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Aug
29
Category: Travel to USA

Another pretty big day with hot and humid conditions from start to finish. We spent all day on interstates (freeways) today as yesterday and oh my goodness was there ever huge volumes of traffic, big speed and heaps and heaps of trucks even more so than yesterday. Yesterday we travelled on the I95 and today the I85 and the I85 was more frantic. We’re glad we are familiar with trucks and their predictability but feel for anyone who might feel timid around them … in fact in those instances we would recommend not to use the Interstate system at all. It was interesting both days to note that the trucks always indicated to change lanes as we did but it was rare to see anyone else doing so … I don’t know why there are needless collisions! Mind you the law here is if there is a collision it is an offence NOT to move the vehicles off the road. Through traffic is treated as a priority.

Despite the speed and pressure of traffic we enjoyed being surrounded by rolling forested hills for the most part of our trip today interspersed with settlements of all sizes.

My thigh is a little more comfortable so managing okay. We need to bring our remedial masseuse along with us to help with the creaky bits in future it would appear……

Hurricane Dorian is building up off the lower east coast and may make downfall a bit later than previously expected so hoping to get through Atlanta and onto Louisiana then heading further north after that without getting drenched .... time will tell. The state of Georgia has declared a state of emergency so looking forward to getting out of town in the morning.

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Well well well, the work shot you get when you least expect it. Cannot believe the weight this was pulling!

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A sorry little fuel stop. I think it was even hotter inside than out, couldn’t wait to get back on the bike!

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Staying tonight at the Hilton Garden Inn Macon / Mercer University.


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Aug
28
Category: Travel to USA

Today was a big day’s riding initially on highways until we spoke to a policeman when we were getting lunch and he sent us on Route 64 which was much more picturesque. Similar crops this morning as yesterday with a small amount of tobacco thrown in as well and as we headed further west we were largely surrounded by rolling forest land as well as plantations of some sort of pine / conifer and not surprisingly we came across a paper mill. Route 64 was a lovely curvy road through many little communities and overall the townships appeared in better shape than those where there had been intensive agriculture where there was evidence of large corporate operations leaving many former farmhouses empty and neglected. Sad to see, but like what we see at home and talked about in Angelica a few days ago.

Lots of Crepe Myrtle trees in evidence today in street and home plantings as there were yesterday. Lovely displays in a variety of colours. Trees look nice and sheltered here so they probably survive well.

I managed to pull something in my thigh today *%$#””! , felt a twang as it let go, yuk, so had hoped to get a remedial massage to hopefully make it a bit more comfortable for tomorrow but unfortunately the hours had changed and they were closed, more *%$#””!. Walking very carefully now, even slower than Norm, … looks and feels a bit weird not to mention pretty painful.

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A quaint old barn soon after we found a bit of country road to travel on.

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And yes, country roads invariably mean gravel.

 

And a cute little cabin on the way.

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A very specie house in Hendersonville.

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Streetscape in Hendersonville from a cab back from the massage that didn't happen.

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Staying tonight at the Red Roof Inn.


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Aug
27
Category: Travel to USA

The weather started warm and humid and progressed to hot and humid by the end of the day and we progressed from gold coast glitz complete with carnival rides to rolling fields of corn, mostly browned off, peanuts, melons and cotton.

We’re riding on mainly highways since we are on a bit of a mission to get to Louisiana to catch up with our nephew and don’t really have the time to explore many country roads where photo opportunities are more readily available but we got in early enough today to explore surrounding historic areas of Weldon and Halifax which was interesting and to again see how the rural areas are really struggling.

The highlight of the ride was travelling on the Chesapeake Bridge and Tunnel complex which was the purpose of us coming so far east. For Bransgrove family members, the 3 bridges and 2 tunnels (under the shipping channels) is 20 miles long which is the same distance from the farm in Neerim North to Warragul, 20miles! It was a shame the fishing pier and café’s were closed for work, we would have enjoyed the photo opportunities and had planned to have lunch there.

