Check out this great article we are in that just came out in B.C. about Bike Touring and Bike Packing...
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Following My Wife 2 (the second half of our ride) is now complete and ready to view and share! Sign up for our Newsletter and I'll send you the link. Otherwise, you need to wait until my Scandinavian Stallion gets back to share it with you here on our blog.
Sorry friends, Ville and I have been buried deep in house projects with no room to come up for air. When we were nearing the end of our ride, we spoke fondly of going back home, being back in our bed again, back with a kitchen, numerous pots and pans to choose from, a hot shower anytime of day, relaxing and seeing friends. Having them just pop in, not having to tell them your life story before parting ways to likely never see each other again, but friends who really know you. Family that has missed you so much and is excited to have you around again. Time to write the book. Put all our thoughts and reflections down on paper. Share our story.
And it has been those things, just slightly off from our expectations. Back two years ago, when we pulled the plug on our house remodel and peaced out to head off on our bicycle journey of the Americas, we left the house in a livable state, rented it to friends and didn't look back. Until the day we walked in the door. And with a hot real estate market and a solidified desire to see and experience more of the world than just Bend, we realized we needed to tackle the remaining house projects, finish it all at once, divide off the second lot we own attached to the property, and sell our beloved home. And it hasn't been easy. This last couple months has been a very emotional and hard road to ride. Ville and I bought this house and tore into it when it made more sense to bulldoze it. But there was history here in this old 1935 Old Mill house. That and we just didn't have the funds to completely start over. So we dug in. With help from friends and family, we made it ours. So finally coming to an end in the journey of this old house and knowing that we will let go of all of what we have done is hard. As hard as letting go of a two year bicycle journey.
To move back in, we had to paint first. To unpack dishes and use the kitchen we had to tear it out first and rebuild it. We spent over a month and a half with our kitchen sink in the side yard and no counters. To get the tub refinished and tile work fixed without our added bathroom quite finished, we relied on our amazing neighbors for showers. Having our plumber, electrician, drywaller and roofers actually show up in this feeding frenzy of building boom in Bend has been a blessing, but has consumed all our early mornings, weekends, and holidays. And the day they finished, is the day the City showed up right outside to tear out the entire water line down the street at 7am every morning with jackhammers. Our home was not little projects either, but big projects. Finishing our kitchen, installing granite, a new sink, lights, adding a whole new bathroom, ripping out and redoing the wood flooring upstairs, trimming half the house, fixing tile, cleaning the stone fireplace, building decks, rebuilding our back porch, painting and installing all our doors, adding doors, insulating, updating electrical, tearing off and re-roofing our entire house, painting, painting again, and painting some more. It's been no joke. And every single step of the way my parents have been here helping. Helping us do it all. I will never be able to thank them enough for all their help! And as our house is FINALLY starting to look like a finished house, and we sit in the backyard under our big apple trees to eat lunch, it saddens both of us to let it go when we will never enjoy it completed.
Along with letting go of our home we love, we have been letting go of our Ride as well. It's been very hard to come back. What do you do after The Ride is over? What do you do after two years of our life has been full, on, in it. Deep in it. A cycling meditation. Every day just waking up and pedaling and each pedal stroke just focused. Being in your breathe. Being on the road. And being in nature. And being surrounded by people on the road. Walking, waiting for a bus, pulling a cart, smiling. Buenos Dias. Animals. The wind. The rain. The sun. And then going to sleep your mind is clear. Completely clear. And you don't think about what your going to do tomorrow. Or reflect on everything that needs to be said or unsaid. To be fixed or not fixed. Your list and how you are going to tackle it. Everything that tumbles around in your head like in a dryer every night. You don't have that on the bike, on The Ride and then one day it's just over. We have come back to "reality" and "reality" is where there is noise, and there is traffic, and there is chaos, and there is bills, and there is work, and there is lots of stress. And I lie awake at night thinking about how much of this stress I have created.
