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Final Blog – After the Trip!

July 28, 2009

As we promised, here is our final blog!

Pat - see, it's only this far!

 

 

 

 

 

 

(PLEASE VIEW OUR TOP 2 PICTURES FROM EACH COUNTRY AT THE END OF THIS BLOG.   ONE PICTURE THAT IS NATURAL BEAUTY AND ONE THAT HAS SOMETHING MADE-MADE IN IT!!! WOW, IT WAS HARD TO CHOOSE!!!)

Sorry our blog is a bit late.  Our lives have been rather hectic, to say the least, since the end of our adventure.  It is amazing how much time and effort goes into jump starting your life after abandoning it for 20 months!

We spent a week in Ushuaia, Argentina after completing our 18,000 mile trip (Wow! We actually did it!  It still hasn’t sunk in!)  celebrating with other biker friends, cleaning bikes and gear and cramming everything into 2 cardboard bike boxes for the flight home!  We flew out of Ushuaia with a stunning backdrop of the snow-capped peaks of Tierra Del Fuego.

Upon landing in the Dallas airport, we were surrounded by a level of cleanliness and efficiency we hadn’t seen in a very long time.  There was even a sign directing you to the bathroom!  And the bathroom was clean – I mean squeaky clean – and the toilets had seats and toilet paper!  Soap in the dispenser! – Cold and hot water in a fully functioning sink!  – paper towels! – and a hand dryer that blew hot air!  Wow!!!!  And – AND – The next bathroom was just as clean and well equipped!  AMAZING!

Another amazing thing about the airport – we could ask a worker for information or directions and they knew the answer!  And – the directions were RIGHT! We could actually get to where we wanted to by following the directions of only ONE person!  Truly amazing!

After landing in Denver we spent several days in Boulder with our daughter Crystal .  We were totally amazed at the hotel where we stayed.  The room was 3 times larger than what we were used to, had a fridge, microwave, large TV, coffee maker, blow dryer, iron – even a table and comfortable chairs, and once again – an amazing bathroom with all fixtures fully functioning, complete with toilet paper, kleenex, soap, shampoo, cream rinse, four bath towels, four hand towels, four wash cloths – and yes, a toilet with a seat!  No begging the hotel receptionist for a roll of TP and yes, please may we have more than one towel!  Most homes in Latin America weren’t this well equipped, let alone a hotel.  Also included in the stay was a full breakfast buffet – and get this – it started at 6AM!!!  It all came at a price though – the room was twice as expensive as in Ushuaia and four to eight times more expensive than South America in general.  But you know what?  We were ok with it – more than OK.  It was fabulous!

Dining out was a pleasant adventure too.  Restaurant employees were courteous, we had an incredible array of tasty dishes to choose from, service was lightning fast, we got served along with all the locals not the last ones in the joint to eat!  No chicken feet in the soup and, to our amazement – all the bathrooms had toilet paper!!!

But what blew our minds the most was when we entered a supermarket.  Before us was isle upon isle filled to the brim with all types of foods.  Not just 1 type of cheese, but 40.  Not 2 brands of energy drinks, but 20!  And a produce counter the length of a city block full of all sorts of fruit and vegetables with not 1 of them moldy or rotting!

Target and REI were equally mind altering, with a vast array of gadgets and not 1 gadget, but 20 different versions of 1 gadget.  Pat was totally overwhelmed with the task of deciding which gadget was best to buy.  Ralph was very happy to have a chance to pick the gadget that best worked for him out of the array of 20 spread out in front of him.

It was great to spend time with Crystal whom we hadn’t seen in 8 long months.  We had lots of catching up to do and it was so much fun wandering around Boulder with her and choosing from the many great restaurants there!  We headed home to the Roaring Fork Valley and Carbondale.  My, how Carbondale has changed.  A bunch of nice new buildings have appeared – and lots more folks commuting around town on bikes – a very pleasant sight.  It was great to also see our other daughter, Alicia and her husband Beck and meet the 2 new additions to the family, Deitz and Micky!  It is a pleasure to be able to be able to pick up the phone whenever we feel like it and call either of our girls for as long as we want.

For the first week we were back in the U.S. it was like the first day of first grade – lots of new things to learn (what’s a touch phone!?! Who put all the stop signs up on Main Street?) But we gradually got moved into what seemed like a beautiful gargantuan house, surrounded by all our “stuff”.  We got rid of a huge amount of household items having decided to simplify and reduce consumption.  After all, we spent 20 months with our entire wardrobes taking up less space than most people’s underwear drawer, so we can certainly do with less stuff than before the trip!

