20091112

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December 31st, 2009...

The Year in Review


What an amazing year!

What started out as a journey about ME ticking off 100 of MY own items from my own bucket list, has quickly become a journey about so much more.

One year ago when I set off on the 100Things adventure, I could never have imagined the amazing support, feedback and encouragement that people from all over the world would offer. From complete strangers making almost $3000 in donations to Camp Quality, to others simply asking for advice and offering selfless help, it seems there is an important message hidden within this journey and 2010 will be dedicated to embracing this positive message and spreading the word.

As we speak, I have managed to tick off 25 items from my list and raised almost $3000 for Camp Quality.


























I have been joined along the way by friends, family and strangers, and to all of you, THANKYOU!

Every time I receive any form of support, the sense of satisfaction I gain is second to none. From Nick who flew all the way from Sydney to join me as I cycled around to Cuba to J-Loc the death-row inmate who invited me visit him in jail, I will never forget what has started this year.

It was a pleasure meeting my name sake Sebastian Terry, as it was bruising to challenge Ollie Lang (the worlds best paintballer). Thanks to the Camp Pep who adopted me for the Burning Man Festival and of course thanks to Polky, Tank and Porridge, the boys who completed a triathlon with me. Thanks to all the gang who picked me up in their cars as I hitch hiked across America and thanks to Annika who gave me a lift to North West Wales! There are far too many people to thank but you know who you are!

Also thanks to Channel 7, The Sunday Telegraph, ABC radio and all the other media stations that have followed and documented the journey so far.

What does 2010 promise?

Become a Campaigner:



100Things is now working on a special page where you can become a campaigner. By sharing your own list on a specially designated webpage on this site, you can not only tick off your own goals, but also raise money Camp Quality through your friends and family. You'll have the option to write about your journey, post pics and even gain sponsorship for your self!

If you are at all interested, please let me know!!

Come Join the 100Things journey!

As always. the more the merrier, so if you feel like joining me on any adventure or want to help in some way, just message me! So far friend and strangers alike have joined me in most of the items we have ticked off and I think that ticking these items with others is a great way to spread the word!

For the last time in 2009.....

100Things... What's on your list?

Here's to an amazing 2010!


December 21st, 2009...

Number 47- Go to Timbuktu- DELAYED!

So at the last minute it looks like the car rally which we have entered a team in has been officially cancelled. Starting in London and finishing 3 weeks later in Timbuktu, the threat of terrorist (Al Qaeda) kidnappings and murders was too high and as such the race organiser contacted all teams to deliver the bad news!

Impressively, a few teams are still going to venture down into Africa at their own risk, and I will try and keep you updated on their progress!

As for 100Things, well we are now planning to tick off item 42- Learn French.

If you guys have any contact in France (or any French speaking nation) please let us know, as January presents the perfect time to attack this goal! At the moment, we are tossing up between France, Geneva and Mauritius (I somehow have a passport for this country!).

As for the van which we bought on Ebay for 350 pounds, well our team has decided to embark on a 7-day road trip into Europe where we will be ticking off a surprise item from the 100Things list.

Traveling with a comedian and 4 great mates from around the world, we will guarantee some stories!

Watch this space!

100Things... What's on your list?

December 18th, 2009...

Around the World in 80 Handbags...

One of the most amazing thing about this 100Things journey is meeting people all over the world that are following their own dreams. In fact I'd go as far as saying that my own journey is fast becoming more and more about meeting these people and encouraging change!

Will Baxter is no different. A creative Englishman with a story to tell, Will travelled around the world on a journey that saw him ask complete strangers to reveal the contents of their handbags. By doing so, Will was able to see what various people held most important to them.

Will has since gone on to write a book about his journey which can be bought on his website!


Will, his book, and me!

Ultimately Will concluded that everyone carried a journal of some sort suggesting that people valued their own thoughts above all else.

Having read the book, I can tell you that the stories are incredible!

Anyway, Will thanks for catching up with me, and good luck with your journey mate!

100Things... What's on your list?


December 13th, 2009...

Number 70- Meet my Name Sake (Sebastian Terry)- COMPLETE!!!

Have you ever met someone with the exact same name as you? Well today I managed to do just that when I travelled to London to meet Sebastian Terry!


Initially making contact via Facebook, it took over a year to actually meet in person but it was worth the wait.

Waiting on the side of the road with his brother Alex and close friend James, Sebastian welcomed me with a friendly hug and a cold beer.

"Sebastian Terry! Nice to meet you!"
"And you Sebastian Terry. We finally meet!"

The beer is only the first indication that Sebastian is one of the most generous people you would meet. In the house, three friendly girls sit in the lounge room picking at an impressive food platter which sits on a table alongside wine bottles and beer cans. Although only close friends with one of the girls, Sebastian has opened his house to them as they holiday in London for three days before returning to Majorca in Spain where they live.

Based on nothing but a shared name, many would see this meeting as slightly odd but the hours fly by as we share tales as told through the eyes of a 'Sebastian Terry'. Interestingly I read a few birthday cards still lying around his house from his recent 30th birthday and laugh as I notice we share many of the same nick-names; Sebass, Bastian, Sebski and even the creative Sebious Maximus.


Happy Birthday buddy!

Sebastian is an insurance underwriter of a unique nature. He specialises in high-end customers which means he insures items from Nasa satellites, to the entire Taiwanese army against accidental death! He even recently wrote up insurance for the world famous Inter Milan Football Club who are actually fearful of winning the prestigious Champions League title (yes, that's what I said). You see after promising players a huge bonus if they win the title as an incentive, officials now fear that late season form may see Inter Milan actually lift the trophy which would cost the club millions in player bonuses. In short, Sebastian has now provided them with insurance to cover this loss. Strange.

A the age of seventeen, Sebastian became a golf caddie at one of Britains most exclusive golf courses. With a club joining fee of around fifty thousand pounds, the course was frequented by mainly rich and famous types. This led to Sebastian being asked to caddie for various celebrities including famous British actor, Hugh Grant. As Hugh's golf improved over time, the two became very close and Sebastian laughs as he tells me that he once found himself giving advice to the actor as he pondered what car he should bye the next day- Maserati or Ferrari? Life is tough for some!

