One Step Closer

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Time is getting shorter towards our trip count down. Now we can start saying that it is weeks till we depart and not months. Things are starting to speed up around here even though it still feels so long before we board that plane that will land us in Marrakesh.

These entries will just be a steady progress report on out preparations throughout the down times between now and liftoff.

12 Months of Cat Food

One of the stranger things I have had to prepare for, is the future of these cats that inhabit our house. We are so lucky to have a friend who not only will be taking care of our home and paying our mortgage, but also outside those duties will allow our two dysfunctional cats maintain their lifestyles in this home while we are away. I can’t express how happy I am to have a friend who is that willing to help us out. So in turn we are trying to make things as easy as possible for the new cat owner (aka cat servant). Mostly by purchasing in bulk those items needed for the care of these creatures. This includes buying on the internet a 12+ month supply of cat food (no worries it keeps of that long) and all the plastic bins to store them in. (One of our delightful kitties has a fat girl complex where she just can’t control herself around food and packaging isn’t going to stop her. I swear she can read the labels.) I felt like a crazy cat lady shut in when I pressed the order button. I’m sure my mailman now thinks so too. Since he was the one who delivered all 120 lbs/54kg of Science Diet goodness. It turns out that I need to buy the cat litter in person, I suppose they don’t want the mailman throwing out his back with that stuff?

The Great Give Away

We’ve become much to comfortable in our surroundings as of late. So much so, that we have gathered many items that we have no real use for and have no emotional attachment to. (you know, junk) Since we missed the date for a proper yard sale, (being that it’s around 20F /-7C outside at this moment) We did the next best thing.  By piling all that stuff into one room in the house and then making a Facebook event called “The Great Give Away.” The idea was to come over and look through all of the things we are getting rid of. If you liked any of those items and wanted to make them yours, then you would determine the price you wanted to pay. The whole thing was donation based and the one rule was that if you came over to parooze  then you would have to leave with just one item regardless of your ability to pay.  This little sale turned out to be a great success, more then 20 of our close personal friends came by. They left arms full and pockets empty. We collected $355 USD in one afternoon. All the funds they donated will go towards our tour and I have decided to keep a detailed account of how we choose to spend this money.  A small token of appreciation to our friends and a way to include them in our trip.

There was still quite a bit of stuff left over from our “Great Give Away,” everything that was  still in the house from that afternoon was boxed up and given to the Epilepsy Foundation of MN. Because these things weren’t really junk and needed a second life with someone who could actually use it.

Research

This has quickly become one of my least favorite things to do. The tour starts in Morocco then heads north to the European continent and shadowing Eurovelo 8. Most of the beginning research has been Euro focused. Not that I have any problem with Europe. Just that there is so much to see and I don’t want to think that I’m missing anything along the way. The areas we are riding through have be way over studied. I want to be able to stop and see everything and that’s just not possible. This trip is only supposed to be around 12 months long. That gives us a lot of time but not enough to see and do everything. All this research means we need to pace ourselves and make a priority list for those important sights to see along the way. This is a bicycle trip after all, most of the time should be in the saddle. I want to be prepared but not overly so.

Lately we have been spending a lot of time at the big library downtown collecting more travel books for reference. So far we are up to Central Asia, the area I am the most interested in at the moment. Excited for the vast stretches of land and scenic by ways.

Update 09/01/2013

Things are starting to move along even further. Over the last weekend Brian and I have done more Cat prep, we’ve purchased 336 lbs/152 kg of cat littler (poop box sand). That only leaves 210 lbs/ 95 kg left to go. Our little cars can’t transport all that weight at once so we will need to go back to the pet store one more time to finish the job. You wouldn’t believe how spoiled this little critters are! I’ll also have to find out if my house sitter is willing to Skype with the cats for me. I might not ask him about that? It does seem a bit on the insane side. I’m going to miss those little buggers.

