So here it finally is.
I’m breaking up with Facebook.
Maybe I should change my relationship-status (regarding Facebook) to «It’s complicated»,- because it is..
So many funny videos of animals, or «drunk guy falling down ladder in Hillbilly-country».
So easy to stay connected and keep up to date on what my friends and distant family are doing at any one time.
And at the same time it is all so mind numbing. Pictures of food, pets, glasses of wine and more pets.
We don’t make regular plans or send invitations on paper anymore. Most events are arranged via Facebook. Both for work and social get-togethers, birthday parties and the like. Any time now Facebook will be the go-to medium for wedding invitations as well as funeral arrangements. I’m sure of it, and I find the idea scary and creepy and a little bit tantalizing. As I said, it’s complicated.
I like the convenience, but there seems to be no limit with regards to data-sharing between sites like Facebook and Amazon and many others. Yes, I buy all of my books and a lot of other stuff via Amazon, and then my Facebook is drowned in commercials of items similar to what I just bought. Convenient, scary, very annoying, and a bit worrying.
The amount of time I spend on Facebook seems waaay to high. I’m probably no worse or better than anyone I know. Most of my Facebook friends will agree on any given day,- right after taking a test to find your inner spirit animal, favourite color, and apparent age… It just seems like a lot of time wasted on nothing. Time that could have been better spent reading a book or working out (without checking in to let everyone know I’m working out), or maybe chasing a hobby, honing a skill, or just actually talking face to face with the people that matter in my life.
Nope,- Facebook-chat does not count! Body language should not equal words-per-minute on a QWERTY! But sadly I feel that’s the case today.
Am I moving into a cave and going full-on Amish? Of course not! I just want to change the way I interact with friends and family. I still have this blog if I feel I need to share something with «everyone». My friends already follow me on Instagram, have my phone number and email address, and they know where I live, because we actually hang out from time to time.
Focusing on my friends and family in real life, my hobbies, my reading and working out (in secret because Facebook won’t know about it) will most likely bring a new level of quality to,- well,- everything..
There is a good chance I will miss the mindless entertainment and keeping updated on current events as sorted, prioritized and presented by Facebook but that in it self is just another reason for me to shut down my account. Cold turkey seems the only solution.
It’s complicated. There are many valid reasons for why I should stay on Facebook, and there are at least an equal amount of arguments for why I should just log out, and carefully back away.Funny enough I feel I have to post this on Facebook in order to quit Facebook. And who knows? Maybe I’m not a quitter? Maybe my life has no meaning without Facebook? Time will tell I guess..
But, for now it’s over. I’m breaking up with you, Facebook. I’d like to say «it’s not you, it’s me», but I feel we need to be honest to each other at this point. It’s not me. It’s you! It was fun in the beginning,- but you changed and it all turned to shit.
I am free
Visiting family in southern Spain, and meeting up with my sister and her family from Dallas, Texas, I got another rare glimps of family life and I keep thinking about the choises that set us apart, or draws us nearer.
Walking around in Mijas, a little village high above the city of Fungirola, my little nephew, aka «Monkey» came up to me. Falling in step he directed my attention to one of many tourist-souvenier-shop-traps that sold very authentic swords. Very..
Anyways, Monkey points them out, looks up at me, and asks
«Uncle Christer, did you see that sword?»
«Um, yeah shure»
Then he was quiet a long time, roughly 5 seconds.
«When can I get one?»
«When your 30?»
«How about now?»
«How about never?»
We heckled back and forth and I think we decided on somewhere between 18 and 27..
The day after while laying on the beach sipping vino blanco, making like a lizard just absorbing the heat,- the talk from the night before got me thinking… (I was on vacation, and only give myself a little thinking-alowance each day) …that we always wait. We always wait.
Whenever you want something – anything – bigger than a can of coke,- it’s almost always not now,- but later. Some of the most often used words when dealing with dreams and wants are (I may or may not make this up as I go along)
When you’re older
After (enter event as you see fit)
Being adult about it, this makes all kinds of sense. But maybe that is the problem? The adult part?
Take me as an example. I want a boat. But I’ve got to buy a house first. I want to start diving again. But I need the house first.
During the day I want to do or buy many things but a stern voice always (most of the time) says «later», «next year» etc.
So I wait and postpone because that is the smart choice, and I am all about smart choices. The stern voice is backed by the chours of belivers who strongly believe they know better how I should live my life.
The verse of their higher learning is thundering in it’s wellmeaning arrogance
Like seaguls you can almost tune it out. Almost.
Asking myself the question so clearly spoken by Monkey; «when can I?»,- I realized a few things;
1) Demanding or asking sets us apart in two goups with a very different mindset, just like closeminded and openminded people. Feel free to draw any paralels here
2) Enjoy every day, even if some things must be postponed, still make sure that every day is a win
3) Don’t give a real sword to a nine-year old.
When can I?
Whenever I want to. All choices have consequences, but I need them to be my consequences, following my coices. Not the wellmeaning arrogance of others..
Live for the moment. There’s plenty of time to be an adult later.
Or, naive is he who dreams. For the universe conspires to overthrow and challenge all plans made by man.
Kinda dark perhaps. But still, who here can prove me wrong?
Traveling was my dream. After a brutal kinetic reorientation with a unmovable object, the unstoppable force where left wounded and hurt. The unmovable object, Reality, had no pity nor did it flinch at the unstoppable force’ bold attempt to just saunter through life,- just because because “how hard can it be”? The unstoppable force here, that was me. Or the part of me that was, and still is, a dreamer.
This kinetic reorientation is just fancy-babble for “I hit a brick wall”. Late 2011 I hit a wall, and was forced to take a few (many) steps back to regain my bearings.
My method for getting back up on the horse where a simple idea that once it flirted through my head, could not be ignored. “What do I want to do if I can do whatever I want to?”