The wine bottles in front of us are now all empty and Sebastian insists he takes me and the girls out for a night on the town. This sounds like fun and we make the move into London's West End.

"And don't you bring your wallet, I'll pay for you tonight"

Sebastian's stories are only topped by his sense of humour and the night is one I won't forget in a hurry. Seeing someones reaction to meeting two Sebastian Terry's at the same time is something I won't forget, specially after producing Identification proving so. This would often lead to the question to the question; so how did you meet? to which Sebastian would answer smugly;

"He flew all the way from Australia to meet me!"



Ana, James, Sebastian Terry, Marie-Jose & me (Sebastian Terry)

As I do with most people, I asked Sebastian early in the night what was on his list. Without a hesitation he tells me of his dream to be the chief executive of a stock market listed company with an annual turn-over of a billion dollars. For some reason, i'm certain he'll do it. So driven is Sebastian that when we joke about what we would do if we were to win the lottery, he tells me that he wouldn't actually like to win as he would lose his drive to work and hence would not actually achieve his dream of becoming a Chief Executive.

"Not only that, but I fear i'd kill myself with alcohol poisoning after a month!" Again we find ourselves laughing out loud.

Sadly after one night of meeting with Sebastian, I have to leave, but before we go, we talk about meeting up again at some other place in the world. The three girls who i've also made good friends with suggest we visit them in the Mediterranean- who knows, maybe we will.

Thanks to Sebastian for helping me tick off Number 70 from the list. This leaves only 75 more items and I now continue having made a good friend.


Sebastian Terry & Sebastian Terry

Life is fun!

100Things... What's on your list?


December 11th, 2009...

World Record... not me, but this strange place in Wales!

So Annika, my lovely Welsh tour-guide, successfully guided us all the way to Anglesey where I had to pick up our race van. We were greeted by the gracious Merryd who was only too happy to give me a cup of tea and a run-down on his motorbike racing trophy cabinet!


The nicest guy in all of North West Wales

Anyway, along the way we visited a town called, wait for it.....

"LLANFAIRPWLLGWYNGYLLGOGERYCHWYRNDROBWLLLLANTYSILIOGOGOGOCH"

And for a bonus point, can you guess why this town holds a world record? Of course it has something to do with the long name which happens to be the longest place name in the world!
(Imagine getting landing that in a game of scrabble!)

After taking a standard photo, I was told by a local that it was cunningly named years ago by a local farmer who needed a way to increase tourism to the town. Looking around at the tour buses which filled the car park, I think he would be laughing in his grave!

Oh and this by the is how you pronounce it...



December 10th, 2009...

Number 47- Go to Timbuktu... Race now unlikely!

The situation worsens as race organiser pulls the pin after discussions with the UK Counter Terrorism Unit today...

Email Extract:

"It is with a heavy heart that I have to tell you of some important changes which some of you, probably most of you will not be happy with. However they keep you alive and that is the main thing. I met with the Counter Terrorism unit at the FCO today and there is a press release tomorrow at 9.30 AM by a govt minister which basically says Mauritania is a No Go area. The FCO advice has changed to 'No Travel ' from' All But Essential Travel'
So what to do? I said I was prepared to pay for a Mauri army escort but they were against that. There are other rallies(Budapest Bamako, Antwerp Dakar, and Amsterdam Dakar) and at this point I do not know what their plans are.

Here are the options:

1
You leave as planned and go offroading in Morocco which will be a real joy with the Morocco Offroad roadbook on the website...
2
Postpone to another rally. There will be a new run to Murmansk in July by the way. There is also Morocco Offroad in March and of course the run to Central Asia and both Russian and Asian runs appreciate LHDs

3
If you have a flight home,buy a single out to Banjul or Bamako and have a holiday. For Banjul, a return will be cheaper than a single and use sites such as charterflights.co.uk

4
Do both 1 and 3 with 2 weeks in Morocco and a week in Mali or Gambia.
Will the Timbuctu and Banjul run next year?.....probably not. Will I be running unsuitable challenges to other places your parents would not approve of? 100% yes.
My vote is that you go on your departure date and have 2 weeks in Morocco. Do bring an arctic sleeping bag so you can camp in the high Atlas.

So....your plans are screwed, the charities lose out, as do Mauritanian hotels and anyone in the tourism industry, but you are not a hostage like the Spanish crew and we should all spare a brief thought for them and pray/hope for their safe return."

Perhaps Number 47 on the list- Go to Timbuktu, will have to wait.....

December 9th, 2009...

Number 47- Go to Timbuktu- Terrorist Threats! (seriously!)

This morning I received an interesting email from Kevin, a driver from another team entered into the Timbuktu Rally.

After a brief conversation it turns out that North West Africa is currently a hot-spot for disgruntled terrorists, specially the northern borders of Mali. Great news (notice the sarcasm)! Kevin did comfort me however by mentioning that of the kidnappings, there is a pattern emerging that it is the British citizens who are being picked more so- I knew Chris and Woodsy would come in handy!

A close encounter?

Needless to say that this news has caused plenty of activity in racing circles and we are all on alert for updates. Watch this space!

Interesting fact #1:

Apparently the Western Sahara region, which sits in between Morocco and Mauritania, is a contested ownership zone and as such is known for its violence. Anthony, a friend who you will hear more about soon, once drove through this area and was warned not to stray off the road for threat of hitting one of many land mines planted by the arguing parties. After reaching a fork in the road, he decided to take the left route and after miles of driving came to a dead-end. To scared to perform a 3-point turn that would see his vehicle leave the road momentarily, he was forced to reverse all the way back to the fork in the road!

I’ll keep you posted with updates over the next few days!

Email Extract # 1!

"I have some bad news...

It would appear that Mauritania has closed its borders with Morocco, Algeria and Mali (but not Senegal oddly enough) and isn’t letting anyone in or out through those borders. This news isn’t confirmed, it comes from two newspapers in the region and not from people I know.

Our contact in the UN in Mauritania has said that they’ve been banned from leaving the cities, and are looking to evacuate as the situation has gotten unstable lately. One of his early email is included below, he has since sent another saying that they have indeed been banned from leaving the cities and are looking to evacuate.

