Friday, May 30, 2014

Catskill, NY - Gifford Woods, VT

We got our gear together, left NYC and headed towards North-West into the Catskill Park. There was a camp ground marked in the map. In case it would be closed, it might be tolerated to stay there for one or two nights before the season opens. We arrived at Kenneth L. Wilson campground (which is listed in the OSM maps but not in Garmin maps!) and it was closed. There were a few cars parked at the parking lot and the gate towards the actual campground was closed.

Two ladies came by and I asked them for advice on where to stay. One of them – Catherine – was very kind and told us two places, one of them was what she called “The Secret Spot”. The weather forecast did not look promising for camping, thunderstorms and rain... What the heck, when did the weather guys ever got their forecasts right- right? So we went to this spot and it was absolutely beautiful there. We pitched the tent on the meadow and the river was just some tens of meters away to provide us with water. Excellent place! Thank you very much Catherine!
Catherine's secret spot in Catskill Park.
Smoothie time with wild herbs/veggies :)
A man got to have a nap once in a while.
Beautiful fresh water river.
Since we did a major shopping along the road we had enough supplies to stay two nights. The weather was sunny and warm, and all of us enjoyed this little paradise. What a relief after Ghana! Here we had green grass, trees, bushes and fresh water :)
Summer is coming here as well.
Plenty of wildlife. First chipmunk...
... a snake...
"Gigantic" grasshopper on Hertta's paw :D
First real repair at the BMW. The tail light bulb was strangely melted into the plastic (already in Ghana but it was too hot to fix it).
Our next accommodation was already planned in advance. Steven – one of our eager followers – had invited us already a long time ago to stay at his place and so we did. It was absolutely deluxe place as we got the bedroom of one of his daughters and could be around the house where ever we wanted. Thank you very much Steven, Liz, Teagan, Molly, Toddy and the Cats to let us stay at your great home!

Steven and Liz.
The house was in the middle of a forest and a walking path started right away from the backyard. That almost felt like home :) I fixed the windscreen of Skippy's bike somehow (I think this original design is totally screwed). We did some further planning and research on route planning, accommodation and so on. David, Francine and Steven recommended us to ride the Puppy Dog Trail and that sounded like a great idea. Riding gravel roads and avoiding the busy highways was just perfect for our tastes.
Getting things organized and eating delicious organic apples.
We had a great time at Steven and Liz. Skippy made one day raw vegan dinner for all of us, and since we were so hungry we forgot to take any pictures :D We took it somewhat easy, tried to learn the local habits and cought up on our list of internet-to-do things. 
Forest walks.
Leaves are coming. A few more weeks and have to make a vihta for sauna :D
From wikipedia: Finnish vihta (vasta in Eastern Finland), made of birch. It is used in traditional sauna-bathing for massage and stimulation of the skin.

Some special flower.
Little waterfall where a mill used to be.
Hertta started to worry us more and more. She stopped eating, drinking and was extremely dizzy. She could barely walk and her tail was constantly all in. That was not good. Even though Skippy fed her and made her drink water it did not get any better and we decided to go to the vet nearby. After some initial tests, Hertta was kept there and received IV and blood transfusion. Since we didn't want her to be there overnight we agreed with the vet that we pick her up as soon as she is done, which would be around one o'clock in the night.
Voivoi Hertta - what is the problem???
Well, Skippy called at 2AM and Hertta was still not ready. At 4AM the vet called and told us that we can pick her up. We jumped on the bike and besides the misery, the ride in the morning hour was very lovely. The air felt unbelievable clean and the streets were empty. Hertta was doing visibly better and she was happy to be back with Skippy. We rode back to Steven's place and had a good sleep for a few hours. One advice to others. Do not get sick when being in America. The health costs are sky high and our bill was really heavy. There is – to our knowledge – no travel insurance for pets and even then Hertta would be too old anyway for that. Anyway, Hertta got better and better in the following days and that was the important thing here. We hoped that was it on medical stuff for some time now.

We really enjoyed our stay at Steven and Liz, nevertheless the road was calling us and we headed towards the Puppy Dog Trail.

On our first day we rode along stunning rivers, through most beautiful landscapes of grass, lakes and forests. I had hard times to describe our sensation in words. Both of us were inhaling this beauty of nature. A few times it was difficult to focus on the road when the scenery was exceptionally great ;)
Along Puppy Dog Trail - beautiful day, beautiful scenery.
More along Puppy Dog Trail - still beautiful day and different beautiful scenery.
Skippy made another great travelogue.

