Paired Experiences

My son and daughter in-law Vinnie and Danni share a love of adventure, a palate for good wine and an affinity for hard work. As level one sommelieres, they understand that, when stressed by the elements, fruit can either grow bitter or more robust.

Just like us.

In the face of COVID-19 challenges that stymied their industry, their travel plans and their dream jobs, Vinnie and Danni responded with their customary optimism and good cheer. They launched “Paired Experiences”, a digital consulting service for food, beverages and travel. The company currently offers on-line Mixology classes, and will add in-person classes and dinners once it is safe to do so.

In support of that endeavor (and because they were really, really looking forward to those trips and wanted to develop a replacement adventure), they took the money they recouped from a Covid-canceled trip to Peru, and the money they had saved for a Covid-canceled move to New Zealand, and began an adventure they hope will inspire them spiritually, physically, logistically, emotionally, mentally and gastronomically.

They plan to bike from Seattle to Los Angeles, a trek they started (not without challenge) last Wednesday. As I write this, they have crossed the border into Oregon, riding high on the kindness of strangers and uncannily available old friends; the tastiness of upscale bike-packing dinners; the inspiration of stunning scenery; the pleasant distraction of a hundred fluffy bunnies; the necessary senses of direction and humor; and the reliability of genuine love.

Day one on the trail began with the potentially disastrous discovery that Vinnie’s tire spokes had broken on the train ride out. Amazingly, among the people who responded with messages of good will to Vinnie’s post announcing their trip, was Alex Ross, a friend from middle school and high school, who currently runs a bike shop in Seattle.

Alex fixed the bike and, after sampling some of Seattle’s delicious seafood, Vinnie and Danni took off, realizing immediately that their training runs on flat Midwestern trails had not prepared them well for the West Coast’s rolling hills. They missed the last ferry out of Seattle, but still managed to cross, eventually landing at their first camp site, where they whipped up a delicious feast of Mediterranean couscous and smoked salmon.

“We’ve had to readjust a lot of our routes,” Vinnie texted. “But we’ve seen some beautiful sites and met some cool peeps along the way.”

Among them was a 76-year old cyclist Danni befriended who told the inspiring story of her 70th birthday adventure in which she biked from Washington to Virginia, with friends following her in an RV. She arrived in Virginia Beach on her birthday.

Last night, they met up with Vinnie’s Aunt Carol, who lives in Portland, and they plan to see other friends and family along the route.

We’re excited to follow along with them as they make this thousand-mile journey. I know they’d love the company if you’d like to follow along as well.

You can find their daily updates on Instagram at this address:

Meanwhile, here are a few pictures from the first few days of their journey.

“Find joy in the journey” is their theme for life in general, and specifically for this trip.
They look relaxed and happy here, but they actually had to sprint eight miles from where they thought the Minneapolis Amtak Station was to where it turned out to be and arrived just in the nick of time to catch their ride out to Seattle.
Vinnie and Alex met at Roosevelt Middle School 15 years ago, and Alex kindly and fortuitously messaged Vinnie just in time to fix his bike. Here’s to old friends with enviable skills!
They have had to adjust their routes several times.
But they’ve also enjoyed stunning views. This is the Washington/Oregon border.
The hills have been a challenge.
Especially for two Midwesterners.
But they’ve managed to cook and plate themselves some lovely meals.
The rest stops have been both necessary and magical. (They spent one night in a bunny sanctuary).
Here’s to fair skies, a following breeze and a safe journey home.

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