Archive for June, 2012

This trip has caused us to become Homeless!

Posted: June 19, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

Yes, you read the title correctly. We have officially become homeless. You see, we figured since we will be gone for several months, that it did not make sense to have dual expenses (on the road and back home). We made a conscious decision to begin marketing our homes for rent. This was a tough decision to think that we might not have a home to come back to!

After about a week, Bernard called me and said, ” I have to be out of my house by the 25th of June and I will officially be homeless.” He found someone who wanted to sign a one year lease on his house. Wow! It was actually coming together. Bernard went into hyper mode, finishing the flooring, packing boxes, installing trim ,etc. As if there wasnt enough to do preparing for the trip. Just one more thing to do.

Angela and I began lightly marketing our home, with little enthusiasm. It is an unsettling feeling of renting your home, and not having a home to return to. However, we felt financially it was best. After a couple of weeks, we only had tire kickers, so it seemed we would not be renting our home after all. At the same time a little cottage in Sumter Forest, South Carolina presented itself. We decided to buy the house, “just in case”. It needed updating, but would work for a place to land when we returned.

All of a sudden we received a large amount of interest in our home. We actually showed it and decided on a qualified family that was excited about the home. The timing was just right for them, and for us. All of a sudden, with only two weeks left, we were faced with packing our belongings up, moving most to storage and the rest to the “new” cottage. The problem, other than the obvious, was that the cottage was not ready to move into.

We began immediately focusing on the renovation of the cottage. As would be expected, the want list grew rapidly, as we realized, we would be living here when we returned. This would require a substantial downsizing. So we have gutted the kitchen, living room, and bedroom. Yes, I said “bedroom”. That’s not plural! The cottage is only a one bedroom. The upside is the fact that it will be smaller areas to renovate. The down side is….well, didn’t you read the sentence prior…? We gutted the kitchen with only two weeks until we were to embark on this monumental expedition! So on top of preparing for the trip, packing our house up, moving into the cottage and a storage unit, we decided to perform our own “Extreme Makeover”. This should be fun!

Right around the time of the decision to put our house up for rent, Angela received a call that her Dad was being rushed into emergency surgery in Michigan. We scrambled to locate an airline ticket to get her up there as soon as possible. After checking several airlines, it was evident that tickets purchased on short notice require a premium. Fortunately, my cousin, was able to set us up with a great deal through her airline. Thanks Kendi! Angela was able to make it up there the next morning early and be there when her dad came out of surgery. She stayed for the week, to be there for him and help out her mother. When I called Angela to inform her that we had a family that was going to rent our house, she said “hold on a minute, I need to go throw up!” The realization that we would soon be homeless set in. The good news is that after a week, her dad is resting back at home, and Angela is also back at home.

For those of you following, we were also scheduled to meet with the writer from the Augusta Chronicle today, Kelly. We decided to meet at Starbucks for our interview for the article she is writing about out trip to Central America. It was a pleasant meeting and we were pleased with our conversation and the ease with which Kelly, made the interview. We are anxiously awaiting the article, as the photo shoot was a success (see previous entry). We were able to get the pictures in between torrential down pours of epic proportion. We will post a link to the article when it comes to print. We anticipate it will be available in the next week or two.

All in all, everything is going very well. We have decided to move the departure date one final time to July 9th 2012. This will give us the necessary time to make the moves from our houses. This has to be the last date change, as I have made resolve to be in Central America for my 40th birthday. That will fit nicely, as I turn 40 on July 19th! Stay tuned for news of our departure and the excitement as the preparations continue.

I leave you with one question: You have dreams, what are you willing to do to reach yours? Would you go homeless? Will you do whatever it takes?

Photo shoot in the rain?

Posted: June 10, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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After many hot sunny days this spring, we have encountered rain today. And boy, has it rained! It began at 6:00 am this morning, and has rarely let up all day. Don’t get me wrong. We need the rain. We need it desperately. Our local lake is over 9 feet below full pool. Designated swimming areas are high and dry, boat ramps have limited access, and “islands” are appearing causing potential hazards for boats.

Having said all of that, why did the rain have to hit this week? You see, I got a call on Friday from the Augusta Chronicle (our local paper), they want to write an article on our upcoming trip to Central America. Of course we are thrilled. After coordinating everyone’s schedules, it was determined that we would meet the photographer at the Savannah River on Monday at 3 pm with our expedition vehicles. This was the only day that coincided with everyone’s schedule.

