The Carretera Austral: The Beginning of a Cyclists Paradise

“Cycling can be lonely, but in a good way.”

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The Carretera Austral (or route seven if you are looking at a map) which passes through rural Chilean Patagonia has been described by all as a cyclists paradise, and after just four days of cycling on it, I can definitely see why. Though the road is unpaved it is in pretty good condition, and with only a dozen or so cars passing by a day, it’s the perfect sort of road for those who like to be alone with nature. Between the beautiful waterfalls which literally cascade down right beside the road, the hills and mountains covered with glaciers everywhere you look, the incredibly beautiful lush green forest which you ride through every day, and the stunning blue rivers and lakes you camp by and fish in every night, there isn’t a single thing not to love about this exquisite rural Patagonian road.

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Following Fitzroy to Chile: A Rural Patagonian Boarder Crossing

“Bicycling is a big part of the future. It has to be. There’s something wrong with a society that drives a car to work out in a gym.”

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By the time we were ready to leave El Chalten and the somewhat chaotic casa de cyclistas we had been staying in, we felt as though we already knew the rural boarder crossing we were about to undertake since everyone going the other way kept talking about it. After a forty kilometer ride around Fitzroy Emily and I completed a four hour hike around the first lake in order to avoid paying thirty dollars each for the incredibly expensive one hour ferry service while the boys took all four bikes on the boat.

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Cycling Through Torres Del Paines

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

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Though I have no photos to show for it, the mountains in Torres Del Paines were beautiful and we really enjoyed cycling through the park as it was so much quieter on the roads than on the trekking paths.

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From East to West: Cycling Across Turkey

“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is not cure for cuiosity.”

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As you already know, we really enjoyed cycling through Turkey as the camping was easy, the weather was great (mostly), and the people were incredibly friendly. Here is a summary of what we experienced through throughout those two months.

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New Years and Cappadocia

“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”

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We had no plans for New Years, so we were quite happy to spend the night at an Eco farm we had been staying at in order to celebrate with a twenty year old French guy, a Turkish women, and a German/Turkish man in his fifties who cooked us a wonderful meal. We spent the last few hours of 2014 playing an intense game of ass-hole which ended just thrifty seconds before the New Year in the most dramatic way possible which left us all howling with laughter. My brother, who had left the night before on what was suppose to be an eleven hour bus ride, spent New Years in the bus, as his ride ended up taking three times as long as it should have (32 hours) because of the snow. Thankfully, he still arrived in time to catch his flight back to university, and ended up experiencing the kindness of Turks as many of his fellow bus travelers gave him food and presents in order for his extra long journey to pass more smoothly.

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545 Days and Counting

“From an early age on, I was one of the Pippi Longstockings of this planet, no barrier too high and no way too far.”

180 days after I set out on this adventure I wrote about how my tent had turned into my home, my bike into my best friend, and the world into my playground. I discussed how my identity had changed from who I use to be, into the “girl cycling around the world,” and what I had learned about myself along the way. I talked about what surprised me most about this lifestyle, what didn’t surprise me at all, and concluded by reaffirming the fact that I’m still just a simple curious girl with a dream and a sense of wonder. After 365 days I spoke about how the inequality I experienced so acutely in India had made me a feminist, a young women intent on showing the world that us gals can do anything. I wrote about the hardships of traveling as a couple, something that now six month later I’m still trying to get better at, and I talked about the fact that the last year had enabled me to find and develop my growing interest in writing. And so now, 545 days (that’s a year and a half) after I pedaled away from home, I’m here to show you how I’m going to put the lessons I have learned throughout this past year and a half into practice during the final leg of this particular adventure as we cycle through the Andes.

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When Everything Goes Wrong

“It always rains on tents. Rainstorms will travel thousands of miles, against prevailing winds for the opportunity to rain on a tent.”

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Today was one of those days where everything seemed to go wrong, and though it’s probably more fun to see cute pictures of us smiling, or learn about the history of wherever we happen to be, it’s important to realize that sometimes days out here suck for us as well.

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The Rolling Roads of Turkey: Hills, Caves, and Modernization

“I suppose that was what attracted me to the bicycle right from the start. It is not so much a way of getting somewhere as it is a setting for randomness; it makes every journey an unorganized tour.”

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The last week has been a mess of small rolling hills which meant that we were constantly climbing yet going almost nowhere. Though we completed three passes, it felt like a whole lot more because even the downhills were full of small frustrating ups. That being said, at least we were on a smallish relatively quiet road, and at least we got over 500km out of the way!

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Welcome Stranger

“We travel not to escape life. But for life not to escape us.”

After about half an hour of studying the ants who lived at the campsite we had picked out off of a small dirt road in the countryside a tractor with a man, woman, and teenage girl drove by and waved. On their way out they stopped to give us some of the grapes they had just picked from their vines before inviting us back to their house for a meal. They served us fresh homemade bread, cheese, olives, and a stuffed bread that was absolutely delicious while the two girls, eleven and seventeen, used their few words of English along with my few in Turkish to ask us questions. When we left an hour or so later they sent us on our way with more food for dinner later on, something we were even more grateful for than usual since all we had with us was our “emergency” rice as we hadn’t passed any stores that day.

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Turkish Food: Eating With the Family

“The art of being happy lies in the art of extracting happiness from common things.”

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One of our favorite aspects of staying with a family in Van was all of the wonderful homemade Turkish food it enabled us to try. Every meal was communal, meaning that everyone ate from the various dishes set out on a large tablecloth on the floor. There was always plenty of bread – a staple in any Turks diet – that we used as a spoon to eat dips, soups, and salads. I absolutely loved this communal set up without individual plates because I could keep eating or stop eating whenever I pleased instead of filling my plate too full and then over eating to finish it, something I’m really good at. It was also sort of fun having everyone sharing gathered around on the floor sharing all of the dishes since it felt a lot more intimate than being all spread out at a table. I’ve made Kevin promise me that we can still occasionally eat like this when we get home to Oregon. He in turn has decided we should get a wood fire stove so I can make bread and such like they do here… Who says you can’t keep traveling (at least through food) once you go back home?

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