New Zealand family seeing U.S. by bike

On the road again -- and again

Posted: Thursday, June 15, 2000

A family bicycling along the road in the summer may not be such a strange sight, but for the Helliwell family, biking in Alaska is a new experience.

The family of four -- Lyn and Mike, along with children Cameron, 8, and Amber, 4 -- set out three months ago for the journey of a lifetime.

They left their home in Napier, New Zealand, for Hawaii. They biked around the islands until summer hit in Alaska, Lyn Helliwell said.

Their plan was to start in Anchorage, see the sights along the Pacific coast, and wind up in Mexico, a place Lyn has always wanted to go, before March. They allotted themselves approximately one year, with one-way return tickets to London booked for a March return date.

The Helliwells had planned on coming to the United States when their son, Cameron, was 2, but their plans were set on the back burner. Six years later, they decided to just do it.

"If we don't do it now, we may never have another chance," Lyn Helliwell said.

On Monday, the group reached its first 1,000-mile travel mark.

The bikers, equipped with all the necessities of a cross-country trip, plan to visit popular areas and see the sights Alaska has to offer.

When not biking, the family hikes and camps, and Cameron, a third-grade pupil, works on his correspondence homework at night. The homework is graded in New Zealand and then sent to his grandmother in British Columbia, a stopping point for the family in Canada.

As well as doing his homework, Cameron also keeps a diary about the family's travels.

After dropping off the correspondence work at the Kenai Post Office on Tuesday, the family set off to Homer to see the sights and to catch some fish.

"We just go with the flow," Mike Helliwell said. "We just never know."

The family agreed that traveling by bike has provided a better experience, and they have seen much more wildlife than they could have in a motorized vehicle.

When the Helliwells reach Mexico, if they have time left before returning home, they said they may keep going, possibly as far as Florida, depending on the children.

They said the necessities of life have changed during their trip -- life is now simplified to looking for a campsite and building a fire.

The couple had hoped to travel on less than $200 a week, but that wish has yet to come true.

"We're over budget, but we are enjoying the country," Mike Helliwell said.

The Helliwell family said they have had no problem with vehicles and wouldn't mind coming back to Alaska in the winter.

"The Alaskan people are great," Lyn Helliwell said.


No caption was contained in the photo file

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