Friday, September 22, 2006

Tumbleweed Connection

To those asking, yes, we're still alive! We've just been away from internet connections the past week. I only have a short time online, so I will have to be brief this time.

After seeing George off, we went back to town to check on our bikes which some Qingqi mechanic was supposed to be fixing up from fender to fender. It was apparent that he and his buddies had done nothing more than ride our bikes (David's missing 7 spokes) for two days. We took our keys, thoroughly cursed out the mechanic, and hit the road. We later found a reputable Qingqi dealership where our hero letters netted us the better portion of their showroom model of the GY200: David got a new back wheel & sprocket, 2 new mirrors, a new turn signal and an oil filter, and I got a new brake lever and oil filter.
We were ready to make some distance but wound up finding some amazing terrain on the border of the Teggen desert. There, we camped a few nights and spent time in what is now one of my personal favorite spots on the trip. We ended up camping in a basin between a number of desert hills. The sand was very hard and compacted so it held it's shape even under the motorcycles. Upon realizing that the hills formed a ring around our site and that they were all perfectly firm and contoured, we spent hours riding up and down the walls as if it were a giant velodrome or ski hill that never needed a chairlift. I could have done that for days on end.

David along the crest of one of the desert hills

We're still along the border of the desert, making our way east along a more northern route than we originally intended. The desert and the factories and mining make this a dusty, windy, ugly place. According to the Lonely Planet, Lanzhou, where we got the bikes fixed, is the most polluted city in the world. It seemed clean compared to what must be the most polluted towns in the world adjacent. We've seen more factories, refineries, and nuclear cooling towers than I can count. The air is grey and brown and the wind the past 2 days has been powerful, blowing sand, soot, and bugs across our helmet lenses every day. Dead desert brush does get uprooted and blown across the hills and streets: I've now seen my first tumbleweeds. This route will carry us east across a couple of provinces. We're aiming for a city named Pingyao, which is said to have a ton of old Ming-era architecture. We're at the 11-day mark for our target return to Jinan and things are looking good.

Well, this sucks: I had a few more photos I wanted to post, but these worthless computers keep dumping me and losing my work. I'm out of patience and time. More next time, I hope.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now it's time on sprockets when we dance. And now that you have sprockets you should dance.

German expressionist mimimalistly yours,


"I am filled with anticipation, and it is most delicious..." for your save return.

9/29/2006 3:26 PM  

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