Packing took forever, each bike had to be wrapped super well with foam all the panniers packed in around them and all taped up to be checked onto the plane with us. But as we watched the luggage chuckers move the luggage off the plane, we were excited to see that the boxes were heavy enough not to throw onto the carts, and therefore our bikes, as well as us, made it in one piece! Thanks Hutches for all the hard work getting our bikes ready to go.
Flights were a bit delayed, but to be expected when flying through Seattle. We arrived in Anchorage, Alaska around 1:30 am (we are now one hour behind) and found a couple nice benches to sleep on before our 7 am flight to Prudhoe Bay. We met a super nice girl, Rachelle, who has worked 6 years now up in Prudhoe Bay during the summer driving launch boats around. Once we finally got to the last flight and were able to look down out the windows of the expanse of wide open tundra, it finally began to sink in that after all the dreaming and planning, we were finally almost here to the beginning of such a great adventure!!
Once we arrived in Prudhoe Bay Airport, we were greeted with some extremely friendly people who let us unpack the boxes and put bikes together right there in the baggage claim/entire airport. Since we lucked out on having such big bike boxes, we only had to remove the front wheel, pedals, seat/post, and a a few bolts, but it was a quick couple hour assembly and pack up job and we were ready to go! Since we made it up this far, we agreed that we wanted to get all the way to the water, but everyone has to sign up for a shuttle to get there and pass a 24 hour clearance to do so. They are a bit strict about this because of all the oil companies in this area. The earliest we could get on a shuttle was the next day at 3:30 pm (so an overnight wait). We harnessed our patience, and as we headed out the door into the mist, we found the classy Prudhoe Bay Hotel right across the street.
We were greeted by some even more nice people, booked an extremely expensive honeymoon suite, all buffet meals included, and set out to meeting a bunch of "locals" who live up here and work the season for various jobs, but mainly around the oil companies. The sun doesn't set here, so it's a trip to try and sleep in daylight, but our snazzy sleeping masks help a ton. Today, Saturday, we met up for breakfast with some great guys we met who are two of the coolest helicopter pilots we now know. Larry and Jerry, both from Texas, took us to their hangar and showed us the Bell 4-12 Helicopter they fly for 4 weeks on and 4 weeks beck to Texas. It was so cool! We were able to sit in the cockpit, ask a million questions and hear their exciting stories of flying and living all over the world flying helicopters.
They were nice enough to give us a ride to the Prudhoe Bay General Store to get fuel and our bear mace and they headed off to go fly. Weather here changes by the minute so they are on constant standby as to when they can fly. We are about to pack on some more pounds at the buffet, and head out on our bikes back to the General Store to take our shuttle to the Arctic Ocean. When we get dropped off, we will set off down the Dalton Highway and head south to Argentina. Stay tuned for the next post. We hear the next internet connection will be in Fairbanks, about 10 days from now, so sit tight. OFF WE GO!!
I made my way again out to Mindy's home and studio on the outskirts of Bend, Oregon where Meliloo Designs began. Mindy's small studio is meticulously well organized with every bag of stones, leather, string, and metals all in their place. She was sitting with large headphones on deep in conversation with someone and hunched over her large wooden desk with tools in hand, working on a jewelry piece. Watching her work is like watching a surgeon performing a triple bypass, with the utmost care and concern for every tiny detail. Even down to the packaging her pieces are shipped out in. Bagged, boxed, wrapped in string. When the tiny box is in your hand, it is but a work of art.
"I have been making jewelry since I was little, like 12 or 13. I use to sell bracelets that I made for my friends when I was 11." Jewelry making began as a hobby, but Mindy spent many years working in the serving industry in Bend to pay the bills. While waitressing and bartending, she attended University of Oregon Cascades Campus and finished a degree in Archeology. After her degree, she spent a few rotating seasons out to areas around Eastern Oregon and Burns working for the BLM on digs. "I didn't start doing the wire wrapping until I was inspired by all the rocks in the desert when I was working for the BLM. About 5 years ago is when I started working with melting metals."
