12 Unique Life Experiences

I posted a very similar post to this some years ago and thought it was worth sharing again with a slight update here and there.

Let’s get the conversation going. I want to know about some of the things you’ve experienced that most others haven’t. What are the unique moments of your life?

I thought I’d try to spark things by listing a few things I’ve done that you probably haven’t.

While you may find one or two things on the list that you’ve done I sincerely doubt that you’ve done all twelve. 🙂

I’m hoping that you’ll come up with a few of your own in the comments section of this post. If you’ve done any of the things on my list let me know.

I’ll just list the twelve things and leave it to you. If you have questions about any of the items in the list, feel free to ask.

12 Things You’ve ‘Probably’ Never Done

1. Spent six weeks in court.


It was some years ago and it was quite a high profile case. I had been called on for jury duty for a case that was set down for two to three weeks. Within the first week the judge suggested that things were going really well and we’d probably be all wrapped up in less than two weeks. Then things got complicated.

Six weeks later we finally returned our verdict and our lives could return to normal.

2. Cycled across Australia six times.

It’s been a couple of years since my last Nullarbor crossing in 2018 when I rode from Perth to Newcastle. It seems almost a lifetime away from my first of five crossings back in 1987.

I’ve cycled across Australia in my twenties, my thirties, my forties and in my fifties. I’m currently making plans for another crossing which will start in about 13 months from now. You can find out more about my next crossing (and maybe even join me) by going to the Ride for Compassion website.

1987 – Perth to Canberra
1988 – Perth to Canberra
1990 – Perth to Adelaide
2000 – Perth to Sydney
2003 – Perth to Hobart
2018 – Perth to Newcastle

3. Escaped a country when rioting and looting in the capital became widespread.


I was introduced to the work of Compassion when I was invited to travel to Haiti back in April 2008. We were meant to be there for a little over a week but it was the time of the global financial crisis and subsequently the global food crisis. Families couldn’t afford even the most basic food so after their cries for help to the government fell on deaf ears, they began to riot in the streets.

Roads were barricaded, shops were looted and there were fires across the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Several people died in the riots.

Our small team managed to get out of Haiti under some extremely trying circumstances. It was very difficult getting to the airport and at times we were in very real danger. We finally hooked up with some armed police who escorted us to the airport so that we could leave the country.

You can hear more about our close call in my podcast episode with fellow traveler, Az Hamilton. Just click play on the audio player below.

4. Hand fed an orangutan.


I also got fairly close to a lion, patted a penguin, fed a rhinoceros, had a 1.5 metre snake draped across my shoulders and much more as part of a behind the scenes Zoo experience back in late 2008.

5. Shared a stage with Mikhail Gorbachev.


When I say ‘shared a stage’ what I really mean is that we were both on the same stage at the same time. Gorbachev was speaking to an audience and I was carrying his cup of tea.

It was May 1999 and the World Masters of Business was at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Some friends were staging the event and so I not only recorded all the voice overs to introduce the guests, I got to be stage manager on the day.

One of the things Mr Gorbachev requested was that he would have a very hot cup of tea placed on a table off to the side of his lectern. To ensure it was as hot as possible I carried it on just after he had made his way onto the stage.

6. Had my travel documents confiscated in a foreign country.


It was 1992 and I was traveling to Canada to cycle through The Rockies for a week or so. Our flights had been overbooked so instead of going a fairly direct route we had to visit a few extra airports.

It was back in the day that Australians required a visa to enter the US. When we flew into San Francisco and had to clear US Customs, my passport and other travel documents were confiscated. I didn’t have a visa.

I explained the situation and so it wasn’t really a big deal but I did get a big red ‘TWOV’ stamped in the passport. (Transit Without Visa).

All my documents were finally returned a couple of flights later when I stepped off the plane in Canada.

7. Cycled from Agra to Delhi in India.


On my first of three trips to India I traveled by van to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, before starting the ride back to Delhi.

Cycling in India is an amazing experience. I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone with a heart condition but if you’re interested in adventure, start pedaling.

