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Dr. Jack Wheeler


kuang-si In the jungles of Laos less than 20 miles from the Laotian Royal Capital of Luang Prabang, you will find the entrancing waterfalls of Kuang Si. Multi-layered cascades of emerald green pure water pour into a series of pools ideal for swimming. The warm sun filters through the dark green jungle canopy. The laughter of Laotian children combined with that of the rushing waters adds to a unique serenity. Here is a place that will wash away all your woes. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #185 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




St. Finnbarr’s Oratory, Gougane Barra, County Cork.  St. Finnbarr (550-623) is the patron saint of the city of Cork, now Ireland’s second largest city, on the south coast of the Emerald Isle.  He established this tiny church in the late 500s, and has been built and rebuilt on a small island on Lake Gougane, with the one you see finished some 150 years ago.

Gougane Barra is a remote valley distant from Cork, almost uninhabited, of legendary beauty.  The oratory or chapel has been a holy place of summer pilgrimage for Christians for fifteen centuries, revered for its complete serenity and peacefulness.  Rarely visited outside of summer due to its remoteness, you may have this holy place all to yourself. Here is where you come to rest and reinvigorate your soul. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #218 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




March 30, 1964 issue

[This Monday’s Archive was originally published on March 29, 2006.  It is a personal story meant to be fun and entertaining, but like all good stories, has an important moral to the story at the end.  I hope you enjoy it and take the moral to heart.]

TTP, March 29, 2006

I don’t know when the term "March Madness" regarding the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship came into usage, but it was well after my UCLA college days in the 1960s.  This year’s madness is focused on the sympathetic favorite, George Mason, and the nostalgic favorite, UCLA.  It certainly has caused me to recall a March Madness of my very own.

It was 10am Thursday, March 19, 1964.  The Bruins were in the Final Four.  UCLA was to play Kansas State in the semi-finals at Kansas City, Missouri tomorrow, Friday, March 20.

And I was bummed.  My friend John Peterson and I groused about how what a stupid shame it was that we weren’t going to see UCLA make history.  "Do you think we could do it?" I asked John.  "With our thumbs?  Hitchhike to Kansas City?  Why not?" came his reply.  John got his girlfriend to drop him off at the Sigma Nu house, and with $50 between us in our pockets, we were off.

By 8pm we were stranded in the California desert on Route 66 between Barstow and Needles.



akodessawa-fetish-market The Akodessawa Fetish Market in Lomé, Togo has to be seen to be believed.  Here on display is a vast array of animal parts -- heads, skulls, bones, horns, skins et al – for sale to the adherents of Togo’s official religion of Voodoo.  They are used to communicate with and pray to the huge variety of spirits and deities they believe in.

What you see here is a very small fraction of the market – there are thousands of animal parts here from entire elephant skulls to small mummified rodents.  Behind the displays are stalls where voodoo priests cater to devotees for healing potions or being an interlocutor to the spirits.  This is not sticking pins in dolls of enemies. The people of Togo and neighboring Benin believe deeply in their religion.  Togo in West Africa is the size of New Jersey and has over 130 fetish markets in the country, with the largest here.  This is an experience you never forget.

(Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #273 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




April, 2003. On my 21st expedition to 90 North, the geographic North Pole, I took my son Jackson. He was nine, but handled it like a trooper. And no wonder – it was his third time! The first was when he was just six, following his brother Brandon whom I had taken to the Pole back in 1990.

We landed our ski-equipped Twin Otter on the sea ice – and as it’s featureless with the ice slowly moving on the Arctic Ocean surface, nothing stays there for long. So if you want a physical candy-stripe North Pole, you have to bring your own! It is so indescribable to actually be on the very top of our planet that it has to be experienced to be understood. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #95 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



bad-to-the-boneSchadenfreudelicious, folks.  Read and enjoy the NY Post’s cover story: House Oversight Chairman Comer: ‘Ultimate White Privilege Guy’ Hunter Biden Could Be Hit With 10 Criminal Referrals.

Yesterday (7/20), Senator Chuck Grassley released an official declassified FBI Reporting Document (FD-1023) dated June 30, 2020, describing conversations a highly-paid and trusted FBI informant had with Burisma owner Mykola Zlochevsky who said he was “coerced” into bribing both Hunter and Joe $5 million each to get Ukrainian prosecutor fired for investigating Burisma corruption: Biden $10 Million Bribe FBI File Released.

