Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two years exactly - final 100goals blog post.

At around 10pm on 3rd August 2008 I flew out of Perth, heading for Dubai, and the first goal on my list of 100 challenges. I set myself a target time period of 100 weeks, and by 4th July 2010, exactly 100 weeks later, I had achieved 93 of the 100 goals.

It is now exactly two years since I set off on my adventure, and this morning I have sat and looked through all of the pictures that have appeared on the blog over that time. I am amazed that there are over 2,400 pictures that I have selected for the website, out of thousands more that didn't appear there. I made a slideshow of the photos, and even at a setting of just one second per picture, it takes over 40 minutes to look through them all.

Seeing many of these pictures gives me that wierd dual sense of time. Some of the earlier goals feel like they happened only yesterday, but at the same time, other photos from the same period feel like they were taken a lifetime ago.

I have crammed so much into two years, and as I look over the photos, I am reminded of so many incredible experiences, wonderful places and fantastic adventures.

But as the pictures scroll by, it is the people that continue to stand out as the high points of the journey. I have tried to include photos of most of the people I have met along the way, but have inevitably missed a few.

I see pictures of friends old and new all around the world, and I feel incredibly grateful to all who have been a part of my journey over these years. I have been honoured to be welcomed by people on all continents, from all walks of life, and have been given unique insights into places that I could never have hoped to gain as a traveller with no local contacts.

To everyone who has been part of this journey, whether in person, or online, I will be forever grateful for the opportunities and experiences you have offered. This truly has been the adventure of a lifetime, and it wouldn't have been half the experience without the people who have been a part of the story.

As I have quoted so many times now, from the movie "Into The Wild":-

HAPPINESS ISN'T REAL UNLESS SHARED

Thank you all for sharing this journey with me.

Ian Usher
3rd August 2010
Whitehorse, Canada






PLEASE NOTE:
There will be no further blog posts on the 100goals website.
There are a few more videos to be posted when I get around to editing them, including the jet fighter flight, the weightlessness flight, the final day in New York, and an edited highlights of the whole two years. These will be posted to YouTube as usual, and inserted into the blog at the appropriate places. I will let you know when this happens on the new blog on my new website at:-
www.IanUsher.com/blog.php

You can follow further travels and adventures there, and keep updated about the progress of the book, "A LIFE SOLD", which I hope to have in print by around mid-October 2010.

click to go to IanUsher.com blog

Monday, August 2, 2010

BlindsidedNetwork.com forum page complete.

The final goal of the 93 that I completed was signed off as achieved on 3rd July, just one day before the end of my 100 weeks.

I am very proud that this is the last of the goals that I achieved, as I feel this brings the whole journey full circle. It all started when I was blindsided back in November 2005, and ends almost five years later with a forum to support others who get blindsided by life's surprises.

On 3rd July the forum was up and working, and already had a few submissions, but I still had a couple of issues to solve that were merely to do with the look of the whole website. I am now pleased to have resolved these at last.

I managed to finally figure out why I couldn't embed the blog in the blog page - it was as simple as one tick-box in the Blogger settings that I had missed. But I couldn't sort out the colour scheme of the forum page itself without the assistance of a professional.

This is where Simon from "oolybooly" stepped in and offered to help. Debbie originally helped me get the forum working, and Simon completed the process by sorting out the colour scheme, so that it looks like it is an integral part of the site.

Thanks to Debbie and Simon, and to all others who have helped along the way, and a big "thank you" too to those who have contributed so far. The site has had around 1,500 visits so far. Please feel free to take a look at the forum, and make a contribution if you like too.

Click on the image below to visit the BlindsidedNetwork.com forum

click to go to BlindsidedNetwork.com forum

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Alaska road trip.

It's been an easy week since my last blog, but I wonder where the time seems to go, as I haven't got as much of my book done as I would have liked to. Time seems to disappear easily when sorting out the chickens, setting up the solar panel, hanging an outdoor shower, filling the water barrels, or any of the other things that so easily distract me here. I am thoroughly enjoying myself though.

This weekend I jumped at the chance of getting out and about when Moe suggested we go to Alaska to visit the Southeast Alaska State Fair in Haines. Her daughter Maible is away at camp, so it was just Finn with us this weekend.

It is about five hours in the car from Whitehorse. The drive is spectacular, and the weather was beautiful. We stopped for lunch at Haines Junction, a tiny place in the middle of nowhere, and we crossed the border into the States without any problems, and more surprisingly, without any paperwork! Our tent was set up in the campground well before dinner time, so we went for a look around.

