Overland Expo

We arrived at OX16 west on Wednesday for the pre party and couldn’t check in as the campground was wet and the staff didn’t want anyone out there. We finally made a deal with the formal campground staff to pay for a place to camp in the campground. It was a very small corner space, but at least we could stay. We set up our cargo trailer to sleep in instead of tent camping. Later that day, as othet people arrived, the tent campground opened up and they were allowed to camp.

The weekend was a blast with friends showing up that we knew and meeting many new people. The area got some rain, dried out and then became wind and blowing dust. I guess that trumps snow.

The first night a group of early arrivers ended up at the restaurant. We had a good time talking of past rides, where to ride next and talking of things that had happened over the past year. It was a fun evening.

Pre OX meal with friends

The next day we attended a couple presentations but the real fun always happens around camp. As new and old friends came around we just talked to each one as you never know from one year to the next when they will turn up again.

Nigel Grace looking pretty dapper

Melanie, Ted Simon and I

Sharing dinner with Sam Manicom

Sam Manicom and Randy Perkins

Fireside entertainment

Stefano Malgrati

Ed March being himself

Nicole, Carla, Lisa, Tiffany and Traci sharing the fire

Ginamarie and Melanie

Morman Lake

Ed and Rachel’s C90’s

Greg riding Ed’s C90

Friends

Etched by Al Jessie

Morning warmth with friends

All too soon the weekend of OX was over and everyone was heading out, some to home and other on continuing journeys, local and worldwide. Saying goodbye and so long is always difficult as you sometimes don’t know if or where paths will cross again. But with some they will and we know that we will always have this group to call friends. Overland Expo 2016 was in the books, without snow this year, and we look forward to attending this fantastic event again.

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HUBBUK and Wales

We left Tiffany’s house with heavy hearts, leaving new friends we may never see again, such is the world of overland travel.  Social media is a fantastic thing, we can now keep in touch with people we meet on the road.

Riding out of Land’s End, in the beautiful English’s mist, we headed for a couple recommended stops, villages, along the coast, all beautiful with small harbors and colorful, pastel row houses lining the road along the harbor. The next stop was the Tarr Steps which made for a great photo opportunity, you can ride across this at low water times.

Arriving at HUBBUK in Hay on Wye and staying at Baskerville Hall Hotel was everything we had hoped it would be. The accommodations and hotel has a old, historic quality that we had anticipated and the Horizons Unlimited event wasa week run be the attentive volunteers that make these events happen. Thanks to everyone involved, and especially Caroline that helped us whenever needed and made my presentation so easy to do and go so smoothly.

HUBBUK, Baskerville Hall Hotel

The meet was a blast and we had the opportunity to meet many friends. Here are some pictures of the event.

Dinner on Thursday night

Baskerville Hall main foyer

Parking/registration area

Melanie and Simon Gandolfi

Dylan Wickrama, “Where the Road Ends”.

Bernard Smith and Billy Sherrett

Bike show

Tiffany Coates presentation of traveling solo in Madagascar

Carol-Ann Duval, Greg, Sheonagh Ravensdale, Caroline Carver, Jim Carver, Ken Duval, Melanie

Greg gets to meet Thelma, Tiffany Coates faithful motorbike.

Scooter rider

Duval’s GS from Australia on their RTW trip

Our presentation on riding Baja, California was well received with a packed, standing-room only crowd. Not bad for our first presentation.

We packed up on Sunday morning and said or lengthy goodbyes, many new friends to meet someday on the road, somewhere in this great world.

My mission for Sunday was to meet the only other Turp family I have never met. This journey has been 12 years in the making. My father tried researching his ancestors and it brought him to a Turp family in Wales. They had written a letter back to my Dad telling him all the Turp’s in America, just a handful, came from one of two families in the UK, and they were one of them. My Dad passed away before he was able to meet them, and we came across the letter after he had died. 

We pulled into town and located the house in the rain. We decided to tour the nearby castle in Kidwelly, one of the best we had seen.

Castlepictures
After a quick lunch we returned to the house to find an ambulance sitting outside. Fearing the worst, I walked up to the house where I was greeted by two very nice paramedics. They explained to me that Charles had taken a fall but was OK, just needed to go to the hospital to be checked out. They ushered me into the bedroom where I was able to introduce myself and Melanie. They were brother and sister living together and remembered the letter and my father. A very emotional time.

Charles Turp, Marian Turp, Greg Turp

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Lands End

After couple days of wonderful riding we arrived at Lands End.  Some of the miles were on faster highways that made the villages pass by way too quickly, but were necessary. Most of the miles were on back country lanes barely wide enough for a buggy, grasses growing in the center and tall overgrown hedges covering 300 year old rock walls with branches reaching out and at times swatting at us. Often the lanes leading into the small villages were so overgrown they formed a lush, green tunnel barely letting light penetrate, casting shadows everywhere. We would creep around blind curves expecting an oncoming vehicle where both would have to stop, us sometimes in the bushes to let a larger car or caravan pass.
After a fabulous lunch at a waterfront café in Penzance, we headed towards Land End, taking the slower coastal route. Lands End is the very tip of the UK, a long finger of land jutting out into the Celtic Sea, midway between Ireland and France. There are a few building there and some pretty views, but, unfortunately, it is fairly commercialized with shops and children activities. While we were there we meet four women from Birmingham, Alabama, on their trip of a lifetime, driving around the UK. 

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Finding a nearby campground as rain was again in the air, we set up camp and headed to the nearby town of St Just in search of a pub and serving fish and chips, hand pulled beer and, most importantly, WiFi. A friend of ours, Tiffany Coates, lived nearby and we hoped to see her. She is a motorbike rider, the most traveled woman on a motorcycle in the world, and has rode solo around the world and continues to ride to remote areas of the world, sometimes solo and
sometimes leading tours.