The next 800-something days I spent planning and preparing to travel around the world. First solo on a MC. Then later the plan and adhering preparations changed to a couples-world-trip together with Tonje. Nothing is ever that easy. Those of you who have read my other blogposts know the story. The rest of you newcomers, please check out my blogpost archive,- or maybe just go directly to this disaster..
So anyway, the question I’m trying to figure out now is this; “Who am I, now that I’m not traveling?”
Seems like a simple enough question, right? If I where to ask you “who are you?”, what would you say? Would you sum your life up in work, family and hobbies? Do you love your job and identify solely on what you do for a living? Or perhaps your family is your everything, and your answer to my question is “I am a husband/wife/father/mother”?
It’s a simple enough question, with a myriad of different and difficult answers. Or so it seems when you decide to ponder this question at 4 a.m. when everyone is asleep and the house is quiet.
I am a dreamer and a planner. I dream of a new adventure, and once it seems probable that it can be done, I start planning. Makes little difference if it’s a world trip or remodeling the house. Once I spot my target on the horizon, I tend to start working towards my goal. When I was planning and preparing for my world-tour adventure, I identified myself as that guy who tossed conventions aside and did that thing that no one else would. I was that guy. Dedicated. Hard working. Always on target.
After our trip,- and the dream of driving americas collapsed, I spent a lot of time trying very hard to figure out a few things.
1) What now?
2) Is this the moment in my life when I have to grow up?
3) Am I just a has-been-dreamer?
For a time just pondering the unhappy ending of our trip, I seriously wondered what the point to it all was? Why dream if you have to bear disappointments of such a magnitude? Why give the dream the light of day, only to have it crushed by events outside your control?
I guess dreaming and chasing my dreams is what gives my life value. Without dreams and plans I am a mere drone. Life has to be about more than paying bills, right? One of the biggest hurdles for me was feeling that I had to answer for my failiure, and gracefully accept all the «I told you so» comments that inevitably came after the trip-collapse.
I find that I can no longer do just that. Kind of a revelation really.
All the well-meaning advice along the lines of «you should do this, or that» really just highlight possible scenarios that I have turned over inumerable times in my head. In the dark. At 4 am,- when my brain decides that THIS is the time to question every decision I ever made.. So thanx, but no thanx.
In this period of reflection and pondering I have found that I refuse to take the easy road, but rather prefer the road less travelled.
It’s not so much «my way or the highway», but more like my way is my highway. I try not to judge you, my fellow primate, for the choices you make, – and I respectully ask the same. Making unconventional choices may lead to pain and regret, but the end game is pece of mind. It always has been.
Perhaps the most important thing I learned the past 6-7 months is that I adapt real well. I will always make the best of the situation, and I just hope this is a lasting trait.
Traveling still is my dream, and I will keep reaching for it.
I have been pleasantly surprised at the number of people wondering about the next post. More news. An update. Something to soothe that little itch that an unfulfilling post spelling disaster and dreams at full arrest left.
Well, here it is. The last post for 2014.
2014 has been a very eventful year. We got married, and what a great wedding it was. Planning a wedding can bring the bride and groom firmer together. But that is probably due to the proven fact that when faced with great challenges, a tight group will stand shoulder to shoulder. And so did we. I do admit that at some point the challenges and demands where so great that I actually booked a wedding-slot with a Norwegian Sailors-church in Copenhagen, Denmark. I just figured “screw it!”, but my wife-to-be held firm and brought the planned wedding back on track. I still have the occasional all-night nightmare where I have to figure out how to fit 150 people on 40 chairs. Despite the occasional nightmare, June 14 was the most important day in my life. With Tonje at my side, there is really nothing I can’t deal with…
We returned back home to Stavanger, Norway, to regroup, plan and work a little. Then come spring, new adventures await. At this point, however, the final details are a little unclear. Come January, we’ll know more. As soon as I know more, I’ll make sure to post the news here 🙂
2014 has been a lot about choices, and about relations to former, current and newfound friends. Some friends I didn’t know I had, that stood out and went far beyond the scope of any expectations, even the kind of expectations you would normally have for close friends. It’s been a real eye-opener for me. But then again others turned out to be a waste of time and energy. We all make choices in life. All choices has consequences. That in itself is not a bad thing. Walk in the rain, the consequence is you get wet. Walk in the sun, you get warm, and potentially sunburned. Cause and effect. Consequence. I admit being very pissed, hurt and angry at some of the choices that where made, and the effect they have had in my life. In retrospect I can’t believe how much time and pondering I allowed myself to spend on just a few issues that couldn’t be fixed, people that wheren’t my friends. So very counter-productive. Stupid even.
However, all this thinking lead me to the only sensible conclusion: I refuse to spend any more time or energy on this… Some situations, along with their instigators, are better left behind in the dust. I’ll never again allow this kind of misplaced trust in former relations to affect my life. Cause and effect. Consequence. It’s not good or bad. It just is.
With this decision came peace of mind. Funny how things turn out.
2015 on the other hand, holds promises of new adventures, work opportunities, tears and laughter, good times and bad times. And I welcome it all, shoulder to shoulder with the best team-player I know, my best friend and closest confidant, my beautiful wife Tonje.
No battleplan survives the first enemy contact.
No businessplan ever survived the first market rollout.
Very few dreams survive the harsh meeting with reality.
This post is about a dream and that meeting.
We spent 4 weeks in Spain (Sheesh, time flies) chasing down transport-agencies. 29 days sending emails, making long distance calls to shipping companies, agents and other helpy-helpers. How hard can it be to wring a straigt answer out of someone? Right?
Hard. Very very hard.
«Hello it’s me again. Have you heard anything form your Argentinian agent?»
«Ah, hello Sir, ehr no. But I am sure I will know something tomorrow»
«Hello again. You never called back yesterday like you promised. Any news?»