8. Met General ‘Stormin’ Norman Schwarzkopf.

Stormin Norman was another of the speakers at World Masters of Business at the Burswood Dome in Perth. Unlike the other speakers, Norman was back stage well before time. He wanted to hang out with the crew and made sure he introduced himself to everyone. For someone who played such a significant part in the history of our world he was amazingly ‘normal’. He was extremely friendly and seemed to be a genuinely nice guy.

When it was finally time for him to speak, he focused a lot on leading alongside others and having real care for those you lead. From my interactions with him earlier in the day it was obvious that he practiced what he preached.

9. Interviewed 2011 Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans.


I had the honour of interviewing hundreds of people during my years working in radio. I spoke to the famous through to the not so famous and lots in between but some interviews will always be highlights for me. Like the day in 2009 when I had twenty minutes with a cycling hero.

Cadel had just published his biography, Cadel Evans: Close To Flying, and was traveling around Australia on a promotional tour. As soon as I heard he was coming I contacted his publisher and was thrilled when I was told he would be coming to the studio for an interview.

He was quietly spoken and it was obvious that media interviews weren’t his favourite part of the job, but he was gracious and interesting and I got to hang out with a hero.

10. Preached at Cathedral Church of the Redemption in New Delhi, India.

During my first trip to India I found that a number of engagements had been arranged for me. One of those engagements was preaching on the Sunday morning at the Cathedral. I was so glad that I’d packed my suit.

The cathedral is impressive, inside and out, and is known as among the most beautiful and magnificent churches in India. It’s a part of the Church of North India which is a province of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

11. Been mentioned in Australia’s Federal Parliament.


It was September 2007 when Stephen Smith delivered a speech regarding the Millennium Development Goals. I was part of a small group representing the Make Poverty History campaign which visited Mr Smith’s office some time beforehand to raise concerns with him.

Our group, gathered from several local churches in Mr Smith’s electorate, were all mentioned by name. Mr Smith finished his short speech to the parliament with this paragraph.

We had a very fruitful conversation, and it was so pleasing to see so many people in the local community in my electorate committed to wanting to see Australia act as a good international citizen, committed from a personal point of view to always trying to ensure that someone who is not as well off as you are gets a helping hand up, and as far as Australia being a good international citizen is concerned, ensuring that Australia is committed to overseas development aid, is committed to the Millennium Development Goals and committed in an international sense to making poverty history for so many developing nations around the globe at the moment.

12. Cycled up and down an aisle at K-Mart in Miami, Florida.


In 2008, on the way to visiting Compassion’s work in Haiti, we stopped in Miami for a night. On the way to the airport we stopped at the local K-Mart so that one of the group could buy some extra clothes.

As we wandered around I noticed the bikes at the very back of the store. I figured that I wouldn’t get another chance like this so I handed my camera to one of the team and then started riding around. I wanted to say that I have cycled in the US. I got the photographic proof and so it’s official.

So there you are. Now it’s over to you.

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Loved reading this Rodney! i remember that interview withe Cadel. he was a trooper and one who impressed me with his “I won’t quit” mentality. I’d have to say my most unique experiences are not really unique, but has been shared by others. One, someone gave my wife and I a gift of a time share for a week in Daytona Beach. It was the first time in over 40 years of marriage that we went somewhere for vacation where we knew no one. Two, last September, we took the first cruise of our lifetime to Alaska. I want to go back and savor it again. I have also been hit while cycling by a hit-and-run driver who left me laying in the road. Three months later I did an endo coming down a hill (still don’t know what happened) and broke my collarbone, 3 ribs, had multiple contusions (road rash) and split my helmet in 3 places. About 5 months later I had back surgery to repair a bone fragment on a nerve then we took our trip to Daytona Beach. My life has been rich and blessed. And I have seen God do some amazing things here in this church in a small town during this whole virus thing.

    One more thing: really enjoying Bleeding Daylight.

  • Hi Rodney…just for fun I might add a few of my unique life experiences here ?

