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In the Map

by Going Slowly


We leave Janka's apartment this morning, supplied with two big boxes of Polish chocolates, ham and cheese sandwiches, heartfelt hugs, and enthusiastic well wishes. As we pull away, waving wildly, Tara and I feel simultaneously overwhelmed by our good fortune, and quietly reflective.

Janka & Her Nephew Shaika the Dog

Last night, Janka told us that we were her heroes. Heroes. Good lord.

Try as we might, she wouldn't hear us when we told her she was the inspiring one. In a few days, Janka will be embarking on an epic tour of her own, seven weeks in Norway. What's more, she is cycling into the veritable sea of unknowns alone.

Tara has been so inspired by her example that she is now talking about doing a solo tour too (some years from now, when we return home). Make no mistake, what you are doing is awe-inspiring Janka! We can't wait to see the pictures and hear the stories that go with them; please stay in touch!


We just had a great visit, and now here we are, on our way to Lithuania. Every so often, we have moments of realization about what is actually happening to us. Exited exclamations always follow, things like, "Holy crap! We're actually doing this! We're IN the map!" ("in the map" refers to our world map, stuck full of pins, hanging on the wall back home).

While Tyler drives, I take out my laptop. I'm not sure I like typing in the car, but I've never written about a day as it happens. We do so much journaling, sometimes we need to mix it up a bit! As I peck away at the keys, cars recklessly zoom by us, ceaselessly overtaking one another on our single-lane road.

While drivers narrowly escape untimely deaths, little kids eat popsicles and ice cream on the roadsides of the sleepy towns we pass. A bee is buzzing in the back seat, smacking itself stupidly against the rear window over and over and over again. If he only flew just a few inches to the left or right, he would find open windows and the taste of freedom.


In our little red car, it feels like we're just "out for a drive." Just this regular sunny day, as hazy, hot, and humid as any summer afternoon in the Midwest, driving down an ordinary highway. We are the point on our map, slowly moving eastwards. The Lithuanian border comes and goes without issue. Border buildings are deserted, no doubt abandoned since Lithuania joined the Schengen area in 2007.

Lithuanian Border

The countryside here is resoundingly familiar to me. We could very well be at home, driving from Minnesota to Illinois.

Lithuanian Countryside

Tyler pulls off the highway onto a dirt road, and we stop for awhile to scope out possible free-camps. Like home, the land is wide open and flat. If we had to, we could camp, but this particular spot doesn't feel right.

LRC in Lithuania


Before carrying on, we turn up the radio to find out what Lithuania sounds like. If anyone out there can identify the last song, I'd be grateful. I like it a lot!

Tyler Dirt Road


It is late, almost eight o'clock, but we have everything we need, and could go on driving for a very long time.

Lithuanian Countryside

It's a strange feeling, realizing we're smack dab in the middle of what we set out to do. Well, signing off; looks like it's my turn to drive!

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Hi Tara and Tyler,

I love what you said Tara, you are smack in the middle of what you wanted to do. It's amazing how many people never really experience that. I love the flexibility you have both shown and the honesty you expressed when you wanted to get off the bikes for a while and travel by car. You are travelling and experiencing the world, the bike or car is just the means to get you from place to place.

I wanted to tell you that Friday was my last day of work. I am flying home to Toronto in a week and on August 2nd, fly out to Dublin to begin my tour. I will be a few thousand miles behind you but will continue to follow on your site. I have been invited to stay with Andrew and Friedel in Holland (my parents are Dutch). This cycling community is a small world.

I have added my website above and have posted a few introduction letters.

I would love to meet up with you someday, doubtful if it will be on this trip as I am far behind but you have both been exceptionally helpful and inspirational to me and I wanted to thank you for that. Keep on enjoying yourselves, you seem to have that figured out pretty well.

Fred Bouwman
Posted by Fred Bouwman on July 4th, 2010 at 2:50 PM
Years ago while living in Germany, we took a road trip to Paris, and I remember thinking that Paris wasn't the sort of place you can just drive to, but we did. Let me just say that Mongolia definitely doesn't seem like the sort of place you just drive to. Enjoy!
Posted by Quentin on July 4th, 2010 at 4:14 PM
Fred - We are so excited for you! We just looked at your website and laughed so hard: "I did not have the nerve to actually try riding my bike with all this heavy stuff, no need to lose motivation at this late stage." Ahaha, too true! Way to leap right into your adventure!

Well thank you for the kind words, we've really appreciated your comments and emails and donations over the past year. Geez, has it really been that long? Anyway, cherish every bit of your trip, even the really hard parts. Time will fly by!

We wish you all the best on your travels!

Quentin - Ooh, a Paris road trip sounds like fun! You know, I've developed a very different way of thinking about distances since leaving on our adventure... I mean, Mongolia is connected to Russia and Russia is connected to the rest of Europe. It's all one landmass, so it should be easy to drive across, right? :-) Here's hoping!
Posted by Tara on July 28th, 2010 at 5:32 PM
Not sure if you'd found the name of the song yet, but I also like it so I googled the lyrics. It's called "Voila" by Radio Killer!
Posted by kathryn on September 18th, 2014 at 11:42 PM
Whoa, thanks Kathryn! I'd completely forgotten about this, and no, we never did find the song name. Tara and I are listening to it right now :D
Posted by Tyler on September 22nd, 2014 at 3:55 PM
Hi, there. About the last song on the radio. The song is called "SEL - Tavo Akyse" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrYhgDsCO70
Posted by Martynas the traveller on February 16th, 2015 at 9:21 AM
Thanks Martynas!
Posted by Tara on February 19th, 2015 at 10:47 AM