Denali – Day 6

  Day 6 – May 24, 1984 Today is Thursday, May 24th.  We spent the day in camp acclimatizing but a couple of things happened worth commenting on.  The plan was to take off tomorrow and go to 17,000’, but last thing this afternoon the ranger, John Waterman, came by to tell us the his weather forecast showed a storm coming in from the Bering Sea.  It is supposed to be here by tomorrow afternoon and be “a big one”.  If we see signs of that happening in the morning we won’t be going up to 17,000’.  Better to sit it out here than get caught going ... [Read More]

Denali – Day 5

  Day 5 – May 23, 1984 It is Wednesday the 23rd.  We got in last night and rehabbed what I’d call a snow fort.  It’s a great spot to have a snowball fight.  It’s about 5’ tall and flat on the bottom.  The wind came up just as we went to sleep.  It only stayed up long enough to blow out those little clouds that had been hanging over us all of yesterday.  This morning it is gorgeous.  Claude says there is over 400 miles of visibility.  It sounded a bit amazing but he may be right.  I can see forever! We are going to sit ... [Read More]

Denali – Day 4

  Day 4 – May 22, 1984 We broke camp in the gloom of thick overcast today.  The terrain we had to cross as we went around Windy Corner was, according to our map, the most crevassed section of the glacier.  Early in the day we were in an area where we could see them – everywhere!  Claude was obviously concerned and kept saying “Keep the rope tight! Don’t come up! Keep the rope tight!” So I learned to do that slow little step of his.  You put your weight up on one foot and instead of rolling forward onto the next one, you lock the knee.  Then ... [Read More]

Denali – Day 3

  Day 3 – May 21, 1984  Our destination today will be Windy Corners.  Windy Corners comes by its name honestly.  It is a spot at 13,500’ level where the glacier is pinched between the West Buttress and the Cassin Ridge.  This pinching causes a venture effect accelerating the winds which whip down from the top of the mountain.  Winds of up to 125 miles per hour are not uncommon there.  Our goal is to climb to just below Windy Corners and camp tonight at the 12,500’ level.  Then on Tuesday, weather permitting, we’ll “turn the corner”. This morning was again beautiful – about 20 degrees, clear ... [Read More]

Denali – Day 2

  Day 2 – May 20, 1984 During our first night together I made a rather startling discovery.  I was the only man in the tent who was potty trained.  During the night I had gotten out of a warm sleeping bag, and taken myself out onto the glacier to relieve myself.  Cold!!!!  To my knowledge my companions had not had to expose themselves to the same discomfort.  In the morning I discovered why.  Both of them came out of their sleeping bags with water bottles full of “pee”.  A far more reasonable, if less fastidious, solution.  It’s not as easy as you think, however! I’ve just been ... [Read More]

Denali – Day 1

  Day 1 – May 19, 1984 We landed at Base Camp at 4:00pm.  It was a beautiful May day with the temperature about 60 degrees in the sunshine.  The sky was almost cloudless, and the wind blowing almost not at all.  We spent an hour loading our gear onto plastic sleds and getting our safety lines, harnesses and bindings adjusted and buying a gallon of gasoline for fuel.  Base Camp had one small permanent tent manned by an Aussie named Roland.  Several of the flying services who fly climbers up the mountain and back employee him to man a radio.  He also sells gasoline.  There were ... [Read More]

Denali – Prologue

DENALI Gentle Readers:  You know by now that some of the travel adventures I share are current and some are not.  This next series will be on a climb of Denali – Mt. McKinley.  It is the only peak in North American over 20,000’.  The adventures reported here happened almost exactly 30 years ago, between May 19 – 29, 1984.  The trip was an early 40th birthday present to myself.  I was not, and am not, a technical climber, but I had mountaineered up several peaks in the Sierra over 14,000’ so I thought I was ready.  Besides, climbing Denali was not an old man’s game ... [Read More]

The Spectacle of the Sandhill Cranes

It’s that time of year again – “March Madness” when visitors by the tens of thousands flock to… Nebraska! There’s no pounding surf, abundant sunshine, or Celine Dion. Instead, they come seeking nourishment, tranquility and rest. Unbeknownst to most of us, it’s a ritual that has been going on for years. Eons before wagonloads of emigrants crossed Nebraska in the mid-19thcentury heading west, these visitors knew of a waterway that was “a mile wide and a foot deep” surrounded by rich grasslands. The perfect layover on their long journey to…Siberia! The Central Platte River Valley remains a major migratory stopover for hundreds of thousands of these visiting ... [Read More]


Don’t you just love those experiences that transport you back in time, to a different era? There are plenty of those opportunities all around us, but too often in our hectic (if not frantic), gadget driven lives, we forget to take the time needed to fully immerse ourselves in the way it used to be. I am not making a particular case that the old way was necessarily better, just that it had a pace and charm that should be remembered. I was in Chicago a few months ago speaking at the MAEDC conference. The hosts of this regional economic development association event were gracious enough ... [Read More]

Things to pack, clearing customs, and the story of the most expensive Princess Diana plates in the world!

When traveling, some of the most IMPORTANT things to pack are not things, but attitudes. Some of the most valuable are: A sense of humor Patience A positive attitude Charm Courage In my second blog entry I left off in my first journey to Africa, to Zimbabwe in 1997. I will pick up where I left off, which will begin to explain how I cultivated these attitudes as I went. Sunday November 23, 1997 630am Zim time On Air Zimbabwe flight headed to Harare where I saw lots of carved out pieces of land, green, beige, or red like Georgia clay. Mostly agricultural looking but as we approached Harare, I saw more buildings and ... [Read More]