I've always liked going in circles. If I go on
a hike, it's always best to go in a loop. I've never liked going to a spot
and then backtracking. So it made sense about a month ago to go in the
"It's comforting to know we're on our way
home," I said to my wife and other traveling companions (two other
couples) as our plane took off from SFO and headed west over Daly
The knuckleheads I had chosen to travel with didn't get
it. We were going around the world. There was no turning back. Every
moment we headed west got us closer to home.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard,"
responded the male member of one of the couples. "We're only five
minutes into the trip."
It was clearly going to be a long trip, if his
insolence was any indication. But I chose to ignore him and simply admire
I'd always wanted to go around the world. It had
been on my bucket list for 40 years. However, since I hate flying, my
dream had been to go around the world without leaving the ground. Drive to
New York, boat to Europe, train to Istanbul, island hop to Australia, boat
home. It was a good plan.
My bucket list also included taking a motorcycle
to Cabo San Lucas, my wife happily on board, her arms wrapped around me as
we cruised through the dangerous and shoddy roads of Baja California. That
didn't work out, either.
So we planned an around the world trip through the air,
all in three weeks, with numerous flights, including a couple on an
airline called Air Seychelles.
"Ooooh," said a friend when I mentioned my
intinerary and the Air Seychelles portion. "When those planes crash,
it doesn't even make the news." That's when I called my doctor and
ordered more drugs. It was going to be a great trip. Unfortunately, I
would be incoherent for a large portion of it.
I was feeling pretty good, though, as we rose over the
Pacific and headed for Tokyo. An anti-anxiety drug, some wine and a good
meal, and I was out. 11 short hours later, and we were that much closer to
Three days later, we flew from the most organized
country in the world, Japan, to the most disorganized, India. A quick stop
in New Delhi, and then the Taj Mahal, and then it was on to the Air
I don't remember where we went on that leg, but I'm
sure it was fun.
After that mystery stop, we ended up in South Africa,
where I was just happy to be alive. Then it was another 11 hour flight to
London, and another 11 hour flight home. Can't have much more fun than
Naturally, when returning from a monumental trip
around the world, everyone wants to hear about it, or at least they
pretend to. And I was ready for them.
I had thought long and hard about it. There had
been many highlights and many lowlights, including getting Delhi Belly my
last day in India, which lasted a ridiculous eight days. But that was
outweighed by the highlights, including New Year's Eve in Tokyo, the Dalai
Lama magically appearing at our hotel in India, a harrowing rickshaw ride
through the Delhi markets, a three day African safari in Kruger National
Park, and an eight course dinner in London.
Yep, the trip of a lifetime. But people want the
absolute highlight, and I've narrowed it down to two. The second best was
my last day in London, when, hopelessly anxious to come home, I went to
McDonald's at Victoria Station and had the best cheeseburger and fries of
And number one, of course, was touching down at SFO,
knowing that I had survived nine plane flights, hadn't caught ebola,
malaria, bird flu or hepatitis and was never beheaded, blown up or
kidnapped by terrorists or Somali pirates.
I was back in the good old U.S. of A., and never
happier to be home and never more grateful to have been born here.