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A sample of the historic buildings in Historic Halifax.

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A specie house on the outskirts of Halifax.

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Roanoke Rapids, yes only about 25m above sea level so things cannot fall too far … I guess.

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Staying tonight at the Holiday Inn Express & Suites.


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Aug
26
Category: Travel to USA

Today!

1.     We nearly walked our legs off over the weekend and were a bit weary … felt like we’d been chasing a long-legged young thing around the city all weekend … oh hang on that’s what we were doing.

2.     We wanted to avoid tolls if possible as we are still having some toll transponder issues.

3.     There was heaps of traffic to deal with on the way out of NYC as well as many detours around roadworks so tested the sense of humour and concentration levels.

4.     We also had a ferry crossing on the Cape May – Lewes Ferry 54kms before our destination which ate up time waiting to get on the 1.5-hour trip on the crossing.

5.     Had a couple of shots to navigate to our hotel with a weird traffic treatment here. Bizarre!

Ocean City is a sort of Gold Coast type area chock full of holiday accommodation but for a limited season about to come to a halt next weekend (Labour Day weekend) when ‘the season’ ends and only the die-hards visit then as the weather gets rougher and less summer like.

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And that bridge in the distance is the one we were supposed to be on coming out of NYC, the Skyway but we got there anyway in the long run in spite of roadworks / bridgeworks and detours.

 

Great morning coffee spot and a very American Diner.

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More great infrastructure in another bridge, soooo much water in the waterways so if you can’t build bridges people can’t get anywhere. Necessity leads to great engineering obviously.

 

Outlying area of Atlantic City streetscape

 

 

And a very cute house in the suburbs.

 

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Heading towards the first tunnel section of the Chesapeake Bridge Tunnel complex. Awe inspiring. No photo can do it justice ... where is a good drone when you need one?

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Waiting for the ferry crossing and that is a 1965 Airstream caravan and a 3-wheel Ural motorbike – can engage both rear wheels, made in Russia, originally for WWII but now manufactured in cute colours and selling well apparently.

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All aboard the ferry ... serous tie down procedures there are not.

 

And we are staying tonight at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham.


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Aug
21
Category: Travel to USA

It was a challenge getting things almost dry overnight before we headed off, but the temperature remained hot and humid, so they sort of dried out over time. We rode through a lot of farming country and skated along the edge of Lake Erie which was rarely far away as well as forest areas and I was delighted to spot heaps of eagles soaring on thermals today which was a treat.

Norms quote for the day when we were having a coffee “Well Missy the clouds are ‘a building and the clocks ‘a ticking, let’s make a mile”.

Jamestown appears a tired little town and I don’t think I have ever seen so many people on the streets on wheelie walkers, motorised and not as well as on crutches. Turns out they have some serious rehab going on for drug and alcohol as well as physical and again the County is doing some serious refurbishing work but boy they have their work cut out for them. I wish them we

Also discovered that Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez came from here and there is a Museum for them here as well as a Comedy theatre.

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Typical farm image.

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From our window, the diamond is covered in plastic protecting it from the rain.

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Toledo streetscape.

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Work shot.

 Staying tonight at La Quinta Inn & Suites by Wyndham.


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Aug
20
Category: Travel to USA

After enjoying the wonderful soft mattress for two nights we woke to hear there had been 4inches of rain to our south west overnight and there was a severe storm cell heading our way with severe wind, rain, hail and potentially tornado activity, the whole shebang.

The weather was hot and humid all day as we rode through lots of rolling fields of corn and potatoes, at least I think that’s what they were, the leaves looked a bit different to what we’re used to.

We saw very few bikes on the road, and we were pretty much the only ones in anything resembling protective safety gear … apart from those wearing a safety bandana, we can only assume the outsides are Teflon coated and the inside Kevlar lined … or not!

