Drive Around the World LONGITUDE Expedition Reaches Turning Point in Journey
IRVINE, Calif., March 4 -- After driving mostly south for 104 days, the Drive Around the World LONGITUDE Expedition team is on their way back from the end of the world, "el fin del mundo."
From their launch at the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, Calif., to their latest landmark, the world's southernmost city of Ushuaia, Argentina, the team has covered 13,500 miles in their four 2003 Certified Pre-Owned Land Rover Discovery vehicles -- completing more than one-third the distance of their planned drive-a-thon around the globe intended to raise awareness and funding for Parkinson's research.
The vehicles, named D1 through D4, have been identically equipped by Rover Accessories with heavy-duty ARB front winch bumpers; bright Hella rally lights; Hannibal roof racks and rooftop tents; and bigger, wider BFGoodrich mud terrains. The vehicle personalities, however, are as different as the characters driving them.
Drive Around the World founder and LONGITUDE Expedition leader, Nick Baggarly, and his wife, Chanda, in Vehicle D1, are fondly regarded by the team as the "geeks" of the Expedition. Loaded with Iridium and Inmarsat satellite phones and wireless communications gadgets that connect all four vehicles in a moving, high-speed, local-area data network, D1 has become the mobile-office geek-mobile of the convoy.
This unique IT system was custom developed by Drive Around the World for remote web publishing. As web developer for the Expedition, Chanda Baggarly spends most of the long road hours typing away on her laptop in an effort to improve and update the Expedition's homepage (www.drivearoundtheworld.com).
The documentary team, Adam Burgess, Neil Dana and Colin McAuliffe, are manning Vehicle D2, which reflects the laid-back attitude of a stereotypical "motley" film crew. With Burgess' and Dana's surfboards atop and a guitar in the back seat, D2 provides the "good vibes" to the convoy.
The crew has enjoyed the Discovery's solid, smooth and comfortable ride on and off road; its comfortable and fully adjustable seats; and the spacious and well-lit rear cargo area for carrying Pelican cases full of film equipment and for taping interviews from inside of the vehicle.
Piloted by Nancy Olson, an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, and Todd Borgie, a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, Vehicle D3 is deemed the split personality vehicle. Loaded with toys (A Santa Cruz mountain bike and Shimano fishing equipment, to name a few), tools, an electronic encyclopedia, books, and camping equipment, D3 is both a thrill-seeking adventurer and a quiet philosopher.
"I haven't had to work on the vehicles much at all," said team mechanic and educational coordinator, Borgie. "When we have had to change a tire or tighten an exhaust stud, I've found the little 'attentions to detail' that make the Discovery maintenance-friendly."
Rolf Potts and Justin Mounts, published travel author and navigator/medic/communications manager, respectively, are the keepers of D4. With maps, logistical plans, travel guides, and a ship-shape appearance, D4, most often driving point, lead by soldierly example.
"I never have to think about the Land Rover CPO Discovery when I drive. It runs great, and I get to concentrate on the pleasures of driving across the Americas!" said Potts.
The "no-brainer" aspect of driving the Land Rover CPO Discovery is what the team most often cites as their favorite feature.
For Drive Around the World, part of the experience is the interaction with the local populace. When the four-vehicle convoy pulls into cities and towns throughout Central and South America, heads turn, fingers point, and smiles appear. But, turning heads is more than an ego affirmation for the nine explorers -- it is a fundraising strategy.
"The success of our program relies upon generating attention and redirecting it toward our drive for a cure," said Baggarly. "The initial interest sparked because of the vehicles creates opportunities for us to tell people about our mission, and that is how we help Parkinson's disease."
While they may have come to the end of the world, it is not the end of the road for the team. After a short few days in Ushuaia, the team drove north to Buenos Aires, where they put all four vehicles on a Wallenius Wilhelmsen ocean liner for a six-week sail to Australia. From Australia, the team will head up through Indonesia and 12 countries in Asia, ending their northbound journey on Siberia's Kamchatka Peninsula before heading home through Alaska and Canada.
Land Rover North America is part of Aston Martin Jaguar Land Rover with headquarters in Irvine, California. Land Rover established operations in the US in 1986, and now imports and distributes Range Rover, Discovery and Freelander vehicles manufactured by Land Rover in Solihull, England. Land Rover's worldwide operations are wholly owned by Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Michigan. For information about the Land Rover retailer nearest you, call 800-FINE-4WD or log on to www.LandRover.com.