04
Jan 2015
POSTED BY Brad
POSTED IN

Blog, North America

DISCUSSION 48 Comments

The End of the Road

0-intro3

After 927 days, 45,822 miles, 34 countries, five continents, and countless hours spent watching our very own real life documentary unfold through the big screen of Nacho’s windshield, we arrived right back where we started. When it comes to good decisions that we make in life, this will certainly go down as one of the better ones. But all good things must come to an end. We set out to drive around the world, and when we pulled up in the same driveway that we left almost three years ago, we had thereby accomplished our goal.

We bee-lined it across the States, stopping mostly to see friends and to go to a few places that we’d always wondered about. We saw friends in Rhode Island, Boston, DC, and Asheville. We lounged at a beach house on Cape Cod, drove the Blue Ridge Parkway, and visited New Orleans. We were hissed at by a wild bobcat. We ate our friend’s goat. We reunited with friends in Houston, ate barbecue in Austin, and found the house that I lived in for a year when I was a kid in the Texas hill country. We ate peach pecan pie. In El Paso we stood at the border fence and nearly pulled the trigger to go back to Mexico, but somehow managed to restrain ourselves. We crossed New Mexico in a downpour, camped at a border truck stop, and at long last pulled back into the driveway of Sheena’s parents’ house on the outskirts of Phoenix.

1-Cape Cod

2-Asheville

3-NOLA

7-Texas camping

8-Old House

9-New Mexico

10-Home

As we drew nearer to the end we thought a lot about what it would be like to reintegrate into normal American life. For nearly three years we awoke each morning and sought the path of greatest adventure. Every week brought new scenery, people, and food. I got to spend three solid years of quality time with my wife. Some might call that a prison sentence, but that’s because some aren’t married to ladies like Sheena!

How can one go back to normal after that? We’re in the process of figuring it out now. Our blog fell rather far behind since we rolled into Europe, and especially once we hit North America. In reality, we’ve actually had some time to adjust. It’s certainly been a challenge to switch gears, but we’re trying to take the lessons we learned and funnel them into the establishment of a more fulfilling life. So far it seems to be working.

We also wanted to take a minute to say thanks to those of you who kept in touch with us by commenting here and through social media. When we left home, we stepped away from our friend network. We made lots of friends on the road, but when we would pick up and move we would again find ourselves alone. And while that could have gotten lonely, we always had your messages to look forward to to fill in the gaps. Your remarks were a constant reminder to us that there were people out there who appreciated what we were doing, which encouraged us to be diligent about continuing to tell our story as we went along. After a while we came to see it as our job, and I hope that in the end it was even fractionally as fulfilling for you as it was for us.

And as for the future of this blog, we haven’t fully decided what to do with it. I’ll be writing at least a few more posts; there will be a post-trip mechanical retrospective, as well as a full look at our financials from the trip, as those are always the first things people ask us about. But beyond that, who knows?

We are working diligently on our second book, for which we are, perhaps over ambitiously, shooting for a mid-May release. I’m also working on an audiobook, which has turned into a completely out of control and dehumanizing endeavor. If you want to be informed when those come out, in addition to our upcoming mechanical and financial posts, I would suggest adding your email to our list.

And while I am tempted to leave you with an evangelical tirade in which I banter on and on about the virtues of drastically changing your life in pursuit of true happiness, or about the incalculable value of international travel, I will refrain from doing so. You see, when we were in Kathmandu we ran across our friend and fellow blogger Dirty Biker, who had just completed the Annapurna circuit by mountain bike. He was a mess, going on and on about life and changes and wading through a quagmire of existential mental goo. Nepal seems to have that effect on people. I checked in on him later, after he’d been home for a while, and he was still all over the place, trying to figure out how to come back a changed man to an unchanged home. In the end, he relied on the good doctor to help him convey his experience to the page. Of course I am speaking of Dr. Seuss. Seeing as how I now find myself in said quagmire of existential goo, I will follow Dirty’s lead, and take a little help from the Doctor.

It’s been grand!

Oh the places you'll go

Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to great places!

You’re off and away!

11-Mexico Border

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

12-Guate

You’re on your own.

And you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

22-himalayan road

You’ll look up and down streets.

Look ‘em over with care.

About some you will say,

“I don’t choose to go there.”

28-tunnel in Turkey

With your head full of brains

and your shoes full of feet,

you’re too smart to go down any not-so-good street.