The weather predictions came true 35kms out of Toledo when the rain hit and we were on the turnpike so by the time we could stop (amongst roadworks behind barriers) we were soaked and figured it was too late to be of any great use to saturate our wet weather gear inside and out so headed off again. We had about 5km of nearly dry roads and thought ‘well that wasn’t too bad’ which was a mistake because the skies opened up 25km out with incredible rain accompanied by lightning and strong winds and a lot of hail for good measure. Apparently a lot of cars didn’t consider they could see well enough and pulled over and we were amazed we could see given we had water inside and outside the visors, perhaps that’s why they didn’t fog up, so we kept travelling. The water was pouring across the road and in one place was flooded across a dip around 4 – 6 inches deep. By the time we got in we couldn’t have been any more wet than we would have been if we had jumped into a swimming pool! We felt really bad dripping all over the hotel floor at the desk and on our way to the room.

It was a lovely old Art Deco Hotel which was looked after well but Toledo looked very tired and there is an obvious effort to revive the old industrial area. It looked rather nice and would be good to check it out later perhaps.

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Services Plaza straddles the freeway so accessible from both sides. Very clever.

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The first coffee for the riding trip in the services plaza.

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A partial work shot with trucks in the background and some police very interested in our bikes, again at the services plaza.

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The things you find on country roads ... when you can find them that is ...

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A work shot.

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Staying tonight at Park Inn by Radisson Hotel, the lovely Art Deco foyer.


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Mar
02

Some Observations!

Some observations from 2 Aussies on our NZ adventure.

Disclaimer: We are legends in our own lunch boxes so our own opinions and listing are not any sort of grading of importance or anything else … just as we have thought of them.

1.     The cost of living in NZ is a good bit higher than in Australia. E.g. Petrol at home average $1.40 per litre, here $2.10. Restaurant meals (average restaurants, not top end) are also more expensive, entrees in average places $18 – 22 and mains $38 – 42.

2.     Houses of similar quality here also a good 1/3 higher in price then at home from what we can see in real estate windows.

3.     On main highways, a good number of overtaking lanes.

4.     On secondary roads, a limited number of overtaking lanes but still not bad.

5.     Very limited pull over rest stops for heavy vehicles anywhere.

6.     Lots of cars pull over and encourage us past on our bikes. Could it be ….

a.     Because they are very courteous

b.     They appreciate there are often limited spaces for overtaking

c.     There are many outlaw gangs over here and they don’t want to run the risk of ticking anyone off

7.     More trucks seem to be parked up and in motels for the night than at home.

8.     Overall trucks must deal with steeper grades and more bendy roads than at home.

9.     We had experienced more bikers waving and nodding a hello in the first week on the road here than we have experienced at home in the last couple of years. Go figure! Anyway, we like it.

10.   The roadworks signs here make more sense, are less intrusive and annoying than at home and people take notice of them!

11.   We had been warned to be wary of white vans driven by non-English speaking international travellers, but they had been well behaved until 2 very notable experiences on the South Island. The only reason I’m still here is where I met one as he was overtaking a line of traffic there was about 8inches of seal beyond the fog line for a short distance, so I was able to ride on that. Made the heart pump I can tell you.


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Mar
01

Well it’s official our New Zealand Adventure on the bikes has come to an end.

We rode to Lyttleton this morning for breakfast, a large functioning Port which has many quirky buildings and sweet little cottages close in the town reminiscent of years gone by and further out more modern ones. The road from there right around the waterfront by Governors Bay to Diamond Harbour is very lumpy and bumpy with land movement over time and winds up and down hills along the coastline somewhat reminiscent of the Great Ocean Road though narrower and was a lovely ride. From there it was up over the pass, find a car wash to get the bikes cleaned up then deliver them to PFT for shipping back home.  A little bit more of the tourist thing now without the bikes until we head home Sunday afternoon. Ahhh so soon a fond memory, nevertheless we are looking forward to family hugs when we get home! Have missed that.

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The bikes in front of the Old Government Building now a Heritage Hotel. The OGB Bar is immediately behind the bikes.

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The Port at Lyttelton, quite steep even though the pic doesn’t look like it. Lots of logs and containers and a cruise ship for good measure.

