End of the Coast (Camanà, Peru)

We’re at the end of the road – the coastal road anyway.  We’ve battled headwinds for a couple thousand kilometers, but somehow managed make to to Camanà – where we will turn left and climb away from the ocean.  The Andes are calling.

We will be sad to leave the gorgeous desert behind, but are looking forward to a change of scenery.  I wonder how long it’ll take before we’re out of the desert?  A day?  A week?  We really don’t know.

Now we’ve got to get our mountain legs back after so long out of the hills.  No doubt we’ll get broken in quickly as we crest our first (and highest yet!) pass at 14,200 feet in a mere 300 km.  YIKES!

Kilometers today:  60

Kilometers to date: 19,884

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Davy’s Journal – Battling Headwinds

The first part of riding today was hard. We had to go up very steep mountains with a fairly strong headwind, and when we finally made it to our first downhill the wind picked up and if I had stopped pedaling I think I would have gone back the way I had come. We made it to the town that Mom was waiting for us in (because her spokes broke and she had to hitch into this town) very late for going 15 or 20 km. We finally got to the hotel after a long downhill that was partly out of the wind and we stayed at a decent hotel for way too much money.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Disaster (Narrowly) Averted (Ocoña, Peru)

Whew!  That was close.  Too close actually.

This morning John climbed out of the tent and moved our bikes around so he could get to his.  “Nancy!” he called, “You’ve got three broken spokes!”

Cripes.

Three busted spokes while the bike sat overnight.  It wasn’t even moving!  Three more spoke nipples popped under no stress at all.  The aluminum had failed catastrophically at 13,000 miles.  My bike was unrideable.

We pushed my bike to the road and flagged down a truck.  John and I piled the bike and trailer on top of bags of onions, climbed up with it, and we said goodbye.

A while later I unloaded my bike in the small town of Ocoña – and discovered yet another busted spoke nipple.  Where would it end?

Hours later, John and the boys appeared – after battling headwinds so stiff they were in nearly bottom gear going down the cliffside.  Fortunately, they only had 15 km to go.

The good news is that we managed to find a small bike workshop here in town and the mechanic was able to rebuild my wheel with steel nipples.  We are thankful it was the nipples that broke rather than the spokes – there is no way I would find spokes to fit my bike here.  Nipples are universal.

It looks like we are good to go – hope to do our final 55 km of the Peruvian coast tomorrow!

Kilometers today:  15

Kilometers to date:  19824

My wheel  -with three broken spokes at the time

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Busted Spokes (Not Quite Ocoña, Peru)

POP! There are few noises in the world uglier than the sound of breaking spokes.

We spent the day inching our way up a narrow track carved into cliffsides overlooking waves crashing into the rocky shore, and then racing back down to the coast.  Over and over and over.

It was a tough day – I don’t even want to think about how many thousands of vertical feet we climbed – but stunningly beautiful!  Bright teal-blue water… white frothy waves… dark black rocks…  tan sand… Certainly a feast for the eyes.

But then came that POP! The problem with a broken spoke is that it throws off the true of the wheel. If it isn’t fixed soon, the rim actually gets bent.

We pushed on, trying to make it to town.

POP!

Uh-oh – this most definitely isn’t good.  Two broken spokes spells trouble.  Trouble with a capital T.

By that point, my front brake was catching with each revolution of my wheel…  jerk… jerk… jerk…

How many more would pop?

We finally made the decision to bag our plans to make it into town, and pulled into a canyon to camp.

As it turned out, it wasn’t the spokes that had broken, but only the nipples.  We were able to pull out some new nipples and replace them – but as John was truing the wheel, another nipple disintegrated in his hand.

We’re hoping I can make it another 250 km into Arequipa where I’ll try to find a bike shop to replace all the nipples – we figure they’re most likely all about ready to fall apart.

Will these bikes make it another 7000 km?

