Ready, Set, Go!

June 29, 2011

Although we have been talking about our trip and saving for it for over 2 years it all came down to 2 very busy weeks.  We had a very busy spring and had not made as much progress on our trip planning and preparation as we would have hoped, so we decided on a July 1st departure date.  We thought this would allow us the opportunity to finish our preparations, say goodbye to our family and friends and leave in a somewhat organized fashion.  As it turned out, things happened  a lot more quickly (and in a much less orderly manner) than we had anticipated.  We signed a contract with a property management company to rent our house on May 10th, they showed it on May 11th and we had a signed lease on May 12th, however the renter needed to move in on June 1st, NOT July 1st.  This really out us in to panic mode and we submitted our letters of resignation on May 13th, making May 27th our last days in the office.

Neither of our employers have HR policies that would enable us to take a year off, so quitting was the only option.  Luckily Jordan still had a week of unused vacation time and his employer was kind enough to allow him to take his last week off, as we still had a huge list of repairs and mandatory maintenance to do to our house before we left, not to mention preparing the bikes, selecting the gear for the trip and packing up our entire life and loading it on to a moving truck. Let’s just say it was a very busy two weeks and it came right down to the wire, our eves troughs were being cleaned the day we were leaving.  Our new time line also prevented us from conducting any much needed test packing or shakedown runs, those would have to be done in realtime on the go.

After investigating the cost of temporary storage facilities in Calgary it became painfully obvious that we could not afford to store our things using one of those services.  Luckily, it was Sandra’s brother  Alex and his wife Ruby to the rescue, with a very generous offer to store our furniture in their basement.  The only catch was that Alex and Ruby live in Regina, which is about 750km from Calgary.  Since we could not afford temporary storage, we certainly could not afford to hire a moving company, which meant we rented a truck and packed and loaded everything ourselves. And just try reserving a moving truck 2 weeks before the end of the month, we were lucky and they had 1 medium sized truck left – we booked it on the spot.   With the medium sized truck we figured that we’d have to load it up, make the 750km trip to Regina, unload and then travel another 750km back to Calgary to get the bikes, before turning around and repeating the 750km trip once again back to Regina on the bikes en route to Newfoundland.  As it turned out, when we went to get the truck all they had left was a full size, 26 foot cube truck which had more than enough space for our furniture and our motorbikes.

The plan was set, load our motorbikes and all of our worldly possessions on the truck, unload it at Sandra’s brother’s place and then head out from Regina on the bikes.  Loading the truck started of okay, until time for the bikes.  Lucky for us, we chose a landmark day to pack the truck – the day of Calgary’s Lilac Festival  Our street is completely closed down due to the 100,000 Calgarians in our neighbourhood – which made negotiating a 26-foot truck all that more interesting.  On this day, our hippie neighbour, Ed has his own street party, Ed Fest which has far less people, but better music and more beer.  When it came time to load the bikes up the ramp, and over the 8-inch lip to the truck, a couple of Ed Festers noticed us struggling on the loading ramp and came to the rescue.  Thanks, guys!

Jord loading his Dakar

Unpacking the truck in Regina was a bit easier and certainly went a lot faster, until it came to unloading the bikes, that is.  Although we were able to unload Sandra’s bike without incident, sadly the same cannot be said for unloading Jordan’s Dakar.  It made it down the ramp fine, but it somehow managed to end up on its side on the pavement just the same.  Bruised ego aside, there was no damage and  we managed to right it without too much effort.  It goes without saying that it will probably not be the last time one of the bikes needs to picked up off the ground, although they will be much heavier with all of the luggage…

Yes there are 2 motorbikes in there

Dakar down!

We are often late, we never seem to have a solid plan, and we tend to procrastinate, perhaps not the best traits to have for planning a year long motorcycle trip to the tip of South America, but we’re on our way .  The last 3 weeks have been no exception – they were fast-paced, required some good luck and were physically exhausting.  But, it all worked out, we’re on the road and living our dream.


4 thoughts on “Ready, Set, Go!

  1. Hi Sandra, hi Jordan. We (Sylvia, Prem, Igor) are reading your blog and it is extremly interesting. I went for a walk with Sylvia today & we were talking that maybe in few years (when we’ll be empty nested…) maybe we try something similiar to your trip. I am not so sure about a motorcycle as the primary form of traveling, but maybe a car. By the way, looks like we were in Nova Scotia & PEI almost the same time. Can You imagine, if we would accidently bump to each other in the middle of Halifax Citadel, Cape Breton Island or Anne of Green Gables Estate…………???!!!
    Have a wonderful & safe trip to the end of the world.
    Prem Baranowski
    p.s. Aug 19, 2011 – Igor, myself & a friend, we are going to do West Coast Trail.

  2. I love your blog. Sandra must be a very brave girl to undertake a journey like this on a bike. I would love to do a similar trip. It would be interesting to know what equipment you found useful and what not to do. How did you cope with money etc? Did everyone accept credit cards? I noticed you had a few mechanical problems along the way. Did you start with new bikes or were they used bikes? Did you carry a tent and food with you? You couldn’t have had much in the way of clothes. What a wonderful adventure and what memories to last the rest of your lives. Well done and congratutions on a wonderful story.

    • Hi Raymond – I just caught this comment tonight for some reason. I’m not brave – I just like to have fun.

      We did carry a tent the whole way and used it quite a bit, actually… we bought food in stores along the way and always had peanut butter and bread! Money was easy – each country, city, village even had ATM machines and we withdrew cash in the local currency. At border crossings, we would exchange any currency leftover for local currency with the money changers at the borders. Great service – know the exchange rates.

      Our bikes were 10 years old – but the are still running well with 90k on them in 2016. These bikes were built to ride, that’s for sure… It was a great trip and we are starting to plan the next! You should, too ; )

      Thanks for the interest.

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