Check the front pages of the New York Times and WaPo, or the CNN home page today (7/21) and there is a complete absence of this story.  Nary a whisper either on Comer saying on Breitbart Monday (7/17): James Comer: Bidens Owned over 20 Shell Companies to Hide Payments, Launder Money; nor on Oversight member Andy Biggs on Fox Tuesday (7/18): GOP Rep. Estimates Up To $100M Flowed Through Biden Family Accounts: Views The Biden Family As A 'Massive' Crime Syndicate’.

Yet however much the Dems and their media shills close their eyes in denial, they’ll end up being dragged kicking and screaming and victimizing into recognizing that Joe Has To Go.

Once this happens, the entire energy of the ’24 race shifts – for the Dems, and especially the GOP.  Read on find out how – betcha you’ll be surprised!  Also… find out what reminds me of the bumper sticker I had on my car when I was a UCLA undergrad in the mid-60s:  ComUNism!



dragons-blood-tree This is the Dragon’s Blood Tree, Dracaena cinnabari. It can be found in only one place on earth, a remote island called a Lost World for its uniqueness, the “most alien-looking place on our planet.”

Although it’s known as the most alien, strangest, weirdest, and bizarre place you can go to, it’s also completely safe and incredibly beautiful. Anybody who comes here returns saying, “You have to see it to believe it.” What is this place?

It’s the World Heritage Site of the island of Socotra, the “Galapagos of the Indian Ocean,” 240 miles off the coast of Yemen and now secured by the UAE. It’s hidden, remote, and far away.

We were there in 2014, and it’s been almost impossible to get to ever since. But we’ll be back next year. Let me know if you’d like to be with us. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #34 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



belvoir-beach-herm-channel-islands Belvoir Beach, Herm, Channel Islands. Could there be a more idyllic lunch—grilled lobster, fresh garden salad, chilled Chardonnay – here on Herm, the smallest of the five main Channel Islands. There’s Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney – and tiny Herm. Less than one square mile, but overflowing with charm and hospitality – from the Victorian White House Hotel to the Mermaid Pub to lobsters at Belvoir Beach. Coming here is a true escape from the worries of the world. At Herm they are a long ways away. Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #177 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




There are places in our world so staggeringly beautiful to have to see them to believe they exist.  Yet those people walking along the foot bridge can’t see what you’re looking at.  That has to be in the air, hovering from high above in a helicopter.  We live in a world of such beauty it really does take your breath away. And best of all, the beauty of the Grand Prismatic Spring  of Yellowstone is right here in America.

Here we are at Yellowstone in Wyoming, a wonderland by itself.  Just to the south are the Grand Tetons. To the west is the Sawtooth Range and the Middle Fork of the Salmon River – one of the best whitewater runs on the planet.  It goes endlessly on and on.  America the Beautiful is not just a song – it’s glorious reality. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World 135, photo ©Jack Wheeler)



trump-thumbs-up[This Monday’s Archive was originally published on December 1, 2017.  It rings true more than ever today. Your thoughts?]

TTP, December 1, 2017

Nothing exemplifies Donald Trump’s political genius better than his campaign and now presidential slogan MAGA – Make America Great Again.

Just compare it to his opponent’s pathetically stupid and empty, I’m With Her.  A campaign about nothing but Her, focused entirely on Her, devoted completely and totally to the egomania of Her.

By contrast, Trump’s campaign was about America – the America that every normal voter knew used to be great until Obama opened the gates of the Left’s insane asylum creating a mayhem of cultural lunacy, the America that every normal voter wanted once more.

Trump’s question to the voters – “Do you want more lunacy with Her or do you want to make America great again instead?” turned out to be rhetorical.

But just what is it that made America great in the first place?  And whatever that is, why does it drive Lefties insane?