«Ehr hello Mr Bernstieen (really, my surname is that hard?) no, but we have this under control, you can count on me!»
«Hello, it’s Mr BERENTSEN again..»
This went on and on and on. Being pragmatic, I (justly so) feared the worst..
Why did this turn into a problem after the trip had started? Well, first of all the original trip was planned as a motorcycle journey. And so transport was arranged accordingly by a reputable shipping agency. We had solid reasurances that this was not a problem.
Then, as you may have read in the major changes to just about everything post, we had to change our plan from two BMW F800GS to a Mitsubishi Pajero Dakar. Still all good, route stayed the same and we imediatly got a written quote for container fare from Spain to Argentina.
«Just contact us four weeks before your expected departure». (…so we can do nothing…)
Time passed and we hit the road leaving Stavanger September 9th 2014. Blissfully we traveled on for about three weeks before we, acording to the agreement, contacted our shipping agent. The very same agent who claimed to be able to to deliver, but apparently did nothing exept murder the pronunciation for my surname.
By now I started feeling uneasy about the whole process, and contacted a few other shipping-agencies. As one, they all gave us a solid «Sorry, but no. We do not handle private shipments anywhere, least of all South America».
Now I was really worried, and, reached out to friends, friends of friends and just about anyone through facebook, email and textmessages asking for help and hints. This generated quite a few leads as to how we could proceed. One company then suggested using their company as the sending party on our behalf. That hopefully would eliminate the problem connected to us being a private party sending and recieving the car in Spain and Argentina. Further investigation proved this solution to be no good..
Argentinian customs declared that in order to process the car we had to drive it back to Norway, to have the vehicle documents processed and verified by the Argentinian consulate in Oslo. A 7000 km roundtrip for a piece of paper, whose existence had never come up earlier…
In adition we had to expect «unexpected additional handling fees» (that trancelates into bribes, bogus-fees and broad-daylight-robbery-by-Clerc..)
Tempers started flaring a bit at Lostbiker.net mobile HQ.
Translated, I started loosing it a bit. Two imediate options came to mind:
1) Express my anger and start throwing stuff around, releasing the pent up angry gorilla that resides inside.
Or 2) internalize my frustration and think. That made me very quiet. And sad. And angry. And fun for no one.
The evening progressed and we had to face the very much unwanted truth:
Argentina, and all of south and central america, is a bust!
We now know that many others have had the same problem traveling by car, and the only realistic way is to enter Central-America via USA, and drive south. Problem is that our window of opportunity is within the next 10 months. Due to our USA- and Canada-plans it’s just not possible.
So what now?
Plans for USA and Canada are still standing firm. Shipping, handling and temporary import/export papers are in the works. However, the seasons and their inevitable change forces the issue, so our planned landfall in Florida, USA, is march 1st 2015.
That leaves us four months to do something fun with. Four months that where supposed to be spent in South and Central America learning spanish and avoiding malaria and monster-spiders. Yes, it just so happens we now have a small fortune worth of malaria-medication that will not se any use..
At the moment, we are back in Norway for a week to attend a funeral. This came on top of our other challenges, the same night even. But naturally, trip-related problems must take the backseat to more immediate family concerns.
Later this week, we will regroup, and start to figuring things out. On the wishlist is a week in the Spanish highlands, on dusty roads between tiny villages that may or may not have seen a car since Franco sat at the end of the table.
Next, a few days in Venice, Italy. It may be to late to propose to her in a gondola in the waterways of Venice (because we’re already married) but it sure would be romantic. Other places of interest is Athens (Greece) Istanbul (Turkey)
I find myself grieving over lost adventures and shattered dreams. Childish perhaps. But feelings are what they are. It still is hard to wright about, and even harder if not impossible to actually talk about. I feel like the world throws me new hurdles. Just because I have the audacity.
My somewhat non-square previous experiences has tought me time and time again; when you get beat to the ground, you don’t curl up to a ball and cower. It’s so easy to give in, to give up. But the angry, quiet gorilla inside won’t let me whimper, when I should roar. You roll with the impact, pick yourself up, and try again. Change the angle of attack. Change the plan.
So that is what we will do.
Learn. Grow. Dream.
Transport is still an issue. These things take quite a bit more time than anyone (me) could forsee. Good thing is we have a lot of time available.. But idle-hands are up to no good, so we decided to complicate our days here a litte.
I kind of belong in the water, and the subject of scubadiving has come up earlier during the trip. The thought of learning how to dive properly, mastering my fear of being shark-bait, and not drowning where all imensly compelling reasons to forge ahead. Anyways, so we sat by the pool (yes, I know – not easy being me..) and the subject came up again. I imediately grabbed that idea and ran with it like a hungy Labrador making away with the family dinner. The key is to rush on with total abandon! What can possibly go wrong, right? Before Tonje really knew what happened, I had made an apointment for our first PADI Open Water class at the local scuba-center in Benalmádena, Spain.
Two days later we met up at the local dive center. We had a quick-ish briefing and dive-theory session, gathered all the gear, learned how to assemble and do a pre-check, before we packed the van and headed for a confined waters dive.
A confined waters dive is basically a pool-dive. I can understand why PADI chose to label it differently. This confined waters dive, or pool-dive as it where, would take place in a hotel-pool nearby. A hotel-pool full of screeching children, old pink tourists and leathery sun-worshippers. Imagine us two norwegians and the DiveMaster walkin up to the pool, getting into wetsuits and scuba-gear, doing a buddy-check and then waddeling into the shallow end. Trust me, there where a lot of conflicting feelings. Are we as Norwegians such pussies that they need wetsuits in a hotel-pool? Maybe they all think theres something wrong with the pool? Should I present myself as Sweedish if someone ask? It the water really supposed to be so very very cold? Why is the lifeguard playing Bob Marley on the stereo?
