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Team Blog

So Psyched -- We Made It!
At 12:14 on 13-08-2009 Keithos said...

 Well, folks, we made it to Ulaanbaatar! It's rather difficult to believe.  The city traffic here was the hardest part!  People fighting now to buy our car.  Will try for an early flight home. Tell mom all's well. I'll see you all soon.  Peace! Keith


Confidence Waxing -- 400 klics to go!
At 13:56 on 12-08-2009 Keithos said...

 Hallo everybody! We spent another night under the stars. So amazing.  Only 400km from UlanBataar now and we're feeling pretty confident. 

Our determination to cover big distances these past few days has taken its toll on everyones sanity. Giddyness sweeps the nightime camp  faster than swine flu, demonstrated in the photo with the Nips wrapper.

This morning was a bit calmer. As we were packing up camp a man on horseback appeared from over a hill and rode down to take a look. Beth ended up going for a drive on the kind man's horse. Keith gave him some honey he had bought off of a Beekeeper in the Ukraine and the YTs offed him a big handfull of their Yorkshire tea. He was very happy. The honey is quite probably very radioactive but the tea will do him nothing but good.

More soon.


Gobi Desert Mosquitoes!
At 13:25 on 09-08-2009 Keithos said...

After passing though the Kazak-Russian border checkpoint in a record 3 hours, we found ourselves on real paved roads again, breathing a little easier.

We learned from an Austrian team that the Mongolian border closed at noon on Friday and that it took 24 hours to be processed. We had 18 hours to go 500 miles up through the Gorno Altaiskiy mountians and arrive at the Mongol border with various papers in hand by 6 pm on Thursday. If we didn't, we would be caught between the Russian border and the Mongolian border in a "no man's land" until Monday afternoon! Deadlines! 

We and the Brit team, the Yorkshireterios, decided to drive all night and part of Thursday to get there in good time. By morning, we found ourselves in steep lush mountains following the most incredibly fast moving green river. The Chuya river ran beside us for at least 200 miles, having cut a great path for us to follow through the snow capped peaks.

Amazingly, we processed through the Mongol border in 3 hours and were on our way with about 6 other teams down the dusty washboard tracks called roads. Only 1,200 miles to go at fifteen mph! By this time, we had heard many tales of woe; cars that had hit a high rock in the road an ripped out the bottom of their engine, illness and fatigue taking its toll, and a team that had struck a donkey at dusk losing their windshield and a headlight. They compensated the owner for the loss of his  poor donkey and continued on wrapped in their sleeping bags and wearing ski goggles.

Lush Rissian mountains abruptly became dry sunbaked ruggedness in Mongolia. Small white mushroom-like gers, or yurts dotted the overgrazed land. Herds of goats, yaks, horses, and camels can be seen in pockets of green.

Yesterday, we covered 120 miles of dusty sand and rock strewn roads still intact! We crossed a spectacularly stark mountain pass at 13,000 feet and have now dropped into the Gobi Desert -- at 5,000 feet. Children always come running from tending their herds when we pass by, and we give them some little treat to brighten their day.  Glorious weather.  Jaw-dropping views!

In ending, I would like to report an unforseen event. After driving by moonlight for a few hours last night, we pulled off on the absolutely dry and flat Gobi Desert only to be jumped by -- you guessed it -- mosquitoes!

From both of us with love from Mongolia....  Beth and Keith


The Roads....
At 16:07 on 08-08-2009 Keithos said...
We're across the border after a fast drive to get there before the border closed. Roads are trying to eat our car in Mongolia. Still keeping on. Still travelling in tandem with the Terios. luv K

Pressing Towards the Mongolian Border!
At 13:55 on 06-08-2009 Keithos said...
The teams received an email from HQ stating that the Monglian border would be closed over the weekend so a group of us are driving through the night to get there on Thursday morning and avoid delays.

Kazakhstan is a land of wonder!
At 13:32 on 03-08-2009 Keithos said...

Kazakhstan -- Flat plains, huge skies and curious friendly people who beep and wave to us.

