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Gail Menasco

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Diving Socorro – Revillagigedo Islands in Mexico
Episode of
Experiences You Should Have
Experiences You Should Have Podcast Show Notes: Diving Socorro (the Revillagigedo Islands) in Mexico I had the pleasure if interviewing Jay Clue from Dive Ninja Expeditions about why others should experience diving Socorro. Listen above (or wherever you listen to podcasts). Jay has dove Socorro (Revillagigedo) 20+ times and brings this experience to life.   What and Where are the Revillagigedo Islands (also known as Socorro)? The Revillagigedo Islands are commonly referred to as Socorro or Socorro Islands mainly because it’s hard to pronounce Revillagigedo. Socorro is the name of the largest island in this chain. The Revillagigedo Archipelago (Socorro Islands) are sometimes referred to as the Galapagos of North America because of the amount of biodiversity found there. This group of islands is a marine reserve. It’s located 390 km (242 miles) south of Baja California. It takes 26-30 hours to get there by boat.     Why Dive the Socorro Islands? According to Jay, the encounters and interactions here are like none other. Giant mantas might come right up to you as if they want to start a conversation, then proceed to spend the next 45 minutes with playing in your bubbles and curiously looking you in the eyes. Many times playful pods of bottlenose dolphins seek out divers to join them in their antics. Schools of Hammerheads (in the 100’s), a few humpback whales, pods of killer whales, giant oceanic mantas, 10 species of sharks that call the islands home including silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, dusky sharks, tiger sharks, and whale sharks. Some of Jay’s favorite moments include watching a baby dolphin get tickled by its escort (and hearing it giggle as it happened). Jay has dropped down on a dive to be greeted by a pod of dolphins, tiger shark, and 2 huge manta rays within the first 3 minutes of the dive. Jay has also enjoyed going to the Boiler dive site where there is a “cleaning station”. Clarion Angelfish come out and clean the animals. One time Jay and other divers watched a new two-foot dolphin get cleaned and the mother returned and “slapped” him with her pectoral fin to wake him up as if to say, “hey we got places to go!” To see Clarion Angelfish is a treat in itself as you can only find them on the Pacific Coast of Mexico.     This is a dive full of large animal encounters and if you love diving, the ocean, and big animals, then Socorro could be the dive destination for you. The Best Time of Year or Season to Dive Socorro The season kicks off in November and runs through June or July. Early time of the season is a better time for Tiger sharks. Besides that, there isn’t a huge difference in the months as you should see mantas and dolphins. That said, Jay’s favorite months for experiences are January and April. It’s recommended to not go in late season as there is a higher chance of storms. Skills & Certifications Needed to Dive Socorro Advanced Open Water Certification from an accredited diving organization (like PADI) Comfortable diving in deep water Skilled at diving in strong currents Nitrox Certification 50-60 dives at minimum While the 10 is the minimum age for diving certifications, this trip is still not recommended for junior divers. Dive Trip Lengths and Preferred Socorro Liveaboards In order to dive Socorro, you do need to go on a liveaboard. These trips will run about eight to ten days, depending on your operator. Jay’s favorite operators are: Rocio del Mar and Quino el Guardian, owned by Dora Sandoval Nautilus liveaboards (which has an ADA friendly room)   How Much Does it Cost to Dive Socorro? The average cost is about $3,300 to about $4000. Read the small print to be aware of what will be included (taxes, alcohol, etc.). Note that it is customary to give a tip of 10-15% of your ticket price at the end of the trip.   How Far in Advance Should You Book a Liveaboard to Socorro? You should book at least 1 year in advance, but sometimes you can find deals 6-9 months before a trip leaves.   Recommended Gear to Bring Mask/Snorkel Fins/Booties 3 mm wetsuit (this can vary on how sensitive you are to temperature) BCD and Regulator (these are available for rent) Dive Computer (also available to rent) Nautilus Lifeline (Marine Rescue GPS) Underwater camera (don’t forget your red filter!) Areas to Check Out Before or After You Dive Socorro Highly recommend taking time to see Cabo and Baja. Depending on what time of the year you are going to Socorro there is a wealth of options. Whale watching (blues, humpbacks, fins, grey, even orcas can be spotted) Mobula ray season in April-July (largest aggregation of rays on earth!) Mexican Sardine Run with Striped Marlin expeditions in November and early December Local diving in Cabo San Lucas, Cabo Pulmo, and La Paz with everything from hammerheads, whale sharks, sea lions, mantas, and more. Dive Ninja Expeditions is highly recommended as a dive shop because they are the only shop that can take you to see everything just mentioned and they do it as true ecotourism (citizen science, fully sustainable, funding research and conservation through tourism).     We will be doing future episodes on whale watching in Mexico, experiencing the Mobula Ray Season and the Mexican Sardine run, so please stay tuned to the show!      
