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.

Our boys have learned to be global citizens in an age where the planet is shrinking daily. Davy and Daryl have learned about humankind – whether that person comes wrapped in white skin or brown, worships one god or another, or speaks English or Spanish. They’ve learned we are all residents on the same planet and must work together to preserve it. They have learned that lesson way better than most Americans.

I think Daryl’s words speak louder than mine on this idea. When we crossed into Costa Rica I congratulated my young son. “You’ve just cycled into your eighth country!” Daryl turned to me and said, with his 11-year-old wisdom, “What difference does it make, Mom? Borders are nothing more than a line on a map. It doesn’t change anything.”

I wish more people understood the truth of Daryl’s words.

Entering costa Rica

Or perhaps I should share Davy’s journal from a couple months ago:

I don’t know why people are so afraid to travel. The world is a wonderful place. Too bad there are so many Americans that don’t know that. People in America are taught to fear other countries. The only things the news covers from other countries are bad. Never anything good. The world is not a war in Iraq. In fact, my guess is that America has more crime than most other countries.Most people in countries other than America are good people, but Americans don’t realize that. They are too afraid to go and find out for themselves. In reality, the world is a good place. I don’t know why Americans are so afraid to travel. If they saw what I’ve seen, they wouldn’t be scared any more and the world could finally have peace.

If only more people could understand what my sons do, this world would be a better place.

You see, Mr. Marshall, our sons are getting to know our world in way you never will. They are meeting people from all walks of life and seeing the good in those people. They aren’t traveling around condemning people for the lifestyle they’ve chosen – they’ve learned that we all walk our own path through life. You make your choices and we’ll make ours – and, unlike you, our sons have learned that’s a good thing.

I’m reminded of the words a dear family friend said at my father’s funeral. She talked about each of us four girls in turn and then came to my little brother. “Roger Jr. can do anything,” she said. “He can put a new roof on a house and build his own furniture. Roger can design and install a sprinkler system. He can fix his own cars. Roger can do that because his father taught him.”

I hope when the time comes for John and me to take our final bike ride to the sky that someone stands at our funeral and says, “Davy and Daryl can do anything. They can dream the impossible dream and reach the unreachable star. They can do it because their parents taught them how.

Could there be any greater honor?

I leave you with this, Mr. Marshall – Gomer Pyle said it way better than I ever could.

Sincerely,

Nancy Sathre-Vogel

I welcome comments regardless of how you feel about our journey. I only ask that you keep your comments respectful and appropriate for our family audience. Any comment that does not abide by these rules will be edited or deleted.

I have pasted the entire text of Mr. Marshall’s opinion piece below. I do this only to preserve his words should he take his site down for some reason.  You can find the original here.  Since this time, Mr. Marshall has written another piece about our journey. You can find it here.

Using Children as a Means to an End: The Biking Vogels

(11/3/2008)

It is a classic ethical principle that human beings should not be used as a means to an end. Its logic is sound and difficult to contest. Exercising power over the fate of another human being for the purpose of accomplishing a personal objective, however worthy, is an offense to justice, fairness, respect, and autonomy.

How do we assess the conduct, then, of parents who use their young children as tools, props, or assets as the parents pursue their own personal desires and goals? Too often, we don’t assess the conduct at all. Children do not have legal autonomy, so we are conditioned to give the benefit of the doubt to their parents’ decisions about their lives, even when those decisions approach exploitation…or abuse. A few brave and perceptive souls among us possess well-tuned perception when it comes to the mistreatment and the endangerment of children. Prominent among them is Paul Petersen, the former TV child star turned advocate, crusader and agitator as he alerts the media and somnolent consciences in the entertainment industry to child labor abuses and reckless treatment involving blindly ambitious parents and their vulnerable, trusting, meal-ticket kids.

Petersen sounded the early ethics alarms on “Hounddog,” the independent film that required a pre-teen Dakota Fanning to play the victim in a violent and realistic rape scene, and “Kid Nation,” the CBS reality show that paid parents to abandon their children to long hours of work, physical danger and embarrassing public exposure in the hopes that the kids might become “stars.” Lately, he has taken on the popular reality show “Jon and Kate + 8”, which chronicles the daily travails of a family, the Gosselins, with eight young children. As always, where most of us see entertainment, Paul Petersen sees the reality, the violations and the looming harm beneath:

“…Our concerns stretch beyond the real-time involvement and inherent risks of the work place, to the distant and uncertain future of children who, denied the power to disagree with risky parental decision-making, will have to bear the unique and sometimes deadly consequences of fame, often involving circumstances where they were not adequately compensated for the unintended distortions that will, please believe us on this score, last a lifetime. The images never go away. Never….

“…Are there work permits, limited hours, due consideration for actual or potential harm, and protection of the minor’s income? Is federally mandated education in place? A Court-Appointed advocate must be appointed; an advocate independent of the parents and the production company with the power to actively intervene, if necessary.”

But the thrusting of their eight children into the disrupting chaos of constant cameras, media attention and unpredictable influences by Jon and Kate Gosselin is innocence itself compared to the brilliantly despicable project of former teachers Jon and Nancy Vogel, who are, as they describe themselves on their website, “just your normal, everyday, American family who happens to be following our dreams and chasing rainbows.” The Vogels decided to pull their twin 8-year-old sons out of school and set them peddling on a twelve month, 9300 mile bicycle trip through nineteen US states and four Mexican states. Their on-line diary makes it abundantly clear that the children were often poorly fed, uncomfortable, unhappy and endangered as the Vogels, who were cross-country biking enthusiasts before having children, followed their “dreams.” This often 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….

…camping in badly sheltered areas…

…Because the mountains were barren, the campground had no shelter and the ‘campsites’ were slanted and the ground was similar to a hard-packed gravel road. My second thought was that I was going to have a sleepless night. Fortunately there was a forest service maintenance shed that was closed on 3 sides, had a roof and a concrete floor. We spread out our tarp, laid our mats and sleeping bags in it and slept fairly comfortably that night (except for the occational insect who for some reason decided to crawl across my face). It’s a good thing we decided to take refuge here because the wind howled violently all night and there were several sustained torrential downpours….

…forcing the children to bike up hills that would discourage adults..

…And then we looked ahead to the California section and those 1000-ft or 1500-ft climbs left us shaking in our boots. So when someone told me yesterday that we had a 2500-ft climb to the Grand Canyon and I simply shrugged and said, “That’s now too bad.” I was stunned. I’m looking forward to the day when I can shrug my shoulders and say, “Eh!” to a 5000-ft climb.

…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….

Flushed with the success of this trip, the Vogels set out in June on an even longer journey, from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to the tip of Argentina. This 20,000 mile trek will take about thirty months, two and a half years. To read the Vogel’s breezy and cheerful accounts of their endless travels, one would think this is recreation—but it is, in fact, a business. The Vogels accept direct on-line contributions to their “educational quest,” have corporate sponsors, and frequently persuade those they meet on their journey to give them money and food. The only differences between the Vogels’ lifestyle and the Gypsies portrayed in old movies and operettas are that the Vogels have a website, don’t play tambourines, and use bicycles instead of a wagon.

You have to admit, it’s a clever act. The Vogels move through the states quickly (“Peddle faster, boys!”), so no jurisdiction is going to enforce its various laws relating to the care and treatment of children. The website, familyonbikes.org, is bright and professionally designed, with the characteristic look of home schooling sites across the web. The children look healthy and happy.

But there is this tell-tale sentence on the home page that may reveal more about the Vogels than the all the rest of the site:

“…And traveling on bikes with your family is an even more incredible, more rewarding experience. You see the world through the eyes of your child, and experience life in the fresh, uninhibited manner of children. Children have a way of worming their way into the hearts of others, and you will be richly rewarded for your efforts!”

(The Gypsies understood the marketing value of children too.)

Americans, most of them anyway, will be reluctant to criticize the Vogels and their employment of their young boys to help them achieve the personal dream of a life on bicycles. It’s their family, after all. And the Vogels are teachers (although they do not know how to spell “occasional”): who is to say, with certainty, that the boys aren’t being educated and socialized as they peddle away for the next two years?

Maybe they are. But it appears far more likely that Davy and Daryl are simply useful tools for self-absorbed parents who are unwilling to make the necessary lifestyle sacrifices parenthood requires, or to be responsible for creating a safe, secure, stable existence for their twins during their formative years, allowing them to make friends, be part of a community, and to experience something resembling a normal life. “When we reach the southernmost tip of South America,” the website crows, “Davy and Daryl will become the new Guinness World Record holders as the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Highway!”

