The Sahara and Us Morocco 2011

Monday, July 4, 2022

Is Sardegna really in Italy?

As we left Mennagio for Genoa you follow Lake Como on the west side on SS340. It is the slower side of the lake with the highway running through all the small villages. So as modern day transport trucks try moving building products to locations they encounter many 18th century roads and turns. Beautiful from a sightseeing standpoint, not so much otherwise. We'd chosen this route since we had a day to drive the 250 kms to Genoa, and the alternative is the Autostrada which runs through Milan. Avoiding Milan was high on our list as well. So taking the back highways allowed us to do both until a section close to Genoa where a landslide that happened in February was being repaired the Italian way. Which means block the road and 1 man works on it until it's done or retirement. Neither happened during our time there.

We had our challenges on arrival at the Port which we've been to many times before, but eventually arrived and boarded our GNV ferry.

Genoa Dock on leaving


Apparently the Italian's are having the same staffing issues as us, so our 13 1/2 hr. trip, plus nearly 2 hrs to load and 1.5 hrs to unload to could  be tacked together. 




We were greeted by Ingo and Patricia in Porto Torres, Sardegna and drove back into Alghero

Touring Old Town



where we enjoyed a Cappuccino and pastry
Cappuccino on the dock Old Town

and caught up for awhile before heading to their 'new' home. If you've ever watched House Hunters International, they are living that theme right now. They've bought a beautiful small acreage 4 kms outside Alghero, a Spanish settlement for centuries before becoming part of Italy. The previous owner had built two homes on it and a grove of olive trees, and fruit trees as well. 




Now, it will be time for Patricia to mold the future of the place which has 'good bones' to start with. It was such a privilege for us to have them  invite us their first guests.

View across the valley from our dining table

The setting and view is beautiful
and with the weather in the mid-30's each day and evenings cooling to 22-23C we were able to eat all our meals together at a large table with the view as a backdrop. And when the night sky appeared we were able to watch not only the stars come out but watch multiple satellites pass overhead each night.

With Ingo still doing engineering work the next day Sandra and I took the time to head out to Capo Caccia,

Capo Caccia Spectacular Views

a point some 20 kms out that encompasses 2 more bays besides the one Alghero is in. As part of the Spanish occupation of the island, they had built a series of Towers to warn the Fortress in Alghero of attacks. So in the mid-30's heat we visited one as well as a Neghera dating back to 1500-500 BC. 
Neghera 1500-500 BC








Capo Caccia Rock Islet

The Bays, the little one was the beach we swam from.



Tower Bello and Sandra in 34C


But the enticing nature of the warm water and a beach attracted us and we cut short our tour to change into our bathing suits and enjoy some swimming, snorkeling and beach time before heading back. The next day Ingo and Patricia came along as tour guides and we enjoyed a trip on a 'motorcycle' perfect highway that gripped the west coast down to Bosa

Bosa with river Temo in Background

where we had lunch in the town square and later visited Monteleone inland. 35C was the hottest it got that day. 









On July 1st, Canada Day Sandra and I put up our banner and Sandra prepared a meal more in keeping with Canadian traditions. Of course drinks were had as well.
Happy July 1st (Canada Day) 

Our final day was enjoying more beach time in Alghero before heading out to Olbia early in the following morning to catch the ferry to Piombino on the mainland. As we left Alghero at 4:40 am the disco's on the north end of town were just closing. definitely a party place in the summer!

Such a different experience in Olbia with the ferry running exactly on time and efficient we recalled Ingo's comment that Sardinian's don't really operate like Italians. That certainly was our experience.

And Happy Birthday to Ingo as well1


Sunday, June 26, 2022

It's Fun Again!

 

It's fun again!

It’s amazing how the pandemic has been so pervasive to the psyche of people after two years. 


What woke us up to it was the desire to break our routine of the past 25 months realizing that we had burnt the last two years of our marriage in a pandemic environment and with our 50th anniversary fast approaching we wanted to do something worthy of the occasion.


So within a few hours we hatched a viable plan to celebrate and Sandra named Levanto as the place she wanted to celebrate our 50th. Not that we were married there, or actually celebrated an anniversary right there, but we definitely have celebrated a lot of anniversaries while traveling in Europe and Asia. As a piece of trivia if you search our blogs email us with how many and where we've celebrated our anniversaries.


Working on trying to tie all of the logistics together went pretty well. But planning is one thing, actioning it another…. So here goes!


