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Around the World in 23-Days: Summing up 2017 Event

Hello all. It is late Sunday evening. The streets of New York are still buzzing out and about. I thought I would put a bow on the event…with one last blog posting.

By now, all the teams who partook in the 2017 edition of the world travel championship we bill as The Global Scavenger Hunt, have headed home from New York City. The crazy 23-day odyssey they took will start to take shape within their memory banks as they take a few steps away from being in the moment and living on the edge for 23-days…and a few towards home. Family and friends are waiting for them. Daily life’s familiar routines will return to them–all too soon I fear. Restless jetlag inevitably awaits them  too for a few nights. And the tug of the feeling truly alive, being challenged constantly while on the road will fade.

As the orginizers of The Global Scavenger Hunt we are thrilled to have held a 13th event, safely and successfully. No one was injuried–aside from a few egos; no one was left behind–aside from a few new friends; no one was unawed by what they just did–save for a few jaded souls. It was an amazing adventure, and all the participants played a huge roll in making it so, again. Because without these curious, brave, wanderlust-infected travelers participating, there would be no event to hold. We thank each and every one of them for taking this gratifying giant leap of faith around the world with us and letting us show them the world like few ever get to see by taking A Blind Date with the World™.

So, where to begin and how to end?

Here is the last of the One-Minute Interviews with Team Thundersnow.

And here are the final blog links (of those that completed them start to finish…we don’t want to embarrass anyone!):
Team Ying’s Blog:
Mark of Thundersnow’s Blog:
Jenny of Thundersnow’s Blog:

Okay then, first off, we have old business to dispense with…

Well, knowing that the final leader board was not going to be affected by anything that happened in New York City, several teams chose not to participate (beds and long lunches and personal mainteance winning out) and took a flyer on today’s event. The Final 8-hour urban Par 1 New York leg results are as follows:

In 6th place, a tie goes to a four teams who did not return a score sheet: Long Gone, NOLA 2nd Line, Treaveling Bohemians and Team Ying.
In 5th place, YOLOGoNow who did 4 scavenges and earned 120 points.
In 4th place, the always smiling through everything, Team Flying Snitches, who completed 4 scavenges and earned 145 points.
In 3rd place, the always amazingly conistent SLO Folks, who completed 10 scavenges earning 375 points.
In 2nd place, Team Thundersnow finished 14 scavenges earning 475 points including the Team Challenge of getting to the hightest spot in NYC first (10:20AM!).
In first place in NYC was TSA Precheck who finished like they started: strong and true. They completed 18 Big Apple scavenges and earned 540 points.

Thank you all for finishing strong and playing the game to the bitter end…your sportsmanship is greatly appreciated and duly noted.

So, that means we have a final version of the Official Leader Board, and it looks like this:

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And so a ceramony took place in the Lobby Lounge Bar of the luxurious Lotte New York Palace Hotel. The 13th edition of our annual crowning ceremony. Admittedly, it is a bit of a let down knowing the end of our fantastic 23-day adventure is coming to an end. For us it is bitter-sweet.

It was announced that the event had raised enough funds for the GreatEscape Foundation to fund the building of a new co-ed elementary school–our 11th–to be built in the battered country of Haiti. Thank you all who helped raise funds and especially to those that actually made donations. Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! We like to think that this event changes lives, one at a time, and know that educating the world’s youth, one at a time, does that. (By the way, it is never too late to donate something–a few bucks, lunch money or a larger sum at our GreatEscape Foundation online paypal account!) Again, our humblest thanks for helping others help themselves.

All the teams were given “I survived T-shirts“, commemorative event collector’s pins and individualized Circumnavigator’s certificates.

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And then of course we have medals to hand out beacuse we all know that The Global Scavenger Hunt is a serious travel competition, with winners and losers; only one team team can be crowned the 2017 edition of The World’s Greatest Travelers™. And so…

In 3rd place, moving up from a 4th place finish in 2016, are the ever-consistent competitors who we have grown to love so much over that past two years, SLO Folks. Thank you both for coming back this year and giving it another go. We believed in you from Day One and you never let us down and always played fair and square and never, ever, ever, gave up.

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SLO Folks, our Paula and Tom

In 2nd place is a tenacious high-energy go-getting couple (Who will be married in August!) that I knew when they contacted us to join the event meant business and were bona fide travelers. We thank TSA Pre-check Yourself (formerly Blackout Mates) for never giving up and finishing strong and true to the last leg competing nobly and honorably to the end.
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TSA Pre-Check Yourself, our Gillian and Mike

And that means–no drum roll necessary–that the outgoing, positive, and highly organized dynamic father-daughter Team Ying are the 2017 event winners of The Global Scavenger Hunt and will hold the title of The World’s Greatest Travelers™ until the next edition of the event. Congrats to you both. A proud moment in your household we are sure. We look forward to you defending your title in the next event…whenever that may be.