Wow, that’s really cool. But I wonder if, years from now, Davy and Daryl won’t wish their parents had allowed them to have, in place of that record, a home, and a warm place to sleep at night, and a childhood.

*******
It’s also worth linking to several other rebuttals others have posted throughout the years – it appears that Jack Marshall has become the laughing stock of the lawyer community due to his own unethical behavior.

Jack Marshall flunked ethics
Jack Marshall is a fool every day
Is an April Fool’s joke an ethical violation?
Jack Marshall, the Elmer Gantry of ethics
Ethics Alarms Go Off, “It’s Jack Marshall! It’s Jack Marshall!”
Emotions Declared Unethical – Alert the Media!

books by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

About Nancy Sathre-Vogel

After 21 years as a classroom teacher, Nancy Sathre-Vogel finally woke up and realized that life was too short to spend it all with other people's kids. She and her husband quit their jobs and, together with their twin sons, climbed aboard bicycles to see the world. They enjoyed four years cycling as a family - three of them riding from Alaska to Argentina and one exploring the USA and Mexico. Now they are back in Idaho, putting down roots, enjoying life at home, and living a different type of adventure. It's a fairly sure bet that you'll find her either writing on her computer or creating fantastical pieces with the beads she's collected all over the world.

Connect with us!

We love to get to know new people. Send us a message!

, , , , , , , , , , ,

80 Responses to Dear Jack Marshall, are we self-absorbed parents?

  1. Grand Canyon Harry May 27, 2010 at 4:13 pm #

    Oh Boy Nancy, my blood is boiling about this Mr. Marshall’s comments. I will simmer down a bit and work on a response later.

    [Reply]

  2. nancy May 27, 2010 at 4:15 pm #

    I figured you would be there Harry! Imagine how I felt the first time I read it 18 months ago!

    [Reply]

  3. Karen May 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Nancy, I wouldn’t give that guy the time of day. It is abundantly clear that your boys are living life to the fullest outside the confines of Mr. Marshall’s imagination. It is obvious that their education and character are not suffering.

    Check this out http://mylawlicense.blogspot.com/2010/04/ethics-alarms-go-off-its-jack-marshall.html

    Apparently it is Mr. Marshall’s sport of choice to take pot shots are people who are doing nothing wrong. Don’t give him an audience.

    Enjoy your ride!

    [Reply]

  4. Darrell Robertson May 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Please do not let this criticism consume you. I’ve been a police officer in Houston for 25 years. Jack Marshal has no idea what real child abuse is. What you are instilling and teaching your children is priceless. If what you are doing is child abuse, then every bedouin who has a child is abusing them. Ridiculous. If I could have done what you are doing years ago, my relationship with my children would be far richer.

    [Reply]

  5. Nikki Hootman May 27, 2010 at 4:21 pm #

    Absolutely disgusting article. I truly sympathize with those crusading to help genuinely abused and “used” children, but anyone who reads your blog regularly (as I do) knows the two of you are doing this for your boys just as much as yourselves, if not more. I can see them thriving in every post!

    As someone who was “dragged” on her parents’ adventures as a small child, I think I’m qualified to answer Mr. Marshall’s closing question. Nope, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.

    [Reply]

  6. Nikki Hootman May 27, 2010 at 4:23 pm #

    Okay, I’m sorry, I just have to comment again. The thing that just makes the entire article laughable to me is that you guys are TEACHERS. Who better to know what children need and thrive on?

    [Reply]

  7. Kraig Tomiser May 27, 2010 at 4:48 pm #

    Jack Marshall’s parents perhaps kept him locked in a closet as a child and he is jealous? What a sorry man.

    [Reply]

  8. Anonymous May 27, 2010 at 4:51 pm #

    As the parent of a child who WAS abused by his mother, I am appalled that anyone can call what you are doing child abuse. I’ll admit I was a little concerned in the beginning with the very long stretches of road you covered, but I can see that your children are handling it and thriving on it. Keep up the good work!

    [Reply]

  9. Nelson Parke May 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm #

    I think my father-in- law said it well. When kicked by a jackass, consider the source.

    I have been following you every day since we met in mid Missouri when the boys were 8. Keep it up.

    [Reply]

  10. Trans-Americas Journey May 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Well said. Beside the fact that you are obviously parents who care deeply about the education, welfare and development of your sons. There is no better education than what can be learned while traveling, experiencing different places, people and cultures. Yes, sometimes this may be a bit more difficult than an insulated suburban lifestyle, but in the end it is probably safer and healthier than what goes on in most suburban high schools these days. It is without a doubt a much richer learning and growing experience.
    Bravo for having the courage to do this. We too are travelers, but we’re the selfish ones who have decided to forego children, allowing for an easier traveling lifestyle.

    [Reply]

  11. Lorin Black May 27, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Our nation was built on parents pushing their children through extreme challenges. If any of the links on Mr. Marshall’s page actually worked I’d go leave a comment about how unpatriotic he is.

    [Reply]

  12. Tim Tinkel May 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm #

    I wouldn’t have remained silent as long as you did, Nancy, but I think that what my wife always says is true – you should never argue with a Pharisee. Which means you should never argue with someone who is stubborn and stiff necked. He sounds like one of those people who think that the government knows what is better for your children than the parent does and that the government should take over all control of your children. That was the most ridiculous article I’ve read in a long time. Don’t worry about it Nancy. You are doing the right thing. Your kids are learning more than they ever would in the classroom. That’s why I love homeschooling. My boys would love to go on an adventure like you are on. My oldest, John Allen, and I have been poring over bike maps to decide where we want to bike to first. Could a cross country trip be in our future? Thanks for giving us the inspiration.

    Tim

    [Reply]

  13. The Rev. Dr. Viscount Talon S. Windwalker May 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm #

    Nancy,

    I am an adoptive parent of 2 special needs boys and have worked with special needs, abused & neglected children for over 20 years. I am a hospice chaplain, a former trauma nurse, and am trained as a naturopathic physician. Let me say this: In no way have you abused or neglected your children! If anything they are getting an education, an experience, and millions of amazing memories that will last them their whole life! I only wish I could do what you are now. These boys are being exposed to things in this world most people will never see, hear, taste, or feel. I have seen where you have stayed overnight in places for days because someone wasn’t quite feeling up to snuff.

    I have read the occasional blog post written by one of your boys and have been consistently amazed at their critical thinking skills and their communication levels. You can tell how much they are enjoying themselves and how much they are learning. I only hope that I can somehow follow their progress throughout the rest of their adolescence after this experience is done because I think we have two young men with blinding futures thanks in large part to this journey.

    And here they get another lesson: There will always be critics in life. People may gift you with their negative energy, but a gift has to be accepted to be of value, and these types of gifts are more valuable when they are rejected.

    [Reply]

  14. Michael Odom May 27, 2010 at 6:49 pm #

    Nancy, many good comments here. But, I’ll just say, you’ll always have your detractors. I commend you for what you’re doing. And, as I’m sure you know, there are a growing number of families willing to step out of the mold and try something different. If it wasn’t for folks like you, the prospective world we leave our grandchildren would look pretty bleak. Same old, same old won’t take us far! Keep ridng!
    -Mike

    [Reply]

  15. Sheilia Scott May 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I’m trying again, becuse my first attempt got somehow sabotaged by my laptop, and is lost in cybrspace. I wrote a comment on FaceBook but now I’m reiterating here: YOU & JOHN ARE DOING GREAT JOB OF PARENTING. Y’all and Bill & Amarins Harrison (the Pedouins) are my HEROES and candidates for World’s Best Parents. Keep pedalling and enjoying ! ..and ignore that sorry Jack Marshall…

    [Reply]

  16. Debra Speakes May 27, 2010 at 6:51 pm #

    I wouldn’t dignify his drivel with a response. For one thing, it’s a year and a half old (dateline 2008). For another, it feels like sour grapes. I’m guessing this is a man whose parents wouldn’t let him take risks as a child, he missed out on stuff, so now he’s jealous of the wonderfully rich life experiences your sons are racking up.

    In mankind’s infancy, cross-country travel with children was simply a way of life. Children had to help work by gathering food and firewood to sustain the tribe or clan. They had to walk along with the adults — only the infants and very smallest would be carried by grownups. There was no question of them having the kind of childhood Mr Marshall thinks all kids should have — a childhood of doing what? Playing video games? Watching cartoons? Sleeping on a soft mattress with plenty of Oreo cookies and Campbell’s soup at hand? What does that teach them?

