Rachael Jerahian has a plan, but admits she is making it up as she goes along.
The 34-year-old New York native was in Long Beach last week on an ambitious trip.
The TV executive’s goal is to set foot in all 50 states before embarking on the second phase of her adventure — visiting all 195 countries.
Along the way, she plans to climb the highest peak on each of the seven continents and ski at the North and South poles.
She calls it the “Global Grand Slam Expedition.”
Jerahian grew up in New York and earned a degree in international broadcast journalism at Kean University of New Jersey. Her early dream of becoming a reporter took a different turn when she discovered that she enjoyed behind the scenes for a production company in Manhattan. Since then, she has produced everything from documentary series to commercials, plus TV shows including “The Hunt with John Walsh,” “Duck Dynasty” and PBS’ “The Great American Read.”
Her jobs with networks like CNN, Food, A&E, Discovery, Netflix and Travel have focused on logistics and budgets while helping creative artists achieve their visions.
Rebooting her life
A few years ago, after both her parents died of cancer, Jerahian re-evaluated her life.
“I never got a passport until I was 30,” she said. “I grew up in New York, trying to make it in a run-down apartment. Travel was a luxury or seen as a waste of money.”
Her first overseas trip was to Mexico with her sister Danielle. It opened her eyes to the value of experiencing new locales. A later, seven-country solo trip to Africa whetted her appetite for more memorable adventures.
“I decided to think more about life goals than career goals,” said Jerahian. “I dived with white sharks, saw the gorillas in Rwanda and took a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti,” she recalled. Her current trip, which began in June, will be chronicled on her blog, www.ladywithapassport.com
She first flew to Alaska for mountain climbing training before returning home to Los Angeles to pack her car and set off north. After California, she enjoyed Oregon’s spectacular scenery around Crater Lake before crossing into Washington. “I have chosen to do fewer things, but spend more time in each place,” she said. “I am comfortable being alone, coming out of my comfort zone.”
‘It’s been great here’
Her selection of the Long Beach Peninsula followed positive contacts during five months of planning when she linked up with Carol Zahorsky, who promotes the area with regional media.
“She was so nice to deal with and provided me with so much information,” said Jerahian, who hiked around Cape Disappointment, enjoyed Waikiki and Long Beach, visited the Kite Museum and dined at the Pickled Fish.
“It’s been great here,” she said during a stop for tea at Abbracci in downtown Long Beach. “Everybody knows each other.”
Next she will view Mount St. Helens and Mount Rainier, with possible trips to Whidbey Island and Bellingham, before turning east to Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
Checking off 50 states, ending in Hawaii, will take her until mid-February. The international part is estimated to take 2 1/2 years.
She is mindful that seven summits will be taxing.
“I am 34 not 22, but it will be a chance to push myself to new things,” she said. “It makes me a better, well-rounded person, experiencing nature and culture. In some ways, this is real life — you have no control over it.”
While the itinerary is planned — somewhat — its informality and flexibility suits her.
“It is exciting to meet people and new situations,” Jerahian said, describing her grassroots approach. “It’s not about a selfie of me on the rooftop of a fancy hotel.”
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‘In some ways this is real life — you have no control over it.’
— Rachael Jerahian