NEW BLOG / NEW POST: STEPPING BACK IN TIME…


Jambo! 

Just posted another blog about my experience spending old calendar Christmas in ‘Africa’s Mecca’: incredible Lalibela, Ethiopia!

Please click on the link to direct you to my new blog site: RANDOM INSPIRATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD and don’t forget to add yourself to the ‘follow’ list while you’re there! 

Haroula

UPDATE: NEW ADVENTURES / NEW BLOG!


1235509_10151775605423644_836430421_nHey everyone!

Well it’s been about a year and a half since I’ve posted anything on this site and a lot has happened since then.

After much thought and sorting through some personal stuff, I made the difficult decision of quitting a very good career that I had worked very hard to get and take some time off to reivaluate a few things in my life. I’ve taken this opportunity to hit the road and travel the world, using the money from selling Victor and my life savings. (I miss having a motorcycle *sniffle)

I left Canada in March 2013, for South East Asia where I spent 6 months visiting Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. It was an amazing adventure but went through a period where I just wasn’t motivated to blog or even journal about my experiences at that time.

On August 24, 2013 my little nephew Andreus was brought into this world. He is my first nephew and my brother and sis in law’s first child. It was important for me to be a part of this moment so I went back to Canada for 2 months to help out as much as I could. It was really great to be able to reconnect with everyone and meet my little love but I was facing the big decision of either returning to work or continuing to travel.

I decided I wasn’t finished with this chapter…

So I flew to Africa, starting in Morocco. Spent an unexpected Christmas in Paris with a friend who flew out at the last minute, then off to Ethiopia where I spent a second Christmas (old calendar orthodox Christmas Jan 7) in incredible Lalibela.

I am currently in Moshi, Tanzania waiting to climb Kilimanjaro. I made the decision to climb Mt. Meru first as conditioning for climbing Kili but I fell ill with Bronchitis and had an allergic reaction to some meds unfortunately and am waiting to get better. The original plan was to reach the summit on my birthday on Feb.15. I thought it would be an EPIC way to celebrate my birthday on top of one of the world’s highest peaks, so I was a little disappointed, but things do happen for a reason so I’ve been trying to stay positive and use my time to catch up on communicating with friends and family back home, sorting through photographs and begin writing again.

I’ve had 9 days to myself and have been motivated to start a new blog called ‘RANDOM INSPIRATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD’ I wanted a different format and theme for this one from the last. Instead of blogging about day to day happenings, I wanted to condense my experiences to make it more meaningful. There are new categories in this one such as ‘CALAMITIES AND HILARITIES’  and ‘TRAVELLER’S REVELATIONS’ that I’ve been slowly adding to. I’ve also gone back and added memories that have stuck out in South East Asia. I’m still a little behind so my apologies, for this will be a work in progress. I hope that I am able to continue to add to the blog on a more regular basis once I hit the road again. But between the momentum of travelling constantly and the unreliable internet in Africa, it will prove to be a challenge.

My current plan is to continue to move south into Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Botswana, Madagascar and South Africa but plans change as you know so we’ll see where it takes me…

I would very much be honoured if you all continued to follow me on my new adventures on the new blog. Click on the following link to direct you to the other site and add yourself on the ‘Follow’ tab on the top right hand side.

RANDOM INSPIRATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Much love,

H

FROM MASSIVE ROCK SLIDES TO THE CANADIAN ROCKIES: WELCOME TO ALBERTA


MAY 28 & 29 – Crossed into Canada on Monday from Idaho’s Hwy 95. The weather forecast was calling for rain through Fernie. So I threw on my rain gear when I stopped to fuel up in Cranbrook. It was cold through Fernie, about 10 degrees celsius and combine that with the rain, it made it very uncomfortable having that cold wind hitting my wet gloves. By the time I made it to Blairmore for the night, my hands were in pain from the cold. Had to warm them up for a few minutes in the hotel lobby before I could even give the woman at the desk my credit card and write my information down. I was chilled to the bone and took a long time to get my feet warmed up under the blanket when it was time to go to bed, but I did sleep well.