In addition, the reports that the terrorists had been found seem unfounded, and while no-one has claimed the kidnapping – it is believe AQIM (Al Quida in Mahgreb) has them and has now moved the tourists to Mali.

That said, you are right. There have been kidnappings in the region for years, it’s not news:

- Nov 29 2009: Three Spaniards, one of them a woman, are abducted in northwestern Mauritania. A Spanish diplomat says the three, who were driving in the last car of a convoy, were believed held by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

- Nov 27 2009: Frenchman Pierre Camatte, a regular business visitor to Mali, is reported kidnapped in the north of the country. A security official says Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb could be responsible.

- Jan 22 2009: Four European tourists, two Swiss, a German and a Briton, are abducted in the border region between Mali and Niger. They are later held by a group which says it is part of AQIM.

The Swiss and the German are released over the following months, but on June 3 the group puts a message on a web site saying it has killed the Briton, Edwin Dyer.

- December 2008: Two Canadian diplomats are seized near Niamey, the capital of Niger, by a group which also says it is linked to North African Al-Qaeda. The two are freed in April 2009.- February 2008: Two Austrian tourists are kidnapped in southern Tunisia and held for eight months before being freed in northern Mali. The abductions are claimed by AQIM.

August 2006: A group of around 20 mostly Italian tourists is captured in southeastern Niger, near the border with Chad. Two Italians are held for 53 days before being released thanks to Libyan mediation. The others are detained for only a few hours. The abductions are claimed by a local rebel group from the Toubou ethnic group.

February 2003: The Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which later renames itself Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, seizes 32 European tourists in southern Algeria. The group comprises 16 Germans, 10 Austrians, four Swiss, a Dutch national and a Swede; 17 are freed in an Algerian military action in May, and 14 others are released in August in neighbouring Mali. A German woman in the group dies during her detention.

Equally as sadly, travelling in a convoy doesn’t seem safe – they’ve kidnapped as many as 32 tourists in go. British seem not to fair too well in the kidnappings, all those I can see that were killed end up being British.

I’ve also lost a team-mate – Andrea is too worried to come, and I’m not sure I can do this alone anymore. I’ve invested all my free time for the last 6 years into preparing for this trip – originally I was going to go to Gambia with a group of friends that used to live there – so this is a massive decision for me. One which I do not take lightly, and one which I haven’t taken yet. I am considering going alone (well, in the group of course – but without a co-pilot) but I’m not sure I can do it, nor am I sure it’s so wise to do it with absolutely everyone who’s in the region saying that it’s too dangerous.

My plan now is to spent this weekend thinking about the trip. I can always attempt next year – it’s not something that has to be done “now or never”. As things stand now (i.e. the border is closed and I’m alone) I don’t think I’ll be able to do it. If the border opens, the situation seems to stabilise and things seem more positive – I may still be in. Being alone isn’t the biggest obstacle – I was planning for that before Andrea came on board – it’s that I feel I would be leaving her behind; I would be letting her down. Anyhow. I’m going to stop pouring my heart out here, go have dinner and think about this some more..."

Email extract # 2

"Subject: bad news from Mauritania

Hi Andrea

I'm not sure if you heard the news already but i am sorry to report that there was a kidnapping last night on the road from Nouadhibou to Nouakchott. In fact, i had myself been in Nbou for the weekend and was only about an hour ahead of the people (3 Spaniards) who got kidnapped. We passed them earlier as they were in a convoy and moving more slowly.

So, i'm afraid to say that, as people have been predicting for a while, this changes everything for this country. I suspect that we will have to stop leaving the city for any reason and even then, it feels like things are going to get a bit heavy.

As for you guys, i have to say that any plans for doing a rally down through Mauritania after this are not at all wise.

Anyway, let's hope they release the hostages and that it is only an attempt to extort some ransom money as people think.

Get in touch if you need any more info or check the news websites such as the local ones:Ani and Cridem (though these are in French)

http://www.ani.mr/?menuLink=9bf31c7ff062936a96d3c8bd1f8f2ff3&idNews=7410

http://www.cridem.org/index.php?id=82&no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=38561&tx_ttnews[backPid]=36&cHash=42f1636be8

and Aljazeera in English:

http://english.aljazeera.net/news/africa/2009/11/200911306122141504.html

Good luck..."

Email extract # 3

"This was not some isolated thing but very clearly a well planned attempt at kidnapping and was almost undoubtably carried out by AQIM (al qaeda in the maghreb) and they will definately try again. Terrorism is not a stop/start thing here, it is growing and will continue to get worse and worse.

The bottom line is that getting seperated from the rest of the convoy was not good but, that aside, i would say that this country is now clearly a rather dangerous place to be. We are now banned from leaving the city and i cannot see any reason why that should change. Although i will be very happy if the hostages are released, this 'failure' will only encourage the terrorists to try again.

What are your chances of being taken? Well, pretty small of course, but it is a hell of a risk to take with the result possibly being a long incarceration out in the middle of nowhere with the prospect of having your head cut off at the end."

And I thought our biggest worry was getting sand in your eyes!

Watch this space!


December 8th, 2009...

Number 47- Go to Timbuktu

In an attempt to tick off item number 47- Go to Timbuktu, 3 friends and myself have come up with the ultimate journey! We have officially entered into an organised car race that sets off from London, England, and finishes in Timbuktu, Africa (one of the remotest places on the planet).

Previous race- car convoy!

Embracing the lighter side of racing, this charity event insists that your team vehicle cannot cost more than $300 and that in the case of breaking down or running into trouble at sketchy border crossings, you are on your own! Obviously there will be some interesting stories ahead.

Previous entrant!

The Team:

Name: Chris Hancock (Bristish)

Nick-name: Fat Boy

Weight: 1 metric Tonne

Mechanical experience: None


Name: Matt Woods (Bristish)

Nick-name: Rocky

Strengths: None

Mechanical experience: Once took 10 minutes to open a petrol flap


Name: Marcus Ryan (Australian)

Profession: Stand-Up Comedian

Quotes: “Why aren’t you laughing?”

