Balboa Island resident Bart Hackley always fights for the window seat wherever he flies. He’s filled up at least a dozen passports over the years, with stamps from more than 300 countries.
“Meeting people and seeing the world is important to me — I’ve always got to have that window seat,” he said.
Hackley, a 63-year-old retired CPA, and a long-ime friend were named earlier this month as the winners of the “GreatEscape2008: The Global Scavenger Hunt,” an around-the-world travel competition that pits teams of two against each other for a three-week marathon trip across 11 countries.
Hackley and his partner, Steve Hunt, 61, of Hermosa Beach, began their voyage in San Francisco in April, then traveled by plane and rail to nearly a dozen countries across four continents including China, Malaysia, Nepal, Bahrain, Egypt, Bulgaria, Romania, Greece and the Netherlands before ending their voyage atop the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada.
Each team racked up points by completing a list of tasks in each country such as visiting the Great Wall in China, catching a fish in Malaysia and traversing a rocky mountain pass by car in Nepal. A portion of the proceeds from the trip went to charities such as UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders.
“Bart is very competitive, and I knew they wanted to win it — so it didn’t surprise me to hear they had won,” said Hackley’s wife of nearly 40 years, Sally Hackley. “He always likes to set goals this is one of his many goals.”
It was a bumpy ride for some parts of the marathon trip, Bart Hackley admits. The rigorous travel schedule and demanding challenges meant days could span 20 hours across several time zones, leaving only a few hours for sleep.
“He was very thin and extremely tired when I picked him up at the airport,” Sally Hackley said, who only got to talk with her husband on the phone two or three times during the 23-day trip.
Two of his time-tested travel tips are pack light at always carry a little cash, which is essential for bribes in some parts of the world. Instead of lugging around dirty laundry in his luggage, Hackley usually just tosses in the trash to save space, he said.
Hackley and is partner are eligible to defend their title as “The World’s Greatest Travelers” in the next Global Scavenger Hunt, but Hackley said he doubts he’ll be up for another rigorous trip any time soon. He and his partner hope to give the free trip away to a worthy charity.
The next frontier is space for Hackley. He’s already plunked down a $100,000 deposit with a private company to become one of the world’s first space tourists.
Hackley recently heard of a company that launches peoples’ cremated remains into orbit around the earth — perpetual travel. The practice is called space burial.
“I think I might like to try that too,” Hackley said.
BRIANNA BAILEY may be reached at (714) 966-4625 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.