The elderly man insisted I sit inside his smart car. 🙂

The next morning headed downtown in the small mining town of Blairmore to find the only restaurant that served breakfast in the area. The restaurant didn’t even have a sign outside and ended up circling around a couple of times before I pulled over and asked this elderly man crossing the street if he knew where it was. He pointed at the building behind him so I parked the bike and he came over to chat. He was originally from Calgary but moved to Blairmore to retire. I asked him how he liked this place and he smiled and said he should’ve done it a long time ago. Curious, I asked him what he liked to do with his spare time now and he said that his hobby was solar energy. He said his entire living room was powered with solar energy and that he had cut his power bill by 50%. He says to me, “I drive a smart car believe it or not! Have you ever been in one?” I said no and he insists that I walk over with him and sit inside. It was a lot more spacious than I had expected and had a great big sun roof that took up almost the entire roof. We got on the topic of goals and dreams and I asked him was his next project would be. He sticks out his arm past my right shoulder and points to something behind me. “I want to climb that.” He says. I turn around and see that he’s pointing at Crows Nest Mountain! The man must’ve been in his 70’s I’m guessing and he impressed the hell out of me as I could tell he was serious about it. The mountain is about 9,137ft in elevation and takes an average of 6 hrs to complete the 10.6km hike round trip. You could tell he wasn’t the ‘hiking type’ so where this one would be typically moderate for most, it would be a big undertaking for that fellow.

After breakfast, I continued along the Crowsnest Hwy, stopping at Frank Slide and the Limber Pine to take some pictures. I have travelled all over Alberta and have seen the Rockies from South to North and for those who don’t know; the Mountain Scenery changes considerably through out the province. I keep forgetting how beautiful it is down here in this area. In this particular section, the mountains sneak up on you if you’re coming towards them from the East in the prairies. It’s difficult to articulate but in my opinion this area all the way down to the Montana border through Waterton National Park, is Alberta’s best kept secret. This area is full of old mining towns, ghost towns, wild west history and Cattle Ranches that have survived for generations.

Turtle Mountain. You can clearly see the portion of the mountain that crumbled.

Frank Slide is a fascinating piece of Alberta History. In 1903, a massive rock slide sent 80 million tons of limestone rock down Turtle Mountain, burying a portion of the mining town of Frank. 70-90 people died and most of whom still remain buried underneath the boulders covering the area today. You can clearly see the portion of the mountain that came down and the hwy was built right through the rock slide path so you see nothing but boulders on either side. There’s a great interpretive center here as well.

Here’s a video about the Frank Slide:

http://www.albertaprimetime.com/Stories.aspx?pd=2490

The Burmis Tree, Crows Nest Pass, Alberta

The Burmis Tree, Crows Nest Pass, Alberta

The Burmis Tree is a Limber Pine that died back in the 1970’s, finally toppling over in 1998 but after the local community’s influence, a partnership formed between the federal / provincial government, local businesses, community groups and private citizens to raise the tree back to its original place and stabilize it permanently for future generations to enjoy. Known to have the longest life spans of any tree in Alberta, and grow in the harshest conditions where other trees would die,  this particular Limber Pine has become a symbol of endurance for the people in the area.

I continued North on Hwy 22 to Calgary and watched the Rockies from the Crowsnest Region slowly disappear from my mirror behind me, but caught regular glimpses of the mountain range to the West of me. Lots of rolling hills and grassland in this area, popular with cattle ranches that have been established as far back as the 1880’s. I’ve never been to Scotland but for some reason I keep thinking this area would look much like it.

I have a little over an hour left till I’m home and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to be living in such a beautiful part of the world. I have seen many places since I left for Phoenix last fall, but this place never fails to take my breath away every time I come back. It’s good to be home.

Here’s a video of Alberta created by Alberta Tourism. Please take the time to watch, it’s brilliantly made and gives me goosebumps every time I see it. Maybe it’ll give you a better understanding of what I’m talking about:

‘REMEMBER TO BREATHE’ ALBERTA

So the final odometer reads 16,130 kms. I started at 5,300kms when I left for Phoenix last fall so that brings me to 10,830kms. Not much for all you hard

‘Victor’ and I, taken along the Coronado Trail. We made some amazing memories together. 🙂

core riders out there but a milestone for me as a solo rider. The bike has taken me through, canyons, mountains, forests such as the giant Redwoods, deserts, gorges and coastline. Hail, snow flurries, rain, lightening, hard wind to hot sun. And cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco. I’ve grown pretty attached to this bike. Maybe a little too attached….I’m told I get too attached to inanimate objects so as part of my ‘therapy’, after a lot of thought… *sniffle….I’ve decided to sell this bike in pursuit of a different style of riding; A

dventure riding. Met some interesting people who have inspired me to steer in this direction, so I’m going for it. I’m looking at Enduros. Haven’t decided what I’ll be getting yet. Any suggestions, tips or recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Stay tuned….

COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE AND MADONNA’S MANAGER


Columbia River Gorge

MAY 27 & 28 – “It’s just like riding a motorcycle” the Truck Driver said, referring to his Jeep Wrangler. I looked at him with raised eyebrows (maybe rolled my eyes a little), “Um…no. No, it’s nothing like riding a bike…” I said, as a matter of factly. I had stopped for fuel at a Truck Stop just before Spokane, WA. This man starts talking to me as I’m looking at one of the maps on the map stand. He was from Nashville and drove tour buses all over North America for musicians like Reba McEntire and Slipknot. He said he was asked to do a stint with Madonna this year, but he turned it down. I said, “Why? Is she a bit of a Diva? Is she difficult to work with?”. “No….” he said. “But, her manager is. He thinks he’s more famous than she is!”, rolling his eyes. “Sounds like you have some interesting stories to tell.” I said. “You have no idea!” he says. “My friends keep telling me, I should write a book but I’m too scared I’ll get sued.” Then he went on a tangent about how he was going to turn 40 soon and was thinking of slowing down, maybe semi retiring and finding work in Nashville where he was home every night. I asked him where his bus was and he pointed outside at this beautiful red bus at the fuel Island. He said it was worth 1 million. I asked if it was an automatic and he said “Of course! It also has heated seats, built-in massager, all the bells and whistles!” “And you said you’re looking to retire? Looks like a retirement job to me…” I replied and he smiles and blushes. We swapped a couple of Truck driving stories. For those of you who don’t know, I have had my class 1 licence for 11 years now. I tried long haul for a season but that was cut short when the man I was teamed up with, tried to crawl in the bunk with me one night. After that I switched over to city driving for a bit delivering all sorts of freight from produce to refrigerators and then on to off roading, working in the Petroleum Industry, driving through mud, snow, mountains, blizzards, logging roads, you name it.

Kite Boarders, Hood River, Oregon

Anyways, back to him. His youngest kid would be graduating in 4 years and once he does, he was going to start to live his own life. He wanted to travel the world. He’s never left North America. “I want to see Europe, Australia and Japan. I worked hard all my life, starting at an early age, and never made time to do those things. Once the boy graduates, then it’s ‘me time’.” And he pats his chest with both hands. Well, that’s fine I think to myself. But how many times have you heard the story about how this person, has worked hard all their lives and saved up all their money for retirement. And once that day comes, something happens and they die. All those years of hard work. Waiting for the right time and the time gets taken away from them…. This was me 4 years ago… And I came to the realization that there has to be a balance in

Kite Boarders, Hood River, Oregon

life. There is nothing wrong with planning for your future but you need to enjoy today and live in the moment now as well. Because you could be gone tomorrow. One of my favorite insights, as morbid as it sounds is to try to picture yourself on your death bed. Think about all the things that might be going through your head when you know your time is almost up. Will you be wishing that you had spent more time working and saving money in your life? Or wishing you had spent less time working and more time enjoying it? I’ll stop with the cheesy lecture as I can feel all of you rolling your eyes at me. We said our goodbyes, and continued on our own ways. Me from Phoenix to Calgary via Pacific Coast Hwy and him from Seattle dropping the last band off at the airport and driving back home to Nashville, Tennessee. As I watched him walk towards his bus, it dawned on me that I should’ve asked him for a tour of the thing to take a couple of pics to show you folks but didn’t want to waste his time as he had a long drive ahead of him. Guess you’ll just have to trust that I didn’t make this up. :)Click on link below and use your mouse to navigate 360 degree view of picture:

360 degree view of Columbia River Gorge, taken from Hwy 14, Washington side

Lets reverse back to the Columbia River Gorge. It was a great ride. From Astoria I was contemplating on wether or not to stay along the edge of the gorge on Hwy

Kite Boarders, Hood River, Oregon

30 or take Hwy 202 to Portland that was suppose to be one of the local favorites for motorcycle routes in the state. I was worried I would miss something along the Gorge so I stayed on 30 but there wasn’t anything to write home about and I wished I would have stuck with my gut and done the 202. I crossed the gorge to the Washington side, just before Portland and continued East along the gorge on Hwy 14. It nice, scenic with some really nice views of the gorge and a few sweeping corners. Crossed the bridge at White Salmon back over to the Oregon side and parked the bike for a bit to watch the kite boarders and windsurfers, carving the water. It was a sunny day and the beach was packed with kites and spectators. Kite boarding is on the bucket list too so it was particularly great to watch for me.Now the biggest highlight on this stretch, was hwy 30 that breaks away from