Mechanical experience: Once owned a baguette-van which lost a muffler after hitting a speed-bump at speed.


Name: Sebastian Terry (Australian, British, Mauritian)

Car accidents: 4 (guilty of error on all of them)

Favourite accident: Spinning directly into a 3-metre snow-wall in the French Alps and needing to dig my way out

Mechanical experience: handy with a shovel


The Vehicle:

Thanks to the wonder of on-line shopping (thanks EBay!), we managed to secure a vehicle as unpractical for desert crossings as it is unlikely to make the distance- say hello to the Beast- a 10 seater Leyland DAF convoy bus.

The Beast

As it happens, I have been put in charge of picking up this beast from a place called Anglesey in remote North West Wales. Getting it back to London will be it’s first test!

The race is estimated to take 3 weeks in which time we will pass through France, Spain, Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Mail. Once in Africa the terrain is mostly sandy desert but we have also been advised to bring a snowboard a piece of rope- apparently when crossing the Atlas Mountain ranges in Morocco, the snow covered roads offer the perfect opportunity ‘Car-Boarding’!

So today I start my journey to Anglesey. Keep posted for updates!


December 7th, 2009...

Hello England, meet my friend Wales

4 Days in England and i'm still not sure where the locals hide the sun. It was seriously pitch black at 4.30pm yesterday! Luckily however, the locals are great (something I'm thankful to say I am finding all throughout this journey!) and Annika from Wales is no different!


A Coffee, a man-scarf and a tour guide!

Annika contacted us a while ago after hearing of the 100Things journey, and insisted that she take me out for coffee when in England. Of course I obliged and today we caught up for the first time. After listening to Annika's theories on the 'laws of attraction' and how "like attracts like", I mentioned that I was planning for a unique trip to Anglesea, located in the far flung corner of North West Wales, in order to pick up our van for the Car Rally to Timbuktu.

"No way" she replied, "That's where my friend lives! I'll take you!" and just like that, I had acquired a knowledgeable escort!

Coincidence, fortune or positive thinking? Who knows, but I'm certainly grateful for the coffee Annika! Cheers!


November 30th, 2009...

Good Bye USA, hello UK!

Update!


So far we've been over seas for 6 months, have ticked off 24 items and have raised $2,582.95!

What started out as a journey that focused on 100 things that I personally wanted to achieve has turned into something much bigger! It seems that 100Things has somehow encouraged other people to follow their own goals and aspirations and that is something I am now really trying to embrace!

So thank you for all your support, donations, emails and breakfasts!

Become a Campaigner:



100Things is now working on a special page where you can become a campaigner. By sharing your own list on a specially designated webpage on this site, you can not only tick off your own goals, but also raise money Camp Quality through your friends and family. You'll have the option to write about your journey, post pics and even gain sponsorship for your self!

If you are at all interested, please let me know!!

The Next Step:

So the first USA part of the trip is 2 days away from finishing which brings the UK and France into focus. On December 26th, me and three others will be ticking off item number 47- Go to Timbuktu, when we embark in a car rally which starts in London and ends in Timbuktu, Africa. There are still spots available in the van so again please let me know if you are interested in coming. It really will be a once in a life time opportunity!

After the race I'm heading to France where we will tick off Item Number 46- Learn a Language. The goal is start work and completely immerse myself in the culture- should be exciting! If you guys have any tips on places to settle in and/or places to work, I am all ears!

Come Join the 100Things journey!

As always. the more the merrier, so if you feel like joining me on any adventure or want to help in some way, just message me! So far friend and strangers alike have joined me in most of the items we have ticked off and I think that ticking these items with others is a great way to spread the word!

100Things... What's on your list?

November 29th, 2009...

Lunch date!

Well yesterday was my last day in San Diego and just before I left I received a random phone call.... It was Brett, a complete stranger.

A fellow Australian, Brett had heard about the 100Things journey online, and was offering not only support and advice, but also breakfast! Touring America on a small holiday of his own, Brett realised that through sheer luck we happened to both be in San Diego. One hour later, I was sat a at a table with not only Brett but also 4 of his amazing friends talking about our own adventures.


Brett and the gang! Cheers for breakfast!

After meeting Brad, Connie, Amanda and Paij, I unfortunately had to leave with my ride to LA, but in the short time we spoke, the girls offered a donation to the charity as well as a donation to me personally to help with the journey. Truly lovely people!

Anyway, a big thank you to Brett and the gang (including Brad, an Australian who really does live with Crocodiles!) and Hope to see you again soon!

If anyone is around LA over the next few days, please let me know! Maybe we could catch up for breakfast!


November 26th, 2009...

Check out The Big Blog Collection and click under travel to see the 100Things listing!

Does make me a 'blogger'?

Worrying! haha


November 25th, 2009...

Invite!

We woke up this morning to see a lovely little email in our inbox from the guys at The Big Blog Collection.
The Big Blog Collection boasts the 'webs ultimate collection of blogs' and so we were flattered to be invited onto their site.

Needless to say that we accepted, and no we're in the process of getting uploaded.

Thanks to the Big Blog Collection and thanks to everyone who has taken the time to visit 100Things!


November 24th, 2009...

Happy 62nd Birthday Dad! Love, your son; Reverend Sebastian Terry!


Having put my feet up for a few days whist recovering from the hitch hiking, I bumped into a friend of mine, Ian. Ian, a local legend in San Diego, invites me for a drink to celebrate his birthday and then drops a bombshell;

"...and that's how I married my best friend to his fiance!"

Turns out that Ian is a certified minister and by law he can perform a whole array of religious ceremonies! His one and only duty so far came when he led the wedding ceremony of his best mate!! It was an experience he and many others will never forget.
It was clear that this immediately needed to be added to my own list of things-to-do and consequently, sitting freshly in the number 27 spot is 'Be a Minister at a wedding'.

So things have got off to a flying start and after a vigorous application process I'm proud to say that I'm now also legally certified as a minister! That's right, you may if you wish now refer to
me as Reverend Sebastian Terry!
A quick Facebook update sharing the good news and Ash messages me telling me that her and her boyfriend Adam would be honoured to have me preside over the wedding in LA next year!

