Steve and Vali made a deal with each other. The first one to circumnavigate the globe by land would win a bottle of the most expensive scotch they could find in California. So, they purchased a bottle of scotch, poured two glasses and set them dramatically on the dining room table. Then they said their goodbyes (an event that left one in handcuffs and other excessively grumpy) and took off on a no-airplanes circling of the globe.
While the premise sounds amazing, and the concept of circumnavigating the globe by land enticing, the actual adventures Vali had were somewhat diminished by the fact that he chose to cheat and fly around the world, thus breaking the deal and cheating himself and his friend out of a true challenge. Meanwhile, Steve sits on a boring freighter for a large portion of his travels, participating in the challenge full on, but thus having less time to see the world.
This raises an important question for us at Abandon the Cube. Since we gave up flying, and have been traveling by land only for the past year, we’re wondering what we are possibly missing by scooting across the oceans and plains by land. While I sometimes think we could experience and see a lot more if we simply flew from place to place, for us most of the adventure lies in the “getting there” aspect of traveling. We recently traveled from Shanghai to Seattle by land, going through Central Asia, the Caucus, Eastern Europe, Northern Africa and finally across the Atlantic by boat to the east coast of the USA where we took a series of trains and cars to the west coast. Basically, we did the same trip that Steve did, minus one trip across the Pacific Ocean by freighter. We would not have done it any other way. Instead of flying from Xinjiang to Uzbekistan, we took a train through Kazakhstan. While we were extorted and robbed in Kazakhstan, and chased across the border in Uzbekistan, we would not lose those experiences for anything, including a cushy airplane chair complete with free drinks and pre-packaged food.
On the up shot, Steve and Vali are both comedians. One writes for American Dad and the other for My Name is Earl, along with many other accomplishments. Their sense of humor permeates The Ridiculous Race, making it a fast and delightful read. While their insight into the places they visit is minimal, the funny commentary along the route is amusing and delightful.