adventure

Photo of the Day

John Hornby’s cabin on the Thelon River as it appeared in 1978.

A Tragic Adventure

This is the story of a tragic expedition by three young Englishmen that went horribly wrong in the barren North West territory of Canada. Against the background of a tragic story of a trapping and a exploring expedition that ran foul of food shortage is the diary of written by one of the victims, a boy of 18 who started off with a boyish zest for adventure, hero worship for his older cousin, leader of the party, and who never flinched, no matter what fearful odds of death and starvation he faced. The diary was kept by the author until the day, he the last survivor died. The skeletons were found, three years later.

No trees. That is the Indian name for the great expanse of tundra…more than half a million square miles…spread across North-Western Canada. Samuel Hearne named it the Barren Ground. It is a wilderness rather than a desert…

Few white men had travelled through that country. One man… John (Jack) Hornby… was determined to learn how to live there. And he died there… of starvation… on April the 16th, 1927….

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Aloha Wanderwell Liked Living Dangerously. Aloha stands on top of her famous car as it is lifted onto a ship during her tour of Africa in the 1920s. 

Aloha Wanderwell

The first Woman to Drive around the World

Adventure, exploration, danger, and murder: this was the life of Aloha Wanderwall. Inspired by the fantastic tales she read in her father’s beloved collection of boyhood books, she dreamed of travel, and intrigue in far-flung corners of the globe. In 1922, when she was 16, she embarked on an ambitious around-the–world expedition led by “Captain” Wanderwell…

Wanderwell was an explorer, a vaudevillian and filmmaker, a female Indiana Jones, a wife and mother. She visited places no western man or woman had seen before. She was a figure of controversy, self-invention and marketing. The romance that informs her legend is both real and contrived.

When she was still a teenager, she hopped into a Model T Ford and drove through 80 countries in the 1920’s. They called her “The World’s Most Travelled Girl.” An early filmmaker, Aloha captured her husband and two children as they explored the world.  Did she have adventures? Stranded in Brazil, she lived with and documented the Bororo people.

Trying to find fuel (never mind roads) in the 1920’s, she used crushed bananas and animal fat for fuel.   Her husband was mysteriously murdered.  Apparently, she cut her hair and fought for the French Foreign Legion. She flew a seaplane.  In Indochina, she had to shoot her way out of a gauntlet of angry elephants. In India on their round-the-world trip oxen were frequently required to tow the Ford Model-T across mud flats and rivers. In China in 1924, when civil warfare made it impossible to purchase fuel, labourers pulled the car for eighty miles…

She died in obscurity, and you’ve probably never heard of her. Even with a name like Aloha Wanderwell.

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There once was a crazy man named Maurice Wilson who had a plan.. if you can call it that …a man who dared to follow his dream, an adventure which could have come straight from the pages of a ‘Boy’s Own’ annual.

Maurice Wilson’s Flight to the Top of the World

There once was a crazy man named Maurice Wilson who had a plan to crash a plane on Everest, then climb the rest of the way up… despite not being a pilot or a climber

One of the strangest attempts to climb Mount Everest was by Maurice Wilson (1898-1934), an eccentric Englishman, who tried to climb Everest after flying to the mountain–despite knowing nothing about mountaineering or flying. Wilson decided to climb Everest while recuperating from illness, forming a plan to fly to Tibet, crash the plane on the mountain’s upper slopes, and climb to the summit. He then learned to fly a Gipsy Moth plane, which he named Ever Wrest, and spent five weeks hiking around Britain for practice.

He flew to India in two weeks and spent the winter in Darjeeling planning his expedition. Wilson, with no climbing equipment, approached up the Rongbuk Glacier, getting lost and crossing difficult terrain. On May 22, 1934 he tried to climb to the North Col but failed at an ice wall. On May 31, his last diary entry read: “Off again, gorgeous day.” His body was found in 1935 in snow, surrounded by his blown-apart tent.

The last twist in the Wilson saga was that it appears he was a cross-dresser who had worked in a ladies dress shop in New Zealand. He was supposedly found wearing women’s underwear and had women’s clothes in his pack. A 1960 Chinese expedition added fuel to the story by finding a woman’s dress shoe at 21,000 feet. It seems Mr. Wilson wasn’t dressed properly for conditions.

