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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…

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Row Or Die [Water, Water, Everywhere]

 

Ah, the lapping waters, so tranquil!

Ah, the lapping waters, so tranquil!

What It Feels Like To Row The Atlantic Alone. By Olly Hicks, 24, laborer. 

[Ed.’s note: In September 2006, Hicks became the youngest person to row the Atlantic Ocean solo. He also has the distinction of making the slowest trip, covering the 4,040 miles in 124 days in his boat, Miss Olive.]

Before leaving New York for England, I had the worst butterflies ever–to the point of vomiting. Wondered if I had packed everything. Shoving off was a relief. Took about two days till I was out of sight of land. Then the sea turned into a feisty bitch… Continue reading



Dive Into Paradise [Wardrobe Malfunctions]

  

 

Nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool!

Nothing like a refreshing dip in the pool!

           In March, 1997, I traveled to Puerto Rico with four of my freshman college girlfriends for Spring Break.  After a nasty winter in upstate NY, all we wanted was sun, sand and drinks.  We arrived and after getting a tour of our friend’s condo and the lay of the land (i.e., location of the pool, closest bar and the keys to get to the beach from our private, gated condo complex), we set off for some of that much-anticipated sun, sand, and drinks on the beach. 

            That night, our first, we decided it would be a good idea to finish off a bottle of tequila by doing numerous rounds of shots which got us in “party mode” for the beach bars [Ed: Always a sound plan! ]. After arriving at the Holiday Inn, hoping to find a club so we could dance to that popular Spice Girls song (hey, we were 19 and in college) and not finding anything resembling that fun club, we had the brilliant idea of going skinny-dipping instead… Continue reading



Because It Might Be There [Off the Map]
I'm pretty sure it's down there.

Yep, I'm pretty sure it's right down there.

     We don’t usually repost from other blogs, but this interview with New Yorker writer David Grann on his new book, The Lost City of Z,  for The Daily Beast is simply too entertaining to pass up. Hats off to Grann, who fell way off the map searching for clues to the disappearance of Percy Fawcett, the celebrated, ill-fated, Victorian Explorer. We’ll be leafing through the book on the way to getting lost soon. – CDB



Ski Pants Optional [Wardrobe Malfunctions]

 

So refreshing to be outside in the snow!

So refreshing to be outside in the snow!

            Growing up, my family would go on an annual spring ski vacation. It was the pretty standard variety: each year we would choose a resort and pack into a condo for a week of skiing and kvetching (my brother and I would usually spend most of the time beating the crap out of each other. And there was one time I nearly drowned in a hotel pool. But I digress). When I was 10 years old, we made a trip to Whistler/Blackcomb in March. This trip stands out for many reasons–it was my first time skiing in Canada–but also because my aunt Martha and uncle Robert (we call him Bob) came along… Continue reading



Dumbo Strikes Back [Call of the Wild]

 

They say an elephant never forgets your face.

They say an elephant never forgets your face.

Gabon, New Year’s Eve, 2002:

She was about seven feet at the shoulder, with sixteen-inch tusks, and weighed two tons. I used to have zero fear. Zero. I could walk up to any elephant I saw. So when she charges, I bluff back, but it doesn’t stop her. I run to get between her and the group I’m with, including my girlfriend. The elephant’s got her head down, ears tucked, doing this kind of shuffle. I’m thinking, I’ve got about a second to stop this thing. She’s thinking, I’m going to kill you. Do I straight-arm her, or do I run? But when she gets within three feet, I take three steps to run and — boom — I trip and hit the ground.

I immediately turn… Continue reading