A lot of information where conveyed at the surface. I learned that with the hood of the wetsuit on, you really can’t hear anything. So some of the information was lost. We prepared to decend (at about 1 meter 20 cm depth) I defalted my BCD (Buoyancy Control Device) and decended. Had I heard all the neccesary information, I probably would have replaced my snorkle with my regulator. The regulator is a breathing doo-daah that you shove into your mouth, that lets you breathe and therefore not drown.. If you try to breathe through the snorkle at any deapth that is not surface, you get a lot of water. In the seconds it took me to realize this and grab the regulator, I swallowed a good portion of the pool. Then followed a lot of wheesing and coughing in the regulator and trying to control my initial near panic: Your fine! Wheeeze. Your fine! Cough! Your not drowning.. Breathing under water in very counter-intuitive. It takes a while for your brain to accept the fact that though you are well submerged you can breathe and thus not drown. All the while we did a lot of training drills to prepare us for the open waters. And if I where cold,- Tonje had it worse: she where practically blue after 90 minutes of not drowning.
The next day, we had our first salt-water dives. Tonje where padded with extra layers of insulation. Due to the relatively cold tempratures in the ocean – a brisk 17 degrees C on the surface – Tonjes extra insulation layer had an extra insulation layer. We had to walk to the house-reef all kitted up. It’s about 300 meters to te shoreline where we could wade in. Being mindful of Tonjes back-condition, I carried my own kit on my back, and then hers in front. It’s a lot of weight. And let us not forget the 12 kilos in the weight belt around my hips. Or the fact that a wetsuit is supposed to keep you warm. A black wetsuit in the sun = sky-rocketing temprature inside the suit. The chill of the ocean was a blessing!
Visibility at the housereef was not the best. My logbook says 1 meter. I kept loosing the others all the time. However, the DiveMaster and Tonje managed not to loose anyone but me.. Later Tonje claims that I got lost trying to keep up with this or that little fish-thingy. She claims I acted like a hound with my nose to the ground following a hot trail, ears flapping. We agree to disagree on this. But safe to say, the fear of drowning as a result of breathing under water is gone.. My mask kept leaking and filling with water, prompting me to empty it every 5 minutes. Imagine emptying a mask of the water inside it, under water. It’s a tricky prospect of wich I am now something of an expert..
Third dive-day we got stuffed into the dive-mobile to travel up the coast to Nerja. The plan was to go down to 18 meters. Getting there, we kitted up and headed to the water.
The last dive took us down to 15 meters. I wondered about my own reactions to this. Some people feel it’s claustrophobic or get stressed. Or so we where told. I just felt free. Diving may be one of the most liberating experiences I’ve had. Also, communication is clearly a lot more difficult under water,- and so they teach you some hand signals for the most basic needs. Tonje and I expanded that a little, and I am proud and amazed how an alread very good level of communication could expand and get even better. It may sound like a cliché (probably because it is), but we as a team grows stronger every time we challenge ourselfs, together.
When the fifth and last dive was over, I really just wanted to jump right back in. Tonje, with her multitude of layers looked me dead in the eyes and said “We are getting dry-suits!” shivering all the way.. Also, leaving the shoreline after the final dive, Tonje carried her own kit like it was nothing! It made me wonder about the real reason I carried all the gear the 4 previous dives.. 😉
Before we could complete our course and take the exam, there where a lot of theory and informational DVDs to go through, Nothing spells excelent study conditions like Vino Tinto..
As of wednesday this week, we are both PADI-certified for open water dives. Wohoo!
Cant wait to do it again..
That’s what we need.
Our world trip is safely underway, but we have encountered something of an obstacle.
We’re having trouble securing one very important thing: TRANSPORT from Spain to Buenos Aires, Argentina. Transport for the car that is. We want to ship it in a Container (standard 20 ft)
Problem is that most of the big companies (Schenker, Maersk etc) will not ship unless it’s for a company. As a private party we’re a little out of luck. We had something ordered, but it may now fall through, sadly.
So, does anyone out there know of a shipping agent or company that can help us ship the car in a standard 20 ft container from Spain (Malaga, or any other port) to Argentina (Buenos Aires)? We want to ship early to mid november 2014.
If you know of someone, or have tips to this regard, please contact me
We are currently in Benalmádena, Spain.
Also, please share this post to anyone and everyone that you think could help or have info.
Christer & Tonje
Our first week was a blur of passing kilometers, bad diner-coffee and trying to find parts and equipment.
The second week we finally saw our new rooftent from Gordigear installed. Ofcource, nothing is ever straight forward. There is always some thing that goes wrong or is delayed. Since our would be norwegian 4×4 equipment supplier (who shall not be mentioned by name) could not deliver, we had to find an alternative. I reached out to Franz at Gordigear, Germany, – hoping that he would know where I could get what I needed. True enough, Franz delivered. He helped us locate a nearby 4×4 equipment dealership, Taubenreuther, across the border to Austria. All good so far. But it is never that easy. The parts could be ordered, but would not arrive until friday, 3 days later. So we spent a few days in Salzburg before showing up at Taubenreuther very early in the morning.
