While perhaps the wettest cycling trip I've ever been on, Japan did no disappoint with delicious food, interesting people and beautiful landscapes. In the three weeks we were hit by 4 typhoons within 10 days which left us rather soggy. Japan is endlessly interesting as a country and we will certainly return for more adventures in the future.
With my bicycle slung over my left shoulder, I had to pull hard on the thick rope attached to the rock above to get myself up and over the ridge. I had biked to the start of the trail and then followed the 4WD tracks out to the coast and on to the end of this trail where I was convinced by a passing guide that biking the trail was a good idea, it wasn't! I struggled to the first hut, dragging my bike up ropes and over sandy mountains. At the first hut, I bailed out and rode the nearest 4WD track back out of there. That was back in 2005, since then, I was always intrigued to discover what lay beyond that first hut.
Memories of that arduous day flooded back (See blog post) as we cheerfully lowered ourselves down that very same rope on the Laugavegur Trail 9 years later, no bikes this time. This track was indeed for walking and it had been calling me since that day all those years ago. It was no less spectacular than I had remembered it. Iceland never fails to impress. I dug out a few photos to compare some of the changes (or lack there of) that have occurred during that time.
Just a short two hour ferry ride from central Auckland is the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula. In many places in the area, things are still like they used to be, roads are not sealed, traffic is scarce and locals are friendly. During three days biking the northern end of the peninsula, we biked more than 4000 vertical meters over 160 km. It was well worth the effort for the spectacular views.
This is still the very beginnings of my career as an aerial film maker. Apologies for the sound track, had to work with what I had. This footage was all shot along the west coast of the US. For more information on how it was shot see my project blog post here. I appreciate comments and feedback. Enjoy!
"You can camp under those trees over there" was the answer we got after knocking on the door of a rancher as the light dipped low to the horizon and mercury dropped suddenly towards freezing. Fall was quickly turning to winter as we climbed steeply out of the Sacramento Valley and up towards the remnant cone of Lasson Volcano, once upon a time an enormous peak that erupted violently in 1920 to be remodelled into its current form.
Somewhat intrigued by our choice of transport, we were kindly invited in to share a beer and a laugh with our new found friends after hearing "I only ride horse and things with a throttle that run on gasoline."
It was an eye-opening evening everyone and an insight into how polarised this country is. You are either one thing or another, not a bit of this or a bit of that. We were in Republican Country and that's that.
After a delicious cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs and a very kind offer to drive us around the now closed national park—thanks to the government shutdown, we decided to try our luck and go around all the signs indicating that the park was closed. We were fortunate enough to come across a ranger who was sympathetic to our mission and let us continue through the park, just no camping. It was a highlight of the trip to be on the road without any other vehicles for most of the day in the spectacular mountains.
A visual summery of our time cycling Oregon. A rugged and diverse state witch was characterised by lots of rain and lots of good company.
To add some excitement to a bike trip, I've added a rather unnecessary gadget to my kit. Click on the link below to see the initial results.
A girl greets us, probably around 20 years old, big smile, cheerful and happy to see us. We feel somewhat relieved after riding 5km off the main road, down a small gravel road, across someone else's lawn and down a small rocky path past piles of personal belongings, clapped out cars, piles of oil containers and several ducks.
We have found ourselves smack in the middle of an experiment in collective living that has probably been repeated again and again for as long as humans have been around. People trying to get back to nature, live off the grid, share everything and just be, to live with nature in the nature, or at least convince themselves that they are doing that.
Nearby, in a low wooded area near the camp, a group of dreadlocked hippies (no offence to anyone) heard 11 goats peacefully through the scrub. It's only now that one of them feels that it may be good for us to know that they have all taken mushrooms and are 'elsewhere at the moment'.
None the less, we decide to spend the night with them, cooking in their ramshackle dwelling—made from telephone poles, egg cartons and a few other salvaged left overs—and eating a lovely shared dinner over a camp fire next to the river that they use for drinking water, washing dishes and clothes (quite rarely it seemed) and bathing. Food stamps subsidise their alternative lifestyle and allow them to eat quinoa and other healthy alternatives alongside the much loved milk from the goats. Attempts are gardening have so far failed.
Despite the generous offer to stay, we chose to pack up early and hit the road in search of other unexpected experiences further down the road in this otherwise very conservative and republican part of the USA.
Since I was not able to update my site too much from Afghanistan, here are a couple of links to an interview and article and some photos about my time there. It's also a good chance to test out all the features of my new website. Comments welcome!
Engines roar as we accelerate down the gravel runway. To my left, small villages and brick works stretch to the horizon, to my right rows of green military helicopters stand ready for action. Dust rises in a plume behind us as the plane sways, groans and lifts cautiously from the gravel airstrip below...READ ON HERE
Micro adventure in Scotland - Biking from Edinburgh to Aberdeen
Scotland and the Shetland Islands
The Faroe Islands
Children scramble to help carry whatever they can. Our Land Cruiser leans precariously to one side, almost at tipping point. With the supplies unloaded, the crowd around the vehicle rally together to push. It takes the full strength of the engine combined with the arms and legs of 20 individuals to dislodge our trusty vehicle from the sticky mud.... Click hear to read on
With a gentle and skillful pull of the line, it flies quickly up up up into the sky, further and further as more and more string is released until the colourful kite soars almost out of sight in the cloudless sky... Click here to read on
“We’ve got an interesting case here if you’d like to come have a look, it’s an amputation so you don’t have to come if you don’t feel up to it.”
I hang up the phone and briefly think if I’m up for the offer to observe and learn about a new type of operation that I have not seen before. It gives me a chance to see how all the equipment that I’m responsible for in the operating theatre is used and ensure it is being used properly... Click here to read on
Endless desert gives way to rising sandy coloured mountains, ever increasing in height. Like wrinkles on an aged face, the land puckers up into a mass of hills and valleys. Small green areas, seemingly too small to support human inhabitance carpet the narrow valley bottoms, surrounded by small villages. Precarious roads criss cross the barren landscape, climbing up and over each wrinkle as if searching for something hidden in the folds of the land beyond... Click here to read on