Monday, November 15, 2004

Long Way Round

I suppose I lied a little bit in my previous post, that about my interests, as I neglected to mention my budding enthusiasm (obsession?) for reality television. No, not crap like The Bachelor or Big Brother or Brave New World or what have you, but there are a number of gripping shows, at least for those out there like me who tend toward sloth-like periods in front of the tube until Inspiration Takes Flight, or it's time to walk the dog, or something.

Anyway, there's a truly terrific show on Bravo (Thursday nights @ 8) called Long Way Round. I don't know if it's "reality TV" as much as a documentary, but the basis of the show is that two guys travel nearly around the world on motorcycles. The interesting things are that one of them is quite famous (Ewan McGregor of Star Wars and Moulin Rouge and etc. fame) and that they take a truly bizarre/fascinating route: east from London through Europe, followed by Central Asia (last week's episode had them by the Caspian Sea and in Kazakhstan) and onward through Mongolia and Siberia (and the mysterious/dread-inspiring Road of Bones), and finally over to Alaska, a quick jaunt down through Canada, and then across the US to New York City.

It's a great travel documentary through places that Westerners rarely go, let alone see; it's a foray into the cultural/linguistic/logistical difficulties of making such a grand adventure; but most of all it's a story of buddies from the UK who have a passion for motorcycles and are having the time of their lives while traversing the globe and above all experiencing the weird, scary, and wonderful things along the way.

You couldn't pay me to get on a motorcycle, let alone traipse off on a 20,000 mile worldwide trek, but you can't help being inspired by the enormity of the task. Back in the late '90s I did a 10,000 mile trip across the US with a good pal of mine in my old Mazda Protege (the Millennium Falcon of automobiles, I'm convinced). and I have enough stories from that adventure to fill a book. In fact, we taped about 100 hours of conversations into a beat up tape recorder, and they still await transference to literary glory in a beat up shoe box under my bed. Anyway, I find the idea of madcap schemes -- especially long and elaborate road trips -- to be inspiring. I hope that it will help to push me through the final chapters of Possible Ends, which would be the end of a different kind of adventure all together.


Anonymous said...

All right- I'll give you that Long Way Round is an awesome,inspiring show. Yearning for my traveling years myself....more importantly, however, came the realization that the sludge in the road should be cursed at with the savor of the well fought battle everyday of our lives. Not just when traveling. I want to swell with pride at not having an aneurysm in traffic. Actually, I do take a fair amount of pride in my running traffic commentary set to the tune of a sailors swagger.....

On another note- you left out my man Charlie Boorman. What an awesome guy to travel with. I have taken short trips with friends or family, but my longest journey was alone. Why? Primarily- no one could go. Thus, alone I went. As I met various people, more often than not, I felt glad I had my own agenda rather than longing to join the throng of other Americans. I felt strangers were more open and my impressions were mine. That said, being a woman alone (and sticking out like a sore thumb as a blonde), I chose to miss out on a good deal of night life. To do it over again? Maybe a couple weeks here and there with family/ friends, but overwhelmingly, I'd still go it alone.

Anonymous said...

Well, the last showing of "Long Way Round" has come and gone and I have to admit- I almost cried. What an amazing adventure and outstanding opportunity! I salute all of you who have dropped it all and done what needs doing. With all heart I give a shout to my friend Anto Gutierrez. Rock the surf and take in the world salty sister!