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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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  • When it begins to look like our traveler is going to make it around the world

    Posted on February 11th, 2011 Nicolas No comments
    Driving through Utah.

    Driving through Utah.

    Indeed, as I am writing this, at least than 400 miles from New York City, it does look like I am going to be able to do it. On Saturday, after fifteen months on the road, I am going to reenter the city via the George Washington Bridge.
    For the longest time, while advancing through remote countries, I have been reluctant to say I was driving around the world. I always preferred to declare I was “trying” to go around the world. Now it may be time to change that.
    Few days back, after spending the night in southeast Utah, we were back on the road and passed the Colorado state line. We were still going through arctic temperatures, and I couldn’t help but be amazed that the truck never gave me much problem, no matter what climate I was in. In temperatures ranging from -30F to 130F, the vehicle started right away each time. The steering box is not leaking as much now, since the liquid is not as thin in the cold, and my fridge doesn’t complain either after having kept food cold through the hottest climates on earth. Basically, me and my dad are the only one to object to the ridiculous freezing temperatures.

    Mesa Verde National Park, dwellings in the cliffs.

    Mesa Verde National Park, dwellings in the cliffs.

    Nobody knows what became of the inhabitants.

    Nobody knows what became of the inhabitants.

    Shortly after entering Colorado, we leave the main road to penetrate the Mesa Verde National Park. A civilization of Pueblo Indians lived in the cliffs there around AD 1,200.

    Nobody knows why they disappear in the next hundred years. Disease or just looking for better life conditions may have been the cause. Regardless, it is fascinating to visit the dwellings protected from the natural elements by the cliffs.

    The visit is very uncomfortable because of the cold and snow, and soon enough we are back on the road.

    I drive through the mountains of Colorado after stopping for lunch in charming Durango.

    Leaving Mesa Verde Park.

    Leaving Mesa Verde Park.

    Everybody does a good work at keeping the road relatively free of snow, so the progression is easy. We spend a night in Alamosa, and in the morning I spend some time finding a new power converter for my laptop, as I forgot mine in the previous motel. I guess I can’t complain, given that I really didn’t loose much in this long trip.

    In the Colorado mountains.

    In the Colorado mountains.

    Once the mountains are behind, we go a bit south and enter Oklahoma. It is the first of many days driving through monotonous landscapes. There are not many photos to take, and I apologize for the banality of the ones I present here. As I was traveling though foreign countries, I noticed that most inhabitants spent a lot of time outside, therefore I could witness easily their intimate life. Now, because of the cold and the very different ways of our western life, I am just going through mostly empty landscapes.

    Leaving Colorado.

    Leaving Colorado.

    Many people think my accent is pretty funny tough, when I stop for food in restaurants along the route. It seems like they don’t see many foreigners driving through. Food is not great in the many places we stop at, but the option of cooking outside is not here anymore. It is beyond doubt not a culinary tour anyway, and we eat in the cheapest places around.

    Church in Oklahoma. Everything is flat and immense.

    Church in Oklahoma. Everything is flat and immense.

    You can drive straight lines for hundreds of miles.

    You can drive straight lines for hundreds of miles.

    We stop quickly in Guthrie, a town north of Oklahoma City, famous for its brick and stone Victorian buildings. The place seems to be empty of its inhabitants as people are awaiting a fresh snowstorm later in the evening.

    Guthrie, few miles north of Oklahoma City.

    Guthrie, few miles north of Oklahoma City.

    After a night in Oklahoma City, we visit the Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which is fun and features interesting painting exhibits.

    The Oklahoma City Capitol. Notice the oil well just in front.

    The Oklahoma City Capitol. Notice the oil well just in front.

    The Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

    The Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

    More driving brings us to Fort Smith, at the border with Arkansas, where we spend the night. The following evening sees us in Memphis, Tennessee. The place is somewhat depressing usually, but even more under the snow and bad weather.

    In the morning we walk in the city center, and here too, streets are empty. Poverty is rampant in the city named after the capital of ancient Egypt.

