December 05, 2008 GMT
Packing for a Dream

The North - South dream was created exactly 10 years ago today, on December 5th, 1998. Leaning over a map on Dave Clarks kitchen table, rum and cokes in hand, my friend and I were playing another round of the what-if game. But instead of dreaming up another epic hiking or canoe trip, this what-if day dream was different. What if one rode a motorcycle from the Arctic Ocean to the Antarctic Ocean? It was one of those moments that suddenly, perhaps Mr Bacardi was doing the talking, became a goal, a must-do.

The dream was simple and certainly not original. Put one foot in each ocean. Not both at the same time, of course, that would be cruel. But it could be, had been, done. To make it happen, the dream had to become a plan, for, as Antoine de Saint Exupery observed, a goal without a plan is just a wish. Saint Exupery knew of what he spoke. A true pioneer in his own right, almost a century ago he trailblazed airmail routes over the Andes in open cockpit biplanes.

And so, taking his wisdom to heart, my dream became three plans. Joyce, my friend, partner and wife of 30 years, will participate in two of the three.

Plan No. 1, Santiago to Calgary, can be found in the archives of this web site. That eight month journey I did solo in 2006, on Katie, my 2004 KTM 950 Adventure.


Plan No. 2 was the Arctic Ocean to our home in Calgary. The first step of that journey started when put our foot in - or rather on - the frozen Arctic Ocean at Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, May 4th, 2007. Part of the mission was to also deliver two custom pedal trikes to Deadhorse, Alaska in support of Andrew & Joanne Hooker's adventure. Their "Three Oceans on Three Wheels" journey can be read at

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Plan No. 3 is for Joyce and I to ride the final leg from Santiago to Ushuaia, Argentina in 2009. Ushuaia, advertised as most southern city in the world, is a mere 1500 miles from Antarctica. (Prudhoe Bay is 1200 miles from the North Pole). Joyce will ride the faithful Bumblebee, the same F650GS she rode around New Zealand and Australia in 2002 - 2003.

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Plan No. 3 starts with the realities of converting a dream to action. Pack up the house & rent it out. Pack up bike luggage. Using the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep it Simple, Stupid), I'm sure we've still taken too much. That'll become self-evident each time we pick up a fallen bike. Pack up Katie and the Bumblebee into the UHaul trailer. Lucky bikes, they leave in early November, well ahead of us. They go by truck to Houston, TX thence by sea freight to Valparaiso, Chile. Joyce and I pack up and escape the Canadian winter January 10th. We'll meet up with Katie and the Bumblebee on the west coast of South Amercia January 25. Ah, the Chilean summer will feel good again.

The 2009 plan, Allah/Big Ernie/The Inca Gods willing, is to ride south til we run out of road, then ride north til we run out of continent. Should take 200 days and 20,000 miles, in round numbers. If all goes well, we'll be in Caracas in August, home by September.

Considering the number of web and blog stories from international travelers, we will be closer to the last people to do this journey, not the first. But for me, as mountaineer J. Monroe Thorington said in 1925, "We were not pioneers ourselves, but we journeyed over old trails that were new to us, and with hearts open. Who shall distinguish?"

Posted by Murray Castle at December 05, 2008 12:23 AM GMT

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