Crater Lake in Oregon (USA)
Episode of
Experiences You Should Have
Experiencing Crater Lake in Oregon: Podcast Show Notes   Welcome to Experiences you should Have. Your how-to guide for amazing experiences. Today we are journeying to a very special place called Crater Lake.     My First Visit to Crater Lake I live in Bend, Oregon, which is in central Oregon and I have made an annual trip to Crater Lake the last 9 years. The first time I went to Crater Lake, I had my friend Ben drive, so I could be the one looking out the window, plus he had seen it before.   It took about 2 hours to get there from Bend (99 miles) and after we checked into the gate (and paid our $10), we drove a little further and then we stopped at a lookout at the top of the hill. I got out of the car and there in front of me was the deepest most amazing blue I have ever seen in my entire life.   The vastness of Crater Lake and the deep blue I saw in front of me took my breath away. The wind started to pick up and then a chipmunk appeared below my feet and started to scurry around looking for food. But that moment, being in front of this deep blue caldera, changed me. It made me appreciate Oregon in a new way.   You may or may not know what a Caldera is, but a caldera is a crater left behind after a volcanic eruption. Water filled this giant caldera after Mt. Mazama erupted in 2290 BC. When I stood at the top of Crater Lake and scanned across and looked at the perimeter and realized the power and intense eruption that must have happened.   What Caused Crater Lake?   A giant, earth-shattering eruption of Mt. Mazama created what know as Crater Lake today. The eruption happened 7,700 years ago and it began from a single vent on the northeast side of Mt. Mazama. When the eruption hit, it was a true eruption that you might think of in your head. Ash and pumice burst into the air, reaching as high as 30 miles above the ground. Mazama ash has been found in Oregon, California, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, and even in multiple Canadian provinces (Wikipedia).   Why Should You Visit Crater Lake?   There’s something about looking at the deep blue water of Crater Lake (which is the deepest lake in the United States and 9th deepest in the world), that makes you realize how powerful nature is, and calming at the same time. Here this beautiful tranquil deep blue lake with a depth of 594 ft came from a mighty eruption more than 7,000 years ago. To stand there at the edge of the Caldera brings a new perspective on life and the power of mother nature.     When is the best time to go to Crater Lake? The lake is open year-round, however not all the entrances are open year-round and you can only drive completely around the lake starting around early July through September and sometimes early October. I would recommend visiting Crater Lake in mid to late July because fire season starts in Oregon in mid to late August and goes through September. You can check the latest road and entrance conditions here.   You will want to plan your trip on a sunny day and on a day where the clouds are higher than the top of Crater Lake. We’ve gone to Crater Lake where clouds have covered the entire Caldera and had to wait more than a day for the clouds to clear (check out the video below). Crater Lake is around 6,000-foot elevation, so you want the clouds to be higher than 6,000 feet, so plan accordingly.   Can you Camp at Crater Lake? Yes and no. There are campgrounds near Crater Lake, but there are no campsites that have a view of Crater Lake. Even if you have an RV, you can not park it overnight around the lake. Mazama and Lost Creek are the two nearby campsites and both open late June or early July and are open through September (sometimes early October).   Mazama campsite can fit RV’s up to 50’, while the Lost Creek campsite if for tents only. You can reserve these Mazama and Lost Creek campsites online.   Can you spend the night on the edge of Crater Lake? There is a lodge right on Crater Lake that you can stay at and get amazing views of the lake if you purchase the right room. It is a bit more spendy than a campsite, but the views are unbeatable. There is a nice restaurant located at the lodge.   