The roads are a wonder, too. Sometimes we wonder where they are -- one minute they're there and the next minute they're not. For instance, driving along at 50 mph on a relatively smooth road when suddenly a car swallowing crater appears in front of us. Thankfully, people have made their own sand tracks across the desert that are at least passable at 1-20 mph. The plumes of dust behind our car made us look like a rocket! We spent nearly 3 days traveling on these roads!

Camping in the desert is a wonder as well. Beautiful stars, vast open plains, thunderstorms, acres and acres of grass fires, roaming dogs, cows, sheep, goats, horses and camels, steppe eagles, harriers, magpies, crows, and Muslim graveyards. The Muslim graves are small, four-sided, East-facing  structures with crescent moons decorating them. Some of the fancier ones have domes that remind us of mosques.

Ice cream is a must every day! Last night we treated ourselves to a hotel where we could clean up after spending time in the hot, dry, dusty desert. You can imagine the color of the wash water!

Today we are hoping to travel from Qostanay to Astana, a distance of approx 360 miles. Our fingers are crossed, hoping for good roads!

Keith insists on a toilet report: Facilities can vary from vast open plains with no place to hide, to gas station privies that no one ever empties, to a 15 foot bottomless pit, to almost functioning facilities at a restaurant, to pretty wonderful facilities at hotels. 

For a couple of days cell reception has been non-existent, so it's nice to be in touch with you all once more.

Peace.... Beth and Keith


Speedinig Towards the Russian Border at 11 mph
At 14:47 on 31-07-2009 Keithos said...

Hello everybody!

We're now on our way to the Russian border.

Beth had a very minor fender bender in one of the cities. No one was hurt. The "accident" seems as though it was no accident at all. A group of hoodlums spotted our car and jumped their red light, putting them directly in front of us. They were clearly looking for money and refused to call the police. Instead, they called more of their friends to come join in their game. There were about 8 of them and I was very thankful to have David there to help me! Finally some police arrived, obviously knew the thugs, listened to my story and sent us on our way. So we are pleased to report that the Russian police are not corrupt like the Ukranian police!

Crossing from Russia into Kazakhstan took about 4 trouble-free hours. Once into KZ we felt completely welcomed by the people. They are very curious about us and what we are doing.  They think we are crazy and have made that abundantly clear!

We headed south toward the Caspian Sea and are driving through an endless desert on the worst roads we have ever experienced. Along the way we are seeing lots of goats, sheep, cows, horses and camels. When we pass through towns everyone is smiling and waving and the boys all come out to give us high-fives as we drive past. A group of them even climbed up on our cars or held on so we could pull them on their rollerskates and bikes!

Today we are trying to cover over 400 km. At 11.2 mph it should be a long day!  The car is doing great and our lobster hood ornament is still hanging on!

Sending out love to you all, Beth and Keith


Swimming in the Caspian Sea
At 15:35 on 30-07-2009 Keithos said...

 

Hey you all!  We are now in Kazakhstan.  It's very flat and camel y.  Off now for a swim in the Caspian Sea.  We are in a new world now.  More soon,  Peace, Keith


Report: Kiev to Volgograd
At 12:30 on 29-07-2009 Keithos said...

We spent a day in Kiev while waiting for our travel companion's new team mate to arrive. We decided for safety and convenience that we would park our cars at the airport and take the bus into town. So, when we arrived at the airport we followed the signs directing us to the parking area and accidently ended up in the pilots' parking lot! After much animated gesturing the attendant gave us visitor parking passes and we gave her wine and candy! Perfect.

While in Kiev, Keith went to the run-down and overused botanical garden for a nice rest. Beth and David spent their time at the Chernobl museum, which we found very interesting and disturbing.

The next two days we spent traveling through miles and miles of sunflower and wheat fields to reach the Russian border. Ukranian drivers are so bad that they put Mass and NY drivers to shame!

When we arrived at the border, we were thrilled to see a very short line. Other teams had written to say the crossing had taken six hours, so we were prepared. Everything seemed to be going along quite well when one of the thugs noticed that our transit visa had expired!  We were told to select transit, not tourist, upon entering the country. Seems as though they have quite a racket going. Anyway, it was what the thug referred to as a "small problem" meaning we could bribe our way out of it. So, we gave our new "friend" a "present" and were on our way to the Russian side where we had no trouble whatsoever.

