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ABOUT THIS BLOG

In the summer of 2009, Nicolas Rapp decided to take a break from his Art Director job at The Associated Press to attempt a one-year overland travel around the world in a 1996 Toyota Land Cruiser. He was back in New York in February 2011 after traveling 15 months and 37,000 miles.

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THE ROUTE

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  • Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today

    Posted on January 25th, 2011 Nicolas 35 comments
    Santa Monica at sunset.

    Santa Monica at sunset.

    I spend one more week in Los Angeles and use this time to work on freeing my truck from the Customs grip. My container arrives almost in time, but there’s no movement on the port in the week end and for Martin Luther King Day, so I have to be patient. The container is selected – again – for an X-Ray exam. This time it cost me more than $200 versus $35 in Bangkok. And it is only the beginning.

    Skateboard park on Venice Beach, Los Angeles.

    Skateboard park on Venice Beach, Los Angeles.

    As most container carrying personal effects, it is chosen for a secondary inspection. In these cases, you have no choice for transportation or warehouse option. You can’t be here while Customs go through your effects, and you have to let your keys at the office so they can do so. I end up paying $1,350 for this service, which bring the total cost of shipping from Thailand to the U.S. to $3,700. It is costly, but I pay without arguing, after all I am back in the Western world and have to re-adjust to higher rates. In addition, this is the last time I ship, and I am just glad to not have to deal with that anymore.

    Santa Monica Pier.

    Santa Monica Pier.

    My father joined me the previous day, and we continue the visit of the city with Andy. We have good time in Venice where I never went before. A tobacco millionaire, Abbott Kinney, intended to create a seaside resort on the marshy land looking like the Italian Venice. As in my previous stays in the city, I find Los Angeles to be a great place to live, and I am not looking forward to be back in snowy New York.

    Griffith Park Observatory at night. Los Angeles underneath.

    Griffith Park Observatory at night. Los Angeles underneath.

    In the meantime I get some work done on the truck. I put new front shocks in, since there’s 35,000 miles of bad road on them. These shocks were sent to me by ARB while I was in Djibouti (Thanks Jim!). The truck seemed very tired when I started it for the first time in the Customs warehouse. After few minutes running, it was getting better, but I still will need a bit of luck to go across the country and drive the 4,000 miles it involves. The power steering pump is leaking badly, and I hope it can hold until I get back. There will definitely be some work to be done on the truck at this time.

    Canals in Venice.

    Canals in Venice.

    I also work on planning the next stages of my trip. I decide to go up north the Californian coast to San Luis Obispo, go east toward the Sequoia National Park, continues to the Death Valley and all the way to Las Vegas where I should stay for the week-end. There, I plan to meet some of my followers and Gwenaelle and Max, a couple of French friends I stayed with when I crossed Texas a year ago.

    The route I plan to take from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. [Google map]

    The route I plan to take from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. (Google map)

    This 900-miles promenade across California should be interesting and features many incredible landscapes that I am excited to discover. Being back on the road is always electrifying.

    Surfer on the coast along the Pacific Coastal Highway.

    Surfer on the coast along the Pacific Coastal Highway.

    Now that my father is with me, I will have to sleep at motels on the way back home and I book some Travelodge and Motel 6 nights through the internet. At $40 to $50 a night for two people, I find these chains to be the cheapest option and an excellent way to go cross country. Of course it will turn out to be the most expensive segment of my world tour.

    The Pacific Coastal Highway, one of the most enjoyable roads in the U.S.

    The Pacific Coastal Highway, one of the most enjoyable roads in the U.S.

    On Monday morning, I say good-byes to Andy and Michelle, my wonderful hosts for the time I spent in L.A. It was nice to stop there, relax, and accept that I was back for good in the country. I drive up the coast, and stop at the Glenwood care center in Oxnard, which is home to some of my oldest – in every sense of the word – followers.

    The folks at the Glenwood Care Center.

    The folks at the Glenwood Care Center. My father is at my side.

    They stayed abreast of my adventures and sending me emails since I left the U.S. and I can now say without taking much risks that the elder of my fan is 103 (as of today).
    I spend two hours there and continue my drive up to San Luis Obispo.
    If anyone wants to meet on Friday night in Las Vegas, just email me or post a comment!

    The Pacific Coastal Highway further north.

    The Pacific Coastal Highway further north.

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35 Responses to “Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today”

  1. I can’t believe its been so long! Welcome back! And Good luck on the rest of your trip!

  2. Wow, shipping to LA was so expensive! Good thing you don’t have to deal with this again :)

    If you want to swing by here, I’ll help you fix your power steering leaks. :)

  3. NIck,

    Wonderful to have you begin the last 4000 miles of your incredible trip! Home sweet Home!!! (but it’s cold. be ready)

    so now that you’ve just spent $3700 to ship your truck back to the states, how’s your budget doing? what advice would you give to the next “Dangerous Life” since you can definitely see the light at the end of your tunnel?

    suzanne

  4. Nick,
    thank you so much for stopping by, everyone is still talking about the visit. All Ivy wanted for her 103 birthday was a photo of you and her together and I printed it for her this morning. I have to say that as an activity director at a senior center, this visit from you and your father was my favorite experience, in the 8 years that I have been doing it. You were so kind and engaging with them and they behaved (somewhat);) They never grow old in spirit …just in years. Enjoy the rest of your journey with your father. we will continue to follow until the end.
    your friend, Catherine

  5. Oh, what wonderful pictures of my old stomping grounds! I was born in Santa Monica and grew up in the San Fernando Valley. Every one of those pictures (well, skateboard park wasn’t there in 1970!) is of a place I spent many fun days being young.

