Archive for July, 2009

Aboard the QMII

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After four nights in New York, we have boarded the Queen Mary II and have begun our six night journey across the Atlantic. Somehow, this feels like the true beginning of our trip. When we booked our tickets for the Queen Mary II back in the spring, our adventure changed from a dream to a reality, because we actually had a hard and fast start date. Everything leading up to this — our time in Montreal, our train to New York, four nights in a dirty, dingy hostel — was made necessary by this transatlantic voyage. If the ship didn’t leave from New York, we probably wouldn’t have visited. It was like a bonus. What a great bonus! But now we are heading across the ocean, where things will quickly become increasingly less familiar, and also increasingly more exciting. It seems like a nice progression, actually: first we said good-bye to Ottawa, then to Canada, and now to North America. Europe, here we come!

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New York,
New York

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Yesterday was our first full day in New York City, and also our first full day on the road with no trains or buses to catch. We’ve arrived in New York in 30 degree weather, with thick humidity and regular thunder storms. On our way to dinner the night we arrived, we were treated to a storm (complete with blinding lightning and huge thunder cracks) that rivaled the storm we experienced on our Algonquin Park canoe trip recently. So far, it appears that our rain jackets are the best thing we brought with us.

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the packing process

Our gear page is finally up! We spent a lot of time debating and evaluating what to bring with us. The list we put up is the final tally of everything that ended up in our bags — but I’m sure it will evolve as we go. There will be some things we missed, and we’ve probably brought a few things that we will end up shipping back home at some point. Down the road we will be posting reviews and evaluations of some of the gear we brought with us. Hopefully future wanderers will find this list helpful and interesting!

As a side note, we’ve actually got a third piece of luggage with us for the first leg. The Queen Mary II has a formal dress code for nearly all of its restaurants, and we will be attending Meg’s sister’s wedding in England when we arrive, so we’ve packed a suitcase with strictly formal attire. It’s a bit of a burden to drag around for now, but Meghan’s parents have offered to bring it home from London for us after the wedding. We decided against including its contents on the gear page, but I’m sure you will be able to deduce what was in it from the photos we’ll be posting.

On the road at last

Archived stuff

Well, it’s finally begun. We are posting tonight from Montreal, the first stop on our journey. Our lives have been packed up into boxes, bins and two backpacks. The packs are with us, and as you can see from the picture above, the boxes and bins are tucked away in storage. We took a bus to Montreal, and as of right now, our Amtrak train to New York is still running tomorrow. We actually purchased bus tickets to New York as well, just in case. If the train goes, we’ll get refunds on the bus tickets, but we thought it prudent to have a backup plan.

It’s hard to believe that we are actually starting this adventure. We’ve been anticipating it for so long — it’s hard to know how we will adjust to it being our new day-to-day. We’ve now started to update our breadcrumb with our trip details. Check it out!

Travel gear

Only 24 hours to go. We’ve gathered everything we are bringing into an organized pile in the middle of the floor, and done a test pack with our backpacks. The result: both bags had room to spare! Final weigh-ins have Meghan’s bag at 29 lbs and mine at 44 lbs. Admittedly they are a little heavier than we hoped, but this is the sacrifice we are making to support our blogging and photographic habits. Our camera bag and laptop combine to add nearly 12 lbs to our bags. We were debating whether or not to bring our thermarests (mainly for the African trip), but decided against it. We’ll pick up some foam sleeping pads closer to October.

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Logistics and insurance

Whew! With the final days before our departure disappearing at an alarming rate, things are slowly starting to come together. We’ve now acquired our travel medical insurance (at last!), and have booked and finalized our plans for the African overland leg of our journey. Our to-do list each morning is still daunting, but at least progress is being made.

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Last night our friends threw us a surprise going away party! Meg and I are so lucky to have such fantastic friends here in Ottawa. Saying goodbye to friends has been one of the hardest things to do as we get ready to leave next weekend. It was awesome to see so many people out last night, and we loved getting the chance to visit with everyone. We especially loved the living room dancing that continued well into the early morning hours! It’s times like these that will stick in our memories as we travel, and get us through our home-sick moments. Thanks to everyone for all of your encouragement and well-wishes, and special thanks to Mike and Sarah for planning and organizing the whole event. We will miss all of you very much when we leave.

A few shots from the party have found there way to our photos page. Check out all of the great dance moves!

Algonquin Park

Paddling up the Petawawa

We’ve just returned from three nights of canoe camping in Algonquin Park. What a great trip! We had a little bit of everything this trip, including two very long portages, one moose, several loons, a couple of beautiful campsites, sun, wind, waves, and a couple of incredible storms. We always try to take at least one canoe trip per year around this time with Mike and Sarah. This year it was just the four of us, so we decided to tackle a slightly more challenging route.

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Update

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The time is fast approaching. Yikes! There is an overwhelming amount of things for us to sort out. I had a bit of a breakdown last weekend before our Garage Sale 2.0*. I am keeping the faith that things will come together. They have no choice but to come together because ready or not we’ll be leaving in 16 days.

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Happy Canada Day

Proud to be Canadian

We went down to Parliament Hill to celebrate Canada’s 142nd birthday. What a crowd! It was really great to be surrounded by all of that Canadian pride and patriotism as we count down towards our departure. We will be proud to be Canadian as we travel other countries, and we will loyally sew the maple leaf to our packs. We love this country. Damn it, we’ll miss it too.

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