The Greater San Fransisco Area

Continuing my quest to travel the world.

It has been my quest to cycle around the world for a very long time, although I have ticked off 16 countries to date, I still haven't achieved the ultimate goal of cycling the world. I cannot wait any longer for the conditions to be perfect, age is catching up with me, so it is now or never.

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia

picture drawn by Jim my Step - Father on our trip across Australia
After our trip to Vietnam in 2012.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

The end of Summer.

Winter is closing in fast. Generally the days are lovely and warm, but the evenings and nights have really chilled off. I've had to put my lighting set on my bike as my 7.15 pm closing hour at work is dark enough to need lights to get home. Daylight saving finishes this weekend and our clocks all go back an hour, which helps with light in the evening for a short while, but it's certainly getting darker earlier and earlier. those in the Northern Hemisphere will be very happy to hear that.

One thing to really put a smile on my face this week is Bob the cat. I really do adore my little ginger ball of fluff. His phantom pains, seem to have diminished in intensity,or he's just used to them now. Either way, he's finally back to his normal happy, healthy self. To prove it, he surprised me big time, by bringing in a baby bunny he had killed. He hopped a long way [much like a bunny], to find a burrow, managed to grab a baby bunny [which I'm not happy about], managed to get it out of the burrow with only  one rear leg, and get it home and through the cat door [which he struggles a bit with], He was so proud of himself, you could actually see the smile on his face. He enjoyed the experience so much - he did it again. I'm sorry for the bunny family, but I'm so happy the Bob is happy and well.

I managed, by making a nuisance of myself, to get an appointment at the specialist about my knee/ feet problem. Instead of the 2 month wait for an appointment, I managed to get a cancellation. The Specialist agrees I've been in the wars. Now I need an MRI scan and another wait for another appointment for that, then another wait for another appointment to see the specialist again, before any treatment is discussed. And when I finally do get treatment, they only do one foot / leg at a time.The wheels of the health system turn so very slowly. not to mention all the months of waiting I have had for appointments for physio and x rays. why can't they just fix things the first time,and then they don't become bigger problems where you slowly loose your quality of life. sports stars seem to get treated quickly and they are back on the sports field a few months later. I'm willing to pay just like them. Why why why?

Niels dramas never seem to end. He left his only map on a cafe table in a village in the Andes. And then got food poisoning. He made it to Sucre the capital of Bolivia, checked into a hotel to recover, and found a map of Bolivia. And even better - got wifi and his Peruvian electrical plug adaptor to work. So I spent several hours on google maps sorting him a new itinerary staying in Bolivia and not crossing into Paraguay. When he gets to the Brazilian border he can get a map there for the rest of the way to Rio de Janeiro. That cheered him up as he still had time to make it, without having to change flights or anything. So he still has two more days in the mountains, downhill initially to Padilla, then up to a little town called Vallegrande and then downhill all the way out. Unfortunately it looks like the road may be gravel though for some of it.

I'm hoping to go for a decent bike ride tomorrow, if my feet and knee behave themselves. Perhaps a 75 km ride on the flat [ to help my knee], with a bunch  of painkillers in my pocket. That should do the trick. I want to get some exercise in before winter.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Time Off.

I've been forced to take some time off work due to my knee. I was in such agony at work, it felt like my knee was melting, yes melting. So I went to the emergency dept of the hospital, and I'm on painkillers and strict instructions to have 3 days off and make an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon.

 It's the days off bit that's causing the problem. You see, Jim, my boss, is recovering from a hernia operation, and we are all doing extra hours to cover him at work. And have been doing so for 6 weeks now. So you can imagine my forced days off are going down like a lead balloon at work. But there is one thing I can almost guarantee, and that's that I'm in more pain than anyone else there, even Jim [after 6 weeks at home recovering]. Why am I made to feel guilty?? That's the first thing that annoys me.

The second thing that annoys me is that this has all been caused by my bad feet, that the foot doctor refuses to operate on [because I "won't get the desired outcome I'm looking for"]. I've been seeing this doctor for a year. Sure he's worked out what's wrong, but he won't do anything to fix it, and now my knees [yes both] are a mess. I've gone from fit and athletic to a limping, shuffling invalid. I steadfastly refuse to blame it on age. There are lots of fit older people out there, and I'm determined to be one of them. Enough complaining - now for some good news.