    Your travels with your boys are not abusing them; you are teaching your boys about character, empathy, fairness, hard work and the rewards that work brings, the generosity of strangers (and I seem to recall your family helping to roof someone’s hut at one point so it’s certainly not all one-way).

    His comparison of your travels to the travels of Gypsies is not only not valid, but insulting to Gypsies as well as to your family. The Gypsies that people would criticize are criticized not for a nomadic simple lifestyle nor for requesting and accepting help from others, but for CHEATING people by selling inferior goods or crippled horses or for STEALING or TRICKING people out of their money. And those characteristics are found in a small minority of every race of people you could name.

    There is no shame in being a Gypsy, only in being dishonest, whether you are a Gypsy, a cowboy, a priest, a truck driver, an accountant, or a cyclist. You are not tricking people, stealing from them, or cheating them in any way. If anyone’s life is an open book, it is the Vogel family’s.

    I don’t recall in your blog any times when you begged food or aid from people, except in times of duress when you had no choice (stores closed, no shelter to sleep, weather issues, mechanical failures). You have for the most part been self-sufficient (if corporations want to sponsor you, that’s nobody’s business but yours and theirs). If other people want to help you, that is their choice and it is no shame for you to accept help which is freely given.

    I am not bicycling across two continents and there are occasional times when I have to ask strangers for help due to unforeseen circumstances or just plain bad luck. Does that make me the STEREOTYPED Gypsy, taking advantage of others? No, it makes me human.

    His comments are offensive and bigoted and show his ignorance both of what you are doing and of the Gypsies and their lifestyle.

    Your boys are getting an education that will help them in every aspect of their lives. They have been given a thirst for knowledge and have had the opportunity to experience the satisfaction of learning new things, of trying hard to achieve a goal, of pushing themselves to greater heights (literally and figuratively), of knowing what they are made of and what they are capable of.

    I suspect the words “I can’t” are not in their vocabulary, except in the context of “I can’t understand why more people don’t do this.”

    Your journey is an inspiration for people — it shows the great rewards that come from NOT taking the easy way. I told you that I chose to ride a horse through France instead of a tour bus because reading your blogs showed me how much more I would gain from the experience. It was the right choice for me and I’m glad I did it. I was even given a difficult horse to ride and found I was up to the challenge. I came back from that trip knowing “I still got it” and have started competing in trail riding competitions on my own horse since I got back. I know what I am made of now. I have you to thank for inspiring me to find that out.

    I am so glad I was guided to your website and your story because it has already changed my outlook on life and my life goals.

    It would be different if you dragged your boys kicking and screaming on this journey — but everything I’ve seen in their blogs tells me this is as much their journey as yours.

    Mr Marshall should get off his complaining, busy-body rear end and go ride a bike, or a horse, or take a hike, or go camp in a tent — then maybe he’d “get it” and will understand what you are doing.

    There’s an old saying about not criticizing someone until they have walked a mile in your moccasins . . . Mr Marshall should go ride 1000 miles on your bicycle, then he might be qualified to comment on your lifestyle.

    [Reply]

  17. West May 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm #

    You are Great Parents. What people almost always over look is that ALL parents make decisions that determine the present and the future of our kids. My wife and I and our two daughters, ages 4 and 1 at the time, went to Venezuela to live in slum with a Catholic Missionary organization. People asked us, “How can you do that to your children?” If you ask our two oldest daughters today, ages 28 and 25, what was the best thing that their parents ever did for them, they will quickly reply, “Take me to live in a slum in Latin America.” They not only learned another language, but another culture and most importantly they learned that the way we live in the USA is not the norm.

    Again, ALL parents make these decisions for the children. If I would have decided to live in a protective suburb somewhere in the United States all my life, that would definitely shape and determine my child’s entire future. If I send them to public or private school. If I make them do chores when I am wealthy enough to have maids, is that abuse? If I don’t allow them to have a car at age 16, but to walk, take the bus, etc., is that abuse? Geez, give me a break. Most parents do what they believe is the best for their children. If only more parents made decisions more like you two did, the world would be a better place.

    [Reply]

  18. Harriet M. Welsch May 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm #

    My 8-year-old has be captivated by your trip ever since I first showed him your page and he’s plotting to take one of our own. You are doing an amazing thing for and with your boys. Don’t let this kind of ignorance and intolerance get to you. For every one of him, there are dozens of us cheering you on.

    [Reply]

  19. John Higham May 27, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    It is sad to think that people are so quick to judge others without ever getting to know them. How is it possible that Mr. Marshall could make such incinerating and sweeping judgments about the Vogels and their children without even meeting them? And what qualifications does he have to make such judgments?

    Let me state that I am qualified to judge the Vogels, because I’ve been lucky enough in life to do something very similar with my family, albeit five years ago.

    What the Vogels are doing is investing in their children’s future. I can state with certainty that the Vogels have a stronger bond between them than most families will ever enjoy and it will endure far beyond the duration of their trip. How do I know this? Personal experience.

    I say family first — above career, and certainly above other’s idea of “normal.” I know John & Nancy would agree. Their actions show it.

    I wish there were more people like the Vogels. The world would be a much better place.

    I pity you, Mr. Marshall. Your short-sidedness of what is a “safe, secure, stable existence” or what a “normal life” should be is a perfect metaphor for what is wrong with much of society today – quickly equating “different” with “bad” or even “evil.”

    What I see is that Mr. Marshall has an agenda, and that is to build himself up as a self-proclaimed ethicist by tearing something down that he neither understands nor is qualified to pass judgment on. Tell me. Is there anything more unethical?

    [Reply]

  20. Marie May 27, 2010 at 8:00 pm #

    I actually found this site through that article. When I read it I thought that he was being an idiot, that you were pretty good parents in tune with your kids and didn’t become frazzled over every little thing. From one RPCV to another I thought your journey was cool. Just because someone writes something one way doesn’t mean that it is perceived that way. I understand how upsetting it must have been to read that, but really isn’t worth your energy.

    [Reply]

  21. André Boissonnault May 27, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    As a wise man once told me, You can’t win a pissing contest against a skunk. Your best move is to walk away.
    We crossed the country as a family last summer and our two boys are still talking about the adventure. We left the west coast with two kids and reached the east coast with two youngsters full of pride, sens of responsability and confidence to spare. They are not only our children but two of our best friends. We talk about everything since we had alot of practice on the long back roads of the USA and Canada. There is no better way to live life, hear and smell the wold. We got pretty good at smelling and believe me I can smell a skunk.
    I hope you reach you goal but never reach the end of the road.
    Tail winds

    [Reply]

  22. Nathalie May 27, 2010 at 10:08 pm #

    Dear Nancy and family,

    I find it HIGHLY amusing and ironic that the moronic Mr. Marshall criticized your spelling of a word, when he confuses the word “pedaling” for the word “peddling” many times in his own post. Pot? Meet Kettle. Undoubtedly he is the product of the “federally-mandated education” that he seems to admire so much that he would deny any parents the RIGHT to educate their children the way they see fit while crying that children’s rights are being abused because they are being “forced” to go on this journey.

    I also find it highly amusing that this idiot is basically saying that your kids aren’t being socialized because they’re traveling the world with their parents for 30+ months, staying at other people’s homes, attending local schools at times, communicating with local merchants, museum directors, other travelers, their own parents. Next he will tell you that they are not being exposed to any diversity, lol, that they’re growing in a bubble.

    It must be excruciating and tedious to be that guy’s child. He is so judgmental and so high up in his ivory tower!

    Life is to be lived. If we were all like this idiot, we would all spend our lives just reading about the adventures of others, or watching them achieve extraordinary things on the net or on TV. You know that all he does all day is read through homeschooling blogs, sputtering with indignation because surely, how can those kids be so happy when his are so miserable! How can those people WANT to spend all day with their kids when he clearly can’t wait to send his off to school for most of the day. No doubt that he delegates the soccer games and Scouting duties to his significant other too.

    He is a little man who needs to be others to feel important. “Exercising power over the fate of another human being for the purpose of accomplishing a personal objective, however worthy, is an offense to justice, fairness, respect, and autonomy.” And yet, what exactly is he trying to do when he seeks to rob you of your rights (nay, when he seeks to rob ALL OF US of our rights) to educate our children in the way that we see fit, because of his own personal bias and objectives! Such hypocrisy from an “ethicist”.

    Do you think that with an attitude like his he has ever accomplished anything? Not likely.

