Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Churchill Custom Motorcycles in China

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

Winston takes the 2 common cheap Chinese motorcycles on their domestic market and works them over to produce a much better product.

Emergency Stop: Budget Inn Exit 113 in Conway Missouri – Have land lot next door they will let you leave equipment

Monday, November 7th, 2016

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When my van which was pulling a heavy Uhaul trailer popped a "Service Engine Soon" code I was lucky enough to be just short of Conway Missouri on I-44.  I exited on exit #113 and decided to stay the night in the Budget Inn there. The van was running more or less with just a stutter / jerk every so often.  Still I wanted to read the code and find out if it was going to die in a relatively short period of time.  As luck would have it the couple who run the Budget Inn are a kind lot and had pitty on me.  Ben drove me 17 miles to the Lebanon Missouri Autozone where I bought a code reader.  When we got back to the motel I read the code and it said "Right side cam shaft position sensor fault".  A call to my favorite mechanic yielded the result that I could limp home without service albeit slowly.  I opted to stay the night and see if I could get the part the next morning and either put it on myself or find a mechanic.  I was a bit frazzled from all the driving so a mechanic was the better option but who would I find open on a Saturday?  When I woke up Saturday morning I drove slowly to the Autozone and bought the sensor.  At that point I asked them if they knew any mechanics open on Saturday.  They said Sawyer Tire was one of the only places open. I called and Savannah was very helpful promising to get me in.  I went there directly and the mechanic figured out that there was only 1 cam shaft position sensor and it was on the left side.  It was easily accessible and was swapped in under 15 minutes.

So if I am ever passing by again with car issues I am noting this so that I can hole up there and get my car fixed.  A bonus was that the internet in the room functioned well.  That made researching what to do online much easier.

Duralast SU266: Cam shaft position sensor


Additional Information

  • Marshfield Towing: 417-859-6385  – did not need to use
  • Auto Repair & Services:  19950 Highway W, Lebanon Mo 65536 – did not use.  


Emergency Stop: Honest Reliable Automobile Repair in Washington DC

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

Went to Washington DC.  While there the serpentine belt broke on the magic bus.  Cherrydales Motors helped me out same day so I did not have to stay overnight which would incur the high Washington DC hotel rates.

Cherrydale Motors
3412 Lee Highway
Arlington, Virginia  22207

Phone= 703-527-5511


To anyone that finds this I recommend highly.  Honest treatment when you are in less than optimum circumstances for shopping around for service is a good thing to find.

Video: Somewhere Else Tomorrow

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

 A naive dreamer attempts to circumnavigate the world on his motorcycle, surviving only on the money he makes along the way, until he finds what he wasn't even looking for.

Sabino Canyon

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Arizona sabino canyon

Imagine living 400 years ago and this is the only thing you ever saw.  It had a profound effect on me and I only lived here for a short while and knew of other places.

HDR Video

American Airlines Bicycle in Baggage to Brazil

Friday, January 24th, 2014

To Do List

  • TAM is operating the flight between Sao Paulo and Florianopolis.  I need to inquire if the bicycle will be an issue.
  • Must be able to strap bicycle box to suit case as my hands are already full! 
  • Cut down bicycle box size.  Current size = 55 x 37 x 8 inches.

Research Links


  • Allowance/Requirements – See below for travel to, through or from Brazil.*
  • One non-motorized touring or racing bike
  • Handlebars must be fixed sideways and pedals removed or pedals and handlebars must be enclosed in plastic foam or similar material. Bike must be in a hard-sided case built for bike transport or a bike bag or box. Bikes not in a hard-sided case are considered fragile.
  • Cost 150 regardless of the number of checked bags.
  • Exception: If bicycle and container are less than 62 dimensional inches and under 50 lbs., the bike is charged the applicable 1st checked bag rate.
  • Maximum Weight and Size 70 lbs., 126 inches
  • Additional Information Acceptance conditional on aircraft size and load factors
  •  * For travel to, through or from Brazil All bikes are considered below 62 inches regardless of the actual size. Once your free bag allowance is exceeded the charge is $75.00 per bike.  Verified by phone call to American Airlines: 1.24.14


Dimensions, Weight and Number of Bags
The size limitation of your luggage is calculated by adding the total outside dimensions of each bag, length + width + height.