We also have been spending time with our friends, telling them about the trip.  Every time we answer questions about the trip, images flash back into our minds and all of a sudden we are back on our bikes on the trip again.   We are often asked “What was the best part of the trip – the most memorable, if you had to pick one place?  From the stark barren tundra north of the Arctic Circle bathed in perpetual sunlight, to the glacier-capped peaks of southern Alaska and British Columbia full of animals that actually eat you (grizzles – and – don’t forget – mosquitoes!), to the broad mountain valleys and welcoming people of Montana, to spectacular Yellowstone and Teton National Parks of Wyoming, to the majestic peaks of Colorado (and snowstorms), to the summer-like temperatures and friendly town of New Mexico, its hard to pick one spot.

We will never forget the tasty food and beautiful colonial cities of Mexico – nor their narrow, shoulder-less roads crammed with big pickups and crazy drivers.  The colorful chicken buses and colorfully dressed friendly people of Guatemala, the hugely rolling mountain roads of Honduras and the banana-stuffed ferry we took across Lake Nicaragua will always be remembered.

The beautiful contrasts of Costa Rica – from lush, green cloud forests full of colorful Tucans, howler monkeys, exotic hot springs and a spewing volcano to sandy, palm tree-lined beaches on the Pacific coast boasting flocks of huge scarlet mackaws were fantastic to experience.

Riding thru a real live tropical downpour, an interesting and scary wreck for Pat, and a crammed sailboat ride through the San Blas Islands and across the Carribean Sea made Panama very interesting.

Columbia will always stick in our minds as lush, green and full of the friendliest people on the trip – a pleasant surprise for us after all the negative media hype it receives.

The red and black volcanic peaks of Ecuador majestically jutted up a full l mile above the already high 13,000 foot surrounding pampa, their images forever tattooed on our brains.

And of course there’s Peru, whose populous can be best described as the obnoxious, bratty neighbor kid down the block  – always jeering at you, never friendly perpetually immature and obnoxious, filthy, and always an inch from being decked by Ralph with his 4 foot stick he carried throughout the country.  We must admit though – Peru also had some spectacular scenery.  It was there that we rode our bikes to a dizzying altitude a full 2000 feet higher than those Colorado 14ers everyone scramble up (remember – with a 100 lb bike – Ralph won’t forget!)  The Cordierra Blanca and Macchupichu were mind blowing.

From the high alti-plano ( the lowest elevation we biked to in Bolivia was the elevation of Vail pass!), to the sparsely-inhabited-by poverty–stricken-farmers in tiny-dusty-brown-adobe villages, landscapes to the unworldly salt flats and spectacular colored lakes, Bolivia was very unique.

Northern Argentina was toxically hot and extremely boring, but we probably won’t be able to pry it from our memory.  It started to really get pretty in the lake district.  We’ll never forget the fine wine, food, and hospitality in all of Argentina.

Southern Chile was fantastic, from the deserted and naturally gorgeous Carratera Austral full of lava lamp turquoise colored rivers and lakes, to the unbelievably spectacular peaks of the Torres del Paine.

Southern Argentina boasted the extremely jagged Fitz Roy range along with the fast moving, brilliantly white and blue Moreno Glacier.

We will never forget all the interesting people we met and friends we made throughout our epic journey.  They made it that much more exciting, rewarding and unforgettable.

So to answer the question – The whole thing – the entire trip was amazing.  And sometimes it’s hard to believe we actually did it.  We sometimes stare at the globe and say,“Damn!   We    did    it  !!!

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3 comments

  1. Hey, you two…
    I sure hope you’ll tell me if you decide to take this off the website. we’re going to AZ for 3 months, leaving the 10th of Dec. and I’m so looking forward to sitting and reading this WHOLE blog, from beginning in Alaska to South America. so PLEASE tell me if there’s a way i can copy it into another program, so i can read it at my leisure!!
    hope you’re both well, and stay well this winter! I’ll be thinking of you in Carbondale!!
    God bless…Rita Jane


    • Hi, We do not intend to take this site down. Our daughter is working on a new website that will connect to this one and should be up and running in the new year – we’ll keep you posted.
      Soak up some sun for us too!
      Pat


  2. Hi Andrew and Joanne,

    Just found your post. We are a little slow these days at looking at the blog since we are no longer on the trip.
    What adventures have you done lately? We have one planned this coming summer in and around the mountains here in our very beautiful state of Colorado.
    Hope the New Year finds you both happy and healthy and getting out on those bikes!
    Pat & Ralph



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