In the canon of stoopid ideas that I’ve had, many have not borne fruit. Probably a good thing bearing in mind their stoopidity. Naturally, some slipped through to prototype before good sense intervened, but mercifully few make it into production.
Not this time.
If I choose to see myself as an, ahem, adventurer, then that means I have to have the occasional adventure, right? Since I am also a total scaredy-cat, the definition of the word “adventure” needs to be toned down and broadened somewhat to give the appearance of peril, bravery and general derring-do whilst providing almost total safety. After all I’ve a family to support and did I mention I am a scaredy-cat? Call me Mr Midlife/Ongoing Crisis.
So when I say adventurer, we can tap our noses in a conspiratorial fashion as you know what it means.
Eccentric tourist? Muppet? Fool? Oddball? Loner? Eejit? Possibly all. (Be kind.)
In order to tell you more, we must go back to 2010. Whilst in the Antarctic were warming ourselves with some Vodka recklessly purchased ludicrously cheaply from moonlighting Ukranian Scientists at the world’s most sourthly bar: Verdansky Station. Fellow passengers, I mean adventurers got chatting about some the kind of adventures we might undertake. Venturing south of the Antarctic Circle we marvelled at those heroic journeys that Shackelton et al undertook across the brutal Southern Ocean yto the icy wilderness capping our south pole. As our “expedition” included my Mum in the party, you can see how “brave” we were being by comparison. We could only imagine what it must have been like to suffer the unexplored, unknown, unremittingly harsh, no safety-net savagery of the Antarctic.
Shivering with the prospect, sipping vodka conversation turned to how we were mere tourists compared to those pioneers. This then evolved into a booze-fuelled discussion as to our own capacity for adventure. Specifically, considering our calibre as pioneers/explorers/go-getters, what kind of stretch goal adventures might we tackle given the chance?
Mining a theme, we discussed how the legendary figures of yesteryear were always conquering, taming, discovering, mapping and generally heroically kicking-the-arse-out-of some extreme objective. So what, the thinking went, would we get ourselves into?
That’s when the idea found it’s way out. I would circumnavigate a Mid-West state. What’s not to like? It’s surely never been done before? (At least not in a deliberate, “just because” sense.) It’s got an exciting word in it; circumnavigate. That pushes all the right buttons in itself. There were other ideas that night, better ideas, but this one had legs. It seemed so perfectly obscure, ridiculous, doable and [whisper it] safe.
Naturally, I immediately forgot about it, came home, went back to work and got on with my life.
Fast forward to spring 2015 and some very good friends drop a bombshell. “No we can’t come to the Edinburgh Festival with you this year, because we’re moving to KANSAS.” (I know what you’re thinking. Are they really friends if they cook up such an elaborate excuse instead of just enduring the Beers company at an arts festival for a few days? Then, what have you done to those poor folk? Well, my cynical friend, they didn’t make it up. They really were moving.)
Once we’d got to grips with this news, my memory automatically recalled that foolish idea. Except this time, it wouldn’t go away. Before long I dug out my US road atlas. (A favourite book to idly thumb through and trace routes in daydreamy moments when I should be working/am on a conference call.) Pages 42-43. Kansas. Leavenworth, top right corner of the state. When you look at the USA as a whole you’ll see the peculiar – to us British – rectangular divvying up of territories. At a Midwest scale, Leavenworth is a perfect departure point for a circumnavigation of a state. But which one?
Within a few minutes of tracing roads, flicking through pages and chin rubbing the answer seemed obvious.
I was going to circumnavigate Nebraska.
(And check to see if our friends had really moved to Kansas, obviously.)
To read how I got on…. click here.