Coming to you from Lufkin, Texas. We have been enjoying the tranquility and convenience of Davy Crockett National Park just a bit West of here. What a beautiful National Forest! I hope ya'll go on out to see it! Camp Hosts there let us onto another way of living free. National Forests let you stay free on their camp sites in exchange for 20hrs of work a week. There are many Americans who live in tents, trailers or RVs just cruzing onto which ever National Park strikes their fancy. We've even heard a rumor that they might accept foreigners for this job.
Tonight we hope to find a free camp site at Angelina National Forest. We have been trading the Park Rangers camping spaces for help cleaning garbage from trails and public areas within the Forests. We are happy to report that Fea the travelling Chihuahua was very free and happy visiting her first forest. She joined David, Milo and me on a 5km walk yesterday and is ready for more forest views and smells tonight.
David, Milo and I are relaxing along side the dam in Jalpan de Serra, Queretaro with a host from Warmshowers.org. After climbing up to 1600 metres in the last few days, my bottom bracket is ready to wobble my pedals right off. So we have 3 options. 1.expensive, 2.slow or 3.do without. We don't know what to do.
What we do know is that this is a nice place to wait. We have been touring around, seeing the sites and scoring kilos and kilos of mangos. What a beautiful state, Queretaro. I highly recommend a trip through the Sierra Gorda especially if you go by bike, just make sure to bring a small chain ring and pack light because there will be climbing involved!
The beautiful Huasteca, breath taking. Not just the views but also the climbs. We did 1200 altitude meters since yesterday morning. Hannah had her first crash of the trip after slipping into a shoulder on our way up to Xilitla. Reason enough to make it a short day we thought and the friendly paramedics of the Proteccion Civil offered us a room for the night in their base. We got a little disturbed in the night when the same paramedics brought in a handful of village drunks (mayors orders) to keep them out of the rain. We were awoken to drunken cries, screams and song throughout the night. I'm glad I had a shower in the night because one of the drunks rolled a huge turd in the shower, despite the toilet bowl right next to it. Maybe he hadn't seen the toilets because of all the rubbing alcohol he drank. A BIG thanks to Protection Civil in Xilitla, you guys work too hard! Below some more pictures of the spectacular ride.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm just trying to fool myself or if it's actually working. A free life. Just because I'm running doesn't make me free. Freedom in itself is an empty word with hardly any meaning, used by media and politicians to lull us to sleep and justify invasions of other countries. Freedom. I know I have the "freedom" to renew my passport every five years, just to maintain my freedom or at least to maintain my identity. And as I figured earlier, with obtaining identity you lose freedom. How free am I actually? If I have to submit all my biometric data to a foreign government every time I enter. Another lie. All governments are foreign to me, but freedom is a hoax if I have to turn myself inside out and tell a bunch of uniforms everything about myself except the length of my dick perhaps.
My body is my temple, at least one religion says so. A religion I'm free to follow but not to dispute. Well let me tell it's also a lie, my body is property of the respective government of the country I dwell in, as they decide what I shall or shall not do, eat, drink, smoke or spike myself with. And don't try to fool yourself that they are trying to protect you against harm. The legal status of alcohol, tobacco and in some places firearms teaches us otherwise. Don't get me wrong, I love cigarettes, beer and guns but if governments really cared they would prohibit Aspartame(r), Round-up(r), and a whole range of pharmaceuticals, conservants and colourants that we, to this day happily stuff our faces with. So a free life could also read a fugitive life, an exiled life or at least an outcast life. Even blogging about this kind of crap can impede with the weak, false sense of freedom I have. Having to struggle every day to not spend any money doesn't sound or feel free to me either. I feel like a slave to the monetary system regardless of if I spend any money or not.
It's probably best or at least the most freeing to not think about all these things too much, to return to the sheep, the ignorant masses and pretend that it's "all goood", like they say in Louisiana.
