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.
When we left the United States in the early hours of 2012, we began to witness the world changing around us, hardly recognizable from the one we left behind at the Mexican border. At first the changes came hard and fast, but after a while we started to forget how things were back home. By the time we reached Europe it had been nearly a year and a half since we’d visited America, or any Western civilization for that matter, and some of those old memories came flooding back. One deeply disturbing difference between “The West” and the rest of the world showed up like a lurking character in a nightmare. (more…)
After Nacho’s inspirational climb of the Alpe d’Huez we descended the switchbacks and were deposited in the quaint village of Bourg d’Oisans. We would spend the next few days making our way northwest to Paris, but before doing so we needed to grab a few odds and ends at the grocery store. We popped into town and found the nearest market, parked, and proceeded to drop essentials into the shopping cart. A medley of vegetables, a package of sausage and one of cheese, a fresh baguette—come on, we’re in France—a twelve pack of Leffe, and then we arrived at the discount bin containing marked down items nearing their expiration dates.
“Sweet baby Jesus, what’s that!” I could barely contain my excitement. “Why Sheena, I do say, it’s a package of nearly-expired, ground up dead horses!”
“Yes please!,” she squealed, and I happily placed it in the cart next to the beer. (more…)
“I know it’s somewhere!” she cried out in frustration as she flipped through a stack of twenty full size trail maps, each showing a mess of trails that slipped between valleys and up endless snow-capped peaks. They were some of the best trails in the world. “He’s like a little kid here,” she said as she held up the stack. “This is like his playground. I swear, if he knew where we were going today,” her eyes widened, “he’d go nuts!” She ran up the stairs and came back with a new stack of maps. “Here it is! Etienne was trying to keep this one all to himself!” (more…)
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…)