Now that time is rounding out to the 5 week mark, I have been able to start canceling services like car insurance and my Netflix account. (that last one I got yelled at for canceling to soon. So I had to go back and fix it. Apparently 10 days with out TV service is to much for this family) There was also the morning I spent on the telephone talking with financial institutions. Trust me that was not fun, setting up things like internet transfers and banking passwords.  We will be using an investment bank set up with a checking account for the bulk of our traveling moneys and I had to have the whole talk about my investor options even though I will not be using that service at this time.

Then there is all so the slow and some what erratic way I’m packing up the unnecessary household items. (You know all those things you want to keep but have no practical use.) I’m trying to weed through the things we actually need and the crap we can just throw away. Sometimes I think it might be easier to just pitch it all in the trash but then I remember that we will be coming home after this bike tour and I will be needing some of this stuff when I return. Like work boots, books, and extra clothing.

I’ve also started announcing on CouchSurfing and on BeWelcome about the up coming trip, asking for advice, hosts, and travel companions. So far traffic has been slow but there  have been a few responses to my posts. Some of them seem promising so far. I’m going to keep messaging on those sites and trying out a few more too. I want to have all options available for us. Every host or bit of advice we have can help us save time and money, which in turn will allow us to prolong this tour for as long as possible.

There is the gym membership set to expire at the end of January. I hated to do this one but I didn’t want to pay that much for only a half of a month so that I could continue to go until our last day in Minnesota. It’s going to be hard staying away but I do still have the indoor trainer and yoga on Wednesdays. That should keep us fit and busy.

Things to still be worked out are…

Emergency Medical Insurance, Brian’s Blood Typing Test, (We’ve been together 8 years and this is the first it’s come up.) Talking with my Union the Local 49ers, I need to know what absence might do to my membership (something I don’t want to lose) Extra Tubes and Patch Kits (with all this planning we over looked the potential Presta oversight) Filling up my E-Reader for the road ahead, (if you can recommend any good books please send me a message) and last on the list would be More Cat Litter! It always comes back to the Cats!

Update 20/01/2013

Now that time is winding down to under 30 days, things have begun to get more serious. All of those adult decisions are going to have to be made and soon. Boo! I thought the whole point of this tour was to go exploring and play out in the world not to sit down and  make rational grown up decisions. It’s so funny to me that I have to be an adult before I get to act like a child.

Buying insurance has got to be one of the most adult choices a person can make. Brian constantly quotes this “ You’re betting against yourself and you hope they win.” every time this subject comes up. It is ridiculous when you think about it. It is a form of gambling that you never want to collect on. Travel Insurance more to the point Emergency Evacuation Insurance, luckily for us that is all we really need. Full coverage for a trip like this would cost upwards and beyond $4,000 USD. A premium that is paid up front and in full. Instead we opted for the Emergency Evacuation and some minor add-ons like adventure sports coverage (since we qualify) and evacuation to a hospital of our choosing. Because regular evac is great but what if we happen to be in a part of the world that isn’t well known for there medical practices? Better safe then sorry, right! There happens to be great deal of companies out in this world that offer this sort of service but after researching and reading many reviews. I settled on one company fairly well known, Travel Guard. I have personally bought insurance from Travel Guard before and though I have never needed to submit a claim to them, they come highly recommended. The modest price for the services I needed was an important factor too. It came out to under $1,000 USD for 1 year of coverage for 2 people.  I’m not that gambling type but either way, buying insurance or not buying there is a chance at fate. I prefer to play the safe bet.

Brian and a few good friends are also planning a Going Away party for us and all of our friends. Nice for us, one of our friends happens to own this great space in St. Paul Minnesota,   the locally famous Omnium Bike Shop and is allowing us to have our little party there. Everyone is welcome whether you know us or are just touring admirers. The details are still a bit fuzzy but the date, time and place is set. All that I ask is that you RSVP on our FaceBook event so that we know about how many to set up for.

To Be Continued…

For now that’s the extent of most of the preparation we have done or at least the interesting bits. More to come as time moves on.

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