Click here if you have trouble to watch the video.

~ Wolfi

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New York City

Here we were in the middle of New York City in Manhattan at the Adventure Loft from David and Francine. Thank you very much for providing us lodging and in fact almost your whole flat! I'd like to mention here that those two returned from their Mobius 13 adventure in the early morning hours, then went to work and in the evening welcomed us. Great spirit!

New York City - what a difference! It really took a moment to adapt to the hectic life in NYC compared to the suburbs in Accra, Ghana. At first we were worried how we will manage with girls, but then we found the parks and green areas in the neighborhood.
The view from the loft.
Girls were soooo tired!
Washington Square Park.
We found a dogrun for small dogs - yeah!
... with a few rules ...
It got quite crowded.
Rules at the kids play ground.
Arch at Washington Square Park by night.
Vegan bakery at Farmers Market at Union Square.
People at Union Square - obviously the guy had an objection... was he a secret agent? I did not noticed it when taking the picture, only afterwards when I looked them at the computer :D
Gone for 5 seconds and my girls found already company.
Film students at their work.
Plenty of signs: Wolfi - no standing... now go away!
Parking in Manhattan - sounded first worse then what it was in reality.
Trees in full blossom.
Our morning walk through this beautiful garden in the nearby neighborhood.
The deli opposite was open 24h and had a good selection of salad, veggies and other warm food. Grocery stores were at the next block. Wholefoods with plenty of organic and vegan choices was just around the corner and another one a little bit further away, yet still in walking distance. OMG I had trouble to behave and not buy like a maniac, stuffing the shopping cart full! That was city life with everything in your neighborhood a minute of walk away. I just got used to this that it takes about 30-60 minutes drive through the chaotic Ghana-style traffic if I wanted to get something else then banana, papaya or pineapple. Talking about pineapple, NY prices were shocking! 4 USD for one is normal compared to half a dollar in Accra (and that was the expensive version!).

What we realized was that the US was and is very expensive and I mean very! Our budget plan just puffed into thin air! Some major re-planning and rethinking needed to be done...

The other day I got Skippy's bike which was waiting at the motorcycle parking at JFK. I even managed to navigate the way back to Manhattan without GPS and without getting lost. Both bikes were parked in the streets of Manhattan and we hoped for mercy from all the thieves and vandals. We also needed to re-assemble the parts of the bikes which we took off in order to reduce volume and save money on shipping costs. Skippy's windscreen was an open issue since we needed to saw away the fixing screws of the windscreen.

Skippy's bike waiting for pick-up at JFK.
Everything went fine. David and Francine got used to our little monsters and they dared to stay also alone with them. We visited the American Museum of Natural History (Skippy wanted to see dinosaurs) and it was pretty cool. Central park was nice but boring with girls, no dog-parks and dogs must be on lead all the time. Anyway the weather was pleasant and we had a good walk.
Skippy & T-Rex.
Wolfi and an ancient amarillo.
The turtles in old times were huge.
And then food ... 3-2-1-GO!
Vegan soy-bacon cheese hamburger - Yummy!
View in Central Park
Beautiful flowering tree
NYPD vehicles in Central Park.
We donated our three transport boxes to Social Tees - an animal rescue organization. They were very happy :)
Time went by very fast. David and Francine told about their travels and gave plenty of great hints on where to go and where not. In one of the last nights we explored the rooftop of their flat and enjoyed the very impressive views of Manhattan by night.
Good selection of dark beers - hard to choose one ;)
David operating the grill, Skippy dreaming and looking at the skyline in Manhattan.
One of the many bridges.
Another view from the rooftop with the One World Trade Center.
Skippy smiling. Lovely air, stomach full and soon we hit the road again.
More views by night.
Back to our budget problem. Basically we need to cut all costs on accommodation to a bare minimum. Lucky for us, some fellow ADV rider mentioned the “tentspace” thread, a very useful link where fellow inmates offer a piece of their lawn to pitch a tent or even provide a room. This would be one source of accommodation for the future. The rest is camping, preferred wild camping and only in some exceptions we will head towards a motel/hotel.
Manhattan in the evening.
Watertanks everywhere - typical for NYC
Our bikes in Manhattan are packed and good to go.
Skippy made another travelogue from our last day in Ghana to the moment we left NYC.

Click here if you have trouble to watch the video in youtube.
~ Wolfi