Meet the Vogels, a Family Journeying From Alaska to Argentina — on Bikes

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Cycling fanatics Nancy and John Vogel met and fell in love while on a bike tour. Once their twin boys, Daryl and Davy, came along, the couple figured their dream of an extended bike tour would never be realized. But in 2008, as Nancy describes it, “the planets aligned” and the family of four set forth. The itinerary: Alaska to Argentina. Two years later, they’ve traveled 18,000 kilometers and are currently in the twelfth country, Peru. Once they reach Argentina, they may very well decide to bike on. Read our interview with Nancy and learn more about how the Vogels are re-defining the concept of “family time.”

  • What’s the background behind the Alaska to Argentina route?
    For one year, from 2006 to 2007, we took the kids on our first major tour biking around the U.S. and Mexico. We met a few other cyclists that were doing the Alaska to Argentina route. “Why not us?” we thought. “Let’s just continue on south!” At the time, however, we had to accept the fact that we simply weren’t prepared for a 3-year journey into the Andes so we stuck with our North American plan for the time being and set our sights on another time. That time is now.
  • Your twin boys are now twelve. How are they dealing with life on the road?
    Most people automatically assume kids can’t do something like this – they are only capable of sitting in front of a TV or video game. But really, the boys are enjoying our journey and learning so much! Nature is a great teacher, and we supplement their education through homeschooling as my husband and I are former teachers. For me and John, this is our one and only chance to spend this time with our boys – soon they will be grown and have lives of their own. Right now, they are enjoying being with their parents – and their parents enjoy being with them!
  • What’s the strangest encounter you’ve experienced during this trip?
    It was probably one evening up in northern British Columbia where we encountered a bear. We had seen plenty of bears up there and they always ignored us. This bear, however, was different. The bear stood a few feet from my side for a full minute and then took off chasing Davy down the road. We were scared spitless, but all was well in the end! You can read the entire story here.
  • How has technology played a role on your trip?
    Our website has been both a godsend and a curse! On the one hand, it has been incredible to have the support of people around the world. If something ever happened, we now have a worldwide network of people who would jump to the plate and help us out – which is a HUGE comfort! On the other hand, finding internet to keep things updated can be a major hassle.
  • What’s the most breathtaking place you’ve visited on this trip?
    I’m a sucker for deserts. Don’t ask me why, but I LURVE deserts! So – I have to say the most breathtaking place we’ve been has to be southern Utah/northern Arizona. I lived in that area for three years and have traveled there many times, and will never get tired of the stunning beauty to be found! I also really enjoyed the Arctic tundra. The vast miles of nothing but grasses swaying in the wind… caribou dotting the fields… midnight sun… Absolutely fantastic! Belize was probably the biggest surprise. People had told us to not go there – “Belize is terrible,” they told us. But we found a delightful place and wonderful people! We were able to get off the road into the jungle and it was nothing but sheer delight.

Keep up with the Vogels through their blog tales: http://familyonbikes.org/blog.

About Melody Demel

Melody is Senior Manager, PR for Boingo Wireless, where she is responsible for media relations, brand building and thought leadership initiatives. Melody is a die-hard Nebraska Cornhuskers fan and retired NCAA DI college field hockey player.
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