And you may not find any you’ll want to go down.

In that case, of course, you’ll head straight out of town.

30-Morocco

It’s opener there in the wide open air.

Out there things can happen and frequently do

to people as brainy and footsy as you.

23-stuck pakistani border

And then things start to happen

Don’t worry, don’t stew.

Just go right along.

You’ll start happening too.

24-India

OH! THE PLACES YOU’LL GO!

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

who soar to high heights.

17-Machu Picchu

You won’t lag behind,because you’ll have the speed.

You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead.

Wherever you fly, you’ll be best of the best.

Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.

18-Peruvian truck

Except when you don’t.

Because, sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so but, sadly, it’s true

that bang-ups and hang-ups can happen to you.

19-Axle repair

You can get all hung up in a prickly perch.

And your gang will fly on.

You’ll be left in a lurch.

You’ll come down from the lurch with an unpleasant bump.

And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a slump.

20-transmission failure

And when you’re in a slump,

you’re not in for much fun.

Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.

You will come to a place where the streets are not marked.

Some windows are lighted. But mostly they’re darked.

A place you could sprain both your elbow and chin!

Do you dare to stay out? Do you dare to go in?

13-Parenthian

How much can you lose? How much can you win?

And if you go in, should you turn left or right…

or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?

Or go around back and sneak in from behind?

25-Vicuna

Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,

for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

You can get so confused that you’ll start in to race

down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

and grind on for miles cross weirdish wild space,

headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

The Waiting Place…

14-Waiting place

…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go

or a bus to come, or a plane to go

or the mail to come, or the rain to go

or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

or the waiting around for a yes or no

or waiting for their hair to grow.

Everyone is just waiting.

32-waiting in Nepal

Waiting for the fish to bite

or waiting for the wind to fly a kite

or waiting around for Friday night

or waiting, perhaps, for their uncle Jake

or a pot to boil, or a better break

or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants

or a wig with curls, or another chance.

Everyone is just waiting.

26-waiting

NO!

That’s not for you!

Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying

You’ll find the bright places where boom bands are playing.

27-Indian Wedding

With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high!

Ready for anything under the sky.

Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

29-Banners

Oh, the places you’ll go!

There is fun to be done!

There are points to be scored.

There are games to be won.

33-Tibetan games

And the magical things you can do with that ball

will make you the winning-est winner of all.

Fame! You’ll be as famous as famous can be,

with the whole wide world watching you win on TV.

16-Thai TV

Except when they don’t.

Because, sometimes they won’t.

I’m afraid that some times

you’ll play lonely games too.

Games you can’t win

’cause you’ll play against you.

34-Lonely beach in Chile

All Alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something you’ll be quite a lot.

And when you’re alone, there’s a very good chance

you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

35-Maoist convoy

There are some, down the road between hither and yon,

that can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

But on you will go, though the weather be foul.

On you will go,though your enemies prowl.

On you will go, though the Hakken-Kraks howl.

36-Cappadocia

Onward up many a frightening creek,

though your arms may get sore and your sneakers may leak.

On and on you will hike,

And I know you’ll hike far

and face up to your problems whatever they are.

37-flooded Laos

You’ll get mixed up, of course,

as you already know.

You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.

31-Cambodian monks

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that life’s a great balancing act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

37-Tibetan Plateau

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will, indeed!

(98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.)

Kid, you’ll move mountains!

21-thorong la

So…

be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray

or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O’Shea,

You’re off the great places!

Today is your day!

Your mountain is waiting.

So get on your way!

AZ border


48 Comments

  1. Linda and Rick

    Oh my. Of all the posts through all the years and miles…this is the one that has me in tears — of joy, of wonder, of admiration, of excitement, of gratefulness. Thank you both; it has been such a pleasure to “ride” along with you. You are forever in our hearts.

    Comment by Linda and Rick on January 4, 2015 at 7:36 pm

  2. Alex

    Brillant ! Many thanks for the part of dream you shared along the way ! What a ride it has been !

    Comment by Alex on January 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

  3. Congratulations on an incredible journey around the world. Makes my 21 National Parks trip an elementary school outing. Glad you guys made it home safely.

    http://www.zazzle.com/colliergraphica/gifts?cg=196273362996988315

    Comment by Steve Collier on January 4, 2015 at 7:50 pm

  4. christina

    so so nice. touching and uplifting and funny and vast. thanks for sharing the world’s nature and humanity with us.