Tips for visiting Crater Lake: If heading there for a day-trip, bring your own food in. There is a café there with limited selections but suggest bringing your own food and having a picnic by the lake. Try to limit your plastic use and take with you what you brought in. Bring sunscreen and plenty of water and refillable water bottles. Check the weather before you go to make sure the cloud levels are above 6,000 feet and check online for entrance or road closures.   Things to do at Crater Lake: Boat Tour at Crater Lake   If you are into hiking, you can head down a 2.2-mile (round trip) hike that declines approximate 700 feet. At the bottom, you can hop on a boat to tour the lake. Advanced reservations are highly recommended. The boat tours start around early to mid-July. More information on Crater Lake Boat Tours. The hike down to the boat is not recommended if you are not in good physical condition.   Can you experience Crater Lake If You Have Limited Mobility? Absolutely! In fact, if you have a permanent disability, you can apply for an Access Pass, which covers your cost into Crater Lake. While you may not do the hike down to get on the boat, I absolutely love driving the perimeter of Crater Lake. There are so many stunning lookouts that you can see right from your car! Just make sure you do this trip when you can drive the full perimeter.   Can You Swim in Crater Lake? You can, but it is a steep hike down, 2.2 miles round trip via Cleetwood Cove Trail, and the water is a brisk 55 degrees Fahrenheit or 12 degrees Celcius. Swimmers must remain within 100 yards of shore.   Can you Scuba Dive in Crater Lake? Dive shops in Bend have planned dive trips there before, but since 2012, scuba diving has been prohibited at Crater Lake. I spoke to some divers who have dove the lake and they said it was very cold and blue, but not much to see underwater. If you are looking for a stunning freshwater dive, check out Clear Lake in central Oregon in Winter, which you can easily get to from Bend. Also, be prepared for extremely cold water there, so have appropriate gear and certifications.   What Next? Go ahead and plan your trip to Bend, Oregon. You’ll need to fly into airport RDM, rent a car. Stay in bend, hit up the many breweries around Bend, float the river in the summer, and then pick a beautiful sunny day in late July to spend a day at Crater Lake. Head out early, so you can take advantage of the full day!   Related Episode: Sahalie and Koosah Falls an hour from Bend, Oregon
Milford Sound Drive & Cruise in New Zealand
Episode of
Experiences You Should Have
Milford Sound Drive & Cruise in New Zealand: Podcast Show Notes   I interviewed Lynn Smith who is an avid traveler; you should check out her website for travel tips!. She blends a love of independent adventure travel, history and the natural world with over 40 years of experience as an award-winning writer, photographer, creative designer, and producer. When I asked her about what is that one experience that others should have, she enthusiastically replied, self-driving the Milford Sound Road and going on the Milford Sound cruise in Fiordland, South Island, NZ.   Why Travel to New Zealand and head to the Milford Sound in Fiordland New Zealand Lynn chose the South Island of New Zealand for the adventure. The Milford Sound Road is one of the top drives you can do in New Zealand and there is beautiful scenery around every corner. It represents untouched, solitude, and peaceful quiet majestic landscapes and is an experience you should have. In Fiordland lies the ‘Southern Alps’ and these mountains are world famous! There are only 4.9 million people in New Zealand while California has over 35 Million people. Really a third of the country is a National Park and it is incredibly wild.   The Experience: Self-Driving the Milford Sound Road Lynn and her family started their adventure in Queenstown, New Zealand and rented a car to get to Te Anau. Queenstown was a zoo, but it quieted down once they made it to Te Anau. There is only 1 highway leaving Queenstown to get to Te Anau (tay-an-o). They have a wide variety of accommodations, restaurants, food trucks, and is world famous for being the gateway to Fiordland National Park. There are 3 famous hikes in Fiordland, but the mountains there are like the Alps or the Rockies. You need to be fit to go out on treks. That said, you can see a lot of scenery in the South Island of New Zealand without having to hike for days. The Milford Sound Road is a beautiful, scenic road that is an experience to remember. Most people fly into Queenstown and hop on a giant tour bus to get to the Milford Sound (which is the gem of New Zealand), however, Lynn recommends to drive it yourself, take your time, as you head to visit the crown jewel of Fiordland, Milford Sound. The road to Milford Sound consists of one road, highway 94. As it curves around mountains, valleys, and stunning scenery, it takes you to a completely new world.   