The Pan-American Highway: Pan Am Overland

I slip out the "Pan Am Overland" here and there on this blog but I don't think I've been terribly clear about what our current goal is – what we are working hard towards in our here and now.


This is what we want to do: we want to leave the United States by April 2013 (perhaps sooner). We want to travel on the Pan-American Highway from California clear through Patagonia. We want to stay for a spell in each of the 15+ countries down the course of the Overland – some for longer periods of time than others.


We want to promote Disability Rights/Empowerment along the way, connecting with Independent Living Movements, with Down syndrome and Deaf centers.


Our end goal is to have an Inn, which will also cross as a training center for people with disabilities in the hospitality industry. In our Inn, we want to grow most of the food served and teach people with various disabilities how to do it.


We don't know where our Inn will be. It might be somewhere that we fall in love with along the Pan American Highway. Or it might not be on that route at all – if we don't find it along our travels down to the tip of South America, then we will head for Europe and see if it's there. One way or another, we want to:


1. Travel the course of the Pan Am Overland
2. Own and run our Inn/Non profit center after we have traveled the entire Pan Am Overland.


I want to be super clear about these goals because in the coming months, I will be writing a lot about the progress that we make in reaching them. Or rather, I shouldn't say "them", it's really just the Pan Am Overland we are focusing on; the Inn will come in its own time and space, along the way or after.

Our Baja Trip was really where we came up with the idea of riding the Pan Am Overland – and we started using the trip as a barometer for what we would/wouldn't need. A trailer, for example: to trailer or not? Well, after a particularly windy and treacherous road up to a particularly beautiful hot spring in Baja (where we camped for a few days – private Oasis Heaven) – we emphatically decided no. Uh-uh, no way. If we have a trailer, we'd never be able to reach the coolest spots. We want access. Trailers drag you down.

the insanely beautiful hot springs Oasis Heavenly Spot

So what, then? We thought we could continue with the F150 truck camping, wrapping the truck-tent around the opening of the camper shell. That was extremely comfortable… until we hit Cabo de Pulmo.

the next morning, Cabo de Pulmo

Good Lord. It was awful – so windy that we were surprised we in the truck hadn't been lifted off and away to the Land of Oz. We were also not secretive about our envy for the people camping next to us, who were snug-bugs in a van. They had hot food that cold night – we were scarfing down peanut butter and jelly tortillas.


Mikey came up with the idea of a POP UP CAMPER. A camper that would fit on our truck bed and could pop up. How cool. The focus then became money. Those things are pricey, baby. PRICEY. And we, as you know, are very firmly planted in the low-income territory.


Mikey kept his eyes peeled, we received a modest tax return and voila! A pop up camper appeared for $1,000 – catch was, it was in Ashland Oregon. My LLS Team in Training run being that weekend and being a lot closer to Ashland than the San Francisco Bay Area, we drove on up. Checked it out. Bought it.

the pop up camper we bought. Grandby, '88. It fit onto the f150 by laying the tailgate down and bolting it in…

This is pretty much where we are now. We have the camper. It needs renovating but nothing major. Most of it is cosmetic, with the idea that it will be the home for 5 people traveling for a good long time.

2 of the 5 people. Checking it out

We need to:

  • Work on those renovations.
  • Find another truck, an F350 with 4 doors – safer for the kids.
  • Sell the Prowler (what an odyssey that has been!). Soon, because Burning Man is coming up. Those Burners like them some RV's…
  • Sell our current truck, the Sexy Beast.
  • Find more online work. Something that will help pay the way.
  • Figure out the more along the disability advocacy/awareness piece: where to stop. Who to contact. What do do. Etc.
  • Get rid of everything we own except for a box or two. Streamline, pair down to basic essentials.
  • Accumulate as much information about the route as possible.
  • Save, save, save.
  • Test out the camper – get a sense of the kinks – happening THIS WEEKEND! Woo-hoo!

I think that's pretty much it. For now. Stay tuned!


Another shot of the hot springs Oasis Heaven-Spot


is a deaf blogger, global nomad, tech-junkie, cat-lover, Trekkie, Celto-Teutonic-peasant-handed mom of 3 (one with Down syndrome and one gifted 2E).
She likes her coffee black and hot.
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1 Comment

  • My husband and I are also going to be traveling  the Pam Am highway starting in CA going to Costa Rica maybe further, but eventually settling in Nicaragua.  We are planning on getting a camper though, because we're taking our two dogs and two cats with us.  We're not sure when we'll be leaving though.  Anywhere from this spring, 2013 to the fall, depends when we get everything we need and get rid of everything else we have.  I'm also going to write a blog about our adventure starting with the planning stages as you're doing. Maybe we can share tips and ideas as we learn them.   I would eventually like to end up in Ecuador I think, but for now Nicaragua.  I actually started a blog called "Outside the box retirement", for those who are looking for alternatives to retiring in the U.S. in which I'll be talking about our upcoming adventure.


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