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And one of countless pretty views as we progressed around the waterfront.

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Lyttelton from our coffee spot many miles away from breakfast.

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Quirky boat shed.

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Communications tower on Dyers Pass.

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Canterbury Plains to the mountains from Dyers Pass.

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The last clean up before back in the container and home. Boo hoo!


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Feb
28

We anticipated heavy rain overnight and icy roads this morning after the forecast so were relieved there was only a light sprinkle overnight and sunny skies this morning … mind you Norm did bring me in some ice off my seat as I was packing up to go. We headed back the way we had come into Tekapo because we had seen a sign that said 4km to Mt John Observatory & Café. …which was a bit of a stretch because it was 4km to the gate then another very steep and winding 4km to the Observatory and Café and OMG OMG OMG what a view!! A glorious way to start the day!

The rest of the day was just a lovely ride with beautiful scenery with snippets of views to snow and mountains as well as picturesque farmland and attractive little regional towns along the way. We enjoyed a morning coffee at the Three Creeks Salvage Café then lunch in Geraldine then into Christchurch to get a rear tyre for Norms Rocket, the last one went well and did 14,000kms.

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Yep, just through the gate and there’s the Observatory.

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Lake Tekapo from the Observatory.

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And proof that we really were there.

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Some of the Observatory buildings.

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Three Creeks, all kinds of quirky.

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And again.

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Close to the last view of snow on our way into Christchurch in Fairlie.

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And more of the snow in the rear and yes that’s all the layers on because it was still very cold.

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View from our room in Christchurch across the Cathedral Square.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Peppers Bluewater Resort

8 State Highway

Lake Tekapo NZ 7945

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The room / apartment was lovely and comfortable and welcoming with plenty of space to relax and enjoy ourselves and well equipped to be self-contained if wanted. Plenty of heating and cooling options available as well as restaurant on site with room service if wanted. Free Wi-Fi and balcony with chairs to sit and enjoy the view. Roomy bathroom with both bath and shower. Very nice.  We were in a ground floor unit and were shocked how loud the footsteps and movement in the apartment above were audible in a relatively new building especially given the cost of accommodation. Our most expensive night for the trip.


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Feb
27

We headed for Mount Cook despite what was obviously a weather change sweeping down from the mountains and apart from getting wet, damn near got blown off our bikes as well at times needing nearly all our lane just to keep pointing ahead and staying upright. By the time we got to Mount Cook Village we could barely see the mountains around us, and it was pouring so we headed back to a café a few kilometres back for a coffee and a chance to draw breath. From there we headed for Tekapo on the shores of Laker Tekapo and oh my goodness the tourists have arrived in force. It is no longer the quiet back water we last visited.

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The day started out well.

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Once we headed for Mount Cook it was soon turning dark…. but still loved the turquoise water.

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More of the same. You can see tyhe wind blowing up the water on the opposite shore, it was also doing this in patches across tyhe lake. On our return it looked a bit like an inlet from the ocean with lots of white tops and waves.

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Morning coffee on the way back down at a Station Cafe and tour office.

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And low and behold a lavender farm in the middle of nowhere … seriously! And about to be rained upon.

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Heading back down from Mount Cook ahead of the change.

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Heading for Tekapo.

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Still heading for Tekapo.

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Church of the Good Shepherd.

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And the view from our veranda tonight.

Last nights’ accommodation:

Mackenzie Country Inn Hotel

2 Wairepo Road 

Twizel NZ 7901

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A welcome spot to take a break and feel a little bit spoilt. Staff warm and welcoming and room spacious and comfortable. A return for us after many years. New carpet and infrastructure improvements since then which must be a challenge given it’s probably a seasonal accommodation option. Room spacious and comfortable, library / sitting area downstairs lovely as is the bar and restaurant. Breakfast included with accommodation package. The second most expensive night for our trip, and the only one with included bteakfast … probably because of the isolation but still a lot. A shame.


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