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Haines is situated on the coast on a large sheltered inlet surrounded by mountains, and is very scenic. The Chilkoot River flows into the sea from Chilkoot Lake just nearby, and we watched salmon in the river, and eagles glide overhead. I was hoping to see a bear, apparently there are quite a few around here, but unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to spot one.

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In town in the evening we were extremely disappointed to have missed the opening hours for the intriguing Hammer Museum, but consoled ourselves with beer and pool in the pub next door.

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The fair the next day was great. As I had hoped, there were all sorts of lumberjack competitions, including axe-throwing, running over logs dragging heavy cables, and sawing through huge trees with chainsaws! Brilliant.

Groups played on stage all afternoon and evening, and there was some great music. One of the highlights was the amazing "Nanda" - an all-action ninja juggling combat extravaganza.

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The journey back was just as spectacular, and we stopped off for a snowball fight on the way. There is still plenty of snow around here, even in the middle of summer! Crossing back into Canada was just as easy as the border crossing on the way out, with a surprisingly minimal amount of questioning.

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What a great weekend. It has been nice to do a little travelling again! Hopefully that will soothe my itchy feet enough to be able to sit down and get the next couple of chapters done!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Birthday blog.

Goodness, it's two weeks since I last wrote a blog. The time seems to have flown by. I have enjoyed the past two years of travel, and have enjoyed writing a regular blog about what I have been up to and where I have been. But it can be very time-consuming, and it has been quite a relief not to feel like I have to write an update every day or so. But I do miss the interaction that the blog offered, the comments and questions from people.

I have been using the saved time wisely though, and am progressing well with the first draft of the book. I hope to have it all written by around mid-August, spend a month or so editing and polishing, and hopefully be in print sometime around October. I will keep you updated on the new blog, which will be a little less frequent than the 100goals blog. See the new website and blog here:
www.IanUsher.com blog page

Since the last blog a couple of weeks ago life has been busy and fun. I am now pretty-much settled in to log cabin lifestyle. I remember to turn the inverter off when I am finished on the internet, and I am much more water-wise now. A bath in a shallow tub of luke-warm water is just the norm now, but I do look forward to a once-a-week shower at the swimming pool in town.

It was Moe's son Finn's 11th birthday a week before mine, and he had a few friends round for a party, which involved egg tossing, water ballon fights, food fights, races, and a big bonfire. My present for him was board game The Settlers of Catan, which is a great game, and we have played several times already. I was introduced to it last year in Colorado by Eric, Jackie and Dylan.

One of the presents Moe got for him was four chickens. They are doing very well, and have been producing plenty of delicious eggs. I am in charge of them throughout the day, and have to feed and water them. They are very entertaining creatures.

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I had my first experience of being a couchsurfing host, as we had Italian motorcycle nomad Dany pass through here and stay with us for a couple of nights. He is on his own incredible journey, and regularly blogs about his travels too. It was very interesting to compare notes with someone else on an extended voyage.

Check out Dany's site here. He has some great photos and video:
Long Way Dany

There is an open invite to anyone who wants to come and visit, see my couchsurfing profile here for more info:
Couchsurfing profile

And today it's my birthday. We had a small party last night, and I met a few of Moe's friends. Egg-tossing was involved again, as was a fire and hotdogs, but the bottle of tequila was an extra that hadn't been included at Finn's party. I've had an easy day today, as it was after 3am before I got to bed, and I've been nursing a dull headache all day today!

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Northern exposure.

After the last few days of my 100 weeks journey, I finally headed for my new home. On 6th July I flew from New York up into Ontario in Canada. The flight was delayed a little, and I just made my onward connection. From Ontario I flew west across Canada to Vancouver, and then finally north from there to Whitehorse, capital of the Yukon Territory.

The journey was over 12 hours, and for me it was the equivalent of 3am the next morning, but it was only midnight in Whitehorse when Moe picked me up at the airport. She lives about 50 kilometres out of town, and I was surprised to see how light it still was when we drove out of town.

I have been here almost five days now, and have been trying to settle into a completely new lifestyle. Many things a are a little different here! Because we are so far north, in summer the daylight seems endless. Today, for example, 11th July 2010, sunrise was at 4.50am, and tonight sunset is at 11.21pm. That's an eighteen and-a-half-hour day! And it is still light for a while at either side of those times, and isn't ever really fully dark.

