Interview, filming for documentary and car work

We started off on Saturday by bringing most of our trip equipment to the garage. We figured it’s easier keeping it there and packing up the cruiser outside the garage rather than driving the cruiser to the apartment and doing it outside the building. It was nice getting the gear out of the apartment since it’s a bit chaotic there now with the ongoing bathroom renovation and things scattered all over the place. We’ve started packing up all our belongings in the apartment as well, preparing for the tennant to move in so it was nice creating some space. However, this is like half, or maybe even one third, of all the gear that needs to be packed into the car. How we’re gonna fit it all is another story.

We spent all of Saturday at the garage, working on the cruiser. Brian’s main project was to strengthen the bull bar, mine was to paint a piece of the tail gate to prevent it from rusting.

Brian added a few bolts to the mounting system of the bull bar, increasing its strength and stability. This was actually one of the last few big things that needed to be done on the cruiser when it comes to maintenance, so it’s just a whole bunch of little things left and that feels good.

The tail gate went from white and rusty to red to black and it turned out really well, you can’t even see the black patch much since the spare tyre and other things in the back block it. It will of course also be covered by a license plate.

Saturday night we scoffed pizza and watched a movie with our friend Ann. I woke up on Sunday wishing for another few hours of sleep but there was no time to waste. I was going to be interviewed by a reporter from DN.se over the phone sometime during the morning so I had to be up and ready. The interview is basically an introduction to my blogging for the newspaper and it will posted on their website just before I start blogging as we head out on the trip in a few weeks from now – I’ll let you know. (But it will be in Swedish though. If you’re nice I might translate it.)

The documentary film maker, Petri, happened to also be on his way to come visit and do some filming so this was really going to be a day with a documentation theme to it! He said that if he wasn’t there by the time the reporter called, we must rig the video camera ourselves and record the interview. So Ann and Brian set it all up and I mainly walked around giving orders sounding like a stressed celebrity, because I had psyched myself up so much for the interview. I’m just not used to be interviewed, I’m always the one asking the questions… It was a very weird feeling but quite fun at the same time.

The interview went really well. Except I have no memories of it. It was so unusual for me to sit there and answer questions – and about myself on top of that – that I found myself blabbering away about nonsense things. But apparently I did say some okay stuff as well because the article turned out really well as I got to read a sneak preview of it later during the day.

Petri arrived shortly after and Ann left us to focus on trip things again. Since Petri lives in northern Sweden we only have a few short meetings before the trip and then he will come join us on the trip either once or twice depending on how everything goes. In the meantime Brian and I will try collect as much footage as we can ourselves, which Petri can then use to put it all together for the documentary.

It turned into a long and intense day but it was a lot of fun. Petri is so laid back and discrete with his camera that you relax easily, even if Brian said it might take him some time to get used to being filmed. Petri spent some hours with us at the garage, since we had to finish what we had started the day before but it was also good to get some proper footage of the car work. Petri and I took a break and headed out to buy lunch and then we had almost like a picnic at the garage. In the afternoon we started talking about setting everything up, turning the car into a campsite so to speak, to get that on film. Brian and I got started and we soon jumped around the cruiser like two little excited kids, enthusiastically telling Petri and his camera what we’re doing. This was the first time we actually set it all up the way it will be and it was so cool! Since most modifications were done to the tent and the roof rack while it was on the ground and a lot of other things have been changed in the car since we got it last summer, although we have camped in it before this really felt like we did it all for the first time!

I will only give you a tiny preview now of what it all looked like because we happen to be planning on doing it all again in just a few days and then I will be able to take much better photos for you, so stay tuned!

But anyhow, this weekend was just great. Being interviewed just got me even more inspired to start blogging for DN.se, something I’m looking forward to like crazy and I have so many ideas at the same time as I’m of course gonna write about the unplanned and unexpected events of the trip. Working on the documentary was great fun and also very inspiring. And we got some more work done on the cruiser that really needed to be done. Less than three weeks now and still so many things to sort out! Are we gonna make it?!

And another great weekend – more coming soon!