    Enjoy your trip up the coast. Many beautifuly places to see. Wish you had time to get far enough up the Northern California coast to see the beaches there and the redwoods! Breathtaking!

    Anyway, thanks for the post. I was beginning to panic over what I’d do without your travel adventures!

  6. By the way, wave at my sister as you pass by Laughlin, NV/Bullhead City, AZ area! You’ll be quite close.

  7. Nick! :-)

    I applaud you for your sweet heart that you took time out of your schedule to visit your oldest fans!! I work with Senior Citizens by giving seminars and explaining insurance options. My life has been touched by them!! And I have also felt sad when I have heard they never are visited by family or that their family has even lost contact with them. They are the reason we are here after all. It is their sacrifices and lives that have shaped this country. And furthermore, we will ALL be Senior Citizens someday not so far off. And so thank you!! :-)

    Also, it’s wonderful to see the pictures of California. It’s funny because even though we live in this country, so often we aren’t able to travel to places within our own country due to time etc. Beeeeautiful pictures!! :-)

    Welcome back to the US!

    Be Blessed, be Safe and Enjoy the Journey!!! :-) :-)
    Beth

  8. Well Crap!!! I will be missing you again by just a few days everywhere I go for the next 3 weeks. I missed you in LA by just a day because I was traveling and now I will miss you in Las Vegas because I will be traveling tomorrow (Wednesday) through Saturday and will turn right back around on Monday and fly to New York. I’ll be in New York for 2 weeks, but I have the feeling I will miss you there too. So look up from time to time my friend and if you see a United Boeing 757 heading to or from JFK that will be me looking down and waving at you!

    Travel safe and enjoy the ride across the country. It’s an amazing trip (although I fly most of the time, I have driven across the US three times in my life) and it will be well worth all the time you spend doing it. I hope your father will enjoy it as well (Bonjour Monsieur Rapp. Bienvenue!!). Stop in all the little, out of the way, towns you are able to. They are some of the coolest places to get a real glimpse of Americana.

    I am really very disappointed that I will miss meeting you face to face. So many thinks I wanted to ask you. Perhaps another time. Maybe during your book tour!!

    Heidi

  9. Great pictures, great narrative.
    Dropped a little donation off, for your expensive trip across country.

    I’d like to suggest you check KOA camp grounds.(http://koa.com/) some locations have cabins/motels that are FAR cheaper than most other motels.

    Juliette

  10. @Heidi: I felt the same way you did when I missed Nick by just a day in Guam! I just hope he comes by this way on the way home so I can finally meet our famous traveler!

    @Juliette: Good suggestion on the camp grounds. I forgot about that too. KOAs are the most expensive/best camp grounds, but there are always others to be found (typically mom & pop run), :)

  11. Safe trip across this beautiful country! The Sequoia National Park is a real treat! Death Valley is amazing. Two very different landscapes, each beautiful in their own way.

    Victoria

  12. Mrs. George's class

    Dear Nick-

    We have been looking at your pictures all school year and you have been some great places and met some nice people. We have been pretty excited for you! We are glad you are back in the US and we hope your truck holds up.

  13. It was great to see photos of the Pacific Coast Highway. It brought back memories of my trip to Oxnard, CA to visit a friend 13 years ago. I remember thinking that is was a nice place to visit but it wasn’t like coming home. I hope you don’t rush these last few weeks of your trip. Continue to enjoy the new experiences around you.

  14. in vegas this friday or next? i’ve been following you every single day, and look forward to the blogs; can’t wait for death valley, etc; anyway, my daughter will be in vegas super bowl weekend, would love for her to meet “nicholas rapp – world traveler” !!!

  15. Hi Nick,
    Great to hear (read?) that you’re on the road again.
    I think it’s wonderful that you were able to visit with the senior citizens at Glenwood Care Center – I’m sure you made them smile! That’s awesome.

    I know you’re not completely committed to putting together a book yet, but if you do, will you rely pretty much on your blog posts? Or did you have a journal type thing (electronic or otherwise) to jot down ‘travel notes’ daily? (I’m sure a book would be a fun and very informative read if you decided to do it!) :)

    I hope your travels continue to be safe while you’re crossing the U.S. Thank you again for sharing!

    Stay toasty!

  16. Hey nick great to see you back stateside. The offer of burnt steaks on the grill still stand if you come through wichita ks. Might even be able to throw a cocktail or 2 you and your dads way as well.

  17. Hey, Nick, I’m relieved that you are back in the USA, whole and sane, but also, I feel a bit of melancholy like I feel at the end of a really suspenseful book or movie–”I wish it wasn’t over.”

