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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.

Visited countries

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MONTHLY ARCHIVES

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.

  • When our traveler fools himself as Phileas Fogg but doesn’t win £20,000

    Posted on January 17th, 2011 Nicolas 52 comments
    Scene from the 1956 movie "Around the world in 80 days" based on Jules Verne novel.

    Scene from the 1956 movie "Around the world in 80 days" based on Jules Verne novel.

    Before I go to the airport in Tokyo, I make sure to coordinate with some people so we can meet at the airport and celebrate my return on the “Land of milk and honey” AKA the United States. As I leave on Saturday afternoon, I expect to arrive on Sunday morning at the Los Angeles airport.

    Downtown Los Angeles, the business area.

    Downtown Los Angeles, the business area.

    I have great time in the plane, thanks to my pal Scott who was able to book a stand-by ticket in business class for me. I have ten hours to relax, and as I cannot sleep, I spend some time watching some old pictures from South America and Africa. It has been one hell of a trip my friends, I have to say. I am on my way home, and from now on, everything will be very different.

    Los Angeles skyline.

    Los Angeles skyline.

    L.A. City Hall.

    L.A. City Hall.

    It is now time to find a job, and it looks like the economy hasn’t got back on the right track since my departure as I was hoping. I am not too worry about it yet, as I have some time before being back in the city, and I have friends who keep their eyes open for opportunities back east.
    After flying across the pacific, I finally arrive in Los Angeles, California, where I pass immigration and customs without problems. Later I figure that something is wrong. While I was ready to meet some people as I exit the terminal, there is nobody here waiting for me. I figure I am a little bit early, and I wait a moment. But few minutes later, I begin to suspect that something is definitely not right. I ask what day of the week it is to someone, and she tells me it’s Saturday. Later on, I check with someone else, but I have to accept the reality: it is still Saturday and I traveled in time.
    And then I remembered Phileas Fogg, one of my early challenger in my trip around the world. Fogg is the main character of Jules Verne’s book “Around the World in 80 days”. In order to win a wager with his fellow club members, he attempted to circumnavigate the globe within 80 days. To do so, he traveled constantly eastward, as I did. And he won his £20,000 bet because as me, he gained a day on his journey. If we would have traveled on the opposite direction, toward the west, we would have lost a day.

    House in Pasadena.

    House in Pasadena.

    In journeying eastward I went towards the sun, and the days therefore diminished of four minutes each time I crossed one degrees. There are three hundred and sixty degrees on the circumference of the earth; which multiplied by four minutes, equals twenty-four hours – the day gained.

    Downtown Los Angeles.

    Downtown Los Angeles.

    The city seen from Griffith Park.

    Sight from Griffith Park.

    Frank Lloyd Wright house.

    Frank Lloyd Wright house.

    In short, as I passed the international dateline at midnight Saturday night, the day restarted as of Saturday at 00:01.
    I saw the sun rise 416 time during my travel, and my friend in New York saw it only 415 times. That’s right my friends, in addition of seeing all these marvelous places, I also gained one more day on this planet.
    Once again, as I arrived in Los Angeles, I had to improvise and get going. I took the bus to Union Station, watching by the windows a landscape I haven’t seen in almost fifteen months. The Continental United States and its inhabitants going to work, to the beach or shopping. I was back home, and near completion.

    Studio City, Los Angeles.

    Studio City, Los Angeles.

    My old friend Andy.

    My old friend Andy.

    I took the train to Burbank where my friend Andy lives, and quickly enough, I rescheduled the upcoming day meeting so friends and followers could meet me at a nearby restaurant in the morning.
    It was great to meet some people there who have been reading the blog for a long time. Some of them were interested by the travel, others by the experience, and some were buffs of Land Cruisers. We had good time, and I didn’t see much people since. Now that I am back in a familiar territory, and not moving everyday, my rhythm is on pause and as my dopamine level went lower, I shot down. I didn’t do much in the last week except dealing with the necessary paperwork involved with the release of my vehicle at the port. Emails are piling-up, and I will have to take care of the situation soon, my apologies to those who tried to contact me recently.

    Welcome committee in Studio City.

    Welcome committee in Studio City.

    I hope to get the truck on Tuesday this week, and Andy took some time off to help me out with the process. My dad arrives on Wednesday, and we plan to spend few days in LA before going back on the road.

    Breakfast with blog followers.

    Breakfast with blog followers.

    This week we spent some time in Pasadena, Hollywood and Griffith Park which are places I like to go when I am in LA. Sunday morning we went for a fun little interview with the Motorman on the KABC radio show before another promenade in the city. I love hanging out in Los Angeles even so it’s a huge difference with the places I visited this year. I love contrast, and I am glad to be back in America!

    At KABC Los Angeles radio station with Leon Kaplan.

    At KABC Los Angeles radio station with Leon Kaplan.