Archive for the 'planning' Category

What are Sarah & James Doing Now?

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Hello everyone!  Well, it’s been a long time – we’ve finished our year long bicycle tour and have been back in the United States, living in Seattle, for a year and a half now.  Time flies. is basically going to go into official retirement, but I’m starting a new blog at to follow us through a more hum drum type of lifestyle, so if you still want to see what we’re doing even though it no longer involves bicycles, come on over!

We’ve enjoyed the process of getting acclimated and settled into a more “normal” lifestyle, for the most part.  Here’s a brief update of what we’ve been doing over the past 18 months, including a sneak preview to our biggest news:

6 months

Living in Seattle, WA

We decided to return to the city we lived in before the trip. When we left Seattle back in November 2006 we thought we might never return.  We were considering a move to Austin TX, Minneapolis MN, Raleigh NC, Fargo ND, etc, etc.  When we re-entered the US in November 2007 we still hadn’t decided on where to live!  We spent a few weeks with each of our families while we explored our job opportunities and tried to figure out what we should do.  In the end, the pull of an established group of friends, plus an interesting job opportunity for Sarah, pulled us back to Seattle.  We do love it here, but we’re still not sure if we want to stay here forever…

Sarah’s Job

I am working for a small Business Intelligence company called Piraeus Data as their Director of Business Development .  The company was started by two of my friends & colleagues from Microsoft.  In fact, one of them (Sean) even met up with James & I during our visit to Croatia!  I started talking to them about potential work when we arrived back in the US, and finally decided that the opportunity to help build a small consulting company would be an interesting experience and a great fit for me.

James’s Job

James is working as a Software Developer, but he decided not to go back to Microsoft.  He’s currently working for a small company called Articulate.  There’s one interesting twist – the entire company works from home offices, spread out across the country!

Our House

We have been renting a house with a backyard & garden in the West Seattle neighborhood of Seattle for the past year.  We’ve had a lot of fun painting the house, planting the garden, and various other domestic chores.  It’s good to feel settled after a year on the road.  We were sickened by the amount of money we had to spend during the first year buying basic things to fill our house with: Couch, Bed, Dresser, Pots & Pans, Dishes, etc, etc.  Somehow James convinced me to splurge and buy a giant flat screen TV (which I totally regret doing).  On the other hand, I convinced James to buy a fancy new off-white couch that’s not very comfortable, which he regrets now (and I only sort of do).  Luckily we were able to get the majority of our things from craigslist & by scrounging through neighbors’ curbside garbage piles.


Here’s our backyard & garden – one of the very best parts about living in a house!!

Backyard Garden

New Dog

Right after moving into our new house with a big backyard, we got a puppy!  We have been wanting to do this for a long time and are finally in a situation where it makes sense.  We have a house, a yard, and James works from home.  One of our ongoing conversations during our bicycle tour was what kind of dog we should get.  We went back and forth, naming breeds and vetoing each others, until we named a breed we agreed on.  James wanted Doberman, Sarah wanted Boxer, James wanted German Shepherd, Sarah wanted French Bulldog…we reached a compromise at Great Dane!  When it came time to actually go dog shopping, we actually decided to go to the Humane Society first to look for a puppy.  We didn’t have much luck – Seattle area dogs tended to be a mish mash of breeds we didn’t really want to own as our first dog: Pit Bull, Border Collie, etc.  So then we decided to actually put the Great Dane plan into action, began researching breeders, and ended up with our new baby – Greta!

Jamie & Greta:

Greta & Jamie

Sarah & Greta on the couch:

Greta & Sarah

Greta at 18 months:


Backyard Chickens

Another thing we decided to do with our new backyard was to get chickens!  We couldn’t believe it when we heard that in the city of Seattle people can keep up to three chickens in their backyards.  We spent last summer building a chicken coop from scratch (what an endeavor), and then got our three newest pets in the fall of 2008.  Agnes, Dora, and Betsy have been endlessly entertaining.  We let them free range in our backyard, feed them fruit and vegetable scraps, and they supply us with fertilizer and three eggs each day.

Sarah with new chicken Agnes & newly built coop behind us:


Most of our friends and family can’t believe we actually got chickens for our backyard.  I think after cycling through Asia & Eastern Europe and seeing how common it was for people to keep free range chickens the idea became much less shocking and foreign to us, and we started to see it as a fun little side project with free entertainment (chickens are so funny!) and free food (eggs!)

3 chickens

New Baby

This is the biggest news of all! We’re going to have a baby boy, due on October 7th 2009.  We can’t quite wrap our heads around it.  October is going to be a busy month for us: James’s birthday, our wedding anniversary, and now the baby’s birthday.

