, UK, 6 December, 2009 - Pre-Christmas get-together. Nigel Grace from the HU Southampton Community is organising this event, which will be at the High Corner Inn in the New Forest at 1230-ish. Postcode BH24 3QY (for those using GPS).

Viedma, Argentina, 11-13 December, 2009 - Mini-meeting. Please pre-register so Oscar knows how much food to order!

Thailand - 16 Jan, 2010 - Mini-Meeting

Australia - 23-26 April, Cooroy, Queensland

New for 2010! Ireland (North) - 28-30 May, 2010. Liam McIlhone and Drew Millar are organising this event near Enniskillen.

UK - 24-27 June, 2010. This is the event of the year for motorcycle travellers - with 50+ presenters, demonstrations in 3 separate rooms over 4 days, and of course, activities like Yoga for Bikers and the Road Kill Cookout that you won't find anywhere else! Numbers are limited to 500, and we always sell out, so register and pay early to avoid disappointment -we really hate to see grown men cry ;-) Register and pay before 31 December for early bird rates!

Germany - 1-4 July, 2010. Jens Ruprecht is our local host for this event, near Heidelberg.

New for 2010! Bulgaria - 9-11 July, 2010. Doug Wothke is our local host, at Moto Camp Bulgaria, near Idilevo.

HUMM - 27-29 July, 2010. The 4th Annual Horizons Unlimited Mountain Madness (HUMM) event. A two and a half (riding)-day, no GPS, orienteering event in the eastern Pyrenees of Catalunya, Spain and Andorra. Test your map reading and navigation skills, find hidden secrets and enjoy the fabulous riding. This event is presented in partnership with Austin Vince (Terra Circa/Mondo Enduro) and Lois on the Loose (Red Tape and White Knuckles), who lay out the off-road course. As usual, Austin and Lois have outdone themselves again in 2010 and laid out even more markers for the off-road HUMM in an all new area!

Austin indicating off-road HUMM checkpoint.

Susan and I laid out the HUMM on-road course, two up on our ancient R80 G/S, riding the many well-paved, twisty and fantastic tarmac roads in the area for over two weeks, loving every minute. Awesome roads, from first gear slip the clutch hairpins to high speed sweepers, with amazing views, minimal traffic, some roads you'll see one car in 10 minutes or more - and some less than that - roads you dream of...

Fabulous views in the Spanish Pyrenees.

OFF or ON road, it's the most fun you can have on two wheels ;-) Registration is open now and numbers are strictly limited!

Canada West - 19-22 Aug, 2010, Nakusp, BC. Ekke Kok and Andy Miller are the local organizers for this event.

California - 19-22 Aug, 2010, the 'Lost Coast' north of San Francisco. Grant will be there, and we hope, Ted Simon, after missing last year due to illness.

Colorado - 26-29 Aug, 2010, Silverton. By popular request, and after a lot of negotiating with the venue, we're returning to Silverton! Grant will be there.

North Carolina - 9-12 Sep, 2010. Iron Horse Motorcycle Lodge is located near the Tail of the Dragon at Deals Gap and the scenic Cherohala Skyway, two of the best motorcycle destinations in the United States.

Malaga, Spain - 9-12 Sep, 2010. Alison Makin is the local organizer for this event.

Germany (Autumn) - 29-31 Oct, 2010. Same location as summer event.


How about you? We're all here to learn, and there's LOTS to learn! We want to do more presentations and seminars - but we need volunteers to give them! Any topic you can contribute having to do with motorcycle travel, maintenance, planning etc, lasting 20 minutes or more, would be great. Please contact us here to volunteer.

Volunteers and Hosts

Volunteers for all meetings are needed, just a couple of hours of your time makes it all a lot easier - and fun - for all. You can volunteer a few hours of your time for any meeting here.

If you'd like to host an HU Meeting in your area, please see the How To Host a Meeting page for details.

See the Meetings page for more details on all events.

See you there! Grin!

Grant and Susan

Horizons Unlimited
New Links...

Too many to list! If you haven't checked out the Links page it's time you did - it's scary long, but it's a fascinating browse.

Get your website listed in the LINKS Section

by listing Horizons Unlimited on YOUR web site, let me know you've done it by mailing me a link to the page, and you may get listed here in the next newsletter and on the Horizons Unlimited web site Links page. To make it easy for you, we even have our logo and link code here!

All sites will be considered for listing, but must be a MOTORCYCLE or TRAVEL site, useful or of interest in some way to travellers. We reserve the right to refuse to link back.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!
Motorcycle Express
MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

up to top of page A host of
volunteers for 'People en route !'

There are many 'Helpful People' listed on the Links page, a huge thanks to all of them. How about you? Or you can join a Community, or start your own!

up to top of pagespacer Repair Shops...

Do you know of a good shop 'on the road,' other words, somewhere there isn't a large number of shops? (Also of course any shop that specializes in travellers equipment and repairs is of interest.) But we're particularly looking for those rare items, good repair shops in South America, Africa and Asia etc. Please post your info in the Repair shops around the world Forum on the HUBB.

There are now 100's of shops listed in out - of - the - way places, from Abidjan to Ghana to Peru! Be sure to check out the HUBB 'Repair shops around the world' forum if you need work done!

up to top of pagespacerWho are they?

When you meet people on the road, and they haven't heard of this e-zine or the website, we'd appreciate it (and hope they would too!) if you'd get their names and email addresses and send it in to me.

Thanks, Grant

Request for info

Wouldn't YOU like to know all about the border you're approaching - what it should cost, paperwork required, 'tips' needed, and who to talk to, etc.?

When you cross ANY border, take some notes, and pass them on to us. Thanks!


The Shipping page on the site is HUGE! It can be reached directly or from the Shipping link on the Trip Planning page.

Travel Advisories:

The Foreign Office in London's Travel Advice Unit advises against travel to all sorts of places. Check out the listing before you start!

The US State Department regularly issues updated travel advisories, information and/or warnings.

Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers...
Motocare Argentina

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker

From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!

Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD1 - Get Ready!

Get the Achievable Dream DVD's NOW and learn how YOU can hit the road!

Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD4 - Ladies on the Loose! Get it now!

up to top of pagespacerWho's on the road, and where...

Daniel Shell, UK, in Colombia, Harley-Davidson,

"I had been e-mailing the captain of the Stahlratte, a 106 year old fishing boat that was doing the trip from Panama to Colombia, and he had assured me that getting the bike onto the boat was not going to be a problem, all I had to do was to cross a small river, and the rest would be easy...

At 5am, the Jeeps came to the hostel to pick up passengers, and I put my luggage in the back of one of them. I followed the first Jeep out of town towards Chepo, and then turned off the highway and onto a dirt road. This was a 40km stretch up to the little river that I was going to have to cross. I followed the Jeep along the road which deteriorated as we went on. The track was made up of varying types of gravel, loose gravel, packed gravel, large rocky gravel, muddy gravel and loose gravel, and in parts, just mud.

I was following the first Jeep up a steep gravel hill when the Jeep stopped. I braked, my front wheel locked, and then the bike started sliding back down the hill. I did all I could to keep the bike upright, but the weight was too much for me and the bike went over. I jumped off before I got stuck under it and took a deep breath. First things first, take a photo.

First, take a photo.

The driver and a few of the passengers from the second Jeep got out and helped me lift the bike, I jumped on, and with a push from the guys, and help from the engine, the bike slowly started climbing the hill, I throttled back gently and the bike stabilized and I picked up speed as I tackled the hill.

The river Carti, Panama.

There were a few more worrying moments when the back end of the bike was fishtailing wildly behind me in the mud sections and skipping friskily on the loose gravel going up the hills, but by keeping the bike pointed in the general direction of the road, braking with the gearbox, and taking good run ups for the next uphill sections, I finally made it to the river.

My heart sank when I saw what lay ahead. This little river was daunting to say the least. The level of the river was much higher than I had been led to believe. Huge trucks were crossing regularly, the water coming up to the tops of their wheels. As much as I had wanted to have a go at crossing this obstacle unaided, I figured there was too much at stake. The water level was as high as my saddle, and the current was fairly strong, the last thing I wanted was for the engine to stall and the bike to go over and get carried off by the river!

I got talking to Elissa, a lady who was working with the construction crew who were working on improving the road and building the bridge, and she said she had an idea to help me cross the river.

She got on her walkie-talkie and talked rapidly in Spanish to whoever was on the other end of the airwaves. A few minutes later and I heard a heavy rumble in the distance. A minute or so after that, the 'solution' came into view in the form of a yellow JCB digger. The JCB crossed the river and lined up with the huge metal scoop alongside my bike, we measured up the scoop and the bike and soon came to the conclusion that this option, novel as it was, was not going to be the solution after all.

JCB transport option discarded!

Next, I stopped a bunch of the trucks coming and going across the river to see if any of the drivers would agree to take my bike in the back of their trucks, but with no joy.

Then Julie, the boss of the Jeep drivers, came back from the other side of the river after dropping off the rest of the passengers, and told me more bad news. The boat that the captain was going to send to pick up the bike was not going to be able to come down the river as there were sections of the river that were too shallow for the boat to make it down.

I had one last option, the Kuna. The Kuna Indians were a fiercely independent indigenous group who inhabited the islands along the Panamanian coast. They had resisted the pull of modern, city life and still lived traditional lives on their island communities. There was a group of 8 or 9 Kuna men at the banks of the river, and after a little haggling, gesticulating and laughing, they agreed to lift the Harley into one of their canoes and walk it across the river to the other side.

Getting the Harley into the canoe.

Gingerly, I rode the bike down the mud banks and in to the river until it was alongside the canoe that was barely as wide as the bike. With a few grunts and plenty of huffing and puffing, together we managed to lift the rear of the bike onto the canoe, and then hefted the front end in too.

Crossing the Kanu River, Panama.

We pulled the canoe across the river, not helped by another truck that crossed in the opposite direction causing a huge wash that nearly knocked the canoe over, but a few minutes later, we were on the other side, repeating the whole lifting process to get the bike back off the canoe. The task completed, the river crossed, and I was full of a sense of enormous accomplishment. I thanked the Kuna and paid them their $30, they were overjoyed at the prospect of spending it all on beer and having a party!

I got back on the bike on the other side, slid up the muddy bank and continued along the dirt track to the next river where I would take another boat to the Stahlratte..."