I sat in traffic one day and just began crying from the stress. My stress has been for genuine reasons, running from a bear, dodging traffic on a bike to get through a city, but not this. This stress was overwhelming and it surprised me. Was I really once here? Where it felt normal sitting in traffic, always checking my cell phone, running from place to place, always speaking or being spoken to. What happened to silence? Just listening to the wind? I miss the wind.
As busy as we have been, we have had some play time. Our friends Ryan and Lydia (biked Baja Mexico with us) came for a few days to visit us and we hit up a Critical Mass Bend ride together. Our buddy Marc has drug us out of our dungeon to come out to play. Robin and I went kayaking for an evening and even squeezed in a hike one day. Our little friend Torin did Cupping on our backs to help us heal from The Ride and work. And we walk down to our local coffee shop almost every morning to see our good friend Saracha who is always has a big smile and hug to kick off our day. One of the members of our neighboring art studio, Kinker, decided one morning to paint our beloved work-in-progress and left it for us on our porch. And we continue to make time for speaking engagements at a bunch of the local schools. After so many people took care of us, watched out for us, took us in, and so much good came out of our ride, it's our way to give back. We both feel that it is really important. After so much negativity in news, media, online it feels as if everything out there is overwhelming and scary and we know that is so far from the reality in the world. We know that sharing our story will spread the positive and inspire others. We always leave time for questions and it has, by far, been the best part. How curious kids are! We recommend NOT doing a two year bicycle journey, but ask what their goals and dreams are. Where would they like to go?
For a few weeks in a row, we were asked to join a handful of Mountain View High School students every Friday morning at 6am to bike up the local Pilot Butte in town and it has been inspiring to see so many teens commit to do this every week. That was NOT me. We had a community presentation at one of the high schools and we were excited to see so many came to hear our stories and share in the finish of our ride. We packed in a big bar-b-que and bowling party for Ville's birthday, and it was a huge hit! I mean, who doesn't love to Kingpin every now and again? And Ville has a flare for throwing, flinging really, the ball down the lane as if he is having a seizure and somehow manages to strike about every ball. Don't go bowl with Ville unless you want to demolish your self esteem. It was a heck of a good time with great friends!
And now Ville is gone, I drove him to Portland on Monday, where he flew back to Finland for five weeks to spend time with family and friends. At least the toilet seat will never get left up, but it has been two whole years solidly together and an adjustment being apart. I was fortunate enough to have my parents, our friend Robin and my brother come and see us on the journey, as well as a few stops in Bend along the ride, but Ville has not seen anyone from Finland in over two years! And it's been really hard on him. Missing family and friends is our biggest struggle on our adventures. So he has gone back to enjoy time with everyone and once we sell our house and shift our finances, maybe we can both go. Until then, back in the pile.
Along with being a professional house re-modeler, I am also back working as a Real Estate Broker. And as busy on the house as I have been, I have managed to stay busy helping to sell homes and trying to help friends buy. Before I left on The Ride, I was able to help a bunch of great friends get into their first homes. As the market has climbed, I have returned to a more challenging market to continue to help friends buy in, but nonetheless, there are still deals to be found and I enjoy helping friends find them. And after using only my legs for two years, it's fun to get back in the game using my brain :)
Oh, and Following My Wife 2 (the second half of our ride) is now complete and ready to view and share! Sign up for our Newsletter and I'll send you the link. Otherwise, you need to wait until my Scandinavian Stallion gets back to share it with you here on our blog. Thank you all for following along. I hope to have the much awaited and highly anticipated "Before and After" pics of our house! So until next time, keep on keepin' on ya'll...
My husband, Ville, and I, Kristen, just completed a bicycle journey lasting 20 months and over 18,215 miles. We flew with bikes up to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska (the northernmost point of the Americas with a road) June 25, 2016 and rode into Bahia Lapataia, Argentina (the very end of the road) Feb. 17, 2018. We had everything from close encounters with bears, dog attacks, a bought with dengue fever, and more wild adventures! We biked from 300 ft up to over 16,000 ft crossing the Andes 6 times in Peru alone. And we are back! Ready to share our stories and harrowing tales with you. Please join us May 23rd at Mountain View High School Auditorium in beautiful Bend, Oregon, doors at 6pm show at 6:30pm. Free admission, donations gladly accepted. Please help us to get the word out and bring friends. See you there!
