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An Adventure Ends

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It’s a surreal moment in Customs in downtown Buenos Aires when all the papers are finally signed, and the Jeep is officially transferred out of my name. Less than 15 minutes later I book plane tickets, and have just over 24 hours remaining in Latin America.
Not for the first time in my life, I give away stuff and condense my worldly possessions until they fit inside my faithful backpack.

I jump in the driver’s seat for the final time and make the journey to the airport, trying to soak in every last minute of time I have with my much-loved Jeep. For a year and a half I’ve been saying “Ella está mi novia” (She is my girlfriend), and we all know breakups are difficult.

dan jeep final goodbye 640x480

Saying goodbye

Just before midnight on April 12, 2011 the wheels come to a stop for the final time after 64,517km.
That’s a touch over 40,000 miles in 667 days, or 1 year nine months and 28 days.

For the next twenty-nine hours I wait, read, write, think and sleep while moving through different airports, never feeling present in any of them. I’m greeted by my always-grinning brother & his girlfriend, holding a huge banner they made for my welcome, complete with Jeep pic and map.

welcome home dan 640x480

Welcome Home Dan

Together, we cross the final border of the adventure.

The familiar words uttered by the friendly customs officer make me realize how much I’ve missed this place.
I think I’ll stay for a while.

“Welcome to Canada”.

-Dan

I’m currently writing up posts about trip stats, total costs, gear reviews and more.
They’ll show up over the next couple of weeks.
If you have any questions you want me to cover, just ask.

44 Responses

  1. Brian from New Jersey says:

    It’s surreal to read this post, what an amazing adventure! I’m really glad you were able to go through all of those experiences and I thank you for sharing them with us! Best of luck to you!

    • Dan says:

      Right on Brian, thanks for coming along on the adventure, keeping my feet on the ground and being a part of my “family” :)
      It really does mean a lot to me.

  2. Liz says:

    This explains why I haven’t heard from either of you recently! Love to the 3 of you. oxox

  3. Welcome back Dan! Loved your blog…the adventure book is not over, just Volume 1 is. I can not wait for Volume 2.

  4. So sorry to hear about your Jeep. While you are gettinf rid of yours, I just got one:

    http://oshea12566.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/new-jeep/

  5. Dad says:

    Well Dan that’s a pretty emotional read. Lots of love is all I feel. Well done.

    Dad :)>

  6. Cannot beleive I´m reading this!

    We stumbled accross your blog well over a year ago when we just found out you could actually drive the PanAm. It was some mighty inspiration for us as we schemed out plans. Now we´re in Panama headed down the same route!

    Really enjoyed following along. Hope to read of your next adventure soon.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Logan & Brianna,
      Great to hear from you – it’s so great to hear I helped you scheme your schemes :) :) it puts a huge smile on my face.
      If there is anything I can help you with, don’t hesitate to ask, and I’ll do my best.
      Enjoy the ride, I know you will!
      Next adventures are being dreamed right now !
      -Dan

  7. Hi Dan!

    With tears in my eyes I have just read this post. It reminds me so hard to my last days in South America, more or less 4 months ago. Seeing you with the Jeep saying “Good Bye” is like the moment I had when I placed my VW into the container in the harbour of BA 😉 Ok, not as hard as your final divorce with a car which carried you so far along all the times, as I got mine back here in Germany 😉 But this final moment where one realizes that a journey is over, at exactly this point in time, is so incredibly hard to cope with…

    I’m glad to read that you are safely back at home and wish you all the best for the future! I think I can assume that we now both have the positive virus in us to start over again to the next big travel. There are more continents to be explored 😉 Maybe we see us somewhere again on this wonderful world!

    Heartful greetings, Arndt + Renate.

    • Dan says:

      Arndt + Renate ! So fantastic to hear from you.
      Two days after I got back to Canada my brother and his girlfriend bought a 1980 VW Vanagon which we’ve been working on ever since. About 10 times a day I’ve been saying “My friends with the new VW Van did such and such’…” so I’ve been thinking about you guys a lot !
      We completely removed the interior and started again, and it’s great to see what the options are when you can build anything you want. It’s giving me great ideas for the future :)
      It is unbelievable our respective journeys have come to an end for now, and as you say, we’re both addicted and this likely won’t be the last “round”.
      All the best for the future, I’m certain we will cross paths again somewhere down the line.
      -Dan

      P.S. Do you have any photos of the interior of your van to show my brother? I’ve been clicking around your site for a while, but my German is a little lacking !