So yeah, that was last weekend, I just haven’t gotten a chance to post those photos until now – but this weekend has been just as fun and inspiring with lots of work done plus some other fun things happening regarding the documentation of this project for example. But we are absolutely knackered after a very long and intense day so I will tell you all about it soon and put lots of photos up, promise!

A BIG step closer to the trip

Last summer when we had brought the cruiser to Sweden we had to strip it from all its extra expedition gear, most importantly to get it through inspection and be able to import it but also so that it would fit into the garage where it would spent the winter. I clearly remember the day we took the roof rack off (see photos here), still it feels like ages ago now.

While the roof rack has been off we’ve done some modifications and maintenance to it and Brian has mounted extra lights and horns on it. It’s been a bit tricky since we didn’t take any measurements but have just had to estimate where everything should go, and we’ve both been looking forward to putting the roof rack back on to find out if it all works. But mostly just to feel like we’re getting somewhere. The cruiser has looked very naked without all its gear and we just felt like we were working and working without really getting anywhere the past few weeks. So last weekend, more or less on impuls, we decided to put the roof rack back on. However, this isn’t something you do with one hand. The roof rack is heavy. Luckily Daniel, Brian’s colleague and friend, was at home nearby and could help us out.

Daniel and Brian driving the roof rack to a more spacious site on the other side of the garage while I drove the cruiser up there.

With some improvised solutions from two pretty handy guys, the roof rack was soon on its way up into the air.

Daniel moved the lorry and I reversed the cruiser in under the roof tent, which was swaying slightly with every breeze in a very scary way. Then Brian slowly lowered it while Daniel and I stood on each side gently pushing into place as it came down. It wasn’t easy and it took two or three attempts before we had it in place. I was so scared it would tilt and come sliding down the front window! But it all went fine. (Never mind the mattress, for some reason we had taken it out of the tent, but it’s obviously meant to be inside the tent!)

High five!!

We then spent some time having a look at all those things we had mounted on the roof rack – it turned out most of them had to be adjusted and moved and fixed… But it wasn’t anything that couldn’t be sorted out. Brian did a great job doing that, plus sorting out the wires, while I had to test lie the roof rack space for a while. I didn’t wanna come down. It’s such a good feeling being up there, away from everything happening on the ground. I was tempted to sleep in the tent that night but I figured we’ll probably have enough of tent nights during the trip.

Lastly we mounted the awning back on the bars on the side of the roof rack. There are still a few things to fix, but it sure feels like we’ve just taken a giant leap closer to the trip!

Never a dull moment

If you feel that your life is turning into a mundane routine with no excitement or risk, feel free to join us in the preparations of this trip – or plan your own. Never a dull moment, I tell you!

We finally thought we had a plan for the route, how we would get across the Mediterranean, going to Israel, that we could go through Egypt after all… After facing so many obstacles and having to straighten so many questions it was a nice feeling knowing we now had a good plan and it looked like it would work. So, with butterflies in my tummy, I wrote an email last Tuesday to Gunnar, our contact person for the Mediterranean crossing with shipping company Grimaldi, and asked him to please look for departures around mid-September or end of September.

I knew we were doing this last minute and I realized we might have to be a bit flexible, but I didn’t expect the reply I got. Unfortunately, the ship couldn’t take any passengers during September or October, due to having cadets on board and docking plans. We could only travel with them in November.

November! That would screw up our entire time plan! We have a tennant moving in in September, it’s the car and the visas… There is no way we can wait until November. What were we supposed to do, leave Sweden and circle Europe for a month and a half while waiting to go on the ship? My butterflies had turned into a big, heavy lump and I admit thinking to myself “Seriously, is this just another challenge or is it some kind of a sign?”