These guys helped us mount new rails on the roof, but also talked us out of buying quite a few nice-to-have items from their shop. Then to top it all they then pointed us to a different caravan/camping store for some other bits and pieces we still needed. Great help, great service and very nice coffee. What, the bullbar? With some knowhow, a quick discussion on the merits of the law in all of EU regarding how very illegal the large bullbar is (since 2006) and how complex the propper fitting would be, we decided to get rid of it. At 0755 in the morning…
After our session at Taubenreuther we drove over to this new caravan store, then back to Euopark, a big shopping senter to buy a camera and som other electronics, and then back to Laufen to get our new tent installed. It turns out that my masterly navigational planning had us crossing the German/Austrian border about 4 times. It also turns out that outside Salzburg there is always rushour. We know this from experience…
Coming late to Gordigear (thanx for waiting), we finally fitted the last big piece of the camping puzzle. Our new tent is called Gordigear Explorer Plus, and is a marvel both to use, pack and unpack. I admit I felt a little uneasy sitting on the ledge in the beginning, considering that it seems to float unsupported a good 120 cm over the cide of the car. But wow! This is a lot of tent for the euros spent! In unexperienced hands it takes maybe 5 minutes to pitch, and maybe 15 minutes to pack up. And the best part is being a good 185 cm off the ground. You can imagine Tonje being very exited on the prospect of NOT sleeping on the ground in South and Central america later this year and in the beginning of next. For those of you who have read my earlier posts, Tonje has a total of 7 camping nights under her belt. All of them with me on our shake down trip summer of ’13. Now, the experience is more luxurious by several degrees. This is going to be fantastic! For us, this is a brave new world..
Franz mounted the very large tent on the very large car (using a fork lift!), explained how everything worked, stoically shouldered all our repeted questions, explained again (like I was five years old, much because I asked him to) and then sent us on our way.
We had allready decided against testing the tent the first night, knowing that we would probably get ourselfs lost again and find a campsite very late… Instead we booked a very cheap room in a alpine, well Hostell seems a bit too nice.. a nice alpine dump. To be fair, it was very cheap. And the innkeeper, not speaking any english or german (in austria) was very charming. It was an experience and an eye-opener. The room was so filthy that we really didn’t want to tak off our shooes before going to bed. Tonje took a shower, and later professed that she positively could not wait to go camping! The room had been cleaned, probably just after WW2.. The dinner, I don’t even know where to start. We put all our money on schnaps killing all germs in the food.
The next day I plotted a fun fun fun backcountry treck all over the tiniest roads over the alps. As the roads got steeper and steeper, and the lane narrowed more and more, I knew I had gotten what I bargened for. The car got a proper test and we got som spectacular scenery. Then followed our first night in the new Gordigear tent. Morning came and we looked at the looming rainclouds and quickly decided to pack up everything and head south. Driving by GPS, you have to understand that it’s like having a tempered teen giving you directions. It can be fine at one moment, and the next (after you change your mind and ask it to please please please recalculate to the new destination), you have to be punished by taking the very much longer trip through the places of hillbilly Italy that will never ever make it to an tourist information brouchoure.. My current favorite is the intersection that was so narrow that it felt like a parkingspace two sizes too small. However, after promising the GPS that I would buy it some new map-upgrades, we finally arrived at a very nice camping site in Toscana, wine country! We stayed for 2 nights, before heading to Genova.
Oh what a mistake that was. Genova is one of those places that I will most likely never come back too. It’s not a ghetto per say, – that would probably be offensive to other ghettos all over the world. We ate at McDonalds and stayed in our hotel room..
I would like to just ad one thing about Italy. The traffic is rediculous. Maps, signs, intersection-lights and even directions from police are very much a good indication, but not really any rule. Two lane streets will be filled by five lanes of cars and wespas. Everyone is honking so you honk back, just because it seems like the right thing to do. And all this in the behemoth of a Pajero. I may or may not have ran ove a few Fiat Pandas down here. We’ll probably never know..
The great Einstein proved that time is relative. To me this has always been a basic fact to be believed even if not understood. We all accept that 2+3 equals 5. Every time. And we accept that Einstein was right, probably because no one is clever enough to prove him wrong.
We spent so much time to prepare for the trip that was supposed to happen soon, some time next year, next quarter, next month, It never rally felt like it would be next week anytime. Or tomorrow, or maybe ETD (estimated time of departure) would be in 5 minutes..
The time of departure is always so far away that there are certain things that you just have to postpone, because there is always something that is very pressing in the immediate right now. Some near and present catastrophy that needs to be handled. And in the middle of all this, we realized 15 days prior to our prefered ETD that we never actually applied for our 6 month VISA for the USA. A very helpful friend was kind enough to inform us that once upon a time way back in the day he tried the same thing and it took somehthing like 90 days for the process to be completed. There where a surprising lack of faith and encouragement regarding the neccesary paperwork. And yet, this was a much easier process than expected. A total of 21 days from start to VISA arrival.
Then followed goodbye-happening after goodbye-happening over several days. Parents, close friends, siblings and others. Everyone waranted a proper hug and a drink or a cup of coffee. Yet with family situations and work and vacation in the mix, there where a few that could not make any of the numerous goodby settings. You’re all missed but not forgotten.
The last day we drank more coffee than any liver should be forced to endure. Feeling the love from all those that care, and those that we care for – was actually quite exhausting. Greatly appreciated ofcourse, but from an introverted thinkers point of view it took it all out of me. So much so that we never told anyone when the final date of departure was pushed yet one more day due to critical papers to be delivered by mail. It was the only way we could hope to finish packing for the next day..
And then suddenly the big day was here.
We where finally in the car, leaving Stavanger, Norway, in the rearview and heading towards our great adventure. First to Stord for a proper change of tires and more sencible rims. Now our Pajero proudly sports TOYO AllTerrain tires on 16” rims. Hopefully this will get us where we want to go. The next level of upgrade will probably be some kind of tracked behemoth.
Then we headed towards Drammen where we had an appointment with a well profiled 4×4 outfitter that where supposed to help us out with a few corrections and equipment issues. Before we got halfway we called them just to confirm our appointment once again. What I got in return was a calrificationt that there where no appointment scheduled after all (despite my written email confiramtion 1 week prior), there where no parts available and that they could not give us a price for any parts before after we had ordered them. Safe to say we did not, and will never, deal with this particular company ever again.