Life is exciting!

God speed!

November 18th, 2009..

Day 6 of Hitch Hiking

We did it!!

Having refrained from 'farting loudly' all night, Vern and Bob were gracious enough not to kick me out of their RV first thing in the morning, and so as the sun rose over the Texas mountains at 7am, we rolled out of town headed for San Diego.


The rising sun hits the RV park early

The unique Arizona landscape fills the windows with visions of arid desert, huge cactus and far off mountain peaks while in the comfort of an air conditioned RV we talk about Vern and Bob's wedding days. Bob, marrying into an Italian family, speaks of a small 300-person wedding party, whilst Vern in contrast married in virtual secrecy in between naval missions. Still married, Vern tells me the secret to his marriage;

"You see, we can't decide who'd get the dog if we split, so we just stay together!"

He makes me laugh!

I share my ideal wedding ceremony where everyone has to dress in costume. I am laughed at for the next five miles.


Breakfast on the road- RV style!

Having crossed 7 states so far on the journey, we push into the eighth and final state of California. Of course I miss the photo opportunity of the 'Welcome to California' sign but the next one tells us that we are less than 200 miles from the East Coast! I peer out the window and genuinely feel sadness in the knowledge that this amazing 6-day adventure is almost over.

Each of the 13 rides that it has taken me to reach this point, no matter how long or short, fills me with confidence that people can be generous, compassionate, open and selfless. Fortune has been on my side for 6 days now and of all the fears and concerns of friends and family along the way, I have seen nothing but the goodness of people.


'The Boys' relaxing in the back of the RV just before we reach the West Coast

Riding with ex military personnel, truck drivers, business owners, inventors, rainbow people, pirates, hippies, deputy sheriffs, divorcees and retirees, each ride creates a mini-confessional where two complete strangers feel a bond of openness that allows a candidness of conversation not often found outside of the car. I have seen tears, heard stories of corruption, given and received advice, and also spoken of things I never thought I would. Religion plays a major part in these Southern states it seems and many of the people I meet pray for my safety. Racism has surfaced only occasionally and gun-law is much talked about by everyone. An awareness of the world and it's times is also acknowledged by most.

Now driving along the Interstate 8, the California road winds through amazing rock formations which soon into turn into huge sand dunes before green fields introduce themselves.


California calling

One final truck stop to stretch the legs sees that I meet Doug, the Walmart truck driver. Having driven for 10 hours straight, Doug is following strict company policy by resting for 10 hours. He seems glad to talk to someone at this remote stop and before long he takes me to look at his 18-wheeler. I never managed to hitch a ride in one of these trucks and so i'm excited to have a look inside (I feel like a 10-yr old kid!).


Minutes down the road, a random border security check liberates Bob and Vern of their stash of Pecan nuts. Amusingly, this infuriates the two brothers. Vern jokingly says that he would have taken the Pecans back and offered me in exchange if given the chance. Again the brothers laugh at me in good nature.

San Diego, and the West Coast, quickly rises in front of us and Vern and Bob take me all the way in. The final ride in my journey is all but over and as I shake the hands of two men who yesterday were strangers but today friends, I feel genuine sadness again.

Having come to a final stop, I take a step from their RV and breathe in ocean air for the time since leaving Palm Beach Florida, just 6 days ago. I feel alive.

I've made it and I'm emotional.


Apologies to Mario who I forgot to mention in my delirious state!


Number 82- Hitch across America... COMPLETE!

Distance travelled- 2,260 miles
Number of rides- 13
Number of days- 6

Thanks to Sarah, Skip, Jaasha, Tony and Suzanne, Pirate Pete, Michael and Mille, deputy Dink and his lovely wide Suzanne, Tom, Michael, Phil, Mario, Deb and Sharon, and of course Vern and Bob!

Needless to say without you guys, I would be in a lot of trouble!

100Things... What's on your list?

November 17th, 2009...

Day 5 of Hitch Hiking

Texas, New Mexico and Arizona are three states that you do not want to be stranded in. Bordering Mexico, this Southern area is infamous for drug trafficking, murder and kidnapping and with one road (the Interstate 10) running from East to West, the long distances between small towns means that a lonely hitch hiker could easily find him or her self stranded.


Lucky for me though, I ran into brothers Vern and Bob. Vern and Bob, 76 years old and 65 years old respectively, are road tripping across the USA. It took 2 hours of approaching strangers at the El Paso truck-stop before they arrived in their mid-size RV but thanks to them I find myself writing this in Casa Grande, Arizona, a further 383 miles down the road!


Having seen many large RV's migrating South to find the warmer weather over the last 4 days, I had hoped that I got to ride in one. Needless to say I was over the moon when invited me onboard.

Having both served in the US military, the two brothers are now retired after successful careers. At the age of 28, Vern told himself that he would be a millionaire, and now, 49 years on, he sits back in his chair with a sense of accomplishment after achieving this. Being 28 myself, I know that i'll at least be happy.

As we marched Westward on the Interstate 10, I couldn't help but feel guilty as I reclined on the large couch fixed in the RV's living room as Vern and Bob concentrated on the road ahead. It did give me a chance however to view two brothers clearly grasping life by the horns and enjoying themselves together as they toured the open road. Laughter often filled the driving cab as hand gestures and pointed fingers act as signals to look out the windows at the unique Southern landscape. Cactus, dairy farms, cowboy ranches, oil refineries and mountain ranges fuse together to create a picture I won't forget.

Very rarely we would pass small gas stations, and I couldn't help but think how lucky I was sitting in air conditioned comfort of this RV as opposed to standing on the side of the road.


The life of a hitch hiker is emotional to say the least. Therein lies the interest for me:

I rise out of bed in the morning quickly checking the motel breakfast room for potential rides, if nothing eventuates I walk, backpack in-tow, to the nearest gas station where I hope to catch friendly drivers travelling West. Each rejection or shake of head makes me question myself. At times there will be no-one filling up, and so I decide to walk around the truck-lot. Approaching drivers who stand near their rigs, I'm met with mostly negative responses; "I'm headed East sorry man!" or "I can't risk my job for you sorry buddy; insurance." I sometimes wonder if I will ever get out of town and sometimes talk to myself. A lonely car drives into the lot and I approach it locking eyes with the driver in an approachable way; "Are you headed West?" I ask with an exaggerated Australian accent, "Yes, would you like a lift?", my world is euphoric! This is why I am I am doing this. Life is good and people are caring.

