Category Archives: Shipping

Well that was good wasn’t it…

Truthfully, it’s been a struggle finding my way back to the keyboard, partly due to the realisation that when I finish typing on this occasion, it will be the final post of our journey. Another reason for the struggle relates to the previous post in which I mentioned our hope that the return of the Patrol to Australia would not see us subjected to the type of behaviour that various other travellers returning vehicles to Australia have spoken of.

It would appear that I’d been somewhat delusional in that thought process for, without doubt, you’d think I was kidding if I were to relay just how badly it went. Being on the receiving end of such unprofessional behaviour and overpriced maritime services at the hands of our fellow Australians left us with a bill of almost $AUD2800 before the vehicle would be released. That’s 3 times the amount we paid clearing the vehicle in Russia and 5 times the amount we paid in the US after shipping in from Europe. Packing the vehicle and shipping it all the way to Perth from the US was a quite reasonable $AUD3400 but with such exorbitant clearing charges added on at the Australian end it does leave quite a sour taste in your mouth. An official complaint to Quarantine about the conduct of the officer concerned and a little vehicle damage from the unnecessary cleaning all made for a wonderful welcome home.

Invoice for inbound handling from the shipping company

Invoice for inbound handling from the shipping company

More fees from everyone else that glanced at the container!!..None of these includes the shipping!!!! That was the cheap bit by comparison.

The Next Bill…

I’m not sure how it will all pan out moving forward, with aspirations of further overland travel still bubbling around the blood stream. The thought of returning a vehicle to Australia again is currently less appealing to me than a dose of dysentery in a Bombay food market!

Ok – so with the negative stuff out of the way, it’s time to take all of our readers with us to the finishing gate!

There was no chance that we’d be making the long transit home to Perth flying right by the beautiful Hawaiian Islands without dropping in for a dose of the Aloha spirit. The “Big Island” was our main focus on this visit with the Kilauea Volcano the dominant draw card.

Some of the Aloha Spirit!!

Some of the Aloha Spirit!!

Arriving late into Kona, we went to collect our pre-booked hire car and, with an unexpected free upgrade, it would seem that fate might actually exist. What better way to end the final stage of our overland journey in a Nissan Patrol than finishing the drive in a Nissan Armada!

The Nissan Armada

The Nissan Armada

Kona Coast

Kona Coast

Our accommodation for the next few days sat perched on the slopes of a hillside about half an hour south of Kona with panoramic views of the west coast. Beautiful tropical temperatures beckoned us to explore…

Our accommodation high above Kealakekua Bay

Our accommodation high above Kealakekua Bay

Visitors to our accommodation

A Visitor to our accommodation

Awesome wildlife

Colourful wildlife

Cardinal

Colourful Cardinal

From our home base we headed off for about a one-hour downhill hike through wooded terrain interspersed with farmland before we arrived at the idyllic Kealakekua Bay. Its crystal clear turquoise water was made even more inviting by the film of sweat that covered us by the time we got there! The moment we descended below the cool surface of the water and our eyes adjusted, beautiful tropical fish surrounded us!

Fish...

Fish..

Fish...

Fish…

and more fish!

and more fish!

Not a Spinner Dolphin!!

Not a Spinner Dolphin!!

Really stunning but unfortunately, a few other tourists knew about it as well! Most of them arrive by boat so there is the odd moment of relative peace between boat departures and arrivals but aside from the magnificent snorkelling and frequent visits from spinner dolphins, the other main reason not to miss this spectacular bay is that it’s also the site of Captain James Cook’s demise at the hands of the Hawaiian Islanders in 1779. With Cook’s amazing achievements in his short life, I wonder how different the geographic boundaries that underpin our maps and atlases of today would appear, if not for his death here.

Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook Monument

Kealakekua Bay and the Captain Cook Monument

Inscription

Inscription

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With places of interest that appealed to us marked on our map, we headed off for a lap of the island over the next week.

Stark and gnarly, the harsh black volcanic rock rises from the Pacific Ocean to give both form and life to the island. Where the aqua blue ocean meets the cold remnants of the once flowing lava, gritty beaches have formed through tidal erosion over millennia, ranging in colour from green to black giving the whole place a wonderful vibrancy.

Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Totems at Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

Totems at Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park

St Benedict's Painted Church south of Kona

St Benedict’s Painted Church south of Kona

The southernmost tip of the "Big Island" - South Point

The southernmost tip of the “Big Island” – cleverly named “South Point”

Appropriately dress for hiking!

