South America

A Christmas Gift & The Rules

This year my sister got me possibly the coolest gift that I have recieved in a long time. Those who know me understand how important maps are to my life. Along with a good photo, they are in my opinion a fanstistic form of art. So this past season my sister got me a map that allows you to scratch off the places you have been to.

Scratch Map gift from my sister! Best Gift Ever!

Now the question is, What determines where I have been? Some countries are small enough that visiting one or two major cities would be enough to say you have been there but in the large countries such as Canada this just is not the case. So in order to know where I should scratch there needs to be some rules.

In order to determine if I have visited a place I need to have spent a night there or have traveled through it via some land based transportation (on my motorbike trip to Alaska I rode across Manitoba twice without staying the night…. I think I can still count Manitoba on my list of visited places though!). For countries large enough to show up on a world map with separate provinces or states entire countries can not be crossed off. This means that while I have been to the USA many times there are still some states I need to go to still as well as some provinces and territories in Canada. The final rule in this process is that there is no time frame that restricts this, in other words my travels as a kid with my parents count.

And so, today I have spent an amazing time scratching off the places I have been. Each place has a story based on fond memories. And what have I learnt? Well beating my sister in our race to get to all 7 continents first will be a challenge and second is that for a person that some think travels a lot there is way too little of the world that I have been.

If you are interested in your own map check them out at scratchmap.com

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New Years Resolutions

I was just watching one of my favorite Youtube channels CGPGrey and was reminded how much I tend not to believe in making New Years Resolutions, and that is to say he said it and I agree. There are so many statistics about what date most resolutions are broken by that I am amazed anyone even continues this tradition. So maybe instead of making resolutions lets call these goals that would be a good idea to accomplish before I head off on the trip.

Learn Some Spanish

Truthfully I sort of started this process last January. I signed up for a course at Sheridan Collage. Thing is that I found the course frustrating. Most of the class (myself included) felt self consious about speaking, so we really didn’t do it much. At the same time the course was designed primarily with the focus of achieving marks rather than learning the language. I am sure that my best education will come when I am amongst native speakers and there is a large part of me that is thinking that signing up for a language class during the first few weeks of the trip would be a good idea but something tells me a few words would be ideal.

Loose Some Weight

Hands up if this is also a resolution that you have just made! For me it is long standing goal which tends to be interrupted by work. I find that in summers I do tend to loose weight but once the school year starts up again I end up at a desk until late into the night and the weight comes back (he said taping away at a keyboard again…). The summers have the added bonus of my friends coming out of hibernation and mountain biking starting up again. I would like to be in better shape for the trip South. I am going to be far from my doctor and I would rather not have the need in places that I wont be familier with.

So thats it. Better make it simple before this becomes ridiculous. Any goals that you can think of?

Overlanding Vehicle Part 2: Just What Am I Looking For?

It is so easy to get excited at the idea of buying a new vehicle. It is even easier to let dreaming get out of hand when you avoid looking at prices and imagine that you have unlimited resources. In the last post I talked about the dream of EarthRoamers and EarthCruiser. Those rigs are amazing but The EarthCruiser is close to $200,000 US and the EarthRoamer is closer to $500,000! Time to think for something more reasonable.

What Am I Looking For?

The more that you look into Overlanding the more you find out that there are a million ways to do this. To this point I have spent the time getting around on my motorbike. As I have said before the bike is an amazing way to see and be a part of where you are. As you travel you experience the sights, sounds and smells in a very intense way that is not possible when the metal of a car or truck is separating you from it. That said I have learnt that the idea of building your house and making your bed every day gets old after a while. On the last trip to Europe I also found it hard to find campgrounds as language was a barrier and in the end didn’t even set up my tent once.

So for a year away I am looking for some things in a new vehicle. First is that I need something that will allow me to be independent. That means somewhere I can sleep, eat and possibly use a washroom. Secondly I am also interested in a 4×4, I have no idea what the state of the roads will be like and I don’t want that to be the reason why I don’t see something cool.

There are a few different options that might fit these conditions.

Class B RV’s

There are a bunch of different types of vans that are being used by people to live in for long periods of time. As houseing prices soar, #Vanlife is becoming more popular. The vans are quite amazing and usually have most of the things that I am looking for. The company Sportsmobile creates some amazing off road capable vehicles.

While these trucks are right for the task I have two issues with them. First, and least important, is that they generally do not have washrooms. Some designs do but most do not and I guess that I am now getting old enough that comfort is becoming more of an issue for me. I am assuming that access to showers in campgrounds in South America will not be the same thing as here in the North and the idea of always showering in the outside with portable showers may become a little old.

The second and most important issue is that for the years before and after the trip this will probably become my primary vehicle. I don’t have amazing amounts of space to store an RV and being able to afford two cars is a lot of money that I just don’t have. Driving a camper to the grocery store every day may get a little old.

Truck Campers

Truck Campers seem like the perfect comprimise. These rigs allow me to leave the camper stored some place and a pick up truck to drive around in at home. I have never owned a truck before but I do treat the hatchbacks sort of like pick ups, I rarely have the back seat up. Many trucks on the market come as very good 4×4’s and will allow me to learn about off roading before I go.

The campers also match most of the things I am looking for. Depending on the size they come with bathrooms, full kitchens and beds that I won’t have to make up every day. Air conditioning and heating systems are possible and storage of water and food is easy. I really like this option as it means I have something for trips before and after South America.

So there it is, time to start looking for the right truck and camper.