Ed. See the rest of this adventure with more great photos in Daniel's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Tiffany Coates, UK, way too late in the season in Siberia, BMW R80 G/S,

"The journey across Siberia and beyond was not without its pitfalls and mishaps. The cold was intense, the tent was fine at night as I have a very good RAB sleeping bag (the ones they take on Everest expeditions), no expense spared where my comfort and warmth are concerned. However the mornings were hard and I had to force myself to get out of the tent, there were so many layers of ice on the tent that it was impossible to roll it up, I would just roughly fold it and then stand on it to make it vaguely into a shape to strap onto the seat behind me (no chance of fitting it into the top box where it usually goes).

Cold camping in Siberia.

Then I would find something to scrape the frosty layers off the bike seat and attempt to make my magnetic tank bag attach to the tank through the layers of ice on it before setting off. As the day progressed, the tent would be slowly defrosting on the seat behind me, leading to small pools of icy water under my backside (mmmm, not the most comfortable of sensations).

Frosty tires in Siberia.

Frosty tires

Meanwhile the pannier racks must have been more seriously damaged than I thought after the accident in Mongolia, or maybe it was more due to my hard riding over the rough road conditions in Siberia. I had to stop and search out welders not just once or twice but four times in seven days - a bit of a record even for me. The hospitality of the welders was overwhelming at times I was given cups of tea and cakes to eat while they got on with the work, and none of them would take any money from me, mainly I suspect, because they felt so sorry for me. I have now determined to learn how to do my own welding as it was ridiculous how much time I spent in the welding yards (and sometimes they were just farmyards).

Beer can repair.

Beer can repair

I arrived in Vladivostok on my backside as I had a high speed blow out (my first one ever) and it is a scary prospect on a motorbike, to suddenly lose all control of it whilst on a busy road. All I could see were the cars coming towards me and in desperation I leaned right over and threw myself and Thelma away from them, ending up sliding down the road, watching Thelma preceding me, like a sort of dream.

Both OK-ish but the worst part for me was the realisation that no-one was stopping to find out if I was OK- not even those people who had seen the whole thing happen. Finally someone did stop to help and who would have thought a 250kg bike could fit in the back of a Toyota Lite Ace?

I visited the legendary Iron Tigers' clubhouse - they are a Vladivostok institution - the main biker's club in the city. A great clubhouse with lots of workshop space to do work on the bikes and space to stay as well as the party rooms. I had a look through the guest book - seeing the names of old friends and it also reads like a Who's Who in the bike travel world.

I once more met up with Kosta, the Bulgarian biker who I first met halfway up a mountain in Kazakhstan. He was also heading to Japan and so we joined forces to get our bikes through the Customs procedures (more like rigamarole), with the handy help of his fluent Russian.

We crossed to Japan on the good ship M/V Rus Majur, with its fine complement of unsmiling waitresses and sleazy truck drivers. It was quite an experience. Another traveller who also suffers from seasickness was very interested in my acupressure wrist bands which work really well for me. I have never been sick whilst wearing them, I made her a pair of home-made ones using a couple of paracetamol tablets and electrical tape from my tool kit. She seemed very pleased with them, but maybe she was just being polite."

Ed. Tiffany shares her top tips for travelling in the new 'Ladies on the Loose!' Achievable Dream Series DVD - shipping now!

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Peter Hendricks, in Indonesia and New Zealand,

"(En route to Flores). We have some difficulty arranging a trip to see the lizards, because we need to have a larger group, or the cost of the boat trip will be too high. Our tour organiser also finds himself in trouble: as our group assembles in front of the boat he has a disagreement with the captain. One of his passengers wants to be dropped off at another island, which he apparently has agreed on, but failed to communicate to the captain, who refuses to accommodate him. Eventually we sail on another boat. The trip is a little uncomfortable, the engine is very noisy. There are some interesting sights on the way, though, like this village built on a rock in the sea:

Village on rock in sea, Indonesia.

Arrived on Rinca we had barely paid our various fees that there were shouts and commotion: the Komodo Warans were right there by the buildings. Staff told us that they hang around because of the smell from the kitchen, but rumour has it that they are actually being fed so that they hang around for the tourists."

Komodo Warans, Indonesia.

Last Tuesday we have finally landed in Auckland. For me it's been an absence of 11 years. Having spent a long time in the tropics I find it shockingly cold. The following day we quickly cleared the bikes, which had arrived on the same flight, through quarantine. Customs, however, seem to want to break the record currently held by Indian customs, who took a week to release my bike from the port of Bombay in 1988. It's now Monday and we are still waiting for them to process our apparently 'complicated' paperwork. Shame on them.

Luckily for us, my old friend Heike has welcomed us into her home, so we have a base from where to operate."

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Gabriel Bolton and Charlotte Moore , UK, RTW, in the USA,

"As of early September I've been a guest of the United States of America, and it's been quite different from the experience I was expecting. After the time I'd spent in Mongolia and Siberia, North America came as a stark contrast. Suddenly everything is available, usually without the inconvenience of getting out of your car. No more babbling in horrifically amateurish Russian, vodka is no longer such a part of daily life and the daily spend has climbed sharply. But to my amazement, the incredible generosity and hospitality I've been blessed with through North Asia seems unchanged.

Gabe at the HU California meeting.

Gabe at the HU California meeting

Introducing Char - Within a week of deciding to do this trip I met a beautiful girl at a dinner party, by the name of Charlotte. We immediately hit it off, and from that point on spent a great deal of time together. When Char suggested she might like to join me on this motorcycle adventure, I was both taken aback and immensely impressed with her courage.

Charlotte with bikes.

Char proved herself a capable motorcyclist, cutting her biker teeth on a Scotland trip 2 days after passing her bike test. While I was keen to travel solo for part of the trip, I was also hoping to share some of it with someone. Charlotte was one of the very few people I felt I could travel with long term. As I rode across Europe and Northern Asia, Charlotte was backpacking in India. We then flew from opposite sides of the world, to Seattle, where despite being in the same airport at the same time, looking for one another, we failed to meet up. After tears, an expensive taxi ride, and swearing, we were reunited in a downtown youth hostel.

Charlotte working on her bike.

Our relationship remained platonic for a little over three hours before we happily accepted something that had been staring us in the face for a long long time. Our friends and family saw it much more clearly than we had ever been able to, but on Monday the 7th September 2009 we made the long overdue step of starting a relationship together.

So allow me to introduce Charlotte, my wonderful girlfriend soul mate adventure motorcyclist superhero. This trip is now ours, welcome to the adventure Char.

Charlotte on her bike.Charlotte and Gabe.

Being the intelligent logical thinking 'adults' that we are, it seemed a perfectly reasonable idea to head North into the Canadian mountains in November.

The journey North was a wet one that had us questioning the wisdom of choosing to ride motorcycles in this climate. But beautiful none the less, and we witnessed the great bald eagles feasting on migrating salmon.
Char also courageously performed the initiation ceremony of dropping her bike for the first time, and pulled it off with effortless grace. Lillooet was worth the trip. Dad and I had stayed here on our Canada trip 10 years ago, and is was good to be back.

Trying to keep warm!

The trip back was an adventure. We climbed into the mountains and above the snow line. The spectacular landscape was all the more majestic with this perfect white covering. But as the snow came down harder and harder the going became tough, keeping the bike upright was often a real challenge.

Char came off twice and elegantly dismounted the big Honda, coming to rest in the soft roadside snow. The steep descent of the road made it just about impossible to ride, and for the worst section I walked the bikes down. People stopped and cheerfully questioned what the hell we were doing.

Riding in Canada in November.

Safely out of danger we re-grouped in Whistler. Nourished and warmed we emerged from our shelter and preparing to do more battle with the weather, we found a damp message tucked into our bike luggage. An invitation to stay with a local biker couple.

Todd and Christina were an absolute pleasure to be around. Seasoned overland bike travellers themselves, we chatted freely about our trips. They've had a lot of involvement with charities as part of their travel, and had such a refreshingly original approach to bike travel.

For many, the focus seems to be on the motorcycles rather than the travel, but with Todd and Christina this wasn't the case at all. They threw out many of the fundamental guidelines of bike travel, and did it exactly how they wanted. Good for you guys, you've been something of an inspiration."

Ed. Congrats to you both - IMHO, travelling together is way more fun than travelling alone! For those who don't know her, Char is also the co-moderator (with Maria Robinson) of the HUBB Women's Forum.

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Jonathan Yates, UK, in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan,

"We went from Tash Rabat which means stone fortress and just did about 140 miles to a town called Kochkor and came back through the Dolon pass which is 3000 metres above sea level. A bit of a surprise this morning, there is deep snow. Myself and John rode back up to the stone fortress itself, got some good photos in the snow. It is freezing cold, I had about five layers on, even the thermal pants underneath my bike pants and a waterproof top as well. It dropped down to minus god knows what. When you went over puddles on the stone track, if you could see the track that is, the ice was so thick the bike didn't even break it. A very slow pace riding up to the fortress and then we came back to camp and headed off on better stone tracks to the normal road which will take us to Kochkor. Usual stuff really, amazing views, the mountain range is stunning. We went through one little village, we got a really warm reception from all the kids and then one kid threw a stone at the bike, a right angry little kid. 

Hay truck in Kazakhstan.

Hay truck in Kazakhstan

Border crossing.

Border crossing

It is so stunning, it is so hard to describe. It really is a place that I didn't think I would think much of but it really has got so much going for it in terms of outdoor activity.

One thing I haven't mentioned but yesterday we did a small river crossing, on the first day, it was flowing water - the first one I have ever done on the bike. On the way back it was frozen and it looked a bit skiddy, where people go over it, there had been a couple of 4x4's go over in the morning, it had smashed the ice and taken it down to the pebbles, really hard to ride in as the bike sinks into the pebbles - had a bit of a wobble.

Stone camel, Kazakhstan.

Stone camel

Camel up close.

And the real thing...

The yurt on Wednesday night / Thursday morning was just so hot, it had a massive burner in the middle and it bangs out so much heat, it only needed refilling at 6 am in the morning and it was hot again by 6.40 am. We ended up leaving the yurt at about 8 am. They are just massive round frames with loads of fabric and the door is just a big roll of fabric, like a roller blind. Lovely buildings, I got some shots of them and so warm, outside it was so extreme the cold, it definitely went down to -2 degrees and that was before we went to bed. Just incredible really and all this at 3000 metres or whatever, just amazing to see these people living how they do with one or two horses, a yurt, living in small communities with a few houses and with only just what they need."