If you don't move around too much you might not feel the chains that bind you. Or you can open your eyes and feel the full weight of your bondage but only then will we have a better sense of how to gain our freedom.
After a few short bike tours in Canada and Belgium and definitely after our first longer bike tour in The Netherlands, David and I were dreaming of taking off for years, traveling by bike to exotic destinations. I love numbers so I started to crunch them. We wanted to know how much money we would have to have in the bank in order to go on a 2 year bike tour.
My calculations included paid camping sites and lots of store bought food and restaurants. As a super low ball estimate that, at the time would not have covered our expenses, we gave ourselves $50 CND daily or over $20,000 CND before the inclusion of 1 cent of emergency money, insurance, savings, cell phones, or rent back in our home countries. We didn't have that money.
So we kept on the 9 to 5, dreaming of one day being able spend our time actually doing what we wanted to. It wasn't until fall of 2012, on a bike tour of Ontario that David and I found that the realization of our dream did not depend on how much money we could make but how much money we could save! Let me tell you about it.
My family had planned a reunion in Central Ontario, about 300kms north of where we lived. We wanted to visit with everyone but we do not have a car and couldn't catch a ride from anyone else. Regretfully we had to decline our invitation. To console my family, who I hadn't seen in far too long, David and I decided to take a week off of work to bike to their homes around Southern Ontario and catch up. The problem was that we had just finished paying off my credit card debt (yippe!) and were without much cash. We would try to suffer with only $30 a day by cooking our own meals and wild camping if possible.
Totally new to the concept of wild or stealth camping, we asked and asked Uncle Google what he knew on the subject, very little. So we biked out of Toronto, a lot green and a little unsure. Your can imagine our surprise when we started looking for unused places alongside the roads we were biking and found more free camping sites than we could use! A good wild camping site does not have fences, no trespassing signs or any signs of recent use and is also not visible from the road. We camped in a new place every night and were never bothered or asked to leave. We found that we could take $30 CND off of our previous estimated daily tour budget as camping just became free.
My first few trips to the grocery store left me wondering if we could stretch our $210 CND to last the whole week. I should explain that in Canada, drinking and driving is illegal but not non existent. Instead, Canadian drinker-drivers drink and throw, littering the sides of the roads with empty beer cans and bottles. At the Ontario Beer Store, you are rewarded 10 cents for the return of each and every beer can and bottle and up to 50cents for larger liquor or wine bottles. We capitalized on this. David and I would each grab cans every time we felt like it, this frequent stopping also improved the selection of wild edible plants that we were consuming as they could often be found along the roads strewn with returnable cans.
Our wild camping, money making and wild food eating GREATLY increased the quality of our trip. Not just because we were eating better or saving money but because of the sense of achievement that our new found self reliance provided.
Treading water in Georgian Bay on the coast of Owen Sound, David and I both expressed our dread of returning to the city. That's when we came up with a crazy idea, calling our clients from the beach to say we would be out of town for another week, and biking all the way to the family reunion to give everyone a surprise (and ourselves more vacation). It worked!
Biking through Ontario was a great pleasure, we arrived at the reunion and really enjoyed gloating to our car driving family about our bike riding proficiency. Together we celebrated the anniversary of my Grandparents and had a great time. We biked back (with a ride part way, kind of stifling our future gloating) and arrived in the city to find that we had MORE money than we had left with! It was time to recrunch the numbers this time without paid camping, restaurants, cell phones, appartments, insurance or ludicrous amounts of money for food. We had enough.
We got rid of everything and left 4 weeks after we returned home from our trip to Central Ontario, the rest is history. Since acquiring a few more kms on the bike, we have figured out even more ways of saving and we just keep getting more efficient with our money.
So this has been a little story about realizing and living your dreams. I guess if there has to be a moral it is this: Figure out what you want to do, how you will do it and then do.
More about our lift off here
David and Hannah - cyclists extraordinaire