Gra Nomad Wanderings

Wednesday, March 29, 2006


Just about to leave Chicago.... a warm and friendly city (especially for bike riders) but pretty COOL!

Kathy has hosted us for 5 days! She is a bike enthusiast! She lives on her own with a schnowzer dog (spelling?) Kathy has about 11 bikes! There are 3 on the top floor, at least 3 on main floor and 3 in basement. She has at least one out on loan! She's got computers and bike pumps on most if not all of them. Our tandem is currently in the dining room on the first floor while we sleep in the next room... the lounge room! Her business is KANGAROO CONNECTION. You might find it on the webb.

She has taken us all over Chicago (by bike) and we even went to a bike shop yesterday and got the gears sorted out. We also bought panniers there. We went on the 10th Anniversary Spring Champagne Ride on Sunday. It was about 4 degrees!!! We rode about 30 miles. It's the start of their bike season.... about 24 cyclists altogether. Very bike friendly city. Chicago was voted the best bike friendly large city in USA.

We went by train today (Tuesday) to Milwaukee, Wisconsin. That's about 100 miles. Picked up a Ford F150 ute! BIG UTE! It's about 6 metres long! Drove back here and will stay tonight with Kathy before heading off. The bloke was very generous and allowed us A WEEK to do the 600 miles to Kansas City via St Louis! He's allowed us an extra 300 miles so we can tour a bit. Great guy. It's a F150 XL triton V8 with a L O N G tray. Will fit bike and we won't have to break the bike and put it in suitcases! It is white (truck) and has 30,000 miles on it, but is as tight as a drum. Buckets but can handle 3 people.

We have a Servas host lined up in St Louis, Missouri. Remember we are in Chicago, Illinois. Trying to arrange a host in Kansas City, Kansas which is where the truck is due to be delivered. The office there has a vehicle going to Waco, Texas.... that might fit in... if it's still there when we get there. Dallas is another place we're keen to get to.

Any other suggestions? We've got two months before we are due to do the BIKE ACROSS KANSAS.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


Sorry no photo... yet.
Arrived Miami... picked up Bike Friday... have put it together... ridden with ALL our gear trailing behind! HEAVY! Went to a great little church last Sunday - Mount Sinai United Methodist Church, 113 S Federal Highway, Dania Beach, Florida. (Near Ft Lauderdale.) Really great.

Depart today for Chicago. We're delivering a beautiful Cadillac there on Friday (4 day trip - about 1,300 miles or 2,000 km. Bought some candy, some coke, a little fridge bag and some cookies.

Had great visits with 2 Servas familes in Florida. They've been really most hospitable. So... on the road again. Our kids (Pete & Jem) are around LA/San Fran, having been down to San Diego and Mexico.

Hey... the Yellow Terror (Bike Friday tandem bicycle) is awesome. Got any suggestions for a name? It's yellow, and it's a tandem that folds and comes apart and goes into 2 suitcases!

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Country With No Beer

From number 3 child, number 1 son

So after various positive beer drinking experiences in various Sth American countries (thankyou Argentina, home of ¨Quilmes¨), I was looking forward to arriving in Colombia, home of the mighty ¨Cerveza Aguila¨. Imagine my displeasure when we arrived and i found we had hit the weekend of the elections in Bogotà, meaning we couldn`t hit the town on a Saturday night, and even worse, for the whole weekend, they didn`t sell beer.
Or wine.
Or scotch.
Or rum.
Or Vodka.

Can you imagine the uproar if they tried that in Australia??? I figure I`m gonna come back here, get myself a Colombian passport and nationality and run for government. My slogan would be ¨Elect me, and next year I`ll let you buy beer on election day!¨ Sure fire winner I`d reckon.

Most of downtown was closed due to increased security too, but unfortunately this didn`t lead to even a brief frisking by a woman in uniform, or even a man. at least I got my bag searched.

Before I go, I`d like to note some observations I`ve made over the last month or so.
  • Mail offices are inefficient everywhere.
  • Council ¨Workers¨ do nothing anywhere.
  • Beer is good Everywhere.
  • Altitude sickness is a poor excuse for being sick, especially when used at sea level, before the plane you`re in has even taken off.
  • Personality groupings are a myth propogated by a group of people who wish to make money off gullible people (incidently my personality groups are ¨Gullible enough to give me money for nothing¨, and ¨Not gullible enough to give me money for nothing¨.), either that or an excuse for por behaviour. When used in conjunction with ¨Compulsive Obsessive¨ syndrome and the alledged ADHD these personality traits can be lethal. Please see a bully for a belting should symptoms persist.

The good news is when I arrived home for lunch today, sitting on the bench, along with a delicious serve of beans (frijoles) was... BEER!!!

Monday, March 13, 2006


We´re nearing the end of our time in South America. Currently in Bogota, Colombia where Jeremy spent a year as an exchange student. His family here are wonderful hosts and it is great to be staying with them.
There are elections here today so a number of roads are closed and even cycleways! Jeremy´s Colombian father, Angel, went out to buy him some beer but the govt won´t allow the selling of beer at election time! Can you believe that? Unreal. Bet Honest John would love to get his hands on that little trick!
We are due to arrive in Miami on Wednesday 15 March. Then 2 days after that we say farewell to Jeremy and PJ. They think we will be OK after that. Photo of self and Everyman and the other one of course is Machu Picchu. I´ve got a few more!!!

