Love On Wheels
They say there's no better test of a relationship than traveling together. If that's true, Jim Rogers and Paige Parker's love passed the test with flying colors. Which isn't to say there weren't some speed bumps along the road to their becoming man and wife.
"Jim told me over and over again how difficult this was going to be, how every day something was going to go wrong, and I said 'no, I'm tough, I can handle it,'" Parker remembers. "But the third day of the trip we were caught in a horrific blizzard in Iceland, and I remember thinking 'this man that I have so much faith in, a man who was warned not to go out in this storm, has just gotten us stuck in a snow bank--what the heck am I doing here?'"
Rogers recalls having his share of doubts early on, as well.
"She was hysterical almost from the very first day, and it only got worse after that," he remembers. "We were in Europe. We hadn't even hit the serious stuff yet--and I often thought she was gonna go home; I often wanted to put her on a plane to send her home."
On his previous motorcycle trip, the mode of transportation made these sorts of relationship difficulties easier to live with.
"If my girlfriend and I had a fight on that trip, we'd be on our own separate motorcycles and usually by the end of the day the fight had gone away," he explains. "But in this small car, the fight was sitting right there next to you all day long."
The pair were engaged a month before they left New York and married exactly one year into the trip in Henley-on-Thames, England. But it wasn't until they were heading for home in the fall of 2001 that the magnitude of their relationship's three-year trial by fire hit home, according to Rogers.
"We met a guy who told us in utter amazement, 'I don't know how you did it--my fiancee and I drove from Connecticut to California, fought the entire way, and haven't spoken to each other since.'"
In the end, it's obvious that Parker hung in there long enough to become comfortable with the uncertainties of life on the road.
"The fact that she stuck it out for three years and we're still married is probably the most pleasant surprise of the entire trip," he admits. "By the end of it you could see the change in her; she was a different person and as good an overland traveler as you will ever meet."