The Sprinter Is Free!!!

We have officially dispensed with the crux of the Pan-American Highway. Last night at 9:40pm I drove the Sprinter out of the port.

The best decision we ever made was to hire helpers on both sides of this passage. Remember Julio from Panama right? Well, here in Colombia we had Sonia. She worked miracles, literally. I can tell you definitively that it is worth the extra money to hire a helper for the Darien Gap. Without her it would have taken 2-3 days to free the van. We have friends that endured a 5 day effort! Thank you Sonia. You are amazing!!!

Follow the video saga…
This was by far the most hellish day of our entire trip. We started at 8am, moving from building to building attacking our laundry list of action items. By 5pm I had given up hope. All the offices were closing and I figured we were done for the day…
Video #1Losing Hope… watch now

But Sonia wouldn’t give up. She got on her phone and made some calls. She got employees at the documents office to work late, really late. And somehow she managed to get me backstage in the containers loading area in a late night attempt to free the van…
Video #2Never Say Die… watch now

Getting back to the van after hours was only half the battle. Upon arriving I discovered that we were completely blocked in by other racks. The guy who took me in (Sonia’s good friend), got on his radio and started organizing a rescue effort. About 8 guys showed up and that’s when the miracle happened…
Video #3The Miracle… watch now

A preliminary effort to move the rack that was blocking us with a fork lift failed, so they brought in the monster crane…

Last shot taken before I drive the van off the flat rack and head home to Stevie. No, they wouldn’t let me keep the hard hat. Not even after I offered them 20 bucks. Bummer.

And so the Colombian flag is finally added to the van. Yes, I know it’s up-side-down. As I clearly told Stevie, I meant to do that. Why else would I put a flag on up-side-down? I did it on purpose. So back off. Now move along. Next slide please.
Saying goodbye is never easy, especially for Stevie. She makes lifelong friends every where we go. People just love her. She was on a first name basis with the entire hotel staff, the parking guy, the bakery owner, the bar tender, the grocery store clerk, the old man and woman who sit on the milk crate by the park, and of course the woman from the cell phone cart.
Tomorrow we hit the road again! Our plan is to work our way along the Caribbean coast towards Venezuela. So far we are LOVING this country. Can’t wait to see what’s next. TREE

Track Sprinter Life’s exact GPS location! 

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  1. Melissa says:

    Yippee!!!! SO happy that the van is FREEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

  2. Mark Tisdale says:

    Yay for the dedicated assistants you had! Sonia sounds amazing!

  3. Hell Yeah! nice work guys.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations!!!! I'm so happy for you guys! Party on!
    Love sis

  5. Anonymous says:

    You have your home back! Is it in good shape? It looks like they scratched the front bumper, drivers side…..

    Simko…..I think I got the boot from your blog so i will just have to sign my name.

  6. Dave Adair says:

    Quote of the week: "The van was not penetrated in any way that would offend me." Congrats!

  7. Anonymous says:

    are yo guys actually going into venezuela? thats not a very friendly place these days.

  8. Heather and Scott says:

    I told you I was holding my breath until this time! I'm so excited that you guys made it through this hurdle. South America, hear YOU COME!!!!!!

  9. Hey Heather, I got the contact info for the helpers and details on the epic adventure. You guys will be fine. You'll make it through. Just buy that van and get rolling! TREE

  10. Steve Cox says:

    Drive On…………

  11. yippie! good for you guys. Enjoy south america. you're going to have a blast!

  12. Simko – how do you get kicked out of blogger? What other sites are you following? humm….

    Andrea – Stevie has been trying to skype you, fyi

    Anonymous – yes, we are planning at this time to go into Venezuela. We'll see how it goes.


  13. Anonymous says:

    I admire how you persevere with a a smile and a great attitude, even in the face of frustration!.

  14. Victorious!!!! I'm more concerned about my little "Adelita" sporting a military fatigue type skirt.

  15. Veronica Grey TheOracle says:

    and wearing the pink Nirvana shirt!!!! m i n e. *swipes* 😉 ♥ ♥ ♥

  16. David Curran says:

    Allright, just so I didn't miss any obvious opportunity in my life, how are you two financially pulling this off. One of you a trust funder?

  17. John D. Wilson says:

    Kind of like The Who, as in "I'm Free", one of the many great songs The Who put out!
    Congrats, and be safe in your travels!
    John D. Wilson

  18. Yah Hooo! We are so happy you got the Van out and are on the road again. We are looking forward to traveling through South America through your eyes! Travel Safe and keep the adventure going.

    Love to you both
    Aunt Deb & Uncle Barry

  19. Hey Dave, it's been a really, really long time!

    No, we're not independently wealthy. No trust funders here.

    When I quit racing back in 1995 I started a little kayak store out in Oregon. In 1997 we decided to try to sell on the internet and we were the first kayaking company to do so. It took off and here we are today. I've got a great crew of people who run the company day to day and I'm able to work remote as long as I can find internet. That is the down side, we're ALWAYS chasing the internet. But I can't complain. Life is good!

    Love the fishing photos on your site. You look good buddy.

    take care

  20. ps. The website is

    Let me know if you need any gear. I'll hook up up wholesale. I'm sure you already have all the connections though.

  21. So excited to hear you're heading East. So many of the panamerican blogs I've been reading just follow it down to Patagonia and go home and Jim & I plan to traverse every country in South America so am looking forward to hearing how you like Venezuela and the Guyanas area.

  22. Hey Rhonda! Good to hear from you! I know what you mean…normally we've read an abundance of literature from other bloggers that have travled before us, but info pertaining to Venezuela is a little scarce. But not for long! We'll be documenting our experience in just a few short days here. -Stevie

    Aunty Debby and Uncle Barry….we're excited to see you in August, and even more excited about the prospect of you two visiting somewhere in S. America. xoxo. -Stevie

  23. Ceci Paredes says:

    Please tell Tree I loved his mini-frustrating-Sprinter-adventure-videos ajaj

    besos a los 3!!

    Sean felices!!!
    Mucho amos desde Mita 🙂

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