Here I am at seven months:

7 months 2

I’m feeling great so far – no morning sickness, a brief period of cravings for hamburgers (which I have never liked before now!), and a baby that is starting to kick like crazy.  He seems to wake up at 10pm every night and go nuts…we’re getting worried that we’re going to have a night owl on our hands.  Now that we feel like we have something exciting happening in our lives we’re going to try to get back into the swing of this blog.  Stay tuned!

7 months

Looking Ahead

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Stats from Thailand Week 2
3.26.2007 – 04.01.2007
3 days cycling, 4 days resting
185.38 kilometers
61.79 km / cycling day
10 hours, 33 minutes, 51 seconds in the saddle
3:31:17 / cycling day
US$31.81 / day

Sarah and I have spent the last two weeks in Thailand trying to decide where to go next on our trip. This is the first time where we have no concrete future plans. No onward plane tickets. No hard dates to meet. It feels a little strange not knowing what is going to come next and we are struggling to figure out what to do. We have discussed whether or not we should try to find the best places on the planet to tour on a bicycle or should we really try to get remote and adventurous? Maybe Southern China, northern India, France, Argentina? Should we stick to our original plan of one year or travel for longer? We have talked about teaching English in Taiwan or volunteering in India too. It feels like everything is up in the air.

We spent today resting in Chumpon, which isn’t that great of a place but it does have a large, interesting night market where they sell everything from fruit to fish to dishes.

We are staying in a guesthouse in Chumpon called the Farang Bar. Farang is the Thai word for foreigner and the owner even has a fat little Pug named Farang. Not sure what that says about his opinion of us!

Two Tears in a Bucket. Phuket.

Tuesday, February 13th, 2007

Sarah and I are resting today and we have spent most of the day preparing for our trip to Asia. We have decided to skip Australia because of time, money, and weather so we are going to fly directly from Auckland, NZ to Singapore on March 8th and begin bicycling through southeast Asia. We would like to avoid as much of the rainy season as possible in Asia and spending any time in Australia would guarantee that we completely miss the dry season there. Using the information on southeast Asia’s weather, we have decided our rough itinerary will be Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and then North Vietnam.

We have been trying to figure out which countries we need visas for and when/how/where to get them. The fact that we have to pay for internet access and that the embassy websites have limited information makes this a lot more difficult that it needs to be, so we have resorted to purchasing a calling card and phoning the US embassy in the countries directly. Getting our visas taken care of in the US may have been more convenient, but most visas are only valid for one to three months, so that was not an option for us. We’ll let you know how acquiring the visas this way turns out.

We have also been researching safety. The US State Department website does not recommend traveling in Malaysia or southern Thailand at this time due to various security issues. We have heard of and met several bicyclists who have traveled through these areas, so we called the respective embassies and their response was that the information on the website was up-to-date and official and that they could offer no other opinions. The official at the Thai embassy said that he was not allowed to give an opinion, but that we would be “taking a definite risk” by traveling through southern Thailand. The Malaysian official had the same stance on giving an opinion, but was a little more upbeat in characterizing it as “the same as traveling through Canada.”

So, we are considering flying directly from Singapore to Phuket to bypass the dangerous areas. A quick search on showed that there are tickets available for as little as $US50. Not a bad price for a little peace of mind! We are going to do a little more research and then make a final decision.

Bon Voyage

Thursday, December 28th, 2006

The day has finally arrived! Sarah and I leave for New Zealand this morning at 07:45 EST. We will arrive in Auckland, New Zealand on December 30th after 23 hours of flying and 13 hours of lay overs. Sarah is sleeping like a baby right now, but I am definitely feeling nervous. It is hard to believe we are actually doing this.

Today we got some bike boxes from BikeCycles in Wilmington and packed up our boxes for the flight. US Airways would have allowed us to just wrap our bikes in bubble wrap, but we are flying on United for one leg of our journey and they require us to box our bikes. After a couple of minutes of staring at the boxes and comparing them with Sarah’s 61cm Rivendell Atlantis with racks and fenders, I realized her bike was not going to fit in the box without some serious disassembly. We had to remove her seat, front rack, and both fenders. On my bike, we removed the front rack, front fender, and seat and were able to squeeze it in. We were under the impression that we were just going to need to remove the pedals, lower the seat, and turn the handlebars to fit the bikes in, so the process of disassembling the bikes was pretty nerve racking as we wondered whether or not they were going to fit at all. Now we’ll just have to see how many pieces the bikes are in when (if?) they arrive in New Zealand.

If anyone knows if bike boxes come in large enough sizes to hold an assembled touring bike with racks and fenders, leave a comment or send us an email and let us know. We plan on avoiding airlines that require boxes instead of bubble wrap in the future, but if we do have to use boxes we would like to avoid as much disassembly as possible.

In other news, we secured the first sponsor of our site! Averatec has provided us with one of their 1100 Series notebooks which I am using to make this post right now. It is an extremely light and powerful notebook, so we are very happy to have it for this trip. You can find out more details on the Gear page, which I also updated with the rest of the details on our notable gear. If I missed anything it is probably Sarah’s fault.