Ed. Lots of pictures on Jon's photo site!

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Oliver Abrahams, UK, in Colombia, Honda XL650 Transalp,

"Guinea pig doesn't taste like chicken. It actually tastes closer to roast turkey and roast pork. The sight of 3 whole guinea pigs being slowly bbq'd on a huge wooden trident was too tempting to pass over so Dave and I paid the rather inflated tourist price, took some photos and sat down for the feast. My childhood memories of small fluffy pets did not seem to correlate with the 6 large chunks of meat that were put before us. However, on closer inspection, sure enough it was all there. Legs with little clawed feet, intestines and of course the whole head (frozen in a rather unpleasant bite/scream). The meat and crackling were in fact very tasty but I couldn't bring myself to gnaw on the head. Maybe I'm getting soft but I don't particularly enjoy seeing the face of the animal I'm eating, let alone chewing it.

Guinea pig feast.

I met my current traveling companion whilst waiting for a rather irritable Ecuadorian customs official to process our motorbikes at the border. Dave started his trip from London about 1 week before I flew to Los Angeles to start mine. In the time it has taken me to amble my way south from the States he has ridden half way round the world (through Europe, Russia, Mongolia, Korea and the Americas). He's only clocked about 10,000 more miles than me too! We all have our own way of doing things I guess.

Bike on crane.

As seems to be a common theme on this trip, I left it rather late leaving the salt cathedral and hadn't sufficiently researched where I was planning on sleeping that night. I'd read in my guide book that I could camp in a village called Suesca, about 20 miles northeast of Zipaquira. My map showed it was a non-paved road but 20 miles isn't far is it. Shouldn't take long. Unfortunately the non-paved section was in fact a steep and pot-holed gravel and dirt road, winding up the mountainside. To make things worse it started to rain as I was on the way up, making it incredibly slippery. Manageable going up but the switchbacks would have been pretty much impossible going down on a 300kg motorbike.

Bad roads in Colombia.

By 5:30pm I still hadn't arrived at Suesca and was starting to wonder whether I'd taken a wrong turning. Although this was probably academic because as I mentioned previously, there was no way I could have gone back the way I'd come. The bike would have slipped away from me on the first steep, descending bend. I pulled up to a small shop on a cross-roads to ask directions and whether there was actually camping at Suesca and without hesitating the lady behind the counter (Martha) said I could camp on some flat land above her house, which was nearby. She made a couple of phone calls and then sent me on my way. So that night I ate my dinner perched on the side of a mountain. Watching heat lightening in the distance with fireflies flicking on and off all around me and some very noisy frogs providing the soundtrack from a pond nearby."

Andy Berwick and Maya Vermeer, in Argentina, Triumph + sidecar,

"We are above 4000 meters, we can't breathe very well, our lips are already cracked and our skin is dry as leather. We follow for 70 km the track in the direction of the Paso de Sico, towards Chile. Then there is a turn off. On the map it looks like a little village, but all we find are some abandoned houses in the middle of nowhere. We start to follow the 17, an interesting track. No cars, no people, nada. Loads of space, pinky, purple and red colors.

The higher you are, the more pastel. Some deserted villages and llama herds. It's cold during the day, we are wearing all our clothes. At the end of the day the temperature drops quickly and at night it's around minus 12-14 Celsius. Higher up in the mountains we find snow, but the track has been cleared.

At night we try to stay warm in our sleeping bags, but the wind keeps blowing, so the tent flaps around sometimes. Except for that, there is totally, pure silence. No barking dogs, no people, even no snoring Andy.

... We can't find our way around an enormous salt lake. The track just stops and there is a big bit that you can't cross, it's too rough. We can see the track continuing, but we can't reach it. We decide to follow another track, only one car, possibly a 4 x 4, has been driving over this one. And it goes right through the middle of this Big salt lake. Strange holes in the salt are growing bigger as we are going along with the speed of maybe 5 km an hour. I don't like these holes, what is underneath this, can we trust it? And I also know that we can't turn the bike here. The last bit of the track turns into something that looks like the top of a burst homemade bread so I have to walk for a while. Nice if the air is very thin. Andy is driving very carefully in front of me, the bike has just enough ground clearance. He and the bike get smaller and smaller while I am still walking in all my bike gear and 6 layers of clothes over this huge salt lake. Maybe someone from space can see me. I would not be surprised if a space ship would turn up. But I don't want to go home yet, like ET, it's too exciting.

In Antofagasta de la Sierra, a nice little tiny place, to our surprise we find a gas station. But they don't sell fuel. The owner, a woman, points to a house, that's where you can buy some fuel she says. After 10 minutes of talking to people we find out that an old woman sells fuel out of a barrel. It takes a hose, a plastic bottle, 2 more men and a lot of patience to get this golden syrup into our tanks.

While this procedure is happening another woman asks us if we are looking for a room. But we want to go on, it's still early in the day, but we tell her we are hungry. Restaurants in Argentina are always closed when we want to eat, so she offers us to cook a meal. 'Can we have chips with it?'; Andy's most asked question if it's about food. No, it's not possible. But when we are waiting at her kitchen table, she comes in with a big smile, chips and milanesa (battered meat). Andy is happy now."

Ed. Read Andy and Maya's stories here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Robert Thode, USA, to South America, in Peru and Ecuador,

"...When we looked at the hotel we told them we needed a place to park the motos that was safe. They had us bring them in the front door and into the lobby.

Next day on to Lima. Had been told to go to Milaforas suburb as it was the new center and would find good hotel there. It was also close to where I would need to go to get tire. This was the upscale part of town, three block from hotel there was a circle with a Starbucks, Chilies, TGIF Fridays and McDonalds. It was good to get a good cup of coffee and went to McDonalds twice because they had WiFi.

Got the tire put on at Harley shop on Friday. The Dealer went broke in Lima and this guy bought up stock of parts and is trying to get dealership. With import fees buying a Harley (or any big bike) is expensive. They pay about twice as much as in US. With wages much below US, only the wealthy have big bikes.

Moto in lobby.

From Lima I traveled up Pan-American Hwy. This area gives new meaning to 'dry'. I asked how much it rained, answer 'we get a few drops every five to ten years'. Many huts were of woven bamboo. Most of the places I stopped to eat had roofs made of the same woven bamboo mats. The only places that had populations and farming were where they could get irrigation from rivers coming down from the mountains.

I stopped at Chan Chan, was the largest pre-Columbian city in South America. It was defeated by the Inca only 30 years before the Spanish ran them out. They have been digging out what is left, 10 hectares of the original forty. Everything was made of mud bricks but with little or no rain much has survived.

Chan Chan, Peru.

There were two crossings into Ecuador, one by the sea and the other in the mountains. It was hot, I went for the mountains. Have also been told that others have had problems crossing down by the ocean. The crossing at Sozoranga was easy except for needing to wait for an hour for them to fix the dish system and get computer to work.

Got a room for the night at Grande Hostel, $7.00. Then went to find Internet to check email. As I am walking down the street around the corner came two motorcycles, one a 650 KLR and the other an old Harley. It was a 1943 45inch flat head. Originally a military bike left in Holland after the war. Yon had it shipped to the US and ridden across the country and up to Alaska. When his three month leave was up he talked employer into another three months and when that was up they would not give him more time off so he quit. Been on the road for 14 month now and plans on going south into Chile then over to Argentina and back north through Brazil. He is an economist and said all he ever did was work and study then his girl friend left him so he decided he needed a vacation and is doing a good job of it. He wanted to go back up to Colombia before he ships home, seems he met a girl there that he wanted to see again. There seems to be several travelers that have got stuck in Colombia due to the beautiful women.

Waiting for road works, Ecuador.

Someday Ecuador will have some great roads, because every road in the country seems to be under construction. (or maybe just the ones I pick) This made travel slow. I left Riobamba at 8:00 headed to capital, Quito, on a great 4 lane road and figured I would be there by 10:00 where I could find some place to get laundry done (bag kind of smelled a bit). It was not meant to be, more road construction with one lane dirt, mud, rock detour route which lead into a city with no signs of which way to go. It was a long time before I made it out of city and back to the road, 2:30 to Quito."

Ed. See Robert's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Simon Fitzpatrick, UK, Americas, in Nicaragua and Panama,

"So! Nicaragua. So far, there's a huge lake with two huge volcanoes sticking out of it. The border with Costa Rica is a bit tedious (shocker!) but, once again, I'm fumigated, insured, Visa-ed up and legal as a beagle. Excellent roads around the lake to Rivas, where I'm shown two $10 hotel rooms, either of which I'd be more than happy to commit suicide in, so, heh, no thanks, amigo. Hello, instead, to the cripplingly dear Nicarao Hotel. I'm aware at reception that my motorcycling trousers have been washed only the once in a year (I know - but it's a terrific pain to get the armour out) but they let me in anyway, and it turns out at 7pm that their nice bar sells the local brew (Victoria - 4.9%) at a frighteningly reasonable one dollar, so really, who's counting?

Lake Managua, Nicaragua.

Lake Managua, Nicaragua

Note to fellow north bounders: They will not accept a shit copy of your driving licence at the Nic border, and if you can't lay your hands on the original, the fine's $100.

...There's nothing not to love about Nicaragua. I want to pick it up in my lovin' arms, clutch it to my pigeon chest and squeeze the Bejayzus out of it with the force of my somewhat unhealthy love. It has everything Costa Rica has, but it's half the price because it's not swamped with tourists.

Leon is probably the most Sandinista-friendly town in Nicaragua, and it's a bloody gem. Let's get to it - beers are one dollar. Victoria is not so good, but Toña may be one of Latin America's best. However, the surprise winner of 2009's glittering 'Best Drink In Latin America' pageant is - Nicaraguan Iced Tea! It's literally impossible to have only the one. It's so dreamy I dream about it. You could - I imagine - add premium vodka to it without affecting the taste and actually improve it. Nicaragua mi amor! And smokes are less than a quid...

