A Life of Travel and Adventures'
A Life of Travel and Adventures`
“Drawing on four decades of adventure and over three million miles of travel, I hope you will enjoy this anthology of my world explorations.” – Gig Gwin (update 11/26/2013)
Argentina – In Buenos Aires, with more courage than skill, danced the Tango; rode horses with the gauchos on the Pampas; drove through endless avenues that were blossoming with purple flowered Jacaranda Trees; stood in awe at the edge of mighty Iguazu Falls, then with a local Indian guide paddled a dugout canoe to the upper edge of the falls for a heart pounding view of Devil’s Throat.
Bolivia – From the world’s highest capitol, LaPaz, drove dirt roads all day to Lake Titicaca and convinced a local fisherman to let me kayak his tortora reedboat.
Brazil – Invited my group of 100 to live like the local Cariocas of Rio and sunbathe on Ipanema and Copacabana Beaches; cheered with 150,000 enthusiastic soccer fans at world famous Maracana Stadium; at a safe distance, observed a spell-casting ritual of Macumba…black magic; watched vibrant men and provocative women celebrate Carnival with reckless abandon.
Chile – Was invited to an international aviation show in Santiago, to view the latest aircraft from commercial to military; flew in a prop aircraft 600 miles over the Pacific for a landing atop a mountain ridge on Robinson Crusoe Island, which was only superceded by a heart-pounding take-off on a downhill dirt runway.
Colombia – Felt threatened by the hostile environment of Bogota, snorkeled over a Spanish galleon sunk near the old Spanish city of Cartagena. On my Amazon cruise stopped in Leticia, a river port town full of the hustle and bustle of any port-of-call. Then continued to Monkey Island where numerous squirrel monkeys climbed over our heads and shoulders.
Ecuador –Traveled past the peaks of the Andes to the colorful Indian market at Otavalo, then bargained for soft Alpaca sweaters.
French Guyana - Wandered through the old French prison cells where Papillon was held prisoner, then crossed a raging river by dugout canoe.
Guyana – Observed the cruel draconian rule of a Communist government where gas and food lines stretched for blocks.
Peru – Left Cuzco, ancient Inca capitol at 11,000 feet and trained through the sacred valley to view the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu…and feel the hand of God. Outside Lima, rode Paso Fino horse. Took an expedition river cruise on the Upper Amazon starting in Iquitos for a week, which included viewing deep South American jungle and different species of birds and monkeys.
Suriname- passed by huge bauxite mines on the way through the jungle to a bush Negro village.
Uruguay – Missed my flight, so took the local bus with the workers and chickens to the swank resort town of Punta del Este and swam with the playful dolphins.
Venezuela – Flew deep into the jungle circling AngelFalls, the world’s tallest waterfall, and landed in a jungle camp where the ground was green with jade stone and the river full of gold nuggets.
Belize – At the airport, watched the British Royal Air Force fly Harrier Fighters straight up into the air like helicopters, to patrol the hostile coastline. Snorkeled off the SanPedroIslands near the underwater Blue Hole, made famous by Jacques Cousteau; later in life, did a radio show with his son.
Costa Rica – Rode an antique narrow-gauge train through the lush mountains to visit an immense banana plantation. Fished the Barra del Colorado for Tarpin, then slipped into off-limits Nicaraguan waters to search for bigger fish (in retrospect, not a great idea). Won a Continental Airlines sales contest and with my wife, spent 5 days at the Four Seasons on Peninsula Papagaua. Enjoyed whale-watching, jungle boat ride, excellent golf and exhilarating canopy zip-ride over and through the rich Costa Rican Jungle.
Guatemala – After a challenging ascent to the great JaguarTemple in Tikal, scanned the jungle horizon and heard the eerie calls of the Howler Monkeys below; wrote a Tikal Mayan article for TWA’s Ambassador Magazine. On a second trip, as a guest of the Guatemalan government, I had an hour private meeting with the Minister of Tourism, who authorized five security guards to escort me around the country. In Tikal climbed all 5 major pyramids; in the Indian Market of Chichicastenango mingled with the local Indians dressed in multi-cultural regional attire; then cruised inspiring Atitlan; slept in a restored monastery in the Spanish Colonial town Antigua; and fell in love with this 3rd world little gem.
Honduras – During a revolution in Tegucigalpa, while visiting the main cathedral square, was chased and shot at by Sandinista Rebels. On another trip I passed through the Guatemalan border and over-nighted in Copan to see the intriguing Mayan Ruins with the famous staircase and large stone head carvings.
Mexico – Ran to catch a sunset cruise in Manzanillo and fractured my ankle; climbed the great pyramids near Mexico City and Chichen Itza in the Yucatan; watched the cliff divers perform magnificent swan dives in Acapulco Bay, took a large group to the baby bull ring, and got knocked on my posterior, escorted a group of 185 businessmen across the border to Tijuana for a night out and brought almost all of them back, visited Mayan ruins to write an article for American Express Magazine and swam on the back of a sea turtle in the crystal blue waters of Cancun. Spent a week snorkeling and dining at an all-inclusive in Puerto Vallarta.
Panama - Took a sightseeing flight over Teddy’s Canal, then landed and watched a pudgy cruise ship barely slip into Gatun Locks on its way to the Pacific Ocean.
San Blas Islands – Slept in a hammock in a sparse bungalow on a tiny island inhabited by Cuna Indians.
San Salvador – In yet another revolution, at the Sheraton Hotel was stranded when insurgents blew up the power station and invaded our section of the city, but escaped to the airport in the cover of night.
Bahamas – Served a two-year term on the tourist advisory board and helped develop an effective airport plan, plus gained friendships with some great Bahamian people.
Barbados – Met with the Minister of Tourism to plan a series of incentive travel groups, which resulted in over 8,000 people visiting the island in a 2-year period. At Sam Lord’s Castle, a plantation great house, golfed, body-surfed and wind-surfed, then operated a travel program for a group of 250 stockbrokers.
Cayman – Spent 3 days to research the area for a large hospital chain, and while I was there I enjoyed touring the island, including theTurtle Farm and a primitive rock outcropping called Hell. Found the water crystal clear and appealing.
Cuba – Sat in Ernest Hemmingway’s bar seat in old Havana (there must be ten of them), and swayed to the pulsing Cuban music at the posh resort at Varadero Beach Resort. Secretly slipped into the southern city of Santiago de Cuba, to see Spanish fortresses and the U.S. base in Guantanamo from the Cuban side.
Dominica – On this provincial island, absorbed the culture of the people who carried bananas on their backs for two days to sell at the local boat dock. Hiked through rainforests filled with enormous endemic frogs and talked with some of the few remaining Carib Indians.
Dominican Republic – Watched a knife fight in the Santo Domingo Hotel, but undaunted, danced the night away with the pulsing meringue rhythms. Sold my book for the first time in Punta Cana at a travel expo.
Grand Turk – Putted around on a motor-scooter for three days and departed from the island on one of the very last PanAm flights.
Haiti – Came ashore with a large cruise group and mounted under-fed donkeys for the dusty two-hour climb to the immense Citadel Laferriere, built by Haiti’s first emperor Henri Christophe.
Jamaica – Climbed Dunn’s RiverFalls with my family and shared travel stories in Kingston with the local historians.
Martinique – During a four-hour strenuous climb with a fellow travel director, reached the summit of the infamous Mt.Pelee, then lost directions in the deep fog and almost fell a thousand feet into the crater. Gave mouth to mouth resuscitation to the General Manager of the Hilton Hotel and brought him back to life. As a first timer, swam nude on a public French beach.
Puerto Rico - In my single years, had a wild fling and romance, accompanied by tropical drinks from El Morro fortress to the El Yunque Rain Forest. Later in life at a travel meeting, coaxed Travel Chairman Arthur Tauck, of Tauck Discoveries, to be a contributing writer for my book “Champions of Travel.”
St. Barts – Developed a case of white knuckle flying after landing at the tiny airport sliced out of the side of a mountain.
St. Kitts - Walked through sugar cane fields and ran to the top of Brimstone Fortress, the great bastion of the British Caribbean.
St. Martin – Experienced the lifestyle of the rich and famous on the Dutch-FrenchIsland, then with more fear than danger, was bitten by a four-foot shark on a deserted out-Island.
Trinidad – At sunset in Port-of-Spain, enjoyed a front row seat at a formal concert by a 40-piece steel band.
US Virgin Islands – Sailed on a windjammer through azure blue waters, later brought thousands of tourists aboard cruise ships to the St. Thomas duty-free shopping frenzy. Lost a $5,000 group deposit when Mahogany Run Golf Course went bankrupt.
Ascension Island - With special permission from the governor general, flew on a military charter with the British Royal Marines to this remote isle, with moonlike terrain. Spent the morning playing a sand and rock golf course (the worst in the world), in the afternoon climbed GreenMountain, and that evening drank beer with GI’s at their top-secret communications base.
