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Tokyo to L.A. - The Hard Way - In a Suzuki Kizashi: Day 18

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Kizashi upon a dirt

Ben Folds recorded a tune, "There's Always Someone Cooler Than You," a few years ago. That you know which most about Folds' music catalog makes a strain title self-evident. Driving which point home, a Suzuki Kizashi environment met most cooler, some-more adventurous travelers today.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 bikers Laura Beko as well as Erich Schafermeyer

We -- a dual Kizashis as well as a Equator, with V-Strom bike rider Jack Lewis somewhere up ahead -- pulled in to a rest stop about 5 miles south of Quesnel, upon Route 72, a track from Prince George to Vancouver, usually to find a rest bedrooms out of order. After employing alternate means, you met Laura Beko as well as Erich Schafermeyer (pictured during left). They're upon day 34 of an epic mass departure from Palmer, Alaska, to Ushuaia, a southernmost pier in Argentina (check out some-more about their tour at:

And they're you do it -- a little 16,000 miles -- upon bicycles.

Erich says he worked during a bike shop for a whilst to be means to arrange their bikes when they arrived in Alaska (Erich as well as Laura have been from a Portland/Klamath, Oregon, area). They proposed planning a outing a integrate of years ago, nonetheless it came together most some-more recently. Laura expects their tour to take about eighteen months, nonetheless that's usually an estimate, as well as accounts for summer in a Southern Hemisphere. They can go dual years, if necessary.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Todd interviewing Penny as well as Bill Howe

They'll stay along a way, yet they're not inauspicious to offers of overnight stays where they can get a bed or lounge for a night, as well as maybe a hot shower, a dish as well as a little beer.

Laura as well as Erich have been distant from a initial people to make this journey, of course. So because do it? They contend they usually longed for to float their bikes. you can assimilate that.

So you were feeling quite humbled, photographer Brian Vance, video producer Gordon Green, as well as I, when you bid a integrate a good, protected trip, as well as got behind in to a Suzuki as well as gathering out of a rest stop parking lot. Except ... what's all a essay about upon which VW Microbus? And wait, it's not a Volkswagen. It's a Mercedes. It's not even quite that.

You'd consider a single such integrate in a Canadian rest stop would be enough. But no, you had to hit upon a sheetmetal doorway of Penny as well as Bill Howe, "The Ageing Overlanders" (

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Penny as well as Bill Howe in RV

In 1986, Penny as well as Bill (pictured during left) had a bicycle tour similar to Laura as well as Erich's, except they rode east-west, not north-south. They logged 26,754 miles, not including transport over water, a mathematically encyclopedic Bill says. It took dual years, seven months as well as 5 days. They suffered some-more than 300 tire punctures (word to Laura as well as Erich) as well as changed twenty-six tires whilst visiting, coincidentally, twenty-six countries.

"It changed a life," Bill says.

The misfortune nation for punctures was Malaysia, Penny says, "where rubber comes from." Economic self-preservation, you suggest.

Some eleven years later, Penny as well as Bill paid for a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 206D, a diesel-powered, right-hand-drive camper outpost with a four-speed manual gearbox as well as no energy steering.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Kizashi along a route

"You'd have to be man-and-a-half to drive it," Bill says. "Or stupid."

Which have been you? you asked.

"That's for you to decide."

I did. He is most certainly not a latter.

The 206D was written by a East German manufacturer Hanamag, which was about to go under when Daimler-Benz paid for a company dual years prior to a Howes' outpost was built.  They added solar panels to a roof, of which Penny is very proud, as well as a Webasto diesel-powered heater, of which Bill is very proud. It's a warmest heater, ever, he says. My mother will wish one.

It has a stove as well as a cupboard as well as a loo. The Howes once owned a grill as well as adore to cook. They can live in it simply, with usually a integrate of changes of clothes. The Mercedes/Hanamag has 235,041 miles upon it - "miles, mind you, not kilometers," Bill says -- as well as delicately printed names of assorted places they've visited embellished upon a extraneous sheetmetal, as well as a light, subtle mural depicting a single of their a a single preferred cities, Figeac, France.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Kizashi channel a bridge

Bill embellished a letters, a single of his most talents. Penny is a quilter, as well as often contributes to quilting magazines. They've both helped fund their peripatetic ways by essay about their travels.