... I bowl through Panama at a reasonable lick, conscious of my ferociously dodgy documents and keen on the idea of a beach 'holiday' in Costa Rica. The border formalities are lengthy but straightforward, and include getting fumigated on the Costa Rica side. The indignity! I do have a shower now and then you know. Daily, where appropriate. (It's actually Her Ladyship rather than me that gets de-loused, but it still rankles.) By the end, for the first time since Argentina, I'm 100% legal; proper import certificate, insurance, fumigation cert. and a 90 day visa. It's a great feeling, and I find myself willing the roadside cops to stop me so I can show off my paperwork. (Later on they do, and they're quite terse about it, obviously refusing to see the whole documents thing as a bit of a game, so - phew! etc.)

Brian and Sandra

Brian and Sandra Robinson

An hour or so up the Pacific Coast, I meet Brian and Sandra. Funny folks on GB plates! It's a treat to hear their tales over a hastily-scoffed omelette, as they're doing the same trip as me but the other way round. They tell me that they got deluged with interested bystanders in the US - every petrol stop, every food stop - to the point where they were thinking 'please don't ask me anything' as another gas-station lurker decided to make his way over, usually just as they'd got their sweaty bike duds back on and the key was in the ignition. Good luck fellas!

... Up the coast a bit more and I fetch up in Matapalo, where USA Charlie gives me half a house, 30 yards from the beach, for 20 bucks a night. Five nights in near-Paradise (i.e. no telly) follow. On night three I promise to marry a barmaid at 10am the next day. She's unfazed when I turn up the next night with the excuse that I forgot. Matapalo! Brilliant.

Stahlratte boat from Colombia to Panama.

The Stahlratte

There is no better way to get from Colombia to Panama than on the 103 year old Stahlratte - the Steel Rat. (I haven't been on any of the others; but the force of my argument is actually enhanced by my iron resolve, which remains firm in the face of my total ignorance of the other options.) Especially if you find out at the last minute that Adam and Neil, my Bogota booze buddies, are on the same boat. There are several very good things about the Stahlratte. It's big - plenty of space for both motorbikes and humans; there's a lot of extremely good food (if you're sailing from Colombia it's easily the best breakfast you'll have had recently) and, while the ship carries all the lager a man could want, Captain Ludwig suggests you stock up at the supermarket (from where giggling Colombian dolly-birds will push your straining trolley to the jetty), to save yourself some cash.

Oh Balboa! To understand quite how good this 4.8%, moreish Panamanian brew can be, you should:

a) spend 4 days tossing on the Caribbean, performing acts of borderline self-harm with a quite extraordinary quantity of weak Colombian lager and cheap rum (selected because 'the label looks quite piratey')

b) check into a nice Panama City hotel and spend a further 5 days drinking ice water, coffee and Coca Cola, woefully trying to imagine the day you'll ever be able to eat lobster again, or even look at one without retching. (Half a lobster is nice. One lobster is a treat. Six and a half is only a good idea at the time)."

Ed. See lots of pics and very funny stories on Simon's blog here on Horizons Unlimited! Warning, some profanity!

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Obadiah Mazo, USA, New York to Argentina, in Central America,

"So it's a crystal clear cool jungle river, and the waterfall is from a hot spring that comes out of the ground a bit up the hill. So you swim in the cool water, and the hot waterfall cascades down, and to top it off there's a cave under the waterfall that acts like a natural sauna from the hot water falling over it. It's like something out of a Disney Resort. I kept thinking I should climb up above to see the pumps and heaters, but I didn't want to ruin it.

Jeff in paradise!

Jeff in paradise!

Hands down one of the 5 most amazing places I have ever been. Nature beats Disney's ass every time. We even managed to sleep on the beach, which was fairly silly, as we had paid for a cabana, and the mosquitoes were so hellish that I couldn't sleep, but everyone said you weren't allowed to, and we did. Also saw a failed drug deal on the beach, in between slapping at mosquitoes. Some guy on a motorcycle drove down onto the beach through our cabana place, the police must have known he was coming, cause they flipped the lights of their truck on him, he took off like a bat outta hell, and they took off after him. Exciting! Then it was back to slapping at mosquitoes and wishing it would get light already.

Tulum was also the motorcycle adventurer capital of the world, we could barely drive down the street without running into some other dirty bearded guys on big bikes with big boxes. Polite motorcycle custom says you must beep at each other, stop at a convenient place, shake hands, ask how each brand and model of bike is doing, ask about all mods to the bikes, ask where everyone came from, and where everyone is going, and how long it's taking them, etc. It's a bit like a big circle of dogs sniffing each other's bums, now that I think of it. People going north, south, stuck in Mexico, you name it. Went from feeling like a celebrity in small Mexican towns to feeling like a nobody in a sea of bikes… humbling, I guess.

Beach bums in Mexico.

Beach bums in Mexico

Not to speak badly about the countries that we are passing through, and I understand that lots of people who work in the governments of said countries have cousins who need jobs, but I don't think that giving every unemployed family member an official looking badge, an important looking stamp and inkpad, and making it necessary for everyone who passes through the border to get the stamp on some document (or sometimes just on a scrap of blank paper) is going to fix the inherent economic problems in Latin America.

My favorite was the border guard in Honduras, after we had done everything, made at least 20 copies of various forms etc. (they also put everything into a computer, so god knows what all the paper copies were for) and drove up to him, the last checkpoint before entering Honduras. He gleefully asked for yet another set of copies of all our documents, smiled as he sent us back 300 yards to the border to get them copied again, smiled as he accepted them, threw them in a large cardboard bin without looking at them, and told us that we would need to make another set to leave Honduras. This was not true, we found out later.

I suspect that someone at the Xerox company has some major weight here in Latin America.

And this was an easy one - only 4,000 copies of my documents required!

And this was an easy one - only 4,000 copies of my documents required!

Hands down, the worst border was crossing from Costa Rica into Panama. It wasn't full of 'helpers' like other borders, nor were the officials corrupt and trying to overcharge us. But for some reason, they only had one window on the Costa Rica side for all incoming and outgoing vehicles, and the very polite, though horrifically overworked man at the window had to fill out like 5 pages of forms for each vehicle. So the line was huge, and it took him a full 10 minutes to take care of each person.

Anyway, we get to the window, discover that all the umpteen people who checked our paperwork at the entry to Costa Rica forgot to give us some form... so then we had to wait an extra hour for the overworked guy to figure out that the form had the same information as another form that we did have, and process us.

Worst Border Crossing. Ever. And we only waited 4 hours! And we got out faster than most!

Worst Border Crossing. Ever. And we only waited 4 hours! And we got out faster than most!

Thinking we were done, we crossed to the Panama side to enter, where we had to chase down all these other people for various stamps on various pieces of paper, including more scraps of paper that people would stamp, give to the next person, who would sign, and then the next person would demand the scrap, and start a new scrap. I'm amazed they can keep it straight. No one had uniforms on, and no one was in their offices, so you had to hang around until someone walked by and accost them, hoping they were official. I asked at least 3 bathroom attendants for customs stamps! I did see that it wasn't just rigmarole for tourists, as all the truckers had to do all the same steps. We got through in 4 hours, apparently that's on the faster side. A Panamanian guy told us it took him 6 hours to get his Harley through the other day!

Leaving the boat in Cartagena.

Leaving the boat in Cartagena

Is there a lesson to be learned? Bureaucracy doesn't work but it keeps people employed? Costa Ricans and Panamanians don't like each other? Beats me but now I carry 20 copies of each of my documents at all times, you never know..."

Robin Hunt-Davis - Cape 2 Cairo, in Mozambique, BMW 650 Dakar,

"What a day! Left early for the border (which consisted of a hut in the middle of nowhere) before proceeding to the Rio Rovuma River which separates Tanzania and Mozambique. The car ferry sank some years ago and has not been replaced. I negotiated for a local boat (if it could be called that) to transport the bike and myself across. After much haggling I agreed a price of US$40. En route we saw hippos, some large crocodiles and a solitary elephant.

River boat crossing in Mozmbique.

However once we had crossed and my luggage but not the bike was unloaded. I was told that the quoted price was for loading the bike and the trip across, not for the unloading of the bike.

I explained that I had no more money at which stage I was told that the boat would return to Tanzania with the bike. In desperation I told the 'boat fixer' that I would then give my US$40 to one of the Mozambican soldiers who were armed with an AK47 to stop them from leaving. Sense prevailed and the bike was rapidly offloaded.

River boat crossing in Mozambique.

With some trepidation I then left the river to follow a dirt track that was marked on my GPS to the nearest town 120 km away through thick sand and bush. Needless to say I fell several times although at slow speeds. At times I was not sure that I would make it in one day. The challenge after falling was picking up the bike. This entailed removing the entire luggage first.

After about 15 km I found the Mozambique Border Post, another mud hut. This was the slowest and most frustrating border crossing yet as I was asked by 3 separate 'officials' to unpack my luggage. They were looking for an excuse to find a 'problem' that could only be fixed with money changing hands. In the end it cost me 40 metricals, about R15.

Two days later after the worst roads to date I arrived in Pemba a well known town for diving.

It is interesting to note that there is a large amount of oil exploration going on, on both sides of the border. The geologists believe that there is a large basin under the Rio Rovuma. To date they have found commercially viable gas reserves. If so it will be interesting as there is currently a border dispute as to where the border actually is that goes back to colonial times.

Charcoal from forests, Mozambique.

From Pemba the roads have gotten slowly better with only the occasional potholes and the traffic is starting to increase. Sadly the road is lined with huts with the locals all burning the forest to make charcoal and clear plots of land.

There appears to be no control. Also there are frequently beautiful hand sawn hardwood planks for sale. In a few decades it will all probably be semi desert. Since leaving the river I have seen no animals other than goats. The only exception a beautiful baby baboon that a garage owner had as a pet."

Baby baboon in Mozambique.

Ed. See Robin's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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up to top of pagespacerBooks

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker

From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!

Red Tape and White Knuckles: One Woman's Motorcycle Adventure Through Africa

Lois' new adventures in Africa!

"Alone. No support vehicles, no fancy GPS and no satellite phone. Leaving from London, finishing in Cape Town - and the small matter of tackling the Sahara, war-torn Angola and the Congo Basin along the way - this feisty independent woman's grand trek through the Dark Continent of Africa is the definitive motorcycling adventure." Get it here!