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Team Ying, Sydney and dad Alan

After the crowning ceremonies, we rested before heading out for a fun Winners Gala dinner at the nearby Greek seafood resturant known as Ammos Estratorio, where more prizes where awarded: The Best Cabbie joke prize went to Jenny. The most Modes of Public Transportation employed went to Catherine with 27 (almost a record). The best Global Price Index went to Avni for her international bra prices. The best Travel Collection went to Betty for finding anti-Dear Leader Trump references in every paper in every country we visited. (Apparently it was not hard to do.) And finally, despite some objections from some thinking that colored Leprechaun underware were better, Roshy won the Tackiest Souvenir award with a 70’s ish erotic corkscrew. The players pool of who could guess the most countries they were going to visit that we did before our start in San Francisco was shared between Jim and Mike, both guessed 4 of the 10 countries correctly. Ouzo and plate smashing commenced and the event ended with sad farewells.

 

That said, when we left San Francisco three weeks and 40,000 kilometers ago, all the participants where asked to follow Emerson’s simple edict: “Be silly. Be honest. Be kind.” I think they succeeded. I was proud how all the teams embraced the unofficial event motto of “trusting strangers in strange lands.”

Certianly at times, we Road Officials were challenged and less than happy on occassion, when the darker side of our collective human nature reared its occassional ugly head; when the competitive urges got the best of competitors with them occasionally forgoing the stated spirit of the event, if not the black and white rules of the event. It happens from time to time; humans are complex creatures with even more complex deeper motivations and drives. Self-justifications are endless. And when we are both a self-policing (What John Wooden calls “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.”) and peer reviewing; consistency is sometimes elusive. The event does serve as mirror to each participants soul. Only they can see what they see. Grace and truth is a challenging balancing act for us. For that we apologize to all. We make mistakes just like you do.

The event’s main challenge remains smartphone usage. That now 10-year old gadget has revolutionanized travel–for good and bad. But its use is verbottem during the competition yet impossible to police from our stand point. Simply put: people use them when they should not. We must figure out a way to continue to try and foster human-to-human interactions (trusting strangers in strange lands) in the age, ironically of, social media. We remain undeterred in that quest. It remains to be seen if we can continue…

The second major challenge continues to be keeping the intinery a secret for as long as possible as much as possible. The airlines are not helping us with arbitray requests for nonessential information upon check-in (when all the data they ask for us to produce is obviously online in front of them), and international security continues to chip away at the Blind Date with the World aspect of the event that is so special.

In the end, it was a great adventure, a great trip with great participants. I leave it on a positive note as we continue to attempt to do what we set out to do when we started taking this circus on the road in 2000–holding the world’s only annual around the world open international travel adventure competition. For that we succeded, again.

Aside from bringing romance to travel in a graceless age, this event is about three simple things that I think real travel adventures should always be about: authenticity, challenge and participation. Clearly this event includes all that…and maybe a bit more too.
 We remain happy about that. We know we have changed lives and had a lot of fun doing it.

Thank you all for another great year…until next time.

Cheers,

The Ringmaster (aka William Chalmers)

 

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Day 23: New York City, USA

Saturday, 6 May 2017 – Day 23: New York City, USA (40.7128° N, 74.0059° W)

“Don’t tell me how educated you are-tell me how much you have traveled.” – Mohammed

“He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.” – Chinese proverb

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The Lotte Palace New York

I’m in a New York state of mind.” – Billy Joel

Welcome to New York…a modern day 309-square mile traffic jam. 

Old Business…the easy-peasy Par 2 Islandic leg results are in following Peer Review assessments and official “honor system” scoring…remember teams could rent a car and do unlimted teaming up (so these scorces are interesting):
In 8th place, two teams that hooked up and traveled Iceland together, Long Gone & NOLA 2nd Line at 585 points.
In 7th place, earning 675 points on the the leg, Thundersnow.
In 6th place, coasting in Iceland, TSA Precheck who did 17 scavenges (maybe the Blue Lagoon a tad too long) and earned 825 points. (And a great bottle of French Champagne upon arrival in NYC for their cheapest hotel room reciept on the Euro leg, cheers!)
In 5th place, ever consistent Flying Snitches completing 21 scavenges and earning 940.
In 4th place, and unfamiliar leader board territory, The Traveling Bohemians who teamed up withy Team Ying, at 1190 points.
In 2nd place, a team that team upped and had a ball together, completing 32 scavenges and earning 1,205 points together: SLO Folks and YOLOGoNow.
And in 1st place, congratulations to The Yings who somehow out earned their 24-hour teammates by 40 points on the Par 2 leg with 1,230 points completing 26 scavenges.

