Sunday, July 31, 2005

Arriving in USA: Cultural and language challenges

Photo: The Land Rovers are
released from their sea
container in Seattle, USA.
Eventful Woman (in red jacket) keeps a watchful eye on the proceedings.

The cultural differences between New Zealand and USA are huge.

No matter how carefully you plan for things, you can’t anticipate it all. It’s often the little, unexpected things that mark the difference between countries, as much as wider issues. In this case, it was all about a petrol can. You know, those simple little 5 litre (1.5 US gallon) containers (either metal or polypropylene plastic) that can be purchased in any New Zealand petrol station.

New Zealanders tend to be a do-it-yourself nation of people. Nearly everyone buys a petrol container at some point – to top up the lawn mower, or some other do-it-yourself power implement (like a chain saw or leaf blower). Then, there’s petrol required for the boat, the jet ski, the 4-wheel-drive, the generator – all of which require a handy container for top ups and emergencies. These cans are sold at petrol stations, which makes a lot of sense to us. They’re also really handy for anyone who runs out of petrol and who has to walk to the nearest fuel stop, buy a container, and trudge back to their car with it. Naturally we thought it would be the same in USA. Not so.

To ship the Land Rovers from New Zealand we had to drain out all petrol. On arrival, we would need to purchase a small amount of petrol (in a can) to get the vehicle going and into the nearest "gas" station. It never occurred to us that this would cause any difficulties.

While we were doing battle with US Customs (refer blog entry Wednesday 13 July) we asked our Shipping Agent, Linda J, if she could acquire a petrol can. She had no idea what we meant. We described what it was, including that it could be plastic or metal. She looked quite bemused asking, "Why would people have one of those?" We explained about the lawn mower, etc etc. She lived in an apartment, as did most of her friends, and mowing the lawn was not something she did.

"What about when you run out of petrol?’ I asked

"Americans don’t do that!"

It was my turn to be puzzled. People have run out of petrol as long as there have been motorised vehicles. I thought that maybe I had stumbled over a hidden secret about American car manufacturing. Maybe they made such "gas guzzlers" because they never ran out of petrol? I began to think that we should be touring the world in a Jeep.

However, Linda was a very resourceful woman. She telephoned a number of petrol stations. At each negative reply she asked each for ideas on where to purchase such a thing. Finally, one suggested she try a hardware store. She took TH with her so he could identify the object and show her how it was filled with petrol. They returned with triumphant grins and a full can of petrol.

Finally we were reunited with the Land Rovers in the shipping warehouse. Our possessions were neatly stacked around in boxes. Linda had spent a few cold hours in the warehouse checking off our inventory, so that US Customs could pick over every item.

We had stored spare half-shafts (axles) in a handy, long space inside the linked-up front seats. Linda had told us that, as the Customs Officer had reached inside the gap, his hand had touched the long, metallic bar of the axle. He had called out, "Say, I think they’ve got a gun in here" and had enthusiastically dragged it out. He was so disappointed that it wasn’t a gun, that he spent the next 15 minutes trying to work out what sort of weapon it could be converted into.

Linda kept pointing to the words half-shafts on our list. If we had only written the American words "axle shafts" things may have progressed much faster. The Officer only relented, when there were no other items to tick off on our inventory and therefore the half-shafts had to be the axle-shafts.

The Land Rover engines were cold and damp to our touch. I remembered the hot humid day we had loaded the sea container in Auckland and guessed that the air must have cooled dramatically on the journey to early spring weather in Seattle (March). The cold engines grunted and wheezed as they strained to pull the petrol all the way through the fuel lines to the carburettor. At last, they coughed into life.

We re-stowed our possessions, posed for Linda’s camera, and finally set off into the warm spring sunshine. I was clutching a map that Linda had drawn to show the way to a nearby petrol station and then to the freeway north out of Seattle. Linda had been a tremendous help and she became the first of many, many people whose kindness and goodwill eased our journey around the world.

At the petrol (gas) station an old, wizened fuel pump attendant filled our petrol tank. As he hunched over the nozzle, he peered suspiciously at the Land Rover. "Funny looking jeep", he muttered, fixing his beady eyes on TH, who was sitting in the driving seat. It was then that the attendant noticed our right hand drive steering wheel. His eyes nearly boggled out of his head. I suppose that he’d never travelled out of left-hand drive America.

