Friday, April 29, 2011

Packing Volume 3: The Tank Bag Edition

In addition to clothes and camping stuff, we have some random important things we are bringing in the tank bag. Here they are:

Misc. Necessary Items

2 headlamps
2 Platypus 1L water bottles (they are cool because they are soft plastic so they can change shape to fit better)
1 First aid kit
2 Journals
3 Books (Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Persig, and The General in His Labyrinth by Gabriel García Márquez
1 Ziploc full of toiletries, sunscreen, etc.
1 30 gb iPod
1 MyTouch 3G Slide w/ 8 gb and 16 gb memory
1 Olympus Stylus1030 SW Digital Camera w/ 2 2 gb memory cards
1 adaptor so we can charge our stuff using the USB cord and the motorcycle lighter.

Tank Bag Packed

It seems like everything is going to fit in the tank bag with just a little room to spare. That is until I think of something else we have to bring.

Tank Bag

Packing Volume 2: Camping Edition

We are planning on doing as much camping as possible on our trip partly to save money and partly because we enjoy it. Here are the things we are going to bring to camp with:

Camping Gear

1 Big Agnes 0 degree bag (Jill)
1 Lafuma 30 degree bag (Mike)
2 Big Agnes sleeping pads
1 Sierra Designs Clip Flashlight tent
1 double hammock
1 cook set that includes a pot to cook in, sporks, knive/spatula and bowls, a gas cannister, and the "stove" by MSR
Water Purifiers: Microfilter and a UV Steripen

Back Bag Packed

Somehow, I got most all of it to fit in the case that will go on the back of the bike.

Back Bag

Packing Volume 1: The Clothing Edition

So what does one pack for an extended motorcycle journey through all climates and conditions?  Good question, and one I hope we figure out sometime before we leave.  Mike didn't seem to have too much trouble in deciding what clothes he wanted to bring.  I, on the other hand, spent a lot of time trying to figure out what clothing would be perfect.  I was concerned with drying time and not looking like I am about to embark on an epic jungle safari.  I'm sure we am nowhere close to perfection, but this is what we are going to go with:


Jill's Clothes

1 pair of jeans (Gap)
1 pair of brown nylon pants that I hope don't look too safari-like (North Face)
1 pair of board shorts (Roxy)
1 pair of running shorts (Nike)
1 skirt (Prana)
2 tank tops (Icebreaker, Mossimo)
3 short sleeve shirts (New Balance for riding 100% polyester, American Apparel t-shirt is cotton blend, Ex Officio nicer short sleeve is non-cotton blend)
1 merino wool sweater (Smartwool)
1 longsleeve baselayer that will will look fine by itself (Smartwool)
1 baselayer pants (Under Armour)
2 bras (Under Armour &
3 pairs of underwear (1 Under Armour & 2 Ex Officio)
1 quick dry towel (REI)
1 lightweight rain pants (Sierra Designs)
1 pair flip flops (Chaco)
1 pair casual shoes (New Balance)
1 stocking cap (Alpine Designs)
1 swimsuit (Mossimo)
1 belt
2 pair short socks
1 pair ski socks for riding


Stew's Clothes

1 pair khakis (Royal Robbin)
1 pair jeans
1 pair board shorts (Quicksilver)
3 pair boxers (Ex Officio)
3 t-shirts (polyester t-shirt REI & Columbia, marino wool Icebreaker)
1 nicer t-shirt (Prana)
1 button up shirt (North Face)
1 marino wool sweater
1 longsleeve baselayer (Smartwool)
1 baselayer pants (Hot Chillys)
1 quick dry towel (REI)
1 pair short socks
1 pair ski socks for riding
1 pair thin socks for riding
1 pair flip flops (Reef)
1 pair casual shoes (Saucony)
1 stocking cap

Mike's sister and brother in law gave us some awesome Marmot compression bags we are going to pack all our clothes in and put in the saddle bags.

