Prepping for a year out of the country, Sarah and I considered what is most dear to us, recreationally. Sarah readily embraces her stand-up paddleboard (SUP), an inflatable model that can support two adults and a mid-sized dog. Dear to me is a bicycle, of any sort, but most especially one suited for off-road terrain. A bicycle also serves as redundant transportation, in a way, if we were unwilling (or unable) to move our vehicles. Top of the list, then, were added one paddleboard and three mountain bikes.
But which bike? The knee-jerk reaction is “My favorite one!” Then, however comes the realization that your favorite steed will be subjected to the elements for close to a year, draw the eye of those looking to remove you of your bicycle, and quite possibly be damaged while it is on the vehicle (either due to a collision or bikes clacking against each other on or off-road) not to mention being subjected to the dirt and grime from driving nearly 12,000 miles. My faithful Ibis mojo 3, my absolute favorite bike to ride, was quickly dismissed, as the bike is just too nice to abuse and too attractive for theives.
After further weighing these considerations, the obvious next choice was my old Ibis tranny. The frame had been damaged in a crash (what better bike to take than one that had been previously damaged?) and I had a slew of mid-level parts for it, plus a wonderfully wide wheelset that gleefully soaks up washboard. As the immense pressure of preparing two vehicles for a year out of the country came bearing down upon us, however, the feasibility of completing another relatively complex repair and rebuild side project quickly fell to the bottom of the list. Not to mention that the lively orange paint would attract a lot of attention.
Amongst the turbulence of our imminent departure, my eye settled on my covid-era mountain bike: made by Giant, this bike was conceived to go fast, world-cup fast, by riders a lot younger than me. And as mentioned, it was my covid-era mountain bike. A bike purchased when frame repair was backlogged for months and such a crushing demand existed for new bicycles that you had to take what you could find. It was in those times that I found this Giant.
And while stupid expensive and not made for idly touring another country, this mostly black frame and components (with splashes of dark blue) and super-subtle labels does not draw any attention. The proof of this being that, after two months driving around Argentina, I have yet to receive a single question about it. Perfect.
We are a Montana family on the road for a year, traveling South America in our two pickups with pop-up campers. We are staying in a combination of situations of camps, Airbnbs and Workaway stays.
Our son is 14 and attempting to complete highschool courses along the way because he has the goal of returning to his school in Butte, Montana with enough credits to be a Sophomore. He is currently a Freshman enrolled in BYU online courses.
I would have chosen a free, non-religiously affiliated school like k12 if it was an option. If he hadn’t been interested in returning to Butte High, there would have been more options including more interactive schooling. We chose BYU which is, ironically, religiously affiliated because it had some support the other option didn’t have. Plus the price was a little less.
As we have more time traveling in the countries of South America I believe more strongly that his experiences in camps with Argentinan friends, buying snacks in stores in Spanish, pick up basketball with kids in Colombia, and problem solving travel issues, understanding other cultures politics and economies is his true education this year. Just as the majority of time in a traditional school is social, his time dedicated to curriculum is short compared to time he spends becoming himself in this place. The anxiety for me of course is wondering if this is “enough” when entering back into the Montana education system.
We enrolled Niles in 4 courses through BYU which align with requirements to re-enter Butte High, he is slowly picking through the coursework. The experience as a parent is that we can check his progress from our account but he is very protective against us being with him as he does school. He is in general not an enthusiastic student and missing his friends. When he applies himself, grades go up, when he doesn’t grades go down.
In our family, education has been highly valued. We are engineers, attorneys, nurses, plumbers, electricians, gardeners, and adventure seekers. I don’t know of any relatives in our last 3 generations that didn’t finish a traditional highschool. However, I also see that our family situation is in a unique opportunity to give a global education which the Montana school curriculum cannot provide. So, pros and cons.
Today, Niles has a sunburn from sitting near the camp store doing school next to the camp’s internet connection. He is doing a weeks worth of school to catch up after we had days of travel from the Atlantic Coast of Argentina to the Andes of Argentinan Patagonia. Traveling days and internet strong enough to complete school assignments is an issue now that wasn’t an issue in the first 3 months of travel, Google Fi cut us off of our service at month three of international travel.
We continue to pay for Google Fi and may have a way for another phone on our service that is in use by Vivian’s friend to come down here and provide a hotspot for another three months.
We welcome comments and ideas that may help us make this Freshmen year even better for this guy. Thanks in advance for your suggestions.