"What’s the steering wheel doing there?"

"That’s where we have it in New Zealand."

"Doesn’t it make it hard to see, when you overtake."

"No, we drive on the other side over there."


We laughed about this as we found our way to the freeway. I said to TH, "Well, have we started yet?"

We had discussed what would be the real beginning of our adventure several times since leaving New Zealand and TH’s reply had always been, "Not until we’re driving the Land Rover on foreign soil."

His answer now was, "Well, its not soil, but it is foreign."

"It’s us that are foreign, now", I said.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

For more posts by Eventful Woman (prior to 31 July) please click on the "July 2005" archive button (back up near the top of the page)

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

About to be swamped by a big wave – leaving NZ

Five long, slow years of preparation slammed into reality a few short months before the "big off". Time, which had slowly stretched out like a huge elastic band, stung as it snapped back into the here and now of "its really going to happen". There were great flurries of activity as we raced to finish our preparations.

Finally, on one stinking hot, humid February day the Land Rovers were led into their shipping containers. TH and F1 broiled inside as they lashed them down and nailed the chocks around the wheels.

In times of stress I often think about food, and I suddenly remembered I hadn’t packed a large cooking knife. This was a great omission for a "foodie" like me. I rushed home and kidnapped the carving knife straight out of my kitchen drawer. I came racing back into the shipping yard, brandishing it about like some demented banshee. There was only time to throw it inside the Land Rover and then the big container doors were slammed shut.

All our hopes and dreams were sealed up in that metal box. The next time we’d see our "precious babies" again, would be almost half the world away in Seattle, USA.

TH and I went home and stared at a very empty and silent garage. This was the start of the emotional roller coaster ride. Up until now we had been calmly fixed on preparing the Land Rovers, securing the funding, planning the route, packing tools, parts, camping gear, getting ourselves jabbed full of vaccinations and doing everything needed to meet the shipping date. Now, we had three weeks to pack up ourselves, our homes, our careers and fly over to the States in time to meet the Land Rovers.

The world around us became polarised into those who listened to our plans with a look of longing and dreams unfulfilled and the others - the doom merchants, who dwelled in the dark recesses of "what if something happens…"

People would clutch hold of me when they said their goodbyes and scan my face, as if they were trying to memorise it. I knew they thought that they would never see me again. I could read the anxiety in their eyes. I could almost smell their fear. Hey you lot. It is ME that is doing this, not you. I will come back. I’m Eventful Woman. I do things like this all the time.

The day before departure, I began to feel like I had prepared for a death - my own. When I had imagined this moment years earlier, I had expected I would fly gloriously away from New Zealand with maybe a small, sentimental tear shed for those left behind. Instead, as I sat forlornly in the window seat of our empty house, with the last of our possessions stacked into storage, I felt that life as I knew it was tidied away, neatly packaged with labels. I didn’t belong to it anymore, but nor did I jump forward to the new life of adventurer/heroine. I was lost in the no man’s land in between.

When good friends came to collect TH and I to spend our last night with them, I confess to floods of tears when I turned the key in the lock for the last time on our front door. The house was empty and so was I.

At the departure gate at Auckland International Airport on 3rd March 1998, I stopped for one last look back. Our friends had gathered into a warm little huddle. I felt swamped by the huge waves of my emotions. I poised on this last chance to change my mind and I wanted to rush back to their safety

But, Eventful Woman won the battle over Emotional Woman. I forced a smile, waved and stepped into the unknown.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Note: Photo taken at Wave Rock in Western Australia. The small figure at the base of the wave is Eventful Woman.

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Monday, July 25, 2005

Something for the blokes – "dirt under the fingernails" stuff

Believe it or not, Eventful Woman does know her way around an engine bay. However, it is best to give the blokes something to do on these expeditions. Afterall, I’m not "Wonder Woman".

I’m going to get most the technical stuff out of the way now, so those of you who are not interested can jump this bit.

