Sunday, January 8, 2012

Make Your Dream a Reality

Matt Green’s celebratory cake (see below)
In my first post for the year (Welcome to 2012), I mentioned that many people have found ways to indulge their love of travel, often for extended periods of time, and that if you are prepared to make the commitment and sacrifice, you too can travel sooner rather than later. What I didn't include in that post, however, were links to some of the many blogs and websites from these travellers. So today, I have decided to address that omission.

All the travellers highlighted have embarked on amazing personal journey's that often defy logic, logistics, money, and maybe even common sense. But as I also wrote in that entry:

“You will … encounter naysayers, sceptics, and critics who will argue that the world is filled with dangers lurking around every corner – as if watching an hour of the evening news doesn’t reinforce that time and time again.

Then there are others who argue that you need to knuckle down and focus on finding a life partner, or family, or career, or homebuilding, or making a fortune, or [add your own inner nagging voice].”

The intrepid travellers noted below, have all chosen to ignore the critics and live their dreams.

Bearing the tag line: An ongoing adventure of travel and living while using a wheelchair, Tim and Darryl Musik’s website is a detailed record of the father and son’s travels across America and further afield. Tim has been disabled from birth. Darryl is his father and caregiver. Together they have embarked on journeys to Austria, Belgium, Dominican Republic, England, France/Monaco, Germany, Ireland, Mexico and throughout the United States.

Filled with numerous images and short, high quality videos, The World on Wheels is always positive, uplifting, and insightful. And it shows that confinement to a wheelchair is no excuse for staying home, when there is a world of wonders waiting to be discovered and experienced.

Someone else who is exploring ‘the world on wheels’ is Keiichi Iwasaki. In April 2001, the Japanese national, then aged 28 decided to ride his bicycle across Japan. He had just 160 yen (around $2) in his pocket. His plan was to perform magic tricks wherever the opportunity presented itself, and to pay for his bike ride as he went. Keiichi not only completed his ride across Japan, but he enjoyed it so much he caught a ferry to South Korea and kept going. Ten years, thousands of miles and dozens of countries later, according to this September 2011 report on the National Geographic website, Keiichi is still riding – and still paying his way by performing magic tricks.

Along the way he has been robbed by pirates; arrested in India; nearly died after being attacked by a rabid dog in Tibet, and narrowly escaped marriage in Nepal! But he has also climbed both Mont Blanc and Mount Everest; used a rowboat to travel from the source of the Ganges River in India to the sea (a distance of over 800 miles), and also rowed across the Caspian Sea just because he wanted to see “…how big Caspian sea is?” It took him 25 days.

Irish author Dervla Murphy has written over twenty travel books, many documenting the details of her journeys by bicycle across an incredible range of countries. In 1963, at the age of 32, Dervla embarked on her first major bike ride – from Dunkirk, France to India, and wrote her first book Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, about that ride. Still travelling at 80, she recently published her latest book, The Island That Dared: Journeys in Cuba.

But why ride when you can walk?

The Longest Way…

German born, Christoph Rehage set out on November 9th, 2007 – his 26th birthday – to walk from the Chinese capital Beijing to Bad Nenndorf in Germany. One year and 4600+ kilometres later he ended his walk – still in China – at Urümqi, a couple hundred kilometres shy of the border with Kyrgyzstan. Although he didn’t complete his walk, Cristoph (who now studies in Berlin), writes that “…getting as far as I got was an experience for which I am very grateful.”

His website, The Longest Way, documents his walk in great detail, with this time lapse film of the journey receiving over a million hits.

Someone who did complete his walk across America was Matt Green, who walked from Rockaway Beach, Long Island, to Rockaway Beach, Oregon, crossing New York state, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and finally Oregon. After roughly five months, 3,000 miles, and 1500 blog entries, Matt said:

“A couple years ago I started a walking group called Hey, I’m Walkin’ Here! in New York City, and my love for walking really blossomed over the course of our adventures. Moving through the world at three miles an hour, you can fully take in your surroundings. There’s nothing separating you from your environment. You notice things that go completely undetected by people zooming by in cars. It’s such a rich experience: you can see, hear, and smell everything around you, and even touch and taste things if you feel like it.”

Having completed his walk across America, Matt began 2012 with the goal of walking every street across the five boroughs of New York City. As you would expect, he is documenting this challenge on his website I’m Just Walkin’ (NYC)…

Want more? Check out this list of people who have also walked across the United States.

Going Slowly...

Tara Alan & Tyler Kellen set up Going Slowly in February 2008, to document their bicycle tour around the world. That epic ride may be over – but the website acts as a permanent scrapbook of their many adventures together.

Also going slowly are Anna Rice and Alex Hayton. Anna and Alex are currently undertaking a year long round the world journey by rail, road, ship and whatever other forms of transport they can arrange – short of flying. They have decided to embrace the concept of slow travel with all its joys and challenges, aiming to eat and sleep locally, and travel with as small a carbon footprint as possible.

Ok, I know I have chosen some pretty extreme examples, and I don’t expect you to walk or ride in the footsteps of the people mentioned. But the point of this entry is to push home the message that anything is possible if you are prepared to make the commitment and sacrifice to see your travel dreams come to fruition.

Folks, if it was easy – everyone would be doing it!

It isn’t easy, but as the examples above show, it is doable. So remember…

“Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it!”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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