Rainer Jenss and his family are in the midst of a yearlong around-the-world trip, and they're blogging about their travels here at IT. Keep up with the Jensses by bookmarking their posts here.
I am a big fan of Michael Palin for two reasons. First and foremost, I love Monty Python. But perhaps my favorite work of Palin's comes not by way of his comedy, but for the series of travel documentaries he produced for the BBC over the past 20 years that feature him traveling Pole-to-Pole, Around the World in 80 Days, and Full Circle. What I'm particularly intrigued by is that he makes it a priority to travel over as much physical landmass as possible during each of his journeys and whenever possible, does so without the use of aircraft. His objective is to capture the true essence of what lies between different geographical locations, gaining the perspective that distance, space, and time provide.
In retrospect, watching these programs probably helped influence our decision to travel around the world for a full year, without stopping or coming back home for the duration, as much as anything else. As a frequent business traveler, I have taken my fair share of cross-country flights from New York to the West Coast, and noticed that rarely do passengers look out the window or know where they are during the roughly six hours on board the plane. Instead, we get in our seats, sleep, eat, read a book, work on our laptop, or watch a movie and then BAM - we step out into a different city thousands of miles away that still speaks English, and has plenty of Starbucks and copies of USA Today. Frequent flier is really a more accurate term for who we are and what we do. After all, a true travel experience provides you with a sense of place, something a cross-country flight just can't capture. Never before had I had the time or opportunity to do it the Michael Palin way, until now.
For the last six weeks, I've blogged about our family's cross-country trek that took us through 18 states (and two provinces in Canada), covered 7,600 miles, and didn't find us in a single airport. We witnessed incredible scenery, met warm and friendly people, and experienced the country in a way too few people get a chance to do, along one continuous trail from one coast to the other. As a result, I don't think any one of us will quite look at a map of the U.S. the same way again, or board a plane without appreciating the distances they cover and landscapes they fly over. So as we drove into Seattle six weeks after we left home, we celebrated the fact that we had now officially driven across the country, and there was still so much more to see and do.