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Vagamonde: Chasing Euphoria and Getting Hit by Reality
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Friday, January 8, 2010

Vagamonde News: An update on our bicycle trip preparations.

In March '09, in our post First Day of Spring = Decision Time, we announced our decision to embark upon the preparation of our dream bicycle trip, through Europe and Asia and eventually making our way down to New Zealand. This is a brief update of what we have been up to since then.

March - June '09: We sold or gave away most of our belongings, keeping only what we would need for cycling and one more year working in Montreal, plus a bit of sentimental stuff that we'll want to store somewhere...eventually.

June '09: Gus the cat, who we had adopted from the streets of Verdun last summer, has a new home with our friends Jay and Caroline in Montreal.

Gus catches a mouse behind the compost bin.

Said Jay, upon seeing Gus with mouse catch: “That's lovely. Way to sell him, Benoît!”.

June '09: We moved out of our Verdun apartment. As we emptied our place with one garage sale after another, we stayed at our friend Cari-Lynn's place (only a 5-minute walk away) while she was in Malawi.

July-August '09: During the summer, we cycled in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia for 6 weeks: we tested our new notebook computer (1kg), tent, water filter, super-granny gears (e.g., Michèle's insane 20:34 ratio) and Benoît's DIY dry-bag panniers.

Plastic buckets. Check. Bolts and straps. Check. 20-L dry-bags. Check.

Benoît's DIY pannier.

August '09: We returned to Montreal where we moved into the house of our friends Seb and Karine. We're back at work until our departure in June 2010. Proposed route: Ideally, the first leg of our bicycle journey would take us through Scotland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Belgium and into France to see Benoît's family, and where our new touring bicycles (Thorn Sherpas) await us.

Fall '09: We acquired a bit more equipment, such as, Arkel waterproof front panniers for Michèle, a foldable wash basin, and Power Grips for our pedals. We're still looking for new steel racks (Tubus maybe?) and an alternative to a self-inflating mattress that sprung a leak and whose leak cannot be located (ridged foam? - it's light but would take up so much space and might not be that insulating against the cold ground).

Fall '09-current: The least fun aspect of the trip preparation (quite stressful, in fact) is figuring out details like visa requirements and travel insurance. It brings to mind a scene from the movie "Auberge Espagnole" (Spanish Apartment), brilliantly depicting the bureaucratic nightmare of documents that the main character Xavier must provide to arrange a study trip to Spain: (Watch the scene on Youtube. The entire scene is at 6:30-7:45, but watch from 7:09 especially).

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