Sunday, April 30, 2006

Hello again

I have negelected this journal of late, but only because my efforts have been focused on Rally preparation. Specifically, figuring out the car registration situation (verdict: doable in one week or less with a non-zero minimum of underhanded chicanery) and getting some of the nuances of the route down in preperation for the first round of visa applications. Tickets to be purchased tommorow, is the plan (for you Americans on the rally following this, not sure if you have noticed but the flight to the UK is likely to be horrifically expensive).

There's been a lot of discussion about music on the forums recently, and on this subject I'm proud to announce that we have just closed a deal with Sonic Youth to have the band follow us on a flat bed truck for the duration of the trip as they compose and perform an epic noise-rock opera in real time chronicaling our journey. It seemed like a longshot at first but I phoned Thurston and he was really enthusiastic about the project from the get-go. This does make the supply train a little bit complicated, however -- apparently, if Kim Gordon doesn't have her special brand of beef jerky available at all times she just freaks out. But I feel the added publicity this lends the team is worth the effort.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Team Ramrod tours Central Asia

I went to an informational session on travelling in Central Asia last night. It was not particularly informational, more to sell a tour than anything I think. The lady giving it was a tour guide, and had a number of slides of Uzbekistan through to Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Really only a portion of the Silk Road.

Useful tidbits:
1. Don't drink the milk or eat ice cream
2. She would backpack independently in Uzbekistan, but she knows the language.
3. Turkmenistan looks like Caesar's Palace in Vegas. All white marble, fountains and gold stautes of the president.
4. You're supposed to have a guide in Turkmenistan
5. Supposedly cops leave tourists alone in Uzbekistan and stop all the locals on the roads. Could not confirm how true this was.
6. Garcia's Family Mexican restaurant on 45th is about like any other in its category.

Monday, April 10, 2006

"I don't see any god up here"

My codriver has gone and found The Baikonnur Cosmodrome. This is the type of thing I have him along for.

I have long held an unnatural fixation with Baikonnur, mainly do to an adolescent attraction to space travel combined with an appreciation for the Soviet aesthetic when it comes to branding and the soviet space effort in general. They have this sort of no-BS-and-look-good-doing-it thing going on that I've always appreciated. And I believe Baikonner is where Sputnik launched from, where Laika left on her journey, and where Yuri Gagarin left to be the first human in space. Holler!

For this reason, I would really like to go to the east of the Aral Sea. The route map shows a split around it, but the road maps I have seen thus far don't actually show any appealing road options, just a railroad track to the east and south that runs down the center of Uzbekistan, and marked roads that run down the southern border of Kazakhstan but would require backtracking to hit the checkpoint in Samarkand. A direct-ish route around the north side of the Aral sea to Samarkand would be much, much appreciated.

Regarding the Aral sea, it has come to my attention that, "this place seems wicked awesome."

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Power

Mix tape? Will our car have a cassette player? Hopefully yes. I have been considering bringing along the iPod with the tape adapter. Mucho mix, and it's pretty unobtrusive. I think it would survive. It just occurred to me that we won't exactly have a lot of opportunity to charge it up. Hmm...

My medical insurance dries up this Wednesday. Anyone know any good street doctors who do innoculations?

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Chevy Tahoe

Cool! Chevy has this thing that lets you make commercials, so my sister did one for us:

Ramrod Advert

She is too clever by half, that sister of mine.

The Mighty Beef

Does anyone know how much beef jerky you can legally transport across Central Asian borders? When I picture my cravings for a tasty snack on a cross-continental drive, my mind imagines the succulent chewiness of flavorful Oberto brand Oberto Beef Jerky. The many varieties, like Oberto Teriyaki or Oberto Kippered Beef Steak, offer a choice for every situation. What better token of international friendship could be offered to gracious hosts on the journey? What spirit of international exchange is not buoyed by delicious Oberto Beef Jerky? If you know about the customs laws, let me know. Oh Boy! Oberto!

I feel like a lady trying to remind her man it's their anniversary coming up.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Team Ramrod tours Central Asia

PS: The Lonely Planet guidebook for Central Asia has through a most nefarious connection made its way into my hands. I have begun a modest perusal.

In other news, the steering rack translates rotational motion of the steering wheel into linear movement. It is quite possible this is related to the direction the wheels are pointing.

Team Ramrod tours Central Asia

3/3 dawg, perfect score...to the extent that the government has not lied to google. There is one small problem though. It did not have driving directions for any of these cities. How are we going to find our way there? I will try mapquest even though I hate it.