Appropriate dress for hiking to Green Sand Beach???

Green Sand Beach was easier reached by a local truck ride.

We chose to reach Green Sand Beach by a local truck ride instead of the gruelling hike.

Green Sand Beach caused by the presence of Olivine

Green Sand Beach caused by the presence of Volcanic Olivine

Olivine Green Sand

Olivine Green Sand

Black Sand Beach south of Hilo

Black Sand Beach south of Hilo

Turtles on Black Sand Beach

Turtles on Black Sand Beach

Known for its range of climatic zones, the island contains arid desert regions, tropical rain forest and even alpine tundra. From the balmy warmth at sea level, a couple of hours drive in the car will see you at the 14,000ft peak of Mauna Kea with snow covered peaks and an altitude induced headache if your not careful! One of the only places in the world where you can experience several climatic zones in the same day!

From Sea to Summit - Hilo to Mauna Kea Summit at 14,000ft

From Sea to Summit – Hilo to Mauna Kea Summit at 14,000ft

Mt Kilauea Volcano sits on the southeastern side of the island and is stunning. The caldera, which is the cauldron of bubbling molten lava within the rim of the volcano, is about a mile from the Jaggar Museum Observation Centre and it is truly amazing and probably a little humbling. We were lucky that Kilauea had been experiencing a period of heightened activity resulting in an elevated level of lava within the crater, making viewing much easier and particularly spectacular at night.

Kilauea Caldera

Kilauea Caldera

Lava Lake as evening descends at the Jaggar Museum Overlook

Lava Lake as evening descends at the Jaggar Museum Overlook

The lava lake in the Kilauea Caldera

The lava lake in the Kilauea Caldera

We’ve all watched documentaries on the power of volcanoes and the forces below the earth’s surface but to witness, first hand, boiling rock forced into the inky night sky as it’s forced out of the planet like water from a hose, really brings home the power contained within the Earth.

Erupting lava

Erupting lava

From the caldera, the lava makes it’s way through underground fissures and tubes like a network of pipes before eventually, with the help of gravity, finding its way to the ocean and continuing the seemingly never ending task of increasing the size of the island.

Given the lava is always on the move, the best locations to view the lava meeting the ocean are also constantly moving. At the time of our visit, approaching from the east of the current lava field provided the best viewing and with bicycle hire available from just outside the National Park, made the journey from the closest car park to the lava field much less daunting than a long hike in the heat. The western side, within the National Park, only has access via a long extremely hot arduous hike of approximately 12kms but does have some other interesting points of interest en-route.

Road consumed by lava

Road consumed by lava

Petroglyphs

Petroglyphs

Lava Field

Lava Field

We hired bikes on the eastern side of the Lava field to make the 5km journey to the latest outbreak of molten rock as the roads are closed to cars.

Tour de Hawaii

Our “Tour de Hawaii”

Entering the Park from the East on Bicycle

Entering the Park from the East on Bicycle

Another bizarre observation, although I found this one less astounding than the lava, was the strange approach of the National Parks Department. In these days of litigation and the fact that we now have to walk as slow as the slowest person in order to protect us from ourselves, I found myself smirking at the temporary viewing area a little later that evening.

After parking our bikes with the multitude of other volcano visitors, a plastic barrier and a couple of uninformed rangers guided us down the 100metres or so to the ocean where we strained to see an amazing lava hose pipe spewing it’s fiery contents into the sea. Plumes of superheated seawater burst upward as the lava boils the sea on contact before it hardens to form Hawaii’s newest piece of land. It’s quite a way off but the sight is quite astounding and, of course, with the propensity of the lava to breakthrough at any location along the coast, a level of safety must exist.

Liquid Lava Meets Ocean

Liquid Lava Meets Ocean

New land being created...

New land being created…

We had heard there were areas where it was possible to see the lava up close and personal and had packed torches, spare batteries, water and so on in anticipation of a trek in the darkness to observe the glowing magma.

Once back up to the bicycle area, we asked the rangers if and where it was possible to see lava, but their clueless response suggested that we should just aimlessly walk off into the lava field and try our luck! “Just walk that way (a vague swing of the arm covering 90degrees) about 45 minutes and you might find some.” That instruction was the reason I found myself smirking. Fences and rangers with signs restricting everything you do at the initial viewing area but after that you can wander off and fall into the lava if you like! Who knows how these crowd control policies are conceived.

