Saturday, December 29, 2012

Gear

Karen is obsessed with our gear, which is a good thing ;-). She was weighing all of our individual gear & group gear and we have certain weight limit goals we are working towards. It’s not easy to reach these goals! Thanks to MS Excel she can easily add or drop items and their weight and we always have the grand total right there. This way we figured out what we can bring, should not bring and what else we need. To purchase additional gear is always a stretch on a limited budget but it basically came down to weight & volume vs. money, and since we will use most of the gear throughout 2013 we invested in things that will make a difference. For example, we sold (at least tried to ;-) our Mountain Hardware Trango2 and got a Hilleberg Jannu. This saved us 5 pounds in weight + backpack space which is not insignificant. Everything adds up…At the same time we wanted to (and did) utilize most of the gear and equipment we already had.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Goodbye Fairbanks

Dec. 16, 2012

This week was a whirlwind of packing, working, and moving out of the cabin we’ve lived in for the past 6 years. It was so many changes, rapidly, that my brain is just starting to catch up to where we are. Here in the big, airy terminal at Sea-Tac airport, a pianist plays calm holiday music and a clown cycles through every 30 minutes or so with a new trick—first unicycling, then sneaking up on unsuspecting people with a remote control shark balloon, and just now walking past with four legs, asking guests to report to TSA if they see anything suspicious. The different-ness of this place and a couple cups of coffee to wake up are allowing it all to sink in: we have left Fairbanks behind and have started our travels.

Amid all the bustle of leaving town, we set aside half the day Friday to visit to our friend River Mike. Though Mike is one of our best friends in Alaska and very curious about our travels, he will not be following this blog because he lives in an 8x12 ft. canvas wall tent far from other people and from modern technology. His camp sits on a low bluff overlooking a pond, a couple miles and across a river from the nearest road. A trip to Mike’s place is always a journey into a different reality and perspective on life…”my world” as Mike calls it.
View down towards Mike's camp (Photo by River Mike)

Our trip to Mike’s was practical—our German shepherd, Loki, is living with Mike while we travel and we needed to bring him out there. But the trip was also an opportunity to get out in the quiet woods just covered by a foot of fresh snow, and a chance to get send-off blessings from Mike whose perspective on life we really respect.

Several weekends ago we supplied Mike with 600 pounds of kibble and 200 pounds of frozen meat that will keep Loki and Mike’s dog Maddy well fed. The next weekend, after a whole day of shopping, we loaded the Toyota Pickup with human food and supplies for Mike for the next half a year. On this Friday’s trip, it was just us and the dogs. We snowshoed slowly through the deep snow, the dogs bounding through drifts up to their armpits. Once at Mike’s we sat in his warm tent drinking cocoa and snacking. Pleased with his massive food stores from the recent shopping trip, Mike had laid out a whole selection of junk food snacks for us to choose from. The visit was short but it was the beginning of this mental transition away from work and a permanent home for a while. “You’re completely free now. So many people want to do what you’re doing, but they never end up doing it”, Mike told us as prepared to leave. It’s a feeling Mike understands well, having decided years ago to live unencumbered by work and material possessions, living a simple life centered around hauling firewood, making art from things he finds in the woods, and plenty of time to kick back and think up all kinds of creative business schemes that he likes to encourage Markus to pursue.

River Mike happy with his resupply for the next 6 months

Leaving was hard. Loki loves life out at Mike’s camp and will be really happy there, but he howled as we walked down the trail without him. Chhiri followed reluctantly behind us, not happy with the fact that our little pack was splitting up, and at one point she decided to turn around and go back to join Loki, so we had to hike back to Mike’s camp to get her and put her on a leash for the hike out. We stopped at Windy Creek Kennel on our way back into town to drop off Chhiri. She is always happy to go back to her first home, where she was an Iditarod race dog for her younger years. She’s 12 now and had it pretty well figured out that we were going to leave her there. She jumped out of the truck, made a quick tour of the dog yard to say her hellos to the howling, leaping sled dogs there, then settled calmly on the porch of the cabin and watched us drive away.

Loki and Chhiri in the snow

We want to say a big thanks to River Mike, to Ken and Gwen at Windy Creek, and to all our friends who helped us get out of town this week, from storing our cars and possessions to helping us pack and finishing up end of the semester work. Fairbanks is an awesome community and it feels strange to leave. But we are excited to be “completely free” these next few months and hope you will enjoy following our adventures on this blog.

- Karen and Markus

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Preparation for 2013

Where should we go? When should we go? How long should we stay? How do we travel? These were some of the questions we had to ask ourselves while preparing for our year of travel. Looking at all the places we were interested in and all the places we would like to go, we quickly realized that a year is not enough!!! We would need way more than a year in order to really experience all the places we would like to see so we had to tremendously cut the lists. Another factor was/is money. The more you jump from continent to continent, since time constrains limit the mode of travel, the more expensive it gets. Anyway, after deciding on hiking in Patagonia from January – March, biking from Slovenia to Finland from March – June, being back in Alaska in June, July and beginning of August and doing either a road trip through the western US or a canoe trip in Canada from August-October we had to go into planning details. So what gear should we bring? Which routes should we take? And again, where should we go?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Welcome!

Hello friends, family and cyber-space visitors!

It is pretty simple - we, Karen & Markus, are planning to travel in 2013. This blog is our connection to the world, where we stay in touch with you and you can stay in touch with us. We will see how it goes, cheers, Markus