Yesterday we were in Volgograd, formerly known as Stalingrad, where we visited  an amazing statue of Mother Russia along with a very moving war memorial right along the Volga River.

Today we are heading toward the Kazakhstan border and hope to have an uneventful crossing!

For our exact location and some photos, go to our friends' website at www.yorkshireterios.com.

Ciao, Beth & Keith


Volgograd and the Mother Russia Statue
At 15:49 on 28-07-2009 Keithos said...
Stayed out in a deserted plush hotel in the middle of nowhere! We're travelling mates with another team from Yorkshire and so, for now, you can track us from their website as well as this blog.  Go to http://yorkshireterios.com. We're now in Volgograd to see the Mother Russia Statue which is worth looking at on Google. New photo of us at the Mother Russia Statue now in the Gallery.... Keith and Beth 

At the Russian Border
At 17:33 on 27-07-2009 Keithos said...
We're at the Russian border right now, in a group with the Yorkshireterios, another team. Good to know you are all well.  Gotta go deal w/ customs -- Innocent keith

Transiting Ukraine
At 21:08 on 24-07-2009 Keithos said...

Today, we are transiting Ukraine.  The cops are hungry.  All is well.  K & B

PS: (One new photo in the En Route gallery, more to come.  No video yet.... Cool)


Ukraine Now. Heading for Kiev
At 14:13 on 24-07-2009 Keithos said...

Yesterday we connected with another team that is going our way to cross the Ukranian border together. We had heard that the border patrol was a tough group, so we were hoping to be able to help each other. As it turns out, we sailed through without any trouble! 

Then we went to the old city of L'viv where we wandered around taking in the sights and a delicious dinner. While we were playing tourist, another team spotted our car and left a note, so found them at a motel out of town, but not before being hassled by the corrupt police looking for a bribe. Got away this time! The owner of the hotel was wonderful to us- I'd say we made his day filling his rooms and drinking his beer! 

Today we are making our way to Kiev. Although it is only about 300 miles, we expect it will take us most of the day due to road construction and the police. Our little convoy has been stopped once already and we still have many miles to go!  We are traveling through mostly agricultural areas, seeing lots of cows and horse-drawn wagons, which are very quaint. At one point we were stopped in traffic near a stork nest full of babies.

So glad that you are all along with us for the ride.  K & B


Into the Polish Countryside
At 00:03 on 23-07-2009 Keithos said...

Beth and Keith write:  Last night we were in a lovely little Polish town about an hour from the Czech border. That part of the country was a mix of agriculture and hills and forest. Today we drove along two-lane country roads through lots of small villages and farmlands. There were huge expansive fields of wheat and barley (which they were harvesting), poppies, sunflowers and even some hops!

While driving along today we scared off a hitch hiker. He took one look at our car and promptly put his hand down!  We got a good laugh out of that!

We are in Krakow having pierogis for dinner in the old city.  Tried to post videos today, but the computer only spoke Polish. 'Nuf said.

We both think Poland is great!  Beautiful country, reasonably priced and plenty to see!

Love to all -- B & K

Sent via BlackBerry from T-Mobile


Today Prague, Tomorrow Poland
At 21:42 on 21-07-2009 Keithos said...

Beth writes from her Blackberry:  Arrived safely in Liverpool and had to wait until late Friday for the car to go through customs, complete the import paperwork and get it released from the company. The cook at the youth hostel where we were staying took pity on us and drove us to the docks to pick it up. 

 We set out on our merry way to go to London to get the car's title, which we need to legally leave the country, but promptly got stuck in traffic. So we called to have the title express mailed to the starting line. We continued on toward the start hoping that it would all work out!

As hoped, the next day our documents arrived and we were ready to go!  We decorated the car with inflatable lobsters and dressed ourselves  as lobsters for the pre-rally gathering. Teams went all out for this shin-dig and it was quite a scene! There were live bands and Mongolian wrestling demos to entertain the throngs of people. We were sent out in groups of 20 cars to take our lap around the Goodwood Motor Circuit before heading out to begin the rally. 

Our first destination was Klenova castle near Klatovy, Czech Republic, for the BIG Czechout Party!  All of the teams from the UK, Spain and Italy gathered on Monday, July 20 for a great party in an old castle. There were live bands, Czech BBQ and plenty of outrageous costumes.