The aimless pursuit of lava

The aimless pursuit of lava

The once fluid rock...

The once fluid rock…

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So up the hillside we ventured, backpack on and head torches at the ready. As the daylight waned we headed out across the expanse of freshly hardened lava and generally aimed for some distant people and a string of steam vents. Cutting to the chase, we zigzagged all over the place and at one point were rather concerned that the earth may just open up beneath us as the heat from the molten rock flowing under the surface and hence our feet made the temperature like that of an oven!! Just as we prepared to abandon the venture as hopeless, we spotted a group of people that seemed engaged in something interesting and finally achieved our goal – lava!!

Target Acquired!!!

Target Acquired!!!

I guess you’d expect it to be hot in such a situation and if I said I could toast a ham and cheese sandwich from 10ft away I wouldn’t be overstating the radiating heat.

As close as the heat would allow...

As close as the heat would allow…

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Once our appetite for viewing the slowly creeping lava was satiated, darkness had engulfed us completely and it was head torches on as we began the long trek back to our bikes. The moment we illuminated the lava field surface, it was like a metamorphosis had occurred right in front of us. The surface now looked for lack of a better description like it had been dusted with sparkling diamonds. Just amazing and hopefully we have caught the effect with the camera. Truly one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever observed and equally worth seeing!!! We are so glad that we persevered – many others gave up!!

The Sparkling Lava Field - photos just can't do it justice!

The Sparkling Lava Field – photos just can’t do it justice!

Sparkling Lava Rock

Sparkling Lava Rock

The following day we made for the backbone of The Big Island, snow covered peaks appeared and we achieved our first view of Mauna Kea Summit and it’s collection of international astronomical observatories.

The Onizuka Visitor Centre has been constructed conveniently at an altitude of 9,200ft where visitors are requested to spend half an hour acclimatising before the last few thousand feet are ascended to reach the observatories perched around the summit. The crystal clear cold air, altitude and lack of light pollution make it the ideal location for celestial viewing and you could be forgiven for forgetting you are in the middle of the Hawaiian Islands!

Atop Mauna Kea

Atop Mauna Kea complete with snow!

Sunset at Mauna Kea

Sunset at Mauna Kea

The road to the visitor centre is sealed but beyond it to the summit is 5 miles of steep graded gravel road with quite a few switchbacks and is only suited to true 4WD vehicles with low range. I only mention it, as there are some signs at the visitor centre telling tourists continuing on to the summit to use low gear on the return descent, particularly as nearly all of the cars in the USA are automatics. Of course, a long descent down very steep roads in a high gear using the brakes instead of the gearing to slow the vehicle will see brakes overheat and fail; a photo board on display at the visitor centre depicts the carnage and multiple fatalities that have occurred as a result. As it happened, a Nissan SUV had careered past the visitor centre just the previous day with it’s doomed passengers screaming before leaving the road and sadly killing one of those onboard – how bloody awful.

Note the wheels on fire in the image!

Note the wheels on fire in the image!

On our descent from the summit, it was easy to see why Mauna Kea has a reputation for people killing themselves on the drive down. You would have thought it was a rally event give the way many of the thrill seekers were driving. I can only imagine the fatality rate if any of these fools were confronted with a road that was actually challenging.

We had a couple of days up our sleeve before we needed to be back at the airport so after some sightseeing around Hilo, we headed up the east coast and around the north of the island.

Downtown Hilo

Downtown Hilo

Coastal Rockpools

Coastal Rockpools

Houses built on the lava beds

Houses built on the lava beds

More sea turtles

More sea turtles

A new friend

A new friend

Olivine still captured in the lava

Olivine still captured in the lava

Steep Descent into Waipio Valley

Steep Descent into Waipio Valley

 

Ascending out of Waipio Valley

Climbing back out of Waipio Valley

It was now time to say goodbye to The Big Island and hello to Oahu and Waikiki Beach for a couple of nights.

Flying over Diamond Head before arriving at Honolulu Airport

Flying over Diamond Head before arriving at Honolulu Airport

Waikiki Beach and the iconic "Royal Hawaiian Hotel"

Waikiki Beach and the iconic “Royal Hawaiian Hotel”

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Longboards at Waikiki

Longboards at Waikiki

Waikiki and the famous Diamond Head

Waikiki and the famous Diamond Head

Cool Pooch!