Hearing how Air Canada and other carriers are having problems with logistics we anticipated it and booked the Maple Leaf lounge and that was well worth it. With our priority tickets we were off the plane quickly and our bags were some of the first delivered in Frankfurt. That put us through customs quickly and Heiko was there to meet us. It’s been 6 years since we last saw Heiko in person and it was great to visit and spend time together. Unfortunately jet lag forced some ‘nap’ interruptions but the pandemic downtime had Heiko develop more home cooking skills and we had a great Pesto pasta supper the 1st night and we all went to the Brahaus the 2nd night, a hot and gorgeous evening in a biergarten. Yes I know we look tired, but we are seriously jet-lagged!


Now to claim the rental car. While Rick Steve’s site has been slow with pandemic updates I focused on finding reasonably priced rental cars and wanted to ensure actually getting it since there wasn't time to ship the bike back to Europe! This trip will again determine whether do it again or not.

The best service and prices came from auto-europe.ca, a Canadian based aggregator of car rentals with Hertz and Europ-car, their most reasonable vehicles. While I booked with Hertz, a new model Opel Astra we actually got an Opel Crossland, a small SUV vehicle that is the fruit of Opel becoming part of Peugeot. The vehicle is quite comfortable, excellent in handling mountain roads, and the fuel economy is a huge bonus. Here’s where the snobbery of Top Gear is to be discounted. The engine punches way above it’s weight and while the interiors are basic the vehicle works with huge suitcase storage, exactly what is needed. We also booked from the Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof instead of the airport for pickup, saving huge money there and paid in Canadian funds in Canada avoiding the currency surcharges on your card.

After picking it up on time we drove the 420 kms to Lindau, DE, a beautiful tourist town on Lake Constance (Bodensee). The weather devolved into a stormy evening so our planned walk was set aside. There was a McD’s close by but I had remembered da Pietro, a pizzeria and amazingly found my way there without directions. Simple thin crust prosciutto and mushroom pizza, with wine, and their house seasoned olive oils in a beautiful setting was amazing and really made a beautiful end to our first day on the road.

Saturday broke sunny and hot, we seemed to finally settle into the new time zones at 9 hrs. ahead of back home and the hotel we stayed at had a superb breakfast room spread. We ventured out Saturday morning before leaving to see the signature lighthouse that marks the harbor of Lindau, Germany.



We crossed immediately into Austria on the lake and then into Switzerland and stayed on the non-vignette roads, Hwy 13 and 3 getting through Chur to stopping in the Viamala canyon, see this link with photos from one of previous trips, to have lunch and enjoy the canyon once again as we have so many other times on motorcycle. This 1st full day made us both realize how much more the motorcycle adds to the travel day's enjoyment. Over the Splugen pass once again and onto Mennagio, so 4 countries in 1 day, where we arrive at one of our favorite hotels. The pool was busy given that it was sunny and 31C, but people gave up loungers so we could enjoy the end of a beautiful day there in the pool. As well, a cancellation allowed us to have a fabulous supper in the hotel, a 3 star family business, that we found back in 2006 on a dark and stormy night. The Merloni’s have been so kind to us over our various visits.

Since we wanted to spend a few days here Sandra had found some hikes for us to do and today, Sunday June 26th we set out to hike up to La Crocetta under a bit of overcast but warm morning.










The round trip hike was just under 8 kms with some pretty good elevation changes of course to get these amazing views over Lake Como, Menaggio, Bellagio, Como and Lecco.


The cross is placed on the high mountain viewpoint just a few 100 mtrs. above a church altar and a bunker that serves as a Sacrarium in memoriam to all the fallen Mennagio soldiers from WW1. What a view is an understatement!






Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Wells Gray - Covid relief!

 

We’re going to blame this one on Dr. Bonnie Henry or maybe Jr.(Trudeau)

 

With 3 weeks between booking and actually getting our second vaccine we need to get away and with hot weather in the forecast we activate the plan to go to Wells Gray Provincial park during spring run-off. Forecast for Kamloops, our tour centre for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday,  ranged from 35 to 34C.

Catching the Departure Bay ferry Monday morning we had a quick shuttle over to Horseshoe Bay with some other bikers, this time chatting with a couple from North Vancouver, who had been doing a weekend tour of the south island on their bikes. The time went by so quickly!

Sea to Sky

Duffy Lake


From there the ride up to Squamish to Whistler took up the remainder of the morning and we had lunch in Whistler Village. From there it was over to Lillooet, BC. on what is known as the Duffy Lake road, is one of the hottest places in Canada and the upper ride limit of many a day trip motorcyclist from the lower mainland.