Today we stopped in Praha for a look around and are making our way toward Poland.

For those of you who are wondering, the car is doing great! Stay tuned!  Beth

And Keith writes:  I'm in Prague after our wild gathering last night.  All is well.  Ciao. Keith


Starting out on the Rally!
At 23:46 on 18-07-2009 Keithos said...
Today we have started and are presently heading for the Dover Ferry and the Continent.  A couple of pics of us, the car and a couple of inflatable lobsters may be found in the Gallery section here.  Move pics later and maybe a video link.  Onward....  Peace, Keith

Made it to Liverpool!
At 18:56 on 15-07-2009 Keithos said...

Hey we made it to a youth hostel in Liverpool. Thanks, of course, to so many friends. We don't have the car yet though everything is looking up for sure.

 Check on YouTube for movies from 27Keithos.  That would be me.  Send prayers that I can figure that out!

More later.

Peace, Keith


The car is in Newark!
At 16:03 on 23-06-2009 Beth said...

So, it appears that no trip is complete without at least one all-nighter and a couple of mishaps, and this trip is no exception!  The company that is arranging the shipment of the car messed up on the dates and caused quite a bit of stress and scrambling around at the end of last week!  In the end, she got us on another, much sooner, ship. (At least we hope she did!)  And so, Keith and I left my house in central Maine just after midnight on Monday morning, planning to arrive at the port in Newark when they opened on Monday morning.  Upon arrival, we were told we didn't have our papers in order (the friendly folks at the port kindly took care of us!) and that we were not allowed to leave ANY personal stuff in the car.  Uh oh.  The broker had told us that we could fill the trunk and back seat with our gear.  Luckily, I had had one of 'those funny feelings' about shipping the car and had expected trouble, so we had brought a second vehicle along.  Turns out we really needed it!  So, we unpacked almost everything, tucking a few tools, etc under the deck where the spare tire goes and sent the little rally mobile with her fetching hood ornament off with the line man.  Keep your fingers crossed that she makes it onto the ship and sets sail as scheduled on July 1!  Then we hopped back into the truck for the 400 mile trip home.  Good practice for us for the upcoming adventure! 

A big thank you to Keith's friends, Howard and Vicky, for meeting us in Portland to save me the additional trip to Blue Hill to deliver Keith home.  That saved me a couple of hours at the end of a long day.  Thanks.  Beth


Concert A Success!!
At 14:02 on 21-06-2009 Keithos said...

 

    Thanks to everyone who came out of the rain Friday night to hear awesomely performed tunes about the road andthe world around us! Between the concert and A generous donation from a friend, we are over the 1000 english pound mark! We drive the car to Port Newark NJ today for final proccessing with customs abd depart ourselves on July 14 to meet the car in Liverpool England! Can't wait! Thanks  to all of you for your great support! Keith

 


Don't forget! Benefit concert June 19, Franklin ,Maine
At 01:42 on 15-06-2009 Keithos said...

            

           This  Friday, in Franklin, Maine, will be the most amazing benefit concert for our endeavour! At 7:00,  Will begin a soiree of pot luck deserts and beverages, with three fine and handsome local musicians preforming sweet music with the audience of you!  I, Kieth will be speaking about the trip and about our charity, Mercy Corps. Bring yourself and a friend to 79 South Bay Rd ,Phoenix Farm, with your delightful desert and beverage plus your checkbook or cash to make a contribution to the Maniacs bid to raise $1700 for Mercy Corps. You may also choose to sponsor us with a donation to help us with the trip costs themselves.

    Anyway, Come join us for the music and a circle dance or two on this truely long light evening near solstice!