Checked Baggage LimitsTRAVEL TO/FROM BRAZIL

Number of Bags Allowed*
One personal item: No charge

One bag carry-on: No charge

Two bags checked. No charge

Size and Weight Per Bag Allowed*
36 in/91 cm (total dimensions)

45 in/115 cm (carry-on) No larger than 22 in/56 cm long, 14 in/36 cm wide and 9 in/23 cm high

62 in/158 cm (checked)
70lbs./32kg (checked)

Charges may apply for additional bags. Exceptions apply

Maximum number of 5 checked bags allowed per passenger.


My Bike Box

  • Size: 56 x 28 x 9 – By AA calculations = 56 + 38 + 6 = 100 inches
  • Scrounged from A & M Bicycle near Tower Grove Park 


Student Health Insurance for Brazil required for visa

Monday, January 13th, 2014



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Visa Process for CTI Program

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Inquiry Result: Jose Luis Ramirez Bohorque

Research Links


Vitem-I Description:  Brazil

Temporary Visa I ( VITEM-I ):

Scientists, professors, researchers, participants in cultural, technological or scientific missions (services provided must not be paid for by a corporation or other legal entity based in Brazil, except for wages for services rendered, with the submission of a receipt);
Scientists, technicians, researchers or volunteers under the umbrella of an international cooperation program;
Exchange students (Rotary, AIESEC, AFS etc);
Technicians receiving training in the operation and maintenance of machinery or equipment produced in Brazil;
Amateur athletes, under 21 year old, participating in training programs in Brazil;
Provision of services to a religious or social assistance entity, without employment relationship with a corporation or other legal entity based in Brazil.
Scientists, professors, researchers or any other professionals taking part in seminars or conferences, being paid by a Brazilian institution. In this case, you must present the invitation letter attesting you are going to be financially rewarded for your participation (if you are an unpaid speaker, please check Vitur).
Temporary Visa I holders are not allowed to engage in any paid activity in Brazil.    


  • The last sentence in the description is confusing as the CTI program does pay.



Student Visa Process For Federal University In Brazil

Sunday, January 12th, 2014

Research Links


Visa Type Research

  • Visa Type question sent to: UFSC:Fernando Rangel – Question: -1- Is the correct visa == VITEM-IV  -2- Do I need to send confirmation of intention to attend? > Referred me to Fabian from Columbia
  • Visa Type question sent to: Fabian Leonardo Cabrera Riaño – Question: -1- What type of visa is required to attend UFSC? Answer: Eu tenho visto do mercosul, mas vc precisa o visto item IV (estudante)
  • Visa Type question sent to: – Question:  -1- Chicago Brazil Consulate help email – Is the correct visa == VITEM-IV 


    • I have been accepted to Universidade Federal Santa Catarina ( UFSC ) to study in the electrical engineering masters degree program.  I want to verify that the correct visa require is: Temporary Visa IV ( VITEM-IV ):
    •  Answer: YES.
  • ​Visa Type question sent to: – Question: Can I apply for a visa in person and have it returned by USPS EMS mail? Answer:  When applying in person the processing time is 3 business days + Postage time, you may check it with the US Postal Service.


Visa Function Research

  • Visa Function: Renewal and length of time valid?