Ville went to the doctor for his check-up and blood work and because his pulse was so low, he passed out. They sat him in the waiting room and he doesn't remember walking out. He doesn't remember walking across town home and "came to" a few blocks from our house as cars were honking at him for being in the middle of the street...
Hey there everyone! Thanks for your patience, I know it took us a while to get to an update, but we have been busier than biking the Americas. Last update, Ville and I were in Portland, having taken the train from Los Angeles straight there because we wanted to catch up with family before the chaos ensued in Bend. Words can't describe how good it feels to be reunited with your entire family after so much time apart. When Ville and I were riding, as we moved south and further and further from everyone, we always made sure to call home and check in with our families. To hear the sounds of their voices and to see their faces on a cell phone screen, was a needed reprieve from the constant revolving door of new faces. To finally hug each other in person and kiss faces, after waiting so long to do it, was the best feeling.
My sister, her husband, and their young son live south of Portland and my brother lives in the city. So for the weekend, my mom and dad (whom were on the second half of the cruise with us along with my brother), drove from Bend to Portland to install a door my dad built at my sister's house and spend family time all together. Grund klan unite! And after a busy weekend of family time, mom and dad drove us the 3 hours back home to Bend, Oregon. Unfortunately for us, the first thing we did on re-entry into Bend was head straight to a County Meeting on the Preservation of a 3 mile Stretch of Canal in Bend (of which is a political mess and has put my poor parents and their neighbors in the middle of). If you want more information about the canal preservation debate, check out this site : http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/NATREG/Pages/Central-Oregon-Canal-Historic-District.aspx. After spending two years traveling the world to see historical places, with a love and appreciation for preserving our history while building our future, and being a native of a city that plows straight forward to the future barely glancing back to the past, I felt it important to be there and speak up for the preservation of a piece of canal from the piping of all the canals in Bend.
The re-entry for Ville and I in Bend has been a roller coaster. Elated to be back, full circle from where our bicycle journey began, to the place I am from, and the place we have a home together. To see our friends again, those whom we left so long ago riding south, has been the best part of it all. On our first night back in our house, our buddy Marc stopped by for a beer by the fire, our neighbor Pat saw our front room lit and headed over with beers, and our other neighbor Paul skidded into the driveway sideways and smothered us in hugs. It felt so great to be back and so nice to be missed by everyone.
We had rented our house to friends, Zoltan and Kristi, and their two kids to be able to fund our ride, and we are extremely grateful to them for taking care of our home and making our journey possible. Thanks in part to Bend continually making the "most desirable places to live" list, the buying and renting market has skyrocketed and for our return, our friends struggled to find an affordable place to live and understandably had to move out a month and a half early leaving us in a rough spot financially coming back broke off a bike tour. To top things off, our health has really been a struggle coming off the ride
On our return, we both had a laundry list of ailments. Most of them expected from someone who lives on a bicycle seat living in "fight-or-flight" mode for 8 hours of almost every day for 2 years. And after a forced trip to the doctor (thanks mom for financially helping us to go), we are told to rest and take it easy with an expected full recovery to take up to a year! And are we resting? Hell no. We walked straight back into the Money Pit house. Ville and I had bought this little diamond buried deep in rough over 4 years ago and then spent over a solid year gutting it down to studs and trying to make it livable. All 2,000 square feet of fun. And after spending all waking moments of time not working jobs, we were living in our continual remodel. And did we have our very own 40 man crew like HGTV? I wish! Nope. Us. With a little help from Dad and Zoltan. After the year, we couldn't take it anymore, and pulled the plug, rented it to our friends and went to ride bikes. For 2 whole glories years.