The day visitor can make numerous stops along the only road that cuts through the mountains and valleys in the untouched Fiordland landscapes. From the endless vistas of Eglinton Valley featuring eye-popping scenery used to create the Misty Mountains in the film Fellowship of the Rings, to lookouts over the surrounding mountain ranges, one can take walks along clear rushing creeks and through mossy beech forests to waterfalls and cascades, mirror lakes and tumbling, icy cold rivers.  All this in one full day from Te Anau, vs a 14 hour day of riding a bus to and from Queenstown with a couple of quick stops along the way!   Top Stops to Check Out on the Milford Sound Sound Road, NZ Knobs Flat is a perfect place to take a break in between Te Anau and Milford Sound. You’ll want to leave early in the morning from Te Anau to beat the tour buses. Make sure to check out the Milford Sound Drive Guide to use as your go-to guide. Mirror Lakes Mirror lakes is a perfect stop about an hour away. The valleys, mountains, and skies were simply stunning. You will want to hit Mirror Lakes in the morning for the perfect light (and to see the mirror effect). The mirror effect goes away in the afternoon. It’s a temperate rainforest and has over 240 days of rain a year and the weather constantly changes there. If you can catch it on a sunny day, you can look into these deep crystal clear lakes and it’s hard to tell where the lake begins and the sky ends. There is no garbage, trash, plastic, it’s easy to walk down the boardwalk 100 feet or so and is wheelchair friendly. The buses do stop here, so hit it up early. Cascade Creek There were no fumes in the air, no buzzing of cellular phones (no cell service), no voices, just sounds of the river and sounds of a rushing river from ice melt. Cascade Creek is absolute perfection. Eglinton Valley You’ll drive through a mossy forest, lowland, creeks, little bridges and the rivers and creeks come tumbling and rushing down. As you come around a corner you see a valley that feels like it goes on forever, Eglinton Valley. You’re driving along the edge of Southern Alps, and when you overlook Eglinton Valley, all you want to do is get out of your car and get into the vast expanse of wilderness. There are no snakes, bears, nothing to sting to bite you. Lynn and her family did not want to leave Eglinton Valley. Each of them separated and each sat in the grass and enjoyed the stillness and magnitude of Eglinton Valley. End of Milford Sound Road in Milford Sound, NZ To be expected, Milford Sound Road ends at Milford Sound, the Crown Jewel of New Zealand. You’ll go through Homer Tunnel on the way to Milford Sound. You’ll get a glimpse of Mitre Peak as you get into Milford Sound, and it made everyone stop in their tracks. It looks like a witch’s hat almost. Mitre Peak and the mountains behind it show a jaw-dropping view as you look over the Fiord. Day Cruise at Milford Sound with Mitre Peak Cruises You could hop on a boat with hundreds of other people, or you could go with Mitre Peak Cruises that only has around 40 guests. You can cruise down the sound for a few hours before you get to the Tasman Sea. In this area, if you time it right, you might see seals, porpoises, and whales. There are numerous waterfalls that fall off of towering mountains and is simply majestic and as Lynn puts it, eye-candy everywhere. The cruise is very accessible and is a great activity to check out if you have limited mobility. Check out this great video from Millennial Monster.   The Best Time to Visit Fiordland, New Zealand Summer trekking season is a very busy time to visit (December-February) and it’s more expensive due to increased airfare and accommodation prices. By early March the Fall has started, which means cooler weather and more storms over the mountains. The best time to visit Fiordland, New Zealand and go on the Milford Sound Road is the last 2 weeks of February to avoid the extreme and rapid weather changes in Fiordland.   