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John and Mandi

us --> van --> overland
1,242 days a wanderin'

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Year Three Status Report

May 3, 2018
by John

Somewhere, in this past year, we changed...hopefully for the better. We have lost the urge to press on, almost entirely. We no longer check the weather for optimal conditions. We know we want to be far south for the South American summer, somehow we are ambling in that direction to make it so. The distances overwhelm us a little, but we shrug. Right now, right here, that is all that matters. The breeze, the birds, the trees, the ease. Without this moment there will not be the next. Our present is our past, our future. One day is too far, yesterday too distant, an instant too short to realize. Now is not a matter in time, a matter of mind frame.

Happiness is only real when shared. -Christopher McCandless

Tatacoa, Huila, Colombia

When confliction is no contradiction

Some Basic Stats

Total Miles Driven: 39,157 (63,017 Kilometers)

Gallons of Diesel: 2,701 (10,224 Liters)

Average MPG: 14.5 (16.2 Liters per 100 Kilometers)

Best MPG: 18.22

Worst MPG: 10.09

Average Cost Per Gallon of Diesel: $3.04

# Nights Spent in the Van: 736 (67%)

# Nights Spent Elsewhere: 360 (22 afloat, 11 house sitting, 102 mooching off of friends and family, 225 in a hotel/apartment/rental home)

What We've Learned

Driving is Hard on the Body (and Mind)

Initially we thought living on the road would make us healthier. The carefree lifestyle would automatically have us shedding pounds and shredding up. Unfortunately, we were eating extremely clean and getting in almost an hour of full body workouts 6 days a week before we set off. While our lack of everyday movement is entirely our fault, we find the lack of a large enough inside space to exercise to be something we miss. Couple that with long driving days and we can feel our bodies seizing up. It's something we definitely need to work on, the altitude just makes it a wee bit harder ; )

What's That on the Towel

Those that have been on the road for a while can relate. The regular switch from hot and cold climates, or extended exposure to sun or humidity, makes us molt more often than living in a climate controlled environment. Nothing too gross, just dead skin we failed to rub off while in the shower.

Socks Aren't Just for Feet

When we started our trip we carried just a couple glass jars and tried to keep everything in plastic containers in fear of having broken glass everywhere. Now we have a fair amount of glass jars and put each one in a sock to protect them and contain the shards if it suffers a disaster. The only broken jars have been the ones we've dropped and not from the 39k miles of driving.

The Majority of What You Carry is Your Trip

This should be obvious but some of us are dense. If one were to sit on our sofa and calculate the highest percentage of associated items within reach, food and cooking would easily be deduced at over 60%. If you have ever read our expense reports you would say 'duh, you bitches are always spending a lot on food'. Which we do. Looking into friends' vehicles we can easily guess what their trip, or priority, is about. 10 surf boards...no brainer, no room to sleep due to backpacking gear...nice tent.

Touristy Places are Not All Bad

Many moan about the touristy places, many of those times while they are parked next to us in a touristy town (we scratch our heads at that too). The truth is they are usually not that bad, Banos being the exception. We have been on the road long enough to appreciate the raw appeal of the remote parks and the conveniences of the touristy towns. Seriously, if you don't like the touristy places be sure to keep your damn hands off our imported cheese.

Friends are Better Than Experiences

We are long past the point of just going to places. It is not uncommon for us to reach out to nearby friends and then chart out our route. Our friends are our family and experiencing things together, even just sitting around in camp, is usually way better than staring at another wonder in the world. The world is wondrous, our friends even more so.


Say what? (20)
Eric
May 3, 2018 at 01:09 PM
Wow! 3 years? That’s crazy. I’m on the road working all the time now too and I have to try HARD to stay healthy and energetic. It is much harder than I ever imagined it would be. Hang in there!

Eric
May 3, 2018 at 06:39 PM
Thanks Eric!

Living on the road is a much different story than the fake one portrayed on social media. We'll keep on plugging along, as we are sure you will too, and will find a happy medium. Hopefully, leaving the rainy season will help a little ; )
Sharon
May 3, 2018 at 04:36 PM
After roughly half the time in the road as you (but nearly double the miles somehow), it is interesting to read how similar we are feeling as you . . . It is reassuring as well so you give me hope and energy to continue. Love following you and hoping that we can eventually meet—

Viajes seguros, nuestros amigos.
May 3, 2018 at 06:49 PM
Thanks Sharon!

'Keep on keepin on' is one of our mottos. Not to just trudge, but to keep working toward what it is we are wanting to gain or achieve. Double the miles in half the time has to definitely leave a mark. We would have fallen apart long ago if we covered twice the distance over the same three years. Sometimes a break, or pause, is the best thing. We have done it on a few occasions and cannot recommend it enough. We prefer long stints, at least a couple months, but even a week or two can really make a big difference.

This is our last year on the PanAm, assuming all goes well, so hopefully we'll see you on the road. If not, there's a good chance we'll kick around the US a little before we have to settle back down.
Sharon
May 3, 2018 at 07:54 PM
Thanks, John!