We straight away started doing some research on other ferry lines on the Mediterranean but since we’d really prefer to travel with the car (for safety and budget reasons, rather than shipping the car and flying across ourselves) it narrowed down our options quite a bit in an area with pretty few options to start with. The next day I made numerous phone calls to other shipping companies in southern Europe. After an hour of trying to understand English with an Italian or Cypriot accent on poor Skype lines, with lots of horrible lounge music in between as I was forwarded from person to person without knowing why, I was exhausted. But I then had some information on how to ship the car across if we’d have to do that. I also managed to find a ship where we could go onboard as passengers. It would go from Greece to Israel and would naturally be quicker than departing from Italy. But the problem was that they never know beforehand whether they are gonna be able to go to Israel, so we would basically have to have a cool head and wait until they know their schedule, just a couple of weeks before planned departure, drive down to Greece and just hope that there would also be space for us as passengers on the ship.

Slightly comforted by this new Plan B we were still missing Plan A, including having a very nice and helpful Swedish contact arranging the trip for us.

But then I got a phone call from Gunnar on Thursday afternoon. It turned out there is another ship going between Italy and Israel! He had just forgotten to think of it as an option and had been reminded by his Grimaldi contact. So he said “I’m really sorry I didn’t think of this straight away but it looks like you could go on this ship instead!” His contact had looked at departures and we had two options, 16th or 29th of September.

Now we’re just looking at costs and payments and details, but right now it looks like we need to be in northern Italy well on time to drive the cruiser onto a ship on the 16th of September!

Jabs

On Friday we went for a proper vaccination session. I, who’ve taken a pretty decent collection of vaccinations  throughout the years already, only had to have two injections. But Brian, who hasn’t gotten any vaccinations since his childhood immunization ones, had to take five!! Four in one arm, one in the other. And he has to take another two, another one in a few weeks and one when we’re back from the trip.

You don’t see Brian pale very often at all, there are not many things that makes his knees go weak. He likes to call himself a buffalo. Cool, calm, and collected, as the diver term goes. But he’s not too fond of injections. As we were waiting for the doctor to prep all the jabs he was looking more and more anxious and kept trying to hide it by playing around with the kids toys meant to distract kids who are really scared of syringes. He claims he wasn’t nervous at all, he was only acting like this to psyche me up for my shots. Which he kind of succeeded in doing. But the doctor was very funny and professional and FAST. I didn’t have time to react, he just grabbed my arm and the syringes went pfft – pfft and it was over. He went over to Brian and went pfft – pfft – pfft – pfft – other arm – pfft and it was over. Brian almost looked disappointed with how quick and easy it was, he must have been anticipating a horrendous hour of horror. And now he claims he’s so well vaccinated he could eat a five day old road killed African chicken with salmonella, hepatitis and tetanus without having a problem. I wouldn’t recommend it.

Applying for visas for Sudan

Today we’re going to Sudan’s embassy for an audience with the consul. Fingers crossed it all goes well!

Rebecca Stockil - August 2, 2012 - 10:19 am

ah man…. sending you lots and heaps and thousands of positive energy and bubbles for all the right things to happen at the right time. all our fingers, toes, legs and anything alse that can are crossed for you guys today – good luck with everything.it was great to hear from mom that you are sounding both happeir and positivie about everything – keep looking on the bright side and good things will happen.
thinking of you every day!!!! x

Anna - August 2, 2012 - 10:33 am

Thanks for your support!! :) Yup things have finally turned around and things look much brighter. No one could be happier and more relieved than we are. We haven’t started celebrating just yet though… we’re far too busy for that!! ;) Lots of last minute preps now that needs to be sorted out, lots and lots. Wish I could hire an assistant coz I feel a great need to clone myself right now… :P
Anyhow, miss you guys lots and can’t wait to get on the road to SEE YOU! :)
Ps. I hope you manage to get something done today despite having fingers, toes, legs and anything else that can be crossed, crossed today. I’m sure it looks very funny. ;)

Ann - August 2, 2012 - 11:11 am

Håller också alla tummar, tår och andra utstickande delar! Läste om ert badrum igår och FY FAN jag förstår att ni har haft det kämpigt :( Men, efter regn kommer visum!
Kram på er

Anna - August 4, 2012 - 4:03 pm

Tack, Ann!! :) Haha ja det låter som ett mycket bra talesätt tycker jag! :) kramar

Join the project funding – great rewards in return!