Kilometers today:  61

Kilometers to date:  19859

The boys had a blast throwing rocks off the cliff and watching them tumble down til they crashed into the ocean below.
Throwing rocks off cliff

Enjoying the early morning colors.

Cycling the Peru coast

The road zigged and zagged as it made its way up and down the cliffs.

Zig zag road

Gosh – I love these colors!

Colors of the Peruvian coast

Peru coast

Cycling the Peru coast

Notice the road carved into the hillside way up high?

Road along Peru coast

We are always happy to find these small roadside restaurants – real food rather than more crackers!

Roadside restaurant in Peru

Our typical lunch is rice, french fries, and fried eggs.

Lunch stop

It always cracks me up how different we see things in the USA than in most parts of the world. In the US, only the wealthy can afford beachfront property. Here, that is certainly not the case!

Beachfront Dwelling

Gotta love these signs sometimes…  This one says, “Sandy Zone”.  I never would have figured that out…

But if there is sand, that’s where you will find Daryl.  He is LOVING these sand dunes!

Daryl in sand dune

Small Town, Peru

Small Town, Peru

I love the way they maintain the roads here – quite literally with a broom. These guys walk along the road and sweep all the rocks off to the side.

Road Maintenance

“Don’t Burn Tires”… but I guess it’s OK to burn the rest of the car?

Don't Burn Tires sign

Notice our road cutting across that mountain face?  You can barely see it, but it’s there!

Peru

I don’t really get this, but we passed a small chapel built by some kids in honor of their parents (or the other way around?) and they actually had the skulls of the honored in there.

skull in chapel

Gotta love the tacky figures on the altar.

altar figures in chapel

It was a long, sweaty climb up to the chapel, but we knew it would be cold on the way down.  We bundled up before taking off.

Bundling up for a cold descent

Stunning views of the ocean on the way down!

Peru Ocean

 

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Stuck Again (Atico, Peru)

If it ain’t one thing, it’s another…

When we left Nazca however-many-days ago, we decided to make one big push to Arequipa 650 km away.  Yes, we would take a few rest days in there, but mostly we planned to just go…

…and then we arrived in Chala and John somehow pulled a muscle and we were stuck for four days.  He got better so we packed up and took off and made it 93 km before…

…I got sick and we’re stuck again.

I lost count of the number of dashes to the bathroom I made last night.  And when the alarm went off at 4:30 this morning, I just couldn’t do it.  I climbed back into bed.

And Daryl’s words when he finally woke up and discovered we weren’t moving on?  “I’m the only one who hasn’t slowed us down.  We had to wait for Davy’s toes. We had to wait for Daddy’s muscle.  And now Mom is slowing us down.  But me?  Never!”

Remarkably, that’s true.  After two years on the road.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Dear Jack Marshall, are we self-absorbed parents?

Dear Mr. Jack Marshall,

For a variety of reasons I’ve chosen to remain silent for a while about your scathing opinion piece about us. Now, I have decided to respond publicly to your preposterous allegations and accusations.

You state that John and I are “self-absorbed parents who are unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle sacrifices parenthood requires.” I believe nothing could be farther from the truth.

You see, Mr. Marshall, we believe our journey is just as good for our sons as it is for ourselves. It’s a win-win situation with all four of us loving our life on the road.

In your editorial, you’ve cited many “examples” of abuse. I have to say you’ve chosen extremely poor examples – had you only contacted me I could have pointed you to many better passages.

You say:

This required risking their children’s necks on dangerous stretches of road…

“…The route was very rugged and hilly. At the end of the ride my shoulders, arms, and hands were sore because I was gripping the handlebars with all my might as I was petrified when we rode on the side of a shoulderless road inches away from a 500 foot drop-off. But all is well and we’re in Big Sur…. ?

Are you aware, Mr. Marshall, that that particular day took place on California’s Highway 1? Did you know that Highway 1 is perhaps the most popular cycling route in the United States? Every year many thousands of cyclists ride that road – including Boy Scout troops and hundreds of parents with children. Are you saying that those scout masters are abusing their scouts too?