Cool Pooch!

Banyan tree in the International Marketplace Shopping Centre, Waikiki

Famous Banyan tree in the International Marketplace Shopping Centre, Waikiki

Hawaiian Hula Dancing School Students

Hawaiian Hula Dancing School Students

Yep it’s kitschy and loaded with tourists, but Waikiki always seems to have a nice atmosphere about it and it was a nice way to organise our thoughts before returning to Australia.

Sydney Airport

Sydney Airport

Some weeks later our car arrived home…

Our car is in there!!

Our car is in there!!

Welcome Home

Welcome Home

Footnote: Although Jen and I set out in the hope of managing at least a year and maybe two years travelling, in the end the clock stopped at 3 years. I’m quite proud of that effort and although I don’t believe it is in any way a competition regarding the length of time spent travelling, for us the duration provided the disconnect that we were in pursuit of and for that I’ll be forever grateful. The old cliché, “time seems to have flown by” certainly comes to mind at the moment however.

It’s not all been silk and roses and this journey has provided us with a few very stressful moments but also so many amazing ones. Every challenge overcome served only to inspire us further and the experiences gained enriched our lives. The people we met are without doubt the highlight.

To our avid readers, thank you for taking the time to come with us, and thank you for being the inspiration I needed to keep my fingers tapping on the keyboard. There were times, as with any journal I suppose, that it can seem quite a chore, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Reading through our blog now, I am amazed at both how much I’ve forgotten and also how vividly I am able to relive the experiences with the aid of our blog. In many ways, I think that I now have more of an appreciation for how it must feel for anyone reading along, for It does feel a little as if I’m following another travellers tales from the road rather than my personal experience.

Jen and I intend keeping the Globatrol website active with the odd update from time to time and South America and Southern Africa are still in our sights for the future but for now…

Cheers and Thank you

Justin and Jennifer.

Camped back under the Southern Cross...

Camped back under the Southern Cross…

The Countdown

For a multitude of reasons, none of which are even remotely tethered to a desire to stop travelling or depart from our new life on the road, we’d made the decision a couple of months ago to head back to Australia!

Sadly South America will have to wait a little longer…

One of the main factors was that after such a long time on the road we’d finally hit our groove! So why are we stopping I hear you ask??… Well, we felt that our new “groove” would, without doubt, require more time be spent in South America than we can realistically afford to dedicate to it at the moment.

Oh and did I mention that we ran out of cash!! Hahaha…

Well, not quite, but if we had shipped the Patrol across to South America, we would have been committing to an onward journey of unknown duration. We weren’t prepared to rush this wonderful continent and money for large up front costs was thinning hence a future Expedition will need to be planned.

I must admit that I also quite like the idea of having the South American carrot dangling in front of my nose – I’m not quite ready to consider this being our last international overland journey.

But on with the job at hand…

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A flash of internet coverage revealed Laurie the Cat Lady and Yukon Ron were parked-up at Imperial Dam just north of Yuma. Being only an hour or so drive east of us, east we went!

Date Palms abound in this area and the landscape was mildly reminiscent of Morocco but Moroccan’s haven’t yet figured out the “Date Shake” – a luxurious ice cream and date puree thick shake. YUM!!!

Near Yuma

Near Yuma

Imperial Dam Recreation Area

Imperial Dam Recreation Area

After a few more days in great company, it was time to move on. Difficult farewells were exchanged and we made north-west through the heart of the Imperial Sand Dunes.

Highway through the Dunes

Highway through the Dunes

It was hard not to marvel at the sheer quantity of RV’s and ATV’s in these adventure-promising sand dunes! Petrol powered machines testing themselves against the vastness of the shifting sands!

The amount of money thrashing around hour after hour before needing to return to the 50ft Winnebago for a snack and refuel, before once again tearing off into the Martian Landscape was truly astounding! But hey it’s America.

RV's flocking to the Imperial Sand Dunes

RV’s flocking to the Imperial Sand Dunes

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Dune Buggy Action

Dune Buggy Action

Continuing west we were treated to an aerial display by the Blue Angels as they practiced for an upcoming Air Show in Yuma! No one even takes any notice over here; it’s all happening so frequently – amazing!