How Far In Advance Should You Book Your Trip to Fiordland? Visitors should book at least 6 months in advance. Lynn booked the best AirBnBs a year in advance due to limited selection and was lucky to get in. There are a few places to stay and there are no real towns beside Te Anau and the tiny berg of Manapouri nearby. Wifi and mobile service are extremely limited due to being in the wilderness, so it’s highly recommended to book well in advance. Costs to Visit Milford Sound Lynn’s average nightly stay in Te Anau was around $60 a night per person (speaking US dollars). There were some cheaper AirBnb’s, however, they didn’t have wifi, and they needed access to wifi on their trip. Budget accordingly for food and cruise ($80 for the cruise). It’s not a tipping culture, but if on a smaller boat, then it’s nice to tip the captain, but tipping is not common.   Driving Rental Car Info for Visiting the South Island, New Zealand If you rent your car through EZI, they will pay you $1 a day to transfer their car to another city/airport. They have posted schedules on their site. If you don’t want to be on a timeline, then you will need to rent a car and can get a good car for around $50 a day which includes insurance. They probably won’t take your insurance from another country so budget accordingly. In February 2019 it was about $2.60 per liter (around $8 a gallon). All vehicles are right-drive vehicles and you will be driving on the left side of the road, so remember to look right and left! The roads are well paved, but you can get into gravel roads if doing adventurous hikes. You do not need a 4X4 unless your specific plans call for one.   Another Activity You Should Check Out: Helicopter Ride from Te Anau to Luxmore Hut Head up to the Luxmore Hut on the Kepler track via helicopter from the lake in Te Anau. You could spend days hiking to get to the top, or you could give yourselves more time to explore and take the easy way up. This is typically a two-day hike or a 20-minute ride. Wait until you get there to make arrangements based on weather. Headed to the North Island of New Zealand? – Find out about Rappelling in a Glow Worm Cave
Hiking to Havasupai (Havasu) Falls in Arizona
Episode of
Experiences You Should Have
Hiking to Havasupai (Havasu) Falls with Rizzo: Podcast Show Notes   I Interviewed Rizzo from the famous Travel Instagram page miss_rizzo, about her experience of hiking to Havasupai falls in Arizona. Rizzo is an Arizona native and has been to over 54 countries.  Please listen to the podcast episode above (or wherever you listen to podcasts).   What Is Havasu (Havasupai) Falls and Why Should You Visit? Havasu Falls is also known as Havasupai falls and is located in Havasu Canyon. Havasupai Falls is located in a side canyon of the Grand Canyon and Havasupai means people of blue-green water. Pai means people. Its turquoise waters are absolutely breathtaking and everyone should experience the beautiful color of these falls at least once in their lifetime (if they are physically able to get there). It is a true desert oasis. While Havasupai falls is the most famous in this area, there are 5 other waterfalls fairly nearby: Fifty Foot Falls, Navajo Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls all worth checking out.   How to Make Reservations to Hike Havasupai Falls Only 50,000 permits are issued a year to visit Havasupai Falls and you have to be on your game to get a reservation. Whether you are hiking to Havasupai falls to taking a helicopter there (which is on a first come, first serve basis, more about this later), you will need a permit to go there. Permits for the year become available on February 1st at 8 AM (Arizona time). There are many people trying to get their permit at the same time, so you need to be prepared to be quick at typing and know that your patience might be tested while waiting for the screen to refresh. You can get reservations at Havasupaireservations.com   Length and Costs of Permits to Havasu Falls All permits are for 3 nights/4 days. If you only want to stay for 2 nights, then you still pay for 3 nights. It costs $100 a night per person for weekday (Mon-Thurs) or $125 a night per person on weekend nights (Sunday, Friday, Saturday). In the past, you used to be able to stay 4 nights, but you can only stay up to 3 nights now.   