"So what will you two do next?" My mother-in-law
asked in an effort to start a good-natured holiday
conversation. Squashed around the Thanksgiving
table was my wife Amanda along with her vast family,
and they all turned to look at me. A portly great aunt
wiped at her lips with her napkin and said in a
booming, jolly voice, "It will be hard to top that last
I had just shoveled a mound of stuffing into my
mouth so Amanda spoke up. I had a pretty good
idea what she would say. We had recently finished
a three-year journey driving our Volkswagen
campervan through Mexico, Central America, South
America, and Africa. The book about the trip was in
pre-publication. I expected her to mention
something about our plans for a book tour. Little did
I know, I was dead wrong.
"Well," she said. "Whatever we do, Rich has made it
clear that he wants our next trip to be on bicycles.
And I've always wanted to go to Asia. So we're
going to cycle through Asia Southeast Asia."
Silence. Forks dropped. Mouths gaped. The portly
aunt let out a very masculine grunt. A collective
shock settled over the table and I was the most
It was the first I had heard.
My mind raced 'round the table. "Cycling!
Southeast Asia! What!?"
I thought of all the reasons why it was not possible.
Money for one. Where would we get the money?
And all that equipment. We had never toured by
bicycle and had absolutely no equipment. And the
book. We have to promote the book!
Then I realized in that bug-eyed moment that
everyone had turned look at me. So I gave a
befuddled smile, swallowed the big wad of stuffing
and said halfheartedly, "Yup, cycling across
Southeast Asia." But my voice rose at the end and
sounded more like a question than a statement.
Then I broke into uncontrollable hiccups.
That evening, after packing up the car and pulling
away from her parents home I looked over at
Amanda who was grinning as if she knew what was
coming. "What, eh how? Southeast Asia? Cycling!?"
"Don't worry," she said. "It will all work out. You'll
much of our gear