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13 Epics of Woe [Hall of Infamy]

A friend from Outside Magazine, Senior Editor Jeremy Spencer, reminded us of this excellent collection of misadventures he edited four years ago. Featuring the likes of Jane Smiley and Jon Lee Anderson, it’s a ghoulish gallery of murderous hitchhikers, lightning strikes, and worse. A little something to inspire your own submissions here. The article was paired with a classic travel disaster reading list, and a rundown of the 10 worst adventure disasters of the last 200 years. Enjoy—CDB

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Fly The Fiery Skies [Sulleysque]

Come fly away to exotic locales!

Come fly away to exotic locales!

[Here’s an amazing yarn from our first octogenarian contributor, Bob Nielson, age 86…we’re not worthy! —Ed.]

Back in 1960 the Toronto Star sent me to South Africa to report black-white violence.  I boarded an American Airlines 6-propeller plane in New York, which crossed the Atlantic and stopped briefly at a few East African cities while heading south.  I had a window seat over the right wing and saw the nearest engine catch fire, shooting flames 30 feet high.  Called the flight attendant who ran to the cabin.  Turned off, that engine glowed like a red-hot coal.  We were over the jungle with no place for an emergency landing…

Continue reading



Spin Cycle [Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks]

 

I just feel so safe with you.

I just feel so safe with you.

On Valentine’s Day 1998 I decided to surprise my new boyfriend with what I imagined would be a romantic and unforgettable helicopter tour of the Mile High City. 

           It was on the way to the airport that I learned of his terrible fear of heights. What should have been an amorous 35-mile limo ride from Boulder to Denver became nothing short of a ledge-talking scenario, but I did my best to reassure him while he nervously chugged champagne from the bottle.

            Our pilot, a sweet man in his mid-50’s, assured us that he would give us a night we wouldn’t forget. As we ascended, I glanced furtively at my boyfriend only to notice his white knuckles clutching both knees. We circled downtown Denver for 30 minutes before our pilot took us west towards the lights of Golden and Central City. By the time we reached the foothills, we were met with winds so fierce that our pilot radioed to his supervisor to request permission to land at a nearby airport. No sooner had he done this than all of the lights went out in the cabin, the engine cut off, and we started to fall for what seemed like an eternity.

           I always thought if I were ever in an accident that I would be a screamer. But instead I was silent—we all were… Continue reading



Twin Beds and Thin Walls [Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks]

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

After the wedding, all we want to do is relax by the beach.

Here, excerpts from an entertaining piece by writer Rob Story which recounts his action-packed honeymoon throughout Asia—and some of its more memorable catastrophes. —CDB

              We’re a funny couple to watch. She, all of five feet and 99 pounds, blithely swings her skis down steep mogul runs with apparent amnesty from the laws of gravity. Trying gamely to knit near misses and miraculous recoveries into a line that at least looks intentional, my 200-pound carcass hurtles down slopes with the subtlety and grace of the Hindenburg. She never, ever biffs on a mountain bike. Me, I’m attempting to become the first human to be constituted completely of scar tissue.

             I guess the sea kayaking session in Thailand presented the most interesting realationship dynamics. When M’Lissa emerged wearing an XL life jacket on her petite frame, I said something along the lines of: “Whoa, looks like Tattoo got in Mr. Roarke’s closet again.” (It was quite a clever remark, as we were in a gorgeous marine national park dotted with all manner of Fantasy Islands, but she didn’t care for it. Apparently, California kids like M’Lissa frequently grow up in an environment polluted with sports and activity, suffering from dangerously low levels of TV exposure.)

            Things only got worse on the water, because our vessels were tandem sea kayaks…. Continue reading



Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks [War of the Roses]
February 10, 2009, 9:58 pm
Filed under: Africa, Air Travel, Rough Landings, Uncategorized, War of the Roses | Tags: , ,
car_breakdown2

Your fault.

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re gathering stories about romantic debacles while traveling. Who could possibly not have one to share? A good friend once prefaced a shocker of his own with the sage advice, ‘Never go to Europe with a brand new girlfriend.’ Now, just maybe, you’re wincing in recognition. This is good. Tell us why.

Names can be changed. Names probably should be changed. Send your story of 300 words or less to: submissions@theaccidentalextremist.com.



High In Hell [Narcotourism]

In 2007 the writer Kevin Fedarko got himself all the way to Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, to take khat, a chewable, psychoactive diversion shared by 99.9% of the male population. Here’s his amazing, hilarious account, from Esquire, November, 2007. 

Excerpt: So if you ever happen to find yourself skimming through the troposphere high above the Horn of Africa, the engines of your cargo jet clawing at the currents of sub-Saharan air rolling off the lip of the Ethiopian plateau and down toward the Red Sea, there will come a moment when you’ll have to admit that the cockpit of an aging DC-8 with a broken oil-pressure gauge and a washed-out picture of a Ugandan mountain gorilla emblazoned on the tail offers a damn fine view of the most wretched place on the planet…



Where’s Sully When You Need Him? [Close Calls]

Now that Captain Sully has raised the bar for emergency landings, no air emergency will ever feel the same. Here’s Outside Magazine’s Grayson Schaffer on his own very near miss. PLUS: Schaffer’s photogallery.