About a week ago I was contacted by Nancy Sathre-Vogel, the author of the book Changing gears: A Family Odyssey to the end of the world, if I was interested in writing a review of her book. She explained the book was about her family’s bike trip from Purdue bay, Alaska all the way to Ushuaia, Argentina. Now, I have to admit she had me at book. I love books, getting a chance to read a book is something I just can’t say no to. But I was intrigued by their endeavor, too. So, yes I was eager to start reading it.
I was just nervous, when I accepted, because I was worried will I like it. If I don’t, how will I be able to say the book is no good. I mean someone put a lot of work into writing it and here I am dismissing it. Well, the worry was unnecessary because I loved the book. It is truly well written, has great pace and it keeps you interested all the way to the end. Once I started reading it, I wasn’t able put it down, I finished the last two chapters on the local bus coming from work, with tears in my eyes – I won’t spoil the story, if I say they made it and how triumphant they felt. But not just the writing was great – even though all the credit goes to the author who managed to never be boring or too long, or too descriptive – you could easily get carried away especially if you have three years of material to work with.
That’s how much it took them (author, her husband, and their ten year-old twins) to get from Alaska to the end of the world. The story is amazing in itself. Every page had me thinking could we do it, I mean if my girls were older. After every challenge they met and overcame I was shaking my head and saying this is just not for us. It was nice though going places, facing the winds, rains, sleeping in a tent, … while lying on the couch covered by a warm blanket.
It would be also so easy to judge, but I just couldn’t, because I know how precious every minute you spend with your kids is. The best times we as a family have is when we are away together. It’s a time when there is no morning rush, no stress, no chores, just enjoying each other’s company. While I couldn’t cross a small hill with a bike, let alone do it for thousands of miles in all kinds of weather, I admire them for doing it. But I’d hate it if it was just the endless bike riding with no other goal but to make it till the end. And it wasn’t, it was truly a trip – the kind you and me take (just with a car) with meeting friends, swimming in amazing places, taking trips all around, stopping to enjoy the nature and its wonders. They explored the world. When it was time to rest, they rested, when it was time to be with other people they found them.
They gave their kids what I would like mine to have too knowledge and understanding of the world, open mindedness, confidence and acceptance of others. To truly be citizens of the world. That’s the best gift you can give them. And the author herself comes to the same conclusion, after a lot of soul searching throughout the book and asking questions. I guess being a Mother never changes, you are always asking yourself if your choices are right. I guess as long as they are right for your family, you can’t ask for anything more.
I am happy to conclude – I strongly recommend reading the book (if you love to travel, have kids, love to bike, are adventurous, just like a good book,….).
More info: http://www.familyonbikes.org/