Today it’s 4th July 2015. Happy Independence Day to you all in the USA!
Although I’m not an American, July 4th has particularly special significance for me and each year this day brings back a flood of memories.
Five years ago today my “100 goals in 100 weeks” journey came to an end. I’d travelled the world for almost two years, tackling my “bucket list” of 100 personal goals.
For those unfamiliar with my story, my goal-achieving globe-trotting journey had been kick-started on August 3rd 2008, after I listed my “entire life” for sale on eBay following a painful separation and divorce.
I decided that the most fitting place to end my two-year journey would be in New York, visiting the Statue of Liberty. For decades this statue has represented a fresh start – a new beginning for so many people. I often imagine large ships filled with Irish or Italian immigrants arriving in New York in the 1920s and 30s, carrying people with hopes for a better life than the one they had left behind. What an amazing sight Lady Liberty must have been for these expectant immigrants.
At the end of my own personal globe-trotting journey on the 4th of July 2010, this iconic symbol of freedom represented the start of a new phase of my life too and the final step in moving on from my past.
Since that day five years ago I have been interviewed many times, and have even had a few TV appearances. In almost every interview I have been asked which was the most memorable goal I achieved.
It’s a tough question to answer, as they were all pretty special in one way or another. My answer differs sometimes, depending I think on the mood the interviewer catches me in. Sometimes my answer is “Riding the Wall of Death”, sometimes it is “Swimming with Whales”.
I can never really pin the answer down to one goal, so here, five years later, are five of the goals I achieved that still shine brightly in my memory.
1) Driving across America on Route 66
Route 66 is the iconic “Main Street of America”, stretching over two thousand miles from Chicago to Los Angeles. It figures on many bucket lists, and had long been on mine.
In Chicago I bought an old secondhand RV which was to be my home for the next three months or so as I headed west through the heartland of America.
I have so many great memories from the journey. The places are wonderful, and for much of the time it feels like you are a bit-part actor in some giant road movie.
You’ll be familiar with many of the place names from the song made famous by The Rolling Stones – St Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Gallup, and so on.
I particularly enjoyed my time in Oklahoma, where I met some great people. The giant arch in St Louis is breath-taking, and reaching the Pacific coast at the end of the journey brings great satisfaction.
What I also remember clearly is the sense of freedom on days alone with a long stretch of empty road ahead, the high desert sprinkled with snow stretching away to the horizon.
But the real high points of the journey for me were the warm, friendly and hospitable people I met along the way.
I loved the free-wheeling RV lifestyle, so much so that I returned to it again last year with my partner Vanessa for a second big US road trip. We’ll be back again too – there is still so much more to see.
You too could take this classic road trip. If you don’t want to buy an RV, consider renting one from an RV rental agency.
My blog posts from the journey:
2) Juggling with fire clubs
I’m not a very accomplished juggler, but I can manage to keep three balls in the air successfully. When I was practising fairly regularly I could also manage three clubs.
But I wanted to juggle with fire!
I was flattered to receive an invite from none other than world-famous juggler Vova Galchenko, who suggested I join him and his friends for Thanksgiving dinner in the California hills.
The house was stunning, the people wonderful, and the experience amazing.
Vova Galchenko in action…
… and my poor attempt to do something similar.
I have been studying a little about brain function recently – you’ve got to keep the old grey matter active as you get older! I found an article suggestion that juggling is a great excercise for developing and maintaining your brain flexibility and functionality.
Find out more about juggling, and perhaps consider learning a new skill – you might find it easier than you think.
My fire juggling blog posts:
3) Getting high in Colorado (!)
I spent a week in Colorado tackling some of the 14ers – mountains with summits above a height of 14,000 feet. I had been invited by Val and a group of his mountaineering buddies to join them on a quest to tackle “7 peaks in 7 days”. Of course it was a challenge I couln’t resist.
The weather was beautiful for the whole week, and the scenery was stunning. Val and Co. had done a great job in organising a week of climbing, steadily increasing in difficulty as the week progressed.
Once again, while the adventure was amazing, for me it was the people that made this a uniquely special adventure. I am still friends with many of my climbing buddies to this day, and we catch up as often as we can when our paths cross.
For the record, we actually summited eight of the 14ers within the week:
Pikes Peak, Democrat, Lincoln, Bross, Sneffells, Wetterhorn Peak, Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle.
My blog posts from the week:
4) March of the Red Crabs
I once saw a documentary about the spectacular migration of the red crabs of Christmas Island. Seeing this spectacle was something that had to go on my list of goals.
Christmas Island, in the Indian Ocean, isn’t easy to get to. You can fly from Perth in Western Australia, or as I did, from either Malaysia or Singapore, depending on which carrier is currently operating – it seems to change fairly frequently.
I spent two weeks on the remote island, and once again, as so often happened on my adventures, met some wonderful people.
The place is spectacular, the nature fascinating, and when it did eventually happen, the march of the crabs is awe-inspiring.
The event happens around November/December each year, and depends on the moon phase. You will need to do a bit of research for the year you plan to go. The resources below shoud help.
Here is a video overview of my experience of the event:
My blog posts about this amazing place:
5) Naked skydiving
While skydiving might not be on everyone’s bucket list, I would heartily encourage you to at last try a tandem jump, where you are linked to an instructor who does everything for you. It is an incredibly thrilling and life-affirming experience.
I did my first skydive on my 40th bithday, and got a little hooked. Since then I have done almost 200 jumps. As you approach your 100th jump, people will suggest it is time you did a jump without clothes. It is a bit of a ritual in the skydive fraternity.
So I thought I should add this milestone jump to my bucket list of adventures.
Here’s how my naked jump worked out…
… and how your first jump could be.
If you are interested in trying out skydiving, I’d suggest a simple web search for your nearest skydive club, and get in touch. They’ll be happy to help.
Here are a couple of my blog posts about my naked skydiving adventures:
More “fantastic fives”:
There are so many great experiences to enjoy in life.
In celebration of the five-year anniversary of the completion of my “100 goals in 100 weeks” challenge, I have written five blog posts, each containing five ideas for fun-filled adventures or experiences you could add to your own personal bucket list.
Feel free to add your own bucket list suggestions in the comments section below.