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After connecting to the WiFi signal we realize we are just minutes from her house. She invites us over for dessert so after eating we pop over for a hot apple crisp with English pudding, fantastic. Our night passes too quickly and we race back to our camp and arrive 5 minutes before they lock the gates at 2300hrs.
Tiffany had invited us to stay and we decide to take her up on the offer the following night. The morning brings more rain and we attempt to pack up three times before becoming successful because of the frequent rain. That was our fourth night of camping in the rain and things were becoming slightly damp.
By the end of the day there was a bunch of us at the house. She has a work away guest staying with her, a friend had popped over with her two college aged boys for a visit, us and Tiff. The boys wanted to go surfing so, somehow, the idea was we would all go surfing. The waters of the northern Atlantic Celtic Sea are chilly, in the 50’s F, and, as I suited up in a much too small wetsuit it became apparent that we would all not be fitting in the car. So, with my wetsuit on I donned my protective gear and helmet and, wait for it, climbed on the BACK of a 650 GS, behind Tiffany, and had a go at riding pillion.

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After 45 years of riding, this is the first time I ever rode on the back of a bike. Read up on Tiffany Coates and you’ll realize that she is one of a select few female riders that could get me in that position. I was told to sit still, not fidget and hold on. Wow, what a ride.
Anyway, we all got to the beach and unloaded the surfboards and info the surf we timidly emersed ourselves.

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After the first wave sealed into the back of my wetsuit it became fun and I stayed in the water around 30 minutes having an absolute blast. I rode the GS back to the house with Tiff on the back. She was a much better passenger than I was as I thought I lost her a couple times as I couldn’t even feel her back there.
Dinner was wonderful, Tiff is a fantastic cook, the PIMMs was served and was great as always. We had such a fun evening and, as usually happens when you are having a great time, the night had to end.
Thanks for you hospitality Tiff, we had a great time with you at Land’s End.

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Germany to UK

Finally arriving at Knoph Tours at 2300hrs we unload our kit and head to our room. We get distracted on the way and stop in the common area and meet a couple from Alaska, part of the pterodactyls that do D2D, that we went to a couple years ago described in our book, “Two Up with a Pup”. A couple other people were in there also drinking some very good Scotch, which they were kind enough to share.
We woke in the morning to a bike that wouldn’t start, a problem that would plague and delay us for a couple of days. But, that was OK as it made us slow down and enjoy a day in the beautiful town of Canterbury.
We got the bike finally started and headed to camp on the Mosel river and camped beside a couple German kids pedal biking around on holiday.
Our next day of riding was fantastic as we zigged and zagged through Belgium and the French countryside on our way to catch the auto-train at Calais to the UK. Our roads consisted mainly of unmarked, narrow, exposed, curvy roads that I believe were built by a motorbike rider. The smells in the air were of fresh cut grasses, harvested crops and flowers of spring in the air. Melanie’s allergies were on full alert, but it was a wonderful day.
After another couple days riding the back curvy roads thru France with smells of fresh baked croissants in the villages as we weaved along the narrow roads, we made it to Calais and boarded the tunnel train to the UK. The 35 minute ride aboard the double decker rail car, crossing at speeds around 80mph, was a breeze as we never even felt much movement starting and stopping. I could have probably left the motorbike unattended and it would have been OK.
Arriving in the UK, with Melanie reminding me to look right and stay left we started exploring the English countryside as we sped north to Dover to see the white cliffs and the castle. After a couple quick stops we headed out and started to look for a campsite near Canterbury and a breakdown that would prove to be quite timely.
Walking up in the morning the Triumph would not start again. After several tries the battery was spent so it was placed on a charger for the day and we wandered into Canterbury for a wonderful day exploring a beautiful town, full of historic sites and interesting people.

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We met a nice couple from Scotland, a guy celebrating his 50th birthday, walking their puggle, a pup with look and personality like Gypsy. We chatted about their country and walked on along the river that winds through town, stopping at a sidewalk café for a moccachino and a strawberry/chocolate crepe, a favorite since the first one we shared in Venice.

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We sat in the warm sun and talked and just watched the people passing by, some rushing to a late meeting and others, just hand on hand, a wonderful afternoon.

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Back to Germany

Four bins later, my MoskoMoto 40 litre Backcountry carry on full of clothes and other kit, my Andy Strapz messenger bag with electronics and Ukulele and we are ready to leave.
Our driver to the airport is a very interesting guy. As we are chatting, Melanie asked him where he was from. He grew up in Latvia at the end of WW2 and his mother left Russia under the cover of darkness and defected to Germany, living on a bench in a stationary, non-running train car before they were sponsored to come to the US. He was 6 years old at the time and still vividly remembered the details of their struggling for survival. With tears in his eyes, he recalled for us how his father got him, his mother and his grandmother safely out of the country, but before his father left, he was captured and declared a Spy by the Russian government and sentenced to 25 years hard labor in Siberia. His mother did not know this and hence declared him dead, a casualty of the war before they could come to the US. After many years he found his father was still alive and had been looking for them since his release from Siberia. He met his father in Latvia, but then his father died within the year, content to have finally met his son again. A very sad and gripping story.
The rest of our day was great, ironically, flying Aeroflot airlines into Moscow and on to Frankfurt, about 16 hours of fly time. Aeroflot is inexpensive to fly and the treatment and meals are always great. This time we had lamb, salmon, chicken, great desserts and FREE wine.
After landing in Frankfurt, we were picked up by the shuttle and whisked away to Stefan Knopf’s place in Heidelberg, where our room was waiting and our bike was parked out front.

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