In Oslo we spent 2 days with our good friends Marthe & Espen, sleeping in the best RUM-bar in Oslo, right next to the sugarcanebased greatness. Incidently this is also Marthe and Espens apartment.
Driving form Oslo, everyone, including the GPS, boldly stated that it would take five and a half hours from Oslo to Malmø. Knowing this we decided to spend 1 our for lunch at my Uncle Gustav and aunt Evas summer retreat in Sweeden. How foolish where we? Travel time in total: 10 hours and some change. Dear Einstein. It is now proven yet again that there is no connection, relative or othervise, between assumed travel time and real travel time.
Arriving in Malmø late at night, something that we really tried to avoid, we just colapsed on our beds. The next few days just flew by. Malmø, Hamburg, Beverungen (west of Göttingen), Munchen, Ruhpolding and now Salzburg. After our would-be 4×4 suplier fell through, we where suddenly in need of a new supplier in a part of Europe where most people find the thought of speaking english something between scary and offensive. So the kilometers flew by through Denmark and on the german Autobahn. Not wanting to kill our newly aquired car I always let the engine warm properly up, and never pressed it past 120 km/h. Diesel engiene with a turbo made for proper offroad use gave me a choice between fast and short, or all the way and slow. I chose the latter. But offcource that made the Autobahn quite different from my earlier motorcycle trips in Germany. Being passed by cars doing well in excess of 250 kmph made me want to go out and push… Days of traveling between hotels on high speed highways makes you loose sence of anything but the next turn, trying not to get sanwiched and squashed between fast-movers and heavy-haulers.
Yesterday and today we got all day and night in Salzburg. Being tourists. Thursday night we found this fantastic little restaurant that could seat 16 people, where the kitchen was part of the main room and all the food is prepared by the cook just a fef meters from our table. What a wonderful and surprising experience. We’ll be sure to revisit in the years to come.
Friday morning we have an appointment with Taubenreuther, a 4×4 supplier in Anthering, Austria. Then after that the new Gordigear roof tent will be mounted on the car, and we’ll head for the hills. Litteraly. We’ll take the long way to Italy over the alps. Life is good. Our collective puls and sence of urgency is coming down. Any day now Tonje, my wife and copilot, will realize that we are actually on our way and have very close to 12 months worth of adventure ahead of us..
So many loose ends.
There are just too many of them. So many conciderations to make. Plans to change, and the impact of those changes to concider.
I complained to my lovely wife about all the chaos (in my head, mostly), and how it kinda kills my creativity. “I want to wright” I told her. “But I can’t. There’s too much low-flying debree in my mind. Too much chaos..”. I was complaining over not being in total control of the rapid change of our project. I didn’t explain that, but the pretty girl with the maching ring gets me.
She sipped a little white wine, looked out over the waves and gives me the simplest, most inspiering advise I’ve had in a long time.
“Wright about that” she says.
“Huh” (mentally I had just bobbed-and-weaved out of the way of a train of thoughts whose intentions where to clarify imminent failiure)
“Chaos” she says.
We spent the last week together at Crete, enjoying the beach and very hot days and nights. We have both worked so hard, so many hours the last couple of years. We’ve been preparing for our 13 month trip, and our wedding, and in order to make it we just had to put our collective shoulders to it and heaved-to for what seems like a very long time. We (I) where (was) bone tired and in need of a break. When Tonje came back from her final backspecialist with a final diagnose (check out the post “Major changes to pretty much everything” for more details) she needed to do some “because screw it” shopping, and so she informed me that we where going to Crete. (Airfare plus hotel for two was cheaper than the last 25 minute back-specialist consultation, so screw it!) (also bonus points for Tonje who bought us a short vacation, rather than new shoes and a dress and what not..)
So, there we where. I was sitting on the beach, next to my love, focusing so hard on all the things I had to think about that I forgot to actually think. I spent so much time worrying about every little detail that I forgot to breathe, enjoy the view and just spend time with my wife, just being us. I lost track of all the little things, like the local beach salesman announcing “ffRRRREESH FRUITT!” WATTTERMELLONPLEASE!?”. Or the wonderful dinners we enjoyed after the sun had set and the temperature came close to 28 degreed C and the Norwegians had stopped melting.
I spend so much time trying to cover all the bases. Getting all my ducks in a row. Selling the bikes. Finding and buying a new car (everything now points towards a Pajero), packing down all our stuff into two piles; one pile for the trip, and one pile for storage. Renting out our apartment. Getting a USA 6 month tourist visa. Research. So much research. And so I worry. Tonje tells me not to worry but I do. She tells me it’s all going to work out, and I kinda know she is right, but yet I worry. All the chaos and all the loose ends paint a mental map explaining all the ways it’ll not work out, why we won’t make the deadlines, why I should just quit while I’m, if not ahead,- then at least not too far behind. I’ve always been a light sleeper, and if my ducks are especially unruly and just won’t get in a row, then I tend to wake up at night, head full of lowflying debree, chaos and loose ends. If I do wake up without waking the wife, I always scramble (quietly) for my trusty Kindle and read about something so far away from reality that it drowns out the background noise, the chaos. If me waking stirrs the wife, she talks me down, tucks me inn and I drift off again. And that’s pretty neat too.
Working as a Coach, I profess that “Never complain about what you can’t change; Instead either change yourself, change you goal, or accept the new reality and move on”.
It is also a well known fact that it is often easier to give advice to others, than to follow them yourself.
I truly don’t oppose change. I find it exciting. But just like with a rollercoster ride,- it’s great afterwards! However while underway, racing down a barrelloop while your mind is screaming about the near certainty that it’s all coming off the rails and the day is going to end badly,- then it’s not so much fun at all. You know for a fact that at the other end of the barrelroll going off the rails,- there will be ducks scattered everywhere, and not a single one alligned up to anyhting else. Loose ends,- or ducks. Chaos. But then, once you are out of the barrelroll-of-doom and most of your ducks are aligned (not all ’cause that will never happen), then it’s all kicks and giggles.