The reporter is out of town until the following Tuesday, and Bernard and his daughter, Kristen are headed to Germany this Tuesday. So, Monday it is! Well, the rain chances for Monday are over 75%. Maybe we can get down there, get the photos in, and packed up between rain drops. We are setting up the vehicles, including the roof top tents, for the shoot. It is not wise to close the tents up when they are wet. Mold tends to be your worst enemy in this situation. With rain in the forecast for the next week, there would be no possibility of drying the tents out.

However, this is very exciting for us, as it will give the local community awareness of our upcoming trip. So, we will adapt and prevail. This will be an opportunity to allow individuals to follow our trip from start to finish, meeting the people we encounter, seeing the charities that are offering a helping hand to the needy, and experiencing the beautiful sights, we plan to share.

Tomorrow morning, Bernard and I will be performing some last minute preparations to his 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser. We plan to begin building the rear platform storage, replace the valve cover gasket, and a few other maintenance items. I have a few things yet to do to the Land Rover also. Hopefully we can find a dry place to work on the vehicles, as they no longer fit in the garage, with their suspension lifts and roof racks.

Keep an eye out for the upcoming article that will be in the Augusta Chronicle. We will share the link when we receive it as well. Has rain ever put a damper on any of your planned activities? Please share……

We are leaving in 18 days…..so what is the plan?

Posted: June 7, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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Our departure date is less than 3 weeks away! Bernard stopped by the house so we could go over our travel plans. We mulled over maps, discussed people we hoped to meet up with along the way, and time lines. I had to keep reminding myself, “It is the journey, not the destination”. I have a habit of choosing the shortest (read fastest) route from point A to point B. If you have ever traveled with me, you know that when we stop for gas, make sure you use the bathroom, get something to eat, and stretch your legs, because we will not be stopping again until the fuel tank reads “E”.. With the use of my GPS, this has actually gotten worse. The built-in arrival time seems to push me even harder to try to maintain or beat the arrival time. But, with this trip, we have agreed that we are going to be laid back, travel if we want to, stop to see the sights, or even, take a detour, yes a detour. As you notice we have adopted the tag-line on our blog site and our journey as mentioned before, “It’s the journey, not the destination. Leading fast paced lives and travelling as we have in the past, I hope this is not a problem! We intend to get off the beaten path and mingle with the locales. Tourist towns, and attractions will be secondary at best. We hope to avoid these over priced areas as much as possible.

So as we began to map out our route, we decided to take it in small sections, so as not to over plan. The first leg, was determined that we would stop in Mobile Alabama. This should be a good days drive after leaving Augusta Georgia. We will stay overnight there, enjoy the town and the ocean, and then on to our next stop of Lafayette, Louisiana. Bernard has secured us accommodations and even a cooked meal using an online community called www.couchsurfing.com This is a community of travellers (not gypsy’s) that offer their couch for people travelling through their area. It is a great opportunity to meet people and hear their stories of their travels. When you need a place to stay, you just put out a couch request and wait to see who responds. There is a rating system and bio’s of the hosts and travellers so you can match compatibility. Check it out it’s a pretty cool concept, that we hope to take advantage of as much as possible along our route.

In Louisiana, we have been offered an open invitation to have a real Cajun meal prepared for us by the infamous Chef Bourque! He is a family friend from my childhood, that I have not seen in well over 20 years. We are looking forward to this stop, as it will be as an authentic Cajun experience as possible. Check out Chef Bourque on youtube here:

Chef Bourque

After we leave Cajun country, we are off to Beautiful Houston Texas! Bernard has a cousin here that has agreed to fire up the bar b q grill. There is nothing better than a grilled meal prepared by a local in Texas. You know, they say everything is bigger in Texas! I hope the meals are no exception. Bernard’s cousin (to be named later), has agreed to let us use his yard to pop up the roof top tents. The neighbors ought to get a kick out of that. Hopefully he doesn’t live in a restrictive neighborhood, with the nosy neighborhood association. I imagine there isn’t a bi law in place for roof top tents…..yet.

