After a short stay in Ottawa, I’m back on the road, but not on the road I was initially planning to follow. It’s a little strange to write about a trip I am not going to take, but I had been talking about it for a year, to a lot of people, so explanations are warranted.
My plan was to take about a year to circumnavigate the world, including crossing both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles, all without taking a plane. Cargo ships like this one, which I photographed on my way to Tristan da Cunha, were certainly going to be required, but trains were also in the plans. Specifically, the Trans-Mongolian railroad, which would have taken me from St-Petersburg to Beijing, through Mongolia. I was looking forward to the journey, which I was hoping to do over a few weeks, stopping along the way and perhaps even spending a few weeks in Mongolia.
Unfortunately, I recently learned that Canada was having a little visa war with Russia. I downloaded the paperwork from the Embassy and the process is a complete nightmare. Basically they took out the old paperwork, used Liquid Paper to cover the words “Soviet Union”, and sent it to the photocopier. Much easier for me at the moment to visit Saudi Arabia or North Korea, so I’m not going to Russia. I won’t hold it against the Russians because I think Canada started the war, but that’s a moot point for me.
This left me with the option of going from Europe to East Asia though the “Stans”. A journey that can now be done safely, as long as you chose wisely which Stans to go through. However, it is logistically painful and slow. Also, some countries like Turkmenistan have not yet been informed of the fall of the USSR and the administrative processes to visit have remained unchanged. So I decided to postpone the round-the-world overland (and sea) trip, until Russia and Canada settle their little dispute.
Instead, I have 4 trips in mind between now and sometime next year, and the first one is the shortest, a 45 day road trip in the Southern and Mid-Western USA. Since I visited all Canadian Provinces, I figured I should visit all the States of my neighbours to the South. By the end of the year, I should have visited half, having been on both coasts on many previous visits.
I flew into Nashville yesterday and, after an afternoon of getting myself organized, I am now heading to Chattanooga, on the border with Georgia. The itinerary is somewhat flexible, with the exception of a few festivals I don’t want to miss. By the end of June, I should return to Nashville, having visited up to 14 States.
I’ll keep you posted!