Christmas greetings to all those reading the blog around the world - it is still holidays here and i have to apologise for not sending this out earlier but I have been in an internet black spot (my parents' house) for the past six days.
The good news is that my bag arrived from Iceland Air - what lovely people, they had not lost it or forgotten I was waiting for it. Everything is intact and I have learnt a valuable lesson about what to take as hand luggage next time. Or at least, I hope I have learnt the lesson.My boyfriend got me a great present - a GPS tracking device so that he (and the rest of the world) will be able to follow me on my travels and have a rough idea of where I am when I'm not at home.
My Christmas Day involved not only opening presents but I also headed down to the beach and took part in the annual fancy dress swim in the sea. A bracing experience it was too. Particularly as the last swim I'd had was at the Yucatan where the sea temperature was 25 degrees (centigrade) and down here in Cornwall it's more like 8 degrees if I'm lucky.
A brief but memorable dip.
I'm finally home (or at least for the moment). I've arrived back to find Arctic style weather conditions and to discover that the airline have lost my bag. This is a bit of a problem as it means I only have the clothes I was wearing when I landed, plus full bike gear. Though I am still luckily in possession of the seven pairs of knickers.
The major issue is that my photos are all in that bag. I had been somewhat anal during this journey about always backing up my digital memory cards onto memory sticks and then had a completely brain dead moment in Seattle whilst packing ( I must admit my mind was more thinking about Iceland than packing) and I rather stupidly put both all the memory cards AND the memory sticks in one bag. Doh!!!!!!!
I've been waiting to hear what the airline have to say about tracking it down.
I've had a couple of emails from Confused of Camberley asking where on earth I am heading and what has happened to Thelma. One minute I'm bike travelling around Japan, the next I'm on a KLR in Guatemala and then I'm suddenly in Iceland.
Well Mr Confused (and I think there are likely to be several more people feeling the same way). I arrived in LA in early November with the knowledge that I should have been home by then but with the realisation that I was still halfway around the world from England. Having got to North America I decided I wanted to bike to Nova Scotia to visit friends there, however, even I will agree that this was an inappropriate time of year to head across America.
Therefore I've decided to leave Thelma in storage in LA for the winter while I fly home to spend Christmas with my boyfriend and the rest of my family. I will then stay in England for the winter months working and saving hard so that when the weather is warmer I can head back to California and ride Thelma across the States and Canada to Nova Scotia and ship home from an East Coast port.
I had an unreasonably early morning call to get to the airport, after a late night eating turkish borek. I was flying out via Seattle to catch up with friends there, but as I was delayed 24 hours by order of the US Customs Department, I missed the "Welcome Back Tiffany" party in the George and Dragon pub, arriving in time to witness the bleary eyes and hangover of Mick and friends at Vallantine Motorworks. At least Shaun the dog greeted me warmly and definitely seemed to remember me from seven years ago
Having acquired somewhat of a reputation for poor seasonal choice of destinations - Siberia in October and Death Valley in August both spring to mind, I managed to go one better and head to Iceland in December with the promise of an off-road ride as part of my stopover.
I was very nicely hosted by Haukur Thorsteinsson, who is part of Horizons unlimited and who, with his brother, runs Blue Mountain Motorcycle Adventure Tours, however to both our disappointment, the rain was lashing down and the wind was howling as I landed at Reykjavik. In fact the airport bus was almost blown off the road heading into town. We reluctantly concluded that actually a bike ride was not only impractical but downright dangerous.
I had to make do with a look around from the comfort of his heated van - I was particularly toasty and warm as I was wearing an extra layer of thermals (not to mention the seven pairs of knickers) all put on in expectation of bike riding in the extreme weather.
Iceland looked beautiful, unspoilt and a dream destination for bike travelling, with hot springs everywhere and the occasional volcano to look out for. I admired the photos on their website of other riders who had made the journey in more moderate conditions (though apparently I was unlucky with the timing as they'd had clear weather for a week before I arrived).
Their website is:
So, now I'm looking into the cost of the ferry from Scotland to Iceland in readiness for a trip there, maybe next year.
Unbelievably, snow has appeared on the hills around LA and the locals are all in shock at this Siberian-style weather, I feel it may be a sign that it's time for me to leave town.
Unfortunately though, Thelma has still not arrived, I've got all the Customs paperwork in place, and so she'll be stored here once the ship unloads. Chritmas at home is beckoning me, today I'm flying up to Seattle to catch up with friends there and then to England via that well-known hotspot - Iceland (the country not the supermarket).
I've been offered the fantastic opportunity to do some off-roading and a quick tour around Reykjavik while I'm there on my 10 hour stopover. The locals assure me the temperature should be above zero...
I'm not sure how I'll cope with the cold, it's only five days since I left the sweltering heat of the Yucatan, and where my room mates at the dorm thought it was particularly hilarious that I was going to Iceland as they were heading back down to the beach.
At the weekend, Ricardo Rocco got in touch, we'd last met on a five day off-road rally in Ecuador a few years ago, he is in town for a week and we met up at the Long Beach International Motorcycle Show in Long Beach. At the Show I was lucky enough to be introduced to (amongst others) Bill "Rocky" Mayer who creates state of the art, hand crafted motorcycle seats. Hearing my Princess and the Pea story about my bony backside and the KLR and noting the fact that Thelma is almost 18 years old (three weeks until her birthday) he has very generously offered to custom-make a new seat for me.
I'm very excited about this and I'm heading off to his workshop in Ojai to have my riding gait and posture photographed and examined and errr, have my bum measured. Rumours that I may also need to have a mould taken of my backside, are, I hope unfounded.
A gruelling 18 hour bus ride had taken me from the Guatemalan border up to the beautiful beaches of the Yucatan. Stumbling out of the bus station (still with bike helmet tucked under my arm), I jumped on a ferry to the Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Cancun.
I found myself in a very sociable backpacker's' hostel, sharing a dorm with six blokes from five different countries. After there being just the two of us and almost no other travellers around it feels strange to be surrounded by other English-speaking people. I spent the next couple of days swimming, enjoying life on the picture-postcard beaches and sipping pina coladas (always my drink of choice in the Caribbean) as the sun went down.
But the paradise had to end and I was soon saying goodbye, heading back to the mainland and flying out of the airport and into LA which felt distinctly chilly after southern Mexico. I'm installed back in my comfortable bedroom at Evren and Erdem's apartment and answering their questions about my travels with Savas.
To my delight Kosta is also here, waiting to collect his bike from Customs. We're not sure what happened with the shipping agents that his bike is here and mine isn't when they were supposed to have travelled on the same boat. I don't think we will ever get a straight answer to that question.
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