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Photo by Michael Jordan, enjoying a meal at sunset, Zangskar Valley, India

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!


Photo by Michael Jordan
enjoying a meal at sunset,
Zangskar Valley, India



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  #496  
Old 23 Mar 2015
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This is just astounding! We have to stop and take a picture of this!


So we do!


Morrocan in a Winter Wonderland!


This was an unusual custom in Morocco...

We noticed that most of the cars passing us had neglected to clear the snow off their windshields. We thought that they must not be used to driving in snowy conditions here. But it soon became clear that this was intentional - Moroccans visiting the Atlas Mountains will make a snowman on the passenger side of their hood in front of the windshield. It's a big thing up here, almost everyone does it! While coming up, we had no idea it was supposed to be a snowman because the snow had melted by the time the cars reached us. But as we reached the peak of this pass, we clearly saw the three balls of snow piled high in front of the windshields. So funny!

Some people do the same thing in Canada, except instead of a snowman, they make a thick blanket of snow on top of their cars and hoods, blinding all the vehicles behind them as their artwork disintegrates on the highway. They get a nice certificate from the police for their effort... or lack thereof...


Up near the top, the road becomes a makeshift parking lot.

Whenever there are high enough hills by the side of the road, little industries have popped up renting out toboggans and skis to the tourists traveling through the area. There is actually a real ski resort in the nearby town of Ifrane, but this is the cheaper alternative - no lift tickets required!
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  #497  
Old 23 Mar 2015
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And dogs! Lots of them! This is where they all went after being exiled from the cities by the evil cats


"Hey Neda, I have something I want to give you..."


The snow disappears as the road that we're on descends a little bit into Timahdite


We pass by small streams and are absolutely blown away by how beautiful it is up here


And then the road climbs again, we know this because the snow reappears around us

What an amazing riding day! We really haven't ventured far from Meknes. We're in Midelt for the evening, only having traveled a mere 200kms, but there was so much to see along the way.
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  #498  
Old 23 Mar 2015
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Our riad in Midelt, which is a popular mid-way point for travelers along the Middle Atlas route


In addition to the pastries and jam we also got dates in the morning.
You could say we were Carb and Date-ing for breakfast...


So far our first steps out of the medinas of Morocco have been thoroughly enjoyable! We've shed the hustlers of the big city and the scenery and geography here is absolutely incredible. Can't wait to see what's ahead of us!
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  #499  
Old 23 Mar 2015
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That's so awesome! But I think you guys may have made a wrong turn in Albequerque. This is what happens when you start missing Canada, your subconscious goes looking for snow in Africa, eh.
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  #500  
Old 24 Mar 2015
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I have been reading all through your post. Find it very readable. Some of the places I would like to see and travel my self. Have you thought of putting up GPS location references to the over night stay's, so other traveller's can follow in your foot steep's.
John933
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  #501  
Old 24 Mar 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John933 View Post
so other traveller's can follow in your footsteps.
John933
Be careful following Gene & Neda................you WILL get wet
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  #502  
Old 25 Mar 2015
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Great dialogue

Have been following your trip every since you've stated. If you make it back to Canada would like to try and meet you in person. I live in mid Michigan. Take care and keep the pictures and commentary coming.
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  #503  
Old 25 Mar 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bucket1960 View Post
Be careful following Gene & Neda................you WILL get wet
Now that did make me smile.


Road out to Hungary a good few year's back. 21 day's out rained 17 of them. Next time going through the south of France in to Spain. Took three day's. Worse rain fall in living memory. Algarve. Now that's all sun most of the year round. Two week's away, must have been 9 day's of rain. Corfu, June two week's, Rain. Never been known to happen before. I sware to God. Put me down in any place on a bike. And on at least one of them day's you will get rain. Should sell my service's to some drought infected area. Could make a lot of money.
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  #504  
Old 25 Mar 2015
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Hi Gene and Neda, thanks a lot for sharing. You help me and Paola (my wife) to dream during the grayness working days.
Our last trip was in Morocco during last Christmas holidays. The road from Ifrane to Midelt was cold and windy but without snow like now. Incredible!
I recognize the same your riad in Midelt https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-t...2/DSC_4447.JPG
In addition to the main nice touristic places (Merzouga, Todra, Dades, etc...) we have found an amazing road throughout the Anti Atlas Mountains: Taroudant, Tafraoute, Tiznit by this road https://goo.gl/maps/mDCUJ https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-D...2/DSC_2642.JPG https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-2...2/DSC_2679.JPG https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-S...2/DSC_2605.JPG
Take care,
Ciao!
Andrea & Paola
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  #505  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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Thanks for the comments and sharing all your experiences, guys. Morocco is truly jam packed with a ton of culture and scenery. We can't get enough of it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by John933 View Post
Some of the places I would like to see and travel my self. Have you thought of putting up GPS location references to the over night stay's, so other traveller's can follow in your foot steep's.
Hi John, we haven't really been keeping track of our overnight stays - we have been on the road for over 1,000 days...!