    Comment by christina on January 4, 2015 at 8:08 pm

  5. LainieH

    Dr. Seuss? What a wonderful way to close out the day!!! Thank you for sharing your adventures with us. For just a while, I was right there with you…and it fed my soul. Loved it!

    Comment by LainieH on January 4, 2015 at 8:09 pm

  6. Mack

    Congratulations!

    You guys DID it!

    And now, with a head full of new wisdom and insights, a heart full of wonderful memories and joy, on the next adventure, because believe you me, the “road” will keep calling.

    Just remember all the “lefts”, where you turned “right”, oohhwwww… all those other adventures…….

    Trust me, a lot of people are sorry they didn’t have a chance to meet you both. Go visit them!

    And thanks for sharing your great adventure with us!

    Mack

    Comment by Mack on January 4, 2015 at 9:04 pm

  7. Gabe

    Bravo you guys…you are super inspiring and a fabulous resource..stay with it. Cheers!

    Comment by Gabe on January 4, 2015 at 9:14 pm

  8. Mike Atkinson

    As ever – great stuff. Will read the Seuss to our 6 and 8 yr olds (already great fans) – with your illustrations. Who knows – you may be inspiring the next generation too….I can’t believe that is three years since I started following your threads (living in the Pantry is the first I remember very clearly).
    Thanks for everything – and good luck with your next steps

    Mike
    Scotland

    Comment by Mike Atkinson on January 4, 2015 at 9:33 pm

  9. Sue

    Yes, what a ride it has been. Thank you so much for the adventure and in a lot of places I was right there in the back seat! Your writing is great and left me wanting more, always. I am so glad you made it home safely. “Home” will never be the same again. Look forward to another ride whatever you decide.
    Any places in Canada that you want to see? It has its own “wildness” about it in places. Lovely scenery, the Rockies, Yukon Territories and more! I’m sure you would find something to do. :)
    Best wishes for the New Year! Drive Nacho Drive!
    Victoria, BC
    Canada

    Comment by Sue on January 4, 2015 at 9:47 pm

  10. Linda Gibson

    Thank you for taking us on your trip with you.
    It has been a pleasure to open the curtain of each new adventure you shared. May life treat you well….meanwhile, I am off to Peru in the morning
    and meeting my husband who has been in Bolivia doing volunteer work.
    I will endevour to make this a great adventure with thought of your and Sheena’s amazing three years!

    Comment by Linda Gibson on January 4, 2015 at 11:41 pm

  11. Chris Felker

    I read Drive Nacho drive with great pleasure and hope to read your new book. I am older and certainly enjoy and admire your adventuresome spirit.

    Comment by Chris Felker on January 4, 2015 at 11:58 pm

  12. dave krantz

    followed you every step of the way…..and I deeply appreciate you sharing your journey with us….good luck whatever path you choose in the future…..

    Comment by dave krantz on January 5, 2015 at 12:44 am

  13. Shawn

    Thank you for taking me along.

    Comment by Shawn on January 5, 2015 at 1:32 am

  14. Starr

    Hi guys, you have had a great adventure. I loved reading your posts and your first book. Look forward to the next one. You are inspiring. How awesome was this? Keep writing and keep up the sense of adventure. Your futures will be interesting to follow. I met you two in Kochi India and have followed you since. It was great to read of your travels.

    Comment by Starr on January 5, 2015 at 1:37 am

  15. Quoting the great Doctor! How fitting.
    Thanks to the three of you for sharing all along the way.

    Comment by Keith on January 5, 2015 at 1:40 am

  16. Ahhhh, the elusive Nacho Denoument!

    Well played Brad and Sheena.

    Glad to have you back at home and safe in the PNW. Still looking forward to meeting you guys.

    Comment by carterzest on January 5, 2015 at 2:00 am

  17. mashoud

    Brad and Sheena,

    No need to say what everyone has already said….

    However, it is not what you did that is so remarkable but how you handled yourselves doing it.

    You taught us the value of being patient, to respect, to reciprocate , to avoid judging and to be part of the rainbow of humanity where everyone has a story to tell.

    Having said that, the most precious thing that you displayed was my renewed faith in our young generation…you are, in my eyes, a model Citizens of the world.