In some ways, we’d been avoiding what felt like the final turn north. There was a deep down anxiety about heading toward the finish line I suppose. It had to happen eventually and so it was that the compass needle now settled on a northerly bearing. The GPS for the first time, counted down to a final destination, rather than from a start point! All a bit weird really…

Those 4 People must be important

Those 4 People must be important

Slab City is named after the remnant concrete foundations from the WW2 Marine Corp Barracks of Camp Dunlap. It developed as an inexpensive haven for RV’s over the winter months before the frying pan temperatures forced their migration northwards. In later years however, it’s become a nest for those living off the grid and others not wishing to take part in life as we know it – all have found their way to Slab City.

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Despite it’s generally grungy appearance, it is a most interesting site for a wander especially as it sports a huge sculpture – one mans labor of love over many years after he found God!

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A highlight for us was meeting more overland travellers; Kenny and Tine were about to embark on their dream of wandering south along the Pan-Am route for the foreseeable future! I’m happy to report these cool dudes have now crossed into Mexico as they follow their dream. Their blog as follows if you’re interested – http://www.adventureofhanselandgretel.com/

Kenny and Tine

Kenny and Tine

Just northwest of Slab City is the Salton Sea. This below sea level lake sits within some lovely geography and during its heyday, supported numerous resorts, RV campgrounds and boating marinas. Unfortunately human activity over time has left the lake extremely saline, polluted with agricultural runoff and a rather putrid smell that wafts over the surrounding landscape when the wind is up. Hence the whole area and the promise it held has become an abandoned wasteland and it’s also one of the underlying reasons Slab City became more of a fringe settlement than a retreat for those on the road.

Some of the residents

Some of the residents

The casualties of Salton Sea's toxicity - dead fish

The casualties of Salton Sea’s toxicity – dead fish

 

Now running north along the banks of the Salton Sea, we encountered more “men of God” living off the grid before we camped just outside the town of Mecca. I now have a rather nice collection of business card size ideological constructs for life going forward or coasters I guess, depending on your persuasion!

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Salton Sea

Salton Sea

A road runs from Mecca up through rather scenic Box Canyon before arriving at Joshua Tree NP’s southern entrance. We had endeavoured to camp within internet coverage because some insane Canadians that we seem to have had an effect on, decided to throw a tent in their luggage and fly from Calgary to San Francisco, hire a car and drive 1600km to catch-up with us for a couple of nights…

Road Runner

the coyote’s after you…

Well, there was an ulterior motive to this little escapade! The delivery of a gift that needed to be packed in the Patrol for return to Australia! And that gift is just bloody fantastic, but you’ll have to wait to see what it is – guess I can keep you on the hook that way and force you to keep reading my monologue…

Morning!!!

Morning!!!

Opening gifts from Crazy Canadians

Opening gifts from Crazy Canadians

You'll have to wait for the big reveal

You’ll have to wait for the big reveal

The opportunity to spend a couple of days with Alison and David before our return down under requires no elaboration our end, primarily because I don’t have the words to adequately express how we feel about such an amazing gesture. Thanks Guys!

Box Canyon

Box Canyon

Joshua Tree NP

Joshua Tree NP

Our last night camped together before the crazy Canadians made the dash back to San Francisco saw us struggling a little to find somewhere suitable.  With deteriorating weather adding to the pressure, we did as we always do and eventually found a home. That change in the forecast resulted in a bloody cold night and well we may have a small camper but it proved it’s metal that evening! The 4 of us enjoyed the Webasto heater whilst we managed to cook and devour a roast within our tiny confines, I’m pretty proud of that effort. Oh and we drank a little too!

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It may be a small camper but 4 of us dined in comfort!!!

Our last camp with David and Alison

Our last camp with David and Alison

We enjoyed an early lunch at the Café 247 in Lucerne Valley (conveniently located on Hwy 247) where we said our goodbyes before Alison and David departed for the long drive north back to San Francisco and a flight back to frozen Calgary!

Cafe 247

Cafe 247

Whoever owned the café must have been to Australia as the walls were decorated with Automotive memorabilia (as is often the case in the good old USA), but this was the first time I’d seen Holden collectables and Aussie number plates as decoration (tags for those who don’t speak Aussie English) Even Western Australian ones…

Western Australian Licence Plates on the wall

Western Australian Licence Plates on the wall

After Alison and David departed we actually started to believe that we truly were heading back to Australia. Weird I guess but that’s the truth of it.