Police Clearance

Notes from – Todd in LA

  • QUESTION: Health insurance valid in Brazil:  Is it required ?  One page had "only in boston" ….another just said you need it.  ANSWER: Proof of health insurance is not needed for a Brazil student visa through the Los Angeles Brazil Consulate – Student Visa.  Travisa.Chicago said same thing for Chicago consulate even though the site says it is required.
  • QUESTION: I want to use my bills as my drivers license never got switch over……see any problem with that? ANSWER: If you have a utility bill with your name and current address, that would be perfect.
  • QUESTION: Airline tickets: I am going to do a masters degree. Takes 2 years.  I do not want to book a return flight.  Was told I could possibly just use a printout with my name and flight numbers from a site that did not require me to pay first.  OK?? ANSWER: At any rate, yes, you can use a flight itinerary that is not marked paid in support of your visa application, and you will not need to take that actual flight.
  • QUESTION: At the bottom of the protocolo form there are two spaces that are not detailed in the demo version the consulate provides for illustrating how to fill the form out.  What should I put there?  ANSWER:  Those two lines are for your name and telephone number. That part of the form pretty much confuses everybody.  See graphic below.
  • QUESTION: What parts of the application material does the Brazilian consulate keep?  ANSWER: Brazil consulate keeps everything, except for your passport and police clearance letter, which you'll receive back.

Brazil Health Insurance issue – The LA consulate does not require proof of insurance at this time according to Todd – MyBrazilVisa – However I had this conversation with the Brazil Chicago Consulate regarding this.

  • ME: Is health insurance mandatory?  Some of the visa services have said no….but your webpage says yes.
  • Brazil Chicago Consulate:  it is a requirement and not mandatory for visa application.
  • ME: I am sorry but I did not understand what you said.
  • Brazil Chicago Consulate: It is a requirement and not mandatory for visa application.
  • Does this mean I do not need to include proof of health insurance?  Only to have it while I am in Brazil ?
  • Brazil Chicago Consulate:  If you're applying for a student visa you MUST present your health Insurance.

When I applied in person for my Brazil student visa I asked the Lady at the window if they answer emailed questions in the afternoon.  She said yes.  There were 2 windows & ladies working them. I believe possibly that 2 different people were answering emails or that they were not clear to begin with on the health insurance issue.  I went with proof of insurance as it would have been a gamble without.

My Visa CheckLists – Temporary Visa IV (VITEM IV) For individuals pursuing graduate or post-graduate academic studies in Brazil


Completed Visa CheckList Items

1) Passport Original (no copies), signed by the applicant, with a minimum remaining validity of six months and with at least two contiguous blank pages left.

2) a – DELIVERY RECEIPT ("Protocolo") printed upon completion of online visa request form – Complete the ONLINE VISA REQUEST FORM online.  

   b – Sign your name, print your name and enter your phone number at the bottom of the protocolo form.  The DELIVERY RECEIPT (“Protocolo”) by visiting the same web site and clicking “PRINT VISA FORM DELIVERY RECEIPT” on bottom left-hand side of screen. When click this link the entire form comes up.

3) One photograph – Passport size, in color or black and white, full-face only, on a white or clear background. 

                    Instant, digital, scanned or photocopied photos are not acceptable.

                    Please attach the photo on the first square of the Delivery Receipt (“Protocolo”)

4) Round-trip-ticket – Applicants must present one of the following items:

      *A copy of the round-trip-ticket, e-ticket or e-booking.

      *A signed letter from the airline or travel agent, on their letterhead, with the itinerary, name(s) of the passenger(s), flight number or cruise information, and dates of arrival and departure from Brazil.  I went with this option.  Dagmar at Brentwood travel helped me.  I will be booking my flight through her to pay back!  Phone: 314.439.5700 – 800.527.1059

5) Proof of residence in consular jurisdiction

      *A photocopy of a valid driver's license or utility bill will be accepted as proof of residence. – I am using various bills because I kept my Arizona drivers license.

6) Copy of Birth Certificate with parent's names

7) Consular Fees  –  Click here to see the visa fee table  +  Prestamped EMS envelope for document return. – Must be a USPS Postal Money Order – 160 USD if applied for in person

8) NOT APPLICABLE TO ME: International Certificate of Vaccination  —  Applicants who have visited certain countries and territories (view list here) within 90 days prior to applying for a visa/entering Brazil are required to present a Yellow Fever International Certificate of Vaccination upon entering Brazil.

9) Non-criminal record  issued by the Police Department of the applicant’s place of residence. 

