by Alan Rider
Photos by Paige Parker and Jim Rogers

By definition, every road trip qualifies as an adventure. But few of those adventures can compare to the 152,000-mile odyssey that took Jim Rogers and Paige Parker through 116 countries on six continents--not to mention the occasional war zone--at the turn of the millennium.

"Frankly, I'm surprised we made it back alive," says Rogers. "We're obviously happy about that for a lot of reasons, but especially because people would have said 'what a couple of idiots they were' if we'd have gotten ourselves killed."

The pair set off from Reykjavik, Iceland on January 1, 1999 in a custom four-wheel-drive sports car that combined the best qualities of Mercedes' stylish SLK roadster and rugged G-Wagon. The three-year trip earned the couple a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records" for longest continuous automobile journey.

Beyond Birmingham
Rogers, who retired in 1980 at age 37 after making his fortune in the international investment business, wasn't always such an accomplished traveler.

"I grew up in a tiny backwoods Alabama town, so small that my phone number was 5--and I remember telling my first girlfriend 'gee, you know I'm 16 and haven't been anywhere.' She looked at me with amazement and said 'gosh, I'm 16 and I've been everywhere--Birmingham, Montgomery, everywhere.'"

Rogers has expanded his horizons considerably since those first thoughts about the world outside Demopolis. On Rogers' maiden 'round-the-world voyage in 1990, he traveled more than 60,000 miles on a BMW motorcycle, an adventure chronicled in his last book "Investment Biker." As for their Millennium Adventure, it might be easier to tick off the places Rogers and his girlfriend-turned-wife Parker didn't visit on their 36-month drive (see page 8 for an exact itinerary).

In explaining what it is that has driven him to circumnavigate the globe twice now, Rogers speculates that the cause is genetic, perhaps the result of an adventure gene that often lies dormant in most of the population.

"Experiencing the world at ground level is my passion because I've found it's the only way to really get to know a place," he says. "To see the world as it is, you have to drive; it's what turns ordinary traveling into an adventure."