Archive for the ‘USA’ Category

Lunch and war talk

13th December 2012 by Helen

For us it had been a late night last night, with supper of cheese and ham rolls at midnight, but everyone else here works to the routine of siesta – not mad dogs and Englishmen!  Which meant everyone else was up and out at work by the time we woke up!  Oops.  Even so Graciela invited us to stay for lunch.  We nipped out quickly to post a couple of letters and make the final phone calls we needed to make before returning to be treated to an amazing lunch of various cuts of beef and sausages cooked on the open fire by Hector, served with tomatoes and lettuce.  The conversation flowed and even survived a political discussion on the Malvinas (aka Falklands to the British).

Not far to Ushuaia then!

By late afternoon it was time for us to be on the move again, if we are to make it to our various destinations of Santiago before Christmas and Peurto Montt before the middle of January.  We said our goodbyes and hit Ruta 60 and then Ruta 40, almost reaching Puerto Alegra when we spotted a campsite just off the road, down in the dry river bed of the valley, just before the sun was going down.  The road had been pretty good tarmac (aka pavement or asphalt) most of the way, with just a bit of the road over the mountains reverting to lightly corrugated dirt track, but even that is ‘under construction’ and improvement.  In little over four hours we’d covered a pretty impressive 262 kilometres.

It’s getting exciting now.  Apart from our detour toSantiagoto visit family in England in July, this is now the furthest south the expedition has reached.  Tonight we are camped on latitude 29.41906.  Our second antipodean point is just south of Puerto Montt and we expect to be there either in early January or late February.

It’s hard to believe it is only 12 days to Christmas.  In Tinogasta we saw plenty of shops selling Christmas decorations but few of the shops have any decorations up.  Those that do have only maybe one or two small decorations.  So unlike what we were used to in England.  Our first Christmas on the road was in the US, where houses, shops and shopping malls were lavishly decorated, and we saw huge municipal decorations lining the roads of Montana.  Our second Christmas on the road was in Central America, in Yalo in Ecuador.  There Christmas was low key, with just a couple of houses with visible decorations in the window, few shops even selling decorations or wrapping paper and only one or two shops with a Christmas tree (such as in the DIY store in Sigchos), and Christmas Day seemed like a normal day with people working in their allotments or caring for their animals, and the café was open as usual.  There seem to be more decorations on sale in the shops in Chile and Argentina than we saw in Ecuador, and I guess it might be a bit more commercialised as we near Santiago in the last week before Christmas.

I think it’s fair to say that we are both delighted to be away from the commercialisation and consumerist fervour of Christmas.  We don’t have the space or the desire to spend unnecessarily on largely unwanted products just for the sake of it.  Although (irritatingly for Paul) I do enjoy looking in the shop windows at all the brightly coloured stuff on sale.  I guess we might treat ourselves to a nice bottle of wine, and possibly a meal in a nice restaurant to celebrate the beginning of another New Year.  It’s been fun making and putting together a few decorations for Landy, which are now ready and waiting to be put up on Christmas Day and whenever we are stationary around that time.  What I don’t yet know is where we will be for our third Christmas and New Year on the road?  Guess it’s a case of watch this space!

Thanks for Thanksgiving!

25th November 2012 by Helen

As we are a long way from any internet connection it is unfortunate that we will be late in posting this blog.  But here’s thanks to our US friends for whom we have special memories at Thanksgiving.

For Mike & Jenni whose car we delivered from Anchorage to Pensacola on Thanksgiving Eve 2010 (and who have now moved north again), and who gave us our first taste of Pumpkin Pie.  For Carl & Marilyn who gave us somewhere to stay as we flew back from Pensacola on Thanksgiving Day itself, and then waited for our Landy to be released by the Department of Agriculture and the Port of Seattle.  For Steve and his family who gave us our first ever Thanksgiving Dinner.  For Monica at Vantage Point who struggled with her own country’s bureaucracy to get our car released from the Port.  For Tom and Bill at Great Basin Rovers in Salt Lake City, who, twelve months later, were pulling all the stops out to get us parts sent to Quito in Ecuador.  And for all our other special US friends, too numerous to mention.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Thank you America

26th April 2011 by Helen
26 Street hostel in Anchorage - thank you James

26 Street hostel in Anchorage - thank you James

We have met so many fantastic people during our six months in America.  Kind, generous, helpful people.  Some endured us for days or even weeks in their homes, others were more fleeting meetings where we did not even learn their names.

James, the Irish owner of The 26th Street Hostel, the backpackers’ hostel in Anchorage, whose orientation and advice were much  appreciated, and Inge, another resident, a fisherman between jobs, who shared both his story and his food with us

Jenni & Mike, whose Jeep we delivered from Anchorage to Florida, and who despite the mounting cost to them of doing so, still welcomed us into their lives and their home for a brief while on our arrival.

teahouse kuan yinCarl & Marilyn, Marcus & Denice, Sorin & Ann, all of whom invited us into their homes during our stay in Seattle – and even let us house sit while they went away – along with showing us the sights of and around Seattle


Rob & Laura and everyone else at Cascade Rovers who gave us a great day out at Snoqualmie Forest in December, not long after we got our Landy back from his ordeal in the port

Clint McCaffrey, the USDA officer who gave us directions to a pretty little campsite in Montana – even if we nearly froze to death before deciding to escape the cold and head down south a bit.

Emerson & Tammy, on their way home to Billings, one of two couples who helped us with jump starts in Rest Areas in Montana as we escaped the cold while Landy’s battery was suffering from the effects of the cold and his starter motor was feeling a little poorly.

