Canada and Alaska: We Go On A Harley Davidson Ride in Jasper

As part of our tour, we get to sign up for a variety of activities, so today is a Harley Davidson sidecar ride! We were driven by minibus from the Fairmont Lodge into Jasper where we got suited up.

Mum actually manages an almost badass expression, I just look like an idiot. Three other ladies from our tour group came along on the same trip. We paired up with a rider and so Mum got the sidecar and I sat behind Rob.

I didn’t think we’d be able to hear each other but we didn’t go too fast and so we could chat a bit about the same things everyone here tells tourists – it’s been a heck of a forest fire season and half the pine trees are dead thanks to shorter winters not killing off pine beetles. Look it up if you’re interested, I’m sick of talking about it.

The ride went for about half an hour. We stopped to take photos then I jumped in a side car to see what that was like. It was much louder and lower – I think I liked sitting up higher better. Mum enjoyed the whole thing even more than I did, but then she was quite a thrill-seeker in her time. As you can see from the photos, the air was quite hazy, which was a bit of a bummer but no one wants to hear tourists complain when farms and homes are being burned down.

After the ride we had a little walk around Jasper before returning to the hotel. You’ll be unsurprised to hear we found a bar then bought several bottles of wine. I also ordered my first poutine but it had pulled beef and horseradish sauce as well as the traditional curds and gravy, so I’ll have to have the real thing at some later stage.

It was a good thing we did buy the wine because I had to drink half a bottle to get to sleep. The jet lag is killing me! I need to remember to factor this in on future trips. First world problems, huh?

Next: we drive along one of the world’s most scenic roads, walk on a glacier, and eat some astonishingly good biscuits which I suppose I should call cookies but WON’T!


Here Comes The Planet 49 – Tanzania 05

In this episode Team Toto soar above the Serengeti in a hot air balloon and drink champagne like the rock stars they wish they were! An unforgettable experience that we shared with many of our travel companions.

Also, I deliver on a promise I made to amp up the excitement of a balloon coming in to land… 😉

Thanks again to Pete and Deb for letting us use some of their footage!

Here Comes The Planet 39 – Iceland 04

We go back to Jökulsárlón to see the nearby black sand beach, and then continue our travels across Iceland’s stunning landscape.

Also, here are the promised 80’s-hair-metal-band Iceland horses; none, unfortunately, which are fighting. 🙂

Music: Rafstraumur by Sigur Rós

Here Comes The Planet 37 – Iceland 02

We continue our Iceland adventure with a trip around the Golden Circle, the route upon which many of Iceland’s natural wonders can be found. We hope you agree that the scenery is, at times, quite Tolkien-esque. 😉

Also, Luke takes the hobbits to Isengard.

Apologies for the amount of wind noise during the video – turns out Iceland is a windy place!

The Stone Roses – Waterfall ( )
Erwin Beekveld – They’re Taking The Hobbits To Isengard ( )

Here Comes The Planet 35 – England 09

We meet up with our friend Justin in Saltburn-By-The-Sea, in my personal favourite episode of Here Comes The Planet thus far!

Justin was the first Couchsurfer Amanda hosted, and whilst in Melbourne he also came along to our Samsara 2012 party (although I have no footage of that, here’s some footage from Samsara 2011). He was keen to return the hospitality, and did so in spades! We had a fantastic time with him and his mates, as you’ll no doubt be able to tell from the video. Apart from a great tour of Saltburn, he took us out to an excellent club night being run by a mate of his, as well as a joint birthday party where there were tasty noms, numerous games (some of which no one knew how to win, especially not the person making the game up as they went) and a lot of padded wrestling. We’re already looking forward to the time we can all catch up again. 🙂

Also, if you’ve never considered taking up dinghying as a hobby, Burno makes a compelling case.


The weather was still miserable for our last couple of days in the Lakes and we realised that, with only a few days til we were off to Iceland, we really needed to sort out the last major leg of our trip – the 6 weeks in the USA. So we holed up in a cosy B&B just a block back from the main street in Windermere.

We did get out a little bit – we did a 5km walk from our place to Orrest Head, the first walk Alfred Wainwright (who is famous for promoting the Lake District as a walking destination) did in the area. It is a short walk uphill from the middle of Windermere to a hill top from which you can see almost the whole length of Lake Windermere and many rolling hills and patchworked fields. Photos do not do it justice at all.

The path up the hill was gorgeous – all moss and gnarled tree trunks.

We then walked down to the lake and along the bank, through a forest that looked very Robin-Hood-ish and back to the B&B.

The rest of our stay was spent in bed working on our trip. Exciting stuff! I do feel better now that we’ve at least got our New York accommodation booked – and through Airbnb, for the first time. I’ve tried to book with them before but had difficulty finding places that are free for the dates we wanted, or just not hearing back from property owners. This time we’ve managed to score a room in Greenwich Village for $80 a night and sharing with a guy who gets great reviews as a host. We have also, coincidentally, planned our NY stay during Halloween and have been told that Greenwich is where the best action will be… fingers crossed!

During our breakfasts at the B&B we met a lovely family from the US who gave us some great advice on visiting theme parks and their teenage daughter even offered to accompany Luke and I to Magic Mountain, which is right near their home, so Luke wouldn’t have to go on everything by himself – what with me being the world’s biggest chicken when it comes to any ride more energetic than a ferris wheel.

Travel really does impress on you the generosity and kindness of people everywhere – it seems that everyone we meet has a word of advice or an offer or meeting up with us somewhere or a helping hand. I do hope that we have many opportunities to return all this good karma when we can.

Howgill Fells, a view along our route when we left the Lakes.