We leave Texas and soon find ourselves crossing New Mexico and on into Arizona. We talk indepth about the gun laws in the US and debate the pro's and con's. Vern believes we should all carry a gun as protection. If we didn't, he argues, the criminals would over run us. I argue that we should assertively try and eradicate gun ownership with the goal of creating a gun-free society. I'm told this is unrealistic. I hate guns.

The best news of the day is when Vern tells me that they are headed for California. This is exactly where I need to go. Their ultimate goal is to reach San Francisco but they have no time constraints. As a result, they do me a huge favour and agree to drive me to San Diego! The goodness of people is amazing. San Diego will be two days of driving and as the sunsets, the brothers invite me to stay the night in the RV park. Of course I agree. The only proviso as Bob kindly points out:

"As long as you don't fart loudly!"

Very wise!


On arrival we are immediately invited to join our neighbors for a beer. This is the perfect end to the day of driving and we cheers to new friendship and our neighbor Phil's birthday. He's 71 years old today. The cake is delicious and the beer even tastier.


Less than 400 miles from San Diego, it looks like Vern and Bob will help me tick off item number 82 tomorrow afternoon as I reach the West Coast of America!

Fingers crossed!

What a world we live in!

100Things... What's on your list?


November 16th, 2009...

Day 4 of Hitch Hiking (We are on fire!)

- Distance travelled today- 638 miles
- Total distance travelled so far- 1,931 miles
- Distance remaining- 723 miles
- Number of rides today- 4
- Number of guns today- 1


An early rise this morning is rewarded with a ride straight away with Michael. Michael kindly takes me 30 minutes up the road to Fort Worth, a place where hitch hiking is almost impossible!


Michael and I embrace the early morning

My usual gas station approach is useless in a place where only locals thrive and so I'm forced to walk a mile up the road to the on-ramp to the Interstate 20 where I try and catch drivers headed West for the long haul. Using the cunningness of a gazelle, I create a cardboard sign saying "AUSTRALIAN EXCHANGE STUDENT- HEADED WEST?".


Lonely

This produces plenty of smiles from passing motorists but eventually attracts the attention of Phil who is kind enough to call me into his pick-up truck.
Phil is on his way to pick his son up but after hearing my plight offers to drive me 30 minutes West where a busy truck-stop awaits. Along the way Phil opens up about his recent divorce and the psychological damage that it's caused him but he smiles everytime he mentions his two kids. Offering me money at the end of our trip (of which I decline of course!) I leave Phil slightly saddened that such a generous guy can be so sad at times.


Phil took time from his day just to help me- legend!

I'm dropped off next to a massive pick-up truck pulling an even bigger caravan. The man filling it with gas sports a 10-gallon hat and a bright orange shirt which reads "Property of Texas Jail". Minutes later, after striking up conversation, Mario finishes filling up his vehicle and agrees to give me a lift to Big Springs which sits far West on the 20- perfect! I chuck my bags in the caravan before being treated to a huge breakfast with my new friend, who just happens to be one of the funniest men I've met.


Mario and his large vehicles

With what is now becoming an everyday occurrence, Mario shows me his pistol as we pull out of the station and even poses for a photo with it which in hindsight should have worried me more than it did at the time.


American Psycho!

Mario, a successful pipe welder explains his humble beginnings in Mexico where he once had to find food for his family in the landfills. After showing me a recent pay cheque of his, it's clear that he has turned around his life and now comfortably supports his wife and three kids. The next child I learn will be called Sebastian.

Mario makes me laugh for the next four hours as we joke, sing and discuss life. After traveling for 340 miles we eventually pull up to Big Spring Truck Stop where the car stops 7 metres from the gas pump. For the second time on this hitch hiking journey I have run out of petrol!

A lady busily tweaks the engine of her vintage Ford Truck as we push Mario's pick-up to the pump. She pops here head off long enough to crack a smile. Seizing the moment I ask if she's headed West,

"Yep, I'm off to El Paso" she replies. El Paso sits a further 344 miles West on the 20, and I cross my fingers as I ask for a lift. This would mean that I would reach the border of Texas and New Mexico ahead of time leaving me only 750 miles from my final destination San Diego on the East Coast! Today, yet again, is my lucky day as she gestures me to jump in.



Plenty of character in this old boy!

After making sure that Mario is fine, I swap rides like a true professional and properly introduce myself to Pam (the driver) and Sharon (her Mother-in-law). I'm thankful to learn that not everyone in Texas carries a gun, instead Pam soon shows me a double ended hunting knife which she tells me has taken the life of a rattle-snake which once found it's way into her truck. Looking out the window, this story makes complete sense as cactus plants dot the now enldess desert plains. Occasional wind-farms whizz past now as well.


Pam is returning from a truck delivery in Georgia. For 23 years, Pam has been a truck driver and loves it as much today as she ever did. Full of stories, Pam has not only been shot twice (once accidentally by herself!), but somehow managed once to get robbed three times in the same night whilst walking to her truck in Baltimore! I prey that her luck has changed since then.

Pam also proves to be the ultimate tour guide for the recently retired Sharon and myself as she takes us to the Monahan Sand Hills just off the 20 near Odessa. She claims that the sand hills are just like those in the Sahara and is absolutely correct as the setting sun colourfuly illuminates the wind-swept dunes beautifully. Literally sat at the top of a sand dune located in the middle of Texas, I have never ever heard such a deafening silence in my life. Beautiful.


After spending 9 or so hours in 4 different cars today, I now sit in El Paso where if I look South I can see the lights of Mexico flickering in the distance.

Life is great and there are some amazingly generous people out there.

I can feel the East Coast calling!

100Things... What's on your list?

November 15th, 2009...

