Well, it’s time to go home to New Zealand. Enough of this galavanting around the countryside. Time to get on back to the motherland.
This is the plan:
From England to New Zealand – without flying
- From western France to Florida, USA by yacht.
- Across the USA by skateboard from Florida to California following the US Adventure Cycle Association’s Southern Tier cycle route (4,500km).
- From San Diego, California, USA, to Mexico City, Mexico, again by skateboard (2,000km).
- From Mexico to New Zealand by yacht.
I estimate this ‘Going Home’ journey to take up to 8 months. Should be back in good old New Zealand by March ish 2008.
Now this getting home without an airplane business, it’s not that I don’t like flying. I love flying. The feeling of going through that gate into the departure lobby…it’s a great thing. But, I figure while I’m at it, if I’m going in the direction of New Zealand, I may as well see some of the landscape (or seascape) while I’m at it.
Incidentally, the furtherest anyone has skateboarded in one single journey (on record), is 5,832km. This mammoth distance was skateboarded by Dave Cornthwaite of the Boardfree intiative. He skateboarded across Australia from Perth to Brisbane over a period of five months. If all goes well, I may be able to squeeze past this record and set the bar just a little higher for the next person keen to travel by skateboard across a continent (and there are more at it than you think).
There is a chance that once I get on the road in the US, people may become more interested in this crazy Kiwi on a skateboard traveling across their country. Therefore, I am doing something that I never intended to do with my journey. I am now going to allow visitors to my site the opportunity to contribute to a good cause. I say ‘never intended to’ because I never wanted this journey to become a ‘I’m doing this for charity’ journey. To me, this gives the impression that the person doing the journey is slogging it out, suffering, hating every minute of it but enduring because he wants to sacfrifice everything for the cause. Well, that’s the image I get sometimes…
I am traveling by human-power because I love it to bits. Great fun. Fun in the not fun times too. So that’s why I’m doing it. Adventure for the sake of it. But adventure for the sake of it attracts attention. So…
I have chosen to try to raise awareness of Lowe Syndrome disease. Lowe Syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that only affects boys, and at present there is no cure. For more information on the disease, please visit the US Lowe Syndrome Association’s website at www.lowesyndrome.org.
My motivation for choosing this organisation is two-fold:
- I am extremely privelidged to be able to travel the way I do. The fact that my body is physically sound means that I can enjoy the rigours of independent human-powered adventure travel – an activity that I enjoy and receive great fulfilment out of. However boys and men who suffer from Lowe Syndrome face often unsurmountable challenges just in the relative safety and convenience of everyday life, let alone being able to pursue their dreams and desires. I would like to see this disease be transformed from uncurable to fully curable, and this can only be achieved by extensive research and ongoing support for those individuals and families that are facing the daily challenges of living with the disease.
- There is a man called Jack Smith in the US who has crossed the US three times on a skateboard. The first two times were purely for the challenge of it. The third had much more meaning. Jack lost his young son to Lowe Syndrome disease in 2003. His third skate across the US was to raise awareness of the rare disease.
So, now in association with Boardfree, I will continue to follow in the footsteps of many long distance skateboarders who are making journies to try to get people aware of an often forgotten about disease – Lowe Syndrome – and give them the opportunity to assist the Lowe Syndrome Association financially.
You can donate online here: http://www.firstgiving.com/14degrees
You’d think that with all this talk about skateboarding, that I am doing this journey because I really like skateboarding. If you do think this, you are wrong. It’s not even about recumbent bicycles.
I really like getting out into the wilderness. Out to places where you can be alone with your massive surroundings. That’s why I liked Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan so much. The raw connection with my surroundings is what I really love about out of the way remote places.
This journey is about experiencing such environments. If I was to travel by car, I would alienate myself from my surroundings. The same about trains, busses, and airplanes. That’s why I travel human-powered. The vast majority of human-powered vehicles are open to the surrounding environment. Bicycles, skateboards…
Why didn’t I just stay with the bike? Because another thing I like is to embrace the unthinkable. Doing things that many people choose not to do, because it appears impossible. The bike is a tried and true means of transport for solo long distance travellers. The skateboard however, is not so.
Plus, many of the other high profile long distance skateboard journeys were fully supported journeys. That is, the rider skates their board unladed, with a support vehicle of some description carrying their equipment. For me, that was not an option. The allure of showing that you can travel by skateboard unsupported was strong.
And so far, I have covered 1,500km on my board with a 15kg pack on my back, acheiving average speeds not much slower than those when I was on my bicycle.
On a skateboard or a bicycle or inline skates, or whatever your form of human-powered transport, you are more in touch with your surroundings.
This is the slightly tricky part. Give me a 5,000km stretch of road, and I’ll walk it if I have to. Give me 5,000km of open water, and I have to rely on someone else to help me across it. That will be the case for me as I try to get to New Zealand without using an airplane.
At present it is highly likely that I will be assisting with a yacht delivery across the Atlantic Ocean from France to Florida, leaving some time this month. I am registered with Reliance Yacht Management, a yacht management agency based in the UK. These positions are purely voluntary, and my role on a yacht will be a deckhand.
I will be heading down to Les Sables on the west coast of France next week to be closer to the action should a crew position come up on short notice (as they often do).
The Pacific Ocean is a bit bigger…I am not sure yet how I will be getting across that sucker, but I will be researching my options as I travel across the US.
Well, I think that this is quite enough for one blog post, so I will leave you with some London panorama photos for now. I have been going a bit crazy on the panoramas these past few days, so you can expect some more to come!