Lots of twisties on this stretch, Hwy 30 from Mosier, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Hwy 84 at Mosier on the Oregon side. A short ride, but packed a punch with twisties after twisties, through orchards, and valleys to birds eye views of the Columbia River Gorge. I enjoyed it so much, I contemplated backtracking and doing it all over again but I was running out of time and at this rate I wouldn’t get to Kennewick till 7pm anyways, so I kept heading East. If I do the gorge again I would probably stay on the Oregon side from Astoria and include the 202. I did the gorge a couple of years back and remember that there were some scenic parts with twisties early on, on the Oregon side as well, that I had missed this time around.

Click on links below and use your mouse to navigate 360 degree view of picture:

Lots of twisties on this stretch! Hwy 30, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon side.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

PACIFIC COAST HWY: COOS BAY TO ASTORIA, OREGON


Digging for Clams at low tide. Waldport, Oregon.

MAY 26 – The weather forecast must have changed overnight because it was overcast all day today. Hardly rained though. Just the occasional drizzle and very little wind which was nice. There wasn’t much to see in central Oregon, most times the road took you just far enough inland you couldn’t even see the coast. From what I’ve seen, the scenic portions of the coast in Oregon are in the far North and far South of the stretch of highway. The south just before hitting the State of California was probably the nicest for photo ops.Stopped in a town called Waldport to stretch my legs and take a walk on the beach. The tide was out and I saw a bunch of people in the distance of what looked to be clam digging. Clam digging! It was on my bucket list so I went over to take a closer look. I talked to one guy who explained to me the fine art of clam digging.

The best time for clam digging is at low tide. You will see tiny holes in the sand referred to as a ‘show’. A show is actually a breathing hole made by the clam. It will stick out its neck toward the surface to breathe. I saw them stamping their feet and pounding the sand with shovels. If there’s still a clam underneath, they will squirt water up through the show to surface. Apparently they can squirt up to 2 feet! Once they’ve identified that there is a clam there, they take a bamboo shoot and stick it in the hole at the clams neck, to coax it back in its shell to avoid cutting its neck off when you dig with a shovel or clam gun. In this case they were using a clam gun which looks like a hollow cylinder, about 3 ft long and 4 inches in diameter. They insert this cylinder over top of the show, and with an up and down, rocking and twisting motion, till the entire thing is buried. There is a hole on top of the gun, so once you have buried it in the sand, you place your thumb over it and keep it plugged as you pull the gun out of the sand. Like pulling liquid out of a glass with your thumb over a straw, the sand inside the hollow tube comes out as well. Once you take your finger off the hole and give the tube a little shake, all the sand comes out, along with the clam! Cool stuff! Didn’t have much time to stick around otherwise I would have asked to try. Another time for sure, it looks like fun.

As I was gearing up to leave, the same man comes over and asks me a few questions about my trip. He says, “that’s so awesome, wished I could do that.” I said its easy, just do it. He said, “no it’s not, I can’t, those bikes are too expensive.” I didn’t have time to get into a lengthy conversation about it, so I left it at that and we said our goodbyes and I thought about what he said on my ride…

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Stopped at The Blue Herron French Cheese Company in Tillamook to have a late lunch. You can sample local cheese and wine from the wineries in the area. I had a cheese sampler platter and finished it off with a sample of Tillamook hard ice cream and I think it was the best hard ice cream I ever had.

‘The Goonies’, filmed on Cannon Beach, Oregon

Enroute to Astoria, I had to make a stop in Cannon Beach. It has appeared in several films including, The Goonies, Twilight, Point Break and 1941. Spent an hour strolling the beach taking pictures before I continued on my way. The beach was full of people. Some where having fires and picnics, some flying kites (there were quite of few kites in the air), others playing / taking their dogs for walks.

Stayed in Astoria for the night. I think another thing I should mention is that if you are planning on doing the coast. I recommend knowing where you’re going to stay for the night and booking in advance. I phoned around, looking for a room in the afternoon and I was lucky to find one. If it was peak season, all rooms would have been booked I’m sure. And this happened throughout my trip. I made it a point of booking ahead that day and probably saved me some headaches but I suspect that during peak season you would have to book a few days ahead.

