Saturday, August 27, 2011

Homeward Bound

We are currently in Iowa, USA. I must say the last week and a half has been a bit of a blur. From the time our plane landed in Jacksonville FL we have been on the move.  We had a couple of days in Jacksonville before we were able to pick up our van so we thought we would see all there is to see there. And this is it. We went down to the Riverside Arts market under the interstate bridge in town where we had our palms read and saw a great local band perform.

While waiting for our van to arrive we opted to try out couch surfing rather than staying in a hotel. Jeff and Leny were great hosts and helped us kill a couple of days before the van arrived.

The bridge to the Blount Island Port in Jacksonville, we were hoping the stars were aligned for us to get our van out of customs without any hitches.

With a little help from Julia at K Line and the awesome US Customs guys we were able to get Kumu and on the road north to Canada sooner than expected!!!

After 2 and a half days of driving a VERY uneventful drive, we saw the first hints of Canada, windmills from across the St Lawrence River. Those and the solar panels everyone in Ontario is putting up were a sight for sore Canadian eyes!

It was unbelieveable to be back in Canada after having departed Canmore AB over one year prior..... well we were almost in Canada...

It took us one more hour hanging out with these guys and then we were home!!!! By far the most intensive border crossing of our trip.

There's nothing better than coming back to a large double-double and listening to a little Hip on Q107. Home sweet home.

Our first stop in Canada was on Simcoe Island in the St Lawrence River. We met Mel Kahung and Dante in Mexico while they were driving their rig south to Panama. Here Dante was ready to go find some artifacts as he was suited up in his Indiana Jones getup.

Canadian cottage country RULES...

Trying our luck for dinner...

We said our goodbyes to the gang after a perfect couple of days on the lake and headed east to surprise Andrew's family. There was no way we couldn't make a detour there to share some of the stories of our trip. It was a whirlwind tour but we even managed to fit in a quick slide show presentation at Andrew's Oma's retirement home. It was really great to have a chance to see family and friends before beginning our journey west and home!

We did make a stop in Georgetown to see and Brady and his family. Brady is a good friend from high school and skiing. Every time I stop by he seems to have a new toddler running around. This is Lucy, his oldest daughter in her favourite Hippy dress. I have a feeling she might be in one of these vans someday!

Travelling through the US across the midwest looks a little like this so far.....

But we are planning to catch a couple more cool things along the way so stay tuned to see where we end up.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Graffiti Walking And the Land of the Free

The last few days in Buenos Aires were spent wandering the streets during the day and hanging out with Alex, Carolina and Vicki sipping wine and playing Truco at night.
BA is a huge city and I started to notice the incredible artwork adorning the streets. Some drawn by restaurant owners and others simply by graffiti artists. It was as good as any museum, so I started taking some pictures of the art. Here are a few of the ones I really liked!

A big thank you to Alex and Carolina for putting up with us and sharing their home not to mention their delicious mimosas! We had some great nights together and look forward to the next time!

As for now... we are back. Back to the home of the brave. It was a serious culture shock landing at Jacksonville international. Huge highways littered with billboards. Massive box stores and endless fast food. Oh and its hot. Really hot. We walked around the sprawling city of Jacksonville, getting to know the bus systems and people watching. We discovered a great arts market down by the river where we sampled creole sauces and listened to great live music.
Today we hit up the farmers market with our couchsurfing hosts Jeff and Leny. It has been a cool experience even if a bit overwhelming. There are many things I appreciate after being away from it all for so long. One main one being the fact that we are lucky enough to be able to simply flush our toilet paper down the toilet. Oh the simple joys. Time is moving on and tomorrow will officially be one year from when we left. It feels like no time at all, but when I think back to everything we have done its amazing to think we have done it all in only one year. 
We are now again in the waiting game for the van. When will it arrive? When will it be released from customs? Lots of questions and fewer answers... but for the moment I am going to take it all in and hit up the pool. It could be worse...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Patiently... Waiting... Patiently...

We packed up our things, returned my rental boots and said a big good-bye and thank-you to the whole Simari-Birkner clan on the 31st of July and caught our flight back to Buenos Aires. Luckily everything was okay with our flight. The eruption from the Puyehue Volcano in June is still wreaking havoc not only on many of the domestic Argentina flights, but also flights on the other side of the globe in Australia and New Zealand. 
We were sad to leave the snow, the ski hill and the new friends we have made behind, but excited to keep moving on in our journey. 
Here are a few more shots from our last night with the crew in Ushuaia. We celebrated by having a big bonfire with Oscar, the owner of the cabins, heating things up with his jerry can full of diesel. 

Chilling in the cabins, eating Teresitas delicious torte!

Warming up by the fire, trying to pay attention as Oscar would toss diesel onto the flames without a word of warning!

Angie Simari-Birkner and I. Yeah for puffy jackets.

When we arrived back in Buenos Aires we had a relaxing few days at my friend Alex's place near downtown. It was great to have a place to crash and unwind for a few days before setting off to Uruguay. 
We wanted to try out as we are seriously getting to the end of our budget, but unfortunately we were not successful in Uruguay as we had left it so late, so we opted to try out a hostel in the old town of Montevideo. 
After taking the ferry across the Rio De La Plata and a bus from Colonia to Montevideo we strolled from the bus station to our hostel. Unfortunately we found the city pretty smelly and run down and things didn't get much better when we got to our smelly ghetto hostel. However we tried to make the best of it and walked around the old town and out onto the old breakwater.

Montevideo from the breakwater. It was definitely a beautiful day!

Looking out to sea.

This picture is for the ski team girls living in Alberta this summer. Graffiti Levitation. Thinking of you and hoping you are having a great camp down in New Zealand! See you in a few weeks!

The lock fountain. 
"The legend of this lock fountain tells us that if a lock with the initials of two people in love is placed in it, they will return together to the fountain and their love will be forever locked"

After Montevideo we headed to the small town of Colonia to stroll around and check out the history. The water here is extremely brown... but we are hoping that is just from all the water churned up from the river delta.

Colonia was really beautiful and the perfect place to spend an afternoon. It felt like stepping backward in time.

More of Colonia

Andrew soaking up the sunshine.



After a couple days in Uruguay we decided to come back to Buenos Aires where the hostels are surprisingly cheaper and there are endless interesting streets to walk around. 
While we were strolling we ran into this in the center of the city. Effectively it states that Buenos Aires is attempting two Guinness World Records. One for the most amount of magicians in one continuous show and the second for the most amount of magicians doing the same trick at ONE time. We were so excited to run across this, but unfortunately after staying about 45 minutes we realized there is only so many times you can see the disappearing handkerchief trick, so we moved on. 

We now only have four days to patiently wait before our flight to Jacksonville, Florida and in one week tomorrow we will hopefully pick up our much missed Kumu!! The adventure will continue...