    The document must have an official signature as well as a stamped or haut-relief seal of the Police Department. Printouts of computer-generated criminal records are not accepted.

11) Letter of acceptance from the Brazilian academic institution certified by the Brazilian Ministry of Education. The letter must be original and on the academic institution’s letterhead. 

10) For students who do not have a scholarship, proof of health insurance policy that is valid for the Brazilian territory. Bought at:

12) For students who do not have a scholarship, proof of financial means of support, showing that the applicant is capable of maintaining his/herself while in Brazil – I used Bank Statement


Items Pending

  • EMPTY: This list used to be full.  

Visa Submission Process

  • DROP-OFF TIMES – IN PERSON:  From 9:00am to 11:00am, Monday through Friday, first-come, first-served basis. No appointments necessary.
  • VISA SERVICES – AGENCY:  Visa services and travel agencies have different hours, between 9:00 am and 10:30 am only.
  • PICK-UP TIMES – From 12:00pm to 1:00pm ONLY.

To pick up the VISA it is MANDATORY that the Receipt slip be presented.  A third party, with a valid photo ID, may collect the VISA as long as the original Receipt slip or a notarized letter from the applicant is presented.

Consulado-Geral do Brasil em Chicago
401 North Michigan Avenue, suite 1850
Chicago, IL 60611

Phone: 1-312-464.0244
Fax: 1-312-464.0299

QUESTION:Chicago Consulate: If I drop off my visa application "in person"  can I have it returned with USPS EMS mail ?   If so will it still be 3 day service?  ANSWER: Yes. – Flies out of STL in single engine propeller aircraft. 180 USD round trip to Chicago
Visa Submission
  • Drove to Chicago 1.17.2014 Started Driving at 12:30 am. Arrived 7 am.  The building staff in the lobby will not let you enter till approximately 10 minutes before the Consulate opens doors.  That is about 8:50am on 1.17.2014
  • You go to a functionary who is behind a window. They have 2 visa windows there.
  • Functionary(she) looks at your application material.  I had utility bills to prove residence.  She handed most of that material back.
  • She kept my itinerary but gave me back the cover letter from Brentwood travel that had signature. 
  • She also gave me back the extra 20 USD postal money order that I took just in case I needed to pay fee for return by mail.  She did say it would be returned by mail using my self addressed stamped EMS envelope.  She gave me the costomer copy of the mailing label.
  • She folded the ems envelope and kept it.  I assume folded it because it needed to fit in pouch with other application materials.
  • She kept the proof of health insurance coverage in Brazil
  • She returned the spare photo that I took. The one on the protocolo was retained as she retained the protocolo form.
  • She did NOT give me a receipt. This worries me a little. However if mailed in the item the applicant would not receive a receipt.  Hoping not an issue.
  • The adhesive cover strip on my EMS envelope came off as I was futzing with the materials.  I put it back on.  Hoping it seals well enough that I do not lose my passport / visa in the mail.  
  • Passport / Visa arrived 1.23.14 in the mail via EMS.  Envelope was sealed well.  Go for launch.


Notes on Brazil student visa usage

  • My student visa came back with an RN number thus:  RN 101/2013.  The only thing I could find on this so far is on the Boston Brazil consulate site here.
  • You must register with the Federal Police with 30 days of arriving.


QUESTION TO CHICAGO CONSULATE: I applied for 2 programs:

-1- UFSC – I was accepted on Jan 8 and applied for visa and received.


-2- CTI Renato Archer: CI Brazil program – I applied but they only notified on February 7.



I used the acceptance letter from UFSC to apply for the visa.  I have too little time to apply again for a visa. Thus I ask: Can I use the student visa that I used UFSC acceptance letter to attend the CTI Renato Archer program???  Or must I apply again if I want to attend CTI Renato Archer?


ANSWER: Of course you need a new visa. The institution you are attending is different from UFSC.  A student visa is based on the acceptance letter you bring to the Consulate . So much so, that the name of the institution is printed on your visa.


Student Visa In Country Renewal



Websites for Getting Good Deals on Flights to Brazil

Monday, December 23rd, 2013