After we “camp” in Houston, it is off to a city that Angela and I have vowed to visit for some time, San Antonio Texas. We are really excited about this stop. We cannot wait to ride a gondola down the canal and walk the sidewalks along side. Bernard, having been in the military, and already a world traveller, has friends here as well. They too have agreed to put us up, and show us around. As an alternative, there are several military installations locally, that offer camping facilities. if needed. We intend to stay for 2 or 3 days to take in all of the sites and activities that this historic area has to offer. I am sure there will be an entry in the future dedicated soley to this city, so watch for it!

When we finally decide to leave, we will be heading for the Mexican border! Finally our Central America trip begins. It is approximately 2-1/2 hours from San Antonio to the border crossing. The plan is to get up early (6-7 am) and get through the border crossing as early as possible. We hope this will help with traffic and our rusty skills crossing the border with limited Spanish abilities. Once we cross the border, it is about three hours to Monterrey. This will be our first official destination in Mexico. From there, the sky’s the limit. We are totally open to any direction we feel like going (although ultimately we will be headed to the west coast). We intend to travel along the coast all the way down to Southern Mexico. So as we figure out our direction, we will post them for you. Do you have a recommendation or “must see” to share? Please let us know by “replying”. Stay connected!

Im 6’4″ tall, but the D2 is taller!

Posted: June 3, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel
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Wow! We did the install of the tires and lift on the Discovery 2, and it is tall! I took measurements before and after the installation to see what we gained. The Treadwright 265/65/18 Guarddogs were put on first. The measurements showed a 1″ increase in ground clearance. This was a little disappointing, as I anticipated more…The next day, Bernard and I drove to the Fort Gordon craft shop. We tore into the lift kit and began installing it. We chose a 2″ Ironman 4×4 Heavy duty lift kit from www.camel4x4.com . The 2 inch kit was best for our application to avoid having to make further modifications (ie. brake and ABS extensions, control arms, etc). We also went with the Heavy duty spring with Ironman’s foam cell shock. This was the premium combination to accommodate our intended uses and to carry the extra weight of the roof rack, tent and gear. We were able to have the complete lift system installed in approximately 3-1/2 hours start to finish. Everything was labeled nicely, and instructions were easy to follow, though it was pretty self explanatory. A couple of tips for those who may be considering installing a lift themselves. A 13mm ratchet wrench makes removing the shock bolts mush easier. Secondly, I recommend dropping the cross member below the front drive-shaft. This allowed the front end to drop low enough to install the new coil springs without a compressor. All in all it was a great experience and the final product was amazing! I love the look. Even with the weight of the rack and tent, the lift holds great. After measuring, we actually gained 3 more inches of ground clearance in addition to the tires. This netted us 4 inches total! This was one of the most transforming features so far. We will be testing this equipment on our travels through South America Check it out now! What do you think? Any suggestions for future modifications?

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Ironman 4×4 lift kit & Treadwright tires

We TKO’ed that Suspension with the help of the Champs Dad!

Posted: June 2, 2012 by Central America Overland Expeditions in Expedition/Travel

We knocked out our Ironman 4×4 2 inch lift suspension install on our Discovery with the help of none other than Mr. Mercer, the Father of Champion Boxing Legend “Merciless” Ray Mercer, an American professional boxer, former Olympic Gold Medalist and WBO heavyweight title holder. Mercer was the 1988 United States Amateur Champion at Heavyweight while in the US Army and compiled an Amateur record of 64-6. He won Gold in the 1988 Olympics in Seoul as a heavyweight. In 1989, Mercer fought Barry Flowers (USAF) which contributed to a K.O. win in the 7th round. Ray’s Dad, who resides here in Augusta, Georgia and is car enthusiast gave us a helping hand while at the The US Army’s Ft. Gordon, Ga., Automotive Car Care Center. It’s a shop where you can basically build an entire car if you chose to do so. With over 20 bays, an engine room, paint both, weld shop and helpful experts on hand to guide you in any automotive endevour, you’ll always find help, experience and knowledgeable professionals there. Just as we’re getting into the nitty gritty of installing our lift on the Discovery, Mr. Mercer graced us with his presents and offered a helping help. A short while later as the install was complete, Mr. Mercer told us he was glad he could help. But, we kindly offered a ” No Sir” we thank you Mr. Mercer. We would also like to add a special thanks to the Ft. Gordon, Automotive Craft Shop too! Thanks, Teressa, Dave, Barry, John, Rob and a shout out to Mr. Mo ! (Mr. Mo, I promise I’m going to get that Beetle motor out of there soon!) Now our Discovery sits very nicely with the lift and new tires. Central America here we come.