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July 08, 2009

The Seven Continent Trip Blog

Announcing: The Seven Continent Trip Blog is up and running. I got the graphic how I wanted them, and the style, and from now on, when I write entries about our trip, they will be posted on that blog. It will also be the blog where we post our updates during our trip.

Click here to check it out.

Until next time, be safe.

July 04, 2009

Minus The Trans-Siberian

Sadly, we've had some changes to our itinerary for our Seven Continent Trip. Changes are to be expected, but this was a hard one to convince ourselves to make.

So, I ran the numbers. Up to that point, I had been more or less estimating the costs of our trip, on relative budgets and assumed charges. I needed a more definitive estimate, though, so I sat down one evening - at work, of course - and looked up the average daily budgets for all of the countries we plan on visiting. I priced the costs of transportation (i.e. flight costs), and added up our expenses that we'll continue to have here in the US while we are traveling (such as our car payment). Once I added up all the costs, I was fairly dismayed. Suffice to say, the total was considerably higher than I had wanted it to be.

Thus began the painful process of trimming the trip to fit our budget. We need to have a budget, it's absolutely essential when traveling in as many as 18 or more countries for up to five months, all the while unemployed. More importantly, we need to keep to our budget, which will be difficult given all the temptations of visiting all the places we have planned. It wouldn't do to be well above our budget even before we start out on our trip.

Most glaring in the expenses department was the Trans-Siberian segment of the trip. This part added an additional $3000 to our costs, at least. There were flights up to Finland from Spain, train tickets (Finland to Russia, then the TSR), visa costs (Russia and China), and flights down to SE Asia. Of course, it's was very exciting segment of the trip, so much that it could even be a trip all by itself. That ended up being what convinced us to cut the TSR from our itinerary. It isn't that we don't expect to actually make that trip, it's just that it can't be part of the Seven Continent Trip. 

Actually, we are thinking of making the TSR trip next fall. That way, we can spend more time with my family in Finland, and then more time exploring Beijing and Xi'an in China. It will be an amazing three week trip to take. The TSR is considered one of essential traveler journeys that the world offers.

 It's a little disappointing not to be taking the TSR this time around the world, but it will also take a little pressure off of our pre-trip preparations (we don't need visas now), and we will also have more time to spend exploring in Spain, Morocco, and in SE Asia. In addition to cutting the TSR, we will likely have to limit our time in Spain and Australia (the estimated daily budget in those countries is $100-125, in comparison to $20 in a country like Thailand). I am also hoping that by waiting for good prices on airline tickets, I can bring down costs even more, since most of our flight costs are estimated at this poing (we only have tickets to Spain). Regardless, we currently are within our budget limits at this point.

So, barring donations towards our TSR segment, it looks like China and Russia won't be countries we'll add onto our itinerary this time. On the other hand, that gives us our next trip to look forward to. Of course, donations would be most welcome...(click below)

Until next time, be safe.

Monsoon Season

It has rained here in Tucson.

That in itself is a pretty amazing experience. Apparently, we are just at the cusp of the monsoon season, however, so for the next month these monsoon rains will be a regular event.

I was in Phoenix earlier this week for a night, so I missed the first monsoon rain. I didn't have to wait long for the next event, though. The day I arrived back in Tucson, it was brilliantly sunny outside, quite hot of course. There was a strange sensation in the air, something called....humidity, I think. I hadn't experienced that for some time now. According to the local news, these monsoon rains need those hot temperatures and sunny, cloudless days to develop the incredibly powerful storms. Cloudy mornings spell a dry afternoon around here.

So, about six in the evening, ominous clouds began building east of Tucson. Darkly bruised and laced with lightning, they came up very quickly, even as the sun continued to shine brightly. By seven, the rain started, and it was very powerful. I wouldn't have expected that sort of rainfall in the desert, it just came in waves, accompanied by wind and lightning.

When it started to let up a little, my friends Scott and Lindsay jumped in my Rav4 and we headed out to check the damaged. Since arriving here, we've noticed the large number of gullies that roads pass through, most containing the warning, "Do Not Enter If Flooded." The sandy washes seem fairly innocuous when empty, so we wanted to see what they looked like with water running through them.

We were impressed. From what we've heard, the half hour of rainfall was a relatively short storm, so potentially the amount of rain one of these storms produces could be quite impressive, as well as considerably more than what was dropped in this particular storm. Still, it was enough to fill the gullies and arroyos, and to go spilling across the roads, giving good reason for the warning signs to exist. Of course, we had to plunge through a few of the flows, although the ones we did were notably low and quite safe, with just enough water to cause some spray.

It should be noted that we are aware of the existence of the Arizona law, the Stupid Motorist Law, which basically dictates that people who deliberately drive through these gullies when there is flowing water, only to be washed off the road, are responsible for the costs of the emergency folks who come to save them. Did this stop us from spraying water around? Hardly.

Until next time, be safe. 

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