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Hello Friends!! Old and new. A massive Thank You to the outpouring of excitement and positive feedback from everyone after two completely unplanned and therefore, not rehearsed, presentations Ville and I gave while on the Princess Cruise we took to get back to the United States. When we arrived on board with two giant bicycle boxes needing storage, word got out to the staff about our ride. Then, the Entertainment Director, Matt Thompson, threw caution to the wind and had these two yahoos put together a presentation about our ride in the largest theater on the ship. We had to throw it together in an afternoon at a port stop using WiFi to access photos and videos and after not much promotion (since it was planned last-minute), we expected a small turnout. Boy were we wrong. We rolled out onstage and looked out at a sea of eyes all looking at us and I realized I probably should have had a stiff drink for breakfast beforehand.
Don and Dave, I think you both are almost solely responsible for getting half the theater full :) Your positive nature is infectious. We agreed to another talk near the end of the cruise, so that my parents and brother could be there. We were really looking forwards to seeing my family again after so long apart. My Mom, Dad and Brother would be flying into Santiago, Chile and getting on the cruise ship to join us for the cruise to Los Angeles for 2 weeks.
After our stop in Ushuaia for a day, a completely surreal feeling to be back at "the end" once again, we had a stop in Punta Arenas. Punta Arenas was another stop for us on our ride south, with horrible weather and a multi-hour search riding all over town to try and find a place to stay. Not a highlight for sure, but very pleasurable to visit again from the comfort of a cruise ship and not on a bicycle. Both of us feel so grateful to have a giant bed that's soft as a cloud, a hot shower at the ready, a toilet that is in the same place, and a buffet of food absolutely anytime we are hungry. What a drastic change from life on the road. Although we both miss our bikes. It's really hard to go from the comfort of our routine of pedaling almost every single day, perched atop our saddles, hands gripping the bars and watching the world around us slowly move by. Save for the days riding through cities, it's a quiet meditation. Time to clear your mind, zone out to the pedal strokes and sound of your breath, and relax. Whether climbing or flying down hills, we had 30 gears to ease the uphills and enjoy the downs. Life, for us, was pretty dang simple.
The transition from bikes to the cruise ship was perfect for the end of our ride. The weather in Chile had been pouring rain and in Argentina hurricane force winds with temps dropping to freezing. For the last few months, we both were ready to be off the bikes and out of the weather. Moving even to the least expensive cabin was a massive upgrade for both of us. All our needs were met. And because of a donation from our guardian angels, Grandpa and Grandma B, we were able to book this cruise to enjoy a very slow and seriously needed reentry back to "normal" life in Bend. Thank you both for watching out for us from above, keeping us safe to the very end of the journey and for giving us this big treat at the end.
In Punta Arenas, we spent our time walking around actually seeing the city this time, and stocking up on more Yerba for Ville's new Mate addiction after traveling through southern South America. Our new friend Sylvie had been hoping to find a cool Mate cup and we scored her a cool one from a local shop. We had a couple days at sea, passing multiple giant glaciers, including a scenic spin at the Amalia Glacier, along the coastline of Chile and made our way to Puerto Montt. Having a very limited budget, we agreed not to book any tours or even have a single drink on board (everything costs extra), but thoroughly enjoyed just walking around the port towns since we had spent so much time on the go. Puerto Montt was very rainy, as was ALL of Chile as we rode down the coast, and we ducked into the market to buy up some cheap wine bottles to take on the ship. We had skipped Puerto Montt on our ride south, opting for the less trafficked roads to the east, so it was nice to see the town for the first time.
We had a day at sea, where we enjoyed chatting with heaps of new people and friends we have now met on the ship. We shared travel stories; past, present, and, of course, scheming future travel plans. Always leaving our lives open for the next adventure ;) Since there would be just under half the ship of passengers leaving the ship the next port (there are over 3,000 passengers on board), we had to say, "Goodbye" and "Until Next Time" to a bunch of new friends. And then after a day at sea, we ported in San Antonio, Chile, where my family was to meet us. We sat in the loading area right off the ship watching the newbies stream past and then somehow realized we must have missed them arrive. We climbed back on board and scoured the ship looking for the fam. We finally ran into them at the front desk trying to organize their luggage fiasco, and shared some very long awaited and much anticipated hugs. The most challenging aspect of a nearly two year journey is the time and distance that grows between those we love.