Day 3 of Hitch Hiking


We start todays journey in Lafayette, Louisiana, where I meet Deputy Dink in the motel breakfast room. He quickly offers me a ride, but not quite in the direction I need. A brief run around the nearby truck yard results in no better offers and so I decide to jump in Deputy Dink's SUV.

Deputy Dink is so called because he is a Sheriff in these parts, you can tell this because he proudly wears his shiny Sheriff's badge on his belt buckle. If you look next to this badge you will also find a gun which he also wears proudly! After literally patting me down and checking my I.D in the car park, he looks at me completely dead-pan and says;

"Alright I'll give you a ride but if you play-up, i'll shoot you."


He was in no way joking. Naturally I jump in the car with a big smile on my face. We leave Lafeyatte and head North West on the 49, heading for Shreveport near the Texas border. It takes us 30 minutes before we literally run out of fuel on the side of the Interstate, and another hour before Jim, one of Deputy Dink's friends, comes to the rescue. In this time I learn that Deputy Dink not only has a pistol in his pants (insert: 'are you happy to see me' joke) but also another hidden under his seat and a shotgun in the boot, making his car both the safest and most dangerous I have travelled in so far.


Jim fills us back up with petrol and tells me about 'Families Helping Families' a fantastic non-profit organisation that aids individuals with disabilities and their families by empowering them with resources, support and services. Both Jim and Deputy Dink sit on this board!

Back on the road and it's not long before we again stop to visit Pam's (Deputy Dinks lovely wife) best friend (Anne) who lives in Alexandria. I am introduced to Anne and her sons who then take me outside to race remote controlled cars. Hitting speeds of 50 mph, we attempt a 3-man jump:


With slow progress on the road thus far I concede that I will not cover much ground today but the company is worth it.

Hours later I am 'deposited' at the Shreveport Truckstop where under a quickly setting sun, I begin to give up hope on another lift to get me into Texas. Of course only then does Tom enter the gas station hauling a trailer carrying a weird looking machine.
We strike up some conversation and after paying for his gas, Tom tells me it's my lucky day as he throws my bags in his truck. I have scored a lift to Dallas!


Tom is in his forties and has travelled the world with his work. If you've ever seen the white stripes that designate lanes on the road, well Tom's machines have probably put them there. He's painted road-lines in Australia, America, the majority of South America, The Bahamas, China, Europe and even Kuwait! Needless to say he is doing well with business!
Tom is also a Vietnam Veteran and goes into detail about his training, missions and perculiar religious encounters. After leaving a bloody Vietnam in the late 70's, Tom recently re-visited, for the first time, the precise location where he fought.

"How did you feel?" I asked nervously,
"Great!" replied Tom.

So we ended up travelling 390 miles on the road today, a great surprise after a slow start, and made some great new friends. Texas is a big state so fingers crossed that we make our way at least some way across tomorrow!

100things... What's on your list?


November 14th, 2009...

Day 2 of Hitch Hiking


I decided to hit the road at 6am this morning in order to catch the morning traffic heading West from Tallahassee. However after an hour of rejection it was clear I needed a change a plan- enter; Ukulele. Sadly this soon proved just as ineffective as my thumb and so I returned to my motel in an attempt to find someone in the breakfast room heading in my direction- enter; Pirate Pete.

Pirate Pete is the nicest madman I've ever met. Although 50 something years old, we shared many similar travel tales from backpacking around Europe to playing music and even chasing girls (sadly, Pete had many more stories than me!). He agreed to give me a lift as far as Mobile in Alabama, a further 243 miles down the road, on the condition that we play guitar at the Motel first. Of course I accepted.


Apologies for the singing, it sounded better at the time!

Pirate Pete is a man with a story, plenty in fact. As cotton fields flew past us as we cruised down the Interstate 10, I learnt of his love of boats (he once sailed across the Atlantic as skipper of a 101ft boat) as well as his love of music (he owns a recording studio). If that's not enough he has also started a movement that he calls 'Pray for Peace'. Pray for Peace aims at ridding militants of aggressive behavior so that wars can be solved without conflict. There's something in that I reckon.


Me reacting to one of Pete's romantic tales

Needless to say that Pirate Pete kept me entertained, however after 4 hours (in which he insisted on buying me lunch) we had reached my destination, a quiet rest-stop located next to a swamp in Mobile, Alabama!

Thirty minutes of lurking around the car park and a white VW Transporter pulls up. Inside is a heavily bearded man by the name of Mike. Mike, who travels with his dog Millie, looked like the type of person that you would usually see actually hitch hiking, and not picking up hitch hikers but I soon learnt not to judge a book by its cover. Mike, it turns out, lives in his van as he travels around the USA searching for property to build his house on.


Mike, Mille, me and the VW

Mike has been retired for 20 years (that's right, 20!) due a work related injury he sustained at the age of 22 yrs. Since then, he has travelled the world ticking off items from his list. True travellers of life, Mike and Millie amazed me with confessions of loss, friendship and corruption. So indepth were the stories that I barely noticed us pass over the Mississippi River!
Hours of driving had seen the landscape change to one of swamps and bayous. We were now in Louisiana, having passed almost unoticed through Mississippi.

As the darkness of night approached, Mike dropped me at Lafayette, Louisiana.


In one day I had managed to hitch 496 miles further West with just 2 rides! I am beginning to enjoy this hitchhiking deal!

A big thank you of course so far to Pirate Pete, Mike & Millie, Tony and Suzanne, Jaasha, Skip and Sarah- if it wasn't for you i'd be standing like an idiot in Palm Beach, Florida, 916 miles away!

November 13th, 2009...

Day 1 of Hitch Hiking

418 miles, 4 hitches and no sexual favours! Day 1 was very surprising!

Number 82- Hitch hike across America is off to flying start!


Thankfully it took just 30 minutes for the lovely Sarah to agree to pick me up from the Palm Beach Turn-pike truckers stop. I nervously approached her as she filled up her car at the gas pump and simply asked if she was heading North towards the 10 (Interstate Freeway). She was, but it still took another 5 minutes of convincing for her to agree to givie me a ride. The clinching line was a beauty;

"I'm Australian, we're all nice!"


