At the end of 2011 we quit our jobs and set off in our 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon, "Nacho". Our plan? To circumnavigate the globe, slowly, while discovering culture, food, recreation, and emergency roadside Volkswagen maintenance. We are Brad and Sheena. Just wingin' it.
Having arrived in Europe is both a triumph and a shock to the system. For the past two years we’ve explored the Earth’s faraway wild places with wonder and amazement. Every time we moved we were moving into the unknown, and with it came a sense of adventure and uncertainty. Europe is sort of the end of the line on our trip, and marks the emergence from the unknown into a world that we know. We used to live in Europe, after all, and have spent considerable time exploring it. While arriving in Europe after two and a half years of exploration was intended to seem like a relief, what we experience instead is something unexpected. (more…)
We had arrived in Turkey in the Spring, and as a result the days were generally chilly and the nights cold. Beyond Anatolia we knew it would only get worse; we’d been to Europe in Spring before and knew that our experience would be, to our Arizona-bred bodies, the equivalent of living in a van in the Arctic circle. And let’s be honest, Europe is almost entirely above the same latitude as the Canadian border, and everyone knows that Canada is a frozen, uninhabitable tundra eleven and a half months out of the year. That’s why it has come to be known as “The Dangerous North.” It was with this information that we decided to drive as quickly as possible from Turkey to Morocco in Northern Africa, where we could wile away the Spring until better weather transpired in the North. But we faced an immediate challenge: we had only three days to legally exit Turkey, and we were a full three day drive from the border. (more…)
As the months pass and we continue to wake up each morning in a van, our sense of adventure rises and falls like phases of the moon. One day we wake up in a Colombian junkyard and it can only get better from there. Then one day over our morning coffee we regard with amazement the way that the jagged tip of Tierra del Fuego slices into the sea, the very end of the Americas, the end of the road. But for every momentous morning coffee view there’s a nondescript parking lot or a filthy Indian petrol station. Still, no matter where we wake up and how our desire to carry on is tested, I still come back with the same suggestion to my sweet and forgiving wife. (more…)
Sleet had been falling on and off all morning. In the village the men huddled around a tea shop next to a barren mountain in the gray, bleak Turkish countryside. Inside—that is, inside of the mountain—I was precariously wedged midway up a 30 foot vertical shaft that connected two levels of a vast, hidden underground city. I paused in the darkness and looked down into the abyss, a lone useless rope dangling between my legs and disappearing into the black space below. The space above me was illuminated by a flashlight held by a mustachioed man in a leather jacket, a Turkish Burt Reynolds. The chute was no more than 24 inches square, having little pockets dug into its walls to serve as toe and finger holds, carved into the solid rock by villagers seeking protection from invading Hittite tribes some 3,600 years ago. I tried to imagine how I might utilize the rope should I lose my grip on the walls, seeing as how both hands and feet were busy keeping myself wedged in the shaft, but every mental scenario ended with me lying in a crumpled heap, the dangling rope faintly tickling my lifeless body. (more…)