Reaching the top.

Niel is powering along - I'm so proud of him. He's almost at the Bolivian border. The Andean climb was arduous to the extreme. The mountains never let up and he was climbing 2,200 metres or about 8,000 feet every day for 5 days. Got caught in a snow blizzard once and having to go hungry often, while suffering the 'runs'. But he made it.

Inca ruins near the city of Cusco, Peru.

In  a few days he will start to descend the Andes and be heading for Paraguay. There's not many towns in Paraguay, so food and accommodation will be an issue there. We are not sure what the wind will do either. It looks like it could be headwinds. The heat from the low lands rushing up to the cold air of the mountains. We will just have to wait and see.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Trying not to panic.

What a difference a week makes.

Bob the cat is fine. He has spasms of extreme pain, but the Vet says it's phantom pain - just as people get, who loose a limb. He manages just fine and i have my beloved companion back. He's eating again - not huge amounts, but I can no longer feel every back Bone when I pat him - he's generally happy, so am I.

I miss Niel immensely, but have got into a routine at home to take my mind off it. When he's managed to get in contact, then I'm a 'happy chappy', and as proud as punch of him. It's not his cycling ability I'm proud of, it's his perseverance, will power, drive to keep going, no matter how hard it gets. It's when he can't get in contact, that I have to stop myself from stressing out. Your mind plays tricks on you. I imagine he's kidnapped and held by guerrillas, or mugged and left in a ditch somewhere, and then he gets in contact again and I'm fine again. I have to have faith that everything will be okay. I know he's not gullible and openly trusting of everyone - we are seasoned travellers and that's one of the first things you learn very quickly. So I just have to keep to my routine, stay calm, do not panic, and wait for his next contact.

It's taken him 4 days to do a ride estimated to take one day. It's been non stop mountains, climb one, descend, climb again etc. Add into that is a snow blizzard  at 4 1/2 thousand meters high [16,000 feet], and it's been a nightmare. He only has a light summer sleeping bag, so I hope he's alright. oops calm down Adi. He's a day behind schedule, but I'm confident he can make that up on the down hill side of the Andes.

I love Autumn it's my favourite time of year. There is a mellowness about this time of year that has a calming effect on me. Just what I need.

Sunday, 4 March 2012


I don't know who has had the more miserable week. Niel, Bob the cat or me. Well yes I do - Bob the cat.

The newspaper article.

As you all know Niel left on Tuesday, and as you know - we were both miserable at the separation - tears on my behalf, and Niel admits to wanting to cry. however Bob the cat was slowly dying. He hadn't eaten in a week and just curled in a ball and trembled in pain no matter how many strong painkillers he was on. I took him back to the vet and he was in too much pain to eat and his gangrene had spread to his foot and it looked like that would have to be amputated too. He was given stronger pain killers and still went downhill. He had basically given up on life. My heart was breaking - more tears.

Meanwhile Niel was having a miserable time. He missed his flight to Auckland and almost to South America, the boarding gate had closed and after begging they just got him on, but probably not his beloved bike. After a 10 flight to Santiago Chile fretting about his bike and not sleeping he discovered his bike had made it on board after all.

Meanwhile I had to make the agonising decision to ask the vet to amputate Bobs leg to save his life. Copious amounts of tears. But I'd rather have had a 3 legged Bob, than no Bob at all. He survived the surgery - there was a chance he wouldn't because he was so weak and sick. Two days later he was pain free for the first time in over a month, and not throwing up when force feed with a syringe of food.

Niel had made it to Lima, and in the dark, and in a foreign country where no one spoke English, he discovered the hostel he had booked and paid for didn't exist. So he had to find something else. I major downer and he would have given up if he could.

I had to keep  working when all I wanted to do was get Bob home and nurse him to health. Eventually I was able to do that. Somehow I got trough my week of work, somehow Bob managed to eat for himself and is well enough to be let outside for the for first time since his accident. And somehow Niel had got through all his dramas and remained sane enough to keep going.

Still beautiful with 3 legs.

Reaquainting himself with the garden.