Distant Suns, by Sam Manicom

Adventure in the vastness of Africa and South America

"Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America in an action-packed three year voyage of discovery... a thought-provoking mix of scrapes and encounters with people which illuminate some moments of true darkness... acute observations on everything from human behaviour, to remote and stunning locations. Distant Suns grabs you, enthrals you and spits you out as a convert to the dream of overlanding these amazing continents." Buy direct from Sam here!

Adventure Motorbiking Handbook.

Adventure Motorcycling Handbook, by Chris Scott

Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle.

Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle. Werner, 66, was born in Germany and worked in Canada until his retirement. He has authored a number of books since getting bit by the motorcycle travel bug, including

-8 Around the Americas by Motorcycle,
-Into the Den of the Bear and the Lair of the Dragon on a Motorcycle
, and
-Africa Against the Clock on a Motorcycle
All his books are available directly from Werner. Tell him we sent you and get US$5.00 off the regular US$20 price!

For details on his books see here.

video cover picture

The Producers of Mondo Enduro present Terra Circa, Around the World by Motorcycle (6 x 20 minute episodes).

Regular readers of this newsletter will remember Terra Circa's adventures around the world, and especially the Zilov Gap. Now's your chance to see it in video. Austin Vince is a very funny guy and the video is hilarious, as he leads his intrepid crew through misadventure after misadventure.

"This is adventure motorcycling" says Chris Scott, who wrote the book, so he ought to know!

Contact Aimimage for the PAL video or all format DVD. Don't forget to tell them you heard about it on HU, we'll make a bit, and it won't cost you any more.

Looking for a travel book for someone special?

Go to our Books pages, where we have listed some of the best motorcycle travel books, as well as a number of BMW books, general motorcycle books, and travel guides.

There's links to Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, and Amazon Deutschland, so no matter where you are - you can order books at great prices, and we'll make a dollar or a pound or a Euro, which goes a very little way to supporting this e-zine.

There's also links to search Amazon sites for all their products, books, CDs etc., and yes, we get a tiny piece of that too. We really appreciate it when you start your book search from our website. Thanks for the support!

NOTE: If you buy a book starting with one of our links below, we get a little bit to help support the website!

buy from Amazon USA buy from Amazon Deutschland Shop at Amazon Canada

Book suggestions please!

If you have a book or want a book that you think other travellers would be interested in please let me know and I'll put it on the site. Thanks, Grant

Help support your favourite website! Here's how!

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ISSN 1703-1397 Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' E-zine - Copyright 1999-2009, Horizons Unlimited and Grant and Susan Johnson. All rights reserved.

Redistribution - sending it on to friends is allowed, indeed encouraged, but other than the following requirements, only with permission. You may forward copies of the Horizons Unlimited Motorcycle Travellers' e-zine by forwarding it yourself by hand. You must forward the issue in its entirety, no fee may be involved. Please suggest they Subscribe!

Legal gibberish: (particularly for those in countries that have more lawyers in one town, just for instance, New York, not to name any names, than some whole countries, as another example, Japan. Again, not naming anybody specifically you understand) Recommendations are based on positive or negative experiences of somebody, somewhere. Your mileage (kilometrage if you insist) may vary. We are not responsible in any way for any product or service mentioned, and do not warrant any such mentioned product or service, and are not responsible for any bad things that may befall you. You are responsible for yourself! Act accordingly. We check all links and information given as close as possible to publication, and all info is correct as best we can determine at that time.


Motorcycle Rental, hiring Honda's Transalp for touring Argentina and Chile. Ride across the Andes, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific, lakes, deserts, salt pans, waterfalls, beaches, rain forests, glaciers...

Motocare Argentina

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker.

Motorcycle Therapy, by Jeremy Kroeker

From the Canadian Rockies to the Panamanian Jungle, Motorcycle Therapy rumbles with comic adventure as two men, fleeing failed relationships, test the limits of their motorcycles and their friendship. Get it here!

Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD1 - Get Ready!

Get the Achievable Dream DVD's NOW and learn how YOU can hit the road!

Achievable Dream DVD series - The Motorcycle Adventure Travel Guide - DVD4 - Ladies on the Loose! Get it now!

up to top of pagespacerShorts...

Joel and Hannah Burdall, UK to Capetown, Honda CG,

"...In between those two end points, the little Honda faced things a geriatric pizza bike should never have to be put through: sun washed and dust packed deserts, equatorial downpours, talcum fine sand, washboard corrugations, cracked up crazy paving concrete like broken ice on a puddle, rocks the shape and size of razor edged rugby balls, rubble roads to nowhere far more rubble than road, stream crossings deep enough to flood the engine, and fiery wastes hot enough to boil the oil. -5 degrees in England, to 55 degrees in Sudan, 600km autobahn days to 60km hub deep sand days, and everything in between. The CG has taken it all in its stride, succeeded and survived where many modern and expensive bikes have failed.

It deserves to be put in a museum after all it has been through.

Wide open desert in Egypt.

Wide open desert of Egypt

Instead, we want to take her from Alaska to Argentina.

Bottled water and skewer.

Birdy, bottled water and skewer of something tasty!

Time and time again on the road, we have met people, locals and foreigners, who have been amazed that a 27 year old commuter can 'do' Africa. More photos have been taken of us than Posh Spice; we have been celebrities everywhere we have been. We have arrived at places we had never heard of, and been greeted on first name terms by people who know us simply through gob smacked word of mouth. Without any initial intention to, we have inadvertently been a hugely positive advert for Honda, and the reliability of the marques. My forthcoming book, tentatively titled 'Bandits and Bad Roads,' can only reinforce this."

Albert Sollini, UK, North to South America, in Mexico,

"I left San Felipe and rode across Baja California to Ensenada on the Pacific coast across a good mountain road, with the temperature dropping to 9 degrees C. The road from Ensenada goes inland for a while before following the coast to El Rosario, where I stopped for the night and met Mark a fellow Englishman, riding a BMW GS 1200, on the same route as me. We decided to ride together to La Paz. The next day we rode to Bahia D'Los Angeles on the East coast of Baja and 66 KM of the main Ruta 1 we had been following. We stayed at a beach front hotel with an amazing colonial lobby area.

The following day we rode south through Guerrero Negro which is in the state of Baja California Sur, across a landscape of huge boulders and cacti, which rapidly changed to a lush green mountain landscape. The greenness was a result of a hurricane and flood that happened at the beginning of September. The other immediate effect of the hurricane was the road would suddenly be gravel from where the tarmac had been washed away. We stopped at San Ignacio, a small village with a tree lined square dominated by large church. Our accommodation was a yurt on a riverside B&B owned by a Canadian couple who showed us the devastation left by the floods with the water mark at 4 feet deep and a Yurt that had been uprooted complete with its concrete base."

Ed. See Albert's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Hubert Kriegel, France, Sidecar-ing the world, in Siberia,

"I left Irbit for Mongolia, I have 2500 miles of the Trans Siberian highway to ride before November 30 due to my visa.

Siberia looks very cold!

My thought always came back to the same thing 'Winter is good, I am riding Siberia!'

Siberian road in winter.

Mile 1150 - The locals have a sinister look but they were very nice.

Siberian locals.

All the big cities in Siberia are rich. Kemerovo is a mine city.

Kemerovo, Siberia.

I am doing very well, I did 1875 miles. I had a hard time to get the momentum because the conditions were changing every day. I went from light snow to sludge to heavy snow and now the thermometer is at 0ºF. The road is very icy. Irkutsk at Lake Baikal is in 400 miles. I will stay there for a few days to investigate sidecar-ing the lake Baikal in February with Giorgio and his friends."

Ed. Check out Hubert's website for lots of great pics and a video made by his daughter!

Jeff Smith, USA, writes to the HU San Cristobal community,

"Hi, I am currently in San Cristobal taking a Spanish class. I'll be here until the 28th. You can read about my travels here. Would enjoy meeting you for a drink some evening."

Archie Taylor, UK, to West Africa, in Segou, Mali and beyond, Honda Transalp,

"I hit Bobo just as a tropical storm exploded not being able to get a street map out in the rain I shot into the first hotel I saw. It was the most expensive 60 yes 60 Euros a night and they even gave me the shits next day after an expensive meal.

I was forced to stay a 2nd night as being away from the toilet was not possible. I then moved to a cheap backpacker hotel for a day, there being no other guests I headed for; wait for it Quagadougou pronounced wag a do gou what a name better than derby eh. Oh by the way what was Bobo like Ok I headed back there after Quaga.

People may wonder what west Africa is like. Well in the northern part it's savanna, mile after mile the same. A few days ago I took a pic of the road and surroundings the same after another 50 and so on for 300 miles. Looking at the pics later you would have thought they were a mile of each other.

You pass through small very very poor villages and every 100 miles or so a small town that looks like a rubbish tip. I must say the people are always very friendly.

On a bike you often feel and are on your own. Other bikers I've met all feel the same, we all dread punctures on tubed tyres."

Ed. Follow Archie's African adventures in his blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

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Free Manual which will help you anticipate, repair and prevent the most common motorcycle breakdowns on long distance tours.

Johan and Charmaine Claassens, South Africa, RTW, in Australia,

"We arrived in Melbourne in August with high expectations and wanted to travel around the country before settling down somewhere. It was decided that Charmaine would ride her own bike here, so we bought her a second-hand Suzuki DR200. I fabricated a carrier and brackets for saddle bags, so she can carry some luggage when necessary. The DR is a small bike with a big heart. It will slow our pace down a bit, but not by that much, as the speed limit down here is slow anyway and we are passed the stage of racing through places.

We entered the country with new residents' visas that got issued after a two year application process (it is a long story). As new residents, we had to register for a few things first and get the local Driving License. We had three months to do this. The car driving license was a challenge, and I even failed my first test, Charmaine was the better driver and passed it first time (another long story). The motorcycle licence was fun and easy; we both did well and got it without problems. The problem with these registrations and licenses is that everything cost $$$. Then the GS arrived, and we were soon reminded and introduced to the cons of a First World Country, it's expensive! Because we intend to keep the GS for more than 12 months in the country, we had to import and registered it locally. This process sucked about $4,500 (US$4000) out of our travel budget, and was the final nail on the coffin for our Australian Travel plans. At this stage we regretted buying the DR for Charmaine, but the deed was done and she likes her new mode of transport. The good thing about our visa is that we can work and stay anywhere in the country, so we started to look for work. It proved to be tougher than what we expected.

Charmaine's new bike!

Charmaine's new bike!