More friendly locals spot the Patrol

More friendly locals spot the Patrol

Now it was time to get to work cleaning the car. We settled on a few nights at Sawtooth canyon, the same campsite where Jen had previously upset some locals with a generator resulting in there timely departure! Anyway, as like minded travellers are like minded, we ran into Kenni and Tine again, requiring more social interaction, it’s tuff being nomadic!

Close to Barstow and a high-pressure wash facility, we began cleaning the Patrol for its transit down under.

We spent about 3 days on the car, pressure washing the undercarriage and engine bay, pulling up floor mats and trim, vacuuming everything, checking radiator fins for bugs and seeds and removing dust from every nook and cranny with a toothbrush! Not an overly enjoyable task especially when you know in the back of your mind that despite the vehicle now looking better than when it left the Nissan Factory, it’s more than likely that Australian Quarantine Inspectors will still find some reason to send it for “cleaning” and a large cleaning bill could follow…

Cleaning the car...

Cleaning the car…

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Looking for dirt in every nook and cranny…

Hopefully I’m wrong, but that seems to be the general experience amongst travellers. I do wonder if it’s random or whether returning to Australia from an overseas journey just gets their heckles up and they feel the need for a little fleecing! Ahhh well, we shall see if I’m wrong on the above count shortly… Wharfies, Customs and Quarantine are generally easy to deal with aren’t they??

The only real goal that remained on our agenda was a run up Hwy 1 along the California coast, so we best get moving! Across the top of LA we travelled via Vasquez Rocks – a famous Hollywood filming location – and on to Santa Barbara.

Vasquez Rocks

Vasquez Rocks

We popped out at Ventura and hit Hwy 1. Onward to Santa Barbara, we followed the coast taking in the sights as good tourists do.

Seaside Santa Barbara

Seaside Santa Barbara

Once again, I have to give the Americans credit here. A large section of old Hwy 1 has been set aside along the drive specifically for RV’s to camp in the narrow band that divides road and ocean and enjoy the lovely scenery. Can’t imagine Australia instigating that sort of freedom any time soon…

Road/Seaside Camping

Road/Seaside Camping

Our night’s camp was at Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area , a section of beach set aside for leisure and camping amidst a populated stretch of coast. I’m starting think Australian councils should visit California – I guess they do when the tax payer funds a junket! I suppose they only see the insides of restaurants on those trips now that I think about it. Ouch the cynicism is rampant now!

Camped at Oceano Dunes

Camped at Oceano Dunes

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Other campers - there is a river crossing involved to get this far!

Other campers – there is a river crossing involved to get this far!

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Amidst suburbia!

Amidst suburbia!

Unfortunately, the storms which had given us a mud bath back in Mexico, had released the brunt of their force on California. The tourist drive up through Big Sur sits along a steep section of coastline and was completely washed away with the obvious consequence of the road being closed until further notice. We were aware of it before we headed up Hwy 1 but decided to see what we could see anyway.

Elephant Seal

Elephant Seal

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Bull Elephant Seal

Bull Elephant Seal

Hearst Castle in the distance

Hearst Castle in the distance

As the saying goes, clouds often have a silver lining! In our quest to avoid the main route around the closed scenic drive, we ended up on an older narrower and far less used road following the San Andreas Fault – a truly lovely and relaxing transit away from the racetrack.

The scenic route...

The scenic route…

Another 4WD vehicle recreation area camp

Another 4WD vehicle recreation area camp

A while back we’d received a few questions about our camper via our website contact page from Mike and Wendy who live just outside San Francisco. We’d tentatively made plans to meet up for a coffee and a chat whilst in the area as it’s always nice to meet up with people with similar interests who have made an effort to contact us. With their nicely set up Tacoma they have some plans in motion for a little more exploring of the US and presented us with a parting gift leaving us with even more fond memories of our American Adventure.

Justin, Michael and Wendy with their nicely set up Tacoma (Hilux)

Justin, Michael and Wendy with their nicely set up Tacoma (Hilux)

We spent the night in the Anthony Chabot Regional Park campsite just east of the Port of San Francisco. It is a lovely, elevated forest campsite sitting amongst the range of hills that hems in the city east of the Bay. It poured rain and was bloody freezing so, with the Patrol due to be delivered to West Coast Shipping in 2 days time, we decided to move into a motel for our last night as we really needed the camper to be as dry as possible. Breathing and the general humidity created by the human body needed to be mitigated as best we could this close to departure.

