There was no big send off, no crowd, no big to-do — just some logistical chit chat and long farewell hugs. With that, Sophie George and Chris Haag set quietly off from Homer, Alaska on Monday for a two-year journey by bike to Argentina.
The husband and wife have been planning the excursion, popular among those who practice bike touring, since about February of this year. George said that, even with all the research leading up to the trip, it only just hit her as real Monday morning as the pair put the finishing touches on their bikes and gear outside a small rental cabin on Hidden Way.
“For me this is the first time it’s felt really real, actually,” she said. “We’ve done so much talking, and so much planning and, you know, so much research and thinking. And now it’s like here is the reality of a bike that I’m going to get on and potentially not get off for two years.”
On bikes laden with 85-95 pounds of supplies, food and water, the couple will make their way through 15 countries and two continents by the time they finish their journey. With Haag originally from Detroit and George from the United Kingdom, the two recently packed up their life in Utah when they realized they wanted a change and took the opportunity to essentially take two years off for the adventure.
There to see them off was Haag’s grandmother, Veronica Pinto of Trenton, Michigan. She traveled with them from Seattle to Alaska and gave them both a long, sincere hug before they departed down the dirt road.
“I’ll pray for you every day,” she said to her grandson as they embraced.
Pinto said she’s excited for the couple and the adventure that awaits them.
“I know they’re going to be just fine, but you can’t help but be a little apprehensive,” she said. “They know what they’re doing, they’ve planned, I keep telling myself.”
Pinto said there’s a tentative plan to meet up with George and Haag while they’re in Nicaragua.
Turns out, adventure kind of runs in the family. Pinto herself has traveled extensively, including to Skagway, Alaska about 30 years ago.
“I just think it’s so wonderful because this is something I would have done, but in my day, good girls never left home,” she said.
Her father, Haag’s great-grandfather, “chucked everything” at the age of 18 to ride the rails across the Western United States before settling down to have a family.
“They really are free spirits,” Pinto said of her grandson and his wife. “And what will be, will be.”
George said she and Haag are itching to get going after the months of planning. They have their first few days roughly mapped out in terms of how far they want to travel each day. Ninilchik, Soldotna and Cooper Landing are all potential stops along the way, but the logistics of where to make camp each night is something they’ll figure out as they go, Haag said.
Having only seen the approximately two-mile hill leading out of Homer during a drive by the day before, the pair set off slowly into the warm breeze in the direction of Anchor Point just before noon.
“They live life fully and they will get every ounce out of this,” Pinto said. “… It’s just going to be tremendous.”