By Nico Hamacher, news intern
Two Newberg residents have embarked on a trip most people only dream about.
Janet Peterson and Jason Swenberger began their lengthy cycling journey in Norway after leaving Newberg in early June, they plan to return in time for the 2015-2016 academic year.
While the couple, both long term bicycle enthusiasts, acknowledge that they will not actually be circumnavigating the Earth, they plan to bike through multiple continents, including parts of Europe, Asia, and possibly New Zealand and South America.
In the past they have completed bicycle tours in parts of Germany and Wales as well as around Washington and Oregon, but this trip will far outlast all of their prior trips.
Peterson is an associate professor of health and human performance at Linfield College. Swenberger was a medical surgical nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Hillsboro up until the two left on their trip. They have lived in Newberg since 2003.
The couple had considered taking a long trip around the world in the past and began saving money more than a year ago. In November, Peterson applied for a one-year leave of absence from Linfield and was approved.
The idea of not working with students for a year is difficult, she said. But the experience I will bring back to the classroom will only help me to be a better teacher.
After receiving the approval from Linfield the two began planning their trip, which included selling many of their most valuable possessions. We are now car-less for the first time in both our adult lives, Peterson said.
Since arriving in Oslo, Norway, nearly 45 days ago the couple has traveled through Norway and Denmark and is now cycling along the northern Germany coast. In total they have traveled more than 1,000 miles according to their blog.
We dont really plan too far in advance, Peterson said. We travel to where we want, when we want (to).
The duo is headed in the general direction of Istanbul, Turkey. They plan to travel by plane to Southeast Asia where they will continue their journey before possibly moving onto the South Island of New Zealand, which would take them into February or March of next year.
After that it gets a bit fuzzy, Peterson said. We have talked about Australia and Tasmania, the Italian alps or even South America.
Wherever they go, Peterson and Swenberger say they have little trouble finding places to stay and eat. Peterson said that, while they camp as much as possible, they also use the websites www.warmshowers.org and www.couchsurfing.org to find places to spend the night. The majority of campsites they have encountered so far have been well developed with showers and other amenities.
Peterson explained that the two chose bicycles as their mode of transportation since cycling allows them to explore many places that most tourists never get to see. We dont zoom by towns at 120 (kilometers per hour). We spend time in small, off-the-beaten-path-out-of-way-places, she said. Jay and I are not out to beat any distance or speed records. We are cycling our own journey.
To follow Peterson and Swenbergers journey, visit their blog at www.jjpeterberger. wordpress.com or their Face book page at http://on.fb.me/ 1tWKlTw.