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:


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.

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.

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.
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.

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.


The Ringmaster (aka William Chalmers)