The Accidental Extremist is now online at www.theaccidentalextremist.com


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



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



High On Nature [Close Calls]

 

Hiking is so invigorating.

Hiking is so invigorating.

A riveting tidbit from Philip James, founder of the social networking+wine site, Snooth.com. — CDB

            I don’t talk about this too much, but in 2003 I climbed Mount Everest. My friend and climbing partner broke his leg at 28,000 feet. As a result no one in our expedition reached the summit, but we did get him down safely in what became the worlds highest altitude rescue.

 

            I’d set out to become the youngest Briton to climb the North Face of Everest and had joined a small independent expedition with just 5 other climbers. After 60 days on the mountain we ended up with a 120 hour rescue that ended with a broken leg, broken ribs, dysentery, frostbite leading to several digits being amputated as well as several fatalities and multiple medals of valor.

If you want to learn more about the expedition itself, here are some news articles about the event:

BBC News article – Everest on his knees 

Manchester Evening News – Amazing Escape of Everest Survivor

Everest News – Everest North Side Expedition ‘03

Click here to download the slide show (45mb). Finally, if you want to see it in the “Tilt Viewer” format – click here.



Is Just Like Amerika! [Off the Map]

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

Who needs a Eurail Pass?

 

In 2000 writer Brad Wetzler penned an hilarious report from the Czech Republic on a curious phenomenon, a kind of Old West mania, in Outside Magazine. Here’s a taste. Thanks Brad — CDB 

IF IT’S TRUE that you are what you eat, then I am a big, greasy kielbasa. I brought this on myself: For the past week I have been camping with a dedicated band of carnivores who favor canned meat and an alarming variety of sausages. We’re deep in the Brdy Hills, a rolling patch of beech forest as charming as a dream, about 30 miles south of Prague in the czech Republic. The air is full of the smell of honeysuckle, the buzzing of bees, the chirruping of bluebirds, and the sizzling of meat. The only human tracks within sight are our own.

            But this is a curious bunch. There is Jerry, the frequently drunk prankster who gets his kicks hiding pinecones in our sleeping bags. He whispers that his real name is Vladimir, but tramps are only supposed to go by their tramping names. Which is why “Jerry” is tattooed in boldface on his right forearm. George, a starry-eyed guitar player, can do a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” in czech that would make anyone homesick for the hills of central Bohemia. Ace is a private in the czech army who always wears a Daniel Boone–style coonskin cap; he sucked down too much rum last night and, while dancing to George’s intoxicating music, fell into the fire. Lucky for him Sheriff Tom was still sober enough to pull him out. A one-armed bear of a man, Sheriff Tom is, at 45, the oldest hobo, and he happens to own the biggest bowie knife, making him the logical choice to be the group’s chief law-enforcement officer… Continue reading