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I know our trip is a long way off– 2.5 years is a long time to wait for something.  Everyone says the hardest part about a trip like this is deciding you will go.  I disagree.  The hardest part for me is waiting for our savings to accumulate so we can GO!  In the meantime I do enjoy practicing riding our bikes like professionals (ha!), buying liquor in bulk to “keep expenditures down” (again, ha!) and spending A LOT of time on the internet planning routes and reading accounts of other people’s travels.

One part of our journey that has nagged at me from the get-go is the route across Russia.  That country is large, massive, enormous, elephantine… whatever fancy adjective you want to use, the main idea is it is BIG.  There is no way we can cycle across that in the time we want with the money we have.  Reading Tara and Tyler’s blog at Going Slowly has definitely confirmed that.  I’ve also learned through their blog that throwing our fully loaded touring bikes on the Trans-Siberian railway is not as easy as it sounds in my head (check out this post, these guys are cycling super stars!)  Not riding the Trans-Siberian railway isn’t really an option, it’s on my “must do” list for the trip.

So I present our ideas:

  1. Break the bikes down, box them up and throw them in cargo on the train.  Get off the train at Lake Baikal, put our bikes back together and explore that sucker.  Bikes go back into cargo and we continue on to Beijing.  Bicycle Asia.
  2. Meet up with my parents somewhere in Europe, possibly Germany.  Break down the bikes, box them up and send them home with mom and dad.  Take the train across Russia, making sure to stop at Lake Baikal to do aforementioned exploring.  Continue on to Beijing.  Backpack Asia.

Both of these have many variations and options to consider.  Reading this is the first my parents will have heard of our crazy idea number 2 (you’ll both be retired!…), will they go for it?  Do we really want to break our bikes down multiple times?  Do we really want to backpack Asia? 

The only thing I know is we MUST visit this lake.  Not only is it the deepest lake on earth it is also the oldest (25 million years young) and second largest.  It contains 20% of the entire planet’s fresh (unfrozen) water.  It has a special mini-ecosystem because of its isolation and age.  It’s average depth is 2,442 ft.  Lake Michigan, my favorite lake, has an average depth of 279 ft.  Just a little bit deeper…   Here it is from outer space: 

geology.com

Just some random thoughts for now.  Oh yeah, and Pat got poison ivy at the beach the other day.  Good to know: “Leaves of three, let it be.”

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Patrick is working late and I had some energy left to burn from a somewhat hectic day at the museum so I went on a little cruise around the city:

If you click on the little bikes it will tell you when to turn.

I tried to stick to streets that have bike lanes since it was getting to be dusk and I have a healthy fear of cars (although my new bike light is pretty sweet).  The whole loop was about 12 miles.  It was actually a pretty good workout because I could build up a nice bit of momentum on the straight-aways.  My Long Haul Trucker’s speed cannot compare to my road bike but once you get it going it just cruises along so nicely.

This ride also allowed me to test a recent gift from the Easter BUNny (thanks, mom!): padded bike shorts!  I’ve never worn shorts like this before and am pretty amused by the huge hunk of adult diaper-esque foam in them.  Very comfortable though!  I know I will want something a little more multi-functional for our trip since we’ll be on and off the bikes exploring.  Any suggestions out there?

Beautiful bicycle mural

Check out this mural on the outside of City Fitness on 2nd and Spring Garden!  I love the murals in this city.

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OCTOBER 2012!!!!!

It’s decided: our official estimated departure date will fall somewhere in mid- to late October, 2012.  Holy cow, this is really real!

Over the weekend we took a look at weather in the countries we plan to bike through. Any month that had an average temperature of less than 45 degrees or more than 70 degrees was filed under “no way, Jose.”  You have to remember, for that beautiful 76 degrees to be an average, there had to be a handful of 90 degree days in there as well.  Vice versa on the cold weather, too.  I’d love to attach the color-coded Excel document we crafted but I don’t think this blogging software allows for it.  It looks good though, and we’ll be able to follow the warm-ish weather all the way through to Eastern Europe.  Hopefully we won’t have a repeat of this year’s winter…

The other thing we thought heavily about was the (un)likelihood of Australia and India being a part of our agenda.  Mapping out the European leg gets us to roughly 8 months worth of travel.  Unless we somehow become even speedier speed demons there is simply no way we can cover an entire sub-continent and island continent along with Asia in the remaining 4 months.  I was super bummed at first and even lobbied to extend the trip– how can I have my spiritual awakening without India?! Where else can I get away with using my fantastic Crocodile Dundee accent but Australia?!  To put it politely I was pretty grumpy about this turn of affairs. 

Luckily I have been blessed with Patrick, who is very good at putting things into perspective for me (he is also infinitely patient, I must note).  He gently reminded me that, although this trip is going to be one of the most amazing experiences of our lives, it is not the only experience of our lives.  We have many years for many more adventures, in whatever form they may be.  I love him.

For now we are really excited about our more detailed timeframe.  Now we really have something to shoot for financially, physically and mechanically (gotta learn how to fix those flats!) 

 OCTOBER 2012 HERE WE COME!!!   

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Snowed In

We find ourselves in the midst of another Storm of the Century and luckily had enough foresight to stock up on the really important things: eggs, milk, bread and booze.  I’m joking  (well on the first three items at least).  Philadelphians love being prepared for whatever kind of weather heads their way so we are too.  We spent the day hanging out in the house, trekking out for a winter walk, and cooking good food. 

Here is an updated map of our proposed route– Holland to France and then on to Ireland:

I like the Google Maps program, it is an easy way to chart out general directions and search out towns/sites that interest us.  It can get bogged down though, as is expected with a free application.  I also find the “tagging” feature pretty useful– it’s a good way to remind yourself why you’re interested in that particular site. 

We will definitely need to get some detailed regional maps or a GPS for the trip.  I recently received a package from France containing a wealth of maps and brochures.  Did you know that many countries offer this type of tourist service?  Pretty cool!  I am drooling over all the beautiful pictures of cheese, croissants and chocolate.  Guess you know my interests…

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Europe Map v.1

Yesterday we mapped out a potential map for getting around Europe.  This will be the first 6 months of our trip.  As the route stands it will cover about 5,400 miles but we have a few options we’re still working out so that could vary a bit.  This is a VERY preliminary map, we made huge “legs” for the trip just to get us around the map.  This is definitely a project that requires some time and planning! 

This map has us riding up the western coast of the Balkan peninsula.  Another option we’re considering is taking the bikes on a train from Istanbul to Budapest and then continue on through Austria making a stop in Vienna.  Then on to Prague and Berlin.  From there we could either bike further west to Warsaw and possibly Moscow or just take the Tras-Siberian railway (our transportation across Russia) directly from Berlin.

We’re both really excited about this route, it’s definitely do-able in the timeframe we’ve set out!

Tomorrow we’re off on an adventure to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden.  Hopefully the sun will shine and I can take some good pictures on our journey over the Ben Franklin bridge.

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