The grandmother of all road trips |

The grandmother of all road trips

John Colson
From left, Tomas Ascua, Gonzo Mirich and Emiliano Bordos took off Monday from Aspen, driving to Argentina in the motor home they've named "Granny." (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Three guys from Argentina are redefining what it means to get out of town at the end of the ski season.Gonzo Mirich, 24, Tomas Ascua, 25, and Emiliano Bordos, 21, headed out of Aspen on Monday for a 25,000-mile road trip in a 24-year-old motor home nicknamed “Granny.” They’re bound for their native land and whatever adventures they can find along the way.Actually, the motor home, a 1982 Coachman with 96,000 miles on its gasoline engine, has been christened “La Nana,” which chief road tripper Mirich said is Italian for “Granny.””A lot of our grandparents are Italian,” he said, noting that many Italian immigrants settled in Argentina in the years between World War I and World War II.Mirich, Ascua and Bordos bought the motor home in Grand Junction recently for $3,000 (the asking price was $5,000), and the three amigos gleefully admit that the cost of the vehicle might be the smallest expense they’ll have to deal with on the voyage. With the price of gas around $3 in the valley – and likely to be higher once they get south of the border – they’re expecting to pay somewhere around $4,000 for gasoline alone.

The three plan first to see some sights around the West. Their first stop will be Moab, Utah, then on to Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon country. From there they plan to go up to San Francisco before heading seriously south to San Diego to buy some surf gear and cross into Mexico. In addition to the surfing gear, they’ll have a pair of inline skates and two bicycles, just to complete their recreational equipment.None of the three has any great mechanical ability or knowledge, they admitted, but Bordos declared, “We have an idea” – to which Mirich added, “Definitely, we’re going to end up being mechanics.” He said an actual mechanic has checked out the somewhat mature vehicle and declared it sound, but they know that in four months or so of driving they’re bound to run into some mechanical difficulties.And, as Bordos noted, if the truck breaks down completely, at least the skates and bicycles will provide them with transportation to the nearest town.Mirich, Ascua and Bordos are from Paraná, in the state of Entre Rios. It is north of the national capital of Buenos Aires and near the border with Uruguay. They went to secondary school together, played on the same soccer team and are students at the University of Buenos Aires.And after Mirich discovered the delights of working and playing in Aspen two years ago, he invited his friends and others to join him here. The trio of buddies spent the last six months or so living together in a house on Cooper Avenue and working at Buttermilk, along with a number of their fellow countrymen and countrywomen.

“Actually, we’ll be more comfortable in the motor home than we were at the house,” Mirich joked. At one point, he said, there were a dozen people living in the small house.Although they deliberately are not setting a travel itinerary, they plan generally to head down the west coast of mainland Mexico to Acapulco and perhaps then cross the country to the Yucatan peninsula before turning southward to the Panama Canal and catching a ferry to Colombia and the final stage of their journey. They have different roles to play along the way – Bordos is the press liaison, Mirich is chef and maintenance officer, and Ascua is the minister of culture and legal issues.Early in the trip they plan to hook up with another friend from Paraná, Matias Gonzales, 24, who had planned to join the group in Aspen. But he recently was denied entry to the U.S. and is waiting in Mexico for a ride.Cooking in La Nana’s galley, stopping to pick up directions from locals, “the rule is, if three people say it’s a fun place, we go,” Ascua said.”It’s part of the adventure, you know, to have risk,” Bordos added.

Their trip has a similarity to the Ché Guevara biopic “The Motorcycle Diaries,” and Mirich said he saw the movie about Ché and his legendary motorcycle trip around South America with a friend while in Italy. In fact, Mirich said, an Italian friend and he went on a short trip on the friend’s motorcycle in imitation of the movie.And when it came time to plan the trip back to Argentina, Mirich said, another version of Ché’s trip immediately sprang to mind.When they get home, the trio cannot legally keep or sell the used motor home in Argentina, so they plan to take a concluding trip up to Paraguay and sell it there.Then, when next winter rolls around in the U.S., the three plan to return to Aspen by airplane to spend another ski season in the Rockies.John Colson’s e-mail address is

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