I breathe through my nose, smelling the salt and the sea and the sun, Tonje, my love and companion, made friends with Tony, the local beach restaurant wachdog, and did so with such ease that my ducks got confused and forgot to scatter about in a chaotic manner.
That night we took the bus with the locals into Platanyas, for dinner and drinks. Oh how it seemed like a good idea to get fruity umbrella-style drinks. It’s not. Ever.
We finally settled on a nice corner restaurant, enjoying a little red and a little white, watching people shuffle by and marveling at the Crete driving culture. Or lack there of.
The last month, and the last 2 weeks in particular have been taxing. My wife Tonje and I have been planning to go on our 13 month adventure for about 18 months. An adventure riding around the world on two motorcycles. All the planning and all the gear was in place. Tonje took her license in october 2013, we bought two BMW F800GS, planned, prepared, researched, rince and repeat.. Departure where set to end of july 2014 at the latest. Click on this link for more information on our route and timelines..
DISASTER NUMBER ONE
Then in April 2014, around easter, Tonje fell of a horse-horse and busted her ankle. And people think riding a iron horse is dangerous? Right..
Let me also use this opportunity to mention that Tonje has extencive horse-horse riding experience. She was one of those girls that spent more time in the stables grooming and riding horses than she spent time at home, and that includes sleep-time. Or so I’m told.
Due to our adventure she introduced me to riding horse-horses so that we could expand our adventure in Argentina, Texas and other places. Also, I intoduced her to iron-horse riding, and she unflinchingly joined my adventure dream, so there where not really any way I could decline to at least try out horse-horse riding.
Did I mention that it turned out that I’m a Natural? And yet the pro (Tonje) fell off her horse. Jeesh..
At the emergency room it was determined that she had completely torn off 4 out of 5 ligaments in her right ankle, and rupturing the 5th along the length of the ligament. Also, she completely tore up her pants on the inseam form knee to knee. This made for a few awkward moments while I carried her in to the ER. The stuff you worry most about may very well not really matter in the long run…
The busted ankle in it self was no showstopper,- but it put us back a bit regarding training and preparations.
DISASTER NUMBER TWO
Tonje has a history with back-problems, spesifically spinal disc herniation. She had surgery for this 2007. The last six months Tonje has experienced increased back pain, and we both suspected a new spinal disc herniation. We have spent the last two months chasing doctors, MRI’s, specialists in Stavanger and Bergen and we even came as far as booking a new round of surgey. Due to this the departure date was pushed one month to septemer 1st 2014. Two weeks prior to the scheduled surgery, a new specialist apointment provided us with a new diagnose; MODIC CHANGES TYPE 1.
This is actually many micro fractures in two opposing vertebraes, that causes inflamation and quite a bit of pain. Some movements and angles has proved so painful that Tonje has had a few blackouts. The biggest problem is that there is no cure as of today. There is an experimentational treatment in Denmark based on large amounts of strong antibiotics over a 90 day period combined with laser-treatment, but its a coin-toss. It was clear to me that this is not a safe foundation for riding a motorcycle for 13 months over difficult terrain…
THE NEW PLAN
Dwight D. Eisenhower said: “Plans are nothing, planning is everything”.
I pressed this to heart and decided to suggest a big change in our plan. I still wanted to go on our adventure, but we had to do some serious re-thinking.
Irony has it so that I was worried about her safety and security, and she on the other hand was worried about ruining the trip. She is a fighter no doubt, but I had to draw the line in the sand. First I suggested, then I insisted, and finally I had to make the call for the both of us. The trip will happen, but instead of 2+2 wheels, we needed to go on 4×4.
Then followed two intense days of talks, discussing alternatives and hashing up a new plan.
The two BMW F800GS that I spent 12 months modifying and preparing will be sold ASAP. Click here for the sales ad. Instead we will purchase a Land Rover Defender some time within the next two weeks.
If any car can do the trip we have planned, that should be it. We’ll buy a used Defender, preferably with green plates (2 seater) and then kit it properly in Germany, on the road.
I am still super stoked, and we’re both looking forward to seeing Europe and all of Americas from Ushuaia in South Chile, to Inuvik in Northern Canada. It’s still going to be a marvelous adventure, 13 months on the road (or off the road) with my love. Tonje is having some trouble hiding her delight over a somewhat increased luggage-space. I know she’ll bring more shoes and summer dresses, because after all she`s a woman. And I know there is just no way I can stop her.
On the other hand there will be a lot more room for tools, so I’m not complaining 🙂
We will still atempt to make the planned departure date september 1st 2014.
That being said; they say that God gives you no more challenges in you life than you can handle. Apparently God thinks I’m a Bad Ass.
Any grand undertaking is grand only if there are certain risks involved. Or there is a fairly good chance it will fail. Maybe if the challenge is so complex or so difficult that the vast majority of people would never concider it.
When concidering if a undertaking is grand, one must also take into concideration the ability and resources at the disposal for the one undertaking the grand undertaking. Because, clearly, if you are a pilot, landing a plane is like driving to work. However landing the a plane with no training and no assistance is huge. Attempting to drive a motorcycle around half the world, through most of Europe and all of the Americas from the very bottom in Southern Chile, to the very top in Northern Canada, is in my eyes a a worthy undertaking. Many people have done it before. Many more will do it after us. The idea is to live life. Experience the experience. Test resolve, solutions and most of all look for the beauty of adventure that gets drowned in the worry of everyday life.
Writer and philosopher Paulo Choelo said: “If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It’s leathal”.