We had last seen my parents over six months ago in Cusco, Peru (very grateful they made the long trip down to see us) and it had been over a year since leaving my brother in Portland, Oregon and riding south. We had a lot of missed time to catch up on. With buffets and restaurant-like dining options, we just had to show up. None of us had to cook, clean, or plan and it was the perfect scenario to just relax together and enjoy each others company. We relaxed poolside during the days when not in port towns, watched movies on the giant big screen above the pool deck, attended live shows when they sounded interesting, sipped on wine in our cabins, feasted all day long, worked out in the big gym a lot and relaxed. Ville had a personal vendetta against the stationary bike up in the gym and after a couple weeks, was thrilled to beat the most difficult program on the bike by 8 minutes. Nerd. Save for the fact that my poor parents luggage never made it, and they had to wear the same clothes they arrived in for a few days, life was good.
We had a stop in La Serena, Chile the following day, and we spent the day together in the mall trying to buy some clothes for my parents to wear while they waited for their luggage to catch up to them. What was so frustrating for them, is that their luggage had been lost on their way to see us in Cusco, Peru as well and had taken many phone calls and multiple days for it to be found. When they had boarded their flight in Oregon, they had explained to the woman checking them into their flight of their fears of losing their luggage and she had vowed to make sure it was checked through and would arrive when they did in Santiago. Sadly, it never even left the airport of their first flight. Almost like a sick joke or prank, but I kept trying to remind them that at least they made it safe and we were all together. Who really cared that they would have to walk around the ship naked?
After buying the latest fashions American Airlines could buy in La Serena, my parents were able to stay remotely clothed and a nice lady, Anjie, even gave me a couple dresses to wear and my Mom was able to use one for dinners. Thanks Anjie! We had two days at sea to hang out and then a stop in Pisco followed by Lima. In Lima, Peru, we took a taxi to town where we walked along the ocean front watching the surfers and then around the city center to watch the chaos of Lima. We had an overnight in Lima and after arriving back to the ship in the evening, my parents were told that they were unable to retrieve their luggage from the airport during the day and that they would send them first thing in the morning with a driver back to the airport to try and retrieve the luggage before the ship was set to sail at 10am. After a back-and-forth over traffic complications, a Second Captain met my parents, along with the head chef also missing luggage, outside the ship. He instructed the driver to take them to the airport, but they would need to leave at 9:15am sharp from the airport, with our without their luggage, to make it back to the ship on time. My poor parents were gripping the inside handles of the car, while the taxi driver gunned it swerving in and out of traffic like a maniac, flying into the airport, holding their bags as they ran through security, and were able to track down someone who actually was able to find and release their luggage to them. My Dad could care less if he wore the same pair of underwear the entire cruise, but my Mom was overjoyed to be reunited with her suitcases full of her own clothes.
They had a return journey much the same as the journey to the airport and found all us kids at the back of the ship eating breakfast, arriving with four thumbs up and grinning ear to ear. Now the next three days at sea would be decked out in all their own fashionable threads instead of Princess Cruise Robes. By our next stop, Puntarenas, Costa Rica, Ville had come down with the death-hack cold circulating the ship and we had to leave him behind when we ventured out to go zip-lining. My brother, Jordan, is an avid climber so zip-lining was a much milder form of an adrenaline hit for him, but it was a first for both my mom and dad. They were champs. They zipped down all 12 cables, the longest being 450 yards, and didn't even need to change their pants after. Our buddy, Laurent, made the journey there with us and we met another couple from the ship to go with as a big group. We all had a blast!
Felt bad having to leave behind my partner-in-crime, but luckily we had been able to do another zip-line tour years ago when backpacking through Central America. We found him still sick back at the ship and then Dad, Mom and I opted to simply walk the beach in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua the next day while Jordan took off with Laurent to explore Granada (we had the privilege of staying there on our bike journey south). We had two more days at sea, followed by a sunny beach day, Ville in tow and feeling much better, in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico. The following day, on March 28th, our 10 year anniversary of meeting in Vietnam, Ville and I had our second presentation. And it was a big hit.