    Memphis skyline.

    Memphis skyline.

    One of Memphis many churches.

    One of Memphis many churches.

    I can see my father begins to be tired by the long trip. Maybe I miscalculated a bit when I planned the trip back, as it is a lot of driving every day, more than what I am used to.

    Egypt is on the news every night as well, and I think of the people on the road in Africa, trying to do the eastern route as I did last year. It was already not easy, but now it has to be more difficult.

    Beale Street, Memphis. Where people go out to bars.

    Beale Street, Memphis. Where people go out to bars.

    The Djibouti-Yemen route I used may see an influx of visitors now, even so I believe I was the first one in many years to have used it.

    The world famous Gibson guitars factory.

    The world famous Gibson guitars factory.

    Back in the U.S., we continue to drive toward Nashville, where I have diner with Mrs. Marti, with who I have been emailing since the beginning of my trip. A little incursion south the following day allows us to visit the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg. It is worth to visit if you are around, but I would not do hundreds of miles to check out the site.

    Typical landscape in eastern Tennessee.

    Typical landscape in eastern Tennessee.

    The county is dry, so I can’t even get one shot for the road before I leave for Chattanooga. A nice surprise awaits me there, as the city is very agreeable. Katie – another follower of the blog – takes me around in the nighttime for a visit, and it looks like people have a nice quality of life and enjoy living there.

    Jack Daniels bourbon distillery.

    Jack Daniels bourbon distillery.

    Barrels of Jack. Wish I could take one for the road.

    Barrels of Jack.

    Named the “dirtiest city in America” back in the 1960s, you would be surprised by its evolution. Nowadays it is very green, there are plenty of waterfront paths for pedestrians and bicycles, a pedestrian bridge also across the Tennessee River, and many museums can be found across the city.

    Lynchburg, Tennessee.

    Lynchburg, Tennessee.

    Too bad I am not visiting during the summer, I bet there’s enough to spend few days without getting bored. But I have to get going, and after Katie gives me nice samples of southern food, I am back on the highway.

    Another familiar sight in Tennessee.

    Another familiar sight in Tennessee.

    This time I am going north, and for good. There will be no more sinuous paths. I am going to New York, and should be there before the end of the week.

    Sunset in southeast Tennessee before entering Chattanooga.

    Sunset in southeast Tennessee before entering Chattanooga.

    Crossing Virginia takes a long time, especially because I try several times to get to the Blue Ridge Highway. The 75 years old road was part of the New Deal’s efforts to provide jobs to the unemployed of the Great Depression. I already used part of the ribbon of highway along the high Appalachian ridges when I left NY in 2009, and wanted to take the same route to come back.

    Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Riding the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    Unfortunately, after driving few dozen miles, the road was closed. Once again we were punished by the snow. We attempted to reenter the road several time at different points of its 400-miles path, but it was closed everywhere.

    A lake along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    A lake along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

    On Thursday night I arrived in Winchester, northern Virginia. I was now only a few hours away from New York.

    Fixing coffee in front of one of the numerous motels we stayed at while driving across the country.

    Fixing coffee in front of one of the numerous motels we stayed at while driving across the country.

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143 Responses to “When it begins to look like our traveler is going to make it around the world”

  1. Congrats!! Nick. Glad you made back home. It was amazing to follow your journey and thank you for sharing. Will you consider doing another trip around the world, maybe hit all the countries you missed this time? Please let every one know, if you write a book about your experience. By the way, that will be an amazing book. Take car Nick 🙂

  2. Nick,

    Loved the article you wrote.

    Just gotta ask… Are you okay? You look a little down in that pic with the coffee outside the motel. Part of you wanted to get home, but there was a new part of you that didn’t want it to end, right? I saw it written on your face. Must be kind of a downer to be back in this dull “real world”. Blecchhh. Don’t blame you.

    All I can say is hang in there. I think somehow this is going to turn into a career for you. Maybe it already has. It’s obviously your passion. I don’t think you’ll ever be satisfied at a desk job again… just my suspicion. I have a feeling there is something for you that will allow you to be mobile and make money at the same time. It’s on its way.

