Hello, and welcome to the next step in my post-military globe-trotting. Many of you followed my first blog (tonyrides.com) as I traveled the United States on my Motorcycle, riding over 18,000 miles and reaching 49 states and three countries.

In this next installment, my friend Jerod and I will be going abroad for an open-ended jaunt. We will start in the Middle-East at the end of February and see where the roads and the winds take us.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Recent developments

The following is a list of things that Jerod and I would have liked to have done if we had gone to Cuba...

  • Smoke cigars
  • Take pictures with Che Guevera and Fidel Castro statues
  • Eat Cuban sandwiches
  • Drink more rum than we thought humanly possible
  • Listen to great music
The following is a list of things about the US that we miss (strictly material items)
  • Salad dressing
  • Brushing your teeth with tap water
  • Flushing toilet paper
  • Fountain soda
  • Free refills
  • The dollar menu
  • Having more than four shirts to choose from
  • My Harley Davidson
  • High-speed internet
  • 110 volts AC
  • Country music
  • Hamburgers cooked to order
  • House (The TV show)
  • Paved roads
  • Carhartts
Things we don't miss about being in the US
  • Cell phones
  • Schedules
  • Working
  • Haircuts
  • Shaves
Anyway, those are some things that have been in our minds the past few weeks as our trip draws to an end.  I guess after over a year off from working one must face reality eventually.  As for me, there are obviously mixed emotions.  I'm excited to get home and see my family and friends, to ride my motorcycle, and to start my life up again.  We have seen some amazing places, done some amazing things, and met some amazing people.  I'll be happy for a change of clothes, predictable showers, and no more waiting waiting in lines at border crossings.  Also, I plan on taking advantage of fast computers and fast internet to start planning my next adventure, a North-South transit of the entire Pan-American highway by motorcycle.  Lastly, if anybody knows of any companies hiring in the Greater-Boston area please let me know.  For my five loyal readers, I plan on keeping the blog going until I actually start a real job.  Stay tuned..... 

Monday, September 20, 2010

Machu Picchu!

Our time in Peru has been limited to Puno, Cuzco, and a trek to Machu Picchu but we have certainly made the most of it.  After arriving on the bus from Copacabana to Puno, we took a boat ride on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca to the Isla Flotantes (floating islands) for the afternoon.  An indigineous group known as the Uros actually creates these islands using a combination of local reeds and mud, and the people live on the islands.  They orginally started this to escape persecution from the Incas hundreds of years ago and today continue their traditional lifestyle, but also make a boatload of money off of the tourism they bring to the islands.  An amazing place really, and one requiring constant upkeep--the islands have to be continually replaced with the reeds to keep from sinking. 

After this unique visit we took an overnight bus to Cuzco, a tourist town with all the amenities and the main jumping off point for Machu Picchu.  We booked with a tour agency which included a 50 km mountain bike ride descending 1000s of meters through the Andes (Tony prided himself on only pedaling approximately 10 times in the two hours it took to get down) and also did some class 3+ whitewater rafting on the Rio Urubamba, in what´s known as the Sacred Valley--of utmost religious importance to the Incas.  The rafting was quite a bit of fun as we had an enthusiastic guide and the river was running high after some rain the previous week (probably the same rain that meant we didn´t get a chance for the climb of Mt. Illimani, a silver lining to that dissapointment).  After that, we had a three day trek to Machu Picchu, involving long hiking in steep terrain, covering old Incan road, some dirt road, and various locals´ paths.  We had an enjoyable group on the tour including Australians, Germans, Dutch, Nepalese, and of course our fearless Peruvian guide, Juan.  Highlights of the trek included river stops for visits to natural hot springs, a rather wild evening at a discoteca in Santa Teresa (truly the middle of nowhere), crossing the river on a hand cable, and of course actually hiking the hundreds and hundreds of Incan steps leading to Machu Picchu itself, including an additional climb up Huayana Picchu, a mountain next to the site allowing for additional great views of the entire area.  We were blessed with a bluebird day, and it´s quite an impressive place.  If I had to come up with any lowlights, the bugs are pretty rough--we´re both covered with bites from sandflies and the cicadas are really big (about 3 times bigger than the ones back home) and really loud (like can´t even have a conversation with the person next to you loud)  We took a combination train and bus ride back to Cuzco, arriving exhausted at about midnight yesterday.  Today has just been a lazy one, recovering from trip and getting some of the travel essentials taken care of.  Peru has been great but we are moving on mañana en la mañana, as they say.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Movin´ on up

So, after about a month it is our last day in Bolivia.  Since our climbing trip we have been pretty busy.  Well, sort of.  We took several days off after our trip to organize some logistics and do some shopping.  Then we headed off to the edge of the Amazon to a small town called Rurrenabaque, or Rurre for short.  Rurre is the jumping-off point for tours of the pampas (grasslands) and the rainforest.  We only had time for one trip, so we opted for the pampas tour, as it was rumored to be rife with wildlife, and that seemed more interesting that some trees and bugs in the rainforest. 

The tour starts with a three-hour jeep ride to a bend in a river where you load up these long river boats.  About 100 yards from our launching point we were spotting aligators and capybaras (the world´s largest rodent).  By spotting I mean we saw more than I can remember.  You soon lose count and interest.  We also saw many birds, monkeys, and snakes as well.  One of the highlights was swimming with the pink dolphins.  I never saw a dolphin, just blurs and ripples moving throught murkey water.  One of the most fun and terrifying swims of my life.  Terrifying because we had seen alligators several hundred yards downstream.  Our guide assured us that the circles we had made with our boat scared them all away, and that if we stayed in the deep water we would be safe.  Well, we all survived, but I am not sure it was ever safe.  Then, to top it off, we went pirhana fishing about 100 yards downstream from where we were swimming.  We did get to eat some of the pirhanas we caught as well.  

After the pampas tour we went back to La Paz and were reunited with our buddy David who had just returned from some trekking and rafting in Peru.  We had enought time to do some laundry, have a few decent meals, and pack up for our last trip in Bolivia, Lake Titicaca.  Try saying that five times without gigling like a schoolgirl.  We took a bus to the town of Copacabana on the shores of Lake Titicaca and took a ferry to Isla del Sol (Island of the sun).  Both of those places sound very warm and exotic, but the thruth is that they are both at about 4,000 meters elevation and are always a bit brisk, if not downright cold.  The island includes several mediocre Incan ruins, and Copacabana features a church.  Pretty exciting stuff really. 

Anyway, this afternoon we are off to Puno, Peru to see the famous floating islands, and then an overnight bus to Cuzco, or Cusco.  From there we have a three-day trek to Macchu Picchu.  Thanks for stopping in.  Reports of Macchu Picchu coming next week.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Weather and all

So, we are done with our climbing trip.  The second half turned out to be a bit of a bust.  We spent two days at base camp getting rained, snowed, and sleeted on before giving up and returning to La Paz.  The weather forecast was bad for another several days, and we would run out of time on our paid trip before we had a good window.  As a consolation we got to go back to the glacier on Mt. Huayna Potosi and do some ice climbing.  It ended up being really fun.  I am sore today, but definitely want to explore it more this winter up North.  Any of our faithful readers know anything about the ice climbing scene in New England?  Drop me a line.