Sunday, April 13, 2008

to bring or not to bring...

here is the original list of things i took with and a short review of each piece of gear.

1. marmot never summer sleeping bag
best sleeping bag ever. hot in the summer weather but so thankful i had it when it got cold. packed well.

2. dragonfly stove (from my friend Matt who took it twice across the US) and fuel can
this stove is a bomber. loved the simmering action and how field repairable it was. it was, however, LOUD!

3. folding knobby mountain tires (continental explorer)
wish they had more tread at times but they were a nice light tread...packed great.

4. six spare tubes
didn't need all of them!!

5. ti spork
!!! loved it.

6. canon rebel xti camera and a small pocket one (i travel light!)
i debated on the camera for a long time. it's bulky and when it rained i got a little worried...but now that i'm home and see the difference in the pictures from the 35mm camera to the pocket camera, i'm glad i took both.

7. first aid kit
thankfully didn't need it. but this kit didn't have alchohol wipes which we needed to clean rims and leah's rotor.

8. frisbee
have frisbee, will travel

9. chain
switched half way through trip. maybe not necessary but if we hadn't brought it, we would have needed it.

10. topeak road morph pump
BRING EXTRA PARTS!!! i had mine on the out side of the bike and the pieces vibrated apart and then, my road morph was rendered useless. but, we used leah's and to be honest, it's a great pump.

10a. nightstand*
couldn't live without it.

11. balloons (to make animals for when i meet kids)
they melted together so i gave the remaining balloons to a bored little girl.

12. clown nose (for days when we need laughter)
the best thing i could have brought.

13. harmonica
wish i knew how to play better but, it came in handy when we met people who knew how to play.

14. penny whistle
didn't work well. gave it to a little girl on a rainy day outside a bakery.

15. 3 pair bike shorts (2 pearl izumi ultra sensor and one bright purple pair)
i loved the chamois but, if i could have fit more into my bag i would have. they got kinda ripe.

16. long underwear
only needed once. i'm glad they were silk and didn't take up much room.

17. skirt
was fun to have in buenos aires but not so necessary on the open road...

16. two shirts

17. two collared shirts
woulda only brought one.

18. pants
mine tore so badly i had to throw them out. i did a horrible patch job on them that brought people to tears with laughter.

19. shorts
yup, loved it.

20. two pair socks, underwear, etc.
glad i had them. i am so thankful for the wool socks. on those cold wet days, puttingo on a dry pair of socks was a treat.

21. sunglasses (which with no hair i look like a rock star!)
booya! too bad i lost them.

22. my lucky shirt
it's so happy to have come on this trip.

22a. typewriter*
ran out of ink.

23. sleeping pad (insulmat thermo 6)
most comfortable pad next to a bed!

24. tools--spare chain, SOG multi knife, patch kit, spare bolts, pink zip ties, spoke wrench, super glue, band clamps (to make a cup holder), duct tape, pro link, crank puller, cassette remover (fits in the dropout so i don't need my whip), allen wrenches, tire levers, chain tool, adjustable wrench
my SOG knife is the best but i wish i had just a knife...the philips on the SOG came in handy, however.

25. tent (rei cirque 3 tent)...i'm carrying the poles and foot print, and stakes and the rest is being carried by the rest of the crew
great tent in the wind. difficult to set up because it's a wonky pole design. the poles are now bent due to the wind. but, all being said, it did a great job.

26. water bottle (2)
can't believe i didn't lose them

27. 10L water reservoir
we didn't think we'd need this...we thought it was a "reserve" but we used it almost every day. i would have taken three smaller ones because whoever had to carry "baby" was carrying 20 lbs. more until the co riders got thirsty.

27a. gumball machine*
ran out of gumballs. replaced with peanuts.

28. aqua mira
came in handy when the water filter leah was carrying pooped out...also in super questionable areas it came in handy.

29. a frying pan (we have a pot that someone is carrying)
it seemed capricious but we had some of the best meals. we became outdoor chefs.

30. an extra pop can stove
didn't need. wish i would not have brought it.

31. compass--suunto ranger
didn't need it...thank goodness!