Sarah and me in Palm Beach

4 hours later we had reached Ocala. Sarah was here to attend a friends wedding. In this time I had learnt of Sarah's thirst for life. In no particular order, here are a few of Sarah's stats:

- She was once a Maple Farmer,
- At the age of 16 years, she woke up one morning with a 4-leafed clover tattooed on her rear,
- She once delivered the baby of a horse,
- She recently came close to being eaten by a 10-foot Tiger shark in Key West, Florida
- She had learnt how to surf in Costa Rica

Sarah was kind enough to drive me past her destination all the way to a rest area in order to give me the best chance of hitching my next lift. Some people are entirely selfless!

20 minutes after saying goodbye to Sarah, a white pick-up truck pulls up and asks if I need a ride. The driver is called Skip and he seems very friendly. A Vietnam War veteran, Skip shares some sad stories with me as we again head North towards the 10. He's on his way to pick up his Mum in Georgia who at 88 years-old needs some extra help. Skip is clearly a good man. His long white pony tail which blows wildly as the wind from the open window fills the truck will soon be shaved off and donated to a Cancer related charity who create wigs from such donations.
Skip then tells me of "Bikes for Tykes"; the charity that he created 22 years ago. Bike for Tykes restores old and broken bikes to almost-new conditions and then donates them to disadvantaged kids. It's a passion that Skip's father passed onto him and something that has now expanded to 5 countries outside of the USA!
His motto is simple; A bike for every child!
Make sure you check out the website!


We soon reach the 10 and Skip lets me out. As he drives off I realise that I'm not near to any service stations or rest stops which I am quickly discovering to be the best areas to pick up rides. Instead I'm left to put my backpack on and start walking down the side of this huge highway.

Skip and me on the '10'- middle of nowhere!


Half-heartedly I stick out my thumb as cars and trucks whizz past me at thousand miles an hour, but today is my day and within 2 minutes Jaasha and his VW Combi pulls over!


Jaasha is on his way to a music festival but offers me a lift a short way along the 10 which runs East to West across America. This road will eventually complete my journey a further 2000 miles to the West.
Jaasha tells me of his new focus on work and spirituality in his life as he dilutes darker habits of the past. He mentions an eccentric group of people called the Rainbow People whose aim it is to bring peace and love to Earth. Seemingly extreme, these people travel light with no home or possessions. I think about this for a while and wonder if I should join the group.


My saviour- Jaasha

Our short journey ends at another service stop where after 5 minutes I approach a middle-aged couple getting into there large truck. Feeling confident I again ask if they are heading West on the 10, to which I receive a nod of the head. The man asks where I am going to which I reply 'Anywhere on the West Coast'. A moment of confusion and the man consults his wife.

"We'll give you a ride but empty your bags so I know you don't have any weapons"

I follow the order and can't help but laugh as I showcase the majority of my dirty underwear.

Tony and Suzanne are heading to Tallahassee, the capital of Florida, to meet with some friends. With my bags in the back of the car, I relax as I listen to their stories. Having 4 kids of their own, we talk mainly of their eldest son who currently serves the US military in Iraq. I can only imagine the tension that they as parents must feel with a son deployed in a hostile military zone. I feel humbled; hitchhiking isn't dangerous at all when put into perspective.



Suzanne, Tony and myself after the customs check of my bag!

A lovely couple, the purchase of Harley Davidson is the most recent item to be ticked from their list. Their happiness I am told is derived by a good relationship with God. I tell them about my bizarre encounter with the Penticostal Church which luckily they find funny!

I am soon dropped off at Tallahasse where I now write this post.

2,180 miles to go!

www.100things.com.au ... What's on your list?

November 12th, 2009...

Number 82- Hitch Hike across America

The journey begins tomorrow! Starting from Palm Beach, Florida, on the East Coast, i'll be looking to grab lifts/rides over 2,500 miles to the West Coast!

This is not me, but certainly it's an interesting way to do it!

Armed with a backpack, a ukulele and a piece of card board with "West Coast" written on it, I am certainly going to have an adventure! At the end of the day, that's what life is about hey??

So to answer all of my Mum's questions;

- Yes, it's potentially dangerous,
- No, I haven't thought this through,
- No, I am not taking any weapons to defend myself,
- Yes, I will do my best to murderers, and
- Yes, I will try and update as often as possible!

If anyone happens to be driving across the country, please get in touch, my US cell number is 213 308 2206! Fat chance, right?

We are still trying to reach our $100 donation target for this item, so if you feel generous (or just sorry for me) please show your love by donating to Camp Quality at:


Camp Quality aims to bring happiness to kids and families affected by Cancer in Australia. All donations are tax deductible of course!

In an attempt to keep my Mum happy and also keep you entertained, I will aim to update every day, so keep posted!

Much love to all!

100Things... What's on your list?


November 11th, 2009...

We missed the boat!

After numerous emails and flight inquiries, we have had to sadly pass on sailing to the Galapagos Islands- for this time anyway. Logistics really played against us on this occasion. However it has led to a new item being added to the list:

Number 94- Visit the Galapagos Island.

With every cloud there is a silver lining!

But no time to rest, instead we are now planning on ticking off item 82- Hitch Hike across the United States, in two days time! Many think it's illegal, but after a closer look at the hand-book we know better.. i just have to abide by a few rules.


I might dress slightly differently!

We will be starting from Miami on the East Coast and shooting for any location on the West Coast. Living by the whims and plans of random drivers, 100Things will follow the wind simply see what happens!

This means a few things of course:

1- I need to strengthen my thumbs
2-I need to beware for large truck drivers sporting tattoos on their face
3- I need to be prepared to sleep in fields

I can't wait!

100Things... What's on your list?


November 8th, 2009...

New York to Miami via the Galapagos Islands!

So were in Charleston, South Carolina, and we meet a friendly guy called 'Clean'. After a bite to eat and a few beers he offers me a place on a boat that sails from the Panama Canal next Tuesday heading for the Galapagos Islands!

Of course I accept this amazing offer but Pauly (my road tripping buddy) enlightens me on the modern day Pirate. Not the type that has one leg and a parrot on his shoulder but the types who hijack boats, shoot people and leave with money! Granted I'm worried and now have to do some research!


What a road-trip!



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