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Sunday, June 16th

While we have a fine breakfast at Kate’s, we meet an English woman who is also staying at B&B. She lives in the south of France, in Provence, She’s about to meet the daughter and American son-in-law who live in the US but are looking for a house in the UK. We have an enjoyable conversation and the leave for Monmouth Beach in Lime Regis.

It’s not far through the back roads and soon we find a parking area. This time we have enough of coins for the parking ticket. Put in the car MOT number and the coins and the machine prints out a parking pass specific to the car that has to be displayed on the dashboard of the car. No passing this ticket to another car.

The only problem is that the parking area is at the top of a high hill over looking the beach and it’s a long way down. That will have to be climbed back up. Grrr. Oh well, we’re going to the beach. Down we go.

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Saturday, June 15th

The day starts overcast and stays that way. Another fine breakfast at The Rookery, pay for the room and pizzas from the previous night and into the Skoda. We’re off again.

The first stop is Durtle Door, another impressive chalk cliff arch with adjacent solitary stacks. This site, however, is that the end of a kilometer long hike. The good news is that it isn’t raining.

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Swanage – June 14th

After a great breakfast and being fawned over by Alan, owner of the Rookery, it’s in the car. We’re off to Corfe Castle.

It’s not far to Corfe but the Skoda’s GPS has a real sense of humor and since it’s set up for the most direct route, it insists on sending us down one lane roads that wouldn’t be roads at all if they weren’t paved. The occasional run in with a car in the opposite direction makes for some interesting driving, rather, squeezing by and backing up.

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We’re up and out of the Barrel Store into a driving rain. A stop a the Tesco across the parking lot for snacks for breakfast and some water for the drive. Into the car.

It’s not far to the Stone Circle in Avebury. The circle is a ring of stone monoliths that encircles the town of Avebury. The first evidence of activity here is about 6,000 years ago. And as is the case for most of these sites, not much is known about what the purpose of or motivation to build this site.

Its age is known through scientific dating. Theories range about how long the work went on but it’s generally accepted that the site was active for hundreds if not thousands of years. Most theories suppose that the main driving force was religious but no one knows for certain.

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Out of the Vilenza requires hauling bags back up from lower floor room, out the door and down to the street. This is going to be a fun trek to Paddington Station where the train to Swindon awaits. In Swindon the Hertz rental car awaits.

Back down Newark Street for the last time. Up Vallance Rd to the Whitechapel Rd. Cross the boulevard and down the stairs into the Underground. No lift here. On the Hammersmith line to Paddington Station. Up the lift (yay!!) and down the train platforms to ticketing.

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London – June 11th

The weather forecast for today is partly cloudy and when we leave the hotel, it’s completely overcast. At least, it’s not raining. With the changeable weather here, it’s hard to put any faith in weather forecasts.

We skip breakfast and head straight to the Tower of London which is just a couple of stops on the Underground. I had pre-paid our tickets as a group of 4 and had just gotten the confirming email this morning. The plan is to get to the ticket window early and get on a tour before the crowds get there.

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London – June 10th

We must have been very tired last night. We’re up but not as early as I expected with 5 hour jet lag. Mika checks the weather outside and reports back that it’s raining. Welcome to London.

We get out the rain gear and head out for a proper English breakfast. Good luck with that in this neighborhood. There doesn’t seem to be any cafes or restaurants that aren’t Muslim. Up to the main boulevard and head toward Aldgate. There was a small restaurant next to the pizza shop that we had lunch in yesterday but the menu is rejected. There’s a Starbucks (of course there’s a Starbucks) up the street. We settle for English breakfast tea, a hot mocha and muffins. So much for a traditional English breakfast.

Back on the street. The increasingly heavy rain now has a stiff with it. Meanwhile, the more bicycle rush hour is whizzing past us on the “bicycle superhighway” not seeming to care much about the rain. That must be an acquired skill.

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London – June 9th

The flight lands more or less on time at Heathrow. Disembark. Walk about a mile to the immigration hall. Not much of a line surprisingly. And they have automated passport control.

Slide your passport into the slot so that the device can read the chip. Take out the passport. Put in your right hand for the finger print scan. Smile for the auto camera. Wait about 30 seconds and the screen says OK in big green letters. The gate opens and you move through.

No humans. No questions. No steely eyed stares. I presume that if the machine doesn’t like what it seems, you’re future will be filled with humans, questions and steely eyed stares. But not for us today.

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It’s departure day. Barbara, Talyn, Mika and I are leaving for a couple of weeks in the UK. Ayron is staying home with the pets and watching the house.

Everything is done and we’ve got about 2 hours until the ride to the airport arrives at 3:30. It seems odd to be sitting without a last minute household catastrophe to be dealt with at the last minute. Oddly quiet for the last couple of hours. I’ll take it.

The weather is threatening and there are supposed to be thunderstorms arriving for about the same time as our 6PM departure. We have a short, 45 minute connection in JFK and that beginning to look a bit sketchy.

The driver arrives early, we load up and say goodbye to Ayron. The driver remembers us from last year’s trip to Rhode Island for Michael’s wedding. He even remembers that we were leaving right after for Croatia and Bosnia. Off we go.

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This circus is over and everyone is headed home or at least elsewhere. It’s 18 months, more or less, until the next Alcan, the winter Alcan5000 in February, 2020. People are excited and saying they’re going to be in the next one. But first they have to go home and rest after this one.

Jim and Colin are ready to leave and waiting for the final equipment swaps, tie downs and adjustments to be made. Slowly the cars file out. The bikes are moved to the transporter who will bring them to Seattle. Others, the real moto addicts, just pack up, get on their bikes and head south. Finally, the parking lot is empty and the shuttle bus has taken the last people to the airport. What a couple of weeks. Continue Reading »

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