UXOs

Every time I think about riding down the Ho Chi Minh Trail, all those bombing pics make me wonder… “How many of those bombs did I load and send-off.” More important… how many of those bombs I loaded didn’t blow up.” Then I think, “It would be the ultimate irony if… while exploring the HCMT, I got blown up by one of the bombs I loaded.”

I don’t think that’s really a big fear if we’re smart about stuff. Stay on the roads and trails that have been in use for the last 45+ years. Remote parts of the HCMT are okay too because the NVA cleared those the minute the last bombs dropped. With common sense, getting blown up by some of my own stuff is unlikely.

A puppy-dog, a child’s bike, and two 500 pounders. UXOs are a way of life in Laos. (Photo by Don Duval)

UXOs are still a big problem in Laos. The number of bombs and cluster bombs we dropped along the trail is beyond what I can wrap my mind around. I mean… Continue reading

Places to go – Ban Karai Pass

Our Trail ride takes us south from the Mu Gia Pass area to the other major pass  into Laos from North Vietnam; the Ban Karai Pass. This pass was nearly as important to Hanoi as the Mu Gia Pass… and nearly as deadly to the US.

Riding the HCMT to the Ban Karai pass will only take us part of a day. This doesn’t mean there is only one “Trail” to get there. There were hundreds… maybe thousands of alternates and bypasses. If we were to try riding all those, it would take years. Even Don Duval, who has been doing this for years, is still finding new trails. He even found a new one with the classic HCMT cobble roadbed in the last couple of weeks.

This is a 1973 map showing the mountains and the trail. Examine the map closely and you will see many of the alternates and bypasses. (In the top left there are at least 8 alternates for Route 23)

We will take mostly the main routes. Take a look at the map. Continue reading

Down the Rabbit Hole V2.0

It happened again. I went down the internet rabbit hole. Well… not just again… it happens all the time. But usually, I can focus and bring myself back to doing what I started to do in the first place. But not today… this time I spent hours down there.

I was searching to verify a couple of my facts about the Ban Karai Pass. I always try to get at least two sources… preferably three… before I pass on something as fact. So this morning I was just warming up. I put in the search words, “Ban Karai Pass.”

Up popped a pic of a B-52. Sometimes I’ll click on a pic to get to the story that goes with it. This time the pic was just the entrance to the Rabbit Hole.

I discovered the “pic” was really digital artwork by a man named, Peter Chilelli. And when I clicked into it, the link took me to Continue reading

Hunkering Down in NOLA

If you are following along and waiting for Places To Go – Mu Gia Pass Part 3… not to worry; it will be coming soon. But for now I’ve been run out of Florida by the hurricane. I’m hunkering in my favorite place to hunker… New Orleans. Places to go and things to see by day… and “Spirits on Bourbon” at night.

I can hear all of you snickering right about now… “Yeah, right… he’s just off to NOLA to have fun.” Ok… ya got me. But can you think of a better excuse to go to NOLA than the threat of a hurricane. And can you think of a better place to hunker. So here I am waiting till Dorian is well clear of Florida… like up into Nova Scotia some time next week.