Most people in Alaska do not say “good bye” when leaving. Good bye seems to have a note of finality about it, like we will never meet again, and by definition it does. So most Alaskan’s say “see ya”. The Eskimos that I have lived with on the Seward Peninsula (where Nome is located) in Alaska say “see you, huh?”….hoping for a positive response like, “yea, see you”. From all of the years that Lana and I have lived in Alaska, we too have picked up on this way of departing friends and loved ones.
So after more than a few tearful “see ya” in Pennsylvania we rode towards Michigan to see our youngest daughter and her husband,---Tanisha and Shannon. This will be our last visit before flying us and our bikes to Paris……..and out last “see ya” in America.
We made good time and rode about 465 miles the second day. And we were a bit tired when we got there just a little after dark.
We have had some trouble with some of our equipment and it needed to be repaired or replaced:
To my complete shock our Garmin Montana 600 had quit. D had sent it off to Garmin for repair or replacement and they had sent the rebuilt one to Tanisha for us to pick up there. After that we decided that we really should have a backup unit. We are map and compass people and not having an arm load of maps to navigate around Africa with is a big draw back in my opinion. However there is only so much room on two bikes……
Our Garmin for cars had quit. It is the one we enter a street addres into so we can find the place. (Remember…we are not city people.) I know it is not meant for bikes but it is what we could afford at the time. We needed one to get around in Toronto and Paris so we bought a Garmin DriveSmart which is supposed to be a lot better unit….it sure cost more.. We bought and loaded the Garmin street and road maps for France and Spain on to it……and then it quit working when it was just two days old!! Lana called the Garmin support number and they showed her how to do a “short reboot” and got it going again. Now we have to download an update for it. We have yet to be where there is a fast enough internet connection to get that done.
Our MSR stove had quit while on this trip. It was about 30 years old so we decided that rather than fix it we had better get a new one. We bought an MSR Dragon Fly that will also run on car gas (among others) so we only need one kind of fuel for the bikes and stove.
Our water filter was getting real old---25+ years—and we had pumped a lot of water through it. We didn’t want it to quit us when that was our only source of clean water in Africa. And as long as we were getting a new one we wanted a bigger unit that would filter more water, so we bought an MSR Guardian
I rode about 250 miles running all of that down and got it all packed up and ready.
Tanisha is in her second year of Naturopathic school. Although I am a Homeopathic Physician---not a Naturopath--- I am very happy that she is following in my footsteps. I am very proud of her!!!! She will make a terrific doctor and will make a significant difference in the world. (We now have two of our four daughters in the health care field. Our oldest is an RN on the heart team at a major hospital). We attended a lecture on health that Tanisha gave at her office. I was very impressed…..not just because she is our daughter….but by how articulate she is and by her knowledge of the subject matter. Great job kid, I am very proud of you!!!!
We were surprised at how bad the condition of the highways and freeways are in Michigan. BIG pot holes in the freeways with people trying to dodge them at 70 MPH. Chunks of concrete in the road where they had come out of the concrete road surface, leaving the big pot holes. (Coming from Alaska we are used to bad roads mostly caused by the terrible freeze / thaw weather cycles!) But in Michigan……..It was something that we would expect to find in an impoverished country. We were driving down the freeway with Tanisha and I commented to her about the dismal state of their road system. She said “In some countries they drive on the right side and in some countries they drive on the left. In Michigan we drive on what’s left”.
So after some more tearful see ya’s we rode for /Toronto in the rain….and oh did it ever rain in north east Michigan!!! Poured….giant drops falling about as thick as if we were standing under a fire hose pointing straight up. But it got better…turning into a constant drizzle. We are used to riding in the rain, it is not that bad. With our KLIM rain gear we always stay dry. Camping in the rain is another matter. Everything stays wet until we run into some nice weather. But as the old saying goes “if it were not for the rain we would not appreciate the sunshine”. And oh how we do appreciate the sunshine!!!
After getting the Garmin downloads we got a late start, 1:30 PM, and didn’t get very far before it started getting dark. We camped at a very nice campground we found along the freeway near London, Ontario, Canada. It is called Campers Corner. We highly recommend it. The owners are great people and they have a nice campground with a heated pool and spa, fire pits and firewood, and a nice flat lawn to pitch your tent on.
Here is the contact information:
Address: 136 Cromarty Drive
London, ON N6M 1H6
Phone: 1-844-287-9313 or: 1-519-644-0222
From there we rode to Milton Heights Campground in Milton Heights Ontario, Canada. Nice place to camp with water and electric for $2 more, a nice flat lawn to pitch your tent, and a pool in the summer months. It was raining on and off during our stay there.