However, the winter, of course, is the opposite way around, and when I was here in December 2008, the days were only about four or five hours long.

Moe's cabin is off the grid, and the only connection she has is a phone line. Propane gas bottles provide fuel for the cooker, and run the gas fridge too. There is a generator to provide power, and it can be run for an hour or two at a time. This is used to charge a couple of large 12 volt batteries, which then provide power via an inverter. This can last for two or three hours, depending on how many things are running off the batteries. The internet connection runs off this system, so is only available when the generator is on, or the batteries have charge.

There is no running water, and all water supplies have to be brought in in plastic tubs on the back of the pickup truck. I have had to learn to be very careful with water use. Showers are available at the swimming pool in town 50 km away, so a "bath" involves sitting in a small bowl of water on the kitchen floor!

It's a bit of a chellenge, but I am slowly adapting to Moe's lifestyle. She seems to have endless energy for all the work involved, and as well as the normal day-to-day chores, she also manages to feed and water her twenty sled-dogs, and fit in three days of work a week in town too.

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On the days she isn't at work, her kids Finn and Maible stay with her, and this weekend we went camping in the wilderness. This involved taking a quad with us in the back of the pick-up, and an incredible amount of gear. I was happy to take the fully loaded quad up a rough track into the hills and set up camp overlooking a beautiful valley.

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Moe's neighbour Deb, and her son Chris came along too, and the family dog Zoli made up the numbers.

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It is very much like Colorado, but a little cooler, and instead of the mountains and trails being busy, we hardly see anouther soul out here.

I have only had a little time to myself in the cabin over the past few days, and have managed to catch up on the last few 100goals tasks. I have now managed to clear the decks, and Moe is back to work tomorrow, so it's full steam ahead with the book now!

Friday, July 9, 2010

IanUsher.com - new website.

I have been working on my new website for the past week or two, and it is in pretty good shape now, I think.

I will continue to put blogs on the 100goals site until the 3rd August, which is exactly 2 years to the day since I set off on the first leg of my journey. This will complete the "Epilogue" section of the story, and then that's it.

Any new information, and the occasional blog posting will then be available on the new website:-

www.IanUsher.com



There I will keep anyone interested updated about the progress of the book, let you know if anything comes from the Walt Disney deal, and where I end up and what I end up doing.

The main focus for me for the next few months is completing the book, which is going to be called "A LIFE SOLD". Although there will be some details about the goals achieved, the book will be very different from the blog. I very consciously made the blog almost exclusively a travelogue - a diary of where I had been and what I had seen. I kept much of the personal stuff out of the blog. The book will be much more about the personal journey.

Once again, thanks to all for your interest in the whole story. What an adventure it has all been. But it certainly wouldn't have been the same without all the people I have met along the way, those who helped out, and those who joined in to share the experience too.

I have made many wonderful new friends along the way.

As I have so often quoted, from "Into The Wild":-

"Happiness isn't real unless shared."

Thanks to all who shared the past couple of years with me, whether in person, or online.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Goals still to be achieved.

Well, 100 goals in 100 weeks was always going to be a huge challenge, and of course, the perfect ending to the story would be the achievement of the complete list.

When I started writing the list out in 2008, before the ALife4Sale auction had even started, I didn't censor myself in any way, whether the goals were scary, difficult, or expensive. Everything I wanted to do went on the list, regardless of how tricky it may prove to achieve.

I could have been a little more selective, chose some easier goals, and have a much better chance of achieving them all. But that is not what I wanted this to be about. Think big and achieve big. And in a way, the goals were always just a framework around which to build a bigger adventure of a lifetime.

Over the whole two years I only changed two of the original list of 100, one before the start of the journey, as the company that operated the thrill ride I wanted to experience had gone out of business, and another late in the journey, as dates conflicted, and two big events occured on the same day.

But out of the list of 100 goals, I am incredibly proud to have achieved a total of 93 of them. The seven remaining unachieved goals are as follows:-

Drive a car into water off a jetty

I have tried to arrange this goal on several occasions, in several locations. In Salt Lake City my buddy Clay has a few TV program pals, and thought he might be able to get something arranged for this goal. The biggest problem that he ran into was finding a suitable body of water to put a car into, due to pretty strict environmental regulations.