From Astoria, I will be traveling East along the Columbia river Gorge that borders Oregon and Washington. Should be a nice, warm ride. Then head north towards Spokane. This route was planned because I thought it the warmer route to take to get across the Rockies. If I would’ve continued North along the coast into Vancouver, I would have had to cross Coquihalla Pass, which is notorious for unpredictable weather, which translates to snow! And May is not the best time to be riding through the mountains on a motorcycle.

20120527-093511.jpg

 

PCH: MENDOCINO, CA TO COOS BAY, OR


MAY 25 – It decided to rain today en route to Coos Bay but I’ll take that over the 40km /hr winds I fought the day before. And the worst part is that you couldn’t anticipate which way the wind would come! One minute it was blowing me towards the ditch, the next minute it was blowing me into oncoming traffic! But by the end of the day, my hands got the worst of it. They were so stiff and cold from the rain and wind that when I went to check into the hotel I had trouble trying to get my fingers to grab my credit card from my purse. They were pretty red and achy. Took a while to get them warmed up again.

Anyways, the ride from Mendocino to Eureka was spectacular! Had the best of everything on this trip. Ancient Redwood forests, streams, rolling hills and curve after curve of sweeping corners, the timing worked out so that I soon got into a flowing rhythm with the bike. This route seemed more suited for Victor. After I had the bike lowered, I soon realized it was a big mistake as I found myself scraping my footpegs around tight corners more often than I care to remember. Once I return to Calgary, I will likely get it raised again. It is quite frustrating knowing what your bike is capable of, but unable to utilize it because of a mechanical alteration you made without putting much thought into it. There was coastline as well but forgot how beautiful Oregon’s Coast was and you can see a distinct difference as soon as you literally cross the border. It took my breath away…

It was a long haul that day, didn’t get to Coos until 7:30pm but did make time to stop at Leggett, CA to ride through the 2400 year old Chandelier Tree which is about 315ft in height and 21ft in diameter. A couple from Arkansas came over and the man exclaimed: “I have a Harley at home and we’ve followed you on the road, and you’re doing a great job! Be careful out there!” and his wife offers to take a picture with me and the bike under the tree.

I stop in a town called Rio Dell, to fuel up and have a bite to eat and when I get

WOW! If there’s a will, there’s a way!

outside I see this BMW Enduro, hauling a mountain bike on the back seat! Had to take a picture of that. What an epic ride that would make!Should be able to do the entire Oregon coastline today. Coos is overcast right now but should be clearing up as i continue North. Gotta go load up the bike now.

NORTHERN CALI PCH, SAN FRAN TO MENDOCCINO


MAY 24 – Took the bike to the shop in the morning near downtown San Francisco. Decided to go for a walk while I waited. Made it to Alamo Square where I saw the painted ladies (row of Victorian homes with downtown skyscrapers in background). For those who use to watch the television sitcom, ‘Full House’, in the opening credits, you see a shot of this area with the family having a picnic in the foreground.

After Alamo Square, walked over Haight-Ashbury District, known as one of the major centers for the Hippie movement back in the 60’s. Not what I had expected at all… Although it still maintains a Bohemian atmosphere, with interesting boutiques and coffee shops, the Hippies have now been replaced with a younger generation of Hippie wannabes, drug addicts  and panhandlers.  Where have the Hippies all gone you ask? Most have migrated outside San Francisco to smaller towns, especially Mendocino and surrounding areas. This is where I stayed the night in fact. Mendocino is recognized as the town in ‘Murder She Wrote’. It is very small but very scenic and peaceful. Took a walk over to the cliffs overlooking the Ocean as the sun set. I’d have to say this place is definitely one of my favorite towns so far. I will be back again.

Take note: started with 13,600 km on this trip from San Fran. Left at 12:30pm. The ride up to Mendocino from San Francisco was fantastic! I’m not sure why Big Sur gets all the hype. I really enjoyed that too but after this ride, I think it is a little overrated. This section of the Pacific Coast Highway has its share of breathtaking Coastline but it doesn’t stop there. It takes you through old growth Red Wood forests, meadows, rural farmlands, many curves and what seems to be less traffic! If I had to choose between the two, I would choose this stretch over Big Sur.

Now off to cruise through the Red Wood forests of Northern California into Oregon’s captivating coastline. Stay tuned.