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November 5, 2001

Crawling Back into the Black - Paying off Expedition Debts 1

Nov, 2001

When Steve first asked me to join him on the circumnavigation in 1992 (or was is '91?), I never in my wildest dreams imagined that it would take over 10 years of my life to complete. Back then the expedition was projected to take 2-3 years tops. Even our t-shirts were optimistically printed with 1994-1996.

These soon became redundant and were replaced with 1994-1998. Now we've given up with dates altogether and keep them blank.

The reason for the long duration? Well, we've had many mishaps along the way: I was run over by a car in Colorado in 1995, breaking both legs; pedal boat Moksha nearly sank on the first attempt to pedal to Hawaii from the West Coast of California, and nearly a year into the Central American section we had to turn about face due to the effects of the 1997 El Nino. Then there was the business of reaching antipodal points - one on the Atlantic, its partner west of Alice Springs in Australia - ensuring the expedition completes a full circumnavigation according to Guinness. But none of these 'setbacks' compare with the underlying issue of funding - or the lack thereof - that has persistently dogged the project from the very beginning. Funding each section is as hard today in 2003 as it was all those years back in 1991/2 when we first started to build the dream.


On that note I am currently back in US, working on a buffalo ranch 8,000 ft up in the foothills of the Colorado Rockies. Every morning I drive from the mountain town of Rye up to the 450 acre ranch where my daily duties include feeding 43 head of bison with hay, fixing broken fence, clearing the surrounding forest of diseased pine trees and digging out the dams that hold drinking water for the animals through the summer months. And now spring is here there are a myriad of additional tasks such as harrowing the pastures, re-seeding after the drought and digging irrigation ditches for a new sprinkler pipeline.

In amongst all this I try and find time to keep on top of expedition chores such as building this new website, working with April to develop new curriculum opportunities for the children's programs and seeking sponsorships and equipment donations for the next leg through Indonesia.

But you may well wonder - and it's a question I often ask myself - what has ranching buffalo in Colorado got to do with circumnavigating the world by human power? The answer is that I know it's somehow a part of it all - a piece of the big picture that will probably only come into focus once I complete the mission and look back with a sense of perspective. I discovered a long time ago that this project is all about the journey of getting to the destination, not the destination itself.


I was hoping to make it out on the next leg May of this year, but the war in Iraq and not having enough funds has prompted me to delay until next February - the next best weather window for the SE Asia monsoon season.

We also have an exciting new media proposal being spearheaded by London based TV producer Astrid Edwards for a children's television show and associated classroom series. If nothing else I hope by then to have saved enough money if no other funding sources are forthcoming.

You can help tremendously by visiting the store and making a tax-deductible purchase of one or more of the many merchanising items we now have available, or by going to the wishlist for the next leg and pledging one of the items needed. And remember, if you want to receive future news bulletins on the expedition's progress, send blank email here to get automatically subscribed to a periodic newsletter.

Jason Lewis

Posted at 3:37 PM