    Your kids, on the other hand, whether they get the record or not, will have had experiences to share on a college application that not many will ever come close to matching.

    Best wishes to you all on your travels, be safe, forget the nay-sayers ’cause it’s none of their business, and please continue to share your experiences in your blog :)

    [Reply]

  23. Linda May 28, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    I think that every day your family is cycling toward your goals, you are proving the Mr. Marshall’s of the internet “wrong”.

    Your boys show so much love and respect for both you and John. Considering all the possibilities, they have stayed remarkably healthy…. a few problems with ingrown toe nails, stomach viruses, and a sore bum…. Nothing that you and John didn’t help them with.

    I think you and your hubby are doing an amazing job. This adventure is such a challenge, physically, emotionally and intellectually. Sometimes, I don’t know how you’ve hung in there. The lessons that your boys are learning about patience, problem-solving, and perseverence, will carry them through their adulthood. Carry on, Vogels!

    [Reply]

  24. Jackie May 28, 2010 at 5:03 am #

    My family loves following your travels. I think what you and your husband are doing FOR your children is magnificent. You all truly inspire me and my children. Challenging children, opening their mind and broadening their horizons is not abuse. I truly can not even get where this guy is coming from. Maybe he has just never traveled enough to understand. Thank you for sharing your journey. Please do not let people like this stop you.

    [Reply]

  25. Rebeka May 28, 2010 at 8:28 am #

    He must still have training wheels on his bike!!

    But seriously, your boys are getting a better education than any child sitting in a class room reading about the things they get to see in person and experience for themselves!!

    And riding a bike for long distances is not abuse in any way, it’s a true joy!!!

    [Reply]

  26. Joel May 28, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    We’re all shaped by our experiences and education. I would imagine that your kids will have not only unique stories to share throughout their lives, but unique perspectives that will be a tremendous asset to them in whatever they ultimately decide to pursue for themselves.

    In a world and country where most families use the TV as their babysitter, you are an example of full-time quality time.

    [Reply]

  27. Ian and Wendy Sewell May 28, 2010 at 9:43 am #

    Nancy, what you guys need to do is to return home immediately. There you will be able to provide your children with a “normal” upbringing. They can sit on the couch all day, eating plenty of Twinkies and Doritos and playing video games. Just think how much richer and happier their lives will be if you stop making them get exercise and be outside, meeting new people and seeing new places! We know all they really want to do is stay in their comfortable living room glued to their video games and eating good ol’ American fast food and washing it down with copious quantities of soda. Then they will be truly happy and healthy!

    Gotta go – we have our own child to “abuse”!

    [Reply]

  28. nancy May 28, 2010 at 9:48 am #

    Wow – many thanks to you all! Although I know we are doing right by our kids, I will admit articles like this make me start to doubt. In the end, though, it’s articles like that make me reexamine what we are doing and really look deep into my motives – and I realize our journey really is the best childhood we could give our sons. Thanks again to you all!

    [Reply]

  29. Kathy May 28, 2010 at 9:50 am #

    Well, if “ignorance is bliss,” then Mr. Jack Marshall must be a very happy man!

    Kudos to you and John for being brave enough to step outside of the norm and take your children on such an educational journey. On so many different levels, the benefits to them throughout the rest of their lives will be immeasurable. And the fact that your boys are thriving, as well as happy, speaks to your excellent parenting skills.

    [Reply]

  30. Eric Vithalani May 28, 2010 at 9:52 am #

    More power to those parents who think outside of the box when it comes to their children’s education and lives. I hope, when I have kids, I am strong enough, brave enough and smart enough to live a like the you all, Nancy. It’s apparent that Mr. Marshall only speaks from a chair in front of a computer and has no real idea what it is like to walk…err…ride in your shoes. Keep up the good work, Vogels. You are an inspiration.

    [Reply]

  31. Ray D. Chaplin May 28, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Dear Mr Jack Marshall… you are an idiot!
    This is the greatest gift parents could possibly give their children!!! Attitude, choices and experiences make us who we are… and this is building their character through experiences so that they have the right attitude to make the correct choices in life.

    I’d do pretty much anything to be those boys! We don’t all follow the banker, lawyer, doctor way of life… who wants to anyway? Really?

    The Vogels are giving their kids the best childhood money can buy!!! Yes, they accept donations and corporate sponsors… but which expedition doesn’t?

    I say GO VOGELS!!!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  32. Nikia May 28, 2010 at 10:07 am #

    What a load of crap Nancy! Don’t give it another thought! I admire you and your family immensely and think the education you are giving your children is priceless! I would have loved to have that opportunity as a child!

    Continued success and enjoyment in your adventures! I look forward to seeing what’s next for y’all!

    [Reply]

  33. Leigh Shulman May 28, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    There will always be someone to come along to say you’re not parenting properly. No matter what you’re doing or where you’re doing it.

    If Mr Marshall believes that good parenting and biking the world are mutual exclusive, that is his self limiting loss.

    If we all learned to give ourselves the benefit of the doubt and try something new, big, even scary or seemingly impossible, we’d be happier with our own lives and less likely to feel the need to snipe at others’ choices.

    [Reply]

  34. Fida May 28, 2010 at 10:23 am #

    It seems that Mr. Marshall didn’t read Davy’s and Daryl’s blog posts about how they love their life on the road either.

    You are such an inspiration and I admire you so much for what you are doing!

    [Reply]

  35. Fr. Ken May 28, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    I read this last night and found the critical thinking in the ethics piece a bit skewed in that it focuses on such minute bits of your life as being exemplary of the whole. It’s a narrow bandwidth perspective, IMHO.

    I’m familiar with homeschoolers, with adventure travel, and with Central and South America, and I think it’s wonderful you and your children are able to experience it together first hand, in such a unique way.

    I don’t think you should let the article upset you, though anyone can understand why you would respond. You’ve made a bold choice, and that will always invite criticism. (Try being a Priest!)

    [Reply]

  36. Rosharn Walker May 28, 2010 at 11:03 am #

    I have rewritten this several times. There is too much to say to Mr. Marshall! So lets try to summarize.
    What I see when I look at these blogs is a family that eats correctly, exercises, teaches and loves their kids.
    The only wrong way to raise kids is to not love them. And everyone chooses to raise their kids differently. If you choose to watch your kids grow on your days off and trust someone else to teach your kids, that’s up to you. But don’t judge others for raising their kids better than you raise yours. Do Your kids love you? Do they know who you are? I understand why you are so scared of this lifestyle. It’s different and new to you. You clearly have issues with conspiracies. It makes me wonder how badly you were treated that you honestly automatically believe the worst in people you don’t know.
    I don’t think you really like living this way and I truly hope you will find someone to talk to about this.

    [Reply]

  37. Bob May 28, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Mr Jack Marshal is a self absorbed blow hard. Don’t listen to him. For goodness sakes he doesn’t actually produce anything. It would be easy to just pick on him for being a lawyer, but he has taken it one step further. Instead of actually practicing law, he makes his money by telling other lawyers how to be “ethical”. In other words, Jack Marshal indirectly does nothing. In order to help sell his abilities at indirectly doing nothing, he tries to inflate his self image by condemning your actions. It is quite clear he is a pompous ivy league type who considers outdoor activities as something vulgar. By his standards if you go camping you are subjecting yourself to unnecessary hardship. Therefore if we take our children camping we are abusing them. That is just absurd. Oh my. You drive an old car without a quality sound system. Abuse. How can the children handle their ride to and from private school. No air conditioning. Abuse I tell you. Abuse. What, your children walk and bike to school. Call the police. Public school. The horror.

    Thank you for your blog. It is an inspiration to read.

    [Reply]

  38. Anony May 28, 2010 at 2:03 pm #

    Sounds like a magnificent adventure that your kids will treasure and learn from their entire lives.

    Ignore the man behind the curtain. Or just Google “Jack Marshall ethics” to see how he has been pilloried by others for his nonsensical rants.

    [Reply]

  39. Harry Verburg May 28, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    Mr. Jack Marshall, this is in response to your comments and accusations towards the Vogel Family you made a few months ago. Hopefully by this time you have discovered your mistake and will recant everything negative you have said about them. Two things: (1) You obviously don’t know the Vogels as I do and (2) You haven’t read/reread EVERY blog entry, including follower comments, of the current adventure and their last adventure of 9,000 miles across country and Mexico. This includes all video productions – which the boys made some themselves as a home study project.