Azores - In the little known PortugueseIsland, visited an amazing botanical garden complete with endemic trees, lakes and hot thermal mud pots.
Bermuda - Walked between the quaint Moon Gates sporting my Bermuda shorts, golfed at Port Royal overlooking the turquoise bay, and escorted a Shell Oil group to a “dine-around”, while falling in love with this cupcake island. On a subsequent trip sponsored by Tourism Cares for Tomorrow, was greeted at the first night cocktail reception by the Royal Bermuda Marching Band. The following days hit lots of golf balls and helped with a full-day tourism clean-up of one of Bermuda’s small national parks.
Greenland - Near the Ice Fjords of Disko Bay, joined travel agents from Spain for a three-hour boat trip and, like the S.S. Minnow of Gilligan’s Island fame, got caught in a horrific squall with capsizing waves; the captain found refuge between huge icebergs, and, with local fisherman, we rode out the storm.
Iceland - In the capital city of Reykjavik, got drunk with a buddy on non-alcoholic beer; maybe we were just a little tired from the jet lag! Thirty years later, visited Iceland, exploring the geysers, lava fields and tectonic plates; then stripped down to a bathing suit and swam in the steamy waters of the Blue Lagoon with temperatures below 20 degrees.
Madeira – On third visit to Madeira, the island of flowers and mountain vistas, encountered an Atlantic storm and landed on the petite mountainside runway, a death defying air experience.
St. Helena – Cruised into the seldom-visited port to visit Napoleon’s home in exile at Longwood and his original burial site. Joined the police commissioner and Island communications director for a sporting game of golf overlooking the deep flax valleys.
Tristan de Cunha - Warned by the ship’s captain that bad weather usually prevents landing, we found calm seas and came ashore on an island with a population of 210 (the most remote inhabited island in the world); played 9 holes of golf in a cow pasture and beat the Director General by one stroke, then sailed eight monotonous days for my only Atlantic ship crossing to South Georgia Island. A passenger encountered a medical emergency, requiring our ship to alert the British Navy, which in turn, made a dramatic sea helicopter gunship rescue of a critically ill patient. “Hail Britannia, Britannia rules the waves”.
Alabama – Spent 4 days in Mobile, which is a great port city and home to the first Mardi Gras. Enjoyed great seafood and a museum just being built called Gulf Quest that highlights the history of MobilePort.
Alaska - With son, Todd, hiked the forests near Ketchikan; with wife, Terrie, shopped ‘til we dropped in capital, Juneau, and took a helicopter ride onto Mendenhall Glacier; departed from the Skagway train station, chugging over the gold-rush mountain pass on the White Pass and Yukon Railroad; watched the dramatic ice wall carving at mighty Hubbard Glacier. In Anchorage, convinced a local pilot into a flight through the mountain passes, dipping down to buzz moose in the shallow valleys. Departed from Anchorage via the Alaska Railroad, enjoyed a clear view of MountMcKinley, then walked the tundra of DenaliNational Park; ate alfresco at a Fairbanks salmon bake and walked beside the Alaskan Pipeline, an engineering marvel. Flew over the Brooks Range to Point Barrow, the northernmost point of the United States, and saw 10-foot whale jaws and polar bear skins displayed by the Inupiat hunters.
Arizona -Played countless rounds of golf in Phoenix and Scottsdale and rode horses into the desert for a campfire breakfast; enjoyed sunrise ballooning from a thousand feet over the desert; took a glider flight that made barrel rolls over Scottsdale; admired the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s College at Taliesin West; trail walked along the North Rim of the Grand Canyon; and drove to the remote Navajo Tribal Park at Monument Valley. In LakeHavasu, led a group for the ribbon-cutting ceremony of the LondonBridge over the Colorado River. Dined in the grand manner at the WrigleyMansion, gave a travel talk for the St. Louis Cardinals’ management at their winter meetings. Gazed downward at Meteor Crater, took a tea break at the Wigwam Motel on old route 66, and slept the night flanked next to Canyon DeChelly. While maneuvering the national park road, cherished every visual moment in the Petrified Forest and the Painted Desert. Attended a consortium meeting at DoveMountain north of Tucson, drove south to Pima Air and SpaceMuseum and viewed the military bone yard of 4,400 parked aircraft at Davis-Monthan Airforce Base, then drove south to the old western town of Tombstone and the Copper Pits of Bisbee just north of the Mexican border.
Arkansas – Drove through Bentonville, home of Walmart and down to Fayetteville, home of the University of Arkansas Razorbacks and stayed with an old friend Grady Jim Robinson. Drove through the charming town of Eureka Springs, past by BullShoalsLake and spent time at MammothSpringsState Park.
California – Along with my wife, was invited by the St. Louis Football Rams on their team charter trip to San Francisco, complete with police escort to CandlestickPark and a press pass on the sidelines during the game. Drove the famous Highway 1, sleeping in Big Sur and Carmel and visiting the hilltop Hearst Castle; with son Aaron, camped in Yosemite Valley, talked with brave climbers about their ascent of El Capitan granite cliff, felt very small next to Yosemite Falls and the great Sequoia Groves, then river rafted north of the park for a great father and son outing; during a business trip to Half Moon Bay arrived a day early and drove to Yosemite Park just for the honor of spending the night at the historic Ahwahnee Lodge, savored a rib eye steak in the main dining room and the following morning scurried to take photos of Yosemite Falls still displaying winter snow and ice; stopped at several of the California Spanish missions; dined in cushy Santa Barbara , toured the glitzy Hollywood studios, escorted a General Electric group over to the Century Plaza, then performed the Heimlich maneuver and saved a life, took the family to meet Mickey Mouse at Disneyland, and in my early years, shook hands with Walt Disney in Fantasyland. As a reward for a profitable year, took my President and friend to MontereyPeninsula for a golf pilgrimage, including the courses of SpanishBay, Spy Glass and memorable PebbleBeach – finished with Big Sur and a hike to McWayFalls, with a gourmet meal overlooking the Pacific at the historic Phoenix Restaurant. Drove famed Highway 101 stopping in Napa for wine and cheese, boarded the Skunk train in Willits for a steam train trip into the RedwoodForest, past the Avenue of the Giants in the RedwoodState Park and rested in Eureka, admiring the Victorian gingerbread architecture of the Carson mansion. Attended a consortium meeting at La Costa Resort, an hour north of San Diego. This historic hotel complex is the classic California hide-a-way.
Canada - Strolled the ramparts overlooking the St. Lawrence River in Quebec City, then dined in elegance at the Chateau Frontenac; shot the rapids near Montreal in a jet boat, caught the fall foliage at Mount Tremblant, cruised the Ottawa River in the capital city and watched the changing of the guards on Parliament Hill; viewed Toronto from the CNN Tower and enjoyed live theater; ate Arctic Char and Caribou Stew before boarding tundra buggies to view the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba, then took a bitter cold dog sled ride offering great views of the Northern Lights. In Alberta, road the Rocky Mountaineer Train through the fur trees from Jasper to Vancouver, viewing the Canadian wildlife; took a group on a gondola ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff to hand feed long-horned sheep and mountain goats, later had high tea at the Banff Springs Hotel; took a stroll through around Chateau Lake Louise, almost froze my buttocks at the Columbia Ice Fields, talked travel with an old friend on a stroll to Athabasca Falls, swam outside in a heated pool at Whistler Resort while skiers slid to a halt just a few feet from the spa; glided by the Empress Hotel in a small float plane, landing in the harbor of Victoria on Vancouver Island, snapped countless pictures of multi-colored flowers at Butchart Gardens; took a cable car up Grouse Mountain, overlooking picturesque Vancouver Harbor, then sailed off north with a large group on an Alaskan cruise; drove the Alcan highway out of Whitehorse on the way to Dawson, saw the Klondike gold fields and played golf at the northernmost course in Canada, then pub crawled all night through the dirt streets at the frontier town of Dawson. Wandered the streets of Waterton snapping photos of deer and big horn sheep, then slept at the picturesque Prince of Wales Hotel. Boarded the ‘Maid of the Mist’ with family members for an up-close and personal drenching of Niagara Falls, then spent two nights in Niagara on the Lake during the George Bernard Shaw Festival. Invited senior executives and their spouses for a long weekend in the mountain resort town of Whistler. Then hooked up to a cable, glided over mountain ravines on a Zip Trek ride, bounced over rocky trails with individual ATV’s, played golf at scenic mountain courses and returned home in a private executive jet. A passenger on my transatlantic flight died of a heart attack and we were diverted to Goose Bay Labrador for emergency procedures. After years of dancing around the Canadian Maritimes finally spent two wonderful weeks driving through Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, utilizing all bread & breakfast accommodations; highlights included the 12:00 noon firing of the cannon at the Halifax Citadel, a day meandering through the little fishing village of Peggy’s Cove, a fascinating visit to Hope Well Rocks, New Brunswick to watch the world’s highest tide on the Bay of Fundy that falls and rises 35 ft., then drove across the Confederation Bridge into Bucolic Prince Edward Island, visited Anne of Green Gables on the 100th anniversary, meandered on the north coast on the impressive energy wind farm and visited the unique potato museum complete with sample French fries and potato fudge and brownies. Finally, could not contain myself with the wonderful local lobster, scallops, haddock, fish chowder and steamed blue mussels.