That means that after seven completed legs (par 26 of 27  completed)…the overall top 3 teams are:
3. SLO Folks with 79
2. TSA Precheck Yourself with 73, and
1. Team Ying with 43.

Again, congrats to all and you can click here to view the updated Official Leader Board.
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That of course means that there is a fight for 2nd place and those two teams need to finish strong to keep their spots.
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So, while in New York City on this cloudy gray day (with a 30% chance of showers by 3PM) we have a short n’ sweet one last little 8-hour urban scavenger hunt here in New York City before we crown The World’s Greatest Travelers this afternoon at 4:00PM…A quick 8-hour Par 1 scavenger hunt…a few bonuses and 30 other optional scavenges…finish strong and have fun everyone!

Big Apple Scavenges:
-take in a Mets game or a Broadway show
-Enjoy one of the following: a New York bagel, a New York hot dog, a New York deli sandwich, a slice of New York pizza, New York cheesecake, a New York egg cream, or an old-fashion Manhattan!
-locate five pieces from five nations you just visited in the Met
-Visit Strawberry Fields, pay John Lennon tribute
-do one scavenge in each of the five boroughs of New York City

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Winner, winner, chicken dinner (10:20am), Team Thundersnow!

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It really has been a great group this year, and as the Event Director I am thrilled that so many have really embraced the spirit of The Global Scavenger Hunt travel adventure competition, and our unofficial motto of trusting strangers in strange lands. Karma has prevailed and those that give–got; those that smiled–got smiled upon; those that were open to others–were allowed into their worlds. It is a great feeling knowing how much fun people had on this 13th event we have conducted. I am thrilled to have them all back safely and to have shared vicariously in so many wonderful heart-warming stories, yet again!

So, many Teams are now out doing their last days’ worth of fun sight-doing here in the Big Apple. We have a 4:00PM – Check-in and crowing of The World’s Greatest Travelers and winner of the free trip around the world next year to defend their championship, trophy and title! And then we have a wonderful Winners Gala dinner planned this evening, albeit an early one because of everyone’s internal clocks. Our Winners Gala dinner will be held at a nearby Greek) : Ammos Estiatorio at 52 Vanderbilt, between 45th & 46th on Grand Central.
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We will check-in later with the final event results, additional photos and ruminations. Thank you all.

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Day 22: Iceland to NYC bound…

Friday, 5 May 2017 – Day 22: Reykjavik, ISLAND (64.1265° N, 21.8174° W)

Good afternoon from Iceland…since leaving the teams to fend for themselves using their wile, Travel IQ and event acquired travel confidence, we have seen all the teams, except for one: the Flying Snitches. But we know they are out there somewhere…

Funny bumping into teams here and, mostly there in Iceland; from Gullfoss, to Geysir, and from Thingville to busy Laugavegur street. And then milling about pubs too…
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YOLOGoNow + SLO Folks caught…

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On arrival at FEF…almost home!

So, just a few more hours until we board our final event flight back to JFK, a few final days in New York City and the crowning of The World’s Greatest Travelers.

But, old business, we have to close the books on the difficult long Par 6 Euro-leg. Scorces have been reviewed, the math added and re-checked, hotel bills reviewed, search histories scanned, drive-by’s deducted, hotel receipts calculated and GreatEscape Foundation receipts tallied:

Tied for 8th place with no scorce sheets handed in are: NOLA 2nd Line and Long Gone.
In 7th place were the Traveling Bohemians.
In 6th place, enjoying Amsterdam and London a little too much were the Flying Snitches.
In 5th place, completing 5 Bonuses and almost 60 Euro scavenges were Thundersnow.
In a 4th place comeback, working the terrian strategically completing 6 Bonuses and almost 70 scavenges, YOLOGoNow.
In 3rd place, always consistent, always fun, completing 6 Bonuses and just over 80 Scavenges and earning over 4,400 points are SLO Folks,
In 2nd place, completing 6 BIG point-ladden Bosnues and almost 90 scavenges earning 4,900 points are TSA Precheck Yourself.
And that means, in 1st place, and the hallmark of consistency, completing over 100 scavenges in four days across four countries (Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Ireland), Team Ying earning over 5,400 points.

Congrats to all, and that means:
In third place are SLO Folks,
In 2nd place is TSA Precheck Yourself.
and in 1st Place heading to New York City’s finish line are Team Ying.

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See you all again in New York…we have the Blue Lagoon to visit.