"We're from Robin Hood country," Bill replies, when asked. Nottinghamshire, England. Their family commercial operation builds homes there.

And in 2008, they set out to duplicate their '86 bike float with a 206D. They traveled east from a United Kingdom, by Europe, afterwards Russia, Mongolia, as well as in to China. Except, they couldn't get in to China. Its government pulled their visas during a final minute, Penny explains. Each caucasian tribe contingency be assigned a minder, as well as all a available minders were being used for a Summer '08 Olympics.

To supplement another crimp to their travels, a '08 monetary predicament severely hurt a family business. The Howes gathering by a Ukraine, Hungary, Austria, France, Germany as well as Spain, as well as afterwards had a outpost shipped behind to a U.K.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Todd as well as Gordon suffer Tim Hortons

As a economy as well as a family commercial operation solemnly began to recover, Bill says, a Howes set out in earnest to complete their trip. They shipped a Mercedes/Hanamag to Baltimore, Maryland in March, so Penny could begin by visiting a quilt shop in "nearby" Paducah, Kentucky. From there, they gathering behind east, to New York State, channel a Peace Bridge in to Canada. They gathering west, to Dawson Creek, British Columbia, afterwards all 1,532 miles of a Al-Can highway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who built which highway in 1942, have been a real adventurers, Bill says.

The integrate will press upon to a Grand Canyon, Mexico as well as South America, afterwards will boat their outpost to either New Zealand or Australia, as well as to Southeast Asia. They'll try China again. If they're rebuffed once more, a Howes will obstruct to India, Iran as well as Pakistan.

After you eventually gathering a Kizashi out of a rest stop parking lot, humbled yet encouraged, you realized which Penny as well as Bill never met Laura as well as Erich. The dual immature bicyclists were behind upon a highway by a time you accomplished my conversation with a Howes.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Todd inside a Kizashi

I suspicion about how you wouldn't have met either integrate if you had stopped during a gas hire a little 5 miles earlier, in Quesnel. And you motionless which British Columbia possesses an intangible, singular quality as a place where adventurers, as well as people who similar to transport for a outing some-more than a end meet each other in assumingly random ways.

It felt similar to which in a Fall of 1991, when you took my 5,700-mile vacation up a California, Oregon as well as Washington coasts in to B.C. as well as Alberta. you met multiform Americans as well as Europeans receiving epic trips by those provinces, as well as similar to Laura as well as Erich as well as Penny as well as Bill, they were all happy to share their stories as well as learn mine, yet usually when approached. Perhaps it's because B.C. as well as Alberta have been nested in between California, a land of a last-chance dream, as well as Alaska, a land of a different frontier, where group as well as women who already have lost their final chances go to find a single more. You have to go by here to get from a single U.S. state to a other.

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Kizashi as well as Todd share a impulse

And so, that's where you are. We've proposed a leg of a Tokyo to L.A. tour in a States, usually to return to a States.

We had lots of fun today, as well as that's even aside from my most memorable rest stop, ever. We began with what Tom Robbins would call Another Roadside Attraction, a flywheel, sixteen feet in diameter, used from 1928 to '64 to energy a Eagle Lake sawmill in Prince George. We found a convene stage-quality dirt highway (pictured during top) as partial of an alternative track to a pretentious ski review of Whistler, afterwards slalomed tasty, twisty as well as wet mountain roads to Whistler usually to get there as well late to see it in daylight (I've been there before, yet Brian Vance really, really longed for to see it).

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Eagle Lake hulk flywheel

Tomorrow you leave Vancouver as well as a range where so most hard-core travelers as well as adventurers meet, as well as cranky south in to Washington.

-Photos by Brian Vance

Tokyo to LA US-Canada Day18 Map


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