by Ben Yeager – for the Cordova Times
John and Lynda Pinder with the Global Roamer II. Ben Yeager/The Cordova Times
The famous map. Ben Yeager/The Cordova Times
John inside Global Roamer II. Ben Yeager/The Cordova Times
There’s nothing extraordinary about a couple traveling by camper, unless they have the itinerary of John and Lynda Pinder. Theirs is displayed on a giant map on the side of their Izuzu truck, “Global Roamer II.” It’s difficult to find a continent not heavily marked in black ink.
The Pinders have arrived in Cordova after driving up from San Diego, eager to spend the summer in Alaska while they have the light. After exploring the town and visiting the shops and museums and the Prime Select processing plant, they will head out to Child’s Glacier with Jack Stevenson, and off to Valdez up to Prudhoe Bay.
“Our friends think we’re stark-raving mad,” said John.
Hailing from Brisbane, Australia, the Pinders had a business importing used car parts from Japan, when they saw an ad in a newspaper placed by a man looking for travel partners in a caravan across China. We could do that, they thought. In 2004, they sold one of their two houses, bought a truck and shipped it to Singapore. Using all paper maps, they traversed 75 countries in that first motor home, driving from Singapore up through China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan into Europe over nine months. The only scary part, John remembered, was when a man brandishing a machete jumped on the roof of their tuktuk in Thailand. “He was high as a kite,” Lynda said. Other than that encounter, the Pinders said they always feel safe.
In 2008, the Pinders built a custom truck, with solar panels and heating, hot water and fuel all on a diesel system. The couple spends 3-4 months home between trips abroad, preparing. They plan to do this until John is “too old to drive.” “Then we’ll just do house exchanges,” Lynda said. The Pinders had a yacht briefly when they lived in Auckland, but found travel by sea too scary.
“This is a great way to meet people,” said John.
“He’s a social animal,” Lynda said of her husband. “He gets bored spending time with just me.”
The Pinders put the map on the side of their vehicle since 2004 as a conversation starter after another traveling couple did the same thing. A line of license plates adorns the truck, a collection of John’s from various scrapyards and generous strangers.
In 2009, the couple shipped the truck to Lima, Peru (where it languished in customs for three weeks), and drove south to Patagonia. After a cruise to Antarctica and some time in the Galapagos, they returned north, and left the truck in Uruguay while preparing at home for their next adventure. “It’s like eating an elephant,” John said. “One bite at a time.”
In May, they flew to San Diego and began their trip north. They thought they’d spend their whole summer in Alaska. “The great outdoors appeal a little bit more than cities, don’t they?” Lynda said. Plus, she admitted, she has her heart set on seeing Alaskan bears.
“Cordova seemed an interesting place,” John said. “Everyone’s really friendly, aye?”
One thing the Pinders have noticed about Americans other than friendliness, is that they always ask how many miles the truck gets to the gallon, often before a greeting.
“It’s like the standard opening line,” John said. “I haven’t thought of a smart answer yet.”
Ben Yeager can be reached at email@example.com.
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GLOBAL ROAMER - An extraordinarily well-traveled Australian couple rolls into ...