      • Dan, the VW T3 is a cool car for this. It has much more interior length than the follow-up model T4 or mine T5. And are much easier to repair than these electronic monsters nowadays…

        You will find pictures of my interior here: http://www.limettebus.de/unser-gefaehrt/
        It’s the page behind the right-most button in the top row called “Unser Gefährt”. There is also a “Google Translate” button on every page at the end of the menu on the right side. Click “Translate” and you will laugh a lot, the horrible Google machine translation is hilarious 😉

        If you need photos of whatever detail, please let me know, I will be helpful as much as I can. There is also a big fan scene here in Germany around the T3 Vanagon, with a lot of useful info in web forums and so on. So, whenever you have a question where you both get stuck, feel free to ask and I will try my best to find the answer!
        -Arndt

        • Dan says:

          It sure it a fun build and it’s coming together really fast. I’ll send you some pics when it’s done :)
          It sure it helping me dream of my future build….
          -Dan

  8. James says:

    All good things must end, but there is plenty of life left for more adventures my friend. Thank you for sharing your ride with us. Your site was the seed that has grown into a new life plan for me. Thank you again. I like forward to the next adventure!

    james

    • Dan says:

      Hey James,
      You are so very welcome for the sharing, I’m really happy to have you along.
      I’d love to hear about your new life plan – what exactly does that involve? I’m looking for a new one myself right now 😉
      -Dan

  9. Jim K in PA says:

    Dan – congratulations on closing the deal on the Jeep. Although a tough emotional process, that door closes so another may open. Update us when a new blog is started for the next adventure. As always, you have a place to stay if you ever pass through northeastern Pennsylvania.

  10. Alex says:

    Dan, Its great to hear that you were able to sell the Jeep. We are in Salta, next stop Bolivia. Quick question, were you able to drive on the salt falts or is the rumor true that only tour agencies are allowed out there?

    Good luck planning your next big adventure.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Alex,
      Absolutely you can drive on the salt flats. It’s Bolivia, you can do whatever you want :)
      The only thing to consider is the rain – I don’t know what the weather is doing right now, but driving on the salt when it’s wet is a little risky because you can sink through and get stuck… especially a problem with your super-heavy bus.
      Good luck, have fun!
      -Dan

  11. Chad says:

    Congrats Dan! It has been one hell of an inspirational journey and this blog felt like I was riding shotgun in the Jeep itself. I’ve said it before but I’ve been following your adventure from the beginning after finding the link you posted on a Jeep forum before you left. Following your travels is the basis for my trip next month (on a much smaller scale) and I look forward to reading about some total numbers if you’d care to post them. Things like gas, costs, fees, etc… I think that would be very helpful to those of us planning something like this in the future.

    Cheers!

    • Dan says:

      Hey Chad,
      I’m stoked to hear you’re off on a trip of your own, have a blast!
      Absolutely, I’m working on total expenses, and a list of fun trip stats too…. I’ll do it later :)
      -Dan

  12. Mike says:

    Hey Dan,
    I’ve sincerely enjoyed your adventure through the all of the wonderful words and photos you’ve shared during your time on the road.

    Best of luck in all your future endeavors!
    -Mike.

  13. Jeremy Bradigan says:

    Dan!

    Wow, GREAT ADVENTURES! They’ll live on long after their end! I had posted last year about my ex-wife, myself and our 6 month old sons’ drive from West Palm Beach, FL to Costa Rica via the ol’ Pan Am Hwy.

    Sounds like you got the ‘treatment’ in El Salvador, with the guys crowding you and ‘offering’ to ‘help’ you with your Duana crossing! HA! Same thing happened to us!

    My son was the one who had gotten his 1st tooth in El Salvador and was suffering from a fever of 104 degrees when the policia escorted us (at speeds up to 100 mph!) to the hospital, where the Dr. helped our son make a full recovery. What a GREAT ADVENTURE!

    I hope some of my advice was useful? Glad you made it home safe and sound!