Mindy's attention to detail and love for natural stones and metals has made her an amazing jeweler. Mindy encompasses the child inside us all that collects rocks, stones, shells, and trinkets and turns them into works of art. "I believe that through the simplicity of nature, beauty is created. The rawness of nature is what inspires me. I am excited about creating jewelry that is very minimal; with the addition of my belly jewelry, I feel this is what expresses my philosophy of a beautiful style that embodies simplicity, class, and comfort."
A few years ago, Meliloo Designs had become so sought after, that Mindy left her job with the BLM and became a full time artisan and jeweler. Her dream of living a life doing what she loved had came to a reality. " I love directing the attention of my work on the natural uniqueness and organic rawness of each stone and feel excited about expressing my designs into reality by pairing them with the elegance of soft and strong metals. Each stone I work with inspires its own design, the metals help to accentuate them. I have an appreciation for the geology and history of the earth and I am always looking for new and different stones to inspire me."
Ville and I here at We Lost The Map have been so grateful to have Mindy sit down with us and create some beautiful We Lost The Map bracelets and necklaces for our supporters and fans! You can get your very own necklace or bracelet in our STORE and pair it with some stones from Meliloo Designs. Find Meliloo Designs on Etsy or simply click on the links below to get you there...
Ville and I are in Bend, Oregon now and busy getting our bicicletas dialed for our trip. First, we got our bikes new with some help from a friend. New bikes are cool and shiny, but most importantly for us, they have less use and abuse on the frame and since we will be riding 20,000+ miles, this matters. Since we both got the same bike, different sizes, we have pretty blue matching bikes soon to be covered in gear and stickers. We also bought some leather Brooks saddles that are currently hard as rocks and we are riding every day around town to break our butts and saddles into each other. If you see us out there on our pretty blue matching bikes, wave, honk, yell, or toss us a beer.
Last week was a big week. We were in The Bulletin, and thanks all for reaching out to us with all the love, support, and well wishes for the trip. We are excited to see you all along the journey and share in the excitement of being on the road. Then, we were asked for an interview to be on 101.7 fm, which will air next week sometime on the morning show at 8 am. Stay tuned for the air time!
And now to equipping our worthy steeds that will get us the distance. Last week we sat down with John Frey at Hutches and dialed a list of goods needed for the ride. John is awesome, we went through the gear list part by part and made sure we will have everything we will need, including custom built wheels, to make the journey. He also walked us two newbies through the workings of the bikes and the must-dos to keeping our rigs trucking along the way. Thanks John for taking your time, after hours even, to help us out!
Then there was Chris, THE wheel builder, at the East Side Hutches. Wheel builder you ask? Well yes. And it is an almost lost art, now that most bikes are standard machine made, not many kids are building special wheels up for their most special application these days. We decided to build our wheels because of the miles we will ride and how remote many places will be. Maybe best to spend the $$ on hand picking the best hubs, rims, spokes, and tires for the job and then not get stranded with broken parts in the middle of nowhere and wish we had dialed them when we had the chance. Thanks so much Chris for showing us how you put a wheel together and letting us ask a million dumb questions about them. See you in Oregon when we have broken those bad boys in!
Thanks also to Mike Fusaro and Paul Karr, you guys were incredibly helpful and generous with walking and talking the bike talk needed to get our gear dialed. We are incredibly grateful. And to everyone else who has liked us on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/kristen.grund.7 or https://www.facebook.com/welostthemap2/) is following us on Instagram (www.instagram.com/welostthemap) and just plain making the time for a beer, walk, or dinner before leaving. We love you all.
P.S. If you have some down time tomorrow, This Saturday, June 11 @ Drake Park is Camp Tamarack"s first annual Community Carnival! 10am-2pm. There will be games , archery, entertainment, music, obstacle courses, FUN GALORE for the whole family! And if your really lucky, you just might see Ville and I there helping support our very favorite foundation, Carly's Kids! Unlimited activities bracelets for $10 will be sold at the event. 100% of proceeds go to scholarship funds for participating Bend La Pine schools to reduce the cost of Outdoor school. Food will be sold separately. Come join us for some fun and family time. Help Celebrate the Magic of Camp Tamarack! Hope to see you there...