Thursday, March 09, 2006



We have now been going 5 weeks! But Iquitos is something different. Machu Picchu was so cool (in more ways than 1), and now we are in Amazon/jungle country, it is damn hot!
It doesn[t resemble other places in Peru where we{ve been. (Sorry can{t find the apostrophe!) I believe this is the largest city in the world without vehicle access.... I mean road access! Maybe half a mill.
We were staying with a contact but felt...uncomfortable. (Lucky you{d left Debs!) Our host was not particularly warm and we were left 2nd guessing what{s happening next. eg what are we gonna do for tea_ (that was a question mark!) The bathroom was a couple of stars below what we are acustomed to. Sue D would not have coped... maybe neither would Deb. It had only cold water...(no big prob), but no rose on shower, no seat on toilet and no paper till we asked. There was no bed for Jem so he bunked down on the concrete floor on sleeping bags. Neither he nor PJ slept very well. Rain came in their window in the night and got his sleeping bag. But it was really the lack of warmth, friendship and communication that clinched the deal. (Fay and I had concerns that our hostess might have had designs on our 27 yr old son!)
We took our hostess and her neice out for a lovely dinner last night. I paid the bill but was surprised that there was not the slightest thanks. Kids were also surprised at that.
We decided this morning we{d move on. When we told her, it didn{t seem to phase her at all.
We have moved to El Dorado Hotel ' some stars (hey I've found the apostrophe!) It's $54 AUS a room (we have 2 rooms) or $40 US each room. There{s a pool and AIR CONDITIONING. If you know Fay you'll know how much that is appreciated. Today we went to a zoo and then visited Belen - the floating city. The area...the market area was...horrific! It was dirty, dodgey, it was was squallid (don{t think I've ever used that word before.) Guys offered us a boat trip but none of us wanted to acept their offer. We headed by motor taxi (another story) back to the comfort of our hotel. Our luxurious hotel. It is so hard to adequately describe what we saw. I've never seen markets so less inviting than what we saw today. Food markets! And guess what_ (there's that question mark again)... God loves each one of them. Just like He loves you and me! Unreal. Every one of the 20 persons to read this blog is just so fortunate! Sorry but I can't do justice to the situation. ... to our experience today.
Tomorrow we visit some villages and go for a cruise on the Amazon.... Cheers from us.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


Well... ready for question 2? Here it is.

If you could, which stage of life would you like to relive?

I must confess I found the question in an airline magazine while flying to Brazil from Argentina. It was asked of Don Ernesto Sabato who is a 95 year old Argentinian writer. See how you go with the question. It might be a bit hard for some of you. Good luck.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Well the real story as I saw it starts in Santiago airport...
We had about an hour stopover in Chile between Sao Paulo and Peru, just had to get off the plane in Santiago, chill out for an hour, then get on the next plane... sounds easy? Well Gra made it a little more 'exciting' than it should have been...
I fell asleep before the plane had even left the tarmac, it was about to fly out when dad started having a bit of a chuck... yep, sick about 60 seconds before takeoff...
After about half hour i think, he got up and had a bit more of a chuck in the toilets...
Then for the next hour or so he just changed colours from grey to green to yellow, then decided he was feeling a bit better and hopped up and started walking around the plane. It was really good to see him looking so well as we were all a bit worried about the old bloke at the time.
Anyway, just as we start the descent, it starts again... now I'm not good with vomit so i held my hands over my ears and looked out the window, but Jeremy tells me that dad did even better on the way down than he did on the way up. Went on for quite a while and he really gave it a good go apparently.
To make the story even more fun... 2 days later I started feeling a bit sick, which was followed by being sick, however I managed to make it off the transport vehicle (being a bus this time) all the way to the hotel and the bathroom, by myself, to go through the sickness motions. Therefore not subjecting anyone else to the shananigans... well, except dad who decided to come back from dinner early and heard the show, but because he chose to come home early it was his own fault, AND i do believe he deserved it anyway since it was his fault in the first place.
Now if you really want to make this exciting, I can tell you how Deb has now also been sick for 2 days... na I'll let someone else tell you about that...
There's the real story!

Thursday, March 02, 2006


The dancers at Carnaval were unreal. The floats were even better. Show started at 10.30pm and went until daylight, long after we had all left.
There´s a rumour that my family are going to sabotage this blog site. They want to tell you the real truth. Scary.
We´re now in Cusco, 1 hour flight from Lima. They warned us about altitude sickness here so we´re taking it very easy to start with. I´m finding I´m a little dizzy which I guess is part of it. We´ve arranged a trip through the valley tomorrow and then on Friday we will head up to Machu Picchu where we will stay overnight before returning to Cusco.
We are staying at the Colonial Palace Hotel for US$7 per person per night includes breakfast. We have a room for our family with a private ensuite.
Lunch just cost us 50 Sol which is about $20, 5 of us had more than we could eat.
In 2 weeks we´ll be in Miami.