The picture above is from the stage at the end of the show. A massive Thank You to all of you who came, many of you twice (and you say WE are crazy :) who shared in celebrating with us the end of our ride, for asking some great questions, inviting us to your homes, sharing your own stories with us, and telling us how much it inspired you for us to share our story. Giving back is super important to us, for all that have helped and continue to help us do this, we want to share and inspire others to be the best selves they can be. Ville had been introduced to the Captain while on board and invited him to our presentation. He in exchange, invited us to the Bridge for our own private tour what a cool opportunity to get a tour by the Captain himself! Thankfully, they wouldn't let Ville steer the ship, who knows where we would have ended up. We had a great dinner after with Mom, Dad, and Jordan up in the Share Restaurant and celebrated 10 years together that has felt like an eternity. Cheers to the next eternity stud!
We reveled in our last day on the ship together, soaked in the hot tub, played some overly aggressive and competitive games of ping pong (the entire family was in on this), cracked a bottle of Champagne that was gifted to us by a kind couple on board, Lynda and Jeff, danced, chatted with new friends, and said our goodbyes. For all of you who we met, please follow up with us (if you haven't already) and make sure we have your contact info. You never know when our paths will cross again. And if anyone finds there way to Oregon or anywhere near Bend, please reach out to us. We will stick you in our tent in the yard. Only kidding, we have rooms and would love to have friends visit. On our last morning, the disembarking process got harry and took hours longer than planned, but after all the challenges we faced in the last two years, this was not one of them. Ville even got his butt squeezed by a kind old lady, and really, I can't blame her.
Thanks Aunt Terri and Uncle Tom for picking us up and your patience waiting for my immigrant husband to get cleared back into the country. Always a process, but more so once we have been gone for a while. We plan to hang around the Los Angeles area for a week or so visiting all our family and friends here and then planning to take the train up to Portland, Oregon next week to get to see my Sister, Lisa, her husband, Sean and my little Nephew, Braydon. Thanks everyone for continuing to follow this traveling circus. Please reach out to us, we love hearing from you. And until next time, keep on keepin' on...
P.S. If you were with us on the Princess Cruise and enjoyed our presentation, please remember to comment on the Princess Cruise Questionnaire or email them directly. Both our talks were voluntary, but we would love it if they ask us to share again on future cruises. Thanks!
Follow our journey: On Facebook - Kristen Grund Jokinen & welostthemap2 AND Instagram - welostthemap And please check back, we are working on the book and we will be hoping to get it in your hot little hands soon! Promise.
We are incredibly humbled by the outpouring of love from everyone after finishing our ride. A massive THANK YOU to all who have congratulated us, given us high-fives, hugs, emails and messages from afar. It feels so special to know so many people have followed us on our journey, in spirit, in person and from all over the world. Thank you.
And guess where we are right now? USHUAIA! That's right, from just two and a half weeks ago after pedaling into this town at the end of our epic bicycle journey, we are now on a giant sailing buffet arriving in style. It's very surreal. Two and a half weeks ago, February 16th, we awoke to a spectacularly sunny day after days of rain. It was no coincidence that all those thoughts and prayers from everyone we know and love had brought us this great day. A crisp, cold morning adorned in our gloves (thank you Robin for bringing us the extra warm pair of gloves!), we had a slow climb up over the pass from the lake at which we camped a couple nights to have a day to reflect on a journey spanning nearly two years. The climb warmed us up and the road wound through the mountainous wilderness at the end of the world, dotted with glittering lakes and rivers. The knot was building in my stomach and the giant smile plastered across my face couldn't be scraped off. As we dropped down out of the mountains, and rounded a bend in the road, there appeared tow giant towers announcing our arrival in "Ushuaia". Tears poured from my eyes and Ville and I climbed off our bikes hugging each other. Wow, what a feeling. All this time, all the memories, all coming back to this moment right now. We pushed on down to the waterfront to get a picture next to the famous "Ushuaia, End of the World" sign with tears in our eyes and giant smiles on our faces.
But this was not the end of the road. We had begun this journey so long ago in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska because it was the most northern most point with a road. And we wanted to bike to the end of the road at the bottom of the world, Lapataia Bay. The next 12 miles climbed into the scenic national park and the road, literally, ended. At a Bahia Lapataia sign and a wooden dock out over the water. We pushed our bikes out there and snapped a couple pics. At the end of the world, the end of a journey biking the Americas and with my best friend in hand. Wow, what a ride! We had a couple glorious days drinking champagne in a hotel bed after hot showers, throwing away all our tattered clothing and taking it all in. And those were a couple very emotional days. The 19th, we spent the day in the yard of our hotel taking apart our bicycles with our hand tools and boxing them up with the help and company of a long-distance motorcyclist, Richard, from Canada. Thanks Richard, have a fantastic and safe journey north.