    After a break, you may just need to get back out there on a dirt road somewhere to find it… unless you’re sitting in an office discussing a pilot with the Discovery Channel right now. If not, the way to make money from it will come to you. You already attracted some amazing attention. It’s going to happen. Big things are coming.

    Hope all is well in NYC.

    John

  3. C’mon Nick…WE NEED CLOSURE HERE! You need to write a final goodbye post, or a the trip is over post, or something befitting the end of this journey we all took with you. The blog about the trip itself needs to be closed out so some of us can move on…

  4. Welcome back Nick,
    How did I miss this!!! I didn’t find out about you until just the other day when I saw a news article on my local news website. I would have been following you. Now I can only look back and admire what you did. Still interesting thou. It’s like recording the Superbowl and watching it later when you know who won.
    I love Toyota trucks. Did Toyota motor Corp. contact you to use you for advertising? I thought you were using a newer model Toyota until I saw it was a 1996. Some things seem to be a little stronger about some of the older models because I owned a 1996 for 12 years and now own a 2007 model. I am wondering how many miles were on your 2006 before you started this trip. No need to answer me back on this question because I’m sure you have your hands full just reading all the comments.
    Take Care and God Bless
    Chris

  5. Congrats Nick. Keep us posted with what’s going on with you. -Mike

  6. Does anyone know for sure that he made it all the way?
    Could he have had an accident or fallen ill on the very last leg of his trip? I hope not!

    It doesn’t seem like him to end this blog in Utah, without a goodbye.

    If anyone has news, please let the rest of us know!

  7. I meant “end this blog in Virginia” without a goodbye.

  8. He tweeted he was in NYC

  9. I keep checking every day for some picture of Nick in New York and some closure.

  10. Hi Nick: A bit “d-bag’ish” to not make a final post on your return to NYC and leave off the blog where you did. Kinda makes some of us who followed from last Novemeber 2009 think you are a schmuck. Jason

  11. Hey guys,
    thanks for your patience, and sorry i have not been able to make the last post yet. I made it back home OK, and quickly drove my truck to Brooklyn where I parked off the street, since all my tags are expired. I forgot my camera in the truck, so I didn’t have pictures for this final post. Should be back in Brooklyn this week.
    Since I have been back, I put all my energy toward the job search, since – as you can imagine – I have to work to finance my New York come back. Also working on getting the truck guaranty back from AAA, which will make more than 10 K available to me.
    I will have a final post soon, and there will be new content added to the website, as well as a complete redesign so people who didn’t follow the blog week by week will be able to navigate through time more easily.
    Long story short, give me a little bit of time to get organized here, and I will be back.

    And yes, it’s not easy to be finish with this adventure, which may be why I am reluctant to do this final post…

  12. Oooh, Jason, harsh

  13. Jenni-Kirkland, WA

    Please just know you are missed when we don’t hear from you. It would even be great to see a simple Twitter or post about something you are enjoying now that you are home again. You were constantly on the go for so long – you deserve any rest & recuperation you can manage.

  14. hey Nick,

    Thanks for the update..we do understand your current situation. Just like everybody else, you have to set up your priorities too. Good Luck on your job search and keep us posted. Eagerly waiting for the final post. Hope everything is going well.

  15. No worries Nick! Thanks so much for the update. While we all may have been extremley antsy for an update, I think it is fair to say that “d’bagish” was far from what we were thinking. Understandably, it is both crazy buzy and emotional in trying to get back into the swing of things and find a way to write the last post. Just know we are all standing by you and looking forward to what lies ahead for you. As always, thanks for taking us along on your journey.

    Jaime

  16. Jason in Arkansas

    Nick,
    Thanks for the update. We all look forward to your final post.

    One great thing about following this blog was not having to see negative comments from bloggers as we do in other blogs. From all of us, and with respect to Nick for allowing us all to follow him for the duration of his magnificent journey, please do not post anything negative.