There were two Land Rovers on the expedition:

1948 Series I Land Rover, petrol driven 80", 1595 cc engine – this is owned by our friend, F1. (The back vehicle in the photo)

1966 Series IIA (also known as 2A) Land Rover, petrol driven 88", 4 cylinder, 2286 cc engine (the front vehicle in the photo) – this is still owned by TH and moi.

(Note: The photo was taken in Nepal, while on the expedition. )

While there were some mechanical difficulties on the expedition, we were not stopped for more than a day on any one occasion.
OK – how many of you thought "gosh, that was lucky"?

You need to realise that luck is something that happens by chance. It is a random event, such as winning a lottery. The fact that the Land Rovers had few breakdowns was NOT because of luck. While I accept a chance event can happen, a SERIES of chance events doesn’t. So, the next person who tells me I was lucky, needs to go back and hide under their bed, as that’s probably how they think bad luck is avoided.

The "luck pessimists" think that you just buy an old Land Rover and set off at once. When it breaks down, they blame it on bad luck. So, if you’ve got a torch under those bedclothes, do read on. You might learn something about how to "make your own luck" happen.

Both F1 and TH completely stripped down their Land Rovers to bare chassis and rebuilt them, prior to the expedition.
With emphasis on preventative rather than breakdown maintenance the guys replaced a lot of apparently sound parts, which may not have endured a 31,000 mile (50,000 km) journey. This included a new radiator and hoses, heavy duty battery; new thrust washers, bearings and synchro unit to the gearbox; reconditioned distributor, generator, starter motor, drive shaft and exhaust system.

While the ability to cope with surprise can help, relying solely on this as a survival technique is not recommended. As well as good preparation, routine maintenance on the road is also essential. If you are not a mechanic or at least mechanically minded – then DON’T EVEN ATTEMPT AN OVERLAND EXPEDITION.

Regular oil changes and maintenance were carried out on route to usual schedules. Due to the long distances and terrible roads in some countries, the Land Rovers were checked daily by TH and F1. They identified and rectified many potential problems before they became breakdowns.

Specific expedition modifications were additional petrol tanks, heavier springs, front mounted jerry cans, lock boxes and good on/off road tyres – Dunlop Adventurers, provided by our sponsors, Repco New Zealand.

As these were old and sparsely furnished vehicles there was considerable road noise on the long hauls through the USA. Tired of shouting above the din, we fitted sound deadening material while in England. I think I may have suffered some hearing loss, but that could be ‘selective deafness’ common with most married couples.

Our exhaustive preparations paid off. While we had some mechanical difficulties with exhaust valves on the Series I, fuel pumps for both Land Rovers and the Series IIA’s generator, we were not forced to stop for long, thanks to on-board spare parts and the right know-how.

While it was tempting to take a spare everything, we had to prune down a list of parts to fit in the available space. We concentrated on what would assist or improvise continued operation. In addition to rubber parts (such as fan belts hoses and hydraulic seals), oil filters, fuel pump/carburettor kits, SIIA half shafts, ignition components and exhaust valves, we included supplies of string, parachute cord, plastic cable ties, wire, chain, glue, epoxy putty, duct tape and a selection nuts and bolts.

In addition to the standard tools, we included: timing light, multi meter, torque wrench, kinetic tow rope, metal shears, measuring tape, speed wrench, 12 volt soldering iron, Swiss Army knives and Crescent "Toolzall Pro" pocket multi tools.

With his knife and pocket tools hanging off his belt, I began to call TH "McGyver".

© Eventful Woman, 2005

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Friday, July 22, 2005

Shoes and clothes - what more does a gal need?

What to wear on an expedition?

I am a great believer the versatility of a pair of jeans, a little black dress and a smart pair of shoes. You can dress up or down, depending on whether you are going to meet an important sponsor, or simply wanting to be an unnoticeable traveller moving through unsafe country. I wore "sensible shoes" for most of the expedition and saved the glitzy sandals for moments when I needed to make the right impression.

Most of the time we simply wore what the sponsors had provided in terms of tee shirts, jerseys, hats and other gear. And so, we were often dressed like a matched pair. This usually invited comment, such as from an American woman in a supermarket, when we were stocking up on supplies. She gave us a huge smile, "Well ain’t that cute, matching sweaters an’ all". Imagine what she would have said if TH had sported glittery sandals like mine?