And after the honeymoon was over, and we rolled in the door to our old home, dropped bags and bikes, reality set in that our house is still unfinished. And the memory of why we left this remodel project house has beyond crept back in. Like crept in and drove over the top of us and reversed back over us. My absolutely incredible parents, rolled up their sleeves and have been at our house every single morning until past dark every single day to dig in and help us get the house finished. Repainting the entire house, drywalling walls, redoing the kitchen, adding a full bath, etc. etc. We took a "break" for a weekend and drove to my Uncle John's 75th Birthday Party in Medford, Oregon to see more family and get away from the house. So prescribed rest, not quite.
Ville went to the doctor for his check-up and blood work and because his pulse was so low, he passed out. They sat him in the waiting room and he doesn't remember walking out. He doesn't remember walking across town home and "came to" a few blocks from our house as cars were honking at him for being in the middle of the street. Once home, he was painting with my mom, and passed out again on the floor. My poor mom called the doctor and the doc was upset he had left and demanded he immediately crawl into bed and actually rest. We are both planning rest in a few weeks when our house is finished.
After two years spent traveling on bikes together living a very simplistic way of life, we both feel we want to continue this way of life until we don't want to anymore. Adventuring, traveling, meeting people from all over the world and finishing our book. Not ever knowing what is in one's future, the time to do this is now. Although living on a shoe string while on our ride allowed for experiences we would never have had otherwise, we have decided to sell our house to free up some funds that will allow us to pursue these dreams. So we have chosen to dig into the house, so that once it sells, we can then rest. Rest, finish the book, and Ville can finally go back to Finland. My parents came to see us in Peru and then again with my brother at the end of the ride, but Ville has not seen any of his friends or family in over 2 years since before beginning our ride. And it has been really, really rough on him. So he needs to be able to go.
Last week, Ville and I were brought back to Mountain View High School (my old high school), to give a presentation to a large group of the Freshmen class there. At the mid-way point of our ride (a year ago), when we flew back to Bend from Costa Rica, we had given a handful of talks for the then Freshmen and Seniors and they asked us to come back at the end of the ride. As promised, we went back to speak, again this morning and will be heading back there bright-eyed and bushy-tailed to speak tomorrow morning. Giving back and inspiring others is incredibly important to us, and even though we are consumed by the house right now and suppose to be resting, we will make time for the kids. We were also in the Bend Bulletin and have been contacted by the Central Oregon Community College and the Library to come speak as well. It feels good to be able to share our story, and even better when we are told how it inspires someone in someway.
Last weekend we had a Welcome Home Potluck at our house and it was great to see heaps of friends and family again. Our fantastic neighbors, Matt and Mo, helped us to put it on and we jammed with instruments late into the night and wee hours of morning around the fire pit in the back yard. Felt great to be surrounded by friends and family. Feel bad that being buried in our house every day has not allowed us to follow up with anyone, but we know that it soon will be over and we can relax with friends. Well, gotta get to bed. Burning the midnight oil and we have a presentation tomorrow at the crack of dawn. Until next time friends, keep on keepin' on...
BIG "Thank You" to Mark at The Bulletin for writing such a great article on our bike ride! Mark met with us to write an article at the very beginning before we even started the ride, when we stopped through Bend, at the half-way point and now at the bitter end. Will post the other articles soon, but get the latest here:
It took 2 different buses and over two and a half hours to go about 25 miles (we could have biked it faster), but we saw and met some real characters. A man walking down the street with a hospital gown flapping open, complete with a shower cap on his head...
