Monday, April 22, 2013

Book Tour Interview & #Giveaway: Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Changing Gears:
A Family Odyssey to the End of the World
by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

Welcome to my humble corner of the blogoshphere Nancy. Thank you so much for taking time to chat today.

BK: When I read the premise of your book, I have to say that I was in awe. What sparks such a family odyssey?

NSV: I wish I knew! I think it comes down to time – my husband and I (both schoolteachers) were spending more time with other people’s kids than we were with our own. We wanted time together as a family and… well, the idea just kind of exploded.

BK: What was it like to travel across the world with your family?

NSV: What was it like? Which day? Some days were perfect. We had springtime temperatures and the wind on our backs. The sun hung in the clear blue sky and snow-capped mountains loomed off in the distance as eye candy for the soul. But other days were really, really hard. So hard that I wondered if I could possibly take another step, but I knew I had to because I couldn’t collapse right there on the side of the road.

Overall, the journey was wonderful in so many ways. It might not have been easy, but it was always wonderful.

BK: Has this brought your family closer?

NSV: For sure! After spending so much time together, working toward a common goal, we are definitely a tight-knit family.

BK: What did the kids think of this journey?

NSV: They were all in. Once they made the decision that they wanted to ride their bikes from Alaska to Argentina, they never wavered in their determination. Toward the end, we were all getting tired, but there was no way we were going to call it quits before we reached the end of the world.

BK: What did you have to do to prepare for this type of journey?

NSV: For us, because we had done quite a bit of bike touring earlier, there wasn’t that much preparation for the journey itself. What took oodles of time, however, was doing all the other stuff that needed to be done. We planned to rent out our house, but it needed to be cleaned up and slightly remodeled. We would be storing our stuff in a barn, but the barn needed fixing up before we could do that. And then there was all the sorting and packing and selling…

BK: Would you do it again?

NSV: In a heartbeat. Now that I’ve already done it, I wouldn’t do this particular journey a second time, but I would get back on my bike and go somewhere else. If we do head out again, I want to just wander around, going where the wind blows me.

BK: What inspired you to write this book about your journey?

NSV: Two reasons. 1) To get it down for my children, so they have a record of it. 2) To show others what’s possible and inspire them to get out and live their own dream, whatever it might be.

BK: Most memorable happening during your family venture?

NSV: There were so many! Overall, I would have to say the most memorable parts were meeting all the wonderful people. Nearly every single day, people went out of their way to help us out. Sometimes they let us sleep on their floor, other times they gave us food or water. It was absolutely incredible to see the amazing generosity of people.

BK: Scariest moment during your venture?

NSV: Being chased by a bear, for sure. The whole story is here:

BK: If someone else were to come to you and say, I want to do what you did. What would you tell them?

NSV: I’d say, “Go for it. Know that it’ll be the hardest, but most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. It will test your will and stretch you further than you thought possible, but will also be the best thing ever. Do it.”

BK: After quite an awesome odyssey, what's next for you and your family?

NSV: We are now living in Boise, Idaho, so that our sons can have the chance to put down roots and be part of a greater community. They are involved with FIRST Robotics and Boy Scouts. They are still homeschooled, but are taking a few math and science classes through the schools. Daryl is on the swim team, Davy enjoys running with track and cross country.

I have written my book and am now developing my public speaking. I’m diving back into beadwork, which I neglected during our years on the road.

John made a documentary film about our journey and is doing all kinds of fix-up projects around the house.

BK: Where can readers connect with you Nancy?

NSV: They can find me at I’m on Facebook here: and Twitter here:

BK: I thank you again for chatting with me today. It's been such a pleasure, I can't wait to read your book. I wish you the best of success in the future :).

Nancy Sathre-Vogel is a 21-year classroom veteran who made the decision to leave her teaching career behind to travel the world on a bicycle. Together with her husband and twin sons, she cycled 27,000 miles throughout the Americas, including traveling from Alaska to Argentina. Now she lives in Idaho, pursuing her passions of writing and beadwork.

Follow The Tour Here

Giveaway: 5 ecopies of the book

Genre: Travel memoir/Cycling
Publisher: Old Stone Publishing
Release date: March 21

Changing Gears: A Family Odyssey to the End of the World by Nancy Sathre-Vogel

What would you do if you were not afraid?