When I found myself with a few spare days in Kathmandu, heading next for England, I started putting some postings on UK diver forums, looking for suggestions for locations, and offers of assistance for safety cover. I didn't quite expect the level of controversy that my posting would receive. Check out the most active forum for responses here at Yorkshire Divers - very polarised opinions. After much discussion, I pretty-much wrote off the UK as a venue.

Finally, back in the States again, a friend of a Hollywood stuntman contacted me on Facebook, but unfortunately I never heard from the daredevil himself!

At times I have considerd simply buying a car, and driving it off a pier somewhere, but have always been keen to avoid two potentially undesirable consequences - being arrested and ending up with a hefty fine, or worse, or getting trapped in the car with nobody there to assist! Common sense has prevailed here, and unable to do this safely, I have decided to wait until such a time as I can do this in the way I would like. I am sure I will get around to doing it one day.

Gather 5 Ian Ushers together in one place

I came so close with this one, managing to gather four Ian Ushers in a pub in London. I have tried on several occasions since then to achieve this goal, and just the other day arranged a Skype call, hoping to at least be able to gather five of us together on an internet call. The three other Ians from the original gathering all agreed to be part of the final attampt, but despite many emails to many other Ians, I couldn't get one more involved.

I had thought this might be a reasonably easy goal to achieve - I mean, how hard can it be to get five guys together for a beer? But despite my best efforts, it would seem that most Ian Ushers are not the slightest bit interested in meeting any of their namesakes.

Thanks to the Ians who did take part though, sorry we couldn't make it happen.

Dive to the Titanic in a submersible

As far as I know, and I have done quite a bit of research, there is only one company that offers deep-dive sumbersible tours down to the Titanic, where it lies on the sea-bed, at a depth of over 12,000 feet. That's over two miles down, and is an extremely dangerous trip.

Unfortunately, there is no expedition in 2010, the next one being palnned for 2011. I am on the mailing list for information, but another factor which makes this a particularly difficult goal is that the cost is expected to be around $55,000 per person. Unless my forthcoming book is a runaway bestseller, this one may not happen for a while yet.

Learn how to lucid dream

This is another goal upon which I have been working on and off over the course of the 100 weeks. Lucid dreaming is when, in a dream, you realise that you are dreaming. Apparently it is then possible to control the direction of the dream, and make it about whatever you want.

I have had this happen only twice, once long ago, and once during the course of the 100 weeks, but want to be able to do this somewhat regularly to count it as an achieved goal.

It is something I intend to keep working on in the future.

Raise $50000 for Bowel Cancer Research

I perhaps think I put off beginning my fundraising efforts for too long, concentrating on other goals instead. I have managed to raise over $7,000 for my chosen cause, which I am proud of, but it is still a long way from my original target of $50,000.

I can't make any excuses, but perhaps the world economic climate over the past year or two has made this particular goal a bigger challenge. I received many emails from people who would have liked to help out on this one, but unfortunately were not in a postion to do so.

Many thanks to all of you who did help, or would have liked to. Your support is greatly appreciated, both by myself, by the Australian Bowel Cancer Association, and I am sure by the people whose lives may well be saved by earlier recognition of the onset of symptoms, and more effective treatment that ongoing research facilitates.

Watch a baby being born

I have always imagined that one day I might see my own child being born, and this was a goal on a list from long ago. maybe this will never happen for me, I don't know, but I left this goal on the list regardless. I think this must still be an incredibly moving experience, obviously more so if you have a connection to the parents, rather than it just being a random stranger.

Maybe I will still be lucky enough to experience this one day.

Secure a book deal for 100goals

Part of the original overall plan for the 100 goals journey was to write a book about the whole adventure, hoping to fund much of the journey with the proceeds of such a deal. For a while I did have an agent in London, but despite his enthusiasm and optimism he did not come up with any concret offers. he cited economic conditions as one possible factor for the reluctance of publishers to take on new, unproven subjects and writers.

I also had someone in Los Angeles hoping to represent me, but again, nothing has come from that arrangement either.

On my travels I have met a couple of self-published authors, and have been doing alot of reading on self-publishing. I have actually come to believe that in my case this may actually prove to be a better option in the short term. If I manage to write a good book, and manage to market it successfully, it may actually help in picking up a much better publishing contract at a later date.

From what I have read, the publishing world is very much like the movie industry these days, with the six big players only keen to put backing behind sure-fire winners which will make the biggest money. Quality or originality counts for little when the ultimate measure of a book's potential is measured in dollars and cents.