We were excited to discover that the airline charged us only $20 US per bike for our flights to Buenos Aires and we arrived after a smooth flight. With help from our friends and Warmshowers hosts, Felix and Babun, we were able to book a taxi big enough to pick us, and our bikes in boxes, up and get us safely to another Warmshowers host, Agus. Thanks to our hosts taking us in and showing us the town as friends, we had a very memorable time in Buenos Aires. The first few days were spent on the metro, buses and walking around the city to find affordable clothes to replace our few pairs of ratty bike gear. It was overwhelming. Buenos Aires is similar to New York City in the swirling chaos of noise, activity, traffic, and people in a hurry. Cell phones glaring in everyone's faces, squealing of brakes, dodging of people in a hurry on packed sidewalks, rush hour squeezed into a metro breathing upwards. I was incredibly overwhelmed after just ending a nearly two year mediation in nature on a bicycle in quiet open space for, most, of the journey. It brought on a migraine for me that lasted a few days, but got more use to the rhythm of the city and were able to explore more after that.
Agus, our first host, took us out with friends to see a Tango music band, Orquesta Tipica Fernandez Fierro, and we really enjoyed eating dinner together and learning more about Buenos Aires. Thank you so much Agus for taking us in, allowing us the time to get some much needed rest, and showing us a good time amigo! The next handful of days we went and stayed only a couple blocks away at another Warmshowers host's house, Felix and Babun. Now dressed in only the most fashionable clothes pesos can buy in a few thrift stores in Buenos Aires, we walked all over town checking out the Cultural Center, waterfront shops, downtown, Palermo, Old Town, a few markets, and even the Boca Juniors Stadium. As former football/soccer players, this was a very cool experience for us to get to go stand in the stadium where football greats like Maradona have played. Unfortunately we were unable to score tickets to a game, but approved of their policy of selling tickets to members and the fan club first. Guess we just have to come back someday to see a game.
On the weekend, Felix and Babun, fellow touring cyclists, lent us extra bikes and we leisurely pedaled north along the river, past the River Plate Stadium (another famed soccer team), winding through neighborhoods, stopping at pastry shops to get treats and up to a beach to relax and drink Mate. It felt so nice to be back on bikes, cruiser bikes this time at a leisurely pace and on a sunny day with friends. We stopped on the return for snacks at their favorite spots and even made it back in time to prep for a presentation about our bike ride. Felix and Babun were nice enough to plan a get-together with a small group of friends who were interested to hear about the journey. Thank you both so much for pulling that together and everyone who came to support us!
Thanks to our local hosts, we stopped at numerous tasty food joints in the city to get the best of the best in Buenos Aires cuisine. Everything from empanadas to pizza slices to pastries. Oh boy! Definitely not losing weight anymore. And then on the 28th, we took a taxi with our bikes to the docks to board our Princess Cruise Ship where we would be spending the next 30 days slowly making our way back south around Cape Horn and back up the west coast all the way to Los Angeles! What took us over a year to bike would take only a day to fly but less than a month to sail. We had booked the cruise months before knowing that after an ending to a journey this monstrous, we would need some pampering and a slow return to "reality."
When we walked into our cabin on the ship, we both took hot showers, wrapped ourselves in the complimentary white bath robes, and sprawled out across the most comfortable cushy soft-as-a-cloud bed we have ever laid on. It was heaven. And it would be our very own room for 30 whole days! The most comfortable bed, with the bathroom in the same place, constant hot water shower whenever we want and a buffet table loaded with food at the ready. What could possibly make a couple of cyclists any happier?
After a much needed nap (we are struggling with the late night, early morning routine in Argentina), we headed out for our last night in town to take Tango lessons at Cathedral de Tango. And let's just say, we are natural born dancers. Lots of flair and pzazz! With far more women than men, Ville was passed around the room and a big hit with the ladies. Think there may be some inquiries on my position. And after, our buds, Felix and Babun, met us for a goodbye drink. So grateful to have met you both, thank you for sharing your time with us and we will see each other again! We spent the night on the boat, ran a few last minute errands on shore the next day and made it back to the boat in time to pull anchor and sail out into the big open sea heading for Montevideo, Uruguay.
