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(see all 3 book) RoadNews Newsletter: Six Years Down The Road: breaking even and meeting friends.

April 16, 2008 (Sent From Twizel, South Island, New Zealand)

All of the previous letters can be found at:

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Since my last letter we have been enjoying good weather in New Zealand's mountainous Alps and the southern tip of the South Island.  We have seen the days shorten and the leaves turn bright red and yellow as Summer is replaced by a crisp dry Autumn.  We rarely get to see the seasons change because we tend to be in the tropics in the fall/winter, and experiencing this change has been comforting to our internal clocks.

After an extended time in the bush and off the grid/internet we pulled into the big university city of Dunedin to soak up the urban conveniences and file our taxes over the internet.  During this annual headache Cindie takes over the computer with her accounting and tax software which leaves me in the university library with maps, guide books, and time to dream and piece together or trip through the USA and Canada. (more below)

When we finally connected to the internet we were surprised to receive dozens of emails from readers congratulating us on completing six years of traveling on bicycles.  The funny thing is that we had completely forgotten about our trip's anniversary.  March 30 marks the day we let go of everything and started living this out of the box lifestyle and now six years later on this anniversary our thoughts and feelings were consumed by paying off Uncle Sam so we do not get deported and sent to jail - OK, probably just fined but the jail part is much more motivating for me.  When reporters ask about the day we left home we often describe it like we jumped into the complete darkness not knowing where we would land.  It was a big gamble not knowing what life would be like past the point of no return and how we would be holding up after years on the road.  Now, after six years, we know that we landed on our feet, held up reasonably well, survived even the worst situations, and even created a whole new (for us) way of making a living in this strange new nomadic environment.  Six years later we are forging ahead with no plans to stop!

What Has Changed?

Many of the emails we received asked us what has specifically changed  during the last year on the road where we crossed the unpopulated outback Top End of Australia and beautiful New Zealand.  Since my last anniversary letter, besides replacing another set of worn out tires and drivetrain components, we have spent a good portion of our non riding time finishing up our second book.  We are so close now but have hit a major road block.  The sluggish internet speeds and restrictive up/download public access allowances in this part of the world has frustrated us to no end.  I could have easily moved large cover and layout files around the internet in Asia but have repeatedly failed here.  We are being charged US$8/hour for slowish internet with a 120MB up + download restriction including web pages, email, and posting pictures to our web site.  We have decided to postpone the completion of the book a few weeks until we get to Alaska where the deer, antelope, and internet run free.

On a more positive and unexpected note over this past year we have been regularly recognized by the other touring cyclists we meet.  Humans much less cyclists were few and far between in northern Australia but once we started riding in New Zealand, where cycling is extremely popular, we found ourselves in the wonderfully awkward situation of people we have never met recognizing us and knowing all the details of our trip and lives from our book and web site.  For example, we have been approached in places like campgrounds and rest areas with "hey aren't you the couple from America"? or "I know you.  You are Tim and Cindie from the internet".

I would be lying if we said that we did not like the attention.  We have spent years in distant countries with only each other to talk to and now interesting people are coming up and wanting to talk to us. The only drawback is that we want to know about their lives and travels instead of answering questions about ourselves.  I never feel like we deserve to be seen as more than we are.  I always stress there is nothing special about us and anyone can do what we do if they wanted.

Another bit of big news this year revealed itself as a result of Cindie combing through our finances for taxes.  Cindie announced that we are now (almost) breaking even with our income equaling our travel expenses.  She predicts that with the upcoming second book release and busy season on our web site we should be in the black in a few months. Apparently we could say we were breaking even now but the record low US dollar has made Australia and New Zealand more expensive.  The USA should be cheaper which will also help the bottom line.  Cindie, who is always looking ahead financially, has already informed me that any surplus will be used to replenish our savings instead of increasing our shoestring budget.  So, while I dream of getting a cheap hotel room every couple weeks while traveling through North America Cindie tells me that she dreams of camping and paying off the remainder of our house.

In Our Immediate Future

On May 2nd we fly from Christchurch to Alaska where we plan to spend a month with Cindie's sister and family in Valdez.  Around June 1st we start riding south through Canada and the west coast of the USA.  In November we plan to be in Tucson, Arizona for several bicycle events and to ride with old friends.  If we can find a cheap place to stay in Tucson we will spend the winter there but if not we will head south to Mexico, find a quiet village, rent a room, and rest for the winter.

In the spring of 2009 we want to ride north through the western states to the Pacific Northwest in time to pick up the Adventure Cycling Association's Trans America Trail and cross the USA before summer ends.  In the fall of 2009 we will visit my family in Indiana and most likely go to the huge bike event I first attended with my father in 1977 when I was eleven called the Hilly Hundred.

After that we plan on visiting (maybe in order) The Middle East, Africa, India, Europe, Russia, Central Asia, and whatever else we can think of.

Please join us to see how it unfolds.

Tim Travis

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