I kept a written journal throughout the trip in a spiral notebook. Later, I transcribed it into a Microsoft Word document, added pictures, and turned that into pdf files to make a book that we would have privately published as a souvenir and as gifts for those fortunate friends who love getting pictures of us.
From here on out, what you will see on this blog is the original journal, with selected pictures added in. Obviously, the entry dates that will appear on the blog are not the dates that I wrote the entries, and so I will provide those in the text.
Welcome aboard, and here goes!
This is actually the prologue written after the trip began. I meant to
write this yesterday, but the last minute pace of events got in the way.
Penny and I have talked from time to time over the years about a
round-the-world trip. We travel a great deal, because going places is
something that each of us has always loved to do. The same travel bug that
bit me when I lived in Japan from 1960 to 1963, also bit Penny when she
lived in Thailand and the Philippines.
Penny loves playing the travel agent and planning our trips in detail,
whereas I would more often trust to luck about such things as motel
reservations, etc. For a trip of this magnitude, her way is definitely the best.
Yes, okay…all right…it pains me to say it, but it is true! Her way is best!
This time, anyway.
This trip grew out of a wish to visit the Great Wall in China. Penny
found a tour (on line) from a group called Sundowners that was based in
Australia. One of their tours went from Beijing to the Great Wall, to
Mongolia, and up into Russia to visit Lake Baikal. Last year, when we
actually decided to go ahead with it, Penny found (on line) a company called
Adventure Center, which turned out to be located nearby in Emeryville.
They had an identical tour, and it appears that Sundowners is the actual tour
operator. They also had a couple of Trans-Siberian railway packages, one of
which included a connection at Lake Baikal to the Trans-Mongolian. That
reminded each of us how fantastic the idea seemed of traveling the Trans-
Siberian! That is, of course, unless you were on your way to the Gulag.
Also, needless to say, the Cold War made that an impossibility.
Because that trip runs thirty-five days from St. Petersburg to Hong
Kong or vice versa, the next problem was the expense of the one-way air
connections from each of those cities to San Francisco. That situation has
changed recently, but one-way fares were often ludicrous a couple of years
ago. So that is how the plan to go around the world without airplanes got its
We ended up with a thick binder of documents, hotel reservations, etc.
The trip’s complex choreography would last from June 16, 2008 until
October 4, 2008. The first leg was to take the California Zephyr from
Emeryville to Chicago. Floods in Iowa threatened to interrupt rail service
between the Bay Area and the Windy City. As a back-up, we reserved a car
(on Saturday) to go one way from San Francisco to Newark Airport. We
had planned to spend a couple of days in Chicago after the Zephyr arrived
there, and then rent a car to return at Newark. Our first stop after Chicago
was to be Lexington, Kentucky.
The June 16, 2008 eastbound California Zephyr was indeed cancelled,
and so I picked up a Chevrolet Aveo from Budget car rental at the San
Francisco Airport. We left San Francisco around 11:00 a.m., and we should
arrive in Lexington as originally scheduled. We will visit Chicago some
Two medium roller suitcases, two packpacks, and two overnight bags are all we
Penny and the Aveo in front of the house at 25th Avenue and Kirkham before we leave.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
Nevadas enroute to Nevada.