We were advised to try some crowd funding and thought we’d give it a bash – but we started it up in the middle of the turmoil that’s been going on and had no energy to follow through with it. However, today we got our first backer! An amazing feeling. There’s another week left of the project’s funding page.

Check out our page! We offer great rewards in return for backing our project. Maybe you’d like a big print of a photo I’ll take during the trip? You would get to choose one yourself amongst thousands of photos. Or how about a souvenir from a country of your choice? Whatever you might be interested in we will obviously put your name on a Thank You-list on the website to try and show some of our gratitude.

Max - August 9, 2012 - 9:01 am

Hi!

Just saw your “FundedByMe”-project, cool!
But I was a little to late, the page tells me that the project has ended.

Is there someway that you can restart it?

I really like the fact that potential backers do get something in return!

Best regards
Max

Anna - August 9, 2012 - 10:56 am

Yup, I’m working on re-submitting the project! Will let you know how it goes! :)

After a chaotic summer, September it is!

Hey guys. We’re still here. Very sorry for the blog silence lately. We kind of hit the wall. It all just became a little too much to handle at once and for a while there we didn’t how anything was going to turn out.

You know on the tv show Amazing race, how the teams sometimes encounter speed bumps? They all of a sudden get slowed down, they have an extra obstacle to get around, everything gets even harder and sometimes it feels like they have to almost start from the beginning again. We’ve had to deal with a few speed bumps lately.

One of them being this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a long and complicated story but to try and make it short: we had a water leak in our bathroom and it had to be taken care of. This caused a tremendous stress on us, especially when already being under a lot of pressure, not knowing how big a hole this would dig in our wallets. It was an expense we hadn’t budgeted for and we were already struggling to reach our budget for the trip. Plus – if the renovating would last while we were away we would have to pay for an empty apartment because we wouldn’t be able to rent it out – an expense we definitely hadn’t budgeted for. Being able to rent the apartment out was one of the criteria to be able to go.

Money was naturally our biggest concern but then also time. Nobody knows exactly how long the fans will have to stay in the bathroom until it’s dry enough to patch up again. The guy in charge is guessing 8-10 weeks. So for a while there two things were uncertain; how much it would cost and how long it would take (possibly also causing more costs).

We soon realized we didn’t have a choice but to try and start up the bathroom renovation as quickly as possible. Pushing it forward would definitely jeopardize the entire trip, starting the renovation straight away would only maybe have an impact on it.

Trust me, this wasn’t fun.

Lots of phone calls later to everyone involved we soon had workers in the apartment making it look the way it looks in the picture. We can now only use the toilet. We shower in an empty apartment in another building in our area, or at friends’ or at work, and we do laundry in the common laundry room.

So now we were at a point where we were already stressing about how to get enough money to be able to leave as planned and then – boom – bathroom renovation on top of that. I realized you can see it in two ways, either as a challenge or as a sign. Was this a sign we shouldn’t go on this trip? Was somebody trying to send us a message by throwing speed bumps into our preparations? Or was it just a challenge that we had to overcome, to prove how badly we want to do this trip?

I obviously chose to see it as a challenge, but at times it was hard keeping that viewpoint, trust me. All the stress naturally took its toll on our relationship, our communication and motivation, on everything. I hit the wall just after midsummer, wondering how I would be able to continue going. Brian hit the wall a few weeks later, all of a sudden looking pale and acting apathetic. It just got too much. Would this be it? Would we have to cancel the whole thing? Now that we were so close!?

And the wind just kept blowing in our faces…

Brian had sent his application off to the passport office in Germany (!), applying to keep his current one but also get a new one so that we would be able to travel through Israel. It seemed to just take forever, those passports just wouldn’t get sent to us.

Then we were in touch with Motormännen (Swedish equivalent of DVLA) and got some bad news, the costs of travelling by car through Egypt were now even higher, something we definitely couldn’t afford with the situation now being extra strained. We didn’t know what to do. Eventually we said “Then we’ll have to try avoid Egypt then.” We started doing research on how to get straight to Sudan. We found that quite a few people had gone on a ferry from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia over to Port Sudan in earlier years, but we found no recent information on this what so ever. And would it be a good idea to travel through Saudi Arabia?