32. orikaso folding bowl
genius! also worked as a cutting board.

33. crocs
best shoes! great for all weather.

34. shimano cycling shoes
worked good on the bike, in rain, and in cold weather. they didn't dry fast, however.

35. toothbrush

36. tikka plus headlamp
loved the dimming feature for reading...saved battery.

37. pack towel

38. novara stratos rain pants
also worked for pants in the cold. incredibly durable.

39. OR enigma rain coat
great jacket. i mean, really great jacket.

40. tent repair kit, stove repair kit, two extra stakes and some parachute cord
glad i had all of these things. we fixed a leaky seam, a hole in the tent, and had to guy out the tent in the wind.

41. glasses
42. contact solution
43. cookies
thank goodness for these.

44. spare bungee cords
definitely glad i had some spares, really.

45. buff
surprsingly, a great piece of gear. it kept me toasty on cold days and nights.

46. OR rain mitts
i only needed them twice. i'm glad i had them because i would have been miserable. they became a gauge for how cold it was...if i didn't need them, it wasn't cold yet. if the inside gets wet, however, they take forever to dry.

47. BD jet stream gloves
great great great gloves. they work well even when wet.

47a. easel for drawing like they do on pbs with 47 different colored paints*
wish i would have brought 48 paints with.

48. wool arm warmers
they were funky but not necessary.

49. peace cranes
they were great gifts.

50. space pen
!!! i loved this pen...and my only goal on this trip was not to lose it and, i didn't.

51. journal
just another sort of camera.

52. books (2)
trading them was fabulous! we read about 10 books on this trip!!

53. magnifying glass
this was to start fires in desperate situations...i thankfully didn't need it.

54. wool shirt
yup...a great idea. it never got smelly.

55. a hat

56. a thermos mug
this became a life saver. when it was cold we heated water and made hot chocolate to increase our core temperature. also in a country that drinks mate and everyone walks around with a thermos, we did well to have our own.

57. spare BOB skewer (one between the two of us)
we didn't need it but we found two spanish boys who needed it.

58. spare BOB tire (one between the two of us)
unnecessary. we gave it away midway through the trip.

59. spare spokes (8)
didn't need em!

60. spare batteries
good for the head lamp.

61. plug adapter
thankful i had it.

62. Patagonia R3pursuit fleece
the perfect fleece. it was warm, lightweight, and durable.

i would have to say that the most surprisingly useful pieces of gear were the thermos, the buff and the space pen. well, someone suggested i do a little review. in many ways i think i packed alright with minamal "o i wish i hadn't of brought this" or "i wish i had"...there were probably only a few things i would have trimmed down on but i never really wished for anything.

Saturday, April 12, 2008


ladies and gentleman, boys and girls brace yourselves for the "best of" list!!! this is a behind the scenes look at our incredible adventure....

and in no particular order we commence.


campspots--with over 90 sleeping experiences, here are the best: our first night in the andes with Luisa, the rock beach in bariloche, lago steffen, the last night in chile, the river alumine, spanish boys spot, camping with eva.

lago steffen

last night in chile.

shower (sorry, no photos!): coyhaique (at agustin's and lucas' house!!), junin, and the farm in el bolson

hostel: punta arenas, villa amenguael (after a long rainy day!), junin

desperate meals: mayo crackers, oil and salt bread, raw potato with oil and salt

meals: "mr. beef", norma's house, bulgoki (for leah's birthday), hamburger buddies, potluck with the spanish boys

shared snacks: "cookie with 8", crackers with frederico and "a kari" in el bolson

cuppa coffee: with agustin and lucas in the abandoned bus shelter (quite possibly the best of my life)!!

mate experience: cutral-co with the police officers, the RV people at lago steffen, at the end of the "magic road"

sunset: at luisa's house, with loni by the river, lago faulkner, bariloche, and "bomba"


lago faulkner

bariloche (also a favorite campsite)

"loni river day"

sunrise: luisa, "bomba", last day in chile, ranch, lago steffen (sorry, no pictures...sometimes it was hard enough just to get up!)

