Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Year of Biking and Backpacking: Stats, Superlatives, a Quiz, andThoughts


Alaska to...

- Miles biked: 10,865 (roughly... our odometers broke/died)
- Countries biked in: 9
- Bird species seen: 376
On a  ferry from Monterrica to La Avellana,
- National Parks experienced: 19
- Time zones traversed: 5
- Boat rides taken, including dinghys to and from larger boats: 18
- Trucks ridden in (with or without bikes): 10 
- Highest elevation achieved on foot: 15,800 feet, El Pulpito, El Cocuy National Park, Colombia
- Highest elevation biked: 13,100 feet, El Cocuy, Colombia
- Highest elevation camped at: 14,970 feet, El Cocuy, Colombia
- Longest time spent in one place: 4 weeks, High Trails, California
- Number of bike shops visited: 57

- Biggest unexpected bike problem: The steel eyelet that my (Tam's) rack was attached to broke off in California. Didn't think that my steel frame would break. 
- Weirdest food eaten: roadkill moose, Fairbanks, AK
- Favorite food eaten (in terms of quality and quantity): pupusas, El Salvador or fish tacos, Baja California
- Strangest plant observed: boojum trees, Baja California
- Favorite/most helpful bike shop: C.O.B., Smithers, British Columbia, Canada
- Worst big city for biking: Panama City, Panama (although, they are developing a nice path along the coast) 
- Biggest cultural difference everywhere: being vegetarian 
- Favorite national park (although it's hard to pick): Denali, Alaska

A grizzly fishing in southern Alaska
Annual Blog Update Quiz, courtesy of Tam's dad, Michel:
Which is greater:
1) Miles travelled by bus or miles travelled over water? 
2) Number of flat tires or days of rest? 
3) New bird species seen in North America or Central and South America? 
4) Number of crocodiles seen or bears seen?
Check back in about a week for the answers!

Thoughts by Danny
This past year, Tam and I have done some things.  We have swum in glacial Arctic rivers, explored submerged shipwrecks in the languid Caribbean, and surfed the barrels of the El Salvador coast (attempted to, anyway).  We have been caving in California, packrafting in Alaska, and birdwatching in Costa Rica.  We have eaten salmon fresh from the Yukon and drunk tequila in the town of Tequila.  This past year of travel, so unlike anything we have done before, has been a whirlwind of color, music, culture, activity, people, and experience, almost all of it entirely novel and utterly, ineffably incredible.  The people especially, from day one in Alaska and every single day since, have surprised, inspired, and educated us more than I could have imagined, and receiving such kindness has filled our own growing hearts with the hope of passing it on. 
With many new friends in Chiapas, Mexico, on Tam's birthday

Accompanying such positivity has been a conspicuous absence of negativity.  Although someone in every country we've been to has told us horrible things about the next, so far we've had no security issues at all.  Some rumors are based in truth, but the vast majority of what we have heard has been little more than schoolyard whisperings, their augmentation and distortion stemming from ignorance and fear of the unknown.  We all have dreams, we all need a human connection, and we are all more similar than we know.  Were someone to rob us tomorrow, one thing they wouldn't be able to take is my firm belief in the good of humanity.  One negative experience, or even multiple, could never overshadow all the laughter we've shared.

With all that we've done, there is also plenty that we have missed out on.  A prestigious job, processed foods, TV, a fancy car... living outside a culture that pushes us inexorably towards these things has been self-affirming and liberating.  And while I plan to further my education and accomplish something, someday, in the working world, right now I have a whole lot to be thankful for.  An abundance of food and health, a loving partner and family, and the fortune and clarity to follow the road we choose are a pretty good place to start, not to mention my trusty bicycle and a pair of well-made shorts.  

A large portion of this next year will be more of the same, if you can consider experiencing new places and meeting new people every day "more of the same."  We've just discovered the Andes, and, though we still plan to reach Patagonia, we've resolved to slow down and take more back roads, enjoying and learning as much as we can.  

A huge thanks is due to our parents, grandparents, and everyone who has supported and encouraged us along the way!  We wouldn't be able to do this without you. 
Yosemite Valley.  Goodnight for now...

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on reaching the one year anniversary of this incredible journey. We are incredibly proud of your passion, resoluteness, endurance and conviviality.
    To all of those you have encountered, please accept our thank you, for your generosity of heart, time and support. We hope somehow in this interconnected world, we will find a way of embracing you with our kindness.
A todos los que se ha encontrado, por favor acepten nuestra agradecimiento, por su generosidad de corazón, tiempo y apoyo Esperamos alguna manera en este mundo interconectado, vamos a encontrar una manera de que te abraza con nuestra bondad

    Andie and Michel Perreault

    Now, onto the Quiz! (Don’t read further if you are working on your own answers!)

    While I may have suggested some of these questions, it does not imply I knew the answers. I did think however that they were all pretty close. Here are my guesstimates:

    Bird Species:
    From the annual update total bird species seen=376
    Crossing into Central America, was done March 7, after 9 months
    From the 9 months update bird species = 233; so North America Wins with 233 over Central/South with 143, I would expect the South will be picking up the pace shortly! And eventually overtake the North!. (We live in Southern Georgia now ☺)

    More of a challenge, 3 month blog update: Bears seen 23. At that point they are in Idaho heading to Oregon, clearly still in Bear country, but I’m guessing sightings became a bit scarcer. So I’m adding 7 for these states for a total of 30.
    Crocodiles first mentioned on January 28, in the San Blas estuary tour in Mazatlán, “The tour took us to a crocodile hatchery and zoo, where we got to know jaguars, an ocelot, and a lot of crocodiles”
    Crocodiles reappear in the long up and down ride to the ocean in Costa Rica, crossing a river “after crossing a bridge and counting over 30 crocodiles in the river below. I'll be doing all my swimming in salt water from now on.” So 30 plus a lot of, beats my estimate of 30 bears. Crocs win!

    Water travel/Bus Travel
    I count 3 significant water travels; in Mexico, Baja Sud to Mainland (100 miles), the somewhat wacky crossing from El Salvador to Nicaragua (15 miles) and the Caribbean trip from Panama to Columbia (170 miles). Total estimate of water travel = 285 Miles
    Bus travel has been more as events unfolded and required the use of this alternative to biking, usually for short hops. Two bigger treks, one to get into Mexico City from San Juan del Rio (100 miles) and the trek thought Panama to avoid the road construction. “have decided to take a bus from David to Santiago because several other cyclists that we met on the road and recent blogs have informed us of the awful and dangerous 200km long construction zone between these two places.”
    I guess these two at a total 260 Miles. I add some miscellaneous hops here and there of an extra 40 miles. So total bus 300 miles. Bus ekes out a win over Water!

    Flat Tires/Days of Rest?
    A peculiar comparison, but inquiring minds need to know!
    From the monthly updates: after 5 months Flat Tires 11, extrapolating to 12 months gives me an initial estimate of 26. However knowing road conditions have worsened over the course of the year, I double the monthly rate of 2 by a factor of 3 for the last 5 months, so an extra 20, for a total of 46 flat tires.
    I count Days of Rest, not to include the time in Los Angeles working to refurbish funds nor the time in La Paz spent at school for Tam and in the goat fields for Danny. So if I take these 6 weeks out of the year and put an average of 1 rest day per week, it gives me 52-6=46 rest days! All square!