This tough but extremely rewarding route took us through the first hundred kilometers of the typical lagunas route (past Laguna verde) before taking us away from the main jeep route and onto a much less used beautiful jeep track which led us up and over multiple 4,700m+ high passes. This was my favorite route in Bolivia (and one of my favorites in all of the world), and I would highly suggest it to anyone up for a bit of a challenge!
This last year will be remembered by Kevin and I as a year of high highs – from cycling through Patagonia with friends to pushing our bikes up and down rough roads in the Andes – but also, one of incredibly low lows – like when ending our trip early became a reality and I cried for nights on end. 2015 was the year of South America, and all of the wonderful adventures it held, but also, 2015 was the year we began to adjust our thinking from what’s most fun in the moment, to how to accomplish long term goals. It’s been a divided year; a year in which we spent the first six months living in a tent, and the latter half living in an apartment. A year where we had complete freedom for part, and jobs, appointements, and commitments for the rest. A year where we lived in nature, and then a year where we were stuck indoors. This last year has also been the year we lived near family, the year Kevin and I solidified our relationship both on and off the bike, and the year we began to figure out where we want to be in the future. It’s been a year of transitions, and it hasn’t always been pretty, but looking back, it’s also been a hell of a lot of fun.
We began 2015 in Turkey, before quickly making our way down to Ushuaia where we began the South American part of our trip. We spent six months cycling from Ushuaia to Peru, before taking a last minute flight back home where we surprised our families, and started a (temporary) life for ourselves in Astoria, OR. So here it is, our year of adventures from cycling the Andes to canoeing in our own backyard.
2016 will also be a year of adjustment for us; we will be moving again (and are both very excited about this), and with that, we will both be changing jobs as well (plus, I will be going back to school). We are both excited by what this near year will bring, and anxious to start planning our next adventure (spoiler alert, we are in the beginning phases of planning our next three month bike trip). But until then, we are both commited to making more microadventures happen in our attempt to explore our beautiful state. Here is to what 2015 gave us, and to the new year to come.
The Carretera Austral is said to be the most popular cycling route in the world, and I can certainly see why! This Patagonian treasure is full of colorful clean rivers, beautiful snowy peaks, and easy wild camping opportunities around every bend. The cycling is easy, the route seems to have more cyclists than cars along it, and the fishing is wonderful for those of you with poles; overall it’s a wonderful Patagonian experience for those who love nature.
Turkey is a hospitable country with easy camping and great food, and though we found some of the country monotonous and boring, we absolutely loved the whole eastern section (after dropping in from Georgia). Snowy mountains, small quaint villages, and tea breaks whenever you please; what’s there not to love about cycling through eastern Turkey.
Grocery shopping at its finest! The check out lady asked me if I was homeless after she found out I was cycling home with my groceries. It amused me in the moment, but in reality, its a pretty darn sad fact that so few people cycle here in the States, so incredibly few that everyone else assumes that you do it simply because you have no other options. I am proud to commute by bike; not because I’m desperate, but because I can.
I do not currently live in a bike friendly town like where I grew up in Eugene, or Oregon’s most famous cycling city, Portland. Here in Astoria, there are no bike racks outside of stores, and it rains pretty much everyday for eight months of the year. Never the less, I choose everyday to ride instead of drive for economic, health, and environmental reasons, never mind the fact that it simply makes me happier. There are many benefits to commuting by bike, and I hope that someday our country starts to catch on, but until then, I’ll proudly be the “homeless” person at the grocery store buying a weeks worth of groceries and a whole bag of toilet paper.
‘You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them.’
Within two months of living here in Astoria, OR, Kevin and I decided that despite all of our best intentions of making this place home, it just wasn’t going to work out for us. Though part of our unease with the lifestyle we have been creating for ourselves here simply has to do with coming back from such a long trip – from transitioning from a life of freedom to one of western confinement – the other part has to do with things we have control over, like our location and our jobs. Though Astoria is a cute perfectly sized (10,000 population) town right on the water, it lacks mountains – and all of the wonderful activities that come from having mountains in your backyard – and the outdoorsy and active community we seek. And though I do enjoy my job working in the leaning center with children with behavioral needs at the K-2 elementary school, it is most certainly not what I plan to do for the rest of my life.
Georgia seems to appear on nearly every world tourers favorites list, and we are no different. It’s one of our favorites too. And how could it not be? Where else are you invited to a crazy picnic nearly every night just because you were passing by? Georgia has some of the friendliest, most hospitable people on this planet, plus, their beautiful country has many small roads without much traffic, beautiful mountains, and easy wild camping opportunities next to a new river every night.
The Far Western corner of Nepal was by far my favorite region; in fact I liked it so much that after cycling through it (and across the rest of the country), I bused back with my backpack in order to explore the remote foothills. This region is very different from the rest of the very tourism-reliant country, as no westerners ever venture this way and there are no hotels, restaurants, or shops like you see throughout the rest of Nepal. I particularly enjoyed my stay in the west as the people were hospitable and friendly.
Zanskar is one of the most isolated regions in the world, and for most of the year, this high altitude valley is covered in snow. The only way out in the winter is a ten day frozen trek on ice, though in the summer once the snow has melted, it is a fascinating place to visit. I loved the tiny patches of green which marked a village, and the beautiful monasteries throughout the valley. The climate and topography in this region make for some of the harshest living conditions in the world, and these Tibetan Buddhists who have been living here for thousands of years still live for the most part as they have for centuries.
We can’t post a series about our favorite routes without mentioning the famous Leh to Manali route, as well as the Kargil to Leh route in the Indian Himalayas. The region of Ladakh is a high altitude disputed territory which boarders Pakistan and China and is full of monasteries and Tibetan monks, desolate dry mountains, and a few beautiful rivers. Ladakh is a wonderful place to cycle for those of you who enjoy isolation, endless high altitude passes, and easy camping.