June 8 09
At 16:58 on 08-06-2009 Keithos said...
  I've been enjoying getting the car ready- took out the back seats and made a lightweight sleeping platform, and and general crawling around under our fine Korean sprinter. Tires are rolling in and am still begging various companies for gift cetificates to round out supplies. Thank you to all who are helping and a reminder of the fantastic benefit concert coming up on June 19th! Call Keith for details, 207-374-5492 Back to the planning, Kieth

It's June already!
At 21:44 on 07-06-2009 Beth said...
Hi Everyone! Thanks for visiting our page. It's hard to believe it's June already! The little rally car has been given a very classy expedition-style roof rack. You can see it in the photo. Our visa applications for Russia and Kazakhstan luckily went through without a hitch. Other teams have had their applications rejected for some rather bizarre reasons, so we were happy to have ours approved so quickly! Donations continue to roll in. A big THANK YOU to all of you who have made donations in support of this great cause! We are amazed at your generosity and truly appreciate it! We are currently having trouble uploading photos, so check back again once we've figured that out. Stay tuned as we prepare for this adventure! Keith and Beth

So Psyched -- We Made It!
At 12:14 on 13-08-2009 Keithos said...
 Well, folks, we made it to Ulaanbaatar! It's rather difficult... [Read More]
 
Confidence Waxing -- 400 klics to go!
At 13:56 on 12-08-2009 Keithos said...
 Hallo everybody! We spent another night under the stars. So... [Read More]
 
Gobi Desert Mosquitoes!
At 13:25 on 09-08-2009 Keithos said...
After passing though the Kazak-Russian border checkpoint in a record... [Read More]
 
The Roads....
At 16:07 on 08-08-2009 Keithos said...
We're across the border after a fast drive to get... [Read More]
 
Pressing Towards the Mongolian Border!
At 13:55 on 06-08-2009 Keithos said...
The teams received an email from HQ stating that the... [Read More]
 
Kazakhstan is a land of wonder!
At 13:32 on 03-08-2009 Keithos said...
Kazakhstan -- Flat plains, huge skies and curious friendly people... [Read More]
 
Speedinig Towards the Russian Border at 11 mph
At 14:47 on 31-07-2009 Keithos said...
Hello everybody!We're now on our way to the Russian border.... [Read More]
 
Swimming in the Caspian Sea
At 15:35 on 30-07-2009 Keithos said...
 Hey you all!  We are now in Kazakhstan.  It's very... [Read More]
 
Report: Kiev to Volgograd
At 12:30 on 29-07-2009 Keithos said...
We spent a day in Kiev while waiting for our... [Read More]
 
Volgograd and the Mother Russia Statue
At 15:49 on 28-07-2009 Keithos said...
Stayed out in a deserted plush hotel in the... [Read More]
 
At the Russian Border
At 17:33 on 27-07-2009 Keithos said...
We're at the Russian border right now, in a group... [Read More]
 
Transiting Ukraine
At 21:08 on 24-07-2009 Keithos said...
Today, we are transiting Ukraine.  The cops are hungry.  All... [Read More]
 
Ukraine Now. Heading for Kiev
At 14:13 on 24-07-2009 Keithos said...
Yesterday we connected with another team that is going our... [Read More]
 
Into the Polish Countryside
At 00:03 on 23-07-2009 Keithos said...
Beth and Keith write:  Last night we were in a... [Read More]
 
Today Prague, Tomorrow Poland
At 21:42 on 21-07-2009 Keithos said...
Beth writes from her Blackberry:  Arrived safely in Liverpool and... [Read More]
 
Starting out on the Rally!
At 23:46 on 18-07-2009 Keithos said...
Today we have started and are presently heading for the... [Read More]
 
Made it to Liverpool!
At 18:56 on 15-07-2009 Keithos said...
Hey we made it to a youth hostel in Liverpool.... [Read More]
 
The car is in Newark!
At 16:03 on 23-06-2009 Beth said...
So, it appears that no trip is complete without at... [Read More]
 
Concert A Success!!
At 14:02 on 21-06-2009 Keithos said...
     Thanks to everyone who came out of the rain... [Read More]
 
Don't forget! Benefit concert June 19, Franklin ,Maine
At 01:42 on 15-06-2009 Keithos said...
                        This  Friday, in Franklin, Maine, will be the... [Read More]
 
June 8 09
At 16:58 on 08-06-2009 Keithos said...
  I've been enjoying getting the car ready- took out... [Read More]
 
It's June already!
At 21:44 on 07-06-2009 Beth said...
Hi Everyone! Thanks for visiting our page. It's... [Read More]
 
 
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