However, if you're interested in a specific area, let me know and I can try to dig up the addresses for you.
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  #506  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Thanks for the comments and sharing all your experiences, guys. Morocco is truly jam packed with a ton of culture and scenery. We can't get enough of it!



Hi John, we haven't really been keeping track of our overnight stays - we have been on the road for over 1,000 days...!

However, if you're interested in a specific area, let me know and I can try to dig up the addresses for you.

No that OK. I have this year sorted out. Some time's I leave early and take the long way round. One of the thing in my head as I travel is where to stay at the end of the day. So far I've had no problem in finding some where. What I ask I don't do my self. Will have to re think that point.


Any way keep up the good work.
John933
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  #507  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/212.html



We are continuing our trek southwards. Now that we've reached the other side of the Middle Atlas Mountains, we are seeing a much different kind of geography than Northern Morocco. The satellite map above illustrates this point quite well.


Heading out of Midelt

These older Mercedes were quite common on the roads in Morocco. If they were cream-coloured, they were almost always taxis.

It's a brilliant day for riding, the clouds have all but disappeared by the late morning. However the temperatures are still quite cold and we keep all our layers on for the ride.


We had to stop to check out these storks which had built a nest at the top of this building


Two of Morocco's biggest T-Swizzle fans in one place?

As we were stopped, this little guy came running towards us and started talking to me in Arabic or Berber (not sure which). We couldn't make out what he was saying, but he was definitely asking for something. I thought it was money, but it turned out he wanted a pen.

Of course, we could give him a pen! I radioed Neda and she happily dove into her tankbag to find one. Neda's tankbag is like the TARDIS, it's much bigger on the inside than anyone can imagine. She keeps everything in there from seashells, coins, leaves, pens, small dogs...


Back to the storks

Did you know that the White Stork is the national bird of Morocco? You can find their nests on any tall chimney, building, tree or pole. Unlike in the western world, these nests are very welcome because the birds are a symbol of good luck and fortune. They say that the stork at rest is reminiscent of a man in prayer, and there's a Berber belief that storks are transformed human beings. We're told that disturbing a stork will get you three-months in prison. Don't mess with these jailbirds!
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  #508  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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Another roadside stop


Morocco makes my bike look pretty


Not real Moroccans. Damn hippies.

We overheard these guys, they were a bunch of granolas from Spain dressed in designer djellabas and striking meditational yoga poses on the wall overlooking the gorge. Then after about 15 minutes of Faux-Ga, they all hopped into their hippy van with Spanish plates and drove away to the next beatnik spot.

*SMH* Nice robes, though...


Hiking to get a spot away from the granolas


It was a very nice view, there were small villages at the bottom of the gorge

As we were riding down from Northern Morocco, Neda told me that one of her favorite books when she was a little girl was "In Desert and Wilderness" by Polish author, Henryk Sienkiewicz. It's about a pair of children who are taken hostage and are forced to travel through the Sahara Desert. Ever since then, she's always dreamed of visiting Africa, and our first steps in Morocco didn't jive with the imagery she got from the book.

However, south of the Atlas Mountains, everything here is the colour of the desert sand. Even the buildings seem to rise seamlessly up from the same stuff that the ground is made from. *THIS* is totally the Africa that we had in our heads when we crossed over from Europe!
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  #509  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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My toes tingle when I look down from tall heights


Moroccan ruins gives the whole place a ton of atmosphere


Ready to hit the road again


Everywhere we go, small towns look like they rose up organically from the ground


Our path takes us through more mountains again


Some beautiful scenery as the road hugs the Ziz River (Oued Ziz) through the mountains
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  #510  
Old 26 Mar 2015
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We stopped for lunch in Rissani and had some trouble finding gas. This was not an isolated problem. We often gas up in the late afternoon before stopping and the local pumps always seem to be out of fuel. However, the larger multinational stations like Shell are always in stock, you just have to find one.