It seems like no matter where we go we run into very nice, interesting, and compassionate people. Steve Spierenberg, a fireman for the City of Toronto, was one of those people. He was very enthralled with our expedition and we talked for several hours. It was great to get to know you a little bit Steve. Be safe and thank you for your help draining some gas from my bike!
A full time resident there is a man----that unfortunately I cannot remember his name----and his wife Susan. He made it a point to introduce himself as we rode up to the campground gate to check in…and talked to us several other times. We were in the laundry room at a table to get out of the rain so I could use our laptop to update our blog. Lana had just come in and there was only one chair for the table so Susan went to get us a chair from her house so we could both set down. Her husband brought some fresh tomatoes from their garden. They later brought us hot homemade vegetable soup to our tent in the pouring rain. It was delicious, and then came a carrot cake!!!…my favorite. I told them that we were starting to get spoiled. What great people. Thank you for your very gracious hospitality!!!
My bike at Air Canada Cargo stripped of the "you can't take this" stuff
Monday morning we went to Air Canada Cargo to ship our bikes to Paris. If you want to ship you and your bike to the European Union it goes like this:
Call Air Canada Cargo and make arrangements to send your bike on their “Fly Your Bike” program. 1-800-387-4865
Next call Air Canada reservations and tell them that you are shipping your bike on their “Fly Your Bike” program and get yourself a seat ticket.
The next stop is DGC Logistics (A Dangerous Goods Consultant company) to get a Declaration Paper for Class 9 Dangerous Goods (UN3166 Vehicles, liquid fuel powered). This has to be done before you can get your bike shipped. Tell him that Air Canada Cargo will weigh the bike and fill in the weight on the papers at the cargo terminal. The cost was $110.18 Cn. For two (2) bikes. Here is the phone number. Ask for Larry Palmer: 1-800-663-3690 or: 1-905-564-2453. Address: 11-975 Midway Blvd. / Mississauga, Ontario, Canada L5T 2C6
Next go to Air Canada Cargo. It is about three Kilometers from DGC Logistics. The address is: 6301 Silver Dart Road / Mississauga, ON L5P 1B2. You are required to have your bike there at least six (6) hours before the plane leaves. And if you have two bikes you will need all of the six (6) hours. If you have several bikes I highly recommend that you get there a day early! Here is where things got interesting:
You are required to make a complete inventory of everything on each bike. Do this before you get there or you will not have enough time to do it
You are not allowed to ship your clothes or toiletries on the bike. You have to check them in with your baggage when you fly
The security guy searched everything on both bikes. Here is a list of the things that we could not bring and had to surrender some of them:
We could only have ¼ tank of gas in each bike. With the help of Steve I had siphoned some gas out of my bike at the campground. We decided that Lana’s bike fuel level was low enough. It was not.
Fuel bottles (ours were MSR) for our stove gas. They had been used but there was no gas in them. If you are shipping a used fuel bottle it has to be purged by a certified purging company and you must have the certificate that it was purged! This included the small bottle that our stove operated on which they took. The security guy wanted to confiscate the stove pressure pump out of the small fuel bottle because it had had fuel in it! Fortunately for us a more level headed man, John Collins, stepped in and got the pump back for us. Thank you for all of your help John. We greatly appreciate you!!!!
Our bottle of foot powder…because it had been opened
Our can of Lemon Pledge that we used on our windshields and face shield
All of our Lithium Ion Batteries from flashlights, Sat Phone, GPS, Cell Phones, etc. could not be shipped on the bikes but we could take them in our carryon baggage!!
All open vitamin, mineral, or medication bottles could not be shipped with the bikes but we took them all in our carryon baggage with no problem!
Our two cans of Bear Spray. I didn’t think that it would make the cut. Why did we have it to begin with? If you have been keeping up with or blog you will remember that we rode from Alaska and through Canada, camping out all but a few nights. And there are both black and grizzly bear in that part of the world. We had also held out some hope that we could take it to Africa so we could use in to defend ourselves against hyena, lions and etc. when we are camping in the bush!
Liquid Laundry Soap because it was an opened bottle
Mosquito Repellent….which was a real bad deal to not have in Africa
They tried to take the cooking oil (Coconut Oil) and a small bottle of salad dressing!!