Ville and I feel as if we are on the Whirlwind Tour, trying to see everyone and celebrate a return after such a crazy adventure. And although Ville likes to say that we are "between jobs right now," with no set time that we need to be back in Bend, we do need to get back somewhat soon. When we left Bend, on a plane with our tour bikes boxed up, heading for Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in June 2016, we were giddy with excitement over the adventure ahead of us. With no experience whatsoever, and only about 10 miles up the road put on the bikes to make sure nothing fell off, we were as Newbie as it gets. I had changed a bike tire back in the day, but had no idea even about basic bicycle maintenance. With well built bikes, a compact travel tool in hand and over 18,200 miles to go, we would have a lot of time to learn. And learn we sure did! We kissed family and friends goodbye, and knew we would see them in a few months time (riding south through Oregon), so not goodbye for too long.
After about two and a half months ride south, we were back in Portland and Bend for a brief stop to enjoy time with everyone. But then riding away from my Sister's House in the south of Portland, Oregon, we knew it would be the last time we would see her, her husband, and my little nephew until we were finished with the ride, over a year away. Knowing the time apart would be long, was always the hardest part of our adventuring. As we continued south through Los Angeles and Orange Country, California, we packed in visits with as much family as they could tolerate of us. My Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve took us straight down to my Uncle's favorite bicycle shop, and had them completely overhaul the bikes. We got new cables, rotors, brake pads, chains, cassettes, chainrings and even a new pair of bike shoes. We could never have afforded more than only replacing chains and know that the bikes only made the entire journey thanks to their kindness. We are forever grateful to them and so many others like them who have helped us on our journey!
And so the return to Los Angeles and Orange County after finishing our ride in Ushuaia (but really Lapataia Bay), was not only long awaited visits with family and friends, it was to celebrate the completion of our ride with all those who helped us south along the way. With my Mom, Dad and Brother, Jordan, we went straight from the Princess Cruise Ship to Laguna Beach to stay with my Aunt Terri, Uncle Tom and cousin Sara where they had a giant get-together for Easter with all my cousins and their kids. Our family being as close as the mafia, almost all of them had followed our journey and many contributed in donations, meals and places to stay on our ride south. It was a giant hug fest and great time to catch up.
After Jordan and my parents flew home, we got a ride up to Whittier and stayed a night getting to hang out with my cousin Shannon, husband Kurt, and their kids. I'm not sure even all the riding has gotten us in enough shape to chase around three young kids :) But we had a great time just spending the time together. We got a ride to Long Beach and took a bus, that's right folks, a bus, to my cousin GK's house. Now the bus system isn't great, it actually isn't even good in these parts, but boy was it entertaining! It took 2 different buses and over two and a half hours to go about 25 miles (we could have biked it faster), but we saw and met some real characters. A man walking down the street with a hospital gown flapping open, complete with a shower cap on his head. A woman got on the bus and sat in front of us yelling and babbling something about skateboarding sitting with a woman with her face completely bandaged up. A man got on with a giant boombox and was nice enough to share his tunes with the whole bus. Oh boy! It was almost more of an adventure than our bike ride.
We had dinner with cousin GK, Manon, Parker and Alexis. They were far more upset at us taking a bus than we were. We made it to Dave and Buster's, a giant adult arcade with my cousin Sara and her boyfriend, Scott and had a killer time being big children. We had lunch with cousins, Mike, Chip and wife Nicole in Newport Beach and enjoyed catching up on lost time. From there, we made our way by train up to Montrose in LA to spend a night with a great buddy and old roommate of mine from the days I lived in San Francisco, Dani. Even after all the years and time apart, we still take over right where we left off. Thanks Dani again for the ride all the way to Tustin, life in LA on the freeways is way more crazy than our lives on the road :) We made our way back to Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve's place and went for a ride (our first since the end of our long Ride) in Irvine. Uncle Steve is recently recovering from his second bought with cancer, having parts of his lungs removed, and still insisted we head out for a ride. Now that guy is OUR hero! My Aunt Lori took a day off work to take us to lunch and replace our shoes that were completely falling apart on our feet. Big thank you to all our loving family, oh we missed you all so!