So what is worse? The hardship, sweat, and tears that inevitably is the price for following your dream? Or the safety of routine, work, rushhour, 3 weeks vacation, work, routine, rushour.. Slowly seeing your years rushing into oblivion..? My dream have evolved into a burning desire to see the world, always moving, always beeing free. To be honest, I do not fear hardship and sweat, discomfort and tears. However I am terrified of knowing that the world is out there, feeling the yearning of the horizon,- and then choosing it away.
Whatever that dream may be, it always has a price. Be it financial investment, securty, comfort, or just facing the unknown. And always the question arises: will it be worth it? Is the risk to great, or is it managable? Will the price be too high, or merely an aceptable means to an end? Which aspect will win; the fear of failiure, or the need to conquer fear and then succeed in the undertaking in question?
Everyone needs a rolemodel, someone that has walked the path, and thereby letting you believe that it is possible for you to find your own. This is what my dad is to me. Always hardworking, always striving to make the best of any situation. A few years ago, together with my stepmom Vigdis and a few others, he sailed across the Atlantic from Europe to the Carabien. His tenacity and drive made it possible for him and all his co-sailers to enjoy a fantastic journey. Granted he had a lot of sailing experience, but nothing like this.
Concidering this, it was the final foundation for me believing that I could make my own adventure a reality, given enoungh drive, guts and tenacity.
This is the same man that once told me that «as long as you do your best, no one can fault you, regardless of success or failiure». Ever since this has been my major guiding principle.
Dad; all your projects, dreams and adventures have shown me that I can do pretty much anything I want to in this life. This, combined with all the love and support along the years, gives weight and credibility to the saying: “Every father is somebodys hero”.
You, old man, are my hero.
Happy birthday! May you have many many more!
Early on when I was planning my, now our, great adventure, I made a good new friend at a wedding (not my wedding, but a wedding none the less). Tom Møller Christensen and I soon found common ground in our interest in motorcycles, the urge to ride far and wide, and to be free.
Tom has always been very supportive of our project, always focusing on all the reasons why it could work. One day not long ago he invited me and my wife into his shop, Urmaker Thorbjørnsen. He smiled and proudly presented what was to be our very first sponsorship.
Toghether with Tissot, Tom Møller and Urmaker Thorbjørnsen has sponsored our adventure with matching Tissot T-Race sports watches. Everyday it will serve as a reminder of great support and trust, but also of the fact that time waits for no man. The adventure is right there, you just have to go get it. Tom even arranged a photoshoot for the occation, and the result you can see below. It was a lot of fun.
It’s always very easy to compile a long list, a very long list, as to why an undertaking will not, can not, succeed. Many have done just that.
It is much more difficult to create a list over why it could work out, why it can be done, why you should not give up. Adapt yes, but never give up. It is a choice, and I choose to believe.
Tom has been a valuable supporter and believer, urging us on, when the voice of many where urging us to stay. We’re grateful for it!
Early on after I started this blog, I wrote a small piece called «Going it alone, og going with you?»
I stated some prerequisites for going:
- Motorcycle license, valid internationally.
- ur own MC capable of going offroad, as there will be something of a road-shortage where I / we are going
- Completely self sufficient in terms of equipment and funds. Motorcycle riding is all about freedom to go your own way.
- Necessary training: first aid, some mechanical skills, MC-offroad skills.
Granted, I was thinking about a possible riding companion for parts or maybe even the entire trip. At that point, however, I really didn’t imagine that I would find a riding companion. I also didn’t imagine that I would be married before I left on this trip. I firmly held onto the plan of not getting involved with anyone before the big trip. And yet it was not to be avoided. About 4 months after we first met, both working as bouncers at a local nightclub, we ended up on a date. I still believe that neither of us realized that this was a date before it was over.
We’ve be inseparable ever since.
Four and a half months after that unexpected date, I stammered out a garbled proposal, greatly helped by body language and the very indicative one knee on the concrete. Tonje said yes, and suddenly we where planning a trip, AND a wedding. Nice. I do well when I get stressed over details…
Anyone who have done this know that preparations for a wedding is a grueling trial. Earlier I’ve mentioned that lesson learned from others (Scott and Julie),- tasks need to be separated into blue jobs, and pink jobs. Planning and preparing for a wedding is a typical pink-job, while planning and preparing for our 13 month trip is a typical blue-job…
Tonje kept her cool, enough cool for both of us. she kept us on track and kept me from freaking out over all the little details.. (thanx baby).
On the big day, as the bride-to-be went to the hairdresser for a multi-hour appointment to do hair and what not in order to get ready for the wedding, I enjoyed some alone-time in the garage, mounting the bash-plate to her ride. The garage is one of very few places where I find my ZEN, and once this was done, my only problem was to scrub down in time to suit up and walk to church.. Believe when I tell you the stress-level rose somewhat when I couldn’t find the oil-removal-soap..
THE major milestone in my life. Saturday june 14th, the LostBiker got married to HotStuff, aka Tonje Strand, now Tonje Berentsen.
The ceremony was perfect,- I can hardly remember any of it. I just felt I did a pretty good job not gawking slack-jawed at this beauty walking up the isle.
The pride and joy that I felt, and feel, that this fierce beauty is my wife, is difficult to accurately describe. All I know is that together, as a team, we can do, can accomplish, anything.
She stole my heart, and took my name, and together we will embark on this great adventure that is life.
Together we will ride to old and new places.
I love you, baby
“Someday” is just code for “never”..
Someday I’m gonna chase my dreams. Someday I’m gonna learn how to play the guitar. Someday I’m gonna travel the world looking for real meaning in a world of chaos. Someday I’m gonna leave my corner of the world and look around, live on the road, breathe the adventure.
Make sure that your “someday” turns into “today”. Start however small you need, but take a hold of your dream and go for it. No one is going to do it for you. Your friends and relatives may or may not understand why you are doing the things you do. They may or may not understand your dream.
But that really doesn’t matter.
It’s your dream to follow.