    I met the Vogels at the Grand Canyon partway into their last adventure. I immediately fell in love with the family and what they are doing together. At that time, I didn’t know too much about them but as the months, then years went by, I felt very honored to know this family. The boys have adopted me as their unofficial grandfather as they have none living. Yes, what they are doing together is different than what your “normal family” activities are. Those boys have been on bicycles since birth. Check out the margin photos of their Web Page. They love the challenges and rewards of such adventures. The Guiness record is not the reason for the adventure but a byproduct of doing it. If one boy would have said “NO”, the adventure would not have happened. The family makes decisions together as is witnessed by many blog entries. They are paying dearly for the boys decision to stick to the coast rather than go into the mountains. But they will make it with a lot and I mean a lot of sweat. You noticed I didn’t say tears – these boys cry over real world issues like injuries, sickness NOT the rigors of a very difficult journey.

    These boys are non-identical twins and have completely different personalities as well as body structure. But there is one thing they are the same on and that is the desire to meet the challenges and heartaches of such an adventure. The fact that David chose to ride on a single rather than a tandem with his mom or dad is testament to their devotion. Before they left the USA, they were experiencing mechanical problems with the tandem and John almost canceled the trip but Daryl that he would rather buy and ride a single than give up the trip. Does this sound like child abuse? I think not.

    I think the boys are already thinking about their next adventure as the African continent has come up in some of their correspondence. In their last trip David said that when he has a family they are going to do the same type of trips except over different roads. Why do they do it? The same reasons people climb mountains – because they can. This is not an easy adventure, if it was there would be hundreds if not thousands of families doing this. Check out the crazyguyonabike.com web site and see just how many families are doing multi-month/year rides such as this – there are dozens and probably dozens more we don’t hear about. And you have the gall to say that this is child abuse?

    Since our first meeting at the Grand Canyon, I have driven hundreds of miles just to be with them for a couple of days while they are on the road. They stayed with me for a week during Thanksgiving 2008 and I really got to know the family better. Those boys ran circles around me. They love geocacheing and swimming – they did that a lot while here just like “normal” kids would do. They will watch TV if nothing else is going on. They love Animal Planet and The History Channel. The cogs in their minds are turning constantly. Last night I had a dream and they had just finished infantry basic training, jump school and ranger training and they both said at the end: “OK, what do we do tomorrow.” This is so like them. They can make up games to play during a rest break that no other “normal” kids could. When they enter a new town, it isn’t long before they are involved in a neighborhood soccer game – no language barrier. These boys are experiencing what few their age will ever experience.

    Well Mr. Marshall, if the purpose of your comments was to upset people you accomplished your goal with me but I will get over it. You’ve heard the expression that disabled and handicapped people don’t want sympathy or pity, just understanding. Mr. Marshall, I don’t understand you so therefore I pity you. Obviously you had a very bad childhood and don’t want anybody else to have a good one. If you really want a cause to fight against, try this one: Childhood Obesity! Parents of obese children are slowly poisoning their children by not controlling what they eat. Now this is child abuse. Even the First Lady is on the bandwagon with this issue. Why don’t you join her and leave families like the Vogel’s alone. I bet you feel the same way about parents of young Olympians who proudly represent our country. Since you made your statements against the Vogels, we have a teen girl that sailed around the world alone and a teen boy that climbed Mt. Everest. Are you going to blast their families too? I hope not.

    I hope that you do reconsider your comments and offer a retraction and apology. Thankyou for your time.

    /s/ Harry J. Verburg, Jr. Lieutenant Colonel, US Army, Retired.

    [Reply]

  40. Shana Carranco May 28, 2010 at 3:04 pm #

    What a life experience you are able to share as a family. Teaching your kids that we are all human and there are no differences between us. Not everyone gets the opportunity to be such a close family, to experience so much and for them to carry what they have learned with them and share with others now and in the future. I commend you for giving your boys and yourselves the opportunity to learn about people, cultures and the world and to share with the rest of us who love reading about your adventure. Thanks for sharing!

    [Reply]

  41. Jerry & Kathy Wills May 28, 2010 at 3:41 pm #

    The guy who wrote that is a creep… He sounds like a typical know it all. The crummy things he wrote don’t have any merit, so don’t let it get you down. There will always be small minds who are intimidated by those who have great inspiration, courage, and spirit. He only wrote those things to make it appear he and his opinions are important. They are not.

    The journey you and your family have undertaken is truly an odyssey of the spirit. One ignorant little man with a sour opinion is nothing when compared to a world of people who have been, or might one day be, inspired by what you each have done.

    As for Mr. Marshall… You should take as much time to apologize to the Vogel’s as you did to condemn them. However, I suspect you will remain quite. It’s obvious you have severely embarrassed yourself before a substantial world community.

    Best Wishes Vogel Family : )
    Jerry & Kathy Wills
    executive producers
    Xpeditions TV

    [Reply]

  42. KJFitzgerald May 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm #

    I visited the Marshall web site. He has set himself up as an ethics guru. But I don’t know how he can call himself ethical, when what he has written amounts to cyber-bullying. How can he call a tour of this type abusive when he’s not out there on the road, observing first hand what is going on? Yes, the blog entries and pictures tell a great story, but unless someone is on the road with the cyclists and see how they deal with the situations encountered, they have no business commenting publicly like they are some kind of authority figure who “knows it all” or is “holier than thou.” Yes, everone can have an opinion, but to imply publicly that abuse is happening crosses the line into bullying. Shame on Mr. Marshall. I strongly disagree with what he wrote. Read on and see why.
    I do have first hand experience with a family bike tour, as I was invited to go on a cross-USA ride with a family from our cycling club. Their son was the one who asked his parents if I could go. Well, 3 months after we started in Oregon, we biked up to Virginia’s Yorktown Victory monument. There we stood, three very fit adults, three very strong children and our three tandems, escorted through the final miles by my cousin. Now, almost 24 years later, the former kids still talk favorably about their time on the road and how it made such a positive difference in their lives. They all continue to enjoy cycling. And the adults involved, including me, are all still cycling as well. The parents were careful to plan the days so we were not burning out the children – or ourselves. We experienced delightful hospitality, beautiful scenery, and spontaneous generosity. We didn’t sing and dance, but I feel confident that we left people with good memories of our time with them.
    Is bike touring bad for children? It can be if the parents push their kids way too hard or expect them to be perfect for every mile and nag them again and again, day after day. Behavior similar to that in any sport can burn out a young person so badly that they never want to do the sport again. But I’ve never seen any behavior like that among cycling families that I know. And from the writings of the Vogel twins themselves, I certainly don’t think burnout-inducing behavior is happening on their tour.
    Good cycling parents have learned enough so that they are kind and helpful to their cycling children. The result is that the children learn good road skills, accident avoidance, and how to judge speed, time and space. All these skills transfer nicely when children grow up and begin driving cars and trucks. I have personal experience with this. Even though my own parents didn’t tour, my brother taught me to take road cycling seriously and how to ride safely in traffic when I was in early grade school. So when the public bus system changed its route, I was able to start bike commuting from home in College Park, GA, USA to St. John’s School in Hapeville. That was a minimum of 5 miles each way and included going slightly less than halfway around Atlanta’s big airport. Were my parents neglectful? No, they realized I liked cycling so much better than other sports. I earned their trust by riding carefully, arriving at school and home on time (mostly!), avoiding crashes and avoiding strangers. Was it risky? Tell me one sport that isn’t risky! During my grade school commuting years, I didn’t have any accidents with motor vehicles, and I had only 3 minor falls which I rode away from each time. So between the middle of 4th grade, and the end of 7th grade, I rode over 3,500 miles, the vast majority of which were safe and fun. I have no regrets. I still bike commute and tour, and yes, I drive two motor vehicles. I still have my first car, a Valiant, and a new Dodge Caravan. I have had two warnings, but no tickets, and no accidents as a motorist ( People who have faith in God will give credit to Him for safe miles like that, and I do and I will!).
    Mr. Marshall would do well to apologize for his previous writings. He would also do well to go on a cross-state bike tour like Bike Virginia, BRAG or RAGBRAI, and he should ride with some of the cycling families he will no doubt encounter. An open mind would help. Only then will he realize that bike touring can be a very positive experience for children, and it can form family bonds that are strong and lasting. Bike touring is not for everyone, but I endorse it wholeheartedly. Go Vogels!
    -=KJF=-

    Links:
    Article on my bike commuting is in this pdf:

    http://news.clayton.edu/Laker%20Connection/LC_Spring10_webversion.pdf

    Grown-up cross-country kid cyclist, her dad and how she feels. (I’m the family friend mentioned in the aritcle):

    http://www.adventurecycling.org/resources/Open_Road_Determination.pdf

    At least two American cross-state rides have programs to teach economically disadvantaged young people how to ride safely in motor vehicle and cycling traffic. Their behavior has to be exemplary. If they make the grade, they get to ride the cross state ride. If they complete it, they earn the bike and cycling clothing with which they are provided.

    http://www.dreamteamdsm.org/

    http://www.brag.org/dreamteam.html

    Young expert on cyber-bullying:

    http://www.nocussing.com/curriculum.html

    Also, read the book, “Hey Mom, Can I Ride My Bike Across America,” by John Siegel-Boettner.