    God speed ,

    mashoud

    Comment by mashoud on January 5, 2015 at 2:35 am

  18. Thanks, Mashoud, that’s very kind of you to say. We appreciated your sincere comments while we were out there, and especially your insights as we passed near the Middle East. Stay well!

    Comment by Brad on January 5, 2015 at 2:41 am

  19. Brian

    thank you for your blog, it’s been an inspiration! Welcome home.

    Comment by Brian on January 5, 2015 at 2:42 am

  20. Kenneth Kan

    Followed your blog for over 2 years and enjoyed it. Thanks for sharing all your stories.

    Comment by Kenneth Kan on January 5, 2015 at 5:04 am

  21. Pat

    Guys, it’s been our sincere pleasure getting to know you both through your stories and—fortunately for us—in person as well. Congratulations on an amazing trip well traveled.

    Comment by Pat on January 5, 2015 at 5:38 am

  22. Chris

    If you are a dreamer, come in.
    If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
    A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
    If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
    For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
    Come in!
    Come in!

    Shel Silverstein

    Thanks to Nacho and you two for an Invitation
    And a textured vicarious adventure around the globe.

    What a grand tale!!

    Comment by Chris on January 5, 2015 at 6:15 am

  23. Brett Dechambre

    Thank you Sheena and Brad, I so admire you both! :)

    Comment by Brett Dechambre on January 5, 2015 at 6:34 am

  24. @Pat, it was our pleasure, and only the beginning of what will be a long friendship, I’m sure.

    @Chris, I should have titled this blog “Where the Sidewalk Ends.” I hope we can catch up with you next time we’re in Flagstaff.

    Comment by Brad on January 5, 2015 at 6:37 am

  25. Chris H

    Brad and Sheena – Your travels have filled me with awe, and to be honest, loads of jealousy! I’m so glad there are people like you guys who can disconnect and get away to experience what this wide world has to offer. I think many of us who followed along wish we were able to take a similar journey. Alas, I’m not enough of a mechanic to solve the issues you did with Nacho!
    I too was impressed by your abilities to roll with what came your way, and to adjust to the cultures you encountered rather than look at them as foreign or obstacles to overcome.
    I’m glad you both made it back safely, and best wishes on your reintegration! I look forward to hearing updates down the road.
    You have made memories that will last far beyond your lifetimes.. cheers!

    Comment by Chris H on January 5, 2015 at 4:17 pm

  26. Bless you guys. It’s been crazy following your journey, and I wish you both the best!

    Comment by Chris Jackson on January 5, 2015 at 4:45 pm

  27. Taylor

    What an incredible journey! For a fellow adventurer, I know that with the end of this adventure will be the start of another. I wish you well on all things to come. It’s been a pleasure to read both of your posts; your writing gave my minds eye the ability to see what you were experiencing. Thank you.

    Comment by Taylor on January 5, 2015 at 6:44 pm

  28. Brad, Shena, I have been reading yor blog all along, simply enjoying and spreading the word of your blog and travel. I would love to see you two at the Overland Expo at Lake Mormon, AZ. It should not be too far from you and will be in mid May this year. We would love to meet you, hear more, hopefully with some videos as well. I suggest you get in touch with them and ask to present. I am sure they would love to have you. I certainly would!

    Comment by Jeff Regan on January 6, 2015 at 12:49 am

  29. Paul Peranteau

    Just have to finally leave a comment and thank you so much for sharing your trip with us. It was three years of fine writing and true remarkableness. We bought a Westy about a month before you set off and thought of you often during our somewhat smaller adventures. I suspect re-entry will be hard for the two of you — normal life just doesn’t dazzle the brain quite so frequently, but you will always have Nacho and the open road. Here’s to your next adventure.

    Comment by Paul Peranteau on January 6, 2015 at 1:12 am

  30. Thomas Schmidt

    Although I joined the adventure near the end; you two shone brightly through the muck of mundane living. We are on our 3rd bus in 42 years together. We hope to capture a fraction of your experience as we launch 86 Westy on her destiny. (Our several jeeps just didn’t quite have the same heart of loving life’s adventure)

    Comment by Thomas Schmidt on January 6, 2015 at 3:52 am

  31. @Jeff, we have offered to present at Overland Expo, but so far haven’t been contacted to know whether we will be or not. Regardless, we plan to go. Looking forward to meeting you and others in May.