Anthony Chabot Campground just out of San Francisco

Anthony Chabot Campground just out of San Francisco

I’ll take responsibility because I chose it. “Motel 6” for the night was the closest we could find to the port. Well that was an experience! Picture the dodgiest part of your city, park a motel in it with tired decor, surround it with weirdo’s moving around outside all night, and you will be about 20% there! We were expecting it to be character building as a security officer had made his way over to us before we’d actually checked in (although we had booked and paid) and asked where we were staying. When I told him, he suggested it was the best part of the precinct but it would be better to move somewhere else – that had us filled with confidence! hahaha

High Class Motel!!! - read the fine print...

High Class Motel!!! – read the fine print…

This one is busted!

This one is busted!

Fortunately we had a break in the weather and were able to pop the roof and get everything pretty dry whilst at the motel making the whole experience much more palatable.

A final touch up

A final touch up

The following morning, we pulled the furniture away from the door and peaked out (kidding of course!) and jumped into the Patrol for the short drive to the port.

We found “West Coast Shipping” and met up with Alex, the shipping agent we’d been liaising with for some time. I felt pretty comfortable with these guys and after a look around their facility we departed with 2 small suitcases, no longer Overlanders…

Delivering the car to West Coast Shipping

Delivering the car to West Coast Shipping

Justin and Alex

Justin and Alex

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Without the Patrol it was into an “uber” for the first time and onto the train for the run into San Francisco for a night in a proper hotel and a little more exploration.

A last wander in San Francisco...

A last wander in San Francisco…

Cable Car Museum

Cable Car Museum

Before we knew it we were heading for the airport…

With a little reflection I’ve come to realise that this whole experience has left quite an indelible mark on my consciousness. I can still tap into the excitement around packing the Patrol in Perth and then unloading it in Vladivostok before finding our first camp almost 3 years ago. Whilst more recent events covet the most vivid recollections, so many of our earlier experiences still manage to emerge with such gusto that it’s as if they happened yesterday, I guess an overall measure of how I’ve enjoyed my time on the road!

We think we decide how the pages of our travel journal will be filled by the destinations we choose, but its the human connections and experiences along the way which truly dictate the narrative and if you stay open to it, the book will write itself.

All we need to do is get to the end of our book without a blank sheet of paper remaining and preferably very small print! The key is in the realisation that the tale you tell is your tale and it’s a tale for you!

Hmmm don’t know where that came from, a bit deep but I’ll leave it in the post as it probably gives an insight into the effect our journey has had on us. Oh and the couple of beers I’ve had might have helped get it out…

The Big Island awaits!

Back soon with The Final Destination.

Justin

False Reality

In Limbo! I know I’ve been here before, I’m definitely there now!

It was a ridiculous race to the finish, trying to get all the little tasks completed. But finally with house rented and finding ourselves homeless it was into the car and off to my parents for our final night in Aus!
Not quite so simple however, just when you think “wow” we’ve made it through the list, our remaining car decided it would like a new set of brake pads. I guess it was seeking some attention with the prospect of being left behind, Ahh well I guess my parents will have to carry the ball on that one.

A massive thanks due to all those whom without their help we would have struggled to make it through our list of jobs! You know who you are…..

A couple of hours sleep and on the jet, 7 hours later and I’m drinking ice cold beer in a palatial condo in Kuala Lumpur! It pays to make the right friends….

From frantically sorting out the house and tying off everything connected with our lives to now being in a state of “I don’t have to do anything” has been a little like dreaming with your eyes open- well it was for a day or so anyway. Alas, an email slap in the face quickly reminded me that reality is still out there!

It would seem that a road block has appeared somewhere along the internet between Fremantle and Russia – our Russian shipping agent has yet to receive any of the previously sent instant correspondence from our Fremantle Agent. Ahh well that’s another story! Fortunately however all expat palatial condos have scanners and really fast broadband so copies made and emails sent, crisis averted – I think!

Taxis and hotels booked, it’s back in training for vodka consumption in the form of practising with a little more icy beer! “zazdarovje!”

Well Isaac Newton is in the drivers seat for the moment, guess we will see how reliable he is in a few days..

Back on the jet on Monday, overnight in Korea and then on to the main course – Russia!

I shall leave it at that for now, stay tuned as we travel north and watch the thermometer travel south from 30 + degrees C to below 0!!

Bye for the moment Justin..

Hotel Henderson Staff and Guests!
Hotel Henderson Staff and Guests!