Sunday, July 27, 2014

St. Paul, MN to Kearney, NE

Stopped off at Ankeny, IA to have breakfast with friends. Amelia and Zach had to sit on the GS.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

To Russia With Doug

Two years ago, a fantastic opportunity dropped in our laps.  We had just finished our trip to South America when we got a call from a chap by the name of Doug Laird who was planning a similar trip and wanted some information.  Long story short, later that year Doug did the long ride down.  We met up for the first time sometime later and had a wonderful dinner with he and his wife Sara during which he asked if we had ever considered going to RussiaRussia?  Yeah, sure we had but didn’t figure it was doable for the two of us.  He explained that he wanted to put a group together to ride across and would we be interested.  Well as we’ve said before, we really are suckers for most anything motorcycle and so on August 12, 2014, we will set off on our next adventure: Siberia!

Our group has shrunk from the original 13 who wanted to go to the 6 who are going.  Ross and I are the only Canadians.  The other four are Americans:  Doug and his friend Dave (Sara will fly to Moscow and ride with us from there on) and Steve and RuthAnn Reynen, who have been our companions through India, Nepal, Central and South America are once again up for the ride.

The past two years have been spent researching routes, purchasing books and maps, arranging accommodations, shipping of bikes and people, insurance for bikes and people, evacuation plans, and reading everything we can get our hands on.  So we’re 90 days out and its time to get our visas-not the click click kind-the let me into your country kind.  The process begins with applying for an invitation for a visa and then once that is obtained from Moscow, it is submitted with the formal visa application.  Its during phase one that we learn Canadians can only get a 30 day Tourist visa which is definitely not enough time to travel the 6,000 miles across the country.  Also there is nowhere to renew a visa once you have left your country of origin.  You must return and reapply.  Meanwhile, our American friends have been granted 3 YEAR visas, no problem.  Wait a minute!  The Americans, super power arch rivals of the Russians, can get visas and the Canadians, with their one ice breaker and four bows and arrows can’t?!  Nope.  But all is not lost.  Money talks and it asks for a Cultural visa through an agency in the US and low and behold it arrives 10 days and many hundreds of dollars later.  Who would have thought we’d get approved for anything with “culture” in the description?

So we’re ready for take off!  Here’s the plan:  We fly to Seoul, South Korea on August 12th where we meet up with our Kawasaki KLRs that are being flown from Germany (where they have been in storage) to Seoul.  The other four are flying with their bikes from Vancouver, B.C. to Seoul arriving shortly after we do.  We will do some sightseeing in South Korea before boarding a ferry to Vladivostok, Russia where the ride begins.  We will ride east to west ending up in St. Petersburg in early October.  From there we will be heading back to the barn in Heidelberg, Germany to store the bikes away and then home by the end of October.