M/Cing to South America: What Were We Thinking?
“Working the Problem”
You know something has changed inside when you really believe that riding a motorcycle around the world is no big deal. You begin working the problem rather than being overwhelmed by the complexity and risk. A scene from the movie, Apollo 13, comes to mind when the Flight Commander demands of his team, “work the problem people, work the problem!” Riding a motorcycle around the world is no moon-shot, but most people view them with equal survivability.
Once we crossed into the “work the problem” mode, relating to other people became harder for all concerned. The poor souls from Jonestown probably felt similar before drinking the Cool Aide, “What’s everyone worried about?” I suspect that friends quietly wonder, Are Fred and Karen OK? As our ”disease” progressed, we found ourselves seeking out a different type of friend, much as a cancer victim might seek out survivors to gain knowledge and empathy. In our case, we wanted to talk to people about the best way to ship a motorcycle around the Darien Gap, or what countries were safe to camp and which were not, how much should you pack, what types of clothing to take for three months rather than three days. Talking tools, spares, and gizmos all night long is a good thing.
We crossed our personal Rubicon in the summer of 2008 when we attended our first Horizons Unlimited (HU) meeting in Colorado. HU members are the real deal when it comes to motorcycle adventurists, made up of hard-core travel types who ride to far-away places, regularly. Rugged and independent, most HU members gather around a tire-changing seminar with the same joy and concentration as a fantasy footballer studies the injury report. No pretences here and no need to hide; we’re among friends.
After three days of “seminars” on how to travel to faraway places on a motorcycle, KR and I came to the same conclusion. Like most important things in our life, KR was the first to voice our collective thought, “We can do this. We’ve done a lot of this kind of traveling already. We know more than most people here. We can figure this out. We can survive! This is no big deal.”
To be honest, it was a lot more than three days of seminars that got us to this point. No, it was a couple of decades worth of trips to Alaska, Mexico, every state in the US but one, Nepal, Argentina, Chile, India, a few places in Europe, Puerto Rico and some others I can’t remember. Not all of these were by motorcycle, of course, but they contained enough “shit happens, we dealt with it” episodes that we’re comfortable with the unknowns of what lies around the next blind corner.
The Modified Plan
I knew the likelihood of getting KR to go around the world on a motorcycle at one time was less likely than the aforementioned moon-shot. So our first modifier was “one continent at a time.” We were both up to traveling for an extended period of time – say a continent — but then coming back to a home base for some period before heading out again. Through a series of back and forth discussions, we generally agreed that the sequence of continents would be South America, Europe, and Africa. Somehow we’d also find time to explore Mexico and probably dip down to Central America as well. Asia, South East Asia, the Middle East, and Australia/New Zealand are not sequenced yet.
So, in the summer of 2008 we made the decision to start making this idea a reality, causing a two-year series of consequences chronicled in Rewired, Journey to a New Life.
We have relatively low expectations for this trip; survival, go to some far- away places, meet interesting people, experience! as much of the world as we can, and share it all with our friends.
We’ll keep in touch.
Hi Fred. Browsed your website. Nicely done. Look forward to dropping in and checking out your progress. I need to find a place to inscribe the Mark Twain quote. Charlie, from the Dakar 2010.
Good to hear from you and thanks for stopping by. I hear that you might join Jim on the Dakar 2011 trip. Karen and I are going to hang with the group for the first week or so. Maybe we’ll catch up beforehand? fred