The next morning early, we got a ride from Aunt Lori to the Tustin Train Station and caught a train, with the help of two guys heading for the train to help us carry our boxed bikes. When we arrived in Union Station, we had to haul our boxes and gear down the tracks to the next Amtrak Train heading for Portland, Oregon. A journey that would take 30 hours! And after it took over a month and a half to bike, 30 hours was nothing. Unfortunately, for me, I had yet another horrible migraine and a series of bloody noses for the entire journey and it wasn't quite as fun as I had hoped. I've struggled a lot with these; before, during and now even more so after the ride and will be following up with my doctor to "work out the kinks" that arise after nearly two years on a bike.
For anyone considering taking the Amtrak Coast Starlight, heading between LA and Seattle, WA, it is a very scenic and pleasant ride. It winds right along the coastline from LA to just south of Big Sur, before jogging inland and winding through lush pastureland littered with farms and cows. When we were chugging through a tunnel, all of a sudden they hit the brakes and screeched to a halt just outside the tunnel. As we watched a cop car come flying up through a field near the train, then followed by an ambulance, fire truck and multiple other cop cars, they announced that they thought that they had hit someone in the tunnel and were trying to get help. After feeling terrible for such a horrible thing to happen to someone, the entire train sighed with relief when they announced that they didn't find anything and we were cleared to leave. Very thankful it ended well.
We opted for the cheapest seats and so sleeping was a bit of a challenge (along with a migraine), but by morning, as the sun broke through the windows, we saw Mt. Shasta, in Northern California towering above us dusted with snow. It brought a big smile to our faces to be back near the mountains and on our way back to Oregon. As we watched the "Welcome to Oregon" sign pass, we were hugging each other with excitement. We passed into a high desert landscape covered in ponderosa pine trees and sagebrush as we stopped just south of Bend on Highway 97 at Chemult. Originally we planned to get off here and have my parents pick us up, but since we had not seen my sister, her husband and our nephew in so long, we wanted to go first all the way up to Portland to see them. The remainder of the ride turned very green and wet as we climbed back over the Cascade Mountains into the valley stopping in Eugene, Salem, and finally pulling into Union Station in Portland.
We had met a very nice man, Gary, on the train who lived right near my sister's house in Tualatin and was kind enough to have his partner, Pat, bring their truck to give us, along with our giant bike boxes and gear, a ride to my sister's house. Thanks again so much for the ride! We made it to my sister's house just as she (Lisa) , her husband (Sean) , my little nephew (Braydon) and my brother, Jordan, pulled into the driveway. And after all this time, we were finally all reunited! Leaving little Braydon as a baby was difficult knowing we would miss a lot of time with him as we headed south on our ride, but getting to see him after all this time as a big two and a half year old was really special. He was so excited showing us all his toys, talking a mile a minute, and then all of sudden hugged Ville's hand and said, "I'm really happy your here Uncle Ville." It made me cry it was so precious. Missed time is hard, but knowing how precious time is, is a blessing.
We are very happy now to be reunited with family. We are planning to stay until Monday, the 16th, here in Portland. We have a lot of time to catch up on. My parents just arrived from Bend this evening and we all get to be together. Life is good. Monday, we will be getting a ride back to Bend from my parents and, well, complete the circle. The entire journey, from start to end. What an adventure. Thanks again all for following along. Thanks for those who have written us, signed up for the Newsletter, helped us and continue to stay connected. For those who have requested, We Lost The Map T-Shirts are on the way and will be right here on our website, very soon!
For Bend Friends and those who will travel, we are planning a big Welcome Home Cinco De Mayo Party, right at our house in Bend! Mark your calendars, May 5th, details to follow. As for our Bend Presentation, the planning is in the works, stay tuned for date/time/place. Bend-LaPine Schools, get ready, we will be making the rounds for presentations when we arrive home and the final video is complete (Ville is working on it as we speak). Alright, that's all for now, until next time, keep on keepin' on...
If you want to know about where to view the final video of the ride when it is finished, be the first to know when our book is out, or get occasional updates, we recommend signing up for our NEWSLETTER and/or check back.
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! email@example.com. 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 Buenos Aires, Argentina 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