Several years ago we decided to leave our old home of Austin, Texas. We had no family within 2,000 miles of us, and while it was a great place for us both to begin our careers, we decided we would rather live near relatives. At some point we hope to start a family of our own, but we weren't quite ready. So why not take advantage of this transition and explore some of the world? This pivotal moment, spring boarded us into several years of amazing experiences and opportunity which we have grown so much from.
So in 2012 we headed south, only expecting to be gone for one year. Traveling in our 1987 Toyota 4Runner, we set out on an undefined journey with few expectations. We did know it would be a once in a lifetime opportunity, filled with challenges and growth, meanwhile giving us time to strengthen our bond as a couple.
We started with a "shakedown trip" across the USA, then traveled south across Mexico and Central America. The Ruta PanAmericana or “Pan-American Highway” is a series of routes that connect Alaska to Argentina but it technically has a large gap in the road, in Panama's Darién Province. The only viable option for a vehicle to get from Panama to Colombia is to container ship around the “Darién Gap” on a massive freight vessel, only a couple hundred miles by sea. To get ourselves there, we had to organize a sailing expedition from Panama to Colombia by boat.
In Colombia we reunited with our vehicle and continued the journey south until we eventually reached the southern tip of South America. After more than 2 years of traveling, we shipped our old Toyota once more from Buenos Aires to Miami. In total we had spent time in 15 countries during our PanAmerican journey, driving to the southernmost tip of South America, Tierra del Fuego.
Eventually we returned to the United States so we could start the next chapter of our lives near Shannon’s parents and siblings in Asheville, NC. Brenton went back to his career as a professional firefighter and Shannon went back to her work as a Registered Nurse and even began teaching Nurse Aid classes. We started a family of own in 2015, with the birth of our daughter Emmeline. In 2017 we welcomed our son Charlie into the world. In 2019 we were fortunate enough to find property and a home to spread out in.
This journey has led to so many amazing opportunities, including many chances to help others with the logistics and preparation for their own travels. If you have any questions about the PanAmerican journey or the possibilities of your own adventures, please feel free to send us an email or contact us via social media.
After 15 countries and 28 border crossings:
we got married (twice!)
spent 24/7 time together for 711 days - more than most couples would in 7 years
began to understand each other on completely new levels
became fluent in Spanish
experienced countless mechanical issues with our old Toyota (yes they can actually break)d
mastered the art of self-sufficiency
became professional problem-solvers
learned that the world is actually a very friendly place, despite what the news may tell us
discovered we can conquer the world with "the Three P's"; Patience, Persistence, and Politeness...you can also add Planning and Preparation for a successful journey
spent countless nights sleeping in hammocks, tents and the back of our old truck
learned how to graciously accept the hospitality from strangers, even when it felt like we didn't need or deserve it
broke out of our shells and became fearless in uncomfortable situations