stretch of road: "bob" sandwich day into manihuales, national park with loni, ruta 46, "penguin road", "wrong turn road", quelat park, 1st part tierra del fuego, big climb day with chilean boys.

chilean boy day

wrong turn day

manihuales day

most memorable ripio (gravel roads): truly the best: tierra del fuego, loni park day, seno otway
truly the worst: F-- day by trevelin, on the way to la Junta, "martin/ angostura day"

new songs (created by us on the open roads): "i am not a hippie", "o-town", "john lenon/tigger medly", "como te llamas", "my chamois has a first name"

accidents with language: "tu cabesa es loco" (your head is crazy), "pegar" (to hit) instead of "pagar" (to pay), "sopa" (soup) for jabon (soap), "tenador en la calle" (fork in the road which is not an idiomatic expression in spanish)

descent: 2nd on 46, 1st on 46, to el bolson, 15 switchback descent, junin gravel day

2nd on 46

wind: (tail wind): "miracle tailwind day" into zapala, tolhuin crosswind day

bad advice: "there's this secret road..."

beer experience: the flavia, ethan broken rib day in the park, the walk with flavia back to the ranch, junin

ethan in the park moments before he broke his rib on that very bottle!

beer: austral, quilmes, artisenal beer in bariloche

gift: mate mug, trophy from norma, mate, bread at cutral-co, gift from street vendors, chocolate from spanish boys, chocolate from jose at the ushuaia sign, juice from jorge, peaches from alfonso, pastries in tolhuin

comfort on road/luxury items: powdered milk, hot coco, thermoses, margo, whiskey, sesame oil, nutritional yeast, my space pen, nutella

catch phrases: "por favor", "nunca te rindas", "yo pienso, yo puedo", "what is going on here", "todo es possible", "nobody matter you", "porque no?", "Let's eat the @#*$ outta that!", "we are survivors", "these are the good old days", you can't handle the truth"

speechless moments: cuppa coffee in bus stop day, when cari and leah received these ugly earrings as presents, norma torphy moment, the top of every mountain pass.

marriage proposal: alfonso at neuquen, bus driver in los antigos

stream/river/lake: rio azul, rio futalafu, lago steffen, laguna blanca stream, laguna verde

laguna verde

rio futalafu

place to meet people: bridges

piece of gear (or gear we were so glad to have): waterproof stuff sack, space pen, "baby" (the 10 liter water bag), zip ties, ear plugs

piece of gear we never needed (and thankful for it): first aid kit, space blanket, spokes, brake cables

lost gear: sunglasses (x 3), top of leah's bell, towel, binoculars

"pig out": junin (we each ate an entree at a restaurant and then ordered a pizza to share, chapparos, at norma's house

ruined gear: bob trailer, cari's brake levers, cari's head lamp, water filter, crocs, all our clothing, "poop shovel", jude's derailleur, cari's kickstand, jude's topeak pump

new discovery: mate, dulce de leche, empanadas, frutigran, the knife/spoon tool, dr. bronners as toothpaste, bob trailer as grill, "cindy meal", paint thinner as gas, leah's flat bread

books: "cloudstreet" by tim winton, and "the hobbit" by tolkein

most looking forward to: no chamois!!! jubelale in rachel's fridge, music, down blankets and beds, watching a movie and in general to experience simple comfort

what we'll miss most: meeting new people, being special, can't live outside, not knowing what is around the next bend, hunger--real deep hunger, dulce de leche, knowing the time by the sun, moon and stars, the simplicity of just being

well, that concludes the list...hope it makes you laugh. i'll publish my short story soon. and a sincere thank you to everyone we met on our trip for the never ending kindness. and for the readers of this fine blog...thanks for sharing the adventure.


Monday, March 31, 2008

twelve things i love about buenos aires. a short list and not a long essay.

it happens that being back in such a large city is incredibly stimuating...almost, in fact, as the first time we rode through the andes. my senses go crazy and wild with excitement wanting to photograph i narrowed down a few scenes in my mind...things that i believe capture buenos aires.

1. carts. i feel a little dr. suessey writing this but there are carts on bikes, carts on people, carts on cars...what these carts are used for is not entirely clear. the streets are narrow and i assume they are collecting cardboard and trash from the curbsides while others are making deliveries.

