Tuesday, July 10, 2007

And They Lived ______ Ever After...

26,964 miles later, we returned to Los Angeles bathed in sweat that only the Arizona Desert can provoke. Following the same sentimental route of our very first journey with Günther, we've completed the homestretch from Phoenix to LA for hopefully the last time, ever. The life we once knew has evolved into something undeterminable at the moment, a haphazard space of dusty boxes, a generous handful of people we love throughout the city, the ebb and flow of question marks, a loyal van we call home. Our trip for the last year has been an enormous, beautiful, difficult, dynamic undertaking. Our post-trip musings have produced some things we'd like to review for a moment:

Days on the road: 342
Total U.S. states: 35
Total countries: 10
Northermost point: Fairbanks, Alaska
Easternmost: Cape Cod, Massachusetts
Southernmost: Panama City, Panama
Stolen property: 1 bike (Vancouver)
Mechanical holdups: 1 axle, 1/2 engine, 1 tire, 1 wheel bearing, 1 brake hose, 1 coolant pipe, 1 radiator fan
Photos taken: 5,813
Friends & family visited: 73
Animals hit: 0
Tickets we talked our way out of: 4
Cops paid off: 1 ($20 to the only cop with an actual radar gun)

Things We've Learned
1) If you want to find out if you really, truly, love somebody, travel with them for a year in a van.
2) The U.S. is the most beautiful country I have seen on the planet.
3) Bats and bears don't actually care that much about killing you.
4) Forget focusing on the destination and experience the journey.
5) Despite warnings, propane burners can be used for personal heating.
6) Fruit picked in the wild tastes 10 times better.
7) Though the South may have lost the war, they won with the deep fryer.
8) Baby goats sometimes look like puppies, but my real dream is to one day snuggle a manatee.
9) Guatemalan women are tougher than the men and burros combined.
10) Flushing toilet paper is a privilege you take for granted as an American.

1) Surfing with friends in clean, warm, uncrowded surf is the most fun thing to do on earth.
2) When encapsulated in an air-tight van, women produce just as much gas as men.
3) Just because a vendor is 8 years old, doesn't mean you have more haggling experience than them.
4) All the people with the worst stories about Central America have never actually been themselves.
5) While capitalism may be the best system for creating wealth for the masses, Central American capitalism is the best system for creating wealth for 5 people.
6) There is no bottom to the dark pit known as Korean thriftiness.
7) A man is not complete until he has repaired his own vehicle. With duct tape.
8) The beauty and enjoyment of a destination is intrinsically linked with the difficulty of reaching it.
9) The Alaskan man is first judged by the quality of his beard, then his character, and finally by his moose pepperoni.
10) A shot of tequila a day keeps the parasites away.

The next step? Ask us a bit later. For now we just want to see our families, pick up the pieces, and figure it all out. Think of it as more of an ellipses...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rach, and Joe, Thank you for such a fantastic journey. I looked forward everyday to updates on where you have been, and hoped daily that there would be new pictures posted for us to view. I know that life as you once knew it before you started this trip is no longer the same, and that you can no longer look at it as you once did. Good for you both I will miss the blog and sharing your great journey with you. I am glad that you are home safe and again want to praise you for taking such a fantastic trip. Please keep in touch. Wade p.s. now go and get a job like the rest of us!!!!!

7/11/07, 5:18 AM  
Blogger JR said...

Awesomeness. Good job Raquel y Jose, glad to have you back home. Can't wait to get together for a little Kevin has old balls reprise.

7/11/07, 7:07 AM  
Blogger Crystal said...

Amazing....simply amazing. All of it!

7/11/07, 11:10 AM  
Blogger Kevin & Shirley said...

Dear Joe & Rach, ...Sweeett!!
We felt as if we have been watching the "Truman Show" or ...
the "Joe & Rach" show.
Now - that you've stopped we don't know what to do with our spare time ?? Several people here in Dyersburg, TN have actually quit their jobs. They have started "Van by the River" clubs. They've been surfing on the Mississippi...they thought you were going visit the masses in Dyersburg. I think they will adjust over time.
I know I speak for many in saying, "Job Well Done" !!
We are glad you both are home & safe. We were thinking of doing the same trip...but...in total reverse because we are from the deep South :-) God's Blessings,
Kevin & Shirley Cox
Dyersburg, TN

7/11/07, 5:27 PM  
Blogger Jaime said...

I actually teared up reading this...especially the sweet picture of you two. I too will miss the blog adventures. Thank you for your talented writing.See you in a few days.

7/12/07, 2:40 AM  
Blogger Melissa Bum said...

Rach and Joe- as Willy Wonka said, "You have to go forward to get back." It's the way life is, and now that the most exciting trip of you life is over, you get to start the next most exciting trip...what life brings tomorrow. So even now that you're supposed to "get back to real life," remember, that's where you've been this whole time. It's just that it wasn't in the typical LA fashion. So rest up in Maui, don't try too hard to make anything happen. God has taken care of you this whole time, so it's likely he'll continue. Thanks for the inspiration you've both been to Chad and I.

7/12/07, 9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rach and joe,
take care and see you next yea.
have fun in da summa. don't party to hard

shoots, spensa

7/12/07, 10:26 AM  
Anonymous Joey's Maui Mama said...

I too am sad/glad it's over. It's like watching a baby be born---all blood, sweat and tears, and totally worth it. It was great experiencing the world through you two. I think you've maybe launched a career in thoughtful, funny, inspirational travel-writing. Time will tell. See you next week--bring your shades and surfboards!
Much love, MOM

7/12/07, 11:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What can you say after a trip like that! Thanks for taking the time to do the blog, funny stories, great writing, wonderful photos. I hope to see those mounted on a wall in a gallery some day -or at least your new home. Your dedication to your blog followers was amazing - few people would have done this! Enjoy the family!
Love - AV (Over and out)

7/13/07, 7:27 AM  
Blogger Joe and Karen said...

This has been an amazing journey to watch and live with the two of you. I feel there is a deep sense of "the gift" that each day is. You and Rach have lived all of those days to the fullest. I have spoken to many with pride about your jouney together and my prayer is that I too will live each of my remaining days to the fullest! You guys inspire me! and I love you both! I feel so honored and fortunate that you will be spending some time with us in Maui
See you soon.... Papa D

7/14/07, 2:20 PM  
Blogger Liza's Eyeview said...

Love the lessons learned! It was fun following your adventure through this blog. I look forward to your Maui visit. God bless and continue to enjoy life :)

7/15/07, 10:21 AM  
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8/9/11, 10:07 PM  
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