In the middle of all this we came into the time of year where everyone goes on their summer vacation, usually for about 3-4 weeks. Most companies slow down their business for a bit, it’s hard to get hold of the right people quickly and some places close down completely. So now it was hard for me to get hold of potential partners and continue that hunt. When Expressen, one of Sweden’s biggest evening newspapers, asked me to come in on a temporary job for a few weeks I didn’t hesitate a second. On top of that I had been shooting weddings so I worked all day at the newspaper office and stayed up until midnight or later editing wedding photos to get done on time. At the same time as juggling questions around the bathroom renovation and all the stress around the trip plans.

I think by now you’re starting to understand the lack of blog posts lately? And hopefully starting to forgive me.

It was just like nothing was going our way. One day we were going to sell our row boat through an ad online that we had put up. As we came down to the lake just before we were about to meet up with the possible buyer, we realized the boat was gone. Somebody had stolen it! We filed a police report but there was nothing more we could do since we didn’t have a specific boat insurance for it. It wasn’t a matter of a big amount of money but since every penny is worth a lot to us right now, and with everything else already going on, it felt like being hit in the face.

But you know what? Then, in just a matter of a couple of weeks, things quickly started to seem like they were falling into place, eventually. Brian got his two passports, I applied for mine and was granted two, too. The suddenly raised fee for Motormännen could be taken down to its original level (thank you, Björn! Everyone who’s done a trip like this have been helped by the sweet lady Beatrice, but let me tell you, now that she has retired she’s been replaced by an equally nice and helpful colleague.)

And another huge thing could be checked off our list – we found a tenant! Not only did we come across a really nice girl who is a friend of a friend (it’s nice to have some sort of connection and not rent out to a complete stranger!), she was also looking for an apartment just like ours exactly where we live. And she was prepared to move in as soon as we’ve left even though the bathroom won’t be completely finished, meaning we don’t have to worry about paying rent for an empty apartment! Such a great relief. And we didn’t have to go through the hassle of advertising and interviewing a whole bunch of possible tenants.

We also found that with both of us working hard lately we now had a little bit more money coming in than we thought. And my parents are kind enough to lend us the money we need for the bathroom renovation. So even though we haven’t entirely reached our budget and we still have some big expenses during the last few preparations unless we can find a partner to cover that for us – with a few more modifications to the route and luxury expenses like activities and entertainment, it sure looks like we can go!

We haven’t dared to fully believe this is really happening just yet, but we have started talking about opening that bottle of champagne standing in the fridge…

And you have to see the good sides of it all, hey… With the fans in the bathroom the temperature in there is surely around 50 degrees. You start sweating after about 10 seconds in there. The only thing we use in there is the toilet (there isn’t anything else in there as you can see in the photo!) and we’ve just started realizing it’s probably some sort of strange way of preparing us for the trip, getting used to doing your business in the African heat…

However, we know we won’t make it for August 17th, the original due date to leave (which is the day that Brian moved to Sweden five years ago). We’ve added another two weeks to it and will now try our very best to be ready to leave by September 1st!

Max - August 1, 2012 - 12:01 am

Holy moly!

You sure went through a rough patch!
I do understand why blogging got sent to the bottom of the priority list!

But as I said earlier, I’m glad that, even though you might not be completely out of the tunnel, at least you are starting to see the light!

I really appreciate your long post, it was nice to get an explanation to the silence.

But know that when you hit those speed bumps next time (because there probably will be a few more) we are a few people out here that are sending loads of positive energy your way! You are doing something a lot of us only dream of!

Keep your eyes on the target and a few months from now you can probably laugh at that super stressful June and July of 2012.

Best of wishes
Max Holmberg

Anna - August 1, 2012 - 7:44 am

Thank you so much for your support, Max, really appreciate it!! :) I hope you’re right about that last part, looking back at the hard times is always easier than when you’re in the middle of them. And I truly believe the trip will be worth all of this!