We have done some travelling in Victoria to job interviews, but not the exciting kind of travelling that you would want to read about. Victorian scenery is lovely and there is plenty of nice motorcycle riding roads. People are friendly and helpful. We saw some amazing animals in the wild; some species I never knew existed, like the Wombat and the Echidna. The Echidna is one of only two known mammals that lay eggs, and the Wombat is the type of creature you just want to hug, it is so cute. Yes, and of course we saw some kangaroos, grazing next to the road. Many of the birds down here are colourful and the variety in bird species is great.

After one month of seriously searching for various kinds of jobs a good offer came our way and we have made up our minds, we are going to Perth! It could not have come on a better time, as we are almost completely out of money and will scrape some cents together to ride the 4000kms across the country to Perth. The nice thing about this ride will be the fact that there is a job and an income waiting for us that side, something to look forward to. This way we also get to see the southern part of the country, and Charmaine gets to ride her DR200 across the country.

So jc4ever will be on the road again soon, for the last leg of our RTW ride and we'll keep you informed."

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Annette Pearson, London, UK, in Brazil,

"I would love to live in a city like Rio. There are fresh fruit stalls on every corner. Great beaches, warm weather, bicycle paths, greenery everywhere and friendly people. All London has is the bicycle paths. Guastuav a friend of Bernados wrote out a list of things for me to see and eat on my last day. It was like following a treasure hunt with gems of food and drink. Plus the obese are listed up there with pregnant and old people for seats on buses and on the metro carriages are reserved for women during rush hour.

Bus sign, Rio de Janeiro.

Stairway in Rio.

I had heard that there was good diving just north of Rio so I took a bus and headed up to Cabo Frio. Cabo Frio has one of the whitest sand beaches I have seen, cold water and warm people. Thanks to Vitor and his family for letting me stay.

Cabo Frio, Brazil.

Cabo Frio, Brazil

Ready to dive.

Ready to dive!

Peixe is the Portuguese name for fish of which there is many in Arraial do Cabo due to a food stream that comes on the cold current. Usually the water is crystal clear but they have had a lot of wind so I wasn't so lucky but I still saw lots of fish and for the second dive asked that we stay at 3 meters so I could use my camera."

Ken and Carol Duval, Australia, on their second RTW, took a spill in Argentina,

"We are in Rosario de la Frontera north of Tucuman in Argentina. We had a front wheel flat that sent us cart wheeling down the road. Not a pretty sight. Fortunately we have nothing broken but are very sore and sorry. Our BMW bike clothing took the impact and (looks very second hand now), we only have a couple of fabric burns on the elbows and Ken a small gravel rash on his wrist. Looks like we won't be riding for a little while. Not sure how the bike is. Ken has gone to the police station to see the bike with a local man who was behind us when it happened and has been just wonderful. The hospital has said we have nothing broken and this local man and his family have taken us in until we are mobile.

We will also have to source some replacement gear, clothing, pannier etc. Must check the camera, I had it over my shoulder and it skidded down the road as well! Hugs and kisses to you and Grant from the sore and sorry Aussies. Carol and Ken"

Ed. Sorry to hear the news, but glad it wasn't more serious! See Carol and Ken's blog here on Horizons Unlimited - Carol promises they will get it updated soon!

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Malawi, Mozambique, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa - A truly memorable African Adventure!

David Radford, Canada, in the Alps, BMW R1200 GS Adventure,

"In the mountains you can really see the freeze line when it's raining/snowing. And when it's getting colder, the same area gets whiter in the few minutes it takes to take a corner and pass by. So, with the freeze line rushing down quite quickly, it wasn't very surprising when my pass of choice ended up being closed by the time I got there. So, with passes closed and highway option less than appealing what is one to do? Take the train of course!

Take the train.

With all the wonderful views in The Alps why would I take this picture and post it? Movie buffs should know.

Great Saint Bernard Pass road.

This is the bridge from the opening scene of the original Italian Job. As far as I'm concerned a fantastic movie and the best opening sequence ever filmed.

The road itself leads to the Great St. Bernard Pass and one heck of a great stretch of tarmac. Going up from the Italian side is fairly straight forward with a few switchbacks, but mostly just tight, fast corners. When you hit the pass you ride along a lake, through a hospice founded in 1049, and then into the fun part. Going down into Switzerland the road never gives you a moment's rest - corners almost magically change direction and angle midway through, straight bits turn out to have curves hidden in the dips, and oncoming traffic seems to be laying in wait around every blind corner. Despite this, it's almost impossible not to speed a bit (sorry mom & dad)- it all works together to draw you in and push you to try and carry just a little bit more speed, brake just a little later, and accelerate just a little earlier as you pass through each corner. It's a short run, but a poster child for 'good things come in small packages'."

Dave Petersen, USA, RTW, in Cambodia, BMW F650,

"The bike and I are in Cambodia now finalizing paperwork for our ride into Vietnam. During the past year we have ridden through Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia."

Darius and Jane Skrzypiec, RTW 2008-2011, in Turkey, Africa Twin,

"Leaving Georgia is as easy as coming in. On the Turkish side the situation is rather different. Darius, as the driver, has to ride through the check post; Jane has to join the queue for passengers. With hundreds of Georgians crossing the border, Jane has to be patient...

Welcome to Turkey.

Big Georgian Mamas are pushing severely and even more patience has to be applied as the Immigration officer hasn't got a clue about Jane's Passport and the Turkish visa. Same confusion awaits me when I'm finally arriving at the Immigration desk for drivers. Luckily, I'm shown where the back door is... That's the place you want to slide the passport in one of the officers hands (I pretended that I didn't know the drill and didn't fold in some Euros...) and get it back within minutes.

Library of Celsus, Turkey.

Library of Celsus, Turkey

Few more checking of our passports and some questions about our green card insurance followed by some more checking of our passports before we're finally free to go."

Ed. Not many words but lots of pics on Darius and Jane's trip in their blog here on Horizons Unlimited.

MedjetAssist is an air medical evacuation and consultation membership program and is HIGHLY recommended by us and many others for all travellers. The regular MedjetAssist program is for citizens or residents of the US, Mexico and Canada, and gives hospital of choice protection virtually anywhere in the world and air evacuation as needed. (See below for more on the Foreign National Plan) Click the logo below for US, Mexico and Canada citizens to find out more. (NOTE: It's still in progress for the final HU version, but you can get MedjetAssist now!)

Get MedjetAssist for your next trip!

For OTHER nationalities it is currently a little more complicated. There IS a Foreign National Plan, but you can't enroll online. It's a faxable enrolment and subject to underwriting approval. The rates are the same, but transport is restricted to 'back to home country - hospital of choice' rather than 'anywhere in the world - hospital of choice'. We are working on improving that, but at least it IS available! Go here to contact MedjetAssist and inquire about the Foreign National Plan. Be sure to mention Horizons Unlimited.

Michael Paull adds his endorsement of MedJet (and he DID use their services - twice!):

"...After an additional three days in Beijing, I was deemed stable enough for air evacuation back to the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, WA, in the company of my wife Aillene (who had flown in from Japan), and an air transport trauma nurse provided by the company that I had procured medical evacuation insurance from, MEDJET Assistance - without doubt, the best insurance coverage I have ever purchased in my life. A small plug here - these people were remarkable... If there was ever a better case for '...don't leave home without it.', MEDJET Assistance is at the top of my checklist, no matter where I travel (and I hope to do a LOT more)."

Note: Per the Medjet Assistance site: "...a medical transport between Europe and America can run more than $35,000. Middle East and South American flights range from $60,000 to $80,000. Transport from Asia often exceeds $100,000." Sounds like $205.00 for a single is pretty cheap insurance!

Gert and Liesbeth Stevens of Antwerp, Belgium, writes to the HU Tabriz Community,

"We're a Belgian couple, Gert en Liesbeth. We are riding a Suzuki v-strom from Belgium to Nepal. We're now in Van but in about 10 days we'll be in Tabriz. We are really looking forward to visiting Iran. We do have some questions about where to go. What should we visit in Tabriz and around? What is a good way to go to the east of Iran, if we don't want to go to Teheran? Are there interesting sights in the south and west of Iran? Thank you for your help! If you like, maybe we can meet for tea? Hope to hear from you, Gert and Liesbeth"

Frank Butler, Papua New Guinea, RTW, in Colombia,

"I am in Cartagena, an old historic Spanish style town in Colombia in the north of South America, on the Caribbean coast. The reason I mention this is because it is about ten degrees north of the equator and as such it has a whole lot of weather. At the moment it is raining as it only can in the tropics I was out on the bike in town and got caught coming back, even the insides of my ears were wet. Soon the rain will stop and the humidity will go up to about ninety percent, which is only a few degrees less than you would find in a sauna.

I am making plans to meet the Dakar Rally in northern Chile in the New Year and will probably do some diving work here as I need a lot of pounds to do an engine rebuild on the bike."

Ken Thomas, UK to Cape Town, in Turkey, Yamaha TTR,

"We are now in Dalyan on the south coast, camped right opposite the Lycian 'Tombs of the Kings' rock carvings of Kaunos.

Bike parked under campsite verandah. Rock carvings on opposite cliff face across the river.

Bike parked under the campsite verandah. Rock carvings on opposite cliff face across the river

It's a bit of a tourist trap, where we rest awhile. For a week, for family visits. At least, amongst the end-to-end tourist restaurants with their incessant touts, we have found an excellent Turkish pide house in a corner of the main square. And Café Betus (Betty's Café), a house next to the campsite where Betty serves some excellent Turkish dinners in her front garden.

As well as the Lycian ruins, Dalyan is known for nearby Iztuzu beach. Famously and strictly protected as a breeding place for Loggerhead Turtles. There's a spectacular dirt road up to a spectacular view of the whole area at the top of Bozburun Hill."

Ed. Follow the adventure at Ken's blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

Distant Suns

by Sam Manicom
Distant Suns by Sam Manicom.

Sam Manicom's dynamic third book transports you to Southern Africa, South and Central America in an action-packed three year voyage of discovery... a thought-provoking mix of scrapes and encounters with people which illuminate some moments of true darkness... acute observations on everything from human behaviour, to remote and stunning locations. Distant Suns grabs you, enthrals you and spits you out as a convert to the dream of overlanding these amazing continents.'