    An early one – I’d just got my licence, & my Mini, & (fortunately) my insurance when I turned right to cross over a railway line….& drove into the front of a train! The car was not in a good way having been spun around & thrown into the light pole. I had a bumped right knee!! I had the sure vision of me being in the cupped palm of God’s hand. (I thought I was a Christian at the time.)
    Being snuck into a caravanserai in northern Pakistan at night to meet Afghani men who were re-grouping to go back in to fighting the Russians & their allies who were taking over Afghanistan. Feeling so much for them as they explained they were clerks & teachers, & how they had no idea how they were going to fight against aircraft raking them with bullets. They hadn’t seen their wives & children for months.
    Visiting the refugee camps along the border where the wives & children were grouped. Amazing! Tents stretched to the right & left as far as the eye could see. Hard up against mountains. Not a blade of grass, just white gravel. How did these people eat/stay warm/ stay cool/ stay sane? Dear God….
    The bus brakes failing coming down a hill/mountain in the deserts of Jordan. Once it came to a halt, I scrambled up a reasonably sized hill to fill in some time. On going to sit down my hand rested on something sharp….it was a shell! Now you tell me how a shell got to be on the top of a hill in a huge desert. ? Still in Jordan – visiting Petra, again in a remote desert area. I wandered up to the top of the amphitheatre & sat down in the dirt to try to take it all in. Along came a young boy, maybe 9 years of age, with a book in his hand. He said he was on his way home from school. He walked kilometres there, and kilometres back every day. He hoped to get a scholarship to a school in the US. What a radical change that was going to be!
    A Passover Sunday church service in the Garden of Gethsemane (not sure if it was THE Garden of Gethsemane) in Jerusalem. …as a not-yet Christian. I don’t remember the sermon but I sobbed throughout. So special!
    This one resonants with one of your experiences Rodney – passport confiscated in a very scary way! On Easter Sunday we were in Ankara, Turkey. The evening before my 2 Catholic girlfriends & I had wandered around town asking anyone who spoke English if there was a church service. We were told to meet at a certain place after dark. We returned to that place & were led down alleyways, in through a backyard to a lounge room set up as a church. The service was very moving albeit we didn’t understand a word. The Catholic girls knew the set routine & so seemed to join in a little. Afterwards we we given fruitcake & were told it had really lifted the little gathering to have us there. Next morning open jeeps with uniformed men with machine guns roared up to the hotel door & our passports were all confiscated. After much nervous negotiation we got them back & immediately fled the country. I so pray the Turkish Christians did not pay too high a price for our ignorant visit.
    A lighter one – after finally arriving in Luxor (very long story) we rushed out of our hotel to one of the fine museums. On getting a horse-drawn carriage to return to our hotel, we realised we hadn’t noted the name of the hotel. Finally, a friend blurted out ‘hot chook soup’. The driver knew immediately that he was referring to Hatshepsut (a revered female pharaoh!). The trip back was very entertaining as the driver bargained for our largish English girlfriend. Apparently having a large wife is a very good sign! We enjoyed haggling with him, but she went to her room & locked the door & didn’t come out for dinner!
    A really serious one ?- after years of battling, sitting on the edge of my bed & surrendering, saying “God, I know you can make me pink with purple spots. I acknowledge your sovereign power.” And then, in an instant, being transformed forever. The Holy Spirit washed over me & I KNEW I was changed. I was God’s. I was saved. All praise to Him!
    Running a Christmas Shoebox fundraiser with the ex-refugees I was teaching English to. Their generosity was extraordinary despite them being extremely poor themselves. One African lady arrived with a suitcase of clothes every day she came to class until we forced her to stop.
    Attending protests where the number of AFP officers out-numbers the protestors who are attempting to bring attention to the illegality & inhumanity of locking up innocent people for years (8 & counting) ?. The government is more prepared to squash us than we the people care about justice or our fellow human beings.

    I’ll leave it at that ?

  • Interesting reading Rodney, and I can’t compete, but I have swum with crocs, scuba dived with sharks, jumped out of a plane, survived a head on car accident, smuggled Bibles into China, carried leprosy victims in my bare arms, been the only white face amongst hundreds of dark faces in the midst of a tribal conflict, had a representative of the Queen put his life into my hands, water skied behind a ute, and safely landed a plane that had suffered a loss of oil pressure over water. That’s only 11, so I plan on cycling from Perth to Newcastle in 2024? to complete my list!

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