    Jeremy

    P.S.- Any plans for a future adventure? If so, PLEASE CONTACT ME, we can work on obtaining some form of sponsorship (don’t know how, but I am VERY persuasive and tenacious!)
    I was thinking bicycling or motorcycles? Maybe camping out along a predetermined route with handheld HD cameras and contacting The Discovery Channel or TLC?
    Let me know what you think or if you’d like to ‘brainstorm’ an idea?

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jeremy,
      GREAT to hear from you again. I thought about your advice a couple of times and it did come in handy.
      Thanks for the welcome home :)
      As for future adventures.. there are always dreams. For now, I’m really happy to have an apartment, go to the gym and save some money for other ideas.
      Who knows what the future holds.
      Take care and enjoy!
      -Dan

  14. Andrew Roberts says:

    Hi Dan, been reading your blog for at least a year now, very inspirational.
    I bought my Jeep 18 months ago with a view to undertaking trips like yours, although possibly more of a dream than a real intention. (the “what if”s)
    It’s refreshing to read a story of someone going on an adventure in a vehicle just like mine with the bare minimum of modifications and equipment. I have tried to take inspiration from motorcycle overlanding and it’s good to see my theory of travelling light pans out.
    It must’ve been heartbreaking to part with your faithful travelling companion, I know I wouldn’t have been able to do it, I’d have had to bring the Jeep home with me, never to part with it!
    I look forward to reading about your next adventures and am grateful to have found this one as it gives me another little push towards *actually doing* something like this myself!

    – Andy

    • Dan says:

      Hey Andrew,
      Remember man, if you really want to get out there and adventure, you absolutely can. You even have the perfect 4×4 for the job!

  15. Jared says:

    Hey Dan,

    Just stumbled across your blog while researching the Magic Bus. I’ve read through most of your journey, and I must say, it’s all breathtaking! I hope I can embark on a journey like this one day. I’m 21 and live in North Florida…I need to get out and see the world! Your journey down the Pan American Highway seems like TOO perfect of a route. When I save up enough money, I will probably follow a similar path to yours. I’ll have to buy a 4×4 though, haha, as I doubt I could make the journey in a ’98 BMW. And even though I don’t know you, your expressive writing and photojournalism keeps me right there with you the whole time.

    Anyways, I’m slightly fearful of the trip. I’m unsure if anyone is going to go with me (I would enjoy If someone did, but I’m sure I’d be fine on my own). I’m mostly scared of robbery/getting killed. Is this a big problem and is there anything I can carry on my person to protect against it? Even pepper spray, you know.

    Thanks for providing an excellent adventure to follow! Maybe we’ll see each other on the road someday.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Jared,
      I’m happy you found my site and got some inspiration from it. It’s awesome to hear you say my storytelling and photos kept you right along with me the whole time. That puts a huge smile on my face. Thanks !
      As for your journey, have you looked at ? It contains everything you need to know, and has a section on safety and security for every country.
      If you keep your eyes open and don’t walk down any dark alleys at night, you’ll be fine. I know of at least 5 vehicles driving south right now, none of them have had a single problem.

      All the best, I hope to follow along your blog one day so I can get inspired for my next adventure!

      -Dan

      • Jared says:

        Yes, and I’ve roamed about wikioverland and the likes. I’ve got three years to make plans and arrangements, buy an appropriate vehicle, and make sure everything goes okay. How’s the beer down south?

        As for the blog, I will definitely document my trip. I haven’t made a blog before, yours looks pretty impressive. Did you have to pay for web hosting?

        • Dan says:

          Sounds perfect. The beer is cheap and great. Many countries it’s $1 or $0.75 for a liter :)

          I am paying for hosting right now, because I’m hosting too. I’m sure you can make the free WordPress hosting work quite well.

          Good luck!
          -Dan

  16. Jared says:

    I forgot to include, I also plan on taking a detour over to Rio de Janiero. Pardon me if I spelled that wrong. I must see that beautiful city/ladies. : D

  17. Mike says:

    Hi Dan,

    What an amazing trip! I’d love to interview you about it for a book I’m working on. Let me know if you’re interested!

    • Dan says:

      Hey Mike.
      Absolutely, I’d love to help out in any way I can.
      Feel free to reply to the email you just got about this comment (the one that says “don’t reply to this email”)
      Thanks,
      -Dan

  18. Brett says:

    Hi Dan,

    I found your excellent blog via a link from the Overlander Hubb.

