Tabas, Gonabad, Mashhad

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Today we 366 km thru the desert to Tabas.

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We plan to stop for gas and then at the site of operation Eagle claw disaster, which is 125 km from Tabas. The views of the desert change every hour and it is harsh but beautiful. First get out of the old city.

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There are many signs warning of camels, but we did not see any until 30 km from our destination.

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There is a marker on the highway and then 400 m away a fenced collection of the remains of the Operation Eagle claw debacle.

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It was 43 degrees for the last 45 min and this was like riding with a hair dryer blowing on you.

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Finally some camels!!

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Our hotel is small cabins that are very nice and most importantly has good air con. The rest of the place seems almost abandoned or have finished we can not tell, but someone had big plans. We were all so baked we got into the room showered and passed out for 4 hours. It had cooled off to 39 at 7 and we drove into town to find an open place to eat for of course kebab! Across the street is a huge shrine that takes up a city block. I must wear a chador and of course they are located at the exact opposite entrance to where we were. Long walk with Reza to get the green on. Massive and very beautiful shrine to one of the other brothers of the shrine in Shiraz.

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The plan was to get going early after the heat of yesterday, but at least we only have 263 km to go to Gonabad.

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We were served not a bad breakfast of the “hotel”. We fueled up and then headed out. It was nice to spend the day on a 2 lane secondary road as most of the roads here are 4 lane highways straight thru the desert. We planned to make one stop only if we found shade half way. The desert goes on and on, but it is much cooler today and the worst was 36. It was as cool as 28 in the hills.

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We stopped in Ferdos  for a drink and an ice cream and were mobbed with people with all kinds of questions for us, requests for photos, and invitations to their homes for cold drinks.

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We did press on, but had been told there was a nice oasis about 20 km before Gonabad in Kakhk. We turned off the main road and asked directions to the “waterfalls”. We were again stopped by the police who wanted to the the documents that Reza has to make us official.

We arrived to the park and it was packed as today is a holiday and Ramadan is over. We pulled thru the gates and parked in the first shaded area. We were completely mobbed with people.

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Medhi who is actually in charge of the park speaks some English and came over to talk with us and to invite us to come up “to a nicer place and to have lunch”. This involved getting the gate unlocked so we could ride up past the falls. Medhi’s wife Fateme.

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Initially we parked at a spot we thought was the top and again were were totally mobbed with people wanting photos. This amount of attention is good and bad. It can be very overwhelming. I would certainly not want to be famous after this small taste.

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Mehdi caught up to us and said we needed to drive further up to the top as it would be quieter.

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They moved the carpet for us to park in the shade and sent someone to town for kebabs for us!

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We has such fun with the kids taking photos and taking with Reza’s help. The number of people who wanted a photo with the women who rides a bike with there then usually crying baby was amazing.

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We stopped at the gate to look at the old water mill and Reza had to stay with the bikes to make sure they did not get knocked over in the excitement.

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Then Mehdi invited us to his home for a cold drink. Such a lovely family. They insisted we stay for dinner, offered us showers, the use of the washing machine and even to sleep there. It was 4 pm so we agreed to go to the hotel clean up and rest and then return for dinner and a birthday party.

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Some wine from Shiraz!!!

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The hotel is the only one in town and is quite sketchy. The “air con was turned on at check in and was basically a fan blowing hot air still when we left 3 hours later. To be fair it was cooler at 1 am when we arrived back and actually quite cool all night and we slept well. There was a cake shop near by and we got 2 kg of cake to take to the party.

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The whole family was invited and as dinner was not ready at 8 we went into the village to tour around. The meal was really amazing and everyone pitched in to help. Then there was cake, sparklers and dancing to end this amazing night.

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We saw their sheep farm, pottery shop, and plant shop!

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Now it was birthday party time for Pouria who was turning 11!! Both he and Amir Ali (13) speak English very well. These two boys are very intelligent and well educated. I would love to see what they will do with their lives. Amir Ali wants to be a neurosurgeon!

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This is a gift that Fatime made and gave to me!

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Today is the last real day in Iran we have 289 km to Mashhad.

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This is a city of 3 million and a site for millions of pilgrim’s. The ride was thru the desert and semi desert, but much cooler with the lowest at 26 and the highest at 31. The last part was a curvy canyon road and over the mountains.

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Arriving to the city the traffic was very fast and erratic, but once we were on the city streets it was actually not bad. We have taken to leading in the city since following the guide who will not use his GPS, but keeps stopping for directions is very challenging. Iranian drivers in general are best described as oblivious. They will not drive between the lines (truck drivers excepted who in general are very courteous) Drivers go in which ever direction they like and don’t seem to care who else is around them. One driver today was straddling the line while passing us and was close enough Dan’s boot made contact with the passenger door. Except the trucks the drivers NEVER use a turn signal.

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The hotel here is near to the centre of the city and to the “holy Shrine”. We arrived about 1 and Trevor went out to get oil to service his bike. He hit the jackpot on the moto shop since they had the old he wanted, a rear tube, and a cooling bike seat cover. We took a cab the 2 km to the shrine and arrived at prayer time. It was packed with pilgrims. The shrine is massive and takes up about 2 city blocks. Think of this with thousands of people here for prayer. It was quite a sight.

We walked back to the hotel and planned an early exit in the morning. The guide at 10 pm says to us by the way the border you said you wanted to cross at you can not as your LOI specifies a different one. This is much farther east and would mean a 300 km backtrack to our planned destination of Ashgabat. They also did not inform us that the transit visas they arranged also specified the exit border, which is due north of the entry. This makes the trip to Ashgabat and then the Door to hell at Darvasa impossible, Oh well plans change and you have to be flexible.

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2 Responses to Tabas, Gonabad, Mashhad

  1. Tom Udulutch says:

    I really envy you guys. My most rewarding goldwing venture was from Wisconsin to Costa Rico and back. With no knowledge of Spanish, the boarder crossing were real interesting. I had a wing in Slovakia for 4 years and through a friend in Budapest who belonged to the Rotary club, we were hoping to do the silk road and I obtained a visa for Iran. But then China put a ridiculous $6000 visa stamp on each bike and it was cancelled.

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