Wonderful Weirdos Day: 10 travel weirdos who deserve thanks

Today’s date is weird. 9-9-09. I noticed it first when writing today’s Photo of the Day post. Then someone sent me an e-mail from Westerville, Ohio proclaiming this Wonderful Weirdos Day. The missive stated that the purpose of such a day is to thank people who have taught you think outside the box–the people who have nurtured your creativity.

With that in mind, here are 10 travelers who have been a subject of Gadling posts over the years. In some way each represent a creative, adventurous drive, and each have pushed travel into the realm of outside the box.

What most of these stories also illustrate is that the kindness and interest of strangers has a lot to do with the success of an unusual idea. It’s hard to make it to outside the box on your own.

  • David de Rothchild who is building a boat out of thousands of plastic bottles to sail between California and Australia.
  • Roy Locock who is currently driving himself around the world in his car. After 14 months of travel he’s still going strong.
  • Robert McDonald, who with the help of his son and 5,000 kids, built a ship made of 15 million popsicle sticks in order to sail across the Atlantic by way of Greenland and Iceland just like the Vikings did..
  • The late Steve Fossett who made the longest nonstop flight in history in his Virgin Atlantic Global Flyer.
  • Kent Couch who attached helium balloons to a lawn chair so he could fly from Oregon to Boise, Idaho.
  • Matt Harding whose weird dance brought the world together with a video that makes everyone who sees it feel good.
  • Ryan Jeanes and Philip Hullquist who set off on a hitchhiking trip from New York City to Berkeley, California with no money and the aim to make it in one week.
  • Grandma Gatewood who, as a lark, set out to be the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail. At the time, she was 57 years old and the mother of 11 children and 23 grandchildren
  • Marcia and Ken Powers who gained distinction as being the first couple to hike the 4,900 miles across the United States.
  • Scotty and Fiddy who hitchiked across 50 states, including a visit to each state’s capital, in 50 days.
  • Joshua Keeler and his two buddies who set out in a van to cover the 48 states in the continental U.S. in five days.
These 10 are the ones I came up with, but there are certainly more. Do you have any travel weirdos you’d like to thank? Parents who drag their pack of offspring on summer vacations can be included.

Nevada hopes adventurer Fossett’s wife pays for the search efforts

When a person goes missing in the wilderness and people try to find them, it’s not cheap. In Steve Fossett’s case, the price tag was $687,000. In Nevada, the state where multimillionaire Fossett disappeared, people don’t have to pay the cost of the search parties who are look for them.

If you get stuck on a mountain somewhere without a dime in your bank account, you don’t have to worry that you’re too poor to find. In Fossett’s case, having oodles of money didn’t matter either. He wasn’t found. Still, since his wife has all that money, Nevada is hoping that his estate will help cover more of the costs. $200,000 was paid early on. The family isn’t obligated, it just would be nice. With state budget crunches and shortfalls, some extra cash would come in handy the governor’s thinking. [see AP article]

I’m thinking, there is a bit of a dilemma. When people take off in the wilderness,or head off in a small plane that might go down in a hard to find place, there is risk involved and bad things do happen. Being found is a costly undertaking. People who don’t take such risks are then paying for those who do. However, leaving someone out there is not an option, unless it can’t be helped because the person is just too lost. I can see how some might be miffed that a rich guy gets lost because he was a risk taker and thus, put even more of a strain on a state’s strained budget, but how do we put a dollar amount on human life? There’s something in us that wants lost people to be found. Perhaps its primal–as in, if I’m lost, please come get me mentality.

We all want someone watching our back when we set off into the wild. Metaphorically speaking, isn’t the wild a symbol for life? It’s just that the line between safety, adventure and a dollar sign is not so clear.

Adventurer Fossett legally declared dead

It has been five months since Steve Fossett, the millionaire businessman and a holder of about 100 world records (including flying a plane solo non-stop around the globe,) disappeared flying his plane over the Nevada desert. The court in Chicago has now declared him dead, after his wife filed a petition in order to execute his will, which is supposed to be an eight-figure sum, BBC reports.

After Fossett’s disappearance, extensive search operation was carried out in Nevada and California. While the search discovered several previously undiscovered downed planes, some of which were decades old, neither Mr Fossett, nor his single engine plane, were found.

I bet if Fossett had to change anything about his life, he wouldn’t change much. He died the way he loved to live.

Not that it matters, but I also wonder if any insurance company would actually provide life insurance to anyone, who’s unofficial title is “the adventurer.”

Fossett Halfway There

Keeping tabs on our man in the sky Steve Fossett, we’ve
been following the
adventure closely, and figured we’d give an update abot his progress. As of late yesterday Fossett had reached Japan,
said to be the midway point for his epic and world-record setting flight around the world in 80 hours. The trip has not
been without it’s turbulence….literally. His experimental extremely light-weight plane hit a patch of rough air over
India, but he kept on pushing through and is said to be riding the Western Pacific jet streams as I write this. He has
had some other fuel issues,  including a supposed leak at takeoff, but his team says that he would have 500 pounds
to 1,000 pounds of fuel remaining when he lands at cape Canaveral, um, I mean the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday.
Very cool. You go, Steve! By the way, I’d like to add, that I actually met Fossett a year and a half ago at the
Explorer’s Club dinner. A very nice gentleman.

Fossett's Newest Challenge

I’ve posted about the adventuresome exploits of
multi-millionaire Steve Fossett here before. I love the guy. He has got some
serious cojones, as well as many world-records to his name. How many world records?  109 world records by last
count. And rather that kick back in some tropical locale resting on his laurels…or on a pile of $20 bills, he is now off and planning his next great adventure. Yes,
this morning Fossett will embark on one of his most challenging and potentially dangerous endeavors to date: a
26,120-mile journey around the world. If he is successful this will be the longest nonstop flight in aviation history.
The current record is held by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones whose record of 25,361 miles was set in in 1999 by the
Breitling Orbiter Balloon.

The trip will take some 80 hours, meaning that Fossett will likely pack several
cases of Red Bull, perhaps hooking an IV of the stuff so that it pipes directly into his body. Actually, according to
this piece Fossett will actually live off a liquid diet of Slim-Fast milkshakes. Needless to say the marketing folks at
Slimfast are giddy at the prospect.