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Photo of the Day

Emery Kolb took this photo of the Hydes while at the rim. Photo: Cline Library

Emery Kolb took this photo of the Hydes while at the rim. Photo: Cline Library

The Legend of Glen & Bessie Hyde

Mystery of a newlywed couple that vanished on a boating trip in the Grand Canyon

Glen and Bessie Hyde were young, good-looking and adventurous.

But their desperation for fame cost them their lives. The Hydes vanished while rafting down the Colorado River. Their bodies were never found. The trip, ostensibly a honeymoon getaway, was really a scheme to bring them wealth and acclaim. Idaho farmer Glen Hyde and his bohemian wife Bessie almost made it. They travelled 600 miles on the Green and Colorado Rivers in a massive wooden boat called a sweep scow. The boat was found intact, still holding the couple’s food, diary, guidebook, gun, clothing and boots, just 46 miles from the mouth of the Grand Canyon. But one of the biggest-ever Grand Canyon searches failed to turn up any sign of the honeymooners.

The early days of Grand Canyon River running are riddled with disaster; by 1928 only forty-five people had managed to fully traverse the entire length of the Grand Canyon by boat. This group, comprised solely of men, accomplished their feats using traditional and modified rowboats. In 1928, newlyweds Glen and Bessie Hyde wanted to make their mark on Grand Canyon history by taking a different kind of boat, the sweep scow, down the river. What ensued in the fall and winter of 1928 became one of the biggest unsolved mysteries in Grand Canyon to this day. The “Honeymoon Couple,” as they came to be known, mysteriously disappeared on their journey in the canyon, no bodies ever surfaced, and nobody knows what happened.

It was an age of adventure and headline-making firsts. Charles Lindbergh became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean just the year before. Amelia Earhart was the first woman to make the flight in June 1928.

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Photo Of The Day

code

Margaret Hamilton

The Woman Who Put The Man on the Moon

The volumes were filled with handwritten code for NASA, the very same code that was responsible for safely landing people on the moon.

Neil Armstrong might not have taken his moon walk on July 20, 1969 were it not for a former high school teacher named Margaret Hamilton.

Three minutes before the Apollo 11 lunar lander Eagle reached the surface of the moon, computer alarms went off. The landing would have been aborted had Hamilton not anticipated the problem and created software to solve it.

Margaret Heafiled Hamilton; was 33 when she wrote the code for NASA in 1969. At the time, she was also the Director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory. NASA, anxious to win the space race, called on her to create “the onboard flight software needed to land on the moon.” She was selected as team leader and tasked with making the Apollo missions successful.

This wasn’t just a cool job placement for a woman. In 1969, Software Engineering didn’t exist — she actually coined the term while making it a reality. Hamilton raised the bar even higher by helping her team create ultra-reliable software. She developed priority displays that allowed the software to interrupt astronauts in an emergency so that “they could reconfigure in real-time.” Hamilton debugged and tested every aspect of her work prior to assembly. Before signing off on the code, she “simulated every conceivable situation at the systems level to identify potential problems.”

“There was no second chance. We all knew that,” Hamilton said. “We took our work very seriously, but we were young, many of us in our 20s. Coming up with new ideas was an adventure. Dedication and commitment were a given. Mutual respect was across the board. Because software was a mystery, a black box, upper management gave us total freedom and trust. We had to find a way and we did. Looking back, we were the luckiest people in the world; there was no choice but to be pioneers; no time to be beginners.”

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Photo Of The Day

Molly LaRue and Geoff Hood in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, on September 12, 1990, with Cove Mountain in the background. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Howell

Molly LaRue and Geoff Hood in Duncannon, Pennsylvania, on September 12, 1990, with Cove Mountain in the background. Photo: Courtesy of Bob Howell

Murder on the Appalachian Trail

Twenty-six years ago, a grisly double homicide on America’s most famous hiking route shocked the nation and forever changed their ideas about crime, violence, and safety in the outdoors.

They were known to hikers as Nalgene and Cleavis.

They were two young lovers engaged to be married who were sharing an adventure down the Appalachian Trail until they crossed paths with Paul David Crews.

Molly LaRue and Geoffrey Logan Hood had camped for the night in a wooden lean-to known as the Thelma Marks Shelter a few miles outside Duncannon. The three-sided structure was nestled among birch, poplar and oak trees on the south side of Cove Mountain about 30 feet below the trail that runs from Maine to Georgia.

