The journey begins...



The final 6 weeks in Atlanta have been spent living with 'Big Al', the father of our good friend and former neighbor, Kebin.  We both appreciate the way that Big Al opened his home to us and when he asked us to give a presentation to his Boy Scout Troop, we didn't hesitate.  It was the first presentation we have given regarding our journey and it was great to see the interest and questions from the boys.  Hopefully some of them will keep up with us through this site and be inspired to explore the world in their own ways. 

The week leading up to our departure from Atlanta has been a roller coaster of emotion - full of excitement mixed with fear and paranoia and bittersweet goodbyes.  Both of us silently questioning our sanity and the adequacy of our preparations - while confidently laughing when friends and relatives express horrified amazement at what we are planning.  We are so grateful for everyone who has been so supportive over the past year of preparation and to those other travelers that have provided advice and confidence to keep us going. 

This last week was also spent eating and drinking too much and basically trying to enjoy all the little luxuries of the life we were leaving.  We paid our last visit to the Vortex in Little 5 Points for Thursday bike night and had a final night of debauchery at The Highlander in Midtown last night.  Now Sunday is here and we must move on to the serious business of final preparations in order to leave in a few days.  The next update will be from the road!    

4/17/2007            Unexpected Delays…

The last 24 hours have been disappointing and challenging.  We had planned to leave tomorrow, but those plans are now being postponed. 

Darren awoke on Monday morning disappointed that he had been unsuccessful in diagnosing and solving a water leak problem on the red bike.  We agreed that it should be addressed before we leave, so I followed him down to a bike shop to drop it off.  Darren spent the rest of the day brooding around the garage and house generally irritated at the world.  Some of his garage tools were not working and he felt uncoordinated.  I assumed it was the disappointment of having to take the bike to a certified mechanic and basically avoided confrontation.  I made a huge dinner and Darren purchased a couple of bottles of wine from Trader Joe’s.  After we stuffed ourselves with food and wine, I headed off to bed while Darren stayed up watching television. 

Within an hour, Darren woke me to tell me that something was very wrong with him.  He had been feeling bad for a couple of days, but as he laughed at the television, a severe discomfort in the abdomen overcame him.  He self-diagnosed himself with a hernia and asked me to take him to the hospital.  He was very stressed and had unusually high blood pressure.  He kept predicting that this would end all our plans and ruin everything.  He was convincing himself of the worst and was visibly devastated.  I tried to remind him that he was not a doctor and that he should remain calm until the experts examined him.  The next 4 hours were spent in the emergency room in which it was confirmed that Darren was in fact experiencing an Umbilical Hernia.  Luckily it was at the most minor stage and did not require emergency surgery, but we were given pain medication and advised to visit a specialist ASAP for further treatment.  We were still uncertain what this would mean for our travel plans. 

After putting Darren to bed I went to work on the Internet – researching treatment options and locating Specialists that accepted our medical coverage.  I found a practice that sounded extremely reputable and specialized in hernia repair.  I finally slipped into bed at 6:30am.  At 9:30, I was up again to call the doctors office.  We got an appointment and within a few hours Darren was scheduled for surgery on Wednesday, April 25th.  The doctor also happened to be a fellow motorcyclist and assured us that our trip would go forward – with at least a 3-week departure delay. 

He also consoled Darren with the knowledge that there was nothing he could have done to prevent this condition.  Since his body was prone to have it happen, it was only a matter of time before this occurred.  We are actually lucky to have this happen while we are still in Atlanta with a good roof over our heads and access to westernized medicine. 

So – the next three weeks will be spent detailing over our packing lists and working towards a speedy recovery.  At least it will be a bit warmer by the time we make it out west…

4/28/2007  Still in ATL - Hernia Surgery Update

Darren’s surgery was a success.  He had a plan to ask the surgeon to take photos during the operation, but thankfully made the decision to allow the talented doctor to concentrate solely on the surgical procedure.  I know this may disappoint some of our readers and we apologize to those individuals!  Darren did force me to take photos of his wound, although I have refused to post them to the website.  If you want to see them, shoot us an email and get ready to feast your eyes on Darren’s gruesome belly button…yuck.

Darren has been recovering over the past few days and we are both looking forward to being back on track.  The hardest part of the recovery process will be trying to ensure that Darren doesn’t push his recovery too quickly – a responsibility that I don’t particularly enjoy, but someone has to be the voice of reason!   Darren has a follow-up appointment with the doctor this coming Thursday and we are looking forward to being able to leave about a week after that.  Having this forced extra time has been good for allowing us to go through our final preparations with less stress. 

4/30/2007   Sweet Collaboration!

Darren is feeling much better, although still unable to lift anything - per the doc’s orders.  Regardless of this, we have been continuing to work towards our departure.  A few days ago we worked together to fashion a ‘holster’ for our shovel onto one of the panniers.  Now Darren is the brains and I am the brawn?!   
So today we tried another collaboration to rebuild the front fork leg of Darren’s bike.  It had been leaking fork oil and hadn’t improve with any of the tricks recommended online, so we set out to rebuild it.  Remarkably enough, we completed the job with success – no more leakage! And even more remarkably - I didn’t even have the desire to hit Darren with the front fork leg!  Darren was also very impressed - he kept taking photos as I worked.  I am not terribly fond of having my photo taken and especially when I am muscling a socket wrench.


Please excuse the delay in posting; however, things have been so boring and lazy that there was not a lot to report.  We have been sleeping late and watching lots of TV.  We have finally decided that it is time to get serious about the final packing preparations in order to leave on Wednesday or Thursday of this week.  So this morning we erupted from our beds before 10 am for the first time in at least a week and began sorting through the few remaining personal belongings we still have.  Stripping ourselves to the bare minimum…ensuring that we have all our documents in order…trying to make room for little luxuries. 


 We loaded the bikes, took 2 final trips to the storage unit and a trip to the trash dump before handing my 1997 Chevy Cavalier over to our good friends, Tamara and Gavin.  I purchased that car brand new in 1997 and it has given me 10 years and 200,000 miles of service.  Not bad for an American car…I find it bittersweet to see it go, but hope it can provide a few more miles for my friends.  Gavin made us a fabulous dinner and we sat on the back deck of Big Al’s house feeling like it couldn’t possibly be our last supper in Atlanta.  Thanks for dinner and we hope to find you traveling somewhere down the road. 


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