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TotalAdventure had hoped to come from Georgetown Guyana via land and ferry across the Corentyne River. However the ferry , only recently running again after COVID shutdown had broken down and would not be repaired for weeks. The only way to go was to fly.
Be Sure To Watch The Video Above – To Experience Suriname !
To enter Suriname, I needed my passport, E-Visa, Yellow Fever book, Covid Vaccination, Antigen test ( taken that day) Port Declaration of Health, Proof of Health Insurance and a landing card, with name and phone number of hotel. Never has TotalAdventure had to show so many documents, not even Russia or Turkmenistan.
Finally I received the stamp and it was off to Paramaribo.
Across from my hotel on Keizerstraat. The city is mostly made up of colonial era buildings 100 to 200 years old, but have never been maintained. Built to Dutch specifications, the Equatorial heat and humidity are corrosive to the wooden structures.
The Dutch bought in colonists and settlers from their worldwide territories Indonesian, southern African, Caribbean islanders and West African slaves all added to the mix. 13 different languages and dialects are spoken in Paramaribo, many more in the jungles.
There is a true diversity of food everywhere. Dutch/French/Caribbean combo here.
Indian chicken roti with West African style vegetables.
All Wooden Interior of Church.
An early morning ride from Paramaribo got me to the border town of Albina by 9AM. Jungle and small villages all the way. Suriname is the most forested country in the world. Many less documents were required for exit.
The ferry from Suriname to France takes about 20 minutes and costs 3.40 Euro. There is no direct flight from Cayenne to the US – one can go to Paris and fly from there , or island hop through French islands to Miami. Consequently I will return to Suriname after Cayenne.
On the morning of Friday,July 24th I left Deadwood South Dakota and within an hour had entered Wyoming on SD 34/ WY 24 . The first stop was Devil’s Tower.
Rising straight out of flat farmland,Devil’s Tower is 867 feet and formed in a short time due to volcanic upthrust. It is very geologically different than the Black Hills over 100 miles away, or the Rockies , more than 200. You can experience it in the video above.
By mid afternoon I settled into Sheridan, at the foot of the Big Horn National Forest. As usual I dined alone on the hotel porch rather than in a lively restaurant .COVID life on the road. Everything closed by 8 anyway.
Big Horn National Park offers hundreds of square miles of hiking, climbing, glacier trekking and ATV trailing. Since it’s not a National Park, it’s not well known except locally. I was the only Florida plate, most were from Wyoming and Montana.
Dropping down a few thousand feet from the Big Horn Range, TotalAdventure explored the Snake River Canyon , traversing the Wyoming Montana border. The canyon had been dry with a seasonal stream until a dam was built in the 1930s.
I then entered my 49th state, Montana ! Just one more to go – Oklahoma, but won’t be there until the return trip East in September.
Before Yellowstone, I overnighted in Billings and Red Lodge Montana. In Billings I enjoyed a big Montana steak, but when I arrived at my hotel in Red Lodge after a day in Snake River, about 7:30 to discover that due to COVID my hotel restaurant was closed and the few restaurants still open in town would be closing at 8. This New York/Miami traveler is not used to small town hours but had to adjust on this trip or face night time starvation. I was the last one served from the line at a Mexican cantina and scored a PBR from the bar/casino across the street. The bars closed at 9 !
From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.
The Summer of 2020 was probably one of the best to explore Yellowstone. Though crowds were sizable , they were all American crowds, as most foreigners, not even Canadians, could visit in the COVID summer. The notorious traffic jams did not appear.
Yellowstone sits atop a super volcano. When it does finally blow – anytime between the next 10 minutes to 10,000 years – the park will become a 50 mile wide lake of boiling red lava and will cause global cooling for years to come.
The falls look even more incredible in the video above. Be sure to watch it all.
After a day and a half in Yellowstone ( many people stay a week or more) it was time to head north into Montana. Passing Big Sky on a beautiful highway with a legal speed limit of 80 mph I arrived in Butte around sunset. I would stay there 2 nights, to explore the old mining city , to catch up on work ,do laundry and get the extremely dusty X2 washed.
Gold Copper and silver were mined here. Butte was known as the “Richest Hill On Earth.” Miners came from all over the world. Copper is still mined, but there’s not much left. The old city is quiet but not quite abandoned.
From Butte , a few more hours to the Northwest and I arrived in Whitefish ,gateway to Glacier National Park. Whitefish was full of California ‘refugees”,many who had arrived in private jets ,escaping mask and lockdown restrictions in their home state.
In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.
On the morning of August 2nd, I left Whitefish for a day of mostly dirt roads from Montana into Idaho. I missed my westward turn and would up at the Canadian border. When I originally thought of this cross country trip,years ago, I had always meant for it to include Canada. Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Banff would have been on the itinerary. But in March 2020, the Canadian government had shut the borders to all but commercial traffic, due ,of course to disease spread.
