RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Sowerby's Road: Adventures of a Driven Mind, by Garry Sowerby


September, 2004—

Garry Sowerby is currently on the road with a team driving brand-new hybrid-fueled light trucks from Halifax, Nova Scotia, to Victoria, British Columbia. The trek is calling attention to the work of 85 communities working to enhance environmental protection projects in Canada. Click here for a field report in which Garry describes his battle with thousands of biting ants on a trash collection project along a two-lane road in Prince Edward County.
Garry Sowerby has been called the "Indiana Jones of Adventure Driving," and, after reading his book, Sowerby's Road: Adventures of a Driven Mind, if you substitute a dash-mounted ball compass for Indy's famous bull-whip, the similarities start to become apparent. Like his Hollywood counterpart, Garry has successfully completed dangerous and challenging journeys to remote places with exotic names like Tuktoyaktuk, Djibouti, Kiev, and Multan. To extend the similarity, his road trip companions are often very attractive women. Sowerby's Road provides an extraordinary look into a world that most of us can only dream about. Although the book was originally published in Canada in 2003, it's going global this month with a new release in the United States and other countries.

The beautifully designed high-quality paperback features gorgeous color photographs taken on a variety of driving escapades between 1958 and 2003. Although Garry includes some reminiscences from his youth and some stories about practical jokes his family has played on his automobile-crazy twin brother, most of the book chronicles his twenty-five-year career as the preeminent adventure road tripper. Garry is the holder of four timed world records certified by The Guinness Book of World Records. These include the 1980 and 1997 world circumnavigations, a speed run between Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, and Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, (memorably profiled by Tim Cahill in Road Fever), and a very dangerous drive from Cape Agulhas, South Africa, to Nordcap, Norway.

Garry's descriptions of encounters with bandits, bribe-seeking police, grueling weather, and dysentery-weakened companions provide a dose of reality found in no escapist movie fare. His road escapades also have a flair for the zany, as witnessed by his successful effort to transport a drivable car to the top of the CN tower in Toronto, driving a Subaru Forester on 33-degree banked turns at the Talledega Super Speedway, and seeking out quirky sites in Nova Scotia on his "Funky Museum Road Show." One colorful tale (read it here!) is the trip he and his wife, Lisa Calvi, took in June, 2002, in pursuit of membership in Capt. Dick's Sourtoe Cocktail Club in Dawson City, Yukon Territory.

What I didn't expect to find and found particularly intriguing were Garry's descriptions of his evolving relationship with General Motors and the other sponsors who enabled him to create Odyssey International Ltd., the professional organization that oversees his adventure driving business. The symbol for Odyssey International is five arrows pointing up to the right. Four of them are gold in color, signifying Garry's four world records. The remaining white arrow shows that there is another epic road adventure still to come.

Sowerby's Road is not a linear telling of his career, but rather it is, in Garry's words "… a trip through time." It's one we can all share from the relative safety of a favorite reading chair. It is definitely a journey worth taking.


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