My Grandpa once said, “the grass doesn’t grow under your feet” and he knew us all too well. This last couple of months was proof of that. We crammed in so many things my head is still spinning.
In mid-September, Ville FINALLY received his U.S. Citizenship! It took ten years of paperwork, fees, fingerprints, rentna scans, questioning, appearing, more paperwork, getting flagged, searched, more fees, more paperwork, a test most U.S. Citizens would fail, meeting criteria, another test, more paperwork and then an oath ceremony, but he did it. Just in time for us to leave for our next adventure.
Mid-October we rode the train from Portland, Oregon to Tustin, California in Orange County to visit my Aunt Lori and Uncle Steve. My Uncle is a cancer survivor and avid cyclist, and we ride the number of miles for his age on his birthday each year together. This year he turned seventy-six. My Aunt Lori joined the party for two additional rides. We also had a visit with my cousin Shannon, her husband, Kirk, their kiddos, my cousin Sara, Chip, his wife Nicole and their kiddos. It was great to spend some time with family!
When we returned, we spent a week in Bend volunteering at Mountain View High School (my old school) to speak with the Freshmen Foundations Classes. After recently losing a student and coming out of multiple years of lockdowns, the moral was low, so it felt more important now than ever to share our story. A few students signed our bike bags to come along on the adventure. Thank you MVHS for having us, we hope our message resonates and inspires you to live your passion.
Speaking of living your passion, it was time for Ville and I to get back to ours, traveling. We packed up, sold things, cleaned, said our goodbyes and moved into a storage unit. At the same time, we packed up our bikes and gear and flew to Auckland, New Zealand, with a plan to ride from the top to the bottom of the country. It's time to get back in the saddle!
We spent a couple days in Auckland (north island) before taking a bus up to Pukenui in the north part of the island, where our friends, Warren and Glenys live. We met them while traveling home from Ushuaia after completing our long bike ride from Alaska in 2018. They welcomed us into their beach house for a night and then showed us around the area for a few days. Ville, now a "Kiwi Bloke" made a new friend, Shorty, a pudgy, old paint horse he considered trading his bike for. In the end, Shorty preferred the barn to life on the road so Ville is still on his bike.
Before we left, we spent a day at Pukenui School where we did two presentations for the elementary and middle school kids. We had a great time and the kids were a fantastic audience. We added more names to our bags and were ready to set off. Warren and Glenys gave us a ride up to Cape Reinga, we took pictures at the Lighthouse, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Tasman Sea and set off!
From Cape Reinga, we rode south and west to the beach. There we rode fifty-miles on the 90 Mile Beach to Ahipara. While we were riding we passed hikers (hiking the Te Araroa Trail), cars and even spotted a wild horse missing his herd. He was walking away from us, then hearing us, turned and ran towards us thinking we were his herd, stopped, then ran when he realized we were not. We named him Black Beauty. We camped at Ahipara Holiday Park and continued inland, climbing and descending steep hills on out-of-shape legs and butts, but with spectacular views! When it's not raining. After all, it is spring.
We spent a night at The Tree House in Kohukohu and took the ferry to Rawene crossing Hokianga Bay. From there, we rode lots more ups and downs to Opononi where we now sit in a motel, waiting out a thunderstorm before we continue towards Dargaville. While here, we took a tour to the Waipoua Kauri Forest with a Mauri guide named Billy Boy and it was a really emotional experience to see the two largest Kauri trees in the world, in the 2% of rainforest that remains in New Zealand.
Tomorrow we plan to keep trucking. We'll do our best to keep you updated, however, the WiFi has been spotty at best, so bear with us. You can follow us on all the socials: Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok. We would love to hear from you, comment, email us or give us a call on WhatsApp. Thanks for your continued love and support! Until next time, keep on keeping' on ya'll...
K.G. & Ville
In New Zealand on bikes.
“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