Hiking to Havasupai Falls – What to Know There are no towns near the trailhead, so they drove up the night before and stayed an hour away, then started the hike around 4 am the next morning. It first takes 8 miles hiking to get to the town of Havasu, then another 2 miles to get to the campground. That’s a good 10-mile hike before you get to your campground, and there is no water in the first 8 miles. You need to be prepared with sunscreen and plenty of water/snacks to get you through that first 8 miles. Supai village is at the 8-mile mark. There is an office there where you check in. There is a little grocery store there, school for the kids, and a little information board for the hikes and maps. Take note that the hike into the canyon is far easier than hiking out.   You’ve got to carry everything you need in, including your tent, water, food, clothes, cooking pans, etc. Rizzo went in the cooler season, so she needed lots of warm clothes to wear. If you’re not the camping type, you can stay at the Havasupai lodge in the village, but you do need to book it well in advance.   When you get to the waterfall hike, make sure you don’t set up camp near the river, as the river rises. Many people camp next to Mooney falls, which is the fall after Havasu Falls. Fires aren’t allowed there, so prepare accordingly.   Alternatives to Getting to Havasupai Falls: Mules or Helicopters You can take a mule or helicopter in. You do need to reserve mules ahead of time and they can carry your gear for $150 round trip. The Helicopters are first come first serve and the locals get first priority. It’s not a guarantee to get on a helicopter and you are limited to one bag. Cost of the helicopter ride is $85 each way to get to the village, but it’s still 2 miles to the falls from Supai Village.   Havasu Waterfalls – 5 Waterfalls There are 5 waterfalls on the hike past Supai Village. The first one is Fifty Foot, then Navajo falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls (the largest and most powerful one), the last one is Beaver falls. You want to save Beaver falls for another day, because it’s an additional 4-mile hike and it is highly recommended to check out. At Beaver Falls, you cross over the water multiple times, so bring water shoes.   Mooney falls is not easy to get to. You have to scale down rocks and lower yourself on metal chains to get to it. It’s not recommended to go there if you have limited mobility. It’s very slick and steep. However, it is powerful and large and worth to see if you are in good shape. The water is cold, and it’s fun to jump to in the summer.   How Much Does It Cost to Go to Havasupai Falls Per Person   Your permit will be around $350. If you’re hiking in, that part is free, and you will want to bring some freeze dried food. The hotel the night before is about $100. You could do this trip for about $500 plus travel.   Top Things to Bring to Havasupai Falls Water shoes (it will make life much easier) All Terrain Hiking Shoes Hiking Poles (they will save your life and are needed for Mooney Falls and Beaver Falls) Freeze dried food Sunscreen Lotion Toilet Paper (bathrooms are maintained, but there are times when there isn’t toilet paper) Baby Wipes Backpack Tent Water/water containers Your permit information Warm clothes (if not going in the summer) Swimsuit Camera   Best Time to Hike to Havasupai Falls Rizzo went in March, however, April is one of the best months in Arizona. Rizzo recommends going in Spring. May through August is extremely hot, and it may be a bit miserable. If you want to be in the water the entire time, then maybe summer is your time, but be prepared for extreme heat.   Can You Visit Havasupai Falls if you have limited mobility or are in a wheelchair? Rizzo does not recommend it. It’s a 2-mile hike in from the village and the helicopters don’t drop off at the falls. You need to be able to hike to the falls from the Village even if you took a helicopter to the village. Is Hiking to Havasupai Falls Kid-Friendly? Hiking to Havasupai Falls is not a kid-friendly hike. That said, it could be a great experience for older kids used to hiking or a hiking trip to bring teenagers on.   Related Episode: Experience Canyoneering (Waterfall Rappelling)  
Alaska to Argentina Bike Ride
Episode of
Experiences You Should Have
