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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!
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