Colorado - As a first time skier, missed the first level of the chairlift and fearfully rode to the top of Loveland Ski Resort, then embarrassingly rode down the other side; played eighteen at the Broadmoor Resort in Colorado Springs, then dined with the captains of the travel industry, accompanied by a Colorado canyon rainbow. In Denver, sold a 250 person travel program, then drove over Independence Pass in a blinding, hair-raising snow storm; at a local station, flagged down the Durango Silverton narrow-gauge train for a breathtaking ride over the mountains into the old mining town of Silverton, then drove to awesome Mesa Verde National Park. Just north of Durango, squeezed into a glider plane for a ride over the San Juan National Park, then caught up with the Durango and Silverton Train as it puffed into Silverton, drove to the canyon floor by the Gunnison River in the Black Canyon, then pushed my car to the top for a spectacular view on the Rim Drive. Found fall foliage and drop dead beauty in Telluride - sleep was limited at 8500 feet. Rode the gondola to San Sofia and hiked down to elegant MountainVillage, took advantage of the fall leaves of yellow aspen and captured panoramic vistas with my camera. Viewed Royal Gorge and biked down Pikes Peak, then crossed IndependencePass to view Aspen and Maroon Bell’s National Park. Then drove to Vail and through RockyMountainNational Park and slept the night in historic Stanley Hotel.
Connecticut - For my parent’s fiftieth anniversary, with my two sisters, organized a reunion at a white-steepled Congregational Church in Berlin where they were married. Landed in a commuter aircraft which burst into flames, and pulled open the emergency door so all crew and passengers escaped without injury.
Florida – Boarded a catamaran for a full-day excursion from Key West to FortJefferson in Dry TortugasNational Park. Climbed over the pre-civil war fortress that seems to float on water. Was a guest of St. Augustine, the oldest city in America and wrote an article on the Spanish Fortress and the World Golf Hall of Fame. In Clearwater, opened a branch office and won a ten- million-dollar account, including the Coast Guard that patrolled the upper Caribbean, drove the turquoise Florida Keys, barrel rolled a stunt plane in Key West, and sailed off into the sunset with a group of hardware salesmen. Presented a theme park concept to senior executives at Walt Disney Co.
Georgia – In Atlanta, saw a playoff game between the Braves and the Cardinals. In Augusta, watched Tiger Woods play in the Masters Golf Championship. In Savannah, I basked in the luxury of the mansion on ForsythPark and visited a converted southern mansion now used as the Ships of the SeaMuseum. Ventured down to River Street and took and evening cruise, but above all enjoyed strolling the many historic squares known as the jewels of the city.
Idaho – On my way from Spokane, Washington to Glacier National Park, Montana spent the night in Coeur d’Alene. The following morning was invited to hit golf balls on a floating green at the resort and then wondered through a Sunday craft show and bought two totem poles for my Alaskan display back in St. Louis. I continued to Kellogg & Wallace where I rode on the world’s longest gondola and toured a working silver mine.
Illinois – In 1970, received a promotion to run my first travel program for Maritz Travel Company at a small Rockton Resort. While checking out their private zoo got too close to a black bear cage and was gashed in the knee, requiring stitches. In Chicago, attended over twenty-five years of incentive travel industry conventions, to broker deals and established lifelong relationships with friends and suppliers from around the world.
Louisiana - In New Orleans, as a young travel director, escorted a 100 person group to the Super Bowl and hawked extra tickets outside the stadium. In a twenty-four hour food frenzy, had breakfast at Brennan’s, lunch at Commander’s Palace, and dinner at Arnaud’s. Invited my entire staff of 40 for a long weekend in New Orleans, sang, ate and drank our way through the French Quarter. Joined three hundred volunteers with the Travelers Conservation Foundation, helping to restore an historic cemetery near the French Quarter and as one of only two brick masons, sealed 12 above-ground tombs. Took a river boat cruise out of New Orleans and enjoyed ports of call in Baton Rouge to tour the 34-story capitol building, and stopped at the antebellum mansion at Oak Alley Plantation – the iconic picture of the old south with 300 year old live oak trees.
Maine - In the 707 era, experienced an emergency landing in Bangor with a full charter, cleared customs and treated the passengers to lobster sandwiches; sailed out of BoothbayHarbor in a hand-crafted wooden sailboat through the foggy inlets. Took a New England trip spending time in BoothbayHarbor with a friend and his wife, then journeyed to Bar Harbor to visit AcadiaNational Park and CadillacMountain. Ate enough fresh lobster to last me a lifetime. Arrived on a Princess Cruise ship in Bar Harbor and took an open-air pit biplane circling our cruise ship.
Maryland – In the early years of my life, while my father was a professor at the University of Maryland, at the age of five, walked by General Pershing’s open casket near the capital; many years later buried my father, a retired World War II Lieutenant Colonel, at Arlington National Cemetery, with full military honors complete with 50 honor guards, horse drawn caisson and gun salute. Walked across the BurnsideBridge at Antietam Battlefield, then on to the makeshift hospital of Clara Barton “The Angel of the Battlefield”.
Massachusetts - Near Boston, watched my nephew graduate in a traditional HarvardUniversity ceremony, then on the peninsula of Cape Cod with my sister, jumped on the belly of a dead whale that had been beached earlier in the day. With loving care, my wife made hand-sewn outfits and the family participated in a renaissance wedding on Martha’s Vineyard. On a one day stop in Boston, took a Duck Boat ride with my wife, including a water ride on the Charles River, where I was allowed to steer the Duck Boat. Then walked with a group to the Union Oyster House Restaurant, established in 1826 and considered the oldest restaurant in the United States, where we enjoyed clam chowder, baked beans, lobster roll and Boston cream pie.
Michigan – Spent a week in Northern Michigan golfing and sightseeing. Highlights included Traverse City, Leland, Harbor Springs, BoyneHighlands, and Mackinac Island. My president and I got a rent-a-horse & carriage for a ride around the island, and enjoyed a chocolate torte at the Grand Hotel.
Mississippi – Walked the battlefield and cemetery of Vicksburg, then drove the Natchez Trace Road to Natchez on the Mississippi River. Toured the grand mansions of the Antebellum days, ate grits & cheese and drank mint juleps in the southern style. Boarded the American Queen river boat for a cruise up the Mississippi with stops in Natchez and Vicksburg, St. Francisville and Houmas House Plantation.
Missouri - Cruised the Mississippi River in a paddlewheel boat, grain barge, two-person sailboat, elegant yacht and a Tom Sawyer-type raft. In St. Louis, being my home, went from boy to adult, married Terrie and raised three great boys; as a travel agent, won the first government contract for convict travel and ticketed notable characters into Marion Prison, including Teflon Don Gotti, with a one-way ticket! As a young man, cheered for the baseball Cardinals and the football Rams, then later became their travel agent and worked with Mark McGuire to bring his son to St. Louis to watch “Big Mac” hit his 62nd home run. Played in a fantasy camp with outfielders Curt Flood and Lou Brock, and hit a weak grounder pitched off of Bob Gibson. Had lunch with “Stan the Man” Musial and played golf with Football Hall of Famer, Dan Dierdorf. Worked nine years for the world’s largest motivation company, Maritz Travel, having served as travel director, product manager and product director for Europe and Asia. Started my own travel agency in 1979 with one employee…now have forty; joined the local Rotary, then “made up” lunches all over the world; was honored to become a member of the Explorer’s Club and the Travelers Century Club; have taught travel and tourism at local colleges, written articles for the St. Louis Post Dispatch and been a guest on over a hundred television shows. Have taken my wife and three boys around the world on many travel voyages. In Kansas City, after having crossed the walkway of the Kansas City Hyatt watching a pulsating tea dance, the following week the walkway collapsed, killing over one hundred people. In supporting the Explorers Club – organized a day-journey on the Missouri River to locate a 150 year old river boat.