The vast majority of our road miles were accumulated in the US and Canada (and Alaska) before we crossed into Mexico so we have slowed WAY down and are entering our 6th month in Mexico now that a month stop here in the Yucatán before we enter Belize. We, too, see the benefit of slowing down. And we will heed your wise advice!
May 3, 2018 at 08:15 PM
Not saying you should...but Pasaj Cap on Lake Atitlan is a wonderful place to take it easy. We spent a collective 4 months there and have found none its equal. Everyone that has been there talks about it.

Enjoy Belize, it's one of our favorites. It'll be hot and probably buggy. When you can't take it any more the Mountain Pine Ridge area is a welcomed reprieve, and free. Please have a cup (or twenty) of Gallon Jug coffee for us...and about 10 fry jacks...and Indian Tacos...and Stew Chicken...Ixcacao chocolate (Juan and Abelina are phenomenal)...I guess we miss it a little.
Norm
May 3, 2018 at 06:43 PM
.. y'all too Zen for me!! Kelly and I love following your trek and thankful we shared part of it with you. Other than That.. Y'all are CRAZY!! Or is it just that I'm envious !!! Yup. That's it. Take care and thanks for the pix and video... especially of that Manta in Elizabeth Bay!!! Load some stills of it, too!! Later.
May 3, 2018 at 06:57 PM
Hey Norm!

We might be a wee bit crazy, or at minimum, off kilter. It's never too late to get in a vehicle and start driving! We have a friend in an FJ Cruiser with her dog, no cooking or sleeping facilities in it, renting places along the way. An old Class C or similar is perfect for the US, which could take a lifetime on its own to explore. If you have the itch, scratch it...just sayin ; )
Norm
May 3, 2018 at 07:05 PM
...hmmmm. I also have KELLY’s mother! She wouldn’t understand.
May 4, 2018 at 01:06 PM
That can make it tricky. There are tons of enthusiasts that travel, full and part time. Geology, panning, birding, kayaking, astrology, quilting...you name it and there is a get together somewhere. If you are interested you could locate a group online and ask if you could day visit or tag along, getting a hotel nearby instead of camping. From my research, the ladies seem to get more into fulltiming around the US than the guys. Traveling in a vehicle is extremely social, one of the best parts about it. Potlucks, parties, bingo, trivia...again, endless. There are also stag parties too ; ) A rally is a good way to explore the idea of rving and a great place to make friends. We know you don’t need convincing but if you are curious there are lots of travelers in the US that would gladly show you their rig and set out an extra chair.
May 4, 2018 at 08:30 AM
Great perspective! As we wrap up our get-ready phase, and inch closer to an actual departure date, your posts about budgets and real-life experiences on the road have been invaluable. For me, as a long-distance motorcycle rider that's covered 1500 miles in less than 24 hours, and all 49 states plus Mexico in 9 days, the hardest part of this upcoming overland adventure will be to slow down. Next week we take our final week-long "vacation" at work, once again cramming too much into too few days because we have to be back to work on Monday. But soon, no more! Sure, we'll make forward progress towards that ultimate goal of Tierra del Fuego, but thankfully like you we'll have no scheduled arrival date. If it takes two years that's ok, but if it takes five years that's fine as well.

The road is calling and we must answer. We hope to see you "out there" somewhere, and share a beer and campfire.
May 4, 2018 at 01:11 PM
Thanks Dennis!

Congrats on your upcoming departure. Slowing down was one of the hardest parts. Most of us take off like a rocket, eventually petering out and settling into a pace. We don’t expect the PanAm to be our only big trip and have been toying with the idea of another continent one day or even a longer US tour. Who knows, we’ll see. Regardless, we’ll share a fire somewhere!
May 4, 2018 at 08:45 AM
Happy 3rd anniversary! Ours is coming up in December and even though our path has diverged from the original goal we are overwhelmingly happy to be living a life on our own accord. Looking forward to meeting up with you two lovelies again one of these days who knows where. Lots of love from the north. XXX
May 4, 2018 at 01:16 PM
Thanks Rhonda!

We’ll definitely be seeing you guys again, maybe at that fancy place you are working at... if we’re allowed ; ) We miss you guys XOXO
May 11, 2018 at 07:53 PM
lol.. yep, thats us.. FANCY ! Of COURSE you're allowed! We let in all of our friends :)
May 12, 2018 at 02:37 PM
We just don’t want to bring the property value down 😜.
Melissa
May 11, 2018 at 04:32 PM
If you end up in Asheville North Carolina On your US tour, you certainly have an old high school friend here and a place to stay.
May 12, 2018 at 02:39 PM
Thanks Melissa!

We love the mountains of NC so we will for sure be through there. It’s on our short list of US places to live so we could end up being neighbors!
Robin
May 14, 2018 at 02:16 PM
hey guys, what a great entry! i love reading your updates and totally agree with you on the touristy thing. but what's the deal with banos? did you not like that tiny town in ecuador or are you talking about somewhere else? anyway, enjoy enjoy! loving the road! xoxo Robin and Fran
May 19, 2018 at 10:27 AM
Hey Robin!

We just couldn’t get into the vibe at Banos, Ecuador. It felt way over done like Gatlinburg. No loss, there are plenty more 😉.
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