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April 24, 2008

Trip of a Lifetime: Biking the Pan-American Highway with Ten-Year-Old Twins

By Guest Blogger

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In our line of work, we get to hear about some amazing travel adventures, and this week's guest blogger, Nancy Sathre-Vogel, is about to undertake one of the most incredible and admirable yet: a 20,000-mile, 30-month bike journey down the Pan-American Highway with her husband and ten-year-old twins. Follow the family's preparations and journey at

"Hey, Davy! Get your math book, would ya?" I asked my ten-year-old son as I sat beneath a towering cardón cactus somewhere in Baja California, Mexico. Rummaging through one of my bike panniers, Davy retrieved his math book from its storage place next to our cooking skillet before joining me on our tarp for his lesson on fractions.

His education may not be a traditional one but, we believe, it's the best thing going.  Davy and his twin brother, Daryl, spent their entire third grade year (in 2006-07) bicycling 9,300 miles around the U.S. and Mexico, learning from the best teacher there is, Mother Nature herself. And now they are getting ready to head back out to spend Grades 5, 6, and 7 on the road.

My family (including our boys, my husband, me, and our dog) will begin pedaling from the northern terminus of the Pan-American Highway in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, on June 8, and we'll keep our bike tires pointed south for the next 30 months or so until we arrive at the southernmost point on the same road in southern Argentina. If all goes to plan, our boys will become the new Guinness World Record holders as the youngest people to cycle the Pan-American Highway.

The four of us are thrilled at the prospect of getting back on the road. Our previous trip taught us that life on the road is nothing short of magical. The time together as a family has cemented our relationship into an unbreakable bond, and created memories we will never forget. We are sure our upcoming journey to the ends of the earth will be an even more incredible experience.

Right now we are overwhelmed with the logistics of trying to pull this expedition off—putting all our belongings in storage or selling them, getting the house ready for renters, making sure our finances are in order, securing new passports, making sure our dog has all the necessary papers... There are days when I feel like I simply want to crawl under a blanket and sneak out again once it's all over, but this portion of the journey is just as vital as the pedaling. It's just not as fun.

Once we're on the road, however, the logistics will take on a whole new dimension. Making sure the five of us have sufficient food and water and a safe place to lay our heads at night will become a major focus. And we will concentrate on enjoying being with one another out on the road. Life will be reduced to its simplest form, as we coexist with nature and learn to live simply.

Our boys will escape today's materialistic society, living without TV and Game Boys, for example. Their toys will be of the natural variety—leaves, sticks, and stones. John and I are excited about allowing Mother Nature to be our boys' teacher, and we're sure they will learn more than we ever expected. -- Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Image: Pan-American Highway (Wikimedia Commons)

For more information about the Vogel's upcoming self-powered journey from Alaska to Argentina, visit

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Related Topics: Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · Road Trips


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The Vogel Family has reached ground zero, Dawson Creek, B.C. Canada after having biked the Dalton Highway and the Alaska Highway. A record is set for Davy and Daryl as the youngest chaps to have made the trek. Dawson Creek is pulling out the stops tomorrow to commemorate this record setting achievement! Read more about the Vogel's journey at Click on the More Posts button below the top headlines and scan for more Family on Bikes coverage.

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