Montana – Drove into Montana stopping at the National Bison Range to look at wildlife including the skittish Pronghorns; then cruised four hours on FlatheadLake and slept the night in Kalispell, while uncontrolled forest fires raged around the city. In the morning, visited Hungry Horse Dam before entering GlacierNational Park. Slept two nights at the famous Lake McDonald Lodge, drove over the pass on Going-to-the-Sun-Road. Admired the red busses originally made in the 30’s for touring and ate huckleberry ice cream & daiquiris. The next morning geared up for an 8-hour hike including Bear Bells; and as a group climbed down into AvalancheLake. After a sales call in Great Falls, drove to EastGlacierNational Park, took 3 lake cruises and a Red Bus Tour in East Glacier, St. Mary and Many Glacier park locations.
Nevada - Took countless business groups to Las Vegas, then at a cocktail function high atop the thousand-foot Hemisphere Tower, persuaded men and women to take an impromptu roller coaster ride overlooking the city; took a dip in cold Lake Mead near Hoover Dam. Was responsible for a group in LakeHavasu for the ribbon cutting ceremony of the LondonBridge over the Colorado River. Nailed a keynote speech for the 50th anniversary of the Travelers Century Club at the Tropicana Casino. After a travel expo in Las Vegas at the beautiful Palazzo Hotel, spent a full-day on Scenic Airlines flying over the Grand Canyon and Hoover Dam, then a helicopter ride and boat trip on the Colorado River; and finally a venture on the Skywalk glass bottom horseshoe on the Hualapai Indian Reservation.
New Hampshire – Crossed the border into northern New Hampshire into the charming town of North Conway. Slept in the famous old Mount Washington Hotel and in the morning took a cog wheel train up Mt.Washington to the peak that is noted for the worst weather in the United States. Continued to Franconia Notch, riding the tram to the top of the mountain for a great view of the green valleys of New Hampshire.
New Mexico - Sat under a shade tree with an elder of the Taos Pueblo admiring the adobe architecture, then changed to coat and tie for Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro at the open air Santa Fe Opera. As dawn broke over Albuquerque, slowly floated upward at the world’s largest balloon fiesta – accompanied by 600 balloons; drove up and climbed down Acoma Pueblo experiencing Indian culture in a desert mesa setting, then drove for hours to reach the isolated Chaos Cultural Park – a little-known gem of American landmarks; hiked an hour and a half to a descending trail at Carlsbad Caverns to view the awesome Big Room; Later published an article on Great American Caves. Hiked for two hours over the WhiteSandsNational Park and consider it one of the highlights of my travel career.
New York - Escorted shortstop Ozzie Smith and ninety fans to Cooperstown for Baseball Hall of Fame ceremonies, met with Carrier Air Conditioner executives in Syracuse and convinced them to take 800 dealers to Leningrad and Moscow in the height of the communist era, became a TWA reservation agent and lived a year in the Big Apple.
Ohio – Visited the National Football League Hall of Fame in Canton, then drove north to Put-In Bay which are resort Islands near Cleveland. On another trip flew into Dayton to visit the impressive Wright-Patterson Air and SpaceMuseum.
Oregon – Boarded the Hellsgate Jetboat Excursion on the olive green Rogue River as osprey and eagles floated overhead, spent a restless night at Crater Lake Lodge and caught a sunrise over little Wizard Island inside the crater, after circling Crater Lake (a 33 mile round-trip) drove down 7100 ft through deep green forests to sea level and Oregon Dunes State Park. Followed the coast past historic lighthouses and bridges, stopping briefly at Tillamook Cheese Factory for a grilled cheese sandwich and crab soup.
Pennsylvania – After viewing the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia, joined 300 members of “Tourism Cares” eager to clean the brush on the Spangler Farm that was used as a hospital after the Gettysburg battle, a rewarding task to help the travel industry.
South Carolina – On a journalist visit to Charleston – boarded the Yorktown aircraft carrier and strapped in for a flight simulation carrier landing, and then boated to historic FortSumter. Took a traditional carriage ride near the City Market and sipped on She Crab Soup. Drove through the inlets on beautiful KiawahIsland and experienced low country food, including shrimp and grits and Southern Iced Tea in Harbour Town, Hilton Head Island – walked the beach near the well-known lighthouse.
South Dakota - On a one-day blitz, had breakfast in St. Louis, flew to Rapid City, drove through the Badlands and Black Hills to see Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monuments, and returned to St. Louis in time to catch the late-night news. Organized an extended family trip with my two sisters as the 17 family members stayed 5 days in Custer State Park Lodge – tours included: impressive Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse carving, driving through the Black Hills including the Pigtail Bridges, a healthy 1 ¼ mile hike around Devil’s Tower (actually on the border in Wyoming), strolled the sidewalks of gold rush town of Deadwood, then drove through Sturgis as the thousands of Harley-Davidson Bikers were arriving for their annual gathering, photographed abundant wildlife including buffalo, pronghorns, prairie dogs, deer, elk and wild donkey’s; ended the trip by climbing deep into Wind Cave National Park and wandering through the excavation sight at Hot Springs where 50 or so mammoth skeletons have been discovered; took a brief excursion to Badlands National Park and ended this wonderful family outing with a chocolate ice cream cone at famous Wall Drug.
St. Pierre and Miquelon - Was trapped in an Atlantic storm on this French island but found refuge in a horse barn.
Texas - During my army time, was stationed at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, as a sentry dog handler and during field training on the open range, was attacked by a Black Angus bull. Many years later flew into Austin in a private Challenger Jet to play golf at an upscale resort; with a ten-gallon hat, rode through hill country to the Y.O. Ranch to see exotic game animals. Escorted a large group to San Antonio, we all enjoyed the River Walk and the Alamo.
Utah - Floated in the Great Salt Lake; hiked ZionNational Park and BryceCanyon; romantically kidnapped my wife for surprise anniversary flight to Salt Lake City and later Snowbird Ski Resort. Drove through the scenic aspen fall foliage, to the summit of CedarBreaksNational Park and was greeted by an early winter blizzard.
Vermont – Drove to Stowe, a famous ski town, but I was there in the summer to tour the Trapp Family Lodge, famed for its owners who came from Austria and were the subject of the well-known movie “The Sound of Music.” Stayed at the Green Mountain Hotel, a historic, warm and cozy property; then drove to Lake Champlain and the ShelburneMuseum. Spend a morning in Barre to view the Rock of Ages pit, where they extract their famous gray granite; then stopped at Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory before driving south to one of the most charming cities in the United States - Woodstock.
Virginia – Under the banner of “Tourism Cares for Tomorrow”, 300 travel agents cleaned the forest around Mt.Vernon for a one-day volunteer event; and in the winter, dressed in black tie and danced with Friends of Mt. Vernon on George Washington’s birthday. Toured Luray Caverns with its underground lake and impressive columns, stalactites and stalagmites, then entered Winchester just in time for the Apple Blossom Festival.
Washington - As a teenager, with my sister drove to the Seattle World’s Fair viewing Mount Rainier from the Space Needle. With an old travel director buddy, drove through the Columbia River Gorge, then spent 8 1/2 hours climbing Mount St. Helen’s. Entered Olympic National Park touring QuinaltLake and HohRain Forest, then spent the night on Indian lands at La Push. Saw fields of lavender in Sequim and enjoyed a performance by the Seattle Symphony.
Washington DC – On a travel agents trip, spent time touring The Mall with the Washington Monument; Capitol; White House; WWII, Korean, & Vietnam Memorials, Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials; then had a special group dinner in the Library of Congress.
West Virginia – Harper’s Ferry lies at the confluence of the Potomac and ShenandoahRivers and is noted for the brazen act of abolitionist John Brown. I walked the hilly streets and crossed the historic railroad bridge once used by Robert E. Lee.
Wisconsin – Took a media trip to Door County and on the way played golf the famous Kohler-American Club, where I was a guest at the Whistling Straits Course and shot a terrible score. Then continued through Green Bay to view Lambeau Field (home of the Packers), and on up to Sturgeon Bay, Egg Harbor, and Fish Creek. Took a trolley around part of the island, went kayaking and took an off-road Segway ride. Ate tart cherry pie, cheese curds and wall-eye fish.
Wyoming – As a guest journalist, boarded in Denver the Big Boy steam locomotive for a memorable train ride to Cheyenne for Frontier Days Grand Rodeo. Flew to Jackson Hole and sat on saddles at the Cowboy Bar; the following day rode the aerial tram to the top of Teton Mountain and with a pilot strapped behind me, took a tandem paragliding 20 minute flight for a breathtaking view of the Teton Range. Enjoyed a hardy breakfast at Rockefellers' Jenny Lake Lodge in the TetonNational Park and dinner at Jackson Lake Lodge with its compelling view of lake mountains and wildlife. In YellowstoneNational Park, took a camera safari viewing bison, eagles and northern pelicans and slept in historic Old Faithful while waiting for the world-renowned geyser to blow its top.