I'm not sure why this is, whether the local pumps just stock up enough for a single day?


Riding through the gates of Rissani

When we're riding, I prefer following instead of leading for a couple of reasons. I like taking pictures with Neda riding, it makes for a more interesting photo, and it also stops me from worrying excessively if I can see her all the time instead of checking my mirrors every so often.

However, we do take turns leading, and during my stint in the front, I checked my mirrors one time and my heart skipped a beat when I noticed Neda wasn't behind me anymore. I panicked because normally if she's slowing down or stopping she'll radio me to let me know. I frantically tap on the communicator. The beep tells me that we're connected and I call out to her to ask if everything's okay, but all I hear back is silence - she's not responding.

This is very concerning. I pull over to the side of the road and wait. 5 seconds. "Hello? Neda? Hello?!" Troubling silence over the communicator. 10 seconds. She should have caught up to me by now. My heart is racing and my mind is thinking all sorts of horrible things. It makes no sense. The road we're on is perfectly straight. There's a little bit of a cross-wind that moves our bikes around, but we've faced much worse. Was she blown off the road at speed?

I quickly make a U-turn and start looking for her. About a km away, I see her parked bike at the side of the road. It's upright and I'm instantly relieved, but she's nowhere to be found. I park behind her and finally notice that she's walking around in the ditch and it looks like she's searching for something. She's still not responding to the radio, so when I get closer to her, she points to the empty spot on her helmet where her communicator should be.

Her radio had fallen off somewhere and she was looking for it on the side of the road!

My relief that she's okay slowly turns to annoyance that we've lost another piece of our equipment. Everything is falling apart on us! This is so frustrating. Neda says she saw the communicator in her mirror bounce away from the bike and into the ditch. It's been 15 minutes and we are both walking up and down that same area that she went back to, but the search is proving fruitless.

I'm ready to give up, and in my mind I'm already trying to envision what traveling is going to be like without being able to communicate with each other. The comms were such an essential part of our kit. What makes it even more frustrating is that I know Neda's communicator is still working because I'm still connected to it. It's just that it's not connected to a microphone so I can't even play Marco Polo with it. Neda's communicator is lying somewhere on the ground tantalizingly transmitting its quiet background hiss into my earphones. It's driving me crazy!!!


By some stroke of luck I FOUND IT! We make sure that Neda's communicator doesn't escape again

Even though we're angry that our stuff is all falling apart, I still have to sing some praise for these Sena communicators: They take a lot of abuse (like bouncing down the highway) and still keep working. The only weak point is the base clamp kit that connect them to the helmets. The pins on my communicator have bent and I have to jiggle them often to make a good connection. The plastic tab that clips Neda's radio to the base has become worn and now the communicator comes loose with just a nudge.

I also have to mention that someone from Sena sent me an e-mail about a month ago. They saw our blog and asked how our communicators were doing. When I aired my concerns, they replied "No problem, we'll send you new units". Wow! Cool! This was totally unsolicited and our communicators have been out of warranty for a long time. They really stand behind their products! So we do have new units waiting for us, we just have to figure out *where* to send them to...


Standing on the pegs trying to minimize the vibrations from the washboard gravel road

So with our comms patched up, we head off the highway into the final stretch for the evening. Our stop that we've booked for the night is actually in Erg Chebbi, which is right on the western periphery of the Sahara Desert. This means that the last 15 kms or so is off-road as we negotiate the poorly marked gravel pistes running parallel to the sand dunes that represent edge of the Sahara.

SO COOOL!!!!


The washboard roads have worked Neda's drybag loose. Thankfully I'm following.
If I were leading there would be more swearing as we would have sacrificed more equipment to the desert


I radio Neda that her bag has fallen off her bike. Because I'm closer, she asks if I can give her a hand. You probably already know me by now, so when someone asks me: "Can you give me a hand?", in my head I hear "Can you take lots of pictures?"... Neda narrows her eyes and shakes her head as she stomps angrily towards her fallen drybag. *kikiki* [click] [click] [click]
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