  17. …total agreement with ‘Jason in Arkansas’ about the no negative comments… Nick, do take your time to find you next job – which is sometimes a full-time job kind of thing. We do missed your post but understand you have your personal priorities first. It’s good to hear that you’re safely home.

  18. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    Pray tell!
    Is there a blog that DOESN’T have negative bloggers and people like “J” irritating the rest of us? Of course not! Soooooooooooo, why do so many of the non-negative bloggers chime in enhancing this kind of behavior. Simply ignore those posts and they go away. Those kind of folks feed off of your responses.

    Read my lips….. IGNORE and THEY’LL GO AWAY!

    Nick,
    Thanks for the update. We feel the anticipation of the reclamation process you’re facing. We’ve all gone away on a two week vacation and taken another 2 weeks to get back to a daily routine. After 16 months… and staring from scratch… you’ll need lots of time. Good luck. If you are half as successful in your job searching as you were on your spin around the planet… you’ll score an A+.
    Cheers,
    Harvey

  19. Harvey,

    I may be in love with you! Hahahahahaha just kidding! 🙂 If Nick can’t post at least you keep me entertained, your posts are always funny and thoughtful. Thanks!

    Jaime

  20. Ultimately, it takes some degree of gravitas to acknowledge the people who donated their time and money to the cause of the YoLD. Nick, this is done by timely closing the door. Don’t get me wrong, I find you an amazing and adventurous person and respect your accomplishment, I just find the lack of respect to your readers and financiers a bit uncouth.

    Your point is well taken however: Time to get on with life. For those of us who have been following for the past year plus, make the final post, and we can get on with our next adventure, be it virtual or actual. Where I come from, we call manners: you leave the dance with the person who brought you, without them having to ask. Call it the last lesson learned from your journey if you like…

  21. Dear Jason,
    Thank you so much for this last lesson, I have so much to learn from you. If I am not mistaken, it is the first day in my life I hear from you, and you didn’t gave me any time or any money. In exchange for that, I gave you something to read for the last fifteen month.
    I know what I owe to my readers and to the people who have been with me since the beginning and helping when they could, and I will deliver when I can. It will be my great pleasure to finish this blog, and I plan to add much more content to it, including maps and video.
    In the meantime, you should learn to show as much patience as I did when I was stuck for weeks waiting for a boat, for example.
    Wherever you come from, dear Jason, if you can acquire this quality, you may call that a lesson you learned from my journey.

  22. Going to go out on a limb here and say that I kinda agree with JW. A bit blunt in his language, but not too far off the mark… Just my thougths. Anyway, your rock Nick, even if he thinks your are ill mannered. Peace out.

  23. Hey, Nicolas! Glad you made it back here safe and sound! I don’t know if I missed it, but are you having some sort of welcome home party? I would love to meet you somewhere and thank you for the year and a half of entertainment you provided for me. I live in Park Slope, so, if you ever want to go to Gorilla for a cup of coffee…..I’m there! Thanks again!

  24. Harvey (Naples, FL)

    Nick and all of his loyal followers (…and you know who you are),

    Please remember the words of one of the funnest guys to ever walk the planet… Mr. Bill Cosby:

    “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.”

    We often spend so much time to think about how to succeed that we forget to think about how to fail. But knowing how to fail is just as important as knowing how to succeed because we can then learn about what NOT to do. It’s dangerous to fix our eyes on the destination without being aware of the pitfalls along the way. A handful of these posters are pitfalls! We may run fast to our destination only to find ourselves trapped in the pitfalls at the end.

    One such pitfalls is trying to please everybody. Here are some of the dangers of trying to please everybody. I would guess that 99% of people who have left comments here over the last 16 months have been positive and upbeat. There’s always going to be a rotten apple in every barrel. You may waste a lot of time on the wrong people while investing too little time in the right people. At the end, you could lose the right people since you do not invest enough in them.

    You may experience disappointment after disappointment. You may think that you have done badly due to the rejection and opposition you face, while actually you are just dealing with the wrong people. You won’t have strong principles since you try to be “acceptable” to everyone which is impossible to achieve. As Cosby said, don’t even try!