Cruised the Norwegian Fjords, Baltic, the Clyde, the Seine, the Rhine, the Mozelle, the Danube, the Volga, the canals of France, plus five Mediterranean cruises; savored black caviar at 1300 miles per hour while crossing the Atlantic on the British Air Concorde.
Albania - In Saronda, watched children begging for food being beaten by the local Communist hotel guards.
Andorra -Convinced my father to join me on a public bus for a ride through the PyreneesMountains from Barcelona to the small principality of Andorra.
Austria - Attended a performance of Mozart in the grand style at the Vienna State Opera; after an ambitious climb to the top of Salzburg Fortress, munched on pastries and hot chocolate and sang all of the words I knew from the Sound of Music. Entering Vienna via a beautiful river cruise took a local bus to PraterPark and rode the famous 100 year old Ferris wheel. Continued into downtown for a performance of the Lipizzaner Stallions and like any tourist, enjoyed a sacher torte.
Belgium - Drove from the Grand Place in Brussels to tour the countryside and visited the quaint water canal city of Bruges, a little gem of Europe. Ate chocolate in Ghent, a university town filled with merchants and grand houses, famous for its lace shops.
Croatia - Walked the ramparts of the medieval port city of Dubrovnik, before and after war damage. Embarking off a cruise ship, took a group of 20 and “walked the wall” around Dubrovnik.
Cyprus - Walked through “no-man’s land” guarded by UN troops, between the Greek and Turkish areas of Nicosia.
Czech Republic - Ate pork and dumplings, then walked through the spiraled streets of Prague over the statue-lined Charles Bridge; was captivated by one of the great Gothic cities of the world. Spent three days in Golden Prague and took a side trip to Kutná Hora to visit the Ossuary bone church. Took a second excursion to visit the original Budweiser Brewery in Budvar. Spent a weekend in Prague with their tourist board and a full day in Karlovy Vary or Carlsbad, a spa town with beautiful architecture.
Denmark – Hired an entire high school marching band to perform at the entrance of Kronborg Castle, then later in Copenhagen, hugged the little mermaid statue beside the icy shores. Sailed from Copenhagen on a deluxe Scandinavian cruise, enjoyed gourmet meals, grand cathedrals and castles; then spent a childlike afternoon with my wife at LegolandTheme Park.
England - In the late 80’s, invited all of my employees to London and painted the town from high tea to pub crawl, from theater to the changing of the guards; toured Stonehenge and Bath and never enjoyed driving on the left side of the road. Departed from South Hampton, the historic port in Southern England for an 11-day cruise, and found the port neither charming nor historic. Spent ten days on a full motor coach tour of England which included London, Stonehenge, Bath, Bristol, Chester, the Lake District, Hadrian’s Wall, Alswick Castle, York and the National Railroad Museum, and Warwick Castle in the Cotswolds.
Estonia – Got lost in the narrow cobblestone streets of Old Tallinn.
Faroe Islands - In the North Atlantic, landed atop a mountain on the shortest jet runway in the world.
Finland - Ate reindeer stew in Helsinki then spent the afternoon with friends on the local trolley touring the city.
France - Engaged in gluttony at Maxim’s Restaurant in Paris, took endless pictures of Mont Saint Michel as the tide ebbed, walked Omaha Beach where my father landed in World War II, admired the architecture of the French Chateau country on the Loire River and fell in love with immense Fountainebleau Palace; dined at a street café in Lyon before driving the length of Provence region, ending up in the double-walled city of Carcassonne, a fairy tale town if ever there was one; on the Riviera, rode a Harley-Davidson on the La Croissette promenade and became a crew member on a sailing regatta in the Bay of Cannes. Sipped on local rosé in the walled city of St. Paul de Vence, and selected different perfumes in Grasse. Spent 2 days in Bordeaux in the region of Aquatiane; we docked on the GaronneRiver and wandered through the historic town, including the Place du Parliament. The following day we drove on the left bank vineyards of Medoc; here you can find the famous Chateau Lafite Rothschild and some of the greatest vineyards of the world. On another port call, we tendered into the jet set beach resort town of Biarritz. I spent a short time at the famous Hotel du Palais before continuing to the base of the Pyrenees.
Germany - During the communist years of East Germany, endured the ponderous passport procedure at Checkpoint Charlie, leading into a world of dirty black, coal-sooted buildings, hopeless people and a government notorious for lies and hypocrisy; then, after the Berlin Wall fell, escorted a Lutheran group to Wittenberg, sat in a pew as Lutheran Hour Minister, Dr. Dale Meyer, preached at Martin Luther’s City Church; ate a frankfurter in Frankfurt, drank steins of beer in Munich’s Hofbrauhaus and munched on strudel at Neuschwanstein, “mad” Ludwig’s castle in Bavaria. With my wife and three boys, stood before Cologne’s imposing cathedral, then cruised the Rhine past vineyards and medieval castles on the way to the GuttenbergMuseum in Mainz; decided that LinderhofCastle wins the “coolest” architectural design of Europe. Visited Nürnberg and saw the Nazi Party Rally Grounds and Courtroom 600 where the Nürnberg trials were held after WWII. This is one of the great medieval towns of Europe and the old town is nothing short of spectacular. Was invited on a German river cruise on the MainCanal and River, the Rhine and the Mosel. Took a half-day bike ride passing by vineyards and quaint German towns.
Gibraltar - Atop “The Rock”, looked across toward Africa and never once thought of Prudential Insurance. On another trip, rode the gondola up to the caves and fed the Barbary Apes.
Greece - Over a glass of ouzo, near the Acropolis in Athens, listened as a long-time Greek friend made history come alive; later drove to Meteora and stayed in a monastery with the monks, prayed, ate, and listened to Greek Orthodox scripture; the following day, with an old travel director friend, took six hours to climb Mount Olympus but never had a chance to talk to any of the gods; on a foggy morning, sailed past the mystical Santorini and imagined the lost continent of Atlantis. On a romantic cruise through the Aegean Sea, visited MountOlympus and Athens, then cruised south to feed the pelicans in Mykanos, wandered with my son and wife to Delos through the ancient and sacred ruins dedicated to Apollo. Rode a mule up to the top of Santorini and toured the Grand Masters Palace in Rhodes.
Guernsey – Joined with a local Rotary Club, in the Bailiwick of the Channel Islands and toasted Her Majesty, the Queen. Made a port-of-call stop touring this beautiful island, including the German battlements constructed in WWII, and spent an afternoon touring the capital, St. Peter Port. Then a 2-hour boat trip the Herm, for a pint of Herm beer that lasted so long I almost missed the cruise departure.
Hungary – Flew into Budapest for a 10-day Danube River Cruise. Walked across the Chain Bridge and toured the town including the famous Parliament building. On the Buda side, my wife and I visited a Marzipan museum full of intricate cake-like statues, then enjoyed Hungarian Goulash complete with a gypsy violinist.
Ireland - In Kilarney, found ten pubs in three blocks and danced the jig with a red-haired Irish lass. In the quaint town of Kenmare met with, among others, the travel editors for “National Geographic’s Traveler” and “Travel and Leisure” magazines, before touring Waterford, Limerick and Galway. On a further trip sponsored by the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, started the trip by reluctantly driving on the left side of the road; but the reward was visiting the Cliffs of Moher, driving around the crescent shaped Galway Bay and sleeping the night at Ashford Castle, an 800 year old stone fortress. Drove across Ireland to Dublin’s fair city and enjoyed two nights at 5-star hotels before joining the group south to Druids Glen. Played the magnificent Marriott course and sang & drank with all my Irish cohorts.
Isle of Man – Organized a motorcycle group of enthusiastic bikers and traveled to the TT Road Races, known for a famous cross-country contest.
Italy - At his Roman restaurant, watched the original Alfredo proudly mix with gold fork and spoon his famous fettuccini; led a select group to a private audience with the Pope; squeezed wine from a sheep skin at a toga party for 300 Buick dealers, fell in love with the Renaissance cities of Venice and Florence; took an evening stroll around the Coliseum, feeling the legacy of what was once the greatest empire on earth. Aboard a Holland America cruise ship, sailed past the Island of Stromboli and watched a midnight display of fire and lava. Another trip to Venice allowed time for an evening gondola ride, had a morning confrontation with numerous pigeons in St. Mark’s square. In Florence, saw the magnificent artwork of the renaissance and shopped on the Ponte Vecchio crossing the ArnoRiver. Crossed the Roman Ponte St. Angelo Bridge and viewed the Tiber and Hadrian’s mausoleum. In Rome, took a cab around the Vatican and realized it is a walled city. Ordered a lemoncello drink in Positano, a quaint town on the AmalfiCoast, boated by the cliffs of Cinque Terre and ate a gelato in Vernazza. In the walled city of Lucca in Tuscany – climbed GuinigiTower for a panoramic view of the town. Discovered the simple beauty of Portofino and the trompe l'oeil paintings of Santa Margherita, Spent a luxury night at Villa d’ Este on the lake shore of Como and agreed that this is probably the best hotel in the world. Had lunch with my wife in the lake town of Bellagio enjoying perch and risotto then drove across Italy with a short stop in Lago di Grada before boating into Venice to the beautiful Cipriano Hotel. Purchased glassworks on MuranoIsland then boarded the Simplon Orient Express Train for a grand train trip through Austria and France before arriving at London’s Victoria Station.