Lillooet loop

it did not disappoint. Close to 37C when we pulled in for gas. That's starting to feel too hot, a full 10 C cooler than 47 C we experienced in Turkey in 2011. The day’s ride ended in Kamloops at 35 C and we readied for our ride the next morning. Ride total for the day was 425 kms.

 

Tuesday we dressed much lighter and left for the ride up to Clearwater and into Wells Gray at 8am so temperatures were perfect for riding. The whole ride up, especially the first 60 kms. was beautiful winding along the Thompson river. 

Of course the big draw was Helmcken Falls profiled by the Knowledge Network on TV. but Spahats Falls is the first within the park.


We couldn't believe the canyon Spahats Falls is in. Apparently this area was formed as a result of volcanic activity some 200-400,000 yrs ago and then covered by a Glacier which thawed 10,000 yrs ago. Since then, the canyons have formed based on the wear of the water running over and through the lava rock which is much softer.










Awe inspiring to say the least. While smaller in size you are closer to it and it feels more intimate. You can see in the canyon shot (top right) where the viewpoint is to look back at the Falls and out towards to Clearwater river which is fed by these and the other creeks and rivers. (Click on any pic to view full screen)










Then we are off to Helmcken Falls but just before the turnoff for Helmcken is Dawson Falls and a one lane wooden bridge. With the spring run-off the river raging as it is right now that scene was impressive to say the least. Of course Helmcken didn’t disappoint even with such high expectations, so it was a very good day.






Helmcken, compared to Niagara

 

After photos and a picnic lunch we decided to head back to Kamloops as we had booked the hotel pool and spa. With Covid they are still keeping small groupings.


Mc Lure Ferry


But we still had plenty of time and I saw the sign for the McLure ferry so I doubled back to drive down to see what kind of ferry it was. For many years when hauling our sailboat to the coast we had seen the sign for this ferry.It crosses the N Thompson river. 


Well as it was hot again today 35C and the river high we arrived at the ferry ‘terminal’.

McLure Ferry terminal

There appears to be no-one around. Huh!













As I'm taking picx of this tied up old ferry, kind of a wood platform with an engine and cables, I hear a voice from back in the trees call out  "Want a ride?". I finally associate the voice to a guy laid back in a small screened hut in the trees overlooking the ferry ramp. It was right out of Tom Sawyer, tucked in the shade letting the river run by hotter than ever.

 

After a bit of discussion given the sketchy appearance we conclude that it can’t be worse than the Greek ferries, after all BC Ferry Corp. operates it. You can see the bustling ferry terminal on the other side!



The ferry captain (hahaha) said today was ‘dead’ but yesterday he did 100 trips, all full! The road into Kamloops from here is smaller and more windy but very scenic and currently Trans Mountain is busy with pipe installation along that side of the Thompson river.


We got back for our 1 hr pool and spa reservation use of the hotel pool. Imagine getting the hotel pool for yourself! It was a very good day made even better when we went out for Greek food at Dorian's. Truly a day trip to remember.


We'd highly recommend travelling here to see this natural beauty of our country's landscape. The town of Clearwater is nearby with most facilities. And North Thompson Prov. park offers excellent camping before entering the park, so for those with trailers you can get a spot and then drive in.


There are campsites within Wells Gray park itself but many of them are set back from the main road.

Wells Gray is also a huge park with the paved road ending at Helmcken Falls but a gravel road continuing north to Clearwater lake and beyond.


Please excuse the orientation of the attached video (fixed). It is a clip taken of Helmcken Falls and I had the camera in Portrait orientation to capture the whole falls.



Sunday, August 2, 2020

How to Determine Optimum tire pressures to avoid uneven wear

Motorcycle tire wear and longevity is affected by a number of factors, including speed, riding style, surfaces, load factors, correct/incorrect installation methods and tire pressures.

Obviously the owner/rider is the only one to effectively determine what could be affecting their tire wear.


