Date: 2 Feb 1995 18:02:52 -0800
Welcome aboard the Bergeron adventure (we're looking for a good name for this journey).
Well, let's get this conversation rolling. The rest of this message contains a form letter I've been using to break the ice with everyone. When you get a chance, tell me a little about yourself; occupation, hobbies, bike touring or other travel experience, interests, etc. Then we'll take it from there.
We'll talk more later.
Brian and I are both engineers in the aerospace industry. Brian is 42 and I am almost 38 (gasp!!!). I grew up in a small town in the state of New York while Brian grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. We met in Denver where we were both working for Martin Marietta. I soon convinced him to move to San Diego. That was over 13 years ago. We've done well in San Diego, Brian worked for the Navy and I work for a small engineering consulting firm. But the city has grown and we're feeling quite ready for a change in life style.
We started serious bike touring about 7 years ago. That first tour changed our lives forever. We soon realized that all we really wanted to do with our lives is travel, see the world, and meet new people. So here we are today getting very close to reaching our goal. We're very fortunate that the money we made on our house will allow us to travel for as long as we wish, just as long as we watch our budget very carefully. We may have to take jobs occasionally. But, we should have food, clothing, and shelter.
Plans for our departure are moving along steadily. The only thing that is currently holding us back is our townhouse. We need to get it sold. We are hoping it will sell in time for us to leave by mid April. But, we can always delay our departure if necessary. Brian is now out of work due to him taking a buy-out program. Basically the government paid him 4 1/2 months salary to quit, a deal we just couldn't refuse. I can quit my job with just 2 weeks notice if necessary. Everyone knows we plan to leave soon anyway, so it won't be any big surprise.
Other preparations we've been doing include buying an old van. After getting rid of nearly all our belongings we still will have a few items to store; personal records, photo albums, a few mementos from our travels, and the like. So we intend to take it all to Denver where most of Brian's relatives live. We hope to store everything there while we tour. After taking care of the storage, setting up a post office box, and transferring our residency to the state of Wyoming, we'll sell the van and take off on bike.
We plan to spend 1995 and 96 in the US riding the perimeter in a figure 8 pattern, staying north in the summer and south in the winter. We'll do an eastern loop first and then a western loop. We'll go through Denver several times to check on our belongings and to take care of income taxes. After the first two years we think we'll end up heading for Europe for many, many years. But that's way in the future and a lot can happen in two years.
We plan to take our Trek mountain bikes on the tour rather than our Schwinn touring bikes. On previous tours we've found that often we want to ride on dirt roads or on rocky shoulders which is extremely difficult on touring bikes. We'll box up the touring bikes and keep them in Denver. We won't be pulling a trailer. Instead we've found the biggest and best front and rear panniers available in the U.S. Their made by JANDD Mountaineering Inc. here in Santa Barbara, California. These are the biggest panniers I've ever seen. The rear bags expand to over 7300 cubic inches (120,000 milliliters). We've been looking for really large bags because we want to be able to carry extra food and warm clothing. Also, we want to be able to put our sleeping bags in the panniers should the weather get really, really ugly.
It took us a long time to find the perfect tent. Actually, we met some Germans in New Zealand who were carrying one and decided to follow their example. It is made by a company called Hilleberg in Sweden and was rather difficult to obtain here in the U.S. It's biggest advantage is that the rain fly is so large we can store all the panniers and even the bikes in it and still have room for us. This can be a big advantage in areas where we're concerned with crime, which hopefully won't be too often. Also, it's great in bad weather. We recently took a weekend trip to the Death Valley desert. During the night a terrible wind storm blew in. There were only two Hilleberg tents in the campground and they were the only ones still standing after the storm.
We're still working on the rest of our equipment. We're have the philosophy that this will be our new life, not just a trip. So we might as well be comfortable. We have Thermarest sleeping pads and chair kits, we're getting good head lamps, a Whisperlite stove that burns almost anything flammable, a Whisperlite steel cook set, etc. We're spending a lot of time very carefully picking out what to take. We'll be riding heavy, but so what. We won't have any particular schedule to keep.
As far as entertainment, we will have our palmtop computer and Brian insisted on getting a small 3" TV. I want to get some sort of musical instrument, but haven't decided what. Of course there'll be books and I also enjoy various needlepoint crafts. And there'll be people to talk to and meet. So we should have plenty to do.
In case we loose touch on the Internet we will have a snail-mail address to which you can send letters after April 15, or whenever we get ourselves out of here. That address is:
Caryl Bergeron c/o Charles Johnson 1920 Shiver Drive Alexandria, VA 22307 USA
I'll also hang onto your snail-mail address, just in case. I assume it's the same as the one listed in the "warm showers" list.
By the way, I'm going to assemble a letter that discusses our equipment selection in more detail. We've been working hard putting things together; doing research, checking prices, talking to people, etc. in addition to doing our own touring. So I think we've learned a lot about what kind of equipment to take. I'll prepare a letter that describes each item and why we selected it. We've had a lot of people ask for it so I may as well do it.
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.