Luxembourg – Came to attention and saluted the grave of General George S. Patton, Jr. at the military cemetery a few miles from Luxembourg city, then toured the city and boarded a TGV train to Paris.
Monaco - Organized a black-tie James Bond night at the Grand Casino overlooking the Mediterranean. Climbed from the dock in Monte Carlo to the Grand Casino where Saturday night brought out the rich and famous luxury cars – including Rolls Royces, Bentleys and Ferraris.
Netherlands - In Amsterdam, cruised on the canals by day and toured the “red-light” district at night. Strolled by coffee shops selling pot and enjoyed the Night Watchman and the Dutch Masters by Rembrandt at the famous RijksMuseum, and thoroughly enjoyed the Van GoghMuseum down the street. Spent a day in the fishing villages of Marken and Volendam.
Northern Ireland - In Belfast, talked politics with a haberdasher in a city pub protected by barbed wire. On a second trip, arrived by train to a new and modern Belfast, safe and featuring a robust economy. Played golf at the Royal County Down Golf Club, designed by old Tom Morris and continued north to wander through the Giant’s Causeway in the Green Glens of Antrim. Finished the day with a tour of Bushmills Whiskey Distillery and ate ample amounts of fresh salmon and Irish stew.
Norway - After cruising Sognefjord, placed this steep-walled fjord on my top five most beautiful places in the world.
Poland - Was stunned by the death camp at Auschwitz.
Portugal - Off the coast of the Algarve, on a deep sea fishing boat, lost power and drifted five hours before a fishing trawler came to our aid. Enjoyed the Lisbon CoachMuseum and the wonderful MaritimeMuseum. Spent a full day in Porto and enjoyed their winery – famous for port wine, and a lovely river cruise on the DouroRiver. The final stop of the cruise was in Lisbon, a city I have visited on a regular basis. So I spent the afternoon on a segway, to ride through the old medieval quarters of Alfama.
Romania - Walked through Dracula’s castle, then was stopped by soldiers in Bucharest as dictator Charchesu’s entourage passed by. A month later, he was put in front of a firing squad.
Russia - In the old USSR, devoured caviar and toasted with vodka and friends in Red Square, then was arrested on the street by Red Army soldiers who really only wanted my blue jeans; planned and escorted six Pan Am charters to Moscow and Leningrad at the height of the Communist era.
Scotland – In the highlands of bonnie Scotland, played Gleneagles’, Carnouscie Links and the Old Course at St. Andrew’s; dressed in brilliant regalia for a royal Angus dinner at GlamisCastle. Had cocktails on her majesties royal yacht Britannia and was served Scottish Black Angus at a royal feast at SterlingCastle, dressed in formal kilts and sporran. On a motor coach trip, crossed the border into Gretna Green and then to Edinburgh and climbed Sir Walter Scott’s memorial of 287 steps.
Spain - Had no problem looking for those castles in Spain and found a great one in Segovia, a tapas in Madrid’s “OldTown”, watched matadors challenge “El Toro” on a Sunday afternoon, and left my father abandoned on the hills of Granada when I missed a crucial turn near the Alhambra. Drove through the countryside of Mallorca and visited the caves of Drach enjoying a below-ground lake concert. Watched as enthusiastic pilgrims hiked into the square of Santiago de Compostela. Cruised into the narrow passage to the northern Basque city of San Sebastian; later we docked at Bilbao, famed for its GuggenheimMuseum.
Svalbard - In the high Arctic, carried a rifle for protection against polar bears on my afternoon hike to the coalmine.
Sweden – After touring the NobelPalace, walked the multi-level VasaWarshipMuseum in Stockholm.
Switzerland - Honeymooned at the Burgenstock Resort high above LakeLucerne and rode the cog-wheel train up the Alps to the Matterhorn.
Ukraine - Was arrested by corrupt guards and held five hours until they had the last of my U.S. dollars.
Wales - Found the original Gwin family castle in a small town in a northern county. Spent a day in Llangothlin, a charming Welch town with a small train station, and local Welch items for sale.
Algeria - Was stopped at no less than seven checkpoints between the airport and the city hotel in Algiers; this was an unstable country.
Angola - After clearing customs, was threatened by outlaws, but with quick thinking and the grace of God, made it to the Meridian Hotel, found the bar, sat down with shaky legs and ordered numerous beers.
Botswana - Deep in the Okavango Delta, sat by a campfire as hippos grazed on tender grass just a few feet from our chairs. Took 20 people on a safari and stayed at 3 remote camps: Chobe Savannah Lodge, CampMoremi, and Leroo La Tau on the hill overlooking the BotetiRiver. Saw extensive herds of wildlife including: Elephants, hippos and to our surprise, large land turtles.
Burkina Faso - In this little-known sub-Saharan country, received a phone call that my father had passed away.
Burundi - Walked by the shores of Lake Tanganyika as seven-foot Watusi herdsmen tended their long-horned cattle.
Egypt - Over the years, arrived at the Giza Pyramids on foot, atop a camel and astride a spirited Arabian stallion; entered into two pyramids and climbed to the top of a third, a very dangerous adventure; at sunset, sailed down the Nile in a traditional felucca boat. In the Valley of the Kings, with desert heat at 110 degrees, watched tourists drop like flies outside their air-conditioned motor coach. In an eerie setting, I watched merchant ships from around the world queue up for the passage through the Suez Canal. Spent two weeks touring Egypt in depth, including a group camel ride next to the pyramids, a cruise down the Nile, a hot air balloon over the Valley of the Kings, drinks at two famous hotels, the Mena House next to the pyramids, and the WinterPalace on the Nile at Luxor. Ended the trip at a relaxing beach resort in Hurgahata on the Red Sea.
Ghana - Passed around a bottle of ceremonial liquor with the local chieftains who were dressed in the brilliant regalia of leopard skins.
Ivory Coast - Watched hard-working laundry men, waist deep in a river, wash clothes and sing tribal songs.
Kenya - On safari, awoke to the sun breaking over the white snows of Kilimanjaro, backed off from a 20-foot crocodile devouring an antelope, boarded an aging DC3 propeller aircraft to the Masi Mara and marveled at all the creatures great and small; ended the safari by eating domesticated zebra, camel, and gazelle at a unique restaurant in Nairobi.
Lesotho - With nothing to do, found the local, dilapidated, former British golf course and played a round with their national champion, then returned to the hotel in the back bed of a crowded pick-up truck.
Liberia - Drove by a large rubber plantation abandoned by the Firestone Company after years of bitter fighting, then entered Monrovia to find a modern African city in complete chaos, with blocks of buildings bombed out or riddled with bullet holes.
Mali - In Bamako, walked through a mile-long river market and realized that I was the only white person for miles, yet never felt threatened.
Mauritania - Was honored to share tea with the blue people of North Africa; this nomad tent sheltered children and grandchildren, veiled women and wandering goats.
Morocco - Ate a Ramadan dinner after sunset with my Moroccan colleagues in Fez at the Palace Jamai; drove from Marrakech deep into the Atlas Mountains for lunch in a Berber village.
Namibia – On the east Caprivi strip, stayed at the Savannah Lodge for animal viewing primarily from river boats. On another trip, spent the night in the capital of Windhoek.
Sao Tome and Principal - Watched a misguided airport guard, who was removing goats from the runway, fire a shotgun point blank into the terminal, shattering glass and scattering passengers in all directions.
Senegal - Stood at the guard house gates on GoreeIsland where 20 million were enslaved and shipped to the New World.
Sierra Leone - Entering customs, found ourselves in the middle of a scuffle between our tour leader and an unsavory official; this is truly a dishonest and despicable country.
South Africa - Took in the view from the top of Table Mountain in Cape Town; went on safari with the family near Kruger National Park and saw the “Big Five” (elephant, rhino, cape buffalo, leopard and lion) all in one day.
Tanzania - With fellow explorer, flew over the Serengeti, watching the migration of a million animals; camped at the side of a river with snorting hippos and tree climbing lions, then drove the switchback trails into Ngorongoro Crater, famous for its lake full of pink flamingos; finally began a five-day climb from base camp to the summit of 19,400 foot Mount Kilimanjaro, a one-of-a-kind experience.
Togo - Never will forget the Lome fetish market filled with dead animal parts used for local worship.
Venda - In this tribal homeland, heard true stories of modern-day human sacrifices.
