The Notiers Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
You may recall from our previous post that we had a bit of a problem last week - the bearings on the front wheel of our motorcycle blew up. And we naïvely thought that this might be the worst of it. That once we fixed the bearings, then we'd be able to ride from Chicago to Colorado with no problems, and attend the Overland Expo there in high spirits.
But we may have been a bit too optimistic. Besides the bearings, we had also been dealing with a few other minor issues, such as a broken fuel line connector, and the bike's electrical system shorting out sometimes, which rendered it unable to start for a scary moment. But nothing seemed catastrophic, so we figured we'd get out to Colorado as soon as possible, and deal with these little repairs once there.
But Tim says he had a feeling that something awful was going to happen to us, and that we might not be able to make it. I had no such feeling. So I just blindly hopped onto the bike a week ago in Chicago, said goodbye to Tim's dad, and headed west thinking that all would be well.
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
As with anything in life, traveling by motorcycle can sometimes test your patience. There are times when Tim and I feel like the world is plotting against us, and as if everything that could go wrong does go wrong.
There are times when we scream and shout and end up upset with each other for no good reason. There are times when if we could watch a recording of ourselves a day later, we'd be completely ashamed of how childish we'd acted.
It's in these instances that we know we are truly being tested, but of course, we always forget about how poorly we're failing the test when we're in the moment. Only when we take a step away and look back at what has happened, can we appreciate how with every miserable break down, and every seemingly insurmountable obstacle, something marvelous was just around the corner. If only we could have known.
By Marisa Notier
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
Getting ourselves from Africa to America during a pandemic is hard enough. Getting our motorcycle across continents is even harder. But we were fortunate with the people who helped us, even though the entire process really tested our patience, and certainly emptied our wallets.
Starting with the motorcycle, there's a lot of things that can go wrong. When it comes to flying a motorcycle via airfreight, you don't actually know how much you're going to pay until the bike is crated up, has passed customs, and is ready to go on the plane. This is because the cost is based on the final dimensions of the crate which is hand-built around the bike. So we could only get estimates beforehand, and the numbers that people were getting back to us varied by thousands of dollars. Sometimes even the same clearing agent would change his price by a couple grand overnight due to some "unforeseen" cost.
“You will never want to leave Malawi," is what people told us. “The lake is perfectly placid and warm, and swimming in it is divine." Hearing things like this got me excited to visit this small African nation bordering the most biodiverse lake in the world: Lake Malawi. But then we also heard the many warnings: “Watch out for the Bilharzia parasite," and “Beware of crocodiles."
Moreover, it was going to be $75 per person just for the visa to enter Malawi, and because we happened to be visiting in the midst of the rainy season, the weather would be at its worst. In the end, we worried the high price to see this small country would not be worth it for us.
By Tim Notier
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday upon us once again, it is time to start pondering what to get our two-wheeled riding loved ones for Christmas, Hanukkah, whatever gift-giving traditions that the church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may have, and even for the atheist in your life that likes receiving gifts on a cold December day.
Here is a brief list for those motorcycle enthusiasts in your life. These are some of our favorite items which have served us well on our round-the-world trip. We are not sponsored by any of the products below, and bought each item ourselves with our hard-earned money. These are simply our fair, honest opinions after putting them through hell over the last two years.
Once again we've broken down in the middle of nowhere, this time it was out in the scorching Kalahari desert after a nasty fall into the sand... But let me start at the beginning, and it was a good beginning: the Drakensberg, meaning Dragon Mountains in Afrikaans.
Back in South Africa, these jagged peaks definitely earned their name. Like towering stone monoliths ruling over the landscape from their lofty thrones, they say that it was the scenery of South Africa that inspired J. R. R. Tolkein to create Middle Earth in his fantasy books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. And I certainly agree that there seemed to be magic there, like I could just picture a dragon hiding behind the crags, protecting his hoard of gold and treasure.
I haven't written a post in a while, but that's because we're back home in Chicago for a break before heading off to Africa, and life here has been pretty normal.
The regular American grind used to be our daily reality: waking up to the sound of the alarm, getting the coffee machine brewing before our eyes were properly opened, running from an air-conditioned building to an air-conditioned car, then coming home to turn on Wheel of Fortune or some other brain mush show until falling asleep. It's not a terrible existence, in fact, there's something very comforting and lovely about it. It's predictable, controlled, and best of all, here in Chicago, our friends and family are always close by, and weekends are spent visiting one another with good food and laughter.
By: Tim Notier
With over two years on the road are now in the books (and soon to be in physical books). From Chicago to Ushuaia, and back up to Iguazu Falls, the questions are now: what worked and what did not?
We've made it to the end of the world: the most southern point that you can get to by road on the planet, which is quite an accomplishment, but it has not been without its obstacles. We've had one bike problem after the next, so much so that we are now stuck in Punta Arenas, Chile until we can get the proper parts flown in to this section of the world.
More than a month ago in northern Chile, the engine started overheating on crisp and cold days. So we took it in to the KTM workshop in Santiago where they fixed the water pump, changed out the coolant, and we figured our bike issues were behind us.
With the bike not starting from our ride through Bolivia's salt flats, we were in a bit of a predicament. Our dear and wonderful friends who'd stayed by our sides throughout it all, Brendon and Kira Hak, were on the verge of overextending their visa in Bolivia, and needed to go. Unlike us, their bike was fully functional, and their plan was to take a difficult, but gorgeous route south and out of Bolivia: the Lagunas Route.
But as Tim and I found ourselves immobile in the town of Uyuni, we knew that if we didn't get our bike running before they had to leave, we would not want to do such a challenging road by ourselves with a questionable motorcycle. Our plans and dreams of riding the Lagunas Route were now falling apart.
So the pressure was on for Tim to fix the bike, and he needed to do it by 11:00 AM the next day, which was checkout time for the Haks and the latest possible moment before they had to leave.
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