    Focus on those of us… your vocal majority who have followed you all the way and simply dismiss those you can’t please. You’re plainly not going to bat 100% every time. Let ‘um go Nick. We’re here, were involved and we’re looking to your future adventure. Invest in us! Good!

    Cheers,
    Harvey

  25. Hello Nick:

    As you know I have been traveling across India—-well, north to South. We are now in Kochi. I must revisit your blog entry to see if you traveled through this lovely area. At any rate, I just wanted to say hello and that it was great catching up with you in New York prior to leaving for India. There will be much to share.

    Given my absence I have no idea what Harvey above is referring to but his advice is meaningful and I always enjoy reading just how much he and others support your mission. I think what critics do not realize is that your head is so so far above trivial conversations. Accomplishments like yours have earned a lot of people international prizes, honorary degrees fro major universities, etc., etc. You are functioning at a much higher level than the critics who would not dare to drive across Mississippi alone, never mind Mexico,etc., etc. Okay, this is my take. Talk soon. Hugs,
    -joyMaria

  26. Nicolas,

    You have done your part better than anyone should expect. Would a marathon runner finish his race and then run around the track again to wave to his fans? You get 2 thumbs up for a job well done and admiration for your accomplishment. I think it is highly doubtful that a similar trip could be completed by anyone else. I thank you for the energy and tenacity you had to keep us all informed, all the while trying to keep yourself out of trouble! Good luck in your future ventures.

  27. Nick;
    Congratulations. I’ve followed the website and blog since you started the trip. I’ve told my friends about it. I’ve showed my 13 year old son. It has been very interesting. My hope is to someday be able to do what you’ve done or something similar. I’ve got to tell you that when you said you were driving through Yemen I came home each night waiting for a post. Your story about the drive through there was very interesting, exciting, and scary all at the same time. Given today’s world events you may be the last one to do that for some time to come. Anyway thanks for giving me a year of living dangerously. Have you thought about trying to make some money from speaking engagements? You’ve been around the world. It was your stage. Maybe there is a way to bring the stage to others. It was inspiring to me and I feel others would find it inspiring too. Not sure if you’re interested in being a motivational speaker though.

    Anyway, good luck and thanks again.
    Tony

  28. Nick,
    Do whatever you need to do…you’ve earned that right. Take care.

    -Ken

    PS. How was it traveling with your father?

  29. Hello Nick,
    Thanks for the update that you reached safe. Hope to see your new post but take your time settling down. I am one of your fans who visit daily looking for updates.

    Dr. Joymaria, good to hear you are in Kochi. I grew up in Kochi before I moved to the US. Hope you are enjoying Kerala. Nick, if you ever go to India again, Kerala is a must see place.

    Regards!

  30. Nick….You rock! We all miss your blog, but know in your own time that we will hear from you again. Until then, take care.

    Victoria

  31. Nick,

    Thanks for briefly checking in with us by responding to Jason. Harvey is right, as I am sure you already know, you can never please everyone so don’t stress over it. I am eagerly awaiting your next post to see how you’ve been settling in. I’m very interested in seeing how a person adjusts to life in one place after being a nomad for over a year.

    In a way we all have been your travel companions and have grown very fond of you. In the spirit of friendship, I would hate to have you completely cut me, or the rest of your long-time followers, off from communication as abruptly as Jason seems to be suggesting. I am sure that you will say your farewell’s to us when you are ready. In the meantime, if Jason does not wish to hear anymore of your life or adventures he can simply not check your blog.

    Personally, I have been following along since the beginning in 2009 and have made a few financial contributions. I feel that Nick can and will leave the rest of us when he wishes. If someone out there feels they are unable to pull themselves away from Nick’s blog and wants him to be the one to break the connection, then I see that as a compliment to Nick’s writing and photography. But I do implore anyone with that problem to seek help, turn off the computer and get out more.

