The Notier Notes
Our Sunday (Saturday) Scoop
I love New Years, because I love the idea that maybe this year I could become a better version of myself. I love thinking that maybe this year all those hopes I have will come true. And maybe this year I'll work harder to achieve my dreams.
But it also gives me the chance to look back at the past year, and realize that I actually have achieved a lot, and honestly, I am already living my dreams.
The pandemic put a lot of our lives on hold, and for Tim and I, our travel plans were no different. But somehow we still got plenty of motorcycle traveling in, and had incredible adventures throughout the riding months of 2021. In the spring, we flew back home to the US from Africa, and we hit the road in the States, venturing all the way to Key West in Florida, and out west to Idaho. We saw the fall colors of the Northeast, and we successfully went to all three Overland Expos all across the country!
But there was a reoccurring theme throughout our journeys - bike breakdowns. Our KTM 1190 now has 87,000 hard-earned miles on her. We've put her through a lot (we're still apologizing for the Bolivian Salt Flats), and it definitely shows. It's not just scrapes and dents (and lots and lots of stickers). It's electrical failures, throttle body misalignments, and a full list of error codes that permanently pop up on the dash. It's the fact that we just don't have confidence that even if we spend roughly $6,000 to fix her up (that's what it'll cost with new parts), that we'll be able to successfully get to the top of Alaska, which is our plan for the summer.
It's the hard, sad truth. But I think our motorcycle is ready for retirement.
Which means one thing - we need a new bike.
And so that is our task for the beginning of 2022, finding our new third member of our trio. Though we've reached out to the major motorcycle companies for sponsorships, no one has responded back to us so far. But we've also been in contact with a friend who has a lightly-used KTM 1190 S for sale - our exact bike! And we wouldn't be spending too much more than it would cost to fix up our current one. This seems like it could be our best option at the moment, and we're really excited.
So things are looking up.
I believe that 2022 is going to be the year where we all get a fresh, new start on our life's journey again. Yes, it might feel like we've just been hitting one breakdown after the next, and every time we get that engine up and humming again, we hit another bump in the road, and BAM! Down for the count. Closures, stuck in the house, worried about ourselves our our loved ones getting sick... worried that we'll never get that engine starting again like it used to.
But this year is going to be different. This year we're given a shot at a new beginning. A new key to start her up. And yes, we know this new bike will have its problems too, but we're also confident that whatever it is, we'll be able to get through it.
There's a lot of beautiful tarmac out there that's just waiting for us to glide down it.
And I can't wait to do so.
I hope everyone out there has a wonderful New Years! And I hope that all our wishes for new beginnings in life come true.
We have a New Years video out today that I think you will enjoy! It a bit of a time traveler's video, because we recreate our steps seven years ago through one of our favorite National Parks - Bryce Canyon. It's stunning, it's otherwordly, but most of all, it teaches us that time is a relative thing. And that sometimes the passing of time does not necessarily mean change.
The Notier Notes
Our Sunday Scoop
In our last blog post, we were stuck near the top of a mountain in New York state, and the bike was dead. The road had gotten pretty rough, and after a few too many falls, the motorcycle would simply not start again. It was the old gremlins resurfacing once more, but this time we were in a particularly bad spot.
To make matters worse, the skies were getting darker and darker, not just with the approaching evening, but the deep rumblings of a thunderstorm could be heard brewing not too faraway.
"This is bad," I just kept repeating over and over again to Tim as he tried repeatedly to get the bike going again. I didn't know what to do, as my brain was fresh out of ideas. I felt helpless, and a part of me just wanted to plop down on the ground and wallow in misery for our situation, but that wouldn't have done any good.
"We'll get through this," Tim reassured me. "We always do."
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?
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Blood, Sweat, and Notiers
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