    Comment by Brad on January 6, 2015 at 7:12 am

  32. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words!

    Comment by Brad on January 6, 2015 at 7:13 am

  33. Shah Jaafar

    Dear Brad, Congratulation you’ll a great inspirer. Your drove will drive more and more, what is your next great project since the new year just started.May God Blessed you’ll.

    Comment by Shah Jaafar on January 7, 2015 at 3:06 am

  34. Andy

    I first read about you three years ago in Mountain Gazette. What a wild ride, thanks for taking us along.

    Comment by Andy on January 7, 2015 at 4:21 am

  35. Thanks for the adventure.

    Comment by Bonnie Pylman on January 7, 2015 at 5:23 am

  36. @Andy, the Mountain Gazette!? That feels like ages ago! Makes me miss Durango, as that’s where I always used to read the Gazette. Glad you stuck with us all that time.

    Comment by Brad on January 8, 2015 at 7:23 am

  37. I started reading when your first book was out. I devoured that book and have enjoyed reading all the posts since. Can’t wait for the second one, since you’ve hinted at some very interesting stories along the way that have been kept back ;)

    Reading this post gave me chills.

    Comment by Thegoblinchief on January 9, 2015 at 11:21 pm

  38. Mom

    You asked how you could go back to “Normal” after all of your adventures. Well, I suppose you really can’t. But now you have a “New Normal” to come back to, as you look at your lives now through changed lenses. I have said it a million times before, and will say it again: I am so proud of both of you! Can’t wait to see what your next adventure will be :-).

    Comment by Mom on January 11, 2015 at 6:39 pm

  39. Lars

    Brad&Sheena,
    I first came across Nacho through the Interwebs because I have a Westy myself and found your ingenious works on Nacho, especially world’s finest water system in that vehicle. Soon (and at least 2 years ago), I began following your journey, albeit silently, and devoured your first book with great joy. i
    I’m still hoping to be on my own journey someday.
    Thank you so much for sharing all your experiences and insights and for the excellent writing – it’s been lot’s of fun following you all the way!
    Best wishes to you for finding new adventures, travelling or otherwise!
    Lars.
    (I hope you’ll keep a place for Nacho, should probably be part of the family since a long time now, at least since your columbian mechanical battles)

    Comment by Lars on January 13, 2015 at 12:19 am

  40. Kirow

    But you have do a second circumnavigation as I’m not ready to stop reading about your travels! Perhaps going vertically this time…?

    Thanks for your wonderful stories and good luck with whatever you do in the future.

    Comment by Kirow on January 13, 2015 at 1:13 pm

  41. Dave

    i remember reading that you guys went to Machu Picchu, but i don’t recall reading if you went to Tiwanaku / Puma Punku up by La Paz?

    Comment by Dave on January 16, 2015 at 6:33 am

  42. Dave, we went to a lot of ruins, but not those.

    Comment by Brad on January 16, 2015 at 6:04 pm

  43. This is an incredible post! An amazing and creative way to attempt to sum up an epic journey. I am currently trying to finish up a blog from a 13 month RTW adventure and this is truly an inspiration!

    Comment by Nick on January 16, 2015 at 10:30 pm

  44. ab

    Wonderful post! Welcome back to reality! It’s been fun following your updates on FB! Is that dark tunnel-looking picture, an underground tunnel to…?!

    Comment by ab on January 18, 2015 at 11:34 pm

  45. Ab, the dark tunnel is actually a vertical chute that I climbed up, and then took the photo looking back down from where I climbed. It’s carved out inside of a rock spire in an underground city in Cappadocia, Turkey.

    Comment by Brad on January 19, 2015 at 5:03 pm

  46. Ryan

    Followed you all since my sis told me about this website about a van named Nacho and the two people who were taking him around the world. Even as this chapter of your life has come to an end, I hope the next is as rich and fulfilling as your drive around the world. Your journey is inspiring. :-)

    Comment by Ryan on January 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

  47. wow. Truly brilliant idea for the “end-of-trip-what-does-it-all-mean” post. Loved it :)

    Comment by Nemo Taylor on February 8, 2015 at 9:04 pm

  48. Gustavo

    Sheena and Brad: I hope that we’ll touch base now that you’re back home. I hope to meet you guys at the end of 2015 on my way to South America onboard ‘Vagabond’.

    Comment by Gustavo on February 15, 2015 at 9:14 am

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