"It's been a pleasure to read as it makes me feel as if I'm there seeing the people and landscape that Sam describes. He has a gift for painting pictures with words, which is rare amongst long-distance riders… In summary, a damn good read, not to be missed." Dave - BMW Club Journal

"…as the book progressed and the story unravelled, it developed into a truly involving and enthralling read. Distant Suns doesn't just document the journey, Sam also describes cultural differences, traditions and lifestyles of the various countries they cross, whilst painting a vivid picture of the terrain they cross… A really great read that'll doubtless give you itchy feet…" TBM - Trail Bike Magazine

"Distant Suns' is based on what Sam acknowledges are Birgit's wonderfully descriptive diaries. The result is a strangely powerful combination of Sam's already masterful writing with the added perspectives of a travelling companion who is both in-tune and adding a different melody line to the rhythm of their journey together." Nich Brown - The Road Magazine

Signed copies available directly from the Author here.
Order your copy now!

Alexandros Papadopoulos, UK to India, in Turkey,

"What a week. Back in Ankara, after seeing the good doctor off (sniff) and suffering my first (partial) data loss due to a crashed Internet cafe PC. But let's try to put things in order.

Cappadocia Cave Houses.

Cappadocia Cave Houses

This week was meant to be spent with Ping-Yi doing some classic tourism in Cappadocia and not moving about too much as she's not stocked up on protective equipment for the bike through the years like I have, and we didn't want to take any chances.

Cappadocia Fairy Chimney.

Cappadocia Fairy Chimney

So we spent five days in Goreme, the center of Cappadocia's tourist attractions (the ill-translated 'fairy chimneys') doing some sightseeing."

Ed. See Alexandros' blog here on Horizons Unlimited!

David Allen, UK, RTW, writes to the HU Bogota Community,

"Hi. I am on a round the world trip and currently in San Cristobal, Mexico. Tomorrow I depart for Guatemala and then ride south. I intend to fly the bike from Panama to Bogota. Could you please advise me about hotels where I can safely park and work on my bike and also the best route south to Quito. Thanks for your time and help.
Regards David"

Frank Butler writes to the HU Quito Community on behalf of Julie Rabbits,

"Hi Guys, it's Frank Butler here, a couple I met on the boat from Panama to Colombia are broken down in Peru and have asked if I can get a bearing here and bring it to them they have a BMW 1150 GS, the drive shaft crown bearing has collapsed... where will I find a new one... see below Best regards... Frank"

Original correspondence below...

"Julie, Sorry to hear of your plight, I will do anything that needs to be done to help. I am still in Quito, so send the bearing number and dimensions and I will find it for you. There is a good bunch of Biker boys here in Quito, I am sure they will help. When I get it, I will run it straight down to you. Enjoy the down time, as a friend of mine says... the Interruptions are the journey. Regards to the ol'man. Suerte... Frank"

From: Julie Rabbits To: Frank Sent: November 21, 2009

"We are stuck at present, on a bus to Lima tomorrow night after 8 days here in Trujillo with Customs not letting our rear crown bearing spare from the US enter the country. Reason being they don't have us registered in the Peru national database as they have not entered us yet from the border... Long story short... Fedex is useless... lying, and no good at all with helping us so we have taken matters in our own hands and hope to have it fixed Monday if we are lucky... we don't have much hope but we'll see. The bad roads in Ecuador have killed the bearing unfortunately - totally - so we are stranded at this stage.

Are you anywhere near or heading near this way over the next few weeks... The only thing we can think is if we give you part numbers maybe there is a bearing and seal in Quito. Anyway - just a thought - hopefully we will get things sorted but there are no bearings in Peru of the type we need - we have had 3 people looking with no luck."

Ed. We don't know Julie, so have no contact details for her, but if anyone can help please get in touch with Frank via the e-mail link above.

Overland to India

Overland to India book by Gordon May

by Gordon May

Paperback, 21x14.8 cm 234 pages incl 8 pages of colour photographs. £9.95.


In 2008, Gordon May set off on an 8,400 mile ride from Manchester, UK, to Chennai, India, on his 1953 Royal Enfield. Despite encountering intense heat, suffering a crash in the Baluchistan desert and battling against some of the worst roads and driving standards on the planet, Gordon and his old Bullet did make it to Chennai.

In Overland to India Gordon describes how he restored his beloved motorcycle, the build up to departure, the larger-than-life characters he met and how he tackled the many challenges that came his way. He also recounts the more personal highs and lows of life on the road. Above all, Overland To India is a heart-warming book that reveals that there is much human kindness and hospitality to be found, sometimes in the most unexpected places and situations.


What I really liked about Overland to India was the sheer determination of the rider. Gordon's love of his motorcycle shone through too; he often thanks it for getting him to his various destinations along the grueling route and I liked reading about his running repairs. I felt his joy, his euphoria, at being out on the open road. I also felt his exhaustion. When Gordon suffered a crash I could almost feel those bruises and also his fear following an attempted highway robbery. What was also really striking was the generosity, friendliness and humility of many of the people he met along the way, who Gordon describes with real warmth. It's uplifting to discover that it's a welcoming world out there. Overland to India is a lesson to all of us who have a dream and want to pursue it. Inspiring. Judith Coyle


Andreas Grossnick, Germany, in Brisbane, Australia,

"I am Andy from Germany and travelling on my Kawasaki KLR650 around OZ at the moment. I am pretty much open-minded and keen on getting to know 'locals' especially since I made some good experiences when I travelled in India, Nepal and Tibet 3 years ago.

Currently I am spending some time in Brisbane waiting for my doctor to see me because I fell off my bike and hit myself near Mt. Isa. I would enjoy to swap some bike travel tales with you in the meantime and it would be really great if you might have a couch for me to stay at night, since I had to leave my tent and all my luggage with my bike near Mt. Isa. I am looking forward to hear from you and hope you have a good time."

Ed. Andy is in Brisbane recovering from a fall and a broken collarbone and hoping to get back to his bike in Lawn Hill NP. Andy hopes someone in the Cairns community can help out.

Peter Ridley, Manchester, UK, writes to the HU Singapore Community,

"Hi, the wife and I are on a RTW tour on our XT600s. We will be in Singapore in about 10 days, we will be looking for a biker friendly hostel and we will need some workshop facilities as I need to service both bikes, I have my own tools and spares we just need somewhere that will let me work on the bikes, you can check us out. Any information gratefully accepted. Thanks in advance, Pete n Brucella"

Tomas Harrison, Santiago, Chile, writes to the HU Rome Community,

"Hello, I am from Chile and I am making a world trip in a Kawasaki KLR 650. I rode all the way from SAntiago de Chile to USA and then i ship the bike to Germany and now I am in Fiorenze, Italy. I started the trip the last december 6, so is a year on the road and 52.000 kms from Chile to here. I am planning to go to Rome in a couple of days, and my question is if somebody can tell me something about a good and cheap place to sleep. And would be great if i can met somebody from the community.
Cheers and see you on the road Thanks!"

Axel and Katharina Fickert, Germany, RTW, in California,

"...are in Hayward, California, looking for a place to do some work on the bike, also a referral for a campground around San Francisco. Now we are 1.5 years on the road and we want to go to Mexico soon. Thank you for your help. Axel and Katharina"

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up to top of pagespacerLeaving soon, or just left...

Torben Pijpers, The Netherlands, California to Patagonia, KLR 650,

"Brice, a Canadian friend that I also studied with in Korea, came over for a weekend in LA! So together we did a lot of typical tourist stuff, like visiting Santa Monica beach, checking out the nightlife and going to a baseball game. In LA, just about every person owns a car. Also, everyone goes everywhere by car, even for the shortest distances. We however, were driving around 2-up on my KLR 650. Brice is pretty big guy, so to be somewhat stable on the road Brice had to really move to the center of the bike. This was of course very awkward for both of us, and resulted in many funny looks from just about everyone else on the road. Especially during traffic light stops where we just avoided eye contact with people.

Torben leaving with bike.

... I did find out on that campground in the Valley that there are a lot of bears in the park (Yosemite). I didn't know about it before. I also saw a sign that said something like 'This year 200.000 USD in damage from 100 bear attacks.' (I forgot the exact numbers, but both were quite high).

I found out here that there are metal lockers everywhere in the camp in which everyone puts their food and other bear-attracting items (like deodorant, toothpaste, all of these can attract bears). The lockers are just a few meters from everyone's tent though, so I didn't really get why that would help. They could still smell it and after being frustrated about not being able to get to the food, they'd be right next to everyone's tent. Maybe bears don't eat people?"

Alisa Clickenger, USA, to South America, DR650,

"On October 31st, 2009, I leave Peacedale, RI, and will ride my motorcycle across the USA, through Mexico, Central America and South America. I plan on traveling approximately 6 months through two continents and 17 countries for the adventure motorcycle ride of a lifetime. My ride is a fundraiser for breast and ovarian cancer cures and is dedicated to all those who have been affected by these dreadful diseases.

I was honored and very privileged to be one of this summer's fundraisers in the 'Dirty Dozen' group, the 'Adventure for the Cure'. It was a great opportunity for me to take action and help the Women's Motorcyclist Foundation raise money for the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation and the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation.

As I was planning this current trip, I decided 'why not' make my South American journey trip a fundraising adventure as well. Certainly I am going to generate some press being a female rider, and I hope to bring valuable attention and fundraising monies to these worthy causes. Twisted Throttle (providers of high quality motorcycle adventure touring accessories) is sponsoring me with a motorcycle, and I am paying all my own travel expenses on this journey. Please know that when you donate to this cause, every single dollar goes straight to the folks that are researching cures."

Trale Bardell, USA, Ride to Aconcagua, DR650,

"This is the first entry for a tale which will hopefully reach from just outside Chicago, Illinois, to Mendoza, Argentina, and Aconcagua. I plan to take the most direct route through Mexico, Central America, and down the west coast of South America in order to get to Mendoza. I'll be keeping notes here regarding border crossings, experiences in countries along the way, and how conditions are for this type of transit. My hope is to get across into South America by the end of November, with the goal of reaching Mendoza before the beginning of the high season for park entry to Aconcagua.

At the moment I am at the US/Mexico border, staying in Edinburg, Tx. This proves to be a pretty reasonable town, with all the stores and supplies that you could need. I am waiting for sprockets for the 95 DR650 that is to be my method of transport through central and south america. The shop that I found, F&T valley motorsports, was able to overnight the parts, so I was happy about that.

