A look at another great trek and what it means for mine
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
The words are John Sprinzel’s; the journey an epic motoring adventure across the world. The destination was Sydney, the starting point London, with 10,000 arduous miles in between. Some went in pairs, some three-up, some even with four to a car, like the quartet of women in a Volvo estate. Few were experienced: perhaps 20 crews had serious international experience, but many were novices attracted by the adventure. Generating more attention than most was the larger-than-life Keith Schellenberg, who had entered a Bentley – a vintage 8-litre. Those who thought he was daft didn’t realize that he was one of the sparks for the whole mad undertaking.
“I told Jamie Scott-Douglas (a founding Ecurie Ecosse driver) who was working for the Express that I wanted to drive from Lisbon to Vladivostok from the west-most point of Europe to the east-most point of Asia. He discussed it with Aitken, and he said ‘Why not Australia’?” Tommy Sopwith, on the other hand, (then working at the Express and racing power-boats with Schellenberg) remembers it stemming from an evening with Jack Sears to celebrate a publishing success. “By the third brandy we had decided to run an event around the world, though later things got more sensible.”
The excerpt above is from a Motor Sport Magazine article about the 1968 London to Sydney Marathon and yet strangely evokes almost exactly how my four corners of the USA adventure evolved. Though neither as difficult to organize nor involving ocean transport, my trip distance will be longer than that of this magnificent marathon. While appreciating the similarity regarding the genesis of the trip I hope the foreboding nature of the headline remark doesn’t apply here, and that everything turns out to be surprisingly easy. I mean, what could possibly go wrong?
First, there is only me. Organizing but one person is much easier than organizing multitudes. And, further, there will be no borders to cross, no currency to exchange and I am no novice to long trips in an old Lotus. On the other hand, I will be in an old Lotus and all alone. Some forty three years later however, I am blessed to have many things that were simply unavailable to them at all. I have a cell phone with internet access, a credit card with an ample limit, a GPS and 43 years of progress in lodging and food service. On the other hand, the traffic has gotten heavier, not to mention bigger and faster which makes my little 1,400 pound 12 foot long car much more vulnerable. So, I will be sticking to the two lane roads, those William Least Heat Moon called “Blue Highways.” I am willing to tempt fate but not tweak its nose!
There is also no prize to win. Rather the motivation for this slightly wacky adventure is simply to see the country one last grand time before I fall off my perch, and, hopefully, do a bit of good by raising some money for kids that need a break from chronic medical issues.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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