“They were caught off-guard and somebody attacked them … sometime before dawn,” Perry County Coroner Michael Shalonis told reporters after the bodies were found on Sept. 13, 1990.

 It is a quiet, restorative place, this clearing high on a Pennsylvania ridge. Ferns and wildflowers carpet its floor. Sassafras and tulip trees, tall oak and hickory stand tight at its sides, their leaves hissing in breezes that sweep from the valley below. Cloistered from civilization by a steep 900-foot climb over loose and jutting rock, the glade goes unseen by most everyone but a straggle of hikers on the Appalachian Trail, the 2,180-mile footpath carved into the roofs of 14 eastern states.

Those travellers have rested here for more than half a century. At the clearing’s edge stands an open-faced shelter of heavy timber, one of 260 huts built roughly a day’s walk apart on the AT’s wriggling, roller-coaster course from Maine to Georgia. It’s tall and airy and skylit, with a deep porch, two tiers of wooden bunks, and a picnic table.

A few feet away stood the ancient log lean-to it replaced. When I visited this past spring, saplings and tangled brier so colonized the old shelter’s footprint that I might have missed it, had I not slept there myself. Twenty-six summers ago, I pulled into what was called the Thelma Marks shelter, near the halfway point of a southbound through-hike. I met a stranger in the old lean-to, talked with him under its low roof as we fired up our stoves and cooked dinner.

Eight nights later, a southbound couple I’d befriended early in my hike followed me into Thelma Marks. They met a stranger there, too.

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Crime Scene. A surveillance camera captured Peggy Jo Tallus, wearing men's clothes and a fake beard, during a robbery in 1992.

Crime Scene. A surveillance camera captured Peggy Jo Tallas, wearing men’s clothes and a fake beard, during a robbery in 1992.

Cowboy Bob’s Last Ride

 The Unlikely Bank Robber was Called ‘Grandmotherly’ and ‘A Kind Lady’… 

He wore a Western hat, never spoke a word, and robbed bank after bank. When the feds finally arrested him, they discovered that their suspect was actually a soft-spoken woman. They thought they’d never hear from her again— but she had other plans.

The story of Peggy Jo Tallas, by most accounts a kind-hearted woman who took care of her ailing mother and also had a successful and wild ride as a bank robber.

But Peggy Jo didn’t just rob a bank, According to the FBI, she was one of the most unusual bank robbers of her generation, a modern-day Bonnie without a Clyde who always worked alone…. She was also a master of disguise, her cross-dressing outfits so carefully designed that law enforcement officials, studying bank surveillance tapes, had no idea they were chasing a woman.

She was wild in her younger days, always looking to escape the humdrum for adventure. But as she matured, she had seemed to settle down. Never married, she lived with and cared daily for her ailing mother. No one would have suspected she would be the one to disguise herself as a man, rob lots of banks, and go to jail. Nor would they suspect she’d continue to rob them in her old age.

Outlaws and desperadoes have been giving lawmen headaches as long as there’re been banks to stick-up. There was “Butch and Sundance,” “Bonnie and Clyde,” and “Pretty Boy” Floyd to name just a few.

But it was Cowboy Bob who bedeviled a onetime Texas FBI agent. Bank robbers aren’t keen on having their pictures taken and Cowboy Bob wasn’t showing the bank security cameras much more than a 10 gallon hat, oversized shades, a mustache, and a Santa-length beard.

In the early ‘90s he started knocking off one suburban Dallas bank after another. FBI man Steve Powell and his bank robbery unit saddled-up after the cool-as-can be bandit they dubbed Cowboy Bob.

Cowboy Bob’s M.O. rarely changed. Stroll in, slip the teller a note signaling this was a hold-up—no alarms, no tricks. Then without a word spoken, he’d calmly walk out with the stolen cash.

One time, Cowboy Bob even showed a little flair that might have tickled Butch Cassidy himself. Every time, Cowboy Bob made a clean escape in a burnt orange Pontiac Grand Prix.  The license plate— always stolen— changed on every hold-up.

From May of ‘91 to May of ‘92 the 10-gallon bandit, described as a white male, about 5’10”, mid-40’s robbed four banks in the greater Dallas area.  He seemed to be grabbing money at will.

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