Built 1,000 years ago on the edge of a cliff hundreds of feet above the sea on the island of Bali, the sacred temple of Ulu Watu is one of the holiest places of worship for the Balinese people. They have retained their unique form of Balinese Hinduism for millennia that incorporates their original animism, ancestor worship, and reverence for Buddhist saints or Bodhisattva. This has resulted in a spiritual warmth and gentle friendliness matched by few other places on earth. It is little wonder so many who come here consider Bali to be a worldly paradise. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #108 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



young-brandon-at-n-poleApril 22, 1990. This is my son Brandon, age six, happily atop a small pressure ridge of sea-ice at 90 North Latitude, the geographic North Pole. I started leading expeditions to 90N in 1978. This was my 12th, and the best weather there we’d ever had. A glorious day at the very top of our planet, and a glorious memory for both father and son.

If fortune favors you with the opportunity, have grand adventures with your children or grandchildren when they are young. They will treasure the memories so much they will someday tell their grandchildren about them. Life is short, carpe diem. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #104 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



ww3This is dystopian science fiction, the poster of a B-grade we’re-all-gonna-die horror flick.  I am totally sick and tired of all the fearmongering about this, and you should be too.  This is not going to happen.  There are three basic reasons why.

Read them and you’ll understand how DJT’s rant on Tuesday (7/11) is as unthoughtful as his claim he’ll end Russia’s war in Ukraine “in 24 hours”.  Donald Trump Blasts More Ukraine Aid: ‘Joe Biden Should Not Be Dragging Us Further Toward World War III’ is Pro-Putin Breitbart's fearmonger headline – when it is Putin’s Russia using nuclear blackmail, not us or Ukraine nor anyone else.

He had the gall to condemn “Biden’s policy of endless war in Ukraine,” when it is Putin’s policy, to demand that Biden, not Putin “immediately end the bloodshed in Ukraine”.  It grieves me deeply to condemn this because I admire him in so many ways – but once again as happened so very often during his presidency, he has surrounded himself with advisors who are as misinformed as he is.  Which means he may well keep doing or saying foolish things as 47 that he did as 45.

And it shocks and saddens me so deeply that there are TTPers who insist on being on Putin’s side of evil rather than Ukraine’s side of freedom, who will continue to parrot Kremlin agitprop lies on the Forum.  To them I must implore: please, please stop corroding your soul with evil, and please do not pollute the Forum with it any more.  That’s where I stand, let’s agree to disagree, and leave it at that.

So – on to those three reasons why we’re not going to have WWIII.  Plus a lot more in this HFR.




From the 900s to the 1200s, the Pagan Empire built over 10,000 Buddhist temples. 2,200 remain on the plains of Pagan today, one of the world’s most wondrous sights – especially if you see them from above in a hot air balloon. It is truly astounding how much there is to explore and experience in Burma. We’ll be there once more for it all next February. I hope you will be one of your fellow TTPers to join us. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #33 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



grott-of-pan At the foot of Mount Hermon in northern Israel you find the Grotto of Pan, the Greek God of Nature, where pilgrims came from all over the ancient world to worship. Remnants of the huge Temple of Pan are here, together with the cave grotto where he lived when not at Olympus. The spring that gushes forth from the grotto is one of the sources of the Jordan River.

If Pan was ever disturbed, he would groan so loudly it would cause anyone who heard it to “panic” (panikos in Greek) – the origin of the term. Loudest of all was his last. The legend is that with the advent of Christianity replacing belief in the Olympian Gods, Pan died for lack of worshippers, emitting a death groan of agony from the mouth of the cave you see here so loud and terrifying it was heard throughout the Mediterranean. It’s a beautiful and peaceful place today. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #51 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



nakhal-castle Nakhal Castle, Oman. If you want to see an ultra-rich Arab sheikdom with exotically designed skyscrapers, you go to Qatar or Dubai. But if you want a more genuine Arabia of Sultan’s palaces, of forts and castles perched on rocky crags, of traditional villages tucked away in mountain fastnesses, of rock pools and grottoes gushing with spring water hidden in secret valleys, a place out of Arabian Nights rather than one of garish ostentatiousness – then you come here to the Sultanate of Oman.

Omanis are a polyglot people from all over Arabia, Persia, and India who’ve lived here for millennia, creating a cosmopolitan trading society that adheres to its traditional culture. There are fabulous hotels with great bars, concerts by the Omani Philharmonic Orchestra, and once outside the capital of Muscat, an Arabian wonderland so exotic it seems out of a movie. We'll be here again. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #119 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)




Lucien Wheeler, Chief of the Secret Service Presidential Bodyguard, guarding TR

[This Monday’s Archive was originally published on May 19, 2006.  Seventeen years later, it seems more relevant than ever.]