Other comments were more hilarious, like the time we were taking a short cut on an off-road track in New Mexico, after some wet weather:

Two large utes (known as "pick ups" in USA) were slewed across the track, blocking our way. They were up to their axles in mud, wheels revving, but digging in deeper. Three men were standing to the side of the track, shouting instructions to the drivers, as mud flew in all directions. The revving stopped and, in the silence, we all eyed each other.

The ones who had been doing the shouting "glugged" through the mud and over to us. They were all young and they each clutched a bourbon bottle. They seemed very drunk.
"Can’t go on. Track’s a mess ahead," one advised.

"Would you like a tow?" TH asked.

They goggled in disbelief at our old, short wheel base Land Rover.

"That little baby thing couldn’t move chicken shit!"

We waited, while they heaved and grunted to move the utes out of the sticky mud. Then, the pushing party puffed over to us.
"Help you turn around," they generously offered.

"Its OK", said TH, "THIS is a Land Rover".

Our little Series IIA circled daintily over the mud to pull effortlessly alongside of the utes.

"Hey, awesome truck," said one. He pronounced it "AH – some".

"Who are you?" queried another.

A third peered at our matching Land Rover jerseys and asked, "Are you twins?"

"We’re husband and wife".

"Are twins allowed to marry where you come from?"

"No, we’re not twins. Anyway, twins can’t marry in New Zealand."

"New Zealand – wow!"

They all took several swigs from their bottles, quietly impressed with this information. Then one, who we later learned was called Darryl, asked, "Did this here Land Rover come all the way from New Zealand?"

"Sure did!"

More swigs, while this was digested.

I could see that Darryl was really interested. Whereas the others were slouched and cradling their bottles, he was bouncing up and down on his toes, wide-eyed with excitement. "Can I sit in the driver’s seat?"

"Why not." said TH, climbing down from the cab.

Darryl raced around to where I was in the passenger side. He threw open the door and then looked shocked, "Where’d the steering wheel go?"
I pointed to it.
"How’d it get over there?"

We tried to explain. Conversation flowed on between TH and the others, while Darryl stood next to me, his brown eyes gazing in awe at the primitive driver’s compartment. The ancient dials and switches fascinated him. He gently touched each one in turn, as if terrified of an electric shock. His hand finally stopped on the hand-operated windscreen wiper.
"Well, ain’t that cute", he cried, as I cranked it into life.

His eyes fell onto the map.
"Can I look?"
I gave it to him. He squinted at it and, with my pen, circled a big dot, "You are here."
I nodded.

He then scrawled large, uneven words on the margins of the map, frowning in concentration. The letters ran wildly and I could just make out a name - Darryl Johnston, and a P O Box number.

"Send me a postcard from New Zealand?"

I nodded again and said that it would be in one year’s time. He happily grinned at me and took another large gulp from his bottle.

We drove off to hollers of good luck and enthusiastic waves. Looking back I saw them settle on and around their cars, bottles upended into their mouths. I wondered if Darryl would remember who we were, when he finally received our postcard.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

For more posts by Eventful Woman (prior to 22 July) please click on the "July 2005" archive button (back up near the top of the page)

Monday, July 18, 2005

Sponsorship – the answer to everything or to nothing

Ok, so the question burning brightly out there, is how did we acquire the $91,000 required to actually do this expedition?

That’s a lot of cash, when you’re staring straight at it. There’s no way of dodging this huge amount. And hoping it will all turn out somehow, won’t work either.

However, getting back to my talk on goal setting, if you’ve made up your mind to do something, then having a goal means you’ll find a way to make it happen. That’s YOU I’m talking about. You need to make it happen, not just waiting around for someone else to do it for you. Sure, you might get someone to pay for you, but you still have to make that happen too.

How did Eventful Woman pull it off? You already know that I refused to sell my house to make it happen. And, you also know that I’m not rich, and I probably didn’t rob banks, either.

In fact, I took the sponsorship route to finding the money.