‘Twas the Night after Christmas

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006

When all through the house not a creature was stirring, except for James and Sarah preparing to depart for New Zealand and begin our bicycling adventure in less than two days! We’ve been making our gear list, checking it twice, and shopping for last minute items. Today we put new chains on the bikes to replace the rusty ones and tonight Sarah’s mom and brothers took a test ride on our fully loaded bicycles. They were impressed with our rigs.

Two More Resources

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

In telling people about this trip, we’ve found some more great touring resources. Rob Thomson is a New Zealander riding a recumbent bicycle from Japan to London and he is chronicling his trip at His site is beautifully laid out and contains some great information too. This is definitely one of our new favorite sites.

We also found out about a new touring book, Adventure Cycle-touring Handbook: Worldwide Cycling Route and Planning Guide, which looks interesting. The table of contents shows that it has route information for many countries, which is something we are definitely interested in. It only seems to be available at Amazon UK. We are going to order it and will review it.

T Minus 3 Days

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Our liquidation is officially complete.  Our garage sale was a huge success – we got rid of almost everything.  We only had to bring one carload of stuff to Goodwill.  As for the bigger stuff, we sold the TV last week, the piano on Monday, and sold the futon to a very nice family that’s letting us keep it until our last day here! 

Everything we’re saving fits in these boxes, which will fit in our trunk for the cross-country drive & then reside in my mom’s garage for the next year.  The things we’re saving are photos, old letters & cards, tax papers (do you really need to save all your tax documents for ever & ever? That’s what Jamie told me…). Oh, and we’re also saving Jamie’s nice bike clothes as those are really lightweight & would be expensive to replace.

We made a final run to REI yesterday. Jamie somehow ripped the crotch of his one & only pair of pants so we had to go buy new ones.  We also got stuff to re-waterproof a lot of our gear.  We feel pretty ready at this point – there is not much left to do! Jamie’s last day at Microsoft is today, our going away party is tomorrow night at the Pike Pub & Brewery, and then we leave Seattle! What will we miss most in Seattle?  Here are some of my favorite things (of course, this excludes the actual people I will miss):

  • Hilltop Alehouse
  • Roti Indian Cuisine
  • My running route along Highland St. in Queen Anne
  • Coffee at Uptown Espresso
  • Donuts at Top Pot
  • My newfound appreciation for boneless wings at Wingdome
  • Living within walking distance of Trader Joe’s
  • Our apartment, which is about to be turned into a generic condo
  • Watching Lost with Emily & Sam


Monday, November 13th, 2006

Bicycles – $5000
Airfare to New Zealand – $2500
Seeing Mordor for yourself – Priceless

It’s time to start taking bets on how much this trip is going to cost. Today Sarah and I did a little tallying and realized we have now spent over $10,000 on this trip and we haven’t left Seattle yet. That magic moment was followed by a couple “What are we doing?”s, “Are you really sure about this?”, and some gutteral moaning on my part. Since neither of us likes to spend money, its hard to swallow the lump sum of money required to prepare for a trip like this, but we both agree it will be well worth it. Check out my accounting skills on our newly updated Finances page.


Thursday, November 9th, 2006

The big focus of this week has been the liquidation of all our assets. We didn’t think we owned much stuff, but it is definitely taking a fair amount of time and effort to get rid of everything. We’ve successfully sold most of the big stuff on CraigsList & to friends.The two things we’re left with, and are getting a little nervous about selling, are the 34″ widescreen TV and the digital piano. We’ve been steadily lowering the prices on these two things and still haven’t been able to sell them. Lesson learned on big electronics: they are impossible to resell. We’re resigned to taking a big loss on these, now we just want someone to come carry them out of our apartment! When we list the TV on CraigsList we very slyly don’t mention that it is 200 lbs and the new owner must carry it down three flights of stairs… So far no one’s even come to look at it though, so it doesn’t really matter.

This weekend we will host our first ever estate sale. Because we’ve sold most of our substantial stuff we’ve realized we’re left with a lot of little stuff. Dishes, clothes, trinkets, sports gear, etc. We’re strongly leaning towards pricing 90% of our stuff at 25 cents to make sure we get rid of it all. This isn’t really a money making venture – we just want people to clear out our place so we don’t end up making 80 trips to Goodwill!

Also, James & I had lunch with a fellow Microsoftie, Alex Wetmore, who has done some traveling in New Zealand and gave us some first hand advice on the terrain & best places to start our tour. We want to avoid the nasty hills until we’re (actually, I) am a little stronger. Alex also generously gave us his copies of the Pedallers’ Paradise books, which I am thrilled about! These are renowned as the very best bicycle touring guides to the country and are hard to buy in the US. Thank you Alex!

Gear Page

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I added some content to the Gear page.