    Kara

  32. NICK, SO GOOD TO HEAR FROM YOU, WE ARE VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE UPCOMING OVERHAUL OF THE SITE.BEST OF LUCK ON YOUR JOB SEARCH.
    CATHERINE

  33. YEAH NICK! Do what you need to do when you need to do it, and know that we, your loyal followers, will always be here for you!.

  34. I have not commented till now but I must say I found Jason’s comments out of line. While I too would like a last post and possibly some info for a similar trip I am planning Nick owes us nothing and it is us that owe a debt to him for allowing us to follow his adventure and for his well written blog. Thanks again, a fellow New Yorker. However I do think if your could organize speaking tours that might be a way of generating some short term cash.

  35. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Well said Nick! Your words have made me smile all day. I’d sure be on that mission too to get 10 grand back too!!! Don’t quite remember why you had to pay that expense. Whew! As always, you will be soooo persistant and patient.

    Forge on to the money due back to you!

    Ms. Marti

  36. Ms. Marti~Nashville, TN

    Friends of Nick,
    Just to let you all know, you can still donate to Nick with Pay Pal. Just because the trip is over doesn’t mean we can’t show our deepest appreciation to him for all the time and entertainment he has provided us in the last year and a half. Remember he was working for us too, it truly was hard for him to keep up with all his blog friends and the responsibilites on the trip.

    Ms. Marti

  37. Nick,
    While I’m sure being in NY you’ll be able to find a publisher should you do a book of your travels, I would also like to recommend a website called kickstarter.com.

    You set a price for what it would take to put it together (be a book, art project,etc…), and then people donate a pledge which would only get charged to them once the goal amount is reached.

    I have no affiliations with that sight but it is a great place to support projects and to get projects supported by like-minded individuals who want to see something come to fruition. Sometimes it’s like PBS where for x donation they get a book, or a mention in the book, or a book mark….

    GOOD LUCK on your job search and I look forward to continued trip postscript….

    jim

  38. Thanks for the update, Nick. Glad to hear you’re well!

  39. Thanks, Ms. Marti. He still deserves our support and encouragement as he re-enters life in New York. I definitely appreciate all the adventures I was able to experience these many months. Nick wasn’t obligated to share his life and experiences with us, but he did graciously. We are all richer for it. Kudos, Nick! and welcome home.

  40. Congrats – but really, you spend a year driving around the world, blogging about it, and then finally make it, and you can’t be bothered to update your blog when you actually complete the journey? Your final entry is ‘almost there now, and then nothing?

  41. I have really enjoyed reading your blog over the past year and a half, it was a nice break to a mundane day at work and I miss checking in on your adventures. Good for you for following your dreams and best of luck to you in settling back in NYC! Helen in Dallas

  42. Hello Nick,
    This is my first post although I’ve been following your journey since the beginning. I haven’t posted before because everyone else said what I felt and thought. However, I wanted to tell you that I have tremendous admiration for your courage, abilities, and tenacity. Thank you so much for allowing us to take this journey with you. I’ve prayed for your safety, worried about your health, bitten my nails and chewed my lips with concern when it seemed too long between posts. I’m so amazed at your strength of will, your compassion for other people, your generosity in sharing with your readers and people you met along the way, and your wonderfully intelligent and insightful comments. I’ll continue to keep you in my prayers as you search for a job and get re-settled. You certainly deserve some “down” time to recover and recoup. You’re such a wonderful person and I think I can safely speak for all of us that we feel honored that you were willing to share so much of yourself with us. I know I feel like we’re “family” now and perhaps that’s why it’s so hard to think of letting you go. But you owe us nothing. You have already given so many of us such an incredible gift. I wish you the very best and I too am looking forward to your book! Thank you again for the past 16 months.

  43. Nick,
    You are the man! We know and you know it. Eff the naysayers. Your loyal followers know that you will be back and will finalize the blog. We’ve been with you all along and always will be. We are all so proud of what you’ve accomplished. Take your time, get your life organized. We can and will wait for you!

    Take Care,
    Heidi