Our helmets, boots and KLIM riding gear which we put in two large duffel bags we had bought on the cheap, one at a Goodwill Store and the other one at a WalMart Store
We were wheels up out of Toronto at 8 PM and arrived at 8 AM in Paris.It is about an eight hour flight. I cannot sleep on an airplane for more than a few quick “combat naps” so I got less than an hour’s sleep.Lana has a better time sleeping on an airplane than I do so she got a little more rest than I did. We were both pretty tired when we landed.
We checked through customs in Paris and picked up our bags. Lana waited with the bags at the baggage claim while I went to find a place to exchange our cash for Euros.The line for the currency exchange was about 50 meters long.I was about half way through it when a women came up to me from behind a podium and asked me what I was in line for.I told her and she whisked me to the front of the line much to the annoyance of all of the other people in line. Thank you!
We then headed out to the cab stand to get a ride to the cargo terminal and pick up our bikes.A man asked us if we needed a cab and he summoned a cab driver for us.This guy walks up and said he would take us to the cargo terminal after only a very casual glance at the address I showed him.He took us to his “cab” which was not a cab at all but his private car.I told him this is not a cab and we were not going to ride with him.He was about half mad as he drove away…..and so was the other guy.
We found a real cab, showed the driver the address but he did not know where it was.He found it in his GPS and we set off.The cargo airline section of Charles de’ Gaulle Airport is gigantic and goes on for miles.Our real cab driver could not find Air Canada Cargo and it took some driving around and stopping to ask for directions a couple of times to get there.
We arrived and started the process of getting our bikes….and it was a lengthy process.So here is what you need to know:
When you get there, if you are during the morning shift ask for a man named Thierry Piette (pictured above). His English is excellent and he will do whatever it takes to get your bike for you. Thank you Thierry for your help!!!! You are a great guy! Tey will give you some papers to take to French Customs.
Next you need to go the French Customs which is located in the next building to your right as you exit the Cargo facility. Go to the second floor, room M120. You will need to take the following with you:
Passport in the name of the person that shipped the bike. So do NOT let someone else ship your bike with their name on the shipping papers or you will not get your bike
Your bike registration (I also took the title) for proof of ownership
Proof of insurance on your bike that covers France
All of the papers that Air Canada Cargo gave you
French Customs will give you more paperwork that you have to take back to Cargo. They will also give you a document that you MUST have with you on the bike at all times in the EU. In case you get stopped you MUST be able to produce this document!
Then Cargo releases the bike to you and you repack all of the stuff that you had to take on the airplane with you, and you are off on your adventure…….
Loading all of the "you can't take this" stuff back on the bikes
Our next adventure started about 300 meters from the parking lot~! I was in the lead and taking directions from Lana with her GPS and I took a wrong turn at a roundabout and Lana took the correct turn. I made a U-turn in the road and went back to the roundabout and and took the next side street. I had lost communications on our SENA coms with Lana as we were too far out of range from each other and I did not know where she was. Then I ran out of gas!!!! Some rotten SOB had siphoned all of the gas out of both bikes after we dropped them off to ship in Toronto. I think it was the forklift driver at Air Canada in Toronto. When he came to strap the bikes on a pallet and haul them away, he was having a fit because he thought that there was too much gas in the bikes even though everyone else said they were good to go.
So there I was stranded in the road, which was very narrow, with no shoulder and no place to push my bike to in sight, and not knowing for sure where Lana was. Cars and semi trucks were driving out around me using most or all of the oncoming lane when there was no oncoming traffic. All of a sudden a guy and his lady stopped beside me and asked what was wrong. After explaining my ordeal he said he would go to a gas station and get me some gas. He showed up about 15 minutes later with a two liter water bottle of gas and said he had found Lana out of gas and had given her one too. He showed me where Lana was and refused to take any money for the gas!!!! I was stunned at his generosity. If you two are reading this….THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!!!
We found the gas station and were in for our second surprise of the day. We bought (approximately) a total of 12 US gallons of gas for 78 Euros!!! It is no wonder there are so many motor scooters and motorcycles in Paris! It costs a small fortune to drive even a motorcycle here.
We rode around and around Paris using Garmin’s download for France trying to find the campground we had located on the internet when we were at the airport. It was a nice ride and we saw a lot of sights. But the mapping download was way off. The map would show us to go right and the directions would say turn left. It would show streets that were not on the signs and etc. So it was awhile….several hours…before we found the campground. On one hand it was not worth the $99 it cost us for the download and on the other hand we were still able to use it to find the campground. Am I glad that we got it? Yes.
We found the camp ground and pitched our tent for a few days, glad to get some sleep after being up for over 24 hours.