We awoke in the morning already in Montevideo, happy to not have to have pedaled to it. What a treat. The town itself was much smaller and relaxed than Buenos Aires and we enjoyed walking around town and the shore front. The majority of the Old Town can be seen in an hour, so we headed back to the boat for the buffet. We had OKed having our bike boxes stored somewhere on the boat beforehand, but once arriving on the boat, they realized there was just no space on a giant cruise ship for two small bike boxes, but helped us to squeeze them into our closet and, for the most part, out of the way. Luckily we don't have much for clothes and really, I just think we would miss our bikes too much not being able to see them, at least in the box, every day. It's like a junkie needing to at least know his/her fix is nearby. And after discussing with the staff on board just why we were hauling two bike boxes on board, they offered us a slot of time to do a presentation on board. So we scheduled it for March 7th, the day before arriving back in Ushuaia.
After Montevideo, we stopped in Puerto Madryn and then the Falkland Islands. Puerto Madryn was mainly just an industrial port town, but many took excursions to see penguins. We utilized WiFi in a cafe on land to prep for our presentation. Port Stanley on the Falkland Islands was a pretty cool place to see. It is about 300 miles east of southern Argentina out in the open sea, and is a British Territory with it's own internal self-governance. Because of their checkered past, it is not possible to fly from Argentina to the Islands and only a few flights even fly there. Therefore we felt privileged to get to go and see it. We walked around the tiny capitol city, to the graveyard, the top of the hill, and after all that walking Ville needed to wet his whistle in a pub. What stood out the most to us, was the stark contrast of British architecture, manicured yards and power lines that looked designed and maintained by electrical engineers. It was pretty posh.
The next day, March 7th, we dressed, had a drink to take the edge off (I thought I was going to pass out from the anxiety), and made our way down to the theater to get ready for our presentation. We appeared on the ship's Morning Show and then in the Princess Patter (daily newsletter) and were not sure how many people on board would actually show up for an 11am show, but we ended up with a packed house. I wasn't too nervous until I peeked out from back stage and saw the 600-seat theater full of people staring up at the stage. Oh geez. We got out there, and this dynamic duo wowed the crowd with a presentation of highlight pictures, maps, and even some videos from the ride. We had a Q & A after with tons of great questions and it went so well they had to cut us off because they needed the theater for the next show. After thinking not many people would even come to our short presentation, we were blown away by the number of people who came and have come up to us after to thank us for speaking. THANK YOU all of you who came to our presentation on board, we are really happy so many of you enjoyed it!
One would think offering ourselves up for all these presentations we just love the limelight, but quite the contrary, we don't think we are that cool (there are WAY cooler people than us) and we get pretty nervous getting on stage. But this is our way of giving back to all those that helped us, followed us and donated. We hope to inspire others to dream big, to be the proof that this world is full of mostly great people helping others, and especially to inspire youth to get out there and travel. If the news focuses on the .0001% of bad in the world, we are a voice for the 99.999% of good in the world. So a big Thank You to Princess Cruises, Matt and Ben for allowing us the opportunity to share our journey with others. And THANK YOU to all of you who came to our presentation and thanked us in person! We are very humbled by all the positive feedback and outpouring of support.
One of the most fun things we discovered about being on this cruise ship, as always on a journey, is the people! We have had the best time and converstations with people from all over the world at dinners, at shows, on shore and all over the boat. Making new friends from all over; Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, England, Mexico and heaps from all over the United States. If we have not had the chance to get your contact info and you would love to keep in touch, get updates about adventure plans, our book, or even get a visit from two yahoos who love to travel the world, please write us! firstname.lastname@example.org. But careful what you wish for, we just might show up at your door step :)
This morning, we walked off our plush cruise ship with big smiles on our faces knowing we would be back in the place of our "end of the road." We walked back to the "Ushuaia", "End of the World" sign and completely unexpectedly I started crying. It's really hard to put into words what it feels like to come back to this place. I'm happy to have moved on to the next chapter of our journey in life, but sad to see the end of the last. And just like a chapter in a book helps weave together a story, the chapter of The Ride weaves into the story of our life and enriches it in ways one cannot explain in words only in memories. So grateful we were able to make the entire journey, and with such a great partner in crime by my side. Cheers to the next chapter! Until next time, keep on keepin' on!
P.S. Ville and I will be leading a spin class (stationary bikes) up in the gym on the cruise every morning at 8am. The class will last for 8 hours. Bring a towel. Just kidding!
K.G. & Ville
In Helsinki, Finland still writing the Book
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!” - Hunter S. Thompson