All I could do was look into this closed off , beautiful land – in this case the easternmost corner of British Columbia ,near Alberta. The next several hours was on windy isolated dirt roads – into the town of Yaak .
I walked inside the bar, which of course was all bikers . Had a friendly beer and they were amazed I was all the way from Miami. No photos were permitted, probably for very good reasons.
I spent the night in touristy Couer d’Alene, Idaho, another town where restaurants closed at 8 and I had to order pizza by 9 before that closed too. Changed clocks back for the last time. The next day – through Washington State, past Spokane – to Portland ,Oregon – almost completely cross country !
On the 15th of June at 2 AM TotalAdventure landed in Türkmenbaşy International Airport in Ashgabat Turkmenistan after a 5 hour flight from Istanbul. We were met by our guide and driver after we passed through very rigorous immigration procedures.
Turkmenistan is one of the world’s most difficult countries to visit. In order to be admitted one must travel with a guide . at all times while in the country, with very few exceptions. The first step is to contact a guide and plan an itinerary. The guide service then applies for a letter of invitation on behalf of the client. When ( and if ) the letter is granted it is sent by email to the traveler. We presented the above letter at customs and paid US $99 for each visa to be affixed in our passports. We then underwent fingerprint scans, iris scans and questioning, but no bag check. Although there are over 100 gates at the airport, we were the only plane on the ground ! Turlmenistan receives less than 7000 tourists per year.
Ashgabat is known as the White City, a monument to Saparmurat Niyazov the first leader of Turkmenistan. Assuming power upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. he ruled with an iron hand, and called himself Turkmenbashi, ” Father of All Turkmen ” Billons of dollars from the nation’s huge gas reserves were used to build extravagant monuments and palatial government buildings. To this day all cars in the city have to be white. Turkmenbashi named moths of the year after himself and other family members. Seeking distance from Russia, ballet and opera were banned, along with dogs.
Turkmenbashi even rewrote the Koran ( with the help of ghost writers as he was not very literate) into his own vision, glorifying Turkmen nationals and his place in their leadership. It was required reading for everyone . In order to receive a driver’s license ,certain passages had to be . memorized.
Turkmenbashi died in 2006 and was replaced by a former dentist Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He is very popular, appearing in all the newspapers every morning and on TV nonstop. Besides being a benevolent leader, he is a man of many talents, including race car driving, DJ, singer, author of many scientific journals, medical leader and expert horseman.
Turkmenistan is also keen on world records. Here, we have the world’s largest indoor ferris wheel !
Another Space Age Monument to the Supreme Leader. Turkmenbashi on the top rotating towards the sun.
Under A Stunning White Monument.
National TV Tower . Gurbanguly 24/7 !
Tuerkemnbashi Clock. His golden statue turns in the direction of the sun as it moves across the sky.
Turkmenbashi Mosque. $100 million to . build, with his inscriptions, rather than the Koran. Considered sacreligious , no one attends.
Ashgabat is located 10 miles north of the Iran border. We took a cable car up the Kopet Dag mountains into a No-Man’s land separating Turkmenistan and Iran. With a close up shot , we present an Iranian soldier on guard at his watchtower in Iranian territory. At that very moment . John Bolton was beating the war drums back in Washington.
An ancient Persian settlement on the Iran border.
The next day we drove North into the KaraKum Desert.
Our destination was Darvaza Gas Crater. In 1970, the Soviets were drilling for oil in a gas field and the entire rig collapsed into the ground, under which there is a virtually unlimited supply of gas. In essence Darvaza is a man made volcano.
The crater is visible from space. Please see the video above to watch the flames.
The Gateway To Hell.
Appetizers in the Desert. Caspian Sea Beluga Caviar , unobtainable in most countries, went for $ 40 for about a third of a pound !
In Part 2 of our USA series, TotalAdventure explores Southern California, though we did foray for a short while into Mexico.
A younger member of the TotalAdventure Team will be starting college in 2019 and had come West to explore some college campuses in Southern California. Spectacular beaches are always nearby. Pictured above is Swami’s – a world famous surf break in Encinitas.
In the High Desert of the Mojave Desert – Joshua Tree National Park.
Somewhere East of Indio – I-10.
Korean Dinner in Koreatown – Los Angeles.Kimchi, Pork and Beef, Along With Soju – a Korean Firewater.
Black Pacific Pelicans, Soon Learning To Fly.
The Lazy Can Now Be Lazier – LOL.
CA 94 runs along the southern border of California. Note the border fence about 3/4 the way up the mountain. Now imagine installing a 25 foot high cement wall to replace it. Many geographically challenged people in favor of the wall think that the border is a flat desert for 2000 miles. Not the case. The mountains are much higher in New Mexico and West Texas. Note the power lines crossing the border as much of the Southwest USA and Northwest Mexico share a power grid.
Running parallel to 1-10 and 1-8 on the other side of the border is Highway 2, rolling 3400 km from Tijuana to Matamoros.
USC Film School – in Los Angeles – Modeled after Paramount Studios.
A California Cultural and Culinary Icon.