Ben Davenport knows there are more gas stations in Gig Harbor than there are on the Mongolian border.
He’s been driving his Land Rover across the globe since 2010. This latest trek began in April 2011. His latest stop is here.
His trip from his home in Cornwall, England, to Cape Horn, South Africa, has been full of ups and downs. Once, in Mongolia, he had to siphon gas from a trucker because he broke down. Fuel is expensive in Mongolia, and he was trying to keep costs down.
Davenport isn’t a sightseer. Diagnosed at birth with Noonan syndrome and a hole in his heart, he’s making the trek in his 1998 Land Rover Defender to raise awareness for the Newlife Foundation for Disabled Children and the British Heart Foundation.
But when he’s in new countries, he also tries to give a nod to the local charities, like the American Heart Foundation and the Canadian Heart Foundation.
“I always find it a little more polite if I raise awareness for local charities,” he said.
Davenport visited Gig Harbor, and Brian Hall of Defenders Northwest, for a few weeks this fall. His Land Rover got some much-needed TLC from Hall’s company, he said.
It’s not exactly a straight line on his map. Setbacks happen.
For example, he was hit by a driver in Ukraine, and the wreck bent the frame of his Defender. He runs into issues with shipping in containers, weather and more. He drew out the original map on a napkin while he was out to dinner with his parents. Once they knew he was serious, they supported him all the way.
“You couldn’t ask for better folks than my parents,” he said.
Davenport said his parents were thankful for the charities that supported them after his diagnosis. That’s why he wants to bring awareness. At first, his family felt alone, but with the help of charities, they got him help and care, as well as help for themselves in a brand new world of parenting.
Noonan Syndrome affects several areas of the body. Those diagnosed have unusual facial characteristics, are short in stature, and they often have heart defects, skeletal malformations, bleeding issues and more, according the National Institutes of Health.
Davenport likes the cultural exposure he’s found on the road. Although sometimes he also enjoys being alone in the car as he sees the world.
“The whole cultural thing is great,” he said. “Talking to people is the way you keep yourself sane.”
His Defender, a unique car in the United States, is special to him. He didn’t want to set out on this trip in a fancy new car. He wanted his favorite car.
“She was my daily drive before I left,” Davenport said of his Defender.