    [Reply]

  43. K McKinney May 28, 2010 at 5:14 pm #

    It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. Shame on the man of cultivated taste who permits refinement to develop into fastidiousness that unfits him for doing the rough work of a workaday world. Among the free peoples who govern themselves there is but a small field of usefulness open for the men of cloistered life who shrink from contact with their fellows. Still less room is there for those who deride of slight what is done by those who actually bear the brunt of the day; nor yet for those others who always profess that they would like to take action, if only the conditions of life were not exactly what they actually are. The man who does nothing cuts the same sordid figure in the pages of history, whether he be a cynic, or fop, or voluptuary. There is little use for the being whose tepid soul knows nothing of great and generous emotion, of the high pride, the stern belief, the lofty enthusiasm, of the men who quell the storm and ride the thunder. Well for these men if they succeed; well also, though not so well, if they fail, given only that they have nobly ventured, and have put forth all their heart and strength.

    Theodore Roosevelt

    [Reply]

  44. jack harley May 28, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    I met the Vogels in Belize when they came through. Once the family was rested the next day John and Nancy did their home schooling and I was incredibly impressed with Davy and Darryls comprehension of mathematics (as that was the subject of the day), way beyond their years. The boys are very bright , fit and well adjusted. It was a pleasure to see a small town american family travelling the world and yet recieving a first class education and becoming full citizens of the world. I believe an education as these boys are recieving will make them capable of helping the USA in the future to understand how to lead the world as it surely will have to. For better or worse, we try hard but all people in this world have the right to the same protection and understanding that our constitution allows us. The Vogel family and others like them give an understanding that is sorely missing in our media dominated world.

    [Reply]

  45. Sharlene May 28, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

    It makes me absolutely sick that anyone would put you in the same story as Jon and Kate. You are an inspiration to myself and so many parents who want to teach their children about life, travel, and the world. You are giving your children an opportunity to follow their dream and in the process you are educating them in ways that the public school system could never come close to doing. You know what I think one of the big problems with society is? People don’t want their kids to do anything if it is too hard. They don’t want them to struggle, fall down, scrape a knee. Its all smiley faces. Nobody wants to keep score at baseball games. Well life isn’t really like that. There are winners and loses. Sometimes we become better mountain climbers by falling off a couple boulders in our training. You keep doing what you are doing. Keep inspiring us all to be better parents. We will all be cheering you on the entire way!

    [Reply]

  46. Theresa May 28, 2010 at 11:01 pm #

    What an idiot.
    Nancy, do not even waste your time or energy on this man and his ignorant drivel. Just keep on doing what you do best–raising an awesome family and being an inspiration to us all!!!

    [Reply]

  47. MizCt May 29, 2010 at 7:22 am #

    We live in a part of the world where freedom of speech is declared a right. Therefore, as has Mr. Marshall declared his right, I, too, shall exercise mine. There are copius amounts of absentee parents in this world…those who place a far greater value on the power & money that their careers generate, over that of being a hands-on, caring & … See… See More Moreconscientious parent. There are millions of parents who have LOST the vision to see what their children REALLY want & need – that is, their parents time and attention – NOT the ‘things’ their money can buy them. Things do NOT replace a parents love, energy, and time spent with their children. The Vogels are a caring, educated family whom have made a life-choice to give their children a priceless gift…that is, an education through travelling. Anyone, who has ever done any REAL travelling (& I am not referring to the rose-colored guided tours, but of getting out amongst the peoples & walking in their shoes), knows full well, it IS a priceless education that sitting down at a desk in a classroom can not provide. LIVING the experience is irreplaceable. Having said that, I strongly applaud the Vogels decision to take their boys out of the conventional classroom atmosphere and give them a ‘higher-level’ of education & in doing so, spending one-on-one, hands-on, 24-7 time with their sons. These boys will grow up to be amazing adults, with much to contribute to the betterment of this world. Already, this is very evident, if one was to re-read Davy’s journal entries. Life IS full of ups & downs & struggles & trumphs…whether in living a conventional lifestyle or not. You go Vogels!!! This professional Nanny is cheering you on : )
    (footnotes – in Mr. Marshall’s reference to Mrs. Vogel’s spelling error of – ‘ occational ‘ – I must wonder if he hasn’t ever made a spelling or typo-error in his life?) Furthermore, his writings and rantings surely generate him some profits & notariety to enable him to do what he must with his life…therefore, the Vogels should not be chastised by him for what they do to keep afloat on their journey.
    To quote a famous saying, “People who live in glass houses should not cast stones.” This IS a huge world and it is becoming smaller everyday….evident by small-minded people who live in it : )

    [Reply]

  48. Rachel Hugens May 29, 2010 at 10:18 am #

    Who is Jack Marshall? Should we care?

    Have no doubts!

    [Reply]

  49. Lisa May 29, 2010 at 12:15 pm #

    All the other commenters have said it more eloquently than I can, but I think what you’re doing with and for your boys is wonderful. They are learning so much more than any other children their age. The only disadvantage they’ll experience is being so much more worldly than their peers when they do return home. Some culture shock will surely occur! You only have to read their journal entries to see how much they are enjoying this journey. Although I’m glad you stuck up for yourself, Mr. Marshall really didn’t deserve the attention.

    [Reply]

  50. Lou Ann May 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm #

    It has been amazing to observe over the two trips how your boys have grown intellectually. I am amazed with their entries.

    Sitting on the couch has its own dangers, as does riding in a car, playing baseball, or playing in the neighborhood. Your most dangerous moment was 5 miles from home during a rock hunt!

    [Reply]

  51. Hans May 30, 2010 at 11:54 pm #

    Nancy, I am sorry you had to read that drivel and understandably get upset by it!.
    Now I am not American, but the way I understand it is that your country became great through people who were prepared to get of their buts, take risks, were not prepered to accept the status quo etc. What this guy says, all his critisisms, flies completely in the face of that! Yet, when you dig a bit through the websites of the organisations he is ‘founder’, ‘president’ and all these self-important titles of, they all espouse to be supporting ‘great American values’.
    I dont get it, it is a bit like wanting improvement without change…
    ‘Nuff said! Get on with it, don’t waste your time reading (and responding to) fools like that!

    [Reply]

  52. Ian May 31, 2010 at 1:25 am #

    Hard to add anything to what’s already been said. You’re not approved of by one (obviously arrogant and provactive) idiot and an inspiration to thousands. That says it all – ignore it, keep going and enjoying your amazing adventure. If my boys (6 and 4) turn out as rounded, educated, determined and fit as yours I ‘ll be very happy.

    [Reply]

  53. Jean-Christophe May 31, 2010 at 5:15 am #

    My wife and I came back last year from an around the world back-packing tour (and cycling in a few places like Patagonia and NewZealand). This was an overwhelming experience. And we dream of one thing: doing such an adventure with our kids (we still have no children).
    This would be such a priceless experience for them, something that will teach them more about life and society/culture than can mathematics or school can do.
    It is also an extraordinary experience for a family, one that can strengthen its relationship.
    We met a family on our world trip, a French one, with 2 girls (aged 10 & 12), they were also back-packing. We kept in touch and now that we are all back in Europe we met several times. Their girls are really mature and enlighten, the experience was a success. Although they missed 9 month of school, they caught up really fast and are now 2 excellent students.
    I understand your burning inside, I can feel it too. But, this Mr. Marshall are just one of a kind that we should just simply ignore (or try at least). We all know how good it is for children to be with parents and live the real life. Let them moan.
    The World is magic, so let’s explore it and give such a great opportunity to our children!
    Keep on pedalling, you just made a fan :-)

    [Reply]

  54. Harry & Ivana May 31, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    Hahaha, that was a funny article, thanks for enlightening our day! That Jack whatever guy truly is a gifted comedian. I love the bit where he attacks people online, gives them no opion to comment on the article and calls that ‘ethic’. Brilliant! At least he is open enough to call himself a ‘con’, though it is rather ‘major’, not ‘minor’.