2. balconies. the unique iron design of balconies on each apartment building. the balconies where plants burst from them...big leafy plants, plants with flowers, and plants that climb into the next balcony. yeah, a balcony is a thing of opportunity, if you will, for self expression where otherwise everything would be the same. as a stranger to the city it´s been fun to walk up and down unknown streets looking up at and into balconies.

3. the old european looking women, who even though they look as though they are about to fall over have not retired their heels. they may be bundled in sweaters on such a lovely day but do not take away those heels!

4. street signs...or any signs for that matter. the font on the various signs is comical in some ways. some look like circus writing while others are stencils or caligraphy. most are brightly colored. and the street names are great...most street names through argentina, in fact, are named after important dates such as "25 de mayo" or "9 de julio".

5. school kids standing in uniformed herds. some uniforms look like lab coats while others are the traditional plaid. the little lab coats make it look like the kids are pretending to be scientists...with converse sneakers on, of course!

6. the streets and streets of old buildings colliding with the modern world. this display really makes the city feel timeless. it´s true. hours and hours can slide by here without your consent and you´d swear it was still 10am in the morning. the city feels like a brand new day always regardless of physical time.

7. rows and rows of freshly baked pastries in shop windows.

8. subway stations. the old tiles, the tranquil ebb and flow of people. the loud rattle of the trains echoing in the underground tunnels.

9. murals everywhere. stenciled murals, bright colorful murals, posters, banners...

10. street musicians and performers. while every city can boast of their underground talent, there´s a fresh, sassy energy in these performers be it tango or a funk band.

11. the sidewalks. they are patched together with different desgins and change about every half block or so. it never gets boring.

12. the dogwalkers. today i saw one guy with about 15 dogs and later i saw another dog walker with his dogs still tied to their leashes napping in the park. somehow all the dogs were tranquil and napping as well.

photos from the end of the road.

proof that we were at the end of the road...there´s a better picture of just the sign below.

our last sunrise...and it´s at the ushuaia airport!

our last meal at the end of the world.

that leah and her flat bread!

the road to ushuaia.

do you recognize these people?

the sign at the end of the road!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

just a little thinkin...

can you guys wait just a few more days for the final pictures from the journey? i have some divine ones from the very end of the road!!

we´re currently in buenos aires and the only reason i thought to write about this experience, the experience of being back here right where we started, is because it is incredibly and absolutely strange.

when i first walked the streets of buenos aires i was looking for it fuel, maps, or last minute camping supplies. i wondered, as i briefly took the time to soak the city in, what i would feel the next time i was walking in buenos aires. would i feel a sense of accomplishment, pride, disappointment? and today i have the word that describes exactly how i feel about this whole journey, about being back in buenos aires...rejuvinated. i found myself laughing in a way i haven´t for a while and it simply feels great. those andes, they´re something else aren´t they?

this trip still feels like a dream and i might need the pictures to prove even to myself that once upon a time i rode over the andes.

don´t worry, our fun and fabulous list is still coming...


Saturday, March 29, 2008

wait...there´s more!

it´s a stark reality for us now...our trip is over. we are currently in the process of packing up our bikes to head back to buenos aires. last night we camped for the last time two km from the very end of the road in the national park.

as we were reminiscing about our trip we decided that what was going to be most difficult about giving up our bikes was that we are now just ordinary. it´s true. we look like every other tourist especially in long pants when you can´t see our bulging muscles! we no longer have a "story" and our days will once again become more predictable. and, sadly, no one will want to take their photos with us anymore (it´s alone we had to stop to take photos with people...these people are wierd, stopping to take photos with three smelly cyclists...we sometimes think we could have paid for our passage had we charged people for the photos). we will also miss being called "crazy".

but, we have a few "behind the scenes" treats for all of you faithful blog readers...give us a few days to complete our "best of" list...which will include our best camp spots, best gear broken, best new recipie etc. etc. and if y´all are super patient in about a month i´ll have my first short story up on this very blog...mainly because it´s the only place i know it can be published!