Authors lucky enough to be picked up often get very little in the way of publicity and promotion, having to much of this for themselves, unless they are in the John grisham-type big league. And so self-publishing, much like independent film production, is becoming much more mainstream these days.

I am hoping to have my book completed over the next three months or so, and published sometime in October. There will be regular blog updates, and more details from time to time on my new website:-
www.IanUsher.com

Monday, July 5, 2010

And finally....

And finally....

I must finish with a HUGE thank you to everyone who has been a part of this whole adventure.

To all of the people I have met on my journey, to those who have helped out or joined me on some of the goals and adventures. To those who have offered accomodation, or food, beer or coffee. To those who have supported and encouraged, whether in person, by email, in comments on the blog or on the forum. And to those who I have not heard from but have been interested enough to just read some of the stuff I have written.

Thank you all. You have all helped to make this the most incredible two years of my life, and I couldn't have done it without you. I will be forever grateful to you all for being a part of this wonderful experience.

May all your goals be achieved.

Ian Usher.
New York.
5th July 2010.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Final day in New York.

Lilly, Nicole, Chris and Leo Jr. joined me this morning for the journey into the city, and from Penn Station we took the Subway south, and made our way to Battery Park. They had been with me when I achieved my first US-based goal, visiting the Statue of Liberty back in October 2008

It was a beautiful hot day, and the ferry to Liberty Island was packed. On the island we made our way to the base of the flagpole again, and waited for Linda and her mum Nancy to join us from the New Jersey side of the river. Linda had taken me to ride Kingda Ka rollercoaster, again back in October 2008.

At the statue once again, almost two years since I was last here, it seemed that the time had passed so quickly. And yet at that time I was less than ten weeks into my 100-week adventure, and I have packed so much into the ninety weeks since then.

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At that time, it was only possible to go up to the base of the statue, but today the statue is open again, and we had tickets to get up into the crown. Unfortunately, the ones I had given to Lilly and family had different names on, and could not be transferred, and ultimately, only Linda and I reached the crown, Lilly and family heading for home again after going up as far as the pedestal.

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Gazing out over the magnificent view from the crown, I enjoyed a quiet, reflective moment, and thought about all of the amazing things I have done over the past two years, and the wonderful people I have met. I don't think that it has quite sunk in yet that the journey is finished.

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Coming back down to the pedestal, I was surprised and pleased to be met by Essi, who had shared the amazing experience of the Festival of the Dead with me in Mexico.

In the afternoon, having said goodbye to Linda and Nancy, Essi and I headed for Central Park, arriving an hour late at the location I had picked for any final people to meet us. The "Sheep Meadow" was huge, and packed. Even meeting up with Essi's friend Malick took some co-ordination!

Thanks to a vendor selling under-cover beer in the park, I finally got to enjoy a Heineken in the sun. The park was such fun, with roller skaters, drumming groups and buskers all adding to the holiday atmosphere. One guy had a sign offering "Free debate about whether we have freedom of choice!" I was tempted to have a chat with him, but decided against it! Haha!

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After dinner the three of us battled throught 4th July crowds, and watched the fireworks over the Hudson River. We had left it a little late, and couldn't get too close - the crowds were amazing, and most approaches to the waterfront were closed off by the police, but we managed a reasonable view.

The walk back to Penn Station was fun in the huge, friendly crowd, and saying farewell to Malick and Essi, I caught the train back to Long Island.

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So, that's it! The journey is over. It is exactly 100 weeks since I got on the plane from Perth to Dubai on Sunday 3rd August 2008.

And what a journey it has been. I have made many fantastic new friends, seen some incredible things, and enjoyed more than my fair share of experiences of a lifetime.

I have felt the amazing highs of achievement, happiness and love, and the lows of disappointment, lonliness and despair, and every emotion in between. I have often told people that a journey such as this feels like living life with the volume turned up to eleven! The highs are higher, but the lows are lower too. This is something I want to explore much more in the book I have started about this whole adventure. More details to follow on my new website, www.IanUsher.com, which is still a bit of a work in progress.

As the final day of my long journey, I could not have asked for a better day than today. Lilly, and her kids Nicole, Chris and Leo Jr. were wonderful companions to spend another day in New York with, and it was great to see a few more familiar faces from my journey too. Thanks to Linda and Nancy, and Essi and Malick, who all helped make the day very special.

What a wonderful end to an amazing journey.

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