"The grass doesn't grow under your feet," Kristen's Grandpa use to say. And how true that seems to be. During our thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011, we would often talk about how simple life is when living out of a backpack with no worries or cares other than the basic necessities to life; food, water, shelter. Although we lucked out in completing the entire trail in one shot that year, we came up with the brilliant idea of possibly riding a long bike tour on our next adventure. Do we have experience on bikes you might ask? Well, of course not. We didn't have backpacking experience either before beginning the PCT. All it took is one foot in front of the other, and just like life, you get through it. And professional backpackers we soon became. Same method must apply, right?
And so off we go! Bought some bikes, panniers, and gear. And with some much needed help from a friend, John Frey from Hutches Bike Shop in Bend, we are building some pretty bomb-proof bikes. John and Kristen spent a summer traipsing around Germany catching glimpses of the Tour de France zip by and watching lots of hours of Cartoon Network (the only TV station that was not dubbed in German at the time) at his then girlfriend's house. Now the manager at Hutches Westside in Bend, John has been a great resource for helping us get our bikes dialed with the right gear and how to fix them when we get stuck up sh*t creek.
Having hiked the PCT, we are reusing all our ultra-light gear and just putting them in panniers. With the addition of some solar panels, thanks to Kristen's Mom and sister Lisa, we will be as ready as can be. It really all comes down to getting on the bikes and riding. Mile by mile. And starting off slow so our bodies adapt, and add miles to the days as we become stronger. Where the PCT was somewhat of a Groudhog's Day of each day walking the same trail in the same direction, this cycling tour will give us the flexibility to change course road by road. Choosing to take on climbing some pretty big passes (over 16,000 ft. in the Andes), skipping dangerous stretches, side tripping to see some sights, and so on. We hope friends, family, and even you can take some time out to meet up with us and spend some time with us on our journey!
Below is a rough route for our trip. At this point, the only road that we'll be taking for sure is the Dalton Highway from Prudhoe Bay heading south. Being the northern most point with a road, it is where we wanted to begin the journey.
We're not planning to take the boat on the coast of British Columbia like the person who made this map ( I stole it from a great website called www.theridesouth.com ), but we do plan to take the boat/ferry from Baja to the mainland and from Panama to Columbia. Unfortunately it is nearly impossible to cross the border between Panama and Colombia by land. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dari%C3%A9n_Gap). Luckily sailing between those two countries is amazing, we did it in reverse when we crewed on sailboats in the Caribbean.
Why ride over 20,000 miles? Cause the voice of reason flew out the window a long time ago telling us not to. And why not do it? Ever changing scenery for nearly 2 years will be mind-blowing and intense, but honestly, we really do this for the people we meet. The characters we met hiking the PCT pretty much just redeems your faith in humanity. Some of the kindest, coolest, wackiest, neatest, people that helped us just cause it felt right. And for no reason other than to help someone in need. Our goal with this ride and writing to you about it, is to help bring us all just a little bit closer. Get rid of the borders and barriers we build around us with fear and open our hearts to others.
We also hope to bring some attention and awareness to some pretty cool organizations out there already doing some pretty epic things during this journey. As we start off, we want to get the word out about one great organization here in Bend. For those of you folks in Bend, likely you have already heard of the amazing Carly's Kids and met Carly's amazing family always out there fundraising. But for those of you that don't know about it, now your in the know! Carly's Kids is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to provide underprivileged children access to outdoor education school. Carly was an adventurous gal with a love for the outdoors, helping people, and a passion for making the world a better place. That same passion continues with the help of Carly's Kids and volunteers and donors just like you! Please take a moment to go to www.carlyskids.org or just simply click on the link on the right side of this page and check them out. They and we thank you for your help and support.
As of today, we are in Bend, Oregon getting gear ready for the ride. On June 24th, we have a flight booked from Bend/Redmond Airport to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. If any of you want to grab a beer or a coffee while we are in town, give us a shout. We are also always accepting and grateful for companies or private donors who would like to be sponsors with anything from gear, a hot shower, to funds or a place to stay along the way. We promise the love to come right back at ya' ten fold.
Thanks everyone for all the love, support and following our journey!
K.G. & Ville
Ville and Kristen are in Zanatepec, Oaxaca, Mexico and heading south.
“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
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Together, let's send this girl to Argentina!