Paul with Pete & Laura & Landy outside their house

Paul with Pete & Laura & Landy outside their house

Pete & Laura – Salt Lake City – thank you for inviting two weary travellers into your home, to clean up, rest a while, and learn so much from you about life and fortitude – we are honoured to have you as new friends.

The unknown thieves who broke into our car in Salt Lake City – if it wasn’t for you we would never have met many of the rest of the people below – you only got $7 out of us, we got so much more out of you!

Bill Davis of Great Basin Rovers, and his wife Monie – who not only gave us practical help and parts, but also advice and hospitality, and put us in contact with plenty of others whose help and companionship we enjoyed.

Land Rover Centerville & Rovers Down South, with whom Bill exercised his relationship and cajoled into donating some spare parts to our cause.

The Griggs family - thank you for being so welcoming

The Griggs family - thank you for being so welcoming

Tom & Jenny, and their sons, who opened their home to us while we were in Salt Lake City – we did leave eventually, albeit after eating them out of house and home!

Linda & her husband who gave us fresh grapefruit and some new maps at our camp on Antelope Island, Salt Lake.

All the staff at the Flagstaff KOA, for being friendly and helpful and giving us a fantastic discount because you liked our truck, and especially Bill for sharing philosophical thoughts with us, guiding us around the locale, offering his Jeep as a loaner to save us taking down the rooftent, and for the gift of his precious ‘Special Colorado Stone’.

Paul & Patsy – who gave us some of their own line caught salmon for supper when we met at Flagstaff KOA – delicious.

From Overland Journal in Prescott – Scott & Stephanie, who gave us hospitality and some free magazines, Chris Marzonie who swapped our bent and buckled hi-lift jack for his straight one!

Carl & Marily with Ivy & Browser

Carl & Marily with Ivy & Browser

Carl (again) for giving us a priceless tour of the strip when we passed through Las Vegas, and doing so at a pace that spared us the ordeal of actually betting on anything!

Vern & Debra in Reno who gave us a bed and a rare night out, and shared their dream with us.

Everyone at Land Rover Marin (San Francisco) Dealership who enthused about our Landy and gave us the opportunity to show off in their showroom, whilst topping up our funds.

Everyone at Walnut Creek Land Rover (San Francisco)  who also enthused about our Landy and gave us more opportunity to show off in their Dealership and top up our funds a bit more – as well as fitting a new power steering reservoir while we were there (judging by the pink drip of fluid underneath Landy, Paul’s twin pack epoxy repair in Khilok in Siberia was evidently coming to the end of it’s life on the old one).  Special mention to Brian Guier, who’s faith and trust in us gave us the coinfidence to approach other dealerships.

Will & Ron, and other members of the Northern California Land Rover Club, and especially Mexxi’s restaurant for a lovely meal, and an evening of yarns, laughter and a donation to our fund.

not often you see such a line up of British Cars - this one outside the Salk Institute with the San Diego Rolls Royce Owners Club

not often you see such a line up of British Cars - this one outside the Salk Institute with the San Diego Rolls Royce Owners Club

Dawn & Chris Erickson from the Secret Car Club who invited us to their not-so-secret weekly meet and put us in touch with dozens more helpful and friendly people, and who continue to support us by email with contacts and helpful suggestions.

Klaus from the Secret Car Club who also paid for us to attend the San Diego Rolls Royce Owners Club’s outing to the Salk Institute the next day, where we met yet more kind and generous people.  Thank you also Klaus for a generous donation to our expedition fund.

Everyone at the San Diego Rolls Royce Owners Club for their companionship and impromptu contributions.

Will & Carlie, and their sons Hunter and Travis, for their hospitality and for opening their fabulous guest house for our use for a few days, and for contuing support and encouragement over the world wide web.  Let’s hope the Series 2A gets some road miles soon!

with Brad & Michelle

with Brad & Michelle

Brad & Michelle for their hospitality, and especially for Brad’s expertise and commitment in helping us get our presentation materials ready for the Overland Expo in time, including driving a couple of hundred miles to work on the project so that we would hit all our deadlines!

Yubert Fang and the members of the unofficial South Californian Land Rover Club who hosted us for an evening meal at MiMi’s – and who’s tales of future adventures are as inspiring as any we have heard.  Darn sure I wouldn’t do THAT on a bike!

Roseanne at Overland Expo for welcoming us to take part in such a fantastic event.

extremes at the Expo - a half million $ Unicat - with Anna & Paulo's Mitsubishi next door

extremes at the Expo - a half million $ Unicat - with Anna & Paulo's Mitsubishi next door

Ann Lockley, writer and journalist, for her support and help in sourcing us new chairs and a new battery, and when she couldn’t find us a new kettle – donating her own!

Anna & Pablo, who we met at the Overland Expo, for inspiring us with their story of travelling for 11 years, and for sharing macrame tips with Helen, and helping us to believe we can make the transition from living on the road, to making a living on the road.

Doug Aitken and members of the Houston Land Rover Club for providing the new battery (our auxilliary battery had never quite recovered from the pounding it got in the Montana cold in January)

The parents of Heath & Lisa (of, Paul & Jean, who provided us with homely hospitality, some wise insights, practical assistance, and a look at some of the sights around Tucson.  Thanks to Lisa too, for joining us at her parents’ house while we were there – it was great to meet you.

And to everyone else who stopped and asked us about our vehicle and our journey, including Charlene who gave us a Billy Graham book and her blessings.

These are but a few of the dozens, maybe hundreds, of people who have appeared on our path as we have made our way through the United States.  Our trip and our lives have been enriched by you all, and we offer our heartfelt thanks as we move south to new horizons.

May your God go with you wherever life takes you.