Zambia – Spent a wonderful sunset at the Royal Livingston Lodge with my wife, friends and sister, as we were served fine drinks and wine, viewing the Victoria Falls from the top. Then spend a half day getting totally soaked from head to toe hiking the trails around this magnificent natural waterfall.
Zanzibar - During a visit to this Arab-African island, dined early at the only prime hotel as a huge crowd assembled to meet the Sultan of Oman, then joined what turned out to be a formal state dinner.
Zimbabwe - At Victoria Falls, watched son Todd bungee jump into the gorge of the Zambezi River, then took a group to the edge of the falls for a complete mist soaking; in a hunting reserve, dropped my Nikon camera when I was charged by a cantankerous white rhino.
Afghanistan - With rifles aimed at my head, by approaching Taliban soldiers, stepped across the white line into Afghanistan, and then retreated to the safety of Iran.
Armenia - Before the fall of communism, helped a local volunteer brigade create a military Identification card for their new, secret national guard.
Azerbaijan - Drove by the world’s first oil fields near Baku.
Bali - Passed terraced rice fields and entered a temple as monkeys climbed over my shoulders, then in the evening, watched a hundred swaying dancers perform the intoxicating monkey dance.
Bangladesh - In Dhaka, observed crowded dilapidated trains with passengers riding upon the train roofs.
Bhutan - Found Shangri-La high in the HimalayanMountains, a remote country that nurtures the kindest people on earth.
Borneo - Blew a dart from a tribal blow gun into the jungle; and at an animal reserve, was punched in the chest by an orangutan mother when I got too close to her baby.
Burma - Never will forget the sunset from Mandalay Hill as Buddhist monks prayed at a thousand white pagoda shrines; watched working elephants load teak wood on river barges and rode a local ox cart between the red and white temples of Pagan; in the city of Rangoon, viewed the shimmering pagoda of Shwedagon, towering 365 feet and decorated with 60 tons of gold.
Cambodia - Walked barefooted on the solid silver pagoda floor in Phnom Penh; drove to the killing fields, where a 50-foot tower of skulls stands as a reminder of the genocide of Pol Pot and the Khemer Rouge; continued to the deep Southeast Asian jungle to explore the world’s largest religious shrine at Angkor Wat.
China - Climbed the Great Wall, devoured Peking Duck, then three months after the shooting in Tiananmen Square, found myself the lone tourist as I walked through the Forbidden City; will always remember the terra cotta soldiers of Xian, Middle China; cruised the three gorges of the Yangtze River. Watched cormorant fishing on the LeeRiver around beautiful Guilin. Years before, in 1979, took Rolls Royce executives to Canton’s best hotel, featuring mosquito netting and fish head entrees, when all of China was dressed in Mao style outfits. Was invited by the Chinese government to a large celebration and ceremony for the rebuilding of cities and towns from a devastating earthquake in the SichuanProvince, then toured the Panda reserve and the Mengding Mountain Tea Plantation. Then toured Beijing and enjoyed Peking duck at the DaDong Restaurant.
Georgia - Soaked myself in an ancient bathhouse built by Ottoman Turks in Tblisi.
Hong Kong – Was invited aboard a millionaire’s junk in Repulse Bay, and fitted for tightly tailored suits that I quickly outgrew.
India - During the full moon, experienced the unparalleled splendor of the Taj Mahal; rode a lumbering elephant up to the Amber Palace in Jaipur, watched devoted Hindus immerse themselves in the rejuvenating GangesRiver, could not believe the massive hand-carved ruins of Ellora and Ajanta near Bombay.
Japan - Raced past Mount Fuji on the Bullet Train, then meditated at the golden pavilion in Kyoto; flew to the north island, Hokkaido, and bought a ticket on a steam train to visit mystical people. Planned a formal dinner in Tokyo for Mitsubishi executives, observing Japanese high protocol; bathed nude with other local Japanese at Ryokan Inn, watched Kobe cattle being massaged for future tender steaks, shot the rapids on a mountain river near Osaka and ate wild boar in a private hunting lodge.
Kashmir - Toured the volatile border area between India and Pakistan, and then slept with one eye open in an old British houseboat in the Vail of Kashmir on LakeDol.
Korea - During a travel conference, ran a five-kilometer race around the Korean capital building, toured Panmunjom at the at the 38th parallel, and walked around the conference room into North Korea for a quick adventure into the Stalinist-type communist world.
Kyrgyzstan - Bargained with local merchants bedecked in festive fur hats, near the border town of Osh.
Mongolia - Sat by a nomad’s ger tent, and with great trepidation, drank Yak milk soup with his extended family.
Nepal - In Katmandu, drove past miles of orange and charcoal-colored markers honoring the royal family, saw the living goddess in her pagoda, watched Hindu holy men cremate bodies by the rivers, then, with a friend, chartered a plane and circled the snow-capped Mount Everest.
Pakistan - Dipped my hand into the reflection pool of the fabled ShalimarGardens of Lahore.
Philippines - In my early career, during a site inspection, floated down a river into the movie set of Apocalypse Now and was berated by Francis Ford Coppola.
Sikkim - Hired a four-wheel-drive vehicle with a buddy, but got caught in a monsoon avalanche in the Himalayas; as the road washed out, was saved from a thousand-foot drop by an Indian officer and his bulldozer.
Singapore - Drank a “Singapore Sling” at the fabled Raffles Hotel.
Sri Lanka - As the full August moon shown on the holy city of Kandy, hundreds of dancers, drummers and jewel-covered elephants passed by in the Parade of Perahara for the Festival of the Temple of the Tooth; bribed my way onto a sacred temple elephant.
Taiwan – Escorted an RCA business group of distributors through the television assembly plant in Taipei.
Thailand - Got a traditional massage in Bangkok, took a river barge ride at night to see the Temple of Dawn illuminate the royal city, went north by train and crossed the Bridge on the River Kwai, rode elephants into the jungle in Chiang Mai, and stood respectfully by the side of the road as the queen’s limousine passed.
Tibet - Coming off of the plane near the capital, felt dizzy because of the 10,000-foot elevation of the city and sucked oxygen as I toured the magnificent PotalaPalace.
Turkey - Wandered through the Blue Mosque in Istanbul and marveled at the jewels at the Sultan’s TopkapiPalace, climbed into the cone-shaped pinnacles in Cappadocia where early Christians lived; looked at the natural white pools of Pamukkale and wandered the streets of the ancient Roman city of Ephesus.
Turkmenistan - After laborious customs procedures, found my way to the best hotel in town and ate eggs with black caviar fresh from the Caspian Sea, then, with a small, adventuresome group, drove the five “stans”, a total of 2,600 miles through the KaraKumDesert.
Uzbekistan - Stood in awe of the turquoise blue madrasa’s and towers of Bukhara and Samarkand, two of the most important cities on the old Silk Road.
Vietnam - At the age of twenty, went from a boy to a man as a soldier with my sentry dog, Ginger, near the Saigon Airport; spent time in the Iron Triangle, learned a new culture, and eventually became an Asian history major because the experience of Southeast Asia.
Bahrain - Strolled between the glittering shops of the gold market in Manama.
Iran - On a 9-day tour, experienced the rule of the bizarre Ayatollah laws, ate monotonous restaurant food of bean soup and kabobs, shopped in the copper and brass markets of Iman SquareIsfahan with its brilliant blue and turquoise tiles.
Israel - Knelt to pray in the Garden of Gethsemane, got my eyes burned from the salt water while floating in the Dead Sea; in the heat of the day, climbed Masada, where Israelites made a last stand against the Roman Legions; escorted a Lutheran and later a Catholic pilgrimage in old Jerusalem; stood at the western wall as the Jewish faithful from around the world came to pray, while a short distance away the Moslems prayed at the Dome of the Rock; with the sun setting, shared stories and wine with Franciscans at a holy place on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.
Jordan - Rode a white and tan Arabian stallion into Petra’s narrow gorge; met and talked with Bedouin tribesmen of the Hashemite kingdom.
Kuwait - Was invited with a business associate to enjoy a cold bottle of non-alcoholic champagne near the famous three towers of KuwaitCity.
Nakhchivan – After the Travelers’ Century Club announced this remote enclave as a country, flew 16,000 miles in 4 ½ days, snapped photos and wrote an article that was picked up by the Associated Press.
Oman - Slept in the most opulent hotel in the world, the Al Bustan Palace in Muscat.
Saudi Arabia - Nodded politely to my waiter as he excused himself for evening prayers; bought gold, frankincense and myrrh, brought them home and had my three sons present them to my wife as Christmas gifts.
Syria - Got completely lost in an Arab souk market in Damascus, later saw the early Christian underground Church of the Apostle Paul.
United Arab Republic - Negotiated a business agreement with a sheik at his palace in Dubai, and then toured all seven Emirates in one long day.
