Today marks one year on the road! We can’t believe that we are still on our bikes and traveling from Patagonia to Portland. Europe seems so long ago.
We’ve come a long way from plunking down in the Oslo Airport without a map, pedaling off blindly in a new city. After one year on the road, we feel strong in the saddle, cozy in our tent, and more confident in ourselves and in our abilities. Since leaving, we’ve pedaled some 10,000 kilometers, become vegans, made new friends from all over, and have befriended countless street animals.
This journey has undoubtedly changed us – both in the ways in which we perceive ourselves and how we view the world around us. We can firmly state that this journey has provided the greatest education we could recieve, offered the most humbling experiences with people, and taught us a whole lot about how the world works.
Below, we each offer some thoughts on our new perspective after a year of travel by bicycle.
First and foremost, we have learned that roosters do not actually begin to crow at dawn. Like a knackered cat ready for his breakfast meow, the roosters begin around 4am. And when one sounds, they all chime in, amplifying with each successive round.
We’ve also learned that dogs bark. A lot. All night long. What are they barking at? Shadows? Cats? We have no idea.
I’ve learned to tolerate earplugs.
In all seriousness…
Who Needs a “Career?”
We’re so ingrained to think that we need to do x, y, and z (read: go to school, get a job, get married, buy a house, have kids). Imagine if we all followed that same exact path. How boring would life on Earth be?
I’ve since learned that I don’t want to work myself to the top of some company, trading my time for a large paycheck. I value my time far more than I value money. It’s perfectly fine to work in something that interests me for a short while and then move on to something else. Or to seek out a short stint that will earn me some money so that I can keep on doing what is it that I love to do.
We’re so worried about the future, but the reality is that we need to be more mindful of the present.
Yes, We Can Trust Strangers
The world is filled with wonderful people. Really wonderful people. We’ve experienced several instances where we arrive in a town as dusk approaches, yet have nowhere to stay, so we start knocking on doors, asking if we can camp in a stranger’s yard.
Not once have we had to pitch our tent in the yard. They always invite us to sleep on their covered patio, their (very clean and cozy) shed, or often, in their homes, with their families. We’ve shared meals and drinks with complete strangers, and leave the following morning as friends. Often we don’t even speak the same language, but use translators and charades in order to communicate. These have been some of our most rewarding and memorable experiences.
Asking for help is hard. I hate knocking on the doors of strangers and requesting that we pitch our tent in their yard. Even stopping to ask for water can be a daunting experience, but when we require a basic need, we just have to step up and ask.
It’s OK to Hitch a Ride
We’ve thrown in the towel on days in Patagonia and flagged down cars, asking for a lift. We were exhausted and sick of the wind. We took a train in Denmark because was suffering from severe knee pain. It felt like quitting, like we weren’t completing our mission, but we were miserable, and you know what? We’re still cycle tourists.
I’d Rather Go Outside
That’s right, the nervous pooper, the girl who had never shat outside before this trip would rather pop a squat in the woods or a hidden spot on the side of the road than use a nasty bathroom to do her business. Pooping outside? It’s not so bad. My only qualm is that when I walk away from a group with a roll of toilet paper, it means everyone knows where I’m off to…
In order to explore and find my inner self, I needed to detach from the modern world. That equates no sitting at a desk, no TV, no place to call home, and not even having a phone number. Just my adventure exploring the world. All the noise, self pressure, and system-aligned values that define success create a toxic environment that limited my ability to see who I really am. As it turns out, I really like dogs, cookies, and have little patience for loud babies.
Roll with the Punches
I learned early on that we have to be flexible with our plans. We never know when we will miss a turn, get invited into a house, or the clouds will darken and pour rain. If I am rigid in my plans, then my expectations will be missed when plans change. And they will change.
Love today, not tomorrow
The foundation for our adventure was paved in knowing that life is just too short. My gratitude for life was recently reinforced when fellow cyclist suffered a bike accident. He has no recollection of the event and woke up in a Chilean hospital with broken ribs, a fractured collarbone, and some lung damage, and little ability to communicate. We’ve had to stop our journey to assist and support our fallen comrade. This has been a great reminder that there are no guarantees in life. Appreciate and love what you have because it can go away in the blink of an eye.
After countless days of adversity, I have built an ability to be tough, really fucking tough. Heavy rain? No sweat! A 15-hour day of pushing your bike up a hill? I got this! Oh, your dog has cancer, again? Ok, fine, let’s get to the closest “big” city and schedule a surgery. Adventure and exploring has given me the strength to know I can tackle almost any situation, no matter how physically or mentally demanding.
We Don’t Need More Stuff
Jen, Sora, and I live out of our bags and the trailer. We carry our entire lives with us everywhere we go. The more we are nomadic, the more I realize that we don’t need anything else. Sure, we want things, but we do not need them. I am amazed at how much money, time, and energy I spent before our trip on researching and buying things. Things that were unimportant, meaningless, and that just consumed me. Since we have no space in our gear for more things, life is so much simpler and clearer. I love not being a consumer of things, but life.
In Bread I Crust
I LOVE BREAD. Ever since Dogstria, when Daddyz gave me some bread as a quick reward, I’ve become obsessed with the fluffy nomz. I have become a master at sniffing out the good and stealing them right out of the hands of people! They think it’s funny, so I keep doing it!
Pet Me, Love me
People aren’t so scary. Before traveling, I used to be really scared of people petting me. It’s just not my doggie language, you know? Some dogs like to be pet by strangers, but others don’t. I am a convert, however. Now, I let most people approach me, so long as they DON’T STAND OVER ME OR TRY TO PET MY HEAD. Then I growl.
If you come ready with a treat, I’ll really like you.
I’ve met so manyz dogz on this journey, I can’t even count. Probably hundreds. They all live on the street and they’re really nice. I feel bad for them because no one feeds them. They’re alwayz hunting in the trash can (which I kinda wish the humans would allow me to do).
I had some doggie friendz at home, but normally, I don’t really like other dogs. I like to be the dominant one, you know? So I’d pick fights. But now, I see how much fun they are and I play with them all the time. They’re also really young, so that’s howz I dominatez. Boo yah.
I still wanna chase them, but if there is bread present, then I will behave. BUT I STILL WANNA CHASE THEM.
Beg, and Thou Shalt Receive
Way back in Lake Ohrid, Macedognia, my parents would take me to this place called Dr. Falafel. It was unlike any Dogtor I had ever visited because this one threw falafels at me! I’d just put my paws right up at the window or sit and look all adorbs, and then would come the falafel rain!