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Day 21: Reykjavik, ISLAND

Thursday, 4 May 2017 – Day 21: Reykjavik, ISLAND (64.1265° N, 21.8174° W)

Góðan daginn from the land of fire and ice…cod and Miss World’s (they all now work for Icelandic Air). This is our last quick stop before we crown The World’s Greatest Travelers in New York City on Saturday. And it was a curve ball for our travelers after just suriving a grueling 5 night Euro Par 6 leg.

We are here for one night at Fosshotel in downtown Reykavik, and our travelers are about to experience all four seasons in one day while here.

We will be leaving for New York tomorrow at 5PM and all the Teams will be meeting us at the KEF airport for that journey and our 4PM Check-in deadline. But until then, they have the run of the city and a the place where elves live–the countryside of Island.

It is not real cold here….but it is brrrr…and not like 41 in Sri Lanka either!

Old Business…the long Par 6 Europe leg results are not in yet…just too many scavenges to assess and too much math for a 2 1/2 hour flight…so soon we will let you know.

SO, one day last country Island, a 24-hour visit scavenger hunt. We were last here in 2009…

A quick Par 2 that they can both rent a car to get out and see the glorious nature that is Island: glaciers, geysers, rocks, waterfalls, rugged coasts…with 7 Bonuses and 33 other scavenges …odd food scavenges too. And they may also team up. Let’s see what are well-trained travelers do…

-visit the world’s first parliament
-whale sashimi, roasted puffin and aged sour shark
-possible sightings of the Aurora Borealis
-a dip (hot & cold) in one of the 18 public pools of Reykjavik
-a quick visit to the Phallological Museum

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ntil the sun goes down…

 

 

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Day 20: Liverpool, ENGLAND

Wednesday, 3 May 2017 – Day 20: Liverpool, ENGLAND (53.4084° N, 2.9916° W)

It’s been a hard day’s night…or two…or three…

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Liverpoolian graffiti…

Actually, we are now in Dublin and it is 7:10PM; Liverpool was so this morning.

We are starting to see teams…YOLOGoNow first, then NOLA 2nd Line, then SLO Folks then Team Ying. I suspect all the teams are in Dublin, just not at our comfy The Gibson Hotel, yet. We can wait three hours for that.

Some quick photos that have come across the wireless…

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NOLA 2nd Line being Irish…

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Team Ying on the move…

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SLO Folks being Vikings…

(Just realized we have a hat theme going on here?!)
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Traveling Snitches in Cambridge

Okay…so, in Dublin awaiting our 10:00PM Check in deadline…think the Ringmaster has a final surprise for all. Stay tuned.

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Day 19: Cambridge, ENGLAND

Tuesday, 2 May 2017 – Day 19: Cambridge, ENGLAND (52.2053° N, 0.1218° E)

We are still in England…but some of the teams are headed to Wales and the Isle of Man.

Nothing to report today!

Teams will be checking in tomorrow night in Dublin, we hope!? Where are you guys? Something interesting next awaits you…

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A do-do bird from Darwin’s cache…

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Day 18: London, ENGLAND

Monday, 1 May 2017 – Day 18: London, ENGLAND (51.5074° N, 0.1278° W)

Hello from jolly old Londontown…

We have only heard from a few teams…the Flying Snitches (in Amsterdam…no now, London), Traveling Bohemians (in Belgium), Thundersnow enroute to London, saw YOLONowGo last in Belgium t00…so, not much to report. First rain of the trip here in London and we are off to the theater tonight (Wicked and Damien Lewis in The Goat)…a busy marching May Day (aka International Workers Day, not “Loyalty Day’), the rest of the world’s version of a real labor day…and here in London.

Tonight will be a moment of truth for some teams, having to decide where to spend the night…we will see if they made the right choices!? Time will tell…

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A place where travelers meet…really serious travelers.

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Big Ben…

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The real Rosetta Stone (not the one in the Egyptian Musuem)

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Things are changing in London…

We try not to hit readers/followers over the head about The Global Scavenger Hunt event’s cause-related, charitable purposes—our method of doing and giving is anonymous and are considered unattached gifts—but, aside from a portion of the event’s annual proceeds going to the GreatEscape Foundation, other good things are happening too, so let me just let you know: some of the teams are raising funds for the GreatEscape Foundation’s twin goals: of building co-ed elementary schools in developing nations (and a Tuareg Nomadic clinic in Niger too!), and distributing no-fee, interest-free micro-loans to budding global entrepreneurs. Both methods are designed to help others in their great escape from the cycle of poverty.

So, if you have it in your heart to not eat a lunch out this week and make a small secure online PayPal donation during the course of the 2017 event, we know that a lot of kids needing a basic education that would thank you. And we will thank you too…with a tax receipt.

Thank you!

More tomorrow…

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