Experiences You Should Have Show Notes: Biking from Alaska to Argentina with Guests Kristen and Ville Jokinen Ville and Kristen Jokinen did the impossible. They went from Alaska to the tip of Argentina via bike while only spending (on average) $800 a month! This couple lives in Bend, Oregon and they decided they wanted to have an adventure of a lifetime, and boy did they find adventure. Click on the play button to listen to this episode, or listen to this episode wherever you listen to podcasts.   A Little About Ville and Kristen Ville was born in Tampere, Finland. He grew up playing all kinds of sports and in his teenage years, he made the decision to focus on football (soccer). After graduating from high school he tried his wings in professional soccer in Finland and Algeria. After a few years of serious playing and several knee replacement surgeries later, he decided to hang the cleats and go to college. After college, Ville worked for 7 years as a financial analyst for Toyota. In 2008, he decided to take off work and travel to South East Asia for 3 months. In Vietnam, Ville met a crazy, loud and beautiful American girl named Kristen. Listen to the episode above to get the behind the scenes on their first meeting. After that, they’ve been traveling the world together and he’s very thankful for finding someone who loves the same adventures. Get to Know Kristen Kristen was originally from Bend, Oregon, born and raised. Because she grew up in such a beautiful place so connected to the outdoors, it drew her to explore the great big world we live in. She graduated from High School early to go backpacking around Central Europe alone and you could say that is where the travel lust began. Kristen moved to San Francisco to work as an AuPair for some big-named families, saved money, bought a house in Bend, worked as a wildland firefighter, nanny, waitress, teacher, tutor all while going to school. She signed on for an internship in Chiang Mai, Thailand and when she finished teaching, she met a handsome Scandinavian Stallion on a Scuba Diving boat in Vietnam. Again, listen to the episode above to hear about this meeting.   They traveled the world and when they ran out of visas to stay together, they hiked the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) while dating, which was her first time sleeping in a tent. After that adventure, they got married.   Why Did Ville and Kristen Decide to Bike From Alaska to Argentina? The adventure was an idea formed on the PCT and became a  reality once they finished. They both know the importance of not wanting to live your life, and the planning began. The plan is to thoroughly wear out these crazy bodies and when they have no more get-up and go, they will have some incredible memories to share while they swing life away on their front porch somewhere.   This is a couple who knows how to live life.   Map of the Ride   How Did They Bike From Alaska to Argentina? Kristen and Ville had their bikes shipped to Alaska. That’s where their adventure began. Starting in Alaska, they saw over 60 polar bears and they had a fright of a lifetime when they scared away a mama bear who was charging at them by acting loud and big. They then went to the Yukon, British Columbia then hit up the San Juan Islands. Just an FYI, Lopez Island is a fantastic island for bike riding and it’s a very friendly island. They biked the 101 from the Pacific Northwest, down the coast of California, then into Baja. From there, they took a ferry over to the mainland then biked through Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica. They had to take a plane across some sketchy borders from Panama to Columbia, then went to Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina.   They chose to go over the Andes mountains in South America rather than the coast, which let them experience small towns (and very friendly people) off the grid.       How Long Did It Take For the Alaska to Argentina Bike Ride 20 Months and they took their time in many places. The ended at Ushuaia, which is actually where you would start your journey to travel to Antarctica if you wanted.     