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Follow Friday: Be Inspired by The World by Road

Editor’s Note: Inspired by Follow Friday on Twitter, I am profiling (in far more than 140 characters) extraordinary travelers who you, too, should follow! Through these profiles, I want to introduce you to globetrotting souls that follow their hearts to places near and far, so join me each Friday in my quest to be inspired by some of the most intriguing adventure seekers on our planet!

Be inspired by: Steven Shoppman & Stephen Bouey (Denver)
Follow them at:
@theworldbyroad

After first finding Steven Shoppman and Stephen Bouey on Twitter, I dug through their website, theworldbyroad.com, to discover that they have been on a two year expedition to circumnavigate the globe. They’ve driven through six continents, 69 countries and almost 70,000 miles; have been slowed by a whiteout snowstorm in Norway; and have gotten stuck in the Congo while trying to acquire visas. No doubt, these are two of the most inspiring travelers any of us could ever meet. (So inspiring that I contemplate quitting my job to take off on my own adventure every time I read about their latest voyage!)

Currently in Prince George, British Columbia on their way to Alaska to finish the final segment of the expedition, Steven was gracious enough to take a breather and answer my probing questions about his 27-month exploration.

@jenngaines: Tell me a bit about your adventure around the world.
@theworldbyroad: We have driven through the middle of the Australian Outback nearly running out of gas miles from anywhere; braved the roadless freezing landscapes of Siberia in winter; struggled through the rebel occupied jungles of the Congo; and crossed mountain passes off road at 17,000 feet over volcanoes in Bolivia.

From the construction of schools in Indonesia to wildlife and rainforest preservations in  hailand, we have been promoting humanitarian, environmental and other aid organizations on a wide range of issues. Via television, magazine articles, newspapers and various Internet outlets, our hope is that our interviews with these organizations and the content we produce will increase support, education and awareness of their worthy causes that otherwise would remain unknown.

Over the last two years, we have driven to the farthest points North and South of all the continents. Only one last frontier awaits, the end of the Pan American highway in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. This final leg of the journey will take us to the farthest North point by road in North America. Upon finishing, we have a tour scheduled to speak in universities and high
schools across the USA starting in January 2010, striving to further international education.

@jenngaines: As a traveler, what really inspires you?
@theworldbyroad: I think our journey around the world has changed some of my thoughts on this question.  Before I wandered.  I would just travel to new places to see what might happen or what I might get into. Now I would say that I wonder. I wonder what the answers are to so many questions that the world brings and now I travel to answer those questions.  The more purposeful you can make your travels, the more you will get out of it.

It truly inspires me to meet people that have amazing stories and are willing to share those stories.

@jenngaines: What is your most memorable travel experience?
@theworldbyroad: There are many stories, so it is really hard to pick one. Once during the expedition we drove through the polar night for 10 hours straight through every different obstacle from running out of gas to whiteout snowstorms to missing ferries. We were on a deadline to reach the ferry from Bergen, Norway to Newcastle, England, and if we were to miss it, then we would have to wait three more days. (Please read this blog for the whole story.)

@jenngaines: What is the most challenging travel experience you’ve had?
@theworldbyroad: The most challenging experience was getting stuck in the Congo for two months.  We had trouble obtaining Angolan visas, and while we were stuck I got Malaria, as did Steve Bouey. We tried everything from sneaking across the Angolan border to talk with officials, to getting the neighbor of the Angolan consul to plead for help.  Finally after two months of being stuck, we were left to travel through the rebel area of the Congo called the pool region to hopefully make some headway with the American Embassy in Brazzaville.  To make a long story short, we eventually obtained the visas we needed, but were only awarded five days to drive the entire length of Angola on terrible roads. It is experiences like this that really take a blow on your spirit, but certainly make it a real adventure.

Photo courtesy of The World by Road.

Jennifer

My name: Jennifer Gaines, but my friends call me Gaines, Jenni-Dallas or just plain Jenn.

(Find me on Twitter @jenngaines)

Travel ambitions: It's my mission to visit each of the New 7 Wonders and to step foot on every continent before my next milestone birthday.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Find the local hangouts to experience the real, true culture of a place. During a trip to Europe, my friends and I spent several days with a French family in the small town of Vichy. We had a private party in their family-run creperie, feasting on cheese-stuffed crepes and sampling wine that we picked up in the Bordeaux region a few days earlier. Their English wasn’t much better than my French, which is limited to a few well-known phrases from Moulin Rouge and the question: Parlez-vous anglais? (I'm proud to say that I can spout this question off in several different languages, and luckily most Europeans do indeed speak English!) After a few bottles of wine, the language barrier was hardly noticeable (slurring actually sounds the same in French!), and we managed to swap stories about life in other places. What a slice of local flavor!

My most beloved place in the whole world is: My grandparents place in Texas. It’s a 10-acre oasis in between two sprawling cities: Dallas and Fort Worth. A creek runs through their enormous backyard, where Granddad built a deck over the water. The entire place is shrouded with all types of trees (mainly pecan), blocking the Texas sun in the summer. Dusk is the best time to sit on the deck, drink a glass of ice tea and watch baby raccoons from the spring litter surround their back porch as Gram feeds them bread (no lie!). There will be dozens of raccoons eating on any given night. In the fall, my family gathers in the courtyard in front of their house for an annual “weenie roast.” Granddad lights the bonfire, and we roast dogs and s'mores. Yes, y’all, we’re from Texas!

Favorite way to get around: Well, I’m not much of a driver. I get lost easily and my tires have never come across a curb they didn’t want to get to know a little better. But, I do enjoy cruising around and listening to music. That said, I much rather explore a place by foot (with my iPod in tow) for a more intimate encounter.

View that took my breath away: Coming from Texas (where the view is wide but there’s not much to see), scenes from my new home of San Francisco never fail to amaze me. The city is a pedestrian’s dream, but don’t forget to turn around and look behind you as you meander through its neighborhoods. You won’t realize it, but you’ll be at the tip-top of a hill and the ocean will suddenly seem to be at eye level. Take a drive through the Presidio and over the Golden Gate Bridge where even more stunning views await!

Comments

Jenn
Reply

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer these questions! I am truly inspired by what the two of you are doing around the globe. As travelers, I believe we should all aspire to be change ambassadors and do the world some good along the way.

Travel Guide
Reply

Hi. How can I travel the world with a limited budget? After grad I really want to travel the world before I get old and realize i missed out on tons of things. I want to spend A LOT of time in Europe. Especially in the UK and Im thinking I would like to go by bike so I would like to know stuff like camp grounds? or a pack with a tent i can set up anywhere when night comes. And what would be the best way to finance such a trip? Is there some way i could make money on the road? I’m one of those people that would go insane sitting in a windowless cubicle all day. This is some thing I really really want to do. Any advice at all is really appreciated… Just please none of the “There’s no way to do it go get a job and be happy flipping through files” advice. Thanks a ton.

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