    But seriously, he is right: you are using your children as ‘a means to an end’, to pursue your ‘own personal desires and goals’. Fortunately for your kids your personal desire is clearly to give your kids the best education possible and yes, you are involving your kids in it. I don’t see how you can educate your kids without involving them?
    You let them experience goals, culture, nature, physics, math, languages, sharing, geography, sports, challenges, love, success, creativity and all other aspects of real life. Meanwile their ethically-raised friends at home are fat, lazy, xenophobic couchpotatoes who don’t even speak one language well and consider the stripmalls the coolest place to be.

    Imagine if every politician in the world would have cycled and/or travelled abroad with their parents, there would be no wars and likely -as a very wise man once sang- no religion too, as people would learn to respect and depend on eachother instead of on invisible things.

    Sometimes it seems that the Interwebs would be a better place if rambling morons like this ‘ethic’ would be banned and censored. But we live in a world where everybody has a right to an opinion and to share it, even if it is a waste of electrons and just reading it seriously endangers your IQ.
    That’s ok, just as in order to coast downhill you need to climb up first, you need thoughtless maniacs like this Jack guy in order to appreciate real writers, ethics and other thoughtful prose.

    No need to defend yourself from an attack from behind, with a virtual sword that is as sharp & witty as a worn-out cobblestone in Ecuador. Just step back and join the 50 people above and the countless others that you have inspired, while they are watching this sad and life-deprived guy make a complete and utter fool of himself. Enjoy & see you in March :) !

    Un abrazo desde Quito, Harry & Ivana

    [Reply]

  55. David Hawke June 1, 2010 at 12:31 pm #

    It’s the Jack Marshall’s that give Americans the false reputation of being ignorant blowhards!

    You are doing a great trip which I have followed from the beginning.

    Dave

    [Reply]

  56. Ann June 2, 2010 at 9:39 am #

    I find it interesting that his article doesn’t even leave a space for people to comment.
    What an idiot.

    [Reply]

  57. Michelle July 6, 2010 at 7:27 am #

    Yes. I think you are exploiting your children. The same way that a father puts his son in a flying saucer. I think you want a reality show and instant fame.

    I can guarantee that you will delete this comment. Proof positive that you don’t want real opinions.

    [Reply]

  58. Ellen July 6, 2010 at 9:48 pm #

    I wonder if Mr. Marshall thinks the only way you could be a good parent is if:

    • your children lived in a 5 bedroom suburban home in a gated community (for safety!)
    •you provided them each with their own a wide screen TV and computer with every popular game (to keep up with their friends!)
    • you drove them that one mile to school in a big and expensive SUV (for safety!) –heaven forbid they would WALK there by themselves
    • they went to a school where they were getting drilled in an increasingly narrow standards-based curriculum so they could pass the high-stake tests
    • they were in after-school care until you both came home from work
    •you provided them with a cell phone so you could know exactly where they were at any given time (for safety!)
    • you brought home fast food because you were both too tired to cook (trying to provide all those comforts and security for your children)
    • you let them watch TV while eating because you still needed to finish up some work
    • they could only go on play dates with friends whose parents were exactly like you (for safety!)
    •and on and on and on

    My point is that Mr. Marshall must have a very narrow definition of what good parents do for and with their children. I salute you for your dedication to your children. Those who think you exploit them have no clue what a tremendous education and treasure trove of experiences you are giving them. In this increasingly fear-based America, your children will be educated enough to know that the world out there is not the way it is portrayed in the media. What can be better than learning about the world first hand?

    [Reply]

  59. Gene Royal August 5, 2010 at 12:19 pm #

    I’m so sorry I’m so late finding this. I’m so thankful for every comment, most of which are far better than I could write, except the one negative one.

    Thank you, Vogels, for what your inspiration has produced in me: crazyguyonabike.com/geneandann

    [Reply]

  60. Carol Lyons August 15, 2010 at 2:31 pm #

    Hi Nancy et al:
    I am so impressed by your family’s commitment to your kids, to yourselves, to the world. Thanks so much for being an inspiration to all the parents of this world. I will visit your blog as often as I can and I will pass this onto some of our family members. We are almost all bikers. We love it.
    Thanks for your courage.
    Sincerely
    Carol and Peter LYONS

    [Reply]

  61. Dana Walters September 5, 2010 at 5:57 pm #

    If you are receiving attention/sponsorships/money because your sons are participating in your bike trek, then I feel you are exploiting them. You remind me of those homeless families that stand out by the side of the road with their young children and beg for money. As a matter of fact, many itinerant families probably justify their behavior by using some of your excuses. I have to admit, you appear to be better spoken than some of those people and their paltry efforts at raising money pale in comparison to you. You seem to have taken begging to an art form with your site. If your finances depend on your sons’ participation in your exploits, then I don’t see much of a difference at all.

    [Reply]

  62. book reviews September 18, 2010 at 11:32 am #

    Powerful post.

    [Reply]

  63. Fearful Girl March 3, 2011 at 7:30 am #

    Wow, what a dig! I had no idea, when we talked in Twitter yesterday, just how toxic people could be with their opinions. Good on you for standing up for yourself!

    This so called “normal life” that he refers to—what is that? I mean, all kids that grow up in gated communities turn into perfect humans, right? Please.

    I bet this guy, Jack Marshall, has children that will require a lifetime of therapy.

    [Reply]

  64. David Childress March 3, 2011 at 11:17 am #

    I have always been interested in ethics, but this man Jack Marshall, President of Proethics, has pretty much ruined it for me. I can spend hours explaining all the things he said that were wrong. But that will make us both tired. I just want to applaud your venture, and say that your children are getting an education unlike any other. I hope to one day raise my kids in the same manner if at all possible. Mr. Marshall is speaking from behind a computer in an office which is probably a couple of miles from his home. I have coached children that have never seen snow, the beach, a mountain trail (I live in California) when they actually experience something beyond their daily routine they are forever changed for the better. I always give the kids I coach a hard time, because life is hard. Your kids have a better understanding of that than most adults will ever no. They can appreciate what they have and don’t have cause they have seen the most affluent and the impoverished. Abuse? I think not! Mr. Marshall is a snap shot of ego-centricism only concerned with the education of an american child. I am sorry he is focusing on your family and ignoring the vast array of latch key kids that will never even leave there ghettos in america, and internationally. All I can say is I would love to see your next ride to his office in Virginia, knocking on his front door.

    [Reply]

  65. keepcycling March 3, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    I’m sure right now he’s picking his kids up from daycare…..and grabbing them some McDonalds to eat on the way home so they can go home and play video games while he sits on the internet writing about things he knows nothing about. This is what is wrong with the US right now. It’s because of people like the Vogels that my family has seen the light. Thank you.

    [Reply]

  66. Dorrie Williams March 3, 2011 at 3:17 pm #

    Well written Nancy. I agree and hope that one day my son Gregory will also say, “I’ve biked across America, I’ve traveled the world and I can do anything.” We’ve taught our children a great lesson and had the precious luxury of time watching them learn and grow.

    [Reply]

  67. Doris March 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm #

    Keep up the great work! Learning doesn’t have to be the done in the ‘conventional’ classroom setting! Learning takes place everywhere ..and anywhere … it’s limitless! What a great learning opportunity you’re giving to your family! I’m envious!

    There will always be someone out there especially in our ‘internet’ world readily and willingly say hurtful words to others. Like Karen said “don’t give him an audience”.

    [Reply]

  68. Grant Marshall April 18, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Uh, hey. Jack Marshall is my father, and I want to dispel some rumors here. First off, I’m homeschooled, and second of all, I’m not fat. I’m actually very fit, and use cycling as my means of exercise. Next time you’re in Virginia, tell me and I’ll be more than willing to join you to see how you guys really are. Also, his office is at home, not 10 feet from my bedroom. Who’s talking about things they know nothing about now?

    [Reply]

  69. nancy April 18, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Grant – I am very, very happy to see you here! I am thrilled that you enjoy cycling and hope you get to do a bicycle tour someday – it’s a fabulous way to travel!

    And if we ever get to Virginia, I’d love to meet up and go for a bike ride!

    [Reply]

  70. Traveling Tek April 19, 2011 at 5:04 am #

    I am always annoyed by people who would accuse good parents of bad parenting. All of us make mistakes and no one is perfect. To go around making wild accusations just because someone doesn’t fit into your “mold” is arrogant and un called for. The slander and libel that was in his article is enough for a law suite.