John and the boys in Big Sur

Your other “examples” of abuse are equally as laughable. You cite:

…and pushing them onward even when they are sick…

…Davy has been complaining about being “hungry…just so hungry” for the past couple of hours. I gave him some carrots and he devoured them. When he arrived to the campsite he still complained about being hungry, so I have him more carrots while we got organized. I finally made him a peanut butter and jelly tortilla – and he threw it all up after taking one bite. It’s interesting how we learn things – he knew his tummy hurt, but didn’t know the difference between hunger and an upset stomach. I suppose now he knows. As we sat by the fire, Davy would occasionally jump up and puke more carrot soup…hope he has emptied his stomach as we all want a good sleep tonight….

Somehow, you managed to miss the fact that I had made a few mad dashes out of the tent to throw up two nights previously. You also missed that Daryl started vomiting a few hours later. And, remarkably, you didn’t mention that John succumbed to the virus two days later. Surely even you, Mr. Marshall, have experienced a virus that affected your family. Are you now saying that every parent whose child has been attacked by a virus is abusing them?

You accuse us of “using” our children. If deriving great pleasure from being with our sons is considered using them, we are guilty as charged. Both John and I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend this time with Davy and Daryl, watching them grow and mature into responsible young men.

You also accuse us of “abusing” our sons. If teaching our children to dream big and reach for their goals is abusing them, then we are guilty of that as well. We are showing our children there is nothing they can’t do, and we’re walking them through the process step by step.

I will say that our journey hasn’t always been easy. We’ve faced obstacles and overcome them because each member of our team pitched in with every strength he has. We’ve worked together – as a family – to get through hard times. We’ve worked together toward a common goal. Our boys have learned that where there is a will, there is a way – and they’ve learned to keep looking for that way until they succeed.

Davy and Daryl have learned that anything worth doing won’t come easily. So far, they have cycled 20,000 kilometers in their quest for the end of the world. They’ve climbed out of bed and into the saddle more days than I can count. But they won’t give up – because they’ve learned to persevere; to keep their eye on the goal while still enjoying today for what it is. Is that a bad thing to learn?

Camping in Peru

In today’s culture of instant gratification, where children are raised to believe they should never have to wait for anything, our sons are learning to hang in there for the long haul. They’re learning to set big goals and take baby steps to get there.

Continue reading

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Waking up to Magic (Atico, Peru)

Last night when we collapsed into our tents utterly exhausted, we had no idea where we were.  This morning, we opened our tent and discovered we were in wonderland!  Truly it was fabulous.

camping in Peru

Peru coast

We spent a leisurely morning packing up slowly.  The boys played in the rocks.  We enjoyed our time in Wonderland, but finally decided to head back to the road and continue on.

pushing back to the road

cycling the Peruvian desert

cycling the Peruvian desert

As it turned out, we were a mere six kilometers to town, so we’ve had a restful day.

Kilometers today:  6

Kilometers to date:  19798

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Davy’s Journal May 27

Today we went 6 km into town. Do you know why it was only 6 km? Because we couldn’t make it before dark yesterday. 15 km ago somebody said that town was right around a small hill. Another guy said it was 10 km. Both of them were way off, but the first by much more. We camped out last night only 6 km from town. Well, we arrived into town this morning with still a lot of energy left and we stayed there because we were very tired from yesterday. Also, we have 60 km with hills and a very bad wind coming up. So we stayed. Then me and Daryl did our math after we took showers and then we came here and I did my journal.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

A Gorgeous (Long) Day (6 km short of Atico, Peru)

I’ll let the photos tell today’s story!

