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

Advertisements


Over The Edge [The Abyss]

 

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

Sometimes the sea calls, and we answer.

           I never thought I had a death wish, but one experience on my recent travels had me reconsidering. I’d been traveling around South-East Asia by myself on a break from my studies to see the world. One day I decided go cliff jumping and snorkeling in Thailand; I’d seen signs all over advertising guided trips.  On the same signs there were also advertisements for swimming with sharks.  At first I thought it would be quite a day to do all three, but to swim with sharks I would have to get up at 6:00am. That is just not a time of day I wake up to go jump in the water with sharks.  That’s not even a time of day I’m awake to see super models swim in the water…

 

Continue reading



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



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



Romance on the Russian [Love on the Road, Love on the Rocks]

There better be beer in that cooler buster. 

 

There better be beer in that cooler, buster.

 

Here’s the first of many (we hope) posts on romantic mishaps on the road from a well-spoken gentleman, if a hapless navigator. — CDB

“We should probably secure the cooler in the canoe with those bungy cords,” said the woman who would become my wife.
 
            

“We never did when I ran this river every week of the summer,” I pointed out, in a manner that only hinted at condescension as we prepared for a quiet floating picnic. 
 
  

She was blonde, fit and ravishing, this woman.  And also a veteran of multi-day canoe expeditions in the Boundary Waters of Canada and Minnesota.  But what did she know?  I, after all, was a veteran of Thunderbird Ranch Summer Camp, hard by the Russian River.  In fact, I was a boy’s counselor at the Ranch, and had run the tepid riffles of the Russian so many times throughout the 80s that I knew it like the back of my hand.   

Continue reading



The Dixon Exit [Mother Nature Wins Again]

Paddling is dreamy.

Paddling is dreamy.

I was floating somewhere off the northernmost coast of British Columbia when my 17 foot sea-kayak was overtaken by a friendly gang of Canadian charter fisherman.

“Looks like you been on quite a trip, eh?” the apparent leader said, studying my loaded-down vessel while toasting me with a can of Lucky beer.
 
“I’m paddling to Alaska,” I told him.
 
It had been almost thirty days since I’d left Seattle, and based on my charts, the symbolic end-point of my trip—the U.S.-Canada border—was just a short paddle away. If the weather held and the wind stayed down, I’d spend the late evening crossing the 50 mile wide Dixon Entrance, an international waterway known among sea captains and commercial fisherman as Southeast Alaska’s Bermuda Triangle. I’d heard numerous stories of 20 foot rogue waves swallowing 50 foot fishing trawlers. If I survived this crux crossing, I was sure to emerge a different grade of man.
 
“Whoa, hey!” the fisherman said. “I never heard of anyone crossing the Dixon Entrance in a little boat like that!”
 
“I’m not worried about it,” I said. “I’m pretty comfortable in this thing.”

Continue reading