All Packed Up

Big Foot, Small Bag

Keep in mind that I have size 11 feet.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Closing Weekend Shenanigans

Closing weekend at Mary Jane has become somewhat of a tradition for us.  It is the last weekend that the ski resort is open and it turns into a huge party in the ski in/ski out parking lot better known as C Lot.  It is crucial to get a good spot in the parking lot so that you can reserve space for you and your friends to party.  Since Mike and I don't have jobs and don't have shit to do (like get ready for this little trip we are about to take), we volunteered to go up Thursday afternoon to get a good space and camp out in the 1991 Aerostar.  Thursday night was relatively low key and we went to bed early.  I woke up to some altitude issues apparently from being in the midwest for 2 weeks and had to wake Mike up to open the van so I could puke out of it.  Nice.  Our friends started showing up Friday afternoon and we proceeded to have a fun, drunk closing weekend.  We got dumped on all day Saturday and a lot of the day Sunday so people had the opportunity to ski if they so chose.  Thanks to Chris and Ed for letting us crash at their cabins - it was much warmer than the van.  It was great hanging out with good friends and meeting other cool people.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Midwest Road Trip

The last few weeks have been a marathon of moving, getting rid of stuff, and errands.  We probably sold about 80 things on Craigslist before having a sidewalk sale to get rid of what we could before taking the rest to Goodwill.  Our friends Kyle and Janelle were nice enough to let us crash at their place for a few weeks as we closed on the house at the end of March.  We were really quite fortunate to have received an acceptable offer on the house within 8 days and to have sold the house so quickly with no major issues.  Despite our getting rid of a lot of stuff, we still moved about 4 vanloads of stuff to Kyle and Janelle's.  Next, we re-loaded the van with the things that we wanted to save for the future and took a road trip back to both of our parent's houses.  Fortunately, they live within 3.5 hours of each other, so once we got through Kansas, we were both close to home.

First we went to Higginsville, MO where Jill is from.  I hadn't been back in a few years, so it was great to see everyone, and I mean everyone.  A majority of both sides of my family live in Higginsville (pop >5,000), so there was a lot of people to see.  We also spent an evening with my friends from the volleyball team at Washburn and another evening with a few of my friends from high school.  It was the first time Mike has met most of her family and friends, and he did a very good job of keeping names, faces and stories straight.  We had an all around good time with everyone and were both very happy to catch up.  We even got to see my uncle chase down a muskrat in the pond with his camouflage vehicle and shoot it with a gun.

WU Volleyball Rules!
(With college friends)

 Once we had our fill of chocolate chip cookies and steak, we headed to Mike's parent's house in West Des Moines, IA.  His sister and 20 month old niece (Claire) arrived that afternoon from Chicago and we had a great time catching up and seeing how much Claire has developed.  She is at such a fun age!  We also go to go shopping  with Mike's mom to pick up some last minute items needed for the trip and make really nice fake IDs, also with Mike's mom's help.  Mike's brother-in-law got into town Friday night and the crew was complete.  Most of the weekend was devoted to playing with Claire and being amazed by how darn cute she is.  Once the weekend was over and they went back to Chicago, the house got a lot quieter and we were able to enjoy some great dinners and conversation with Mike's mom and dad.

Stew's Family
(Mike's family)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Getting Ready

After years of hoping to make this happen, our dream trip journey is finally here!  We are down to the last few items to get ready including our own preparations as well as the motorcycle and paperwork.  To make sure we were on track, we made this awesomely detailed calendar showing very specifically what we had to get done:

USA calendar

Those unmarked dates allow us some time to sort out random details, ya know, like selling a house, selling most everything that was inside the house, setting up a 1989 Honda Transalp for the trip of its lifetime, learning how to blog, creating a Picasa (well, we we've been through the process once before with this other Picasa account) and Flickr account, and so on. More details on a few of those steps to follow...

The Plan

We leave Denver, Colorado, USA on May 1st, 2011 to head south, destination unspecified - we'll know it when we're there.  Our ultimate goal is to get to Ushuaia, Argentina, commonly considered the southernmost city in the world.  Along the way, we are both hoping to pick up random jobs that will allow us to stay in one spot for awhile and get to know people.  Jill is also looking forward to taking Spanish classes somewhere as her Spanish is not quite up to par  (Mike's is much better).  Other highlights we are looking forward to are visiting friends in El Salvador and Panama, visiting the community Jill lived in for Peace Corps in Suriname, visiting the community that Mike worked with through Engineers Without Borders in Peru, and going back to Buenos Aires where Mike studied abroad.  Oh, and we are also looking forward to the beach, jungle, mountains, bugs, stomach issues, awkward cultural exchanges, street food, motorcycle repairs, and everything else we are going to see on a daily basis.