Have you ever worked so long and hard on something that you forgot what you were doing or why you were doing it? The idea of the Mongol Rally for me started back in June 2010; that’s when I found some teammates that agreed to come with me. Ever since then I’ve been working on prepping for it and planning haphazardly. However the real time has been spent in thinking and stressing out about it; having the ‘to-dos’ constantly on my mind. As I arrived in London last Friday ready to meet my teammates and pick up a car that I’ve never seen, I realize that I’ve lost focus on the actuality of what we are doing.
We are attempting to drive to Mongolia. Shit.
The sheer magnitude of what we are about to embark on hasn’t sunk in at all. It so easily rolls off my tongue – we’re driving to Mongolia this summer – so matter-of-factly. As if I’m saying, “I’m flying to the moon this summer. “ No biggie.
In fact, the more people act surprised when hearing about the endeavor – the more nonchalant I become about it. I have to remind myself that it IS a big deal. Normal people don’t do this. Normal people don’t want to do this. Until now I haven’t really given any thought to anything in between London and Mongolia at all besides border crossings and visas.
I’ve started to think about and anticipate what we may see and experience, the people we’ll meet, and the landscapes and cultures we’ll be exposed to. I think that process is challenging to imagine with simply 1 country, but when you consider 14 countries and 2 continents – it becomes really hard to grasp.
I’ve had a number of people tell me lately to live where I am, enjoy the present moment I’m in. It’s wonderful advice and it may just keep me sane during this adventure. The question is will I have the ability to do it?
I will try. I’ll take one moment at a time I guess. I’ll live where my two feet are at this very moment.
For me that’s London right now.
Presently we are trying to sort through paperwork, learn how to drive on the other side of the road and shift with my left hand, get to know each other, get supplies, try to see a little of London and learn how to use all of our new fun gadgets from sponsors. Here’s what we’ve accomplished in the last 3 days:
Car pickup and prep
We picked up the newly cleaned car donated by Allways Rentals. The good news is that it runs! It even purrs…at least until we go 70mph…then it sort of growls and shakes. But seriously – how often will we go 70?!!
It didn’t take us long to get exposed to UK bureaucracy and paperwork. We spent Monday morning traveling to the DVLA (the UK version of the DMV) to try to sort out our car title woes that were threatening to not let us out of Europe. Luckily Dave was calm, cool, and collected as Deb and I bit our nails. We were able to talk to a DVLA agent, explain the situation, fill out more paperwork, pay money and walk out with a temporary title document for our car! The real thing will arrive in the mail in 3 weeks – just in time for us to take the car out of Europe…whew…crisis diverted. The first and I’m sure not the last.
We got settled in to our superb new apartment in London for the week sponsored by Oh London Apartments. We’ve been making trips to the grocery store and cooking up feasts! We all love our apartment – and we happen to be neighbors with Jamie Oliver…I can see his offices outside my window! I’m hoping he may have some leftovers to share with us!
We have certainly been tipping a few back while getting to know each other. Dave, Deb, and I have been having a wonderful time bonding. Here’s what I’ve learned about them so far:
• They are fearless. Dave got in the car and took off like he had been driving a stick with his left hand all of his life. Then Deb took over without hesitation even though she said she was nervous about driving and getting used to it. I was really impressed. I love the fact that they jump in…which is probably what got them in this spot in the first place!
• Deb’s most common phrase to Dave is, “Where’s the iphone?” Within our first day together I have decided that she needs a iphone lanyard to wear around her neck! Any sponsors out there want to help out on that one??
• They are brilliant at being in front of a camera. They’ve been taking video of our various outings for all of this prep and they are like seasoned television personalities. I on the other hand am used to traveling alone and rarely am in front of any type of lens…I’m always behind the lens. It will be a bit of an adjustment for me to travel as a team no doubt.
My final teammate, Rick, is arriving tomorrow – I’m looking forward to see what I learn about him next!
We have been learning how to use all of our gadgets from our sponsors. First – our Tep MIFI’s have been absolute lifesavers in the UK. They provided us these tiny little devices (smaller than a cell phone) that we can put in our pocket and it emits a wireless signal that we can use at all times. Hell, I’m writing this post on the Tep connection right now! I think it’s my favorite gadget ever for travel…mainly because it allows me to be online while I’m out touring around which is essential for travel bloggers!
Today we also stopped by the Track24 Solo offices in Soho to pick up our 2 way satellite tracking device. This literally is a lifesaver. Track24’s normal customers are military and security companies who work in dangerous areas around the globe. However these little satellite devices are also great for travel – especially for the Mongol Rally, expeditions, and NGO work. This will allow us to plot our coordinates along a map daily on our Facebook pages, and check in with people no matter how remote we are. It even has a panic button (red of course) that notifies our emergency contacts of our exact coordinates and information if we do run into any trouble.
I have done very little of this so far – but it’s planned for later this week. It’s been raining non-stop, which has made it a bit challenging for photography and getting around. But hey – it’s London…rain is the norm.
The adventure is real now. It’s exciting, daunting, and very, very exciting.
We are driving to Mongolia!
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Also – don’t forget – we are accepting donations for our charity during the rally – so if you haven’t given yet – please consider supporting our charity, the Christina Nobel Foundation. Learn how to donate here.