After spending a few sunny weeks in Southern California visiting family and friends, we took the train back to the Pacific Northwest to wrap up some projects. It has been a whirlwind trip visiting San Diego, Long Beach, El Segundo, Santa Monica and the San Fernando Valley. On our last day in Los Angeles, some friends came to see us off at the train station.

We took a sleeper car back on the Coast Starlight, one of our favorite Amtrak lines. One little known perk is that they offer you some champagne when you board!

As usual the scenery was fantastic on the train, especially once we crossed into Oregon. We were greeted again with luscious trees, rivers and valleys – all the things that make Oregon such a wonderful state. We took the time on the train to slow down. For the last few weeks we have been moving every few days, sleeping on couches or on someone’s living room floor so it was good to have our own personal space again, even if it was only for a few hours.

We got into Portland and hit the ground running. We met up with some friends the same night and had a great evening of catching up. The next morning, we watched our friend Joey race some cyclocross. It was our first time at a cross race and it was a blast. Far more interesting than a road race where riders zip pass at 30mph, in a cross race, riders do laps in a mixed terrain course with obstacles, gravel and mud. It truly is a spectator sport and I had a fun time photographing it.

There’s a lot of acrobatics involved with riders dismounting and mounting and carrying their bikes over their shoulders.

A few days later, we were panelists for BootsNAll at their MeetPlanGo event by the Ace hotel. The event was meant to inspire other people to take a career break and go travel. People wore stickers depending on what stage of their travel plans they were in. There were those with “Dreaming” stickers who were still imagining their trip, people with “Planning” stickers who had committed to leaving and were finalizing details and those who had “Leaving” sickers that had a set departure date. It was inspiring for us to be in the same room with so many people set on fulfilling their personal adventure.

We shared the panel with Olivia, who had done some long-term travel abroad and Kim, who was about to leave on an around the world trip. We offered our perspective of traveling within the US and bicycle travel in general. One of the highlights of the evening was finally meeting Chris Guillebeau from The Art of NonConformity blog who was the keynote speaker.

There were some interesting discussions during the panel presentation about why someone would choose to travel in the first place; to the challenges of leaving everything behind. While most of the crowd probably didn’t come to hear about bicycle touring specifically, we feel that we represented bike travel well and perhaps got some folks to consider it.

One of the questions we got asked at the presentation was how long do we plan to keep on traveling? Our answer has always been (to either the amazement or befuddlement of some people), that we plan to travel “as long as its still fun.” What we mean is that we want to keep our travel plans and our future organic and open to chance and opportunity. We never had a set goal to visit every country in the world, or travel for x number of years or x amount of miles. If we have had a singular goal for our entire trip, it has been to meet people, to fill our lives with interactions we will always remember. When you travel long enough, you realize its not really about the places you go, but the people you meet (atleast it is that way for us). We feel that in many ways, we’ve merely just begun to travel. We’ve got some base miles under our legs traveling in the US, but the world is a big place. We’re in no rush to race across the planet. We know we’ll make it there (wherever “there” is) on our own time.

So that leads to the question of what’s next? The short answer is we’re aiming to get to New Zealand. The long answer is that we’ve been working on some ways to fund the trip; some have fallen through and some are in limbo. For the time being, we’re working on some projects like our 2012 Calendar, Zombie Apocalypse shirts and some books (A Small Book about Travel Photography and an Illustrated Guide to Brompton Touring) that we can sell to help us get overseas. So apologies, dear Readers, if the site and Facebook have been so salesy as of late but that is the unglamorous reality of our trip sometimes. We live simply and cheaply and try to make some money on the road to keep going. We are grateful to our readers who have supported the website and our travels over the years. We feel blessed and lucky. So for now, we’re hunkering down in Corvallis with noses to the grindstone and dreams of New Zealand in our mind. Thanks for helping us get there.