March 28, 2007 GMT

I've been having a cracking time here in Jacksonville with Phil's chum Stan.

Brill house with enormous amounts of garage and workshop space, loads of bikes, and the van and a Mini which Stan lets me drive. What a treat to drive a car with a manual gearbox again; splendid little car. And Ayree the Australian Shepherd plus a couple of moggies.

Meanwhile I've been doing all sorts of fiddly stuff to the bike - riveting (again) and sealing the panniers with 5200 (lesson learned from the sailing episode), sorting various oil leaks, performing a major service; and Stan's having my bent crash bar straightened (at last a legacy from The Crash).

So I've been investigating my airfreighting options to Africa. And I think I've found the perfect people and a very nice young man called Andy who's extremely helpful. Thing is, you may remember that when I came into the US from Mexico the customs chap couldn't enter my registration number of his computer and didn't give me any paperwork for The Old Dear, making her an illegal immigrant. This, of course, creates a slight problem with re-exporting as the US Customs require all sorts of papers that I don't have.

And then, as we were talking, the solution came to me. Of course, I have to leg it to Canada at some point in the next three weeks in order to come back for another 90 days. So when I re-enter the US I will INSIST on proper paperwork for the bike, which should be a damn sight easier as the border crossings are likely to be a little more civilized and less chaotic than at the Mexican end. Problem (I hope) solved.

So here we are on Plan S (I think): finish sorting the bike and get thrown out by Stan, meander vaguely northwards (the weather's improving a lot up there now), see a bit of Canada (although I've been warned to be wary of fierce Canucks), come back for three or four gatherings in the general vicinity of North Carolina in mid-June (Horizons Unlimited, Airheads, BMWRA etc.), find a BMW dealer with a crate I can have, and get ourselves off to Cape Town around mid-July.

I'm afraid I was rather disappointed by the Everglades. Think Norfolk Broads, only warmer and with added alligators.

Posted by Cynthia Milton at March 28, 2007 03:02 PM GMT

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