but for right now, i think i owe a few thank you´s as laden with cheese as it might seem. i would humbly like to express my gratitude to the people of argentina and chile (except for one very grumpy man here in ushuaia) for all their warmth and hospitality and also for not giving us the wrong directions and being incredibly patient with our language skills or lack thereof. i would also like to thank these kind people of argentina and chile for accepting us with open arms even though we smelled bad a lot of the time, giving us places to stay, providing us with food, giving us showers and always smiling and waving to us on the road. as much as i am full of laughter as i write this, i am uncontrollably and quite simply appreciative and i believe it´s that appreciation that has turned the simplest piece of bread with a swathe of butter on it into a feast. and so it has been that after these last three months i am going to return home wealthier than when i first began.

i would also like to thank REI for providing us with a tent (REI cirque 3) or home for the last few months. we had doubts that the tent poles would make it through as they are currently bent into new shapes from the wind. our tent smells funky having housed three cyclists for three months but nonetheless it has been a faithful home. it has also been a true refuge from wind, rain and cold.

i would like to thank bob williams and rachel bannister for all of their support...especially in setting up this blog page. and a pre emptive thanks especially to rachel for sharing her last jubelale with me!

and, i would like to thank my friend, guy larson, for all the bike advice, parts, and countless hours of listening to me deliberate on how to build up my bike...she´s a classy number guy and she rides like a dream!

i am also thankful for all the people who looked at me in disbelief as though an unplanned trip was not possible. it gave me special courage to be able to ride on. everything is possible.

and of course, where would i be without my friends and family. their encouragement, amazement, tireless love, and joy for this journey has meant more than words can say.

and lastly, my travel companions: leah, cari and margo. i really don´t have adequate words to describe how incredibly thankful i am for your friendship and for sharing this section of road, this adventure.

enough cheese. but y´all have to know that we had such great people behind us the whole way. and, don´t forget to come back to this very blog page for our "best of" list.

until later and, thanks for reading...


we´re in the papers!!

check out this article in the register guard, a eugene newspaper!!


Thursday, March 27, 2008

tolhuin to ushuaia...

after the last post in tolhuin we ambled back to the very famous panaderia where the head baker picked us out of the crowd and asked us if we needed a place to stay...we answered, tiredly, "yup". turns out he lets people stay above the bakery, enjoy tons of free coffee and pastries, gives them some food to cook dinner, makes them a lunch the next day and lets them walk through the bakery like it was their home. the bakery is also home to two tucan birds and some parrots. i have to say, this experience was fabulous...especially for cari who has a perpetual sweet tooth--it was a "sweet spot".

that night we performed surgery on my camp stove. apparently after three months of use it needed a little love. while we have a repair kit we didn´t have the cleaning kit so leah invented a little cleaning bristle from a bike cable for the stove. she works like a gem now.

after leaving tolhuin we decided to take it easy and find a sweet campspot for our last night on the road. we found a little spot just outside lago escondida alongside the road. we cooked our last meal, read from a book out loud (this is actually funny because leah and i are reading the same book and we keep cutting it into parts but we were at the same point in the book so we just read it aloud...awwww) and counted guanaco to fall asleep...the only problem for me was that in picturing/counting the guanaco i kept envisioning the guanaco getting caught in the fence, making silly faces, or skipping...yeah, getting to sleep was hard that night. and then...a horse galloped by so close to our tent we didn´t know if we were going to get pummeled! absolutely no worries, the horse galloped on.

and well, you know the rest of the story...we made it to ushuaia. crossing through the mountains were no just got a little cold is all. so, with most of our clothing on we prevailed through wind, snow and more wind to the sunny city and an ice cold beer in the southernmost city.

today, as i´ve mentioned we will ride to the end of the road...!!!!!!!!!!!! we´ll talk to you in a few days!



at the end of the road with our motorcycle friend, jose, who finished his journey from mexico city at the same time. what a sweetie...he had some chocolate for us!

about 20km outside of ushuaia. hmmm....

even margo has a smile.

riding along the beagle canal!

stay tuned...there´ll be more from our trip soon!