Live on the “Today” show Monday, Matt Lauer took some time to answer some of your questions about his trip around the world. Before leaving Hawaii, he sat down to answer some more E-mail. Read some of his thoughts below, and don’t forget to send more questions tomorrow morning about Matt’s second destination.
Evan Marod, from Coral Springs: How did you get there in the dark?
It was an amazing trip we made to get to the site that we broadcast from. We formed a walking caravan. Every other person had a high-powered flashlight, because it was the middle of the night — about 11 p.m. — here in Hawaii when we headed out. We had a group of about 10 people, and it took us 25 or 30 minutes to make the trip from the car to the site, all on foot. The ground was very hot, with pockets of tremendous heat coming up from the cracks in the lava surface. The lava was steaming hot — so hot that you had to turn your face at times away from the ground. Much of the walk was over glowing rocks, and we had to step over them — very carefully!
Jessica, from Corning, N.Y.: Do you miss Katie, Al and Ann?
Of course I miss my co-hosts... On the one hand, I wish they could be here to see the awesome magnificance of sites such as the volcano. As journalists, we have opportunities to do some amazing things, but this trip is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. That said, I think the surprise element of the trip is terrific, and I love making them guess where I will be next. And of course, I still get to spend two hours every morning with them, via satellite!
Judi Charlillo from Strongsville, Ohio: How will you adjust to different time zones — do you stay on N.Y. schedule?
Great question. In fact, my watch is still set to New York time, so I try not to switch at all. Remember, I need to do the show every morning (whether it is morning where I am or not!) so I need to keep my body clock in time with those hours. In the past, we tried to get used to sleeping on some sort of schedule — but it turned out to be impossible. I found that I was going too long with no sleep at all. So I grab some sleep whenever I can, and always get geared up around 5 a.m. New York time. In fact, as I am answering your e-mail, I am just getting ready to leave Hawaii, and looking forward to some sleep on the plane. I’m exhausted!
Jenny Gnirke from Sarasota, Fla.: What is the hardest thing about all this travel in such a short time?
Sleeping! This morning we woke up in Honolulu, and then travelled to Helo. By the time we get some sleep again, we will have been up for 24 hours. And as I answer your question, I am already on the way to my next destination. Adrenalin gets you a long way on a trip like this, particularly when there is hot molten lava around your feet! That is what keeps me awake.
Christal Vanlear from Utica, Ohio: How do you know what to pack for Friday?
Friday is tricky, but I have to say that I have done some research. I took a look at the sites on the list of 10 that were provided, and realized that there are some cool spots and some hot spots — so I have one extra outfit for each of those conditions. I have an extra parka (should I be sent to a destination like Iceland) and an extra pair of shorts (should I be sent to Rio). I won’t know until Thursday at the end of the show which I will need - but I am prepared for anything.
Emily Strusz from Republic, Missouri: What is your favorite place of all that you’ve been?
Well, as amazing as the volcano was this morning, I have to say that my trip to the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt last year still ranks as my favorite. Landing on that ship in the pre-dawn hours was so incredible, and just being there on the decks was truly an experience of a lifetime. I had the chance to do things I never dreamed of — like being catapulted off the end of the runway, and standing in the midst of the comings and goings of F-14 fighter planes. That was a trip of a lifetime, and still stands out in my mind as the best. However, every destination I have visted on this around-the-world adventure series has been memorable, and I have enjoyed them all.
Sherry Healy from Exeter, N.H.: Is your wife travelling and will she appear on camera?
As has been the case in years past, I am so lucky to have my wife, Annette, travelling with me on the trip. You know, on our first year she was my girlfirend at the start of the trip, and my fiancee by the end! We got engaged in Venice in year one. In year two, we were newlyweds, having just been married in October of 1998. This year — well, we are just thrilled to be sharing this experience together. I can assure you that there are no major life-changing decisions being made! As for having her on the air, I can’t make any promises. Maybe at the end of the week.....
Tara from Lancaster, Pa.: Are you getting frequent flyer miles?
Sadly, the answer is no — I am not getting frequent flyer miles. But given the fact that I have travelled more than 52,000 miles in the first two years, that is really a shame! Because of all the ground we need to cover in such short spans of time, we take a charter plane on this trip. I did fly commercially to Hawaii — and of course, this year I really began my trip from the road, as I did last Friday’s show from Vietnam to mark the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. But we met our charter this morning in Helo, which will take us the rest of the way around the world.