What Did They Learn on this Biking Adventure from Alaska to Argentina They learned that most people are inherently good. What little people had, they wanted to share with Kristen and Ville. They spent an extra month in Mexico because of the hospitality of the people they met. They were welcomed into people’s homes and were shown a real belief in humanity. During this time they pushed themselves to learn Spanish and they got better as they completely immersed themselves. Types of Bikes Used Ville and Kristen both used Surly Disc Truckers, 52 cm and 56 cm. They loved that the frame was steel and therefore easy to weld together if needed in some of the most remote villages of Bolivia. The bikes were great, did the job, but to be honest, you can get away with any (steel) bike frame that fits you best, but absolutely have your wheels hand built! That is the one thing you shouldn’t skimp on. Schwalbe Marathon tires a must, beefy rims, double-butted spokes. No one wants to be on the side of the road changing tires constantly or stuck with a bent rim in a town with no parts. Build your wheels. Tips for Others Going on an Epic Bike Journey Be quiet, open-minded and observant before snapping to the judgment of how things are. Try Everything Taste and try all of the local food Build your wheels How Much Did it Cost and How Did They Keep Costs Down? Ville and Kristen rented out their house and netted $800 a month (after taxes/insurance), and used that $800 a month to live on for both of them. Pretty impressive if you ask me. A few things they did to keep the costs down were: Not being picky about showers. Kristen and Ville would shower in a river, at someone’s house, at a fire station, hospital, Red Cross, hotel. They would camp on the side of the road (out of sight) Ate cheaply at food stands or at people’s houses they met along the way. Pretty nice to grab some cheap tacos in Mexico. How Did They Do This Bike Ride Safely? They would camp each night off the side of the road in the forest, and they would make sure that no one saw them when they got off the road to find their camping spot. They never built any fires and rarely used lights at the campsite When they needed to grocery shop, one person would stay outside with the gear and bikes. Bike Touring Packing List 56 cm Surly Disc Trucker Brooks B17 Pretreated Saddle DTSwiss Rims Fizik Bartape Schwalbe Marathon Plus Tires 700cc Schimano XT Hubs Schimano XT Derailer 10 speed cassette Schimano Sora Front Derailer Shimano 116 link chain Shimano 50/50 Pedals Essential Bike Touring Gear (Bike Accessories) Electra Aluminium Hammered Fenders Tubus Front and Rear Racks Ortlieb Front and Rear Panniers Ortlieb Handlebar Bag Custom Rogue Panda Designs Frame Bag Platapus 3 liter Hydration Bag and Hose Leatherman Wave Topeak Alien 2 Multi-tool 3 Pedros Tire Levers 2 Tire Patch Kits 3 Tubes: 700 x 40 2 Rolls Mini-Duct Tape Specialized Armadillo Folding Tire 6 Spare Double-Butted SpokesBB7 Juicy Brake Pad Kitchen Accessories for Bike Touring Packing List MSR Whisperlite International Stove & Parts Titanium 1 Liter Pot MSR Fuel Bottle Vargo Titanium 450 Travel Mug Vargo Titanium Spork Clothing to Pack for Bike Touring: Packing List Patagonia Nano Puff Men’s Jacket Smartwool Longsleeve Shirt Smartwool Long Johns 2 Icebreaker T-Shirts 2 Mens Underarmour Boxer Briefs 4 Pairs Darn Tough Mens Socks Buff Beanie 2 Wool Buffs Salomon Mens Rain Jacket Pearl Izumi Rain Pants ​Pearl Izumi Cold Weather Gloves Extras To bring on Bike Touring Trip 3 Liter Platypus Water Bladder with Hose Cheap Knife Band-Aids Bear Spray Toothbrush/paste/floss Men’s Electric Razor Deodorant Small Bottle Shampoo Comb 7 Bottles of Thyroid Medicine 1 Cylinder of Mescal 1 Petzl headlamp\ Bike lock 100 ft of cord Small bottle of sunscreen Zeiss 70-200 Lens Old Ipod/Headphones Frida Kahlo Wallet Smith Sunglasses/Case ​iPhone 2 Goal Zero Battery Packs See full gear list at: http://www.welostthemap.com/gear.html What Others Should Know It doesn’t take experience or super expensive gear to make this happen. You don’t need to plan everything out, it’s always going to change anyway. Learn to adapt. Curious about Kristen and Ville’s adventures? Check out their site for more information! More Links Kristen and Ville’s Videos (Vimeo) Instagram: We Lost the Map Facebook for We Lost the Map Bend Bulletin Article Pique News Magazine Related Episode: Biking from Jasper to Banff Canada Into Long Distance Journeys? Check Out this episode on Hiking the Appalachian Trail Did You Bike From Alaska to The Tip to Argentina? Well, Keep on Going and Travel to Antarctica
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Stats
Episode Count
40
Podcast Count
1
Total Airtime
22 hours, 8 minutes