Trale Bardell leaving home.

The forward plan is to get the sprockets and get across the border tomorrow, and make some distance before night fall. I've been told to be careful of shady people on the roads in Mexico, and Central America in general, and not to try to run after dark. I am interested to see just what the real situation is."

Ed. It's never as risky as people would have you believe, Trale. Just use your common sense and you'll be fine. But do try to avoid riding after dark! Follow Trale's story here on Horizons Unlimited!

Bill Atchison, Alberta, is leaving for Mexico,

"My wife Janine and I rode our motorcycle from Red Deer, Alberta to the Panama Canal and back last winter (2008-2009). We spent six months weaving our way through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Panama and Belize. It was simply fabulous. Last year we turned around at Panama City.

This winter, we planned on shipping the motorcycle by plane to Colombia and carrying on south, exploring South America. One of the requirements to ship the motorcycle by air to Colombia was to crate it. I was just beginning to work on a crate when, on September 1st, poor Janine cut her Achilles tendon helping me move the bike off of the crate platform.

Janine has not yet recovered from her Achilles tendon injury and it may be weeks or even a couple of months until she is comfortable enough to travel so... Last Friday, after six months of intensive planning, we decided to postpone our trip to South America until next year. Very disappointing, as I know you can relate to.

Bill and Janine Atchison.

However, the next day I lucked into a ride for my bike down to Nevada and will be flying down today to begin a ride into Mexico tomorrow. No plans other than starting with the Copper Canyon then touring around Mexico for a couple of months until Janine is able to travel. Hopefully she will then fly down to meet me somewhere."

Ed. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery for Janine so you two are reunited!

up to top of pagespacerHome again (temporarily) ...

Peter and Kay Forwood, Australia, around the world since 1996, 193 countries two-up on Harley Davidson, in Australia for the northern winter,

"Our old motorcycle gave us an array of problems as old motorcycles and even older people often will. The engine, after 540,000 km's, and after having visited every country in the world, carrying two people and a house load of luggage, I guess was just a bit tired, and the main engine bearing collapsed. It was kind enough to give us a couple of thousand kilometres of noisy warning during which time we ascertained it would take considerable time to repair, if indeed it was economically repairable. Luckily we found a near new replacement engine, and for the first time in the motorcycle's 15 years the engine was removed from its frame. Our old engine is now at the Thames Valley Harley dealer in London awaiting assessment as to whether it can be repaired or not. Harley-Davidson and Harley Owners Group have indicated a willingness to assist with these repairs. Meanwhile we have been travelling with the new engine the last couple of months, and it has now covered 13,000 km's.

On the 12th of October we became Grandparents. John our son and his wife Petria produced us a lovely grandson, a couple of weeks earlier than expected, but we are on our way home to Brisbane, Australia, on the 26th of October so won't have to wait too long to see him in the flesh, and with modern technology we have already received a few lovely photos over the internet.

Following Christmas in Brisbane we will be back in Europe next year, collecting our motorcycle from Thames Valley Harley in London, hopefully with our original, rebuilt engine installed, from where we will head south to Spain and Morocco for the worst of the northern winter. We plan at least another summer in the region, Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, and perhaps Central Asia and Russia. Perhaps we are still being a bit lazy after all the shipping in the Pacific, or all the bad roads and visa hassles of Africa, but we are still enjoying the easy riding of this region of the world. In the country areas, the mountains, and away from the congested cities there are still plenty of roads to explore, so there is currently no time to finish writing the book, and anyway, there are plenty of other motorcycle travelers books out there, probably much better written, for people to read.

As always we love hearing from you, perhaps meet up along the road, or ride together for a while, so if you have the time please drop us an email and let us know what is happening in your lives. Thanks, Peter and Kay"

Ed. Peter and Kay will be on the road again on 30 December 2009. Horizons Unlimited is proud to host Peter and Kay's complete RTW story and pictures here! Although they haven't finished their book yet, Peter and Kay have shared their stories with us on the new Achievable Dream DVD series. Considering how long they've been 'On the Road', we think they have a wealth of advice and tips to contribute, especially to the Part 3 DVD, scheduled for release next month.

Alastair Todd, Round the World, home again (temporarily),

"That's it, done it, finished, all over. 19,000 miles around the world by motorcycle in 147 days. OK, it's probably actually 146 if you account for the whole international date line thing, but technically I started a day early too, so 147 it is. Feels good to have accomplished a complete circumnavigation after all the effort that went into it, but I wish I was still going. There is something indescribably wonderful about stopping for a rest on a dirt road in the mountains, hundreds of miles from civilisation, with no-one else there, gazing around at a jaw-dropping view, knowing that you've come half way round the world and still have half to go, wondering where'll you be that night, who you're going to meet next, what drama is going to be thrown at you, and being at once as serene as a Buddhist monk yet as excited as a child. It has been a life-changing experience, in so many different ways.

UK license plate.

... A thousand thank you's go to the many incredible people who have helped me along the way. If any of you ever happen to be in this neck of the woods, be sure to look me up. There'll be a beer waiting for you! So, I hope to do something bigger and better, the sooner the better, but realistically in a couple of years."

Ed. The gorgeous world map sticker on Alastair's pannier is available here!

Support Horizons Unlimited - check out the HU Souk for jumpers / pullovers, mugs, steins, t-shirts, hats and other products with a variety of slogans!

Baby doll T-shirt - front.Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!Check out t-shirts and other goodies at the HU Souk. Support your favorite website!

Thanks! Grant and Susan

up to top of pagespacerWhatever Happened To...

Hame and Emma, last seen in Scotland with a second baby due any minute!

"We are all well here in Scotland, still really enjoying being home. It seems unbelievable that we've been back over a year... Hamish is working hard but still managing to get as much dirt bike riding in as he can (not enough, I'm sure) Sam is growing well and changing every day. He's now 10 and a bit months old, crawling and trying to climb on everything, babbling away and showing a somewhat stubborn and determined side when he wants something (hmmm, with parents like us, no surprises where he got that from!). He's loads of fun and it's wonderful watching him growing and changing. I'm well, busy being a mum and getting rounder again... for those of you who don't know, Hamish and I are expecting another baby in February - all very exciting!

Sam and Dad on the beach.

We finally bought a house so we're about to move - for the past year we've been renting a place. It's in a small fishing village 25 miles south of Aberdeen with a shop, a school, a chippy, and most importantly, a pub within staggering distance of the house. We're over the moon with the house, it's just what we were looking for. It also has a big garage which I guess was the main selling point for Hame! It's on the edge of the village right next to the sea, but unlike 'Rancho Relaxo' in Malaysia there are no palm trees and the water's ever so slightly colder...

View from Hame and Emma's new house.

View from the new house

The attached pictures are of us on a recent holiday to NW Scotland in the camper and one of the view from our new house. As always, visitors welcome! Love to everyone and hope to see you soon - Em, Hame, Sam and Bump XXXX"

Help support the Horizons Unlimited E-zine - visit our sponsors!
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The Rukka brand name has become a synonym for high quality textile motorcycling apparel, and year after year the Finnish manufacturer has caused sensations pioneering highly innovative solutions for those looking for maximum quality, comfort and protection.

Adventure motorcycling clothing for the demanding traveller
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up to top of pagespacerTraveller's Community News...

New Communities:

We've now reached an amazing 621 Communities in 103 Countries as of November 11, 2009!

A big thanks to all those who took the first step and established the Community in their area. New Communities are too many to list!

If you are on the road, do check out the Communities - don't feel like you're imposing on people! They signed up for a Community because they want to meet travellers - that's you! You'll have a great time, so go to the Communities page and let them know you're coming. Please remember that they are volunteers and offering to help because they're great people - common courtesy helps! When you write, tell them who you are, that you're passing through, and would like to meet them. Let them know if you need anything, and I'm sure they'll help as best they can.

For details on how you can join a Community in your area, or use the Communities to get information and help, or just meet people on the road or at home, go to the Community page. Send me some photos - with captions please - and a little text and you can have a web page about your Community! A few links to web pages about your area would be useful too.

Just a reminder to all, when you Join a Community in your area, send a note to the Community introducing yourself and suggesting a meeting, or go for a ride or something. It's a good way of meeting like-minded individuals in your own town.

Become a Horizons Unlimited Contributing Member or Gold Member!

To help with the cost of creating and distributing the newsletter and running a huge website, which has been a full time job for Grant for ten years, Susan as much as she can, plus a couple of part time assistants, we gratefully accept contributions via PayPal, credit card, and cheque. Members also get additional privileges on the HUBB, such as more PM's, custom avatars, and more photo space.

Support this Newsletter by becoming a Contributing Member today, by PayPal, credit card, or cheque.

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If you want a t-shirt or other logoed merchandise, go to the Store.

All contributions will be acknowledged and gratefully accepted. If you later decide you do want a t-shirt or other member logoed merchandise from the store, let us know and we will arrange access to the Members Private Store.

More ways to support your favourite website!

How to Link to Horizons Unlimited

Also, you can just click on any Amazon link on the site and we'll get a small commission on your purchase of any Amazon merchandise - and it won't cost you any more!

Thanks, Grant and Susan


up to top of page Subscribe!

To subscribe, or even UNsubscribe 'now why would you want to do that?' to this e-zine.

up to top of pagespacerIn Progress...

I am working on a listing of people who have ridden around the world, as well as what I call 'significant journeys' e.g. the first across Africa. Any information you may have on this topic, please let me know. Preferably e-mail me direct. I currently have information on over 800 world travellers listed, but there are many more. Have YOU done it? Let me know!

up to top of pagespacerFinal thoughts...

We hope you've enjoyed this issue, and do please let us know your thoughts. It's your newsletter, so tell us what you want to know about!

It is not the unknown, but the fear of it, that prevents us from doing what we want...

We'd like to think that Horizons Unlimited; the website, the HUBB, the Communities and this newsletter help to push back the fear through knowledge and connecting with others, and teach all of us about the world and it's wonderful people.

See you on the road!

Grant and Susan Johnson

Live the dream! at:

Riding the globe...

All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson and their respective authors or creators, 1987-2009.
All Rights Reserved.

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All text and photographs are copyright © Grant and Susan Johnson, 1987-, or their respective authors. All Rights Reserved.