Heat is the enemy of all tire compounds, and there is a simple method to determine whether you have excessive heat or it’s within acceptable limits. Those limits are also simple to determine if they are being exceeded. Here’s how.
  • Start with your tires in a cold state (generally 1st thing in the morning) and using a verified accurate dial type pressure gauge inflate your tire to the manufacturer suggested pressure. Mark both front and rear tire pressures down on a piece of paper with a C.
  • Load your motorcycle up for the conditions you will be under. For instance, my wife and I and our loaded luggage were all on the bike.
  • Ride like you would normally under those conditions for an hour, at the speeds and road surface conditions you normally do to heat up your tires.
  • Stop and immediately take your tire pressures both front and rear and record them on that same piece of paper. Mark them with an H.
  • Using a calculator determine if your hot tire pressure stayed within a 5-7% variance from cold. If it exceeded the 7% increase your tires are experiencing excessive heat.
Example: 5% variance Cold 41 PSI multiplied by 1.05 =43.05 PSI HOT
                7% variance Cold 41 PSI  X 1.07 = 44 PSI HOT
This is a 5-7% variance method Michelin technicians passed on while we were in Europe.We ride a Vstrom 1000. Our friends with similar load factors were riding an original Super Tenere 750 running the same size tires front and rear and riding in identical conditions. They had followed the Michelin tech. recommendations. We used their cold tire pressures as a start point
42 PSI front
47 PSI rear.
I thought they were too high but tried it for the test period. I saw 50 PSI/rear after 1 hr. and I smiled and have never looked back. Ride, handling and tire wear all improved.
We no longer experience front tire cupping or premature tire wear. I get 22,000 kms on a rear tire and 38-40,000 kms on a front tire.  Fuel economy has improved slightly but definitely is more consistent, and there was a noticeable improvement in handling and confidence in leaning the bike through corners. Essentially the tire held it's shape better and there was no squirm.
Matter of fact, our front had a bit of cupping that actually raised the initial conversation and the experiment, and actually corrected it’s wear in the next 2,000 kms. after changing.
Of course as stated at the outset you need to analyze all the factors. Reducing load, speed, or correcting a misaligned rear wheel will also impact the variables in the formula.
It’s based on this formula for Volume, Pressure and Temperature.  
PV = nRT  
This link provides much more detail. Table of Thermodynamic Equations
Use a 'verified' dial or digital tire pressure gauge that compares with a tire shops quality tools like this one for accuracy.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Besancon, Moselkern, and Returning to our Roots

The Citadel

Besancon France

Next day we moved on to Besancon since on previous trips we'd see the “Citadel” on a hill over the town. We walked up to it and while it was interesting, and a WHS, we found an ancient gate dating back to approximately 175 AD, built in honor of Marcus Aurelius’ far more intriguing.
Marcus Arelius Gate
To think the Roman Empire extended this far in 175 AD. This is a beautiful town in eastern France we’d highly recommend people visit. We also had one of the best Mussels and Fries we’ve ever had by using Google Maps and Google Plus and following directions to a place that looked deserted but was a very good restaurant.














Moselkern and Roots


On the move again we arrive in Moselkern and hike to Burg Eltz. If you said we’ve been here before you’d be correct. Back in 2004 we visited Moselkern and Burg Eltz and we wanted to get back to funky back country villages and scenery. Here we hike back into the Castle for the picturesque walk that it is, and later go to a nearby winery and purchase an amazing bottle of Riesling wine from this Mosel region. The wine is so good in fact we drive back to the village to purchase another bottle. As we talk later we comment that this has taken us back to our roots of how we have traveled in the past.
Burg Eltz

Our accommodations aren't a 4 star hotel, they are a Gastehof on a back street in Moselkern,owned by Fam. Heirlich with very comfortable beds, and feather comforters that keep you warm, and no noise except for the church bells at 7:00 am. At any moment you can just turn back over and go back to sleep. Travel doesn’t need to be any more comfortable than this! And a typical hearty German breakfast and he explains that what you don't eat to make sandwiches with to 'picnic' later. Hard to argue with that!

As we walk to Burg Eltz , a 7 km round trip and later along the Mosel river in the beautiful Sunday sun Sandra says to me, "You know, we still could have done even this trip with the bike". And you know she is right.


Volendam

As we finish our trip in Volendam we are treated to another spectacular day. We are at a 4 star hotel within easy access to the old town. Weather is still holding at 14C and sunny!
Van Der Valk Hotel view Volendam
Statue of Small boy looking at cats in a window.
What trip to Holland doesn't include a photo of a windmill









Monday, October 10, 2016

Annecy Region

Lacets High in French Alps
Last year we came to the Annecy region for the first time and really enjoyed the beauty of it.  This time it was to use a great hotel we had found to stage a re-visit to the LACETS from the 2015 Tour de France, and have a picnic there at a place we knew. It just so happened a local bike club was riding by at the time we were there.
Popular since Tour De France came through

















On the return trip to Annecy we saw a Chateau in the distance, and drove to it. It was Chateau Miolans a chateau that later became a prison for celebrity prisoners like the Marquis de Sade. On the road to Albertville, so interesting when you gunkhole.
Chateau Miolans