100 DAYS TO THE SOUTH

"Don’t ask about the consequences if you want to do something. Otherwise, you’ll never do it.“ - Erich Maria Remarque, Arch of Triumph

When, what, where, how, and why I did it.

WHEN 

start in August in Alaska

I might say I did it from August till December of 2018. But what matters is that I did it at the most doubtful period of my life. I worked as a flight attendant on a commercial airline. There my travel mania reached its peak. Three and a half years of constant move. I loved what I did. I got to see new places, new people, new cultures. It broadened my horizons, it opened my eyes wider, it gave me the confidence to step into this world. But soon it was getting not enough. At one point I felt I’m not learning anymore. The events in life became instant. You see places but in a blink of an eye. You meet people but say goodbye the same day. You make friends but never see them again. Your one-time life experience becomes superficial and, consequently, disposable, as those plastic cups on board I used to serve water in. Such an irony. I felt its time to leave. I felt a need to go deeper, to grab and hold on for longer, to submerge myself entirely in place or culture. Or, maybe, in my own adventure. I wanted to go far, for long. With full dedication, I wanted to explore the world. But whether it was the world we call Earth or my inner one, I soon should come to know. 

WHAT 

Motorcycle road trip to cross Americas from top to toe. It is deep enough to jump in it completely, with its planning, arrangements, and difficulties it offers on its way. It is long enough for analysing everything being experienced. It is a challenge, good enough to induce something new in me. It’s just a maze of roads interconnected, stretching across and along Americas. Since man invented a mean of transportation, people were traveling back and forth, up and down. Even earlier, by foot or horses. Some has documented their journeys, some not. It is not the Everest. Though, it is getting there, to become a highway, since hundreds of people each year moving along its routes to the summit, whatever they are, as long as they are able to pay well enough to one of the dozens of travel agencies, organising such trips. So as Pan-Am highway, or Alaska - Argentina trip, or vice versa, is doable, achievable as only you have enough budget to finish it. No guide needed. No training. No special knowledge of your vehicle’s technical side. Not even language. All you need is passion, dream, and obsession. Whatever it is. It will drive you ahead, push you further, make you get back on the road when you slipped. That strong feeling of determination of fulfilling your dream. And, it is not important whether you will finish in the end. What matters is your first step. The second and the rest will follow in a spirit. You can fail, you might not cross the finish line. But that is not the point. The start and finish is just an imaginary frame, boundary that we set in order to give it some look and structure. In this way, it is easier to explain to your friends and curious people what you are doing. It works better than trying to deliver your philosophy of call of adventure that you can’t stop hearing. Thus, what did I actually do? I answered my call for adventure.

WHERE 

world map

As I proceed along the way I projected all events, falls and fails, rises and gains, all experience on my personal conscience. Indeed, it was happening in different, alien and unknown to me places over North and South Americas. But the real trip was happening in me. The trip of emotions and thoughts. There it went through analysis to generate answers on why am I doing it. At least I thought so. But before WHY, there is HOW. 

HOW 

motor 2

The most vital parts of the successful outcome of any affairs are planning and start. Planning consists of budget, all necessary pre-arrangements, and itinerary. The start is a test that reveals your strength and weakness. Here you make corrections for improvement. Thus I commenced planning and respectively, saving I plan only for 3 - 4 days ahead, chasing most attractive road. Until I reach another destination, where I stay at some hostel, do my laundry, edit videos for social media, plan the next leg of the trip. 

bags

As I go I camp in between. What did I eat? I had a very small MSR brand portable stove, that when folded can fit in your pocket. Though, it works only with propane gas canister, which won’t fit there. I use it for boiling eggs and water for precious evening tea. It takes around 2 min for water to boil if there is no wind. If it’s windy, better not trying at all. Waste of gas, unless you build a fort around the stove. I got bread, tomatoes, canned meat or tuna, beans and corn, dry meat sticks (can easily be found in huge supermarkets), chocolate bars. Also, I buy instant rice and powder soup. All stuff was carried in saddlebags. As for my hygiene, I change underwear and t-shirt every morning (I had four pairs of each). Then wipe myself with fresh towels or wet napkins, put on fresh stuff, brush my teeth and wash my face, without soap, saving water. I got two 4 litres water canisters.

The Start. 

Started in Alaska

Alaska. What have I expected from it? Cold weather, at least. I opened the door out of the airport, holding my breath to prepare to withstand the blow of chilly air. Instead, I was met by a nice warm summer breeze. 4th of August here. And yes, they have summer too. Even though it is located at 61°13′N. The weather here is affected by a warm oceanic current of the same name, Alaska. 

Alaska

It is a continuation of North Pacific current that evolves from current Kuroshio that originates in warm Equatorial waters of far Asia, or Western Oceania. In 3 days I was ready. Fuel tank was full. Whirlpool of emotions inside. Anxiety and excitement were prevailing. 15:30. I give it a move. Thus, I started my journey. What expects me there? What challenges am I to face? Ahead of me, at least for the perspective of next few days, there was a way of 1600 km through one of the most isolated, wild and uninhabited forests on Earth. Strangely, I felt it was the right way. Way to turn my life on. 

On the 9th of August, at 14:00 I have reached Arctic Ocean. From my diary: I am still 30 km away. I stopped, waiting on the roadside for the truck to pass. I did not feel safe to continue in such way. The road is a stew of mud. It is down the slope here. First gear - too fast. I apply the breaks―bike is sliding. 330 kg of weight (bike, loads and the driver) is too much for tires to make a solid grip with this puree. Fingers are numb. Raining. My waterproof suit is probably trying to prove something else, but not its purpose. It was dark like at dusk, with fog and drizzle. Gloves are wet. I have to wipe helmet glass to see the road every 30 seconds or so. Just staying here will not make me dry and warm. I kept on sliding.” 

On the 11th of August, at 13:00 I was back to Fairbanks. I may call it a successful start. Long lonely drive in harsh weather on unpaved roads through wilderness completed. That was my start. I felt confident. 

38000 km ahead laid through the coldness of Canadian Rockies, burning heat of Death Valley in USA, robbery in Mexico, road accident in Colombia, break down in Peru, extreme winds of Patagonia. 

Chile

I reached Ushuaia on 139th day with 150$ in my pocket. I sold my motorcycle in Punta Arenas, Chile, a day before New Year. 

WHY 

Arizona

Maybe, I am running away from myself, from my previous life. And out there I am looking for something. But ‘out there’ life has the same priorities: study, work, family. Then WHY? I heard many times: “This is going to be a journey of a lifetime!“ I do not agree. I don’t want to stop here. I want to go further. Maybe, there is no answer. Maybe, it is an axiom. It is a matter of fact to be accepted. I love this world. And love doesn’t need to be explained. I am 32 years old. I do not know WHY. But I start working on another 100 days adventure now.

-- Maksytm Ukrainets

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