    After weeks of a few posts each day I have finally reached the end. I have mixed feelings, I wanted to see how the journey ended, but at the same time I wanted you and that Jeep to just keep going. Somewhere, anywhere! After so long together its seems a shame to seperate the two of you. I hope the buyer looks after her.

    As for me, I have my own dreams of overland travel from Vladivostok to Scotland via as Mongolia and as much of Eastern Europe as I can fit in. I am determined to do it when my kids are a bit older. Perhaps even with my son accompanying me.

    Meanwhile, blogs like yours keep me dreaming and planning, but most of all, make me elated that real adventure is far from dead in this world.

    Cheers,
    Brett in Melbourne.

    • Dan says:

      Hey Brett,

      Thanks for the great message. It’s awesome to hear you read through my whole journey.
      I had a lot of mixed feelings at the end too, and it was a sad day when I left the Jeep behind.

      In hindsight, it was absolutely the right decision. I’m having new adventures now, in a new part of the world, and I am the better for it.
      (I’m working on getting some new blog posts online with photos I’ve been taking lately… shortly.)

      The journey you describe through Central Asia/Europe has always interested me too. It’s on the horizon, which I’m working towards every day.
      I assume you’ve had a look around ?
      There is not much content yet for Central Asia, but I very much hope it will be added in the coming months.

      All the best for your plans/journey. If I can help in any way, please ask.

      -Dan

      • Brett says:

        Hi Dan,

        Thanks for your reply. I would be very interested in reading about your new adventures when you have them online. If you have started a blog already, please send me a link so I can read as the journey unfolds this time.

        I did take a look at the Wiki Overland site. It is a very good idea and I hope it continues to grow.

        I possibly have some content to contribute. I could see there wasn’t much information for Australia which surprised me. I can fill in a few blanks about importing a vehicle as some colleagues and I have gone through the process in the past.

        Cheers,
        Brett.

        • Dan says:

          Hey Brett,
          My adventures right now consist of living in far northern Canada. Hiking, camping, white water paddling, mountain biking, back country snowboarding, etc.
          I’m currently in the “saving” phase for my next grand adventure, which is going to take a while.
          If you could add some info to the Australia page on WikiOverland, that would be awesome.
          The more we can get online, the more useful it is for everyone.
          Thanks,
          -Dan

  19. Chris Stim says:

    Let me add my congratulations (albeit a year-plus afterwards) to completing the north to south journey! I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog over the last few days. Trips such as yours (as well as http://longwayround.com/) make me want to do something similar. But, “responsibilities”, building a financial future, aging parents and growing nieces/nephews always seem to keep popping into view. BTW, after my 35 day/11K+ mile trip to Alaska and back from the US east coast in 2009, I totally agree with a comment you made about wanting to share the travel experience with another person vice doing such a journey–any journey–solo. God bless on your adventures!

    • Dan says:

      Hey Chris,
      Thanks for the very kind words. I’m so happy people keep finding my blog and finding it useful.
      I’m sure you had an amazing time on your Alaska trip.
      I’m living right by the border with AK now. I’ve been there the last 2 weekends in a row, and will be going snowboarding near Anchorage this coming week for 10 days.
      It’s such a beautiful place I will never tire of exploring there.

      If and when your “responsibilities” end, checkout WikiOverland, the encyclopedia of Overland Travel which contains all the information you will need to get out there and explore!

  20. Kaylie says:

    Dan, I have loved reading your journey!! I have been dreaming of driving the pan american highway since I was in Colombia in 2010. The only thing that holds me back is travelling alone as a 22 year old female. Would you reccomend to travel alone?

    Kaylie

    • Dan says:

      Hi Kaylie,
      I met tons and tons of females traveling alone. Obviously you need to keep your eyes open, etc. but I see no reason you can’t do it.
      Whenever you want you can stay at a backpackers and find someone to come with you for weeks or months too!

      It’s an amazing adventure for sure!

      Have fun,
      -Dan

  21. Having read your overland adventures to S. America ..I am inspired to speed up my preparations to do an overland from North to South A. I did an overland from Malaysia to Scotland and back in 2012/13.
    I plan to either buy a 4×4/AWD in Canada or USA…a mid size crossover…not wanting to ship my Kia Sorento (D) to Canada or S. America(Argentina)

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