After a frantic few days of packing, repacking, buying extra items to aid packing (once we had the panniers we had a better idea of how we wanted to fit things, we delivered the bikes to James Cargo for air freighting to Toronto.
As we pootled down the M56 it occured to me that this was actually our shake down run, it was the 1st time we had both been out with the full kit load. We resisted the temptation to pitch the tent and repack as a final experiment.
It has been 3 years since I was at James Cargo, but one of the staff recognised me and even remembered the fun and games we had with FlyGLobaspan back in 2007.
I had to remove one of my panniers to allow the bike to fit in the crate, Jean's being 1 inch less didn't need it.
We were going to walk to Manchester Airport to catch the train, but the aforementioned JC employee kindly gave us a lift as it was 3 miles away.
A couple of hours later (we still had a 2 mile walk from the St Helens Junction to home) we came back, looked in the garage and it seemed empty... with only 2 bikes in it :-)
We just have the small matter of our son's wedding this weekend and then we hit the (long) road next Wednesday.
On a trek to find his fellow penguins.
Touched down just before 17:00 local time (22:00 GMT), pretty uneventful flight, smooth, on time (heck we actually had a plane !) and food as well.
Customs form had a entry for "cargo not traveling with you", so we had to tick that. Which obviously led to questions, a lot of form marking at the 1st custom post and then then being asked to carry on.
Then we were diverted to another immigration area, where we were asked some more detailed questions about the trip. We must have done ok, as the nice man did not ask to see any proof of flights out of South America, in fact he said we were cool and his heroes for undertaking such a trip. Obviously not many people start from Toronto :-)
And he stamped us a visa for 6 months in Canada.
Then at the 3rd custom checkpoint they were concerned we had forgotten to collect our bags ....
We wandered off to find the cargo terminal and see about collecting the bikes,but the company we were looking for was not at the address given. So we asked at Lufthansa and the nice clerk
contacted the relevant company and confirmed the bikes were in, but that they were the other side of the airport.
Stuff it, we will have to get a cab and collect them tomorrow.
Checked into hotel, and trashed room.
After being hit with $25 taxi fare to go less than a mile (as the crow flies) because no one would let us walk across the runways, these were the words we were met with on Thursday morning when we did find them.
Yes, nearly Ł1000.
I'm still not sure what had gone wrong, but the bikes had been put into storage, at a cost of $596/day, they had been there since Monday. We got James Cargo on the case while we went to sort out customs clearance and it has been 95% resolved, I am still awaiting a refund from JC.
It took about 3 hours to do the clearance and unpacking, then we headed East, to a beautiful. well sited campsite on a sandbank near the town of Picton.
Where we have only just left as the people and area were so welcoming.We even visited the town fair before leaving today.
Cleaned up in a Motel tonight, and will drop into the US tomorrow, we will head over towards Maine before turning back towards Woodstock and heading south.
On the shores of Lake Champlain, Vermont.
Since crossing into the US, we have been wandering around the North East (New England) states, in fact we headed East and North into Maine before dropping south.
The border crossing at Cornwall was very un-stressful, we were asked the expected questions about status and financial situation then stamped through for 6 months, I think the B2 Visas helped. I resisted any jokes with Officer Geiger over his name in case a sense of humour failure ensued.
I see Jean has already posted a picture of where we stayed in Vermont, it was fairly wet so we wussed out and did not use the tent for a few days.
We thought we had taken a wrong turning somewhere.
There were a lot of trees though.
After turning South, we came across a town called Conway, so had to stop, it just seemed right.
Once we had checked in, other bikers started to turn up and it began to resemble a mini rally,
They were all Canadian, and appeared from all directions. We spent the evening yakking with Sue (60+), who rides a Triumph and Pete and Rochelle (who were in a car and used to have a bike, but kept giving us beer).
It days when impromptu gatherings like this happen that we really love about such trips.
Currently much further south, down near Gettysburg, 1st *really* wet day. It felt tropical.
On th waterproof front the score is
Hein Gericke 1 - 0 Dainesse
I am sure Jean will be along to show her wet bum in due course.
Does my bum look wet in this ?
Results of wearing Dainese "all weather" pants for 2 hours in heavy rain.
After our soaking in Pennsylvania the weather has picked up as we have dropped south, after a stop over near Washington with an ex Sun colleague, Christin Tran, we headed on down to Colonial Willamsburg.
I've written about the area last time we here in 2007, so I won't go into detail again, other than saying it is the home of the 1st permanent colony in the US (forget that Plymouth Rock crap).
Why "Yee Hah!" ? Well, we are now in the Confederate South and joined the locals doing what locals do.
Hal and Barbara took us shooting, Jean was well into it with a 6 barrel revolver, I was shooting a .40 which has a kick and a loud bang.
I was quite proud of some of my shooting/grouping, even if it was always to the left..
Barbara and Jean went for the Annie Oakley look.
We have hung out for a few days, chilling, drinking beer, gardening.... yes, me , gardening, they had a large garden to clear of weeds and a typical American contraption called a "Weed Whacker", a fully motorised plant and bush killer. Essentially a strimmer on steroids. Fun Fun Fun :-)
The rest of the time I have been looking over the bikes and fettling, but nothing to fix yet.
Those Wright brothers were damn clever people.
We have just spent a couple of days camping on the beach at Kitty Hawk (North Carolina). The Atlantic swell was "awesome" thanks to the recent hurricanes.
We really like the way the Americans do National Historical sites and had a very informative Park Ranger talk. I never realised that they were bicycle makers by trade and not only did they develop and build their own engine, but all the calculations they produced for wing design are still used today.
The camp site was in the sand dunes, which were filled with sand burrs, nasty spiky things that stick to clothes. shoes and painfully the skin. Drastic measures were needed to get clothes on and off.
Apart from that and the mosquitoes it was a great site reached by riding through swamps and over bridges.
All they way down the east we have been stopped and asked about the trip, people seem genuinely interested as we are sure not many people use this route. We get directed to bike meets and festivals, and today we were invited to a Church based motorbike club while cooling off with an iced tea.
Many people ask us for blog details, I should have got some cards made, we have even had diner owners asking us to send postcards when we get to TDF.
The weather since the drenching in Penn has been nothing short of outstanding, with the temp up at 28-34C and deep blue skies, I am glad I have brought my summer light weight riding gear. But don't worry it looks like the weather will break soon and drop to 20C, and maybe a soaking or two.
Kill Devil Hills, Kiitihawk, North Carolina. The track marks the world's first successful powered flights, by the Wright brothers, on a freezing cold day in December 1903. A piece of the plane was sent to the moon and back on the Apollo 11 mission in 1969.
Another cultural interlude (to balance out the previous shooting session) - Bruce was dragged into the modern art museum in Charlotte, North Carolina.
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