Changing Gears is the true story of one woman asking herself that very question. What followed was a family journey of epic proportions – a journey ofphysical challenge, emotional endurance, teamwork, perseverance, and tremendous learning opportunities. It was a discovery of self, of priorities, of accepting hardships, of appreciating blessings, and of contrasting a comfortable past life with the extreme hardship and poverty of those they met.

Would the journey be a dream come true – or a mother’s worst nightmare?


Highs and lows in Costa Rica

“Congratulations Daryl,” I said. “You’ve just entered your eighth country.”
My son turned to me and said, “What difference does it make, Mom? Crossing a border doesn’t change anything. A border is just a line on a map.”
As I passed through the border formalities, I thought about Daryl’s words. He was right. We were still in the Central American jungle. People on Costa Rica looked exactly like those in Nicaragua. They spoke the same language and worshiped the same god. Nothing changed as we crossed that border except that we spent a different currency.
After spending so many years of my life poring over maps and dreaming of visiting far-flung places, I had developed a bit of a “map syndrome.” I saw a very distinct, physical line at that border. I saw a new country with a new government. In my mind, each country was a separate, unique entity and, of course, the people belonging to that country were unique and different from those from neighboring countries.
Daryl’s words brought me back to reality. There was no line at the border. The people who lived on one side of the border were no different from those who lived on the other. Once we strip away all the wrappers we tend to wrap around people – when we look beyond the language they speak, the clothes they wear, the god they worship, and the food they eat – we are all more alike than we are different. Underneath it all, there isn’t any difference between us at all.
My sons, at age eleven, understood that. I, at 48, was still working on it.
cycling Costa Rica
For miles on end, we cycled through a tunnel of green.
I was pedaling along the Costa Rican road and was quite bored. It was just another day in paradise. Nothing in particular to look at. No villages to keep me entertained. Just mile after mile of lush green jungle.
Then I thought, “This is crazy! Here you are in Costa Rica – COSTA RICA – and you’re bored? Costa Rica is paradise on earth! It’s a traveler’s utopia! Costa Rica is one of the premier vacation destinations in the world! And you’re bored?”
beach costa ricaI feared I had become jaded. I was so accustomed to fabulous scenery and people that I zoned out when I only had tropical jungle to look at. We were pedaling through a lovely area and I wanted to fall in love with the jungle and the green all around and the monkeys swinging in the trees.
Yet I wasn’t quite there. I was so focused on getting out of the blasted heat that I wasn’t paying attention to the small details surrounding me like I generally did.  My mind was so centered on getting to the next town and away from the interminable heat that I missed everything else.
For the first time ever I started to wonder if it was all worth it. Cycling through the jungle was miserable; there’s no other word for it. We awoke in the middle of the night and packed up as sweat poured out of our pores. By first light we were on the road, but it was still blazing hot and the humidity level made it hard to breathe.
I mentally drew a map in my head and figured we still had 800 miles of jungle. 800 miles of being covered with layer upon layer of sweat, sunscreen, and road grime. 800 miles of nothing but lush green jungle on either side of the road. Was it worth it?
I wasn’t quite ready to give up yet – that would come later – but I knew I wasn’t enjoying the journey.
The following day I sunk even lower. We had been amply warned by other cyclists about two things: the hills and the truck drivers in Costa Rica. By all account the hills were the steepest in Central America and the drivers were the worst. In our short time in the country, I had to agree.
We slowly ground up hill after hill while sweat fell like a river from beneath our helmets. At one point, John even took his helmet off and strapped it onto his trailer – he figured he was safer without the helmet than blinded by sweat.
traffic jam in costa ricaAnd the truck drivers did their thing. Their Costa Rican thing. Regardless of whether the far lane was open or not, each and every truck driver that passed by held his ground and refused to budge an inch. It seemed like the attitude was that the lane belonged to them and us cyclists hugging the edge of the road were nothing more than pests.
The third time a truck cut me so close my knuckles actually scraped the side as it whizzed past, I lost it. “What the hell is with this country?” I screamed to nobody in particular. John and Davy were too intent on controlling their own bikes on the narrow road to pay any attention. “This is crazy!” I hollered into the jungle.
All I wanted was to get safely through the country and out the tail end. Was that too much to ask?