Sponsorship – the answer to everything or nothing. It all depends on what you have to offer and how you go about it.
I’ve been on both sides of the sponsorship fence. Everybody, their dog and even the dog’s sports team has probably sent off a "begging letter" for sponsorship at some stage. And, these letters often look like the dog has written them, too – hand-written or typed with a clumsy paws, misspellings, scratchings out and the page is often rumpled and "dog eared". The message is usually plain and blatant: "give us money, because you’ve got some and we haven’t".

Get real, people. You are writing to a BUSINESS. You know, an organisation that works for the sole purpose of making money. It spends money to make more. Businesses are not charities. They’re not here just to spend their hard-earned dollars on you, because you want to play sport, daub canvases, or even drive around the world on some mad, but personal adventure.

Sure, businesses and corporations do contribute to charities and good causes. But, even these contributions are carefully considered, according to those that fit the corporate’s brand values or how much brand exposure (advertising) will be delivered.

Those seeking sponsorship must understand that sponsorship is a powerful marketing tool and appreciate that the bottom line for sponsors must be one or more of these outcomes:

1. Selling more product
2. Enhancing the company’s image – BRAND VALUES
3. Strengthening trade relationships
4. Opportunities to network with major clients
5. Generating significant media exposure

To do any of the above really well you need to be famous. I mean really famous and not a "wannabe". For example, in New Zealand you would be like: Sir Edmund Hillary or
or Dame Kiri Te Kanawa
or Crowded House

(you lot overseas think about Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Tina Turner, or Elton John)

If you’re a nobody (not even a wannabe) like Eventful Woman, you are going to have to find another way of getting noticed.

The key questions sponsors will want answered are:

Who are you?

What’s new?

So what?

Who cares?

Doesn’t so and so do that?

Since, I wasn’t famous I had to find a point of difference, to make me stand out from the crowd. If I wanted to have my expedition around the world funded, I had to do something very special.

Quite simply it was:

A) Use a 1948 Series I Land Rover (this is the oldest they get)
B) Do something with it to get noticed that had never been done before: e.g. Drive around the world with it and time the event to coincide with an up- and-coming milestone in Land Rover’s history – its 50th birthday in 1998
C) Do something that would provide me with some credibility (a letter from the Prime Minister, or high profile celebrity, will work wonders)
D) Provide opportunities for media coverage and a way of promoting the story

So, I had the point of difference – an interesting, unique story about to happen. As TH (the husband) was a photographer, and I could write professionally, I knew we could find a way of telling this story that would guarantee exposure for a sponsor.

I "pitched" the concept story to a British international Land Rover magazine, secured an assignment, and then (and only then) was an approach made to sponsors. Along the way, I wrote to our Prime Minster and asked for a letter of good will that I could take on the journey with me.

A successful pitch to a sponsor (or a magazine) will be conducted in a business like manner (which includes a high level of presentation). It will have anticipated all questions, have the answers ready, and will include:
1. Executive Summary
2. The Proposition/Options – be specific about all details; commit to the visibility of the business in clear and specific terms including how results will be measured
3. Investment/Financials
4. Benefits – understand what motivates the business to become involved (altruism or marketing); differentiation – what sets you apart/how you will get noticed
5. Deadline for decision – including follow-up opportunities
6. Appendix – supporting materials about yourself to establish credibility and capability

Using the above method, Repco New Zealand was secured as our prime sponsor for my Land Rover expedition. At the time, Repco’s marketing slogan was "all the right parts in all the right places at all the right prices". Emphasising the marketing synergy of their slogan and my expedition, was a key part of the pitch.

I am very grateful for the professional and personal support provided by the then CEO of Repco, Bob Wyeth, and his extremely competent PA, Beryl Boon. Without either of these two people, and the financial sponsorship provided by Repco, I could not have carried out this expedition in the way I did.

While Repco was the No.1 sponsor, I did successfully negotiate with other sponsors with tremendous backing from Bob Wyeth. Remember what I said about the bottom lines for sponsors? Two of these reasons were about strengthening trade relationships and providing opportunities to network with major clients.