Yemen - In respect for my guide and his driver, abstained from food and drink during the daylight because of Ramadan fasting (boy, was I hungry); drove our 4 x 4 Jeep to visit Arabesque villages in the forbidding deserts.
Andaman Islands - South of Calcutta in the Bay of Bengal, wandered among the stone ruins of a former British penal colony, now consumed by snake-like banyan trees.
Christmas Island – Walked through thousands of red crabs slowly crossing the roads on their way to the sea.
Diego Garcia Chagos Islands - With other Travel Century Club members, 15 in all, chartered a mid-sized dive boat and plied the open seas for days to reach this restricted military island; was arrested by the British authorities, backed with Royal Marine helicopters, but, through quick talking and cold beer on a hot day, negotiated for the boat to be released on a promise never to return.
Madagascar - Watched long-tailed lemurs spring through the trees and prehistoric-looking chameleons climb over my outstretched hand.
Maldives - Dashed in a speedboat towards the Four Seasons Resort as the sea exploded with hundreds of flying fish.
Mayotte Island - Missed the only plane for four days from this remote French-AfricanIsland, so settled in and fed native fruit bats who wandered up to arms length to eat tropical fruit.
Reunion Island - Saw impressive waterfall canyons near the active volcano valley.
Seychelles Islands - Saw the world’s largest seeds (the size of a basketball) from the Coco De Mer Palm Tree on the French-British-African island.
American Samoa - Talked my way into a factory tour for “Chicken of the Sea”, and saw thousands of yellowfin tuna being processed by the latest technology and shipped by sea to the U.S.
Australia - As the sun rose over Ayers Rock, deep in the outback, snapped pictures and climbed red sandstone monolith 350 feet to the very top; learned the history of dreamtime from the local Aborigines, scuba dived with my sons at the Great Barrier Reef, bought multi-colored opals, then enjoyed live theater at the Sydney Opera House; motored with Lutheran pilgrims up the Barossa Valley, following the legend of the German immigrants who established churches and the vineyards that produce today’s tasty Australian wines; guzzled local Foster’s Beer with the happiest drinking people anywhere.
Easter Island - Saw the mysterious statues of the Moai, then cooled down body surfing at AnakenaBeach but cut myself on coral and bled profusely for an hour.
Fiji - Hunkered down and rode out a three-day typhoon at the Royal Fijian Hotel with a group of stranded Americans; later, in order to familiarize myself with the island, rode a local mini-bus five hours from Nandi to Suva, the capital.
Galapagos Islands - Cruised from island to island, encountering the nesting area of a colony of marine iguanas, plus red and blue-footed boobies; viewed a 180-year-old, 600-pound Galapagos tortoise in a protected forest.
Guam - In the early 80’s, landed next to endless B52 Bombers parked wing-to-wing.
Hawaiian Islands - After 20-plus trips to the islands, remember famous Sunset Beach, where I caught a surfing wave and “wiped out” in unceremonious fashion; learned to like poi, mahi mahi fish, and macadamia nut ice cream, and to despise cheap Hawaiian souvenirs, sea urchins and sunburns; helicoptered over the molten lava on the Big Island and down into the green canyons of Kauai; watched humpback whales spout off Maui; took a five-hour mule ride down Kalaupapa Pass in Molokai to the leper colony; and hosted a luau for 2,600 people on Waikiki.
Johnson Island - Landed on the U.S. Navy’s man-made island and heard stories of top-secret materials, but could not disembark the aircraft.
Kiribati - Wandered by huge World War II cannons, both U.S. and Japanese, on Tarawa, as old natives shared stories of the amphibious Marine landing.
Line Islands - Jetted south from Hawaii to quiet Christmas Island for sport fishing at its best, catching silver-colored bonefish.
Lord Howell Island - Landed in a wind storm and blew out the wing landing gear tires for a most unnerving arrival, then snuggled into a secluded B&B, swam in an idyllic lagoon with a friendly school of silver fish, and by night viewed the clear heavens, filled with billions and billions of stars.
Marquesas Islands - Arrived in these rugged plunging mountain islands on an adventure ship, hiked two hours to a remote waterfall, and returned to the ship to hear the sad news that one of our fellow passengers had disappeared, never to be seen again; also spent time on this trip with Roy Disney, co-chairman of the Disney Corporation.
Marshall Islands - Circled the Atoll of Kwajalein, used as a target for American ICBMs.
Midway Island - Spent four days walking among the gooney birds and albatrosses, slept in former Navy barracks, and saw the original landing area and hangers for the famous Pan Am Clippers that flew from the west coast to China.
Nauru - Toured the surrealistic pinnacle fields left by phosphate mining, which has stripped the island but made the locals wealthy.
New Zealand - Boated through the glow worm caves of Waitomo, smelled the pungent sulphur in the Maori’s capital of Rotorua, spent a day and night on a sheep ranch with my family on the south island; took a triple challenge in Queenstown, a helicopter ride through the canyon, fast rapid rafting and a thrilling jet boat ride, then watched son, Aaron, bungee jump off of the Shotover River Bridge.
Niue - Bellied up to the bar with a Kiwi and a Yankee, who were interested in exploring a grotto cave near the ocean; had to swim underwater for 30 yards to get into this pristine virgin cave; wrote a paper which made me eligible for admission into the Explorer’s Club.
Norfolk Island - Between the towering Norfolk Pines, played golf with a direct descendant of the infamous Fletcher Christian of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame.
Northern Marianas - Walked to the edge of storied Banzai Hill and Suicide Cliff, sites of major World War II battles, accompanied by both former American and Japanese soldiers.
Ogasawara - Slept on tatami straw mats for two days on a local Japanese transportation ship en route to Chichi Jima, but was restricted by the Japanese Navy from traveling to Iwo Jimi, considered a sacrosanct area by the Japanese government.
Palau - Snorkeled and sailed the beautiful RockIslands, a true natural wonder of the world.
Papua New Guinea - Allowed my teenage sons to watch a tribal dance featuring fierce warriors and bare-breasted women.
Pitcairn Island - The original home of the Bounty Folk, the population of which has been reduced to less than 50 people; we encountered very rough seas and bobbed in 15-foot waves before our rocky landing.
Solomon Islands - Drove to the top overlooking green valleys and stood in silence at the Marine Monument of Guadalcanal.
Tahiti - Driving the streets of Papeete, was hit broadside by an angry French lady, who gave me an earful French style; brought the first ever 747 to Tahiti with a Chevrolet charter in the mid 70’s, and at landing, destroyed most of the runway lights; oops! I snorkeled with six- foot manta rays in the clear waters of Bora Bora, maybe the prettiest spot on the planet. On a travel agents familiarization trip flew to the out-Islands of Fakarava and boated through the Atoll and spent time at a black pearl factory. In Moorea, fed the black-tipped sharks and the stingrays before picnicking on an uninhabited Island; In Bora Bora stayed in an over-the-water bungalow and swam with the fish and turtles.
Tokilau Islands - Landed on this little-known series of islands north of Western Samoa on an adventure cruise and were told that ours was the first ever passenger ship to visit Atafu Island; the senior chieftains declared a festival and organized an all-day luau, complete with barbecued land crab and a roast pig.
Tonga - On a remote island, crawled over lava fields to view rare birds at a lake sanctuary; after three days of formal requests, was granted a private audience with the omnipotent ruler, King Taupu IV of Tonga.
Wake Island - One of the hardest places to visit in the world; landed and slept on the runway, thanks to the U.S. Army, on my way to Vietnam.
Western Samoa - Walked through the home of author Robert Lewis Stevenson and caught a picture of a storm clouds billowing over a tropical sunset at the famed Aggie Grey’s Hotel.
Three trips to Antarctica included crossing the Antarctic Circle, as well as bathing outdoors in just above freezing temperatures and 40 mile per hour winds. On South GeorgiaIsland, photographed at ten feet, three-ton bull elephant seals in a bloody fight for territory; visited the grave of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shacklton; sat among thousands of King Penguins, many of whom had never seen humans.
Falkland Islands – Heard stories of the Argentine Invasions, then played golf on their only course, pock-marked by old mortar rounds; enjoyed high tea at a remote farmhouse surrounded by seals and penguins. Sailed the Drake Passage six times between South America and Antarctica, twice in horrific storms; swam in the Antarctic Ocean in an island cove with hot thermal springs; was cornered by an angry scavenger bird, when I mistakenly walked near her nest; talked with geologists as our ship sailed past a ten-mile iceberg, then hit a submerged berg, jolting all aboard and breaking most of the ship’s dishes; on a group hike of a deserted island, was trapped in melting snow in a deep ravine, but joined together and made a human rope and crawled to safety; and finally watched as the Royal British Navy on the high seas, made a dramatic ship to helicopter rescue.