    Children are the most amazing people. They will rise to or fall to what ever expectation is put before them.

    I wonder if any one ever told Tiger Woods dad he was abusing him for putting a golf club in his hands at 2 years old and making a pro out of him?

    Children need to learn discipline and the value of hard work. Other wise you end up right where America is today. In decay and on the brink of ruin. Everyone looking for a free meal and hand out from the government. That is not life. That is not responsibility.

    You are doing a fine job of raising those boys. You keep right on doing it. People can voice their opinions, it’s their right after all, but don’t let it bother you. God knows. :-)

    [Reply]

  71. Lisa July 11, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Hi there, Vogel Family! I just wanted to add my 2 cents in, and assure you that you are not alone. Jack Marshall attacked me unfairly as well, just last week. At first I was thrown for a loop, but once I’d thoroughly researched him (by simply google searching “Jack Marshall and Ethics”), I found that this is an individual who spends every waking hour of his life trolling the internet, television, radio, and newspapers. This seems to be an activity performed for the sole purpose of attacking people for their phantom or real “ethics violations”, so that he can write up his approximately 3 hit pieces per day for his blog site: http://www.ethicsalarms.com He also seems unable to understand the irony of someone who makes it his purpose in life to go around attacking others’ opinions and/or actions, lecturing us all about ethics. I’ve studied ethics myself, although I’m definitely no expert. This leaves me puzzled about which ethical school of thought this crackpot is supposed to be following. I’m guessing he’s made up his own.

    In the course of my research, I found that he usually goes after professional journalists, or other individuals who are famous. These folks have so many crazies coming after them, they are unlikely to notice one more. So, they don’t call him on it. BUT, he also goes after other lawyers and private citizens like you and me. When that happens, we usually don’t stand for it. :-) I’m glad you didn’t, because I didn’t either! I wrote this as a rebuttal: http://wittybizgal.com/2011/07/06/emotions-declared-unethical-alert-the-media/ At the bottom of my blog, you’ll also find links to blogs that other attorneys have written about him and his nutty-disguised-as-intellectual rantings. It’s actually entertaining if you can step back from irritation over the fact that people like this exist in the world and dare call themselves professionals. I’m sure you have by now because it looks like your run in with him was over a year ago now. I’m actually starting to feel a little sorry for the man…he must lead a truly miserable life. That’s always sad, I think.

    Take care, and just know that you’re definitely not alone. Unfortunately, I’m sure you and I won’t be the last either!

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    I will admit I was pretty gutted when he first started bashing us, but once I figured out who the idiot was that passed. Now I think it’s all pretty funny really – what kind of an ethical person would bash people the way that man does? And yeah – I’ve received many emails from lawyers and others who find Mr. Marshall to be little more than a clown.

    [Reply]

    Lisa Reply:

    Exactly…Ethics is also a subjective field of study. With the exception of gross ethical violations that we can all agree on, his blog generally is quite speculative. In other words, individuals that he attacks under the premise of “bad ethics” such as you and me, are practicing bad ethics according to his opinion only. Yet, he actually behaves as if his opinion is scientific fact. Aside from that, I am always very, very suspicious about individuals who go to all the trouble of earning a law degree, and passing the bar, then do not actually practice law. There’s always a story there, and it may be a good one, or a bad one. They could be like JFK’s son John John, who was basically forced into study of law by his mother, hated it, and chose to do something different with his life. Or, they could be so very bad at being a practicing attorney that they couldn’t get a lucrative job to save their life. Either Or.

    The bottom line is that we “little people” out here care about our reputations as well. And, if we have an ounce of self esteem, we are not going to take unfair attacks from Jack Marshall lying down. His blogs, tagged with our names, are out there and fully Google searchable. He would be wise to remember that when he so unethically goes around skewering people who would otherwise never have heard of him.

    [Reply]

    Nancy Reply:

    What gets me the most is that his blog is totally based upon his own personal opinion – he makes NO effort to get to know those he blasts. If you disagree with him for whatever reason, you go on his hate list and he blasts you.

    What I found very sad was that Jack Marshall’s son found my rebuttal to his father – and I can only presume that he found the rest of the articles out there in cyberspace as well. It must have been very painful for a young boy to search the web and find out his father is such a jack**s.

    Lisa Reply:

    I thought the same thing, Nancy. I actually felt very bad for his son (I read his comment after I’d posted my initial one to you). No kid should be put in the position of feeling as if they need to defend themselves based on what their parent has written and the inevitable fallout from that. Now, that being said, Jack Marshall’s son is completely off limits as far as any speculation goes on his weight or anything else about him. What his father does, or what his father writes is in no way his fault or any reflection on him. I just hope he knows that what he chooses to do with his own life and who he grows up to be is completely up to him. I’m sure he loves his dad and his dad loves him. That’s not in question here. We all, every one of us, can grow up to be our own individual people, not carbon copies of our parents. It doesn’t mean we love or respect our Mom and Dad any less. I know that’s what I did!

    Grant Marshall Reply:

    Well, I just came back to this, as I like to do every now and again. It took me so long because I never actually got a reply, so my E-mail wasn’t pinged.

    Anyway, you all seem to think that I was barely young enough to use a keyboard, much less 16 years old. In reply to your second post, I am aware I can do whatever I want with my life, and my parents have made this clear. Hell, I’m bisexual, and when I came out all my parents said was “Thank you for telling us, we’re behind you 100%”
    They have (Yes, I know I’m a spoiled rich white kid) spent somewhere north of a few thousand on me and what I wanted to do.
    “I want to play baseball! I want to be a catcher!”
    “Alright, here’s a bat, glove, and catcher’s set”

    “I want to do mountain biking!”
    “We got you this one, because the guy at the shop said that the price difference was worth it for the better parts”

    “I want to be a theatre tech!”
    “Here’s some money for the software you need, as well as a microphone and mixer”

    When I wanted to stop playing baseball, they let me. The latter two continue to this day.

    Speaking of bikes, I have about $10,000 in bikes, and ride about half that much in miles per month. I even do a century here or there. I bought about $6,000 of that myself, earning the money on my own. My parent’s don’t bike, I did that on my own, and that’s how I feel kids should do things: By themselves.

    The kids have basically only known biking, and not a lot more. What if they want to build computers? What if they want to play lots of video games? What if they want to spend all day in bed with their girlfriend? Okay, so they’re a little young for that last one, but I do all of the above, and all of it is pretty much impossible when you have no physical home.

    I know my father is a jackass, I didn’t learn it through the internet. That being said, he isn’t really one off of the internet. I’m probably biased, but I do know that he is a little more hot-headded on the ‘net than he is in real life.

    And because I think some would enjoy it, and to back up my claims, here is a video of my friend and I biking in Philadelphia (the camera was on my bike)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H5EvBtPmvzI

    Nancy Reply:

    Thanks for coming back Grant. I believe you that your father maybe isn’t quite such a dingbat offline – I suspect that a lot of what he does he does because he can hide behind the internet. It’s sad when people feel they can make hateful statements due to the anonymity of the internet.

    I feel very badly for you – it must be incredibly painful to have to read such dreadful things about your father. A simple search on the internet turns up an outrageous quantity of articles written about your dad. That must be very difficult to read. That being said, that’s what happens when one goes about criticizing and judging others for the lifestyle they’ve chosen. If your father had even the slightest idea of what our lives were truly like, I am confident that he would eat his words. Unfortunately, he has no desire to even begin to actually read what I’ve written or talk to us at all – he’d rather take the low road and condemn others for something he knows absolutely nothing about. For that, I feel sorry for the man.

    I am happy that you’ve been able to pursue your passions and follow your dreams – that’s what it’s all about. My sons are doing that too. It’s good that children know they are capable of following those dreams – whereever they may lead!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blogging: The good, the bad, and the ugly - June 20, 2011

    [...] out random quotes they could blow completely out of proportion or distort beyond recognition. And they were nasty. Very [...]

  2. What makes someone a hero? How @familyonbikes are being denied their record. - July 25, 2011

    [...] and John have received their fair share of criticism. While The Police of Responsible Parenting are pointing fingers, I have my own opinion. As someone [...]

  3. Top fears that prevent people from living their dreams. | Family on Bikes - January 13, 2012

    [...] wants to be ridiculed or scorned. Human nature dictates that we want others to like us and support what we’re doing. That desire [...]

Leave a Reply