I was able to attract following sponsors due to the supplier/client links with Repco:
CRC Industries
BP Oil
Champion Sparkplugs
Kuehne & Nagel (shipping agent for Repco)

Other sponsors who supported the expedition were:
Rover New Zealand
Kiwi Camping Company
Cooper Tools
Scott-Young & Masters (tool provider)
ENZA (New Zealand apple exporter)

Sponsors that let us buy goods at cost were:
Kodak New Zealand (digital camera, as well as film for non-digital camera)
Toshiba (lap top)

I was also very appreciative of the letters of support and encouragement I received from the then Prime Minister, Hon Jenny Shipley, and also from Sir Barry Curtis, the Mayor of my home city (Manukau City, part of the greater Auckland area)

Finally, my special thanks to my family, friends, neighbours and business colleagues - without whom nothing would have been possible.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side of the border.

There’s a lot of work getting an expedition off the ground.

There seemed to be a zillion things to do, not the least of which was finding the $91,000 required for the expedition. That was my job. And, as my personal motto is "on a full stomach anything is possible", I also had to research best practice on foreign food and foraging techniques.

Being a bloke, TH (the husband) got the grunty, blokey, hard edged jobs to do – just little things like pulling the entire Land Rover apart with his bare hands and rebuilding it in preparation for the trip. To keep him fully occupied, I also gave him the task of route planning and border crossings.

We didn’t realise then, but our hardest and longest border crossing turned out to be our very first – arriving by ship from New Zealand and entering the United States of America. It took three days.

On that third day at US Customs I gazed once more at the customs form. It seemed that the only option to proceed was to take up American citizenship.

I eyed up the customs officer – he was large, rotund and his sagging stomach bulged over his straining belt. A tiny name badge was perched on the mound of his chest. Inspector Clark. He pronounced it "cluck" when he had introduced himself.

I noted the handgun resting against his ample hips. My eyes returned to his face, with his pink fleshy lips pursed like an overblown rosebud. They parted as he drawled, "Like I said to your shipping agent, if yer don’t tick the boxes, yer don’t get your stuff."
(The word "said" came out at in two syllables: "say – ed")

I examined the form again. The problem was not with the Land Rovers, but with our molehill of clothes, camping gear and spare parts. To avoid a mountain of duty I needed to tick the boxes which were positioned under the heading "FOR U.S. CITIZENS ONLY’.

I decided to play dumb to elicit some support and said, "Please could you help me? I’m from New Zealand. I can’t understand the form."

He gave a small, exasperated sigh, but nodded.

I rewarded him with a grateful smile and went on, "I can’t tick these boxes because they’re for firearms and explosives, and we don’t have any of those. That’s right isn’t it?"

"Uh-huh", he confirmed, with the tone that suggested he thought I was more than a little slow.

"And I can’t tick this next set of boxes because it says they’re for household effects. We only have camping gear, parts and things. They’re personal effects, aren’t they?"

I held my breath after this, because household goods were dutiable, whereas personal effects were not. According to our shipping agent, it was on this very point that she had stuck with U.S. Customs the day before.
"Uh-huh", he confirmed again.

"Got him!" I thought, but resisted the urge to sound triumphant.
I continued as evenly as I could, "Well, that means that I must tick these boxes for personal effects." I pointed to the ones headed "FOR U.S. CITIZENS ONLY".


"But NZ is not part of the USA" and then I added, "yet."

"Like I said, if yer don’t tick the boxes, yer don’t get your stuff."

I hastily ticked the appropriate squares and nervously handed the form back.
Inspector "cluck" gathered the papers together and walked off.
I called helplessly after him, "What do I do now?"

"Yer wait!"

I looked at TH and we both shrugged our shoulders. I wondered if I should be studying The Constitution, or memorising the names of past Presidents, in case there was going to be some sort of test.

In less than 10 minutes our Customs Officer returned.
"What now?" I wondered.

"There yer go!" he said, and went to walk away.
"Oh, please wait. What do I do now?"

He turned and spoke in short sentences. His tone suggested that even an imbecile should be able to understand what to do next:
"Yer take these forms to your shipping agent. Yer collect your stuff. Yer free to go!"

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Monday, July 11, 2005

Staying Alive and at what cost?