Kilometers today:  87
Kilometers to date:  19792

The boys entertained themselves by carrying huge rocks to the edge of the very high, very steep hill on the side of the road and throwing them over to watch them tumble down.
Throwing rocks over cliffs

And then they watched them bounce all the way down to the dry river bed at the bottom.
WAtching rocks bounce down cliff

For part of the day we were right on the coast.
cycling the Peruvian coast

And part of the time we were way up high.
Cycling the Peruvian coast

At one point, we came upon a big group gathering seaweed from the ocean.  They will dry it in the sun for four days, then sell it for use in shampoo.
GAthering seaweed

They can only gather it during the occasional very high high tides – that somehow loosens the plants from the ocean floor.

Gathering seaweed

They throw these hooks way out into the water to snag the seaweed, then they drag it to shore.
gathering seaweed

I don’t know if these small houses are to actually live in, or if they only use them for day use while gathering fish and other creatures from the sea.
house in desert

We had massive waves of the ocean crashing into rocks on our right and massive mountains soaring to the heavens on our left.
cycling the peru desert

The sun was setting as we made a final dash toward town.
Sunset

We pedaled frantically up and over a ridge in the growing darkness, hoping the town was just on the other side.  All we saw was yet another ridge.
cycling in dark

We called it a day and pulled off the road to set up camp.
setting up camp in dark

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Ready to Move

It looks like John’s bum is going to cooperate – finally.  He still feels the muscle a bit, but feels he is sufficiently healed to move on.  So – tomorrow we’ll hit the road again!

We aren’t sure what to expect in the next 200 km. We know it will be hilly, but the big unknown is the wind. If the wind is howling like it was the other day, we are in for very slow going. If it’s not too bad like today, we will make decent mileage. Only time will tell.

We are prepared for five days on the road to reach the point where we turn off the Pan American Highway 200 km from here to head for the hills.  Even if the wind is howling, we should be able to grind out 40 km per day – we may be exhausted at the end of the day, but we think we can do it.

We are keeping our fingers (and toes!) crossed that Mother Nature will be kind to us for these final miles along the coast.  I guess we’ll know soon enough.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Chala Market

Seeing as how we’re stuck here in Chala, I decided to head out with the camera.  I have no idea how this bitty town supports such a vibrant market seeing as how there are no pueblos around here to serve, but somehow it does.

Chala Market Peru

Chala Market Peru

Chala Peru Market

Chala Market Peru

Chala Market Peru

Chala Market Peru

Chala Market Peru

chala Market Peru

Chala Market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

chala market Peru

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Stuck (Chala, Peru)

I think it’s a good thing we didn’t leave today…

Our initial thought was that we had a potentially tough 85 km coming up if the headwinds continue and it’s hilly like it has been.  We decided to take a day off so we go into it fresh.

But this morning when I headed out at 7:00 in the morning to find breakfast and I felt the cold wind blasting into my face, I was even more glad we took the day off.  For the past couple of days the wind has kicked up at 9:30 or 10:00, giving us at least a few hours to make a decent pace. Today  we would have set off into a stiff headwind right off the bat.

And then, when I got back to the hotel room, John was limping around.  “I pulled a muscle in my lower back,” he mumbled as  he slowly made his way to the bathroom.  “I couldn’t ride today if I wanted to.”

So we’re stuck – but that’s not a bad thing.  All day the winds picked up even more and it was miserably cold. This evening it was even raining – and it never rains here!  Granted, it was more of a heavy mist that barely even got the road wet, but still – it would have been a miserable day on the road.

We’ll plan on hanging out here one more day – hopefully by then this storm will have passed and John’s muscle will have healed.  With any luck, we’ll hit the road on Tuesday – and by then maybe the wind will have changed direction. A girl can dream, eh?

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Crank Award

Many thanks to all of you who nominated us for a Crank Award.  They have taken the top five blogs and put them up for the final vote – and we are in the running for the travel category.  Would you mind going over there one more time and voting for us?  It just takes a second – and we would really appreciate it!

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Let Your Kids Dream

Kids are more capable than we give them credit for.  That’s the way it is.

life begins at end of comfort zoneI am continually amazed at how little we, in today’s society , expect of our children.  It wasn’t all that long ago that children were expected to pull their weight around the family farm – and they were more than capable of doing so.  We haven’t traveled all that far along the evolutionary chain as to make them incapable now.