    Anyway, I do look forward to your travels and observations as you traverse this continent! Kudos for your energy, Nick!

    Hope to meet you some day!

    Ned in PA

  18. I’ve been following your route for months now and saw you were coming through Sequoia Nat’l Park. We live near the park on HWY 180 from Fresno and have a place available to stay if you need it.

  19. Mrs. George's Class - IL

    Dear Nick-

    We have been reading and looking at your pictures since the beginning of the school year. You have been to some really cool places and met some nice people. We are glad you are back in the US and we hope your truck holds up!

  20. I love the photos! I miss the Santa Monica beach and HWY 101. I used to drive that route whenever I needed a day to de-stress. I lived just off Mulholland Hwy and I would head over to the coast through Topanga Canyon and come back through Malibu Canyon. Ah, what memeories – thanks again!

    The only disturbing note was the last photo you took of the coastal highway in Northern Calif. The roads are in such disrepair! It never used to be that way when I lived there pre 1990. Such a shame.

    Again, thanks for the update and the story of your senior citizen visit. It is true we will all be there someday. I wonder if we will have a Nicolas Rapp come to see us then?

    Safe travels!
    Charlene

  21. Good to hear you are on the move again with your Dad. We drove up the coast a couple of years ago and through Sequoia National Park. Amazing!!! We drove south of Death Valley, through the Mojave Desert. That is one drive I never want to do again! But I am ready to drive up the coast again. We drove Route 66 and had the best time, Heidi was right the small towns are the BEST!! Make sure you see all the quirky sights along the way. Have fun, enjoy being with your Dad and drive safe! AND, it was a nice thing to stop by and see some of your oldest followers!

  22. Definitely look into the KOA Kamping Kabins. Most are less than $50 a night, located in rural areas and give you an outside porch that you can’t find locked up in a motel. You bring a sleeping bag, your towels and you can cook outside. No, I don’t work for them but I love the concept!!!

  23. Nick,

    I have followed you since before your journey began, and I have to say I absolutely love the stories you have posted, I feel as if I have been there travelling with you. I am so happy that you have made it safely back in the US. Driving the southern route out of California is a very scenic one as I have driven it before. You will have a ball in Vegas and points there after. I wish nothing but great adventure for you and your Dad and hopefully you will have a chance to stop in Indianapolis, well it is cold and snowy but then again so is NYC!!! I will truly miss your travel stories, and look forward to a book documenting the stories if you so choose to do so! Take your time back to NY, I am not ready for this adventure to end! :)

  24. Dear Nick:

    I hear that San Luis Obispo is one of the happiest towns in the USA. When time permits please let us know what you think. Also, please do consider remaining on Highway 101 and make your way up the beautiful Oregon coast, and on to Seattle. :) But, I know that your route is set in stone. You and your dad are welcome to rest up in Washington State. Not a problem. Btw, you look well rested,happy, content and relieved. Okay, stay safe, enjoy and many blessings your way.
    -joyMaria

  25. Awwwww too bad you’re not taking Highway 1 into Lompoc. I’ve been following you since the very beginning!!!

  26. Nick, I can’t believe I have followed your journey since you started. I have loved living vicariously through your experiences. Can’t wait for the book. Welcome home to the US.

  27. Sorry I missed you in Venice Nick. I work a few blocks away from Venice Beach.

  28. If you come by Minnesota let me know. We can do a nice Mexican meal with the family and you. My kids would love to hear your real life adventures as I would to. Welcome Back!!

  29. So glad you stopped at the Senior Center! What a nice man you are!

  30. Good to have ya back! Matson shipping Copany would be the best opion next time. You would have not been picked as a scan, They most likey need to due to good palce to hide stuff in a car- But we know your just a traveling man.

  31. Welcome back Nick!

  32. Sooooo glad your back in the US! I have been following you from the start. I am from Texas (south, you may have passed through my port on your way to Mexico) Anyway I will be in Las Vegas friday Feb 4th. Which Friday were you going to be in Las Vegas, Jan 28th or Feb 4? I would love to meet you!

  33. I’ve been following you since you left New York, seen all of your pictures around the globe, and couldn’t believe it when I saw your picture of the skadeboarding park in Venice Beach – I took a picture from that exact spot less than 2 weeks ago! So it’s really hit me that you’re back in a familiar part of the world. And, as someone who traveled across the US by bicycle and stopped along the way visiting with people with disabilities not unlike your visit in Oxnard, I commend you – it really makes a difference!

    Adam
    Washington, DC

  34. How thoughtful to stop and see the Senior Citizens. I’m a cardiac rehab nurse and LOVE my senior patients. They are so amazing when you take the time to get to know them. Between my WWII vets, my NASA engineer, my 91 year old couple who are still flying off to who knows where, I never cease to be amazed by them. Your visit will give them something to talk about for months to come. You’ve just given us another glimpse into your character. Thanks, Nick.

  35. Hi Nick,
    been following your trip since the beginning and can’t believe it that its almost over. Let us know when your projected arrival date to NYC.

    Good luck!
    David
    Kearny, NJ