The goal was:
To drive around the world with my husband (TH) two other people, in two old Land Rovers, for one year and arrive home in New Zealand, on time, on budget and alive.

All planning starts with “the idea” and then the goal. Anyone can have an idea. Sadly not many turn it into a goal, and still fewer into an action plan. I suppose because takes a bit of work and most people would rather not do that. I guess they’d rather worry about someone’s retirement for them, or go to the shopping mall.

Good planning is in the hard yakka of making it happen. But, I reckon it’s a lot easier than shopping to buy more things you don’t need, with money you don’t have, to impress people you don’t like.

So, how do you drive around the world, and get home again? Preferably alive.

Scores of questions flooded my brain. How far was it? Could you get petrol? What would it cost? How would we stay healthy? Where would we stay? What about food? The last one was a “biggie” for me. My whole world revolved around food. I was often planning the next meal, not long after I had finished the last. I paused on the food question for some time, while I had a “Homer Simpson” type drool at the thought of dinner.

Finally, I got back to the “what about money?” questions.

What about money, indeed? It was one of those classic “chicken and egg” dilemmas. The dollars would depend on what things cost. And, I didn’t know what anything cost right then. Let alone what direction we would take to start spending on this adventure. It would have been easy at that point to “throw it in the ‘too hard basket”. Even the mall was starting to look attractive. But, having a goal is a great motivator. With a goal, you are inspired to make it happen, ‘cos you really want to do it.

I decided to start by finding out the circumference of the world. Remember, at this stage in the planning (mid 1990’s) the Internet was not what it is today. So, I finally got to make use of my high school geometry lessons. The answer was 25,000 miles. (As it write this, in 2005, the Internet confirms the circumference at 24901.55 miles at the equator).

Pretty damn good education I had in the 1970’s - thank you Spotswood College in New Plymouth

I’m using miles, as that’s what these old Land Rovers operate in. (40,000 km if you’re driving in something belonging to the 21st Century) I calculated that, if we drove just that distance, including the wet bits then, at each Land Rover’s rate of consumption, and at the price we paid for petrol in New Zealand, we’d need to spend around $NZ12, 000 dollars on petrol.

OK, we’re rolling on this budget thing. (All figures are in New Zealand dollars)

Then, I added in what we currently spent on food for a year, multiplied by 2, for a total of 4 people, and I added that to the above.

Estimates were added for accommodation, airfares and insurances. Wild guesses were made for shipping costs, tourist activities, and unplanned-for events. Eventually, the huge sum of $72,000 was totted up. It sounded astronomical. How were we going to find that sum of money?

I added a new goal to the first: “I am not selling the house to fund this trip.”

In that practical way of his, TH suggested it was only $0.75 cents per mile per person. Now, that didn’t sound so bad. When you’re planning anything, it’s good to have someone like this who can put issues into realistic terms.

TH and I divided the tasks between us on finding out more information on the “wild guesses”, and also the estimates. Naturally, food came into my list of “things to confirm”.

Over time the total sum rose and rose, as a more accurate budget was assembled. I can tell you that this wasn’t all because of food. Eventually, it reached its final peak of $91,000. It was a bit of a “gulp” moment. I consoled myself with the thought it was only $0.95 per person, per mile.
Not too much at all, if you say it quickly or if you just drove 10 miles and come home again.

Trouble is, it wasn’t going to be much of an expedition at 10 miles length. My thoughts turned to how get my hands on this amount of loot.

What I needed was a “lonely pocket guide”.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Friday, July 08, 2005

The Lonely Pocket Guide to fund raising

Sometimes on the Land Rover expedition, I would be asked, "how could we afford to do such a trip?" This question usually came from an American.

The conversation would go something like this:

"Hey, awesome truck" (They would always pronounce the word as Ah-sum)
"Yeah, thanks"
"Are you really driving around the world"
"These here sponsor stickers – is this a business trip?"
"We’re doing it just for fun"
"That must cost a lot. How’d you get the money together?"
"Do you have banks over here?"
"Sure thing"
"Well, we rob ‘em".

At this stage the conversation would cease, as our new friends "adjusted the set" of their minds.

There are easier ways of finding the loot. More on this later.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Getting Started – What’s Stopping You?

It’s amazing what crap people will spout when they really have no idea about anything.

When we told people we were planning to drive around the world in an old Land Rover, a number of them said, "Oh, but what if something happens to you." I mean, like duh, of course I hoped something would happen. Preferably something a hell of a lot more interesting than just going shopping every weekend, or to the Gold Coast (in Australia) for one week in winter.

And, then there were those who worried about my superannuation. Good of them to worry for me, I suppose. I accept that I was on the "wrong side" of forty, but I wasn’t about to retire gracefully into the nearest rocking chair, counting out my dollar notes. So, I would ask these "doomsayers" in return about their own superannuation. But they weren’t doing a thing about it, even though they weren’t even considering a wild adventure, either. There they were, all anxious about my financial future, with nary a thought about their own.

In their favour I suppose was that they didn’t think, "something would happen to me" or that I wouldn’t be around long enough to enjoy the superannuation. However, the most amazing thing about these superannuation "worry worts" is that they could not conceive that I could plan for an adventure and that I already had funds set aside for my retirement. It’s tragic that many people settle for far less that what is possible.

However, overall, people were just wonderful. They wanted to know all about the expedition, how they could help and they looked at me with shining eyes and awe. Many said, "I’ve always wanted to do that." They helped me to really believe I could do it.

And, I did, you see. I really believed I could, because I had a goal that said I would. That’s where having a goal makes a difference on whether you just think about something, even if only superannuation, and whether you actually did it.

As Paul J Meyer, the goal-setting guru said, "What the mind can conceive, the mind will believe". If you really want something in life, then set a goal, make a plan and go for it. Doesn’t matter how at that point. That all comes later. Setting a goal is the really easy bit.

So, I thought I might as well have a go at that as the starting point. Very simply, it was:
To drive around the world in an old Land Rover for one year and arrive home, on time, on budget and alive.

Alive, take note. Not only alive just to be alive, but because I could later sit back in my rocking chair and have something to really exciting to remember in my retirement, while spending my nest egg.

Deciding on the actual year for this odyssey was also easy. It had to be 1998. That was the year that Land Rover turned 50. Our mate, F1 (F1 = Friend 1), had the would-be 50 year old Land Rover and the vague idea of taking it to Britain for its golden anniversary. We thought we’d go too, just for the adventure.

This was 1993 and all we had to do was work out how many squillions we’d need, how to get our hands on that amount of loot and how to stay alive while on the expedition. Easy really.

Adventures need some planning and this was a job for TH (the husband) and I.

© Eventful Woman, 2005

Monday, July 04, 2005

Looking for Adventure in a Land Rover

Hah – to boldly go. Such noble sentiments. Who did I think I was – Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Starship Enterprise?

Well, I was about to set forth and explore the world. Hardly the universe, I know, but further than the local shopping mall, that most people’s lives revolve around these days. The "adventure" of shopping I believe they call it. More like the credit card people boldly going where none had gone before – creating a debt-ridden society desperately seeking a champagne life on a beer allowance.

So, what was I seeking with my adventure – a beer life on a crust of bread allowance? I was about to take off on an odyssey, with rather limited finances. I planned to drive around the world in a classic, old Land Rover, in the company of my husband, (TH), and two acquaintances, who were in an even older Land Rover.

I called it an odyssey, but I don’t believe that I really understood that term, then. Of course, I knew what "Webster’s Dictionary said: "A long journey marked by wanderings, adventures and hardships." Sounds really thrilling, doesn’t it? Those words – "long journey" and "adventures and hardships" – they evoke such an emotional response. I can almost hear your hearts "gonging" in resonance, just as mine did at that time.

But, it wasn’t at all heroic like that. There was a lot of drudgery and being uncomfortable, all stirred up with large dollops each of uncertainty and angst. And yes, there was a fair amount of enjoyment and sheer fascination, with the odd souring by acid drops of frustration and anger.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. I need go back to where I started. Split infinitive it might be, but I did really think I was about to "boldly go" on the adventure of a lifetime. I was going to circumnavigate the globe in an ancient Land Rover.

I was about to really learn what the word odyssey meant and it would change my life forever.

© Eventful Woman, 2005