Now, it seems the only thing kids are capable of doing is sitting around playing video games all day long.  If kids do anything physical anymore it’s a rarity.  But I say that kids are capable of a lot – if we give them the opportunity to do it.

Lately there have been a number of kids who have done remarkable things.  Jessica Watson sailed solo around the world at age 16.  Jordan Romero just became the youngest person to climb Mount Everest at age 13.  I say – BRAVO to the kids and to their parents for allowing them to reach for their goals!

Yes, I know the parents of those kids have come under fire – a lot of it.  I know because we’ve been condemned too.  We have dealt with our share of criticism from do-gooders accusing us of all sorts of abuse.  We’ve read extraordinarily hurtful things written about us.

And yet – when I see the determination in my sons’ eyes and I hear them tell of their adventures so proudly, I know we’re doing the right thing.  I know we are allowing Davy and Daryl to reach for the stars – even if those stars appear unreachable.  They have dreamed the impossible dream and are now living it – and it isn’t so impossible after all.

So to you kids who are reading this:  What is your dream?  What is it that you would really, really like to acheive?  What do you want to do?  It may seem impossible and people may say you could never do it.  But I say to you “You can”.  Don’t let that dream die because of the naysayers out there.  Go for it.  Live your dreams.  You can do it.

And to you parents I say: Let them do it.  Let your child reach for the stars.  Let your child climb that mountain or cycle to the ends of the world or do what you could never do.  Encourage them.  And most of all – believe in them.  Kids can do way more than you think.

cycling with bison

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Flat and Straight? (Chala, Peru)

 …and they told us this was the flat, straight section of the journey…

“It’s not bad until Atico,” the truckers told us.  “It’s pretty flat and straight for now, but once you hit Atico then the road will get very twisty and windy, up and down, and roundabout.”

So what in the heck happened today?  As soon as we left Youca we started up.  The road meandered around and about.  Switchbacks and curves and twists. Up, up, up high above the ocean crashing hundreds of feet below us…

Not exactly what I would call “flat and straight”.

Now I’m worried about what comes after Atico.  If this was the flat and straight part, I hate to think about what the twisty turning section will be like.

Kilometers today:  49

Kilometers to date:  19705

Heading out of town first thing in the morning.

Sharing the road with goats

There is a lot of blowing sand in this area.  Need I say more?

sign buried in sand

We had to choose our path very carefully – deep sand is very difficult to maneuver through.

sand covering the road

We moved from a very sandy area into a very rocky one in the blink of an eye.  And we climbed way up high above the ocean.

ocean

It doesn’t look very flat and straight to me…

cycling in hills

The headwinds in this area are very strong and constant.  They come up in the morning and blow all day long.  It’s going to be a battle to get through the next couple hundred kilometers!

battling headwinds

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Davy’s Journal: Having a way to get hurt and sick

Yesterday Dad hit me in the arm with a rock.  I was grabbing a rock to throw at a target when he accidently hit me. It hurt a lot.

After Dad hit my arm, I fell into some broken glass (not from us – it was there before). I got about 5 cuts. Two of them were very minor, but the other 3 were bleeding a lot. It didn’t hurt that much but there was sand in it so there was a risk of infection. Dad and Mom put antibiotic in it and we went to the closest town 5 kilometers away.

On the way to town Dad said he was gonna do a lot of stuff because he hit me in the arm. He said he would let me play on the computer for the rest of the day, give me the mp3 player for the rest of the trip, and get me Pepsi (my favorite drink).  He even made Daryl carry all of the stuff I was gonna bring to the room. All of that was just for a few cuts and a tiny bruise on my arm.

Today my knee is a lot more healed and I don’t think I got that much antibiotic ointment on anything. We made it to town kind of late but everything is OK. I guess I just have a way of getting hurt and sick.

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel