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November 01, 2003

1 Nov.jpg
Nick drives out of the Parkinson's Institute lot in Vehicle D1 as Chanda waves from the back seat.

The team is finally on the road... the adventures have just begun.

Logbook for November 1st
Start: San Francisco, California

November 04, 2003

Expedition stop number one: Vegas, baby!


By Justin

Beep. Beep. Beep. The alarm's going off. Ugh. It's 6:30 AM, and it's time to go to work.

Welcome to America's playground -- Las Vegas, NV. It's day 3 of the expedition, and the team is piled into 3 hotel rooms in Sin City for the SEMA auto show. Our goal here is very simple: raise funding for the expedition by walking around and talking to companies about donating money to offset our expedition costs. It's a pretty good deal for them because they get exposure all over the world.

Now, if you've never been to SEMA or never even heard of it, that's okay. It stands for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturer's Association. And you should know that it's huge. And I mean HUGE. There are 9,100 exhibitors at the show. SEMA is filled with any type of auto product you could ever hope to use. From flashing lights that go on the rims of tires to cryogenically treated spark plugs, it's all at the show. Not only is the show filled with auto parts, classic hot rods, and the latest full-bore racing modifications, it has showgirls. Not the kind that dance in rhythm on stage under lights, but short-skirt, knee-sock, low-cut blouse wearing girls that will flirt, cajole or pose for you just so you stop in their booth for 3 seconds. But we have to stay focused. No short skirts for us: well, not yet anyway.

Where was I? Oh, yeah. I was saying that not only is Vegas full of distractions, but the task of working out team logistics and getting everyone from point A to B can give you an ulcer, or a migraine, or a desire to cause great bodily harm to people. But no one on the team has time for any of those things. We have to get in, get the lay of the land, and get to work. Easy, right? Let's see: it should take us 20 minutes to get from the hotel to the convention center. About another 20-30 minutes to register and pick up our badges, and about 10 minutes to find our booth and get busy. At least, that's what was going through my mind after I finally had a cup of coffee and started thinking about the day ahead. Here's how it actually happened.

We fought traffic for about a half hour. It took me over an hour and a mile of walking to get permission to enter the convention center. I was tired, sweaty, and a little pissed by the time I got inside, but I didn't have time for that. I got dropped off early so I could put some more stickers on the vehicles inside promoting our sponsors. There was only 30 minutes left until the show opened. Once I was there, I was able to get to work quickly. I was finally able to meet up with half of the team around lunchtime. We tried to schedule a group lunch so we could review the list of companies at SEMA and create a game plan for talking to them about sponsorship. Unfortunately, it just didn't happen. The film crew was held up a fair portion of the day trying to get their press passes and permission to film inside the convention center. Nick and Chanda were knocked out of action trying to get internet access to work on the website. The rest of us were just tired, hungry, and overwhelmed. So, we went separate ways.

After lunch, the team was finally able to focus on what we came here to do. Pick up girls. Oops, that was the film crew's goal. (Just kidding). Sponsorship! We're here to raise money. So, off we go. The film crew's going to hit up all the mobile electronics manufacturers, and the rest of us will split of among tools, car care, and SUV accessories. The rest of the day followed the same script for all of us.

"Hi, I'm with Drive Around the World. I was wondering if you had a few minutes," You get the picture. We didn't have any luck today, but there are 4 more days and about 9000 more booths to visit. We have our work cut out for us.

Now, where's that bikini contest that's supposed to be held every day?

November 05, 2003

Corndog in the city of sin


Journal by Colin "Corndog"

So here I am, in my Land Rover/ Drive Around the World standard issue North Face-supplied safari shirt, sitting in the pressroom of the Las Vegas Convention Center, working the SEMA auto conference. We, as in the entire drive around the world crew, came here to raise more money for our expedition. There is plenty of free coffee and spokesmodels for the various mufflers and speakers that are being expo'd here to distract us. I must say I'm having a blast. Let's take last night for example:

Adam, Neil and I (that's the documentary crew) were not very excited last night because we wanted to go out and gamble like most people do in Vegas, but we had to go to this B.F. Goodrich press event. We had no idea what it was, all we knew was that there was free food, which -- enticing as it sounds -- did not rival the idea of a long, adventurous night on the town. So we piled half the crew and a Land Rover exec named Bill Baker (who by the way is an interesting guy) into our Discovery, and we head over to the Las Vegas raceway expecting the standard schmoozefest that we've grown so accustomed to.

Boy, were we wrong. Believe it or not, we rolled in, were handed really nice sweatshirts to keep, fed some great food, and then folks, then, they let us drive racecars. Yep, racecars. Mustangs and everything. We got to ride in (not drive) stock cars going 120 miles and hour. We rode in off road super trucks launching 20 feet in the air. We drove 350Zs and RX8s around an auto cross tracks, and drag raced Rausch Mustangs. It was great, really great. I mean, the idea of going out and dropping a hundred dollars at the Blackjack table pales in comparison. My only regret was that I didn't get to ride in the stock cars because the line was way too long, but hey, waddayagonnado? Regardless, a good time was had by all, and after the fact we still went out a-gamblin' anyway. At least for a little while. (I won 15 bucks from a slot machine, but all the tables were lame).

Oh I almost forgot, I have a new nickname: Corndog, I'd explain it now, but it's a long story and I think I'll save it for another entry.

Rock on and email me,


November 12, 2003

Crossing our first border!

[Above: DATW sound-man Neil with a Mexican border guard at the Tijuana checkpoint.]

Journal by Todd

After two years of preparation, a number of last-minute arrangements, and some final strategic planning, the team was finally nearing their first border. Our decision to leave the States was an involved one, as we had to manage some final PR opportunities, gather the remaining equipment that was being shipped to us, and meet up with our first "Take me with you" participant, Mitch Mulanix, in San Diego. The team was eager to get underway, since we were already two days behind schedule.

Border crossings are always a tough call. Despite how easy it theoretically seems to cross a border, the process always takes a long time, and there always seems to be some piece of paper you are missing. Also, we were not thrilled with the idea of crossing the border late at night and then having to drive and find a camping spot. It is always more difficult to camp when you are setting up after dark. I remember during our '97 expedition we ended up camping in a garbage dump one time because it was too dark to see where we were really camping.

Anyhow, the paperwork was finally sorted out, and we drove across the border, headed toward Ensenada. Although it is not advisable to drive at night, the road was good and we had some miles to make up. We found a place to camp about 2:00 am, set a morning wake up call for 8:00, popped our tents, and went to sleep.

We woke up the following morning, and found ourselves in a cold rain. We packed up the tents wet, and went off to find breakfast while Nick and Chanda found an Internet café where they could do some work. After changing money and topping the vehicles off with fuel, a decision was made to split up, leaving Nick and Chanda in Ensenda to complete the web site changes while sending the rest of the team to Guerrero Negro to establish a campsite.

We were rolling by 1:00 pm. Baja is beautiful as we drove through the hills. We were traveling under cloud cover, and the storm that had rained on us all the last night seemed to be following us. My vehicle partner Nancy and I sang with Paul Simon and others as day turned into evening and night. We all stopped at a roadside diner with a thatched roof and had burritos for dinner. Although it took awhile to get our food, it was just perfect: Nick and Chanda pulled as we were leaving.

Now back together again we spent the remaining three hours to Guerrero Negro, rolling through the hills and watching for the cows that are said to wander into the road and wreck vehicles.

Logbook for November 12th
Start: Ensenada, Mexico Finish: Guerrero Negro, Mexico

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