We’re going to get deep and serious here, and I’m going to ask you to reflect on a number of previous articles.

We’re not going to fulminate against George Bush, illegal immigrant-hiring businesses and the whores in the Senate they pay off, Democrats who see every illegal alien as a potential welfare recipient who will vote for them, or even Reconquista Mexicans attempting to recapture the American Southwest.

No, we’re going to get to the heart of the matter and figure out the fundamental cause of the problem.   The problem that lies at the heart not just of the immigration crisis, but of so much else, from the destruction of American education and culture to the war with Islamic terrorism.

Let’s begin with an experience I had in a small country restaurant in France.




Ever see the 1980 movie Popeye starring Robin Williams? It takes place in the seaside town of Sweethaven – and you’re looking at it. The film set was built in a cove on the northern end of the island of Malta in the Mediterranean just for the movie.

It’s now been transformed into a Disney-type fun park for kids and families. Not what you expect to find in an island famous for ancient temples older than the pyramids, massive medieval fortresses that were scenes of battles that saved Western Civilization, magnificently ornate Renaissance cathedrals, gorgeous beaches and breathtaking scenery. But here it is, with shows, rides, and play houses filled with children laughing and exploring. One more reason to love Malta. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #147 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



brandon-at-taj-mahal August 1993, Taj Mahal, Agra, India. I took my son Brandon here for his 10th birthday. Here is one supremely happy boy. One of the greatest gifts you can give your children or grandchildren is to take them on a great adventure, to explore the world with them. And it is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. It is a bonding experience that will last all of your life and theirs. Never pass up the opportunity, search for the opportunity instead. This is life-enrichment at its best. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #272 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



lakes-of-plitvice The Lakes of Plitvice (plit-vit-see) in central Croatia south of Zagreb are a World Heritage Site, a wonderland of sixteen crystal clear turquoise lakes interconnected by dozens of waterfalls over travertine limestone natural dams built up over thousands of years. There are wooden walkways along them all, over which you can spend the most relaxing day strolling by them.

Croatia is a country filled with history, charm, and beauty, but here is where that beauty is unsurpassed. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #271 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



la-coupeeThere are five Channel Islands in the English Channel. Best known are Guernsey and Jersey. Least visited is Alderney, along with tiny Herm. Most fascinating is Sark, Europe’s only remaining feudal fiefdom. No motor vehicles are allowed, excepting a few farmers’ small tractors. The governor and chief constable is called the Seneschal. He rides to his office on his bicycle.

It’s an ancient office with a tradition of many centuries. When I was there in 2010, it was held by Reginald Guille, a very friendly fellow as all Sarkese are. We rode our bikes around the island, even along La Coupée, the connecting path along the razor sharp high isthmus connecting two parts of the island – it’s pictured above.

There are gorgeous pocket beaches here, and beautiful natural swimming pools. Flower gardens are everywhere, the island could not be safer, cleaner, calmer, and more exquisitely charming. A few days here will do wonders for you. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #131 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



founding-fathers On this July Fourth, it is only appropriate to pay homage to America’s most revered and beloved founders, George Washington, the Father of our country, and Thomas Jefferson, the Author of our Declaration of Independence. It may seem a puzzle to some that Washington’s signature is not on it. That’s because, as Commander of the Continental Army, he was defending New York City from British attack. A copy of the DI was sent to him by express rider on order by John Hancock, which Washington read to his troops on July 9.

It’s best not to think of their reaction to seeing America right now, as that’s too depressing. Instead, we need to summon within ourselves what we can of their courage, genius, and integrity to place America on a path of which they would be proud. May they inspire us all. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #270 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




I took this photo of Mount Rushmore looking straight on from a helicopter – so it may be from an angle you have not seen before. This Fourth of July of 2023, it may be worthwhile to think of these four heroic Americans from a different perspective, to reflect on the almost unimaginable — for us today – challenges they faced and triumphed over to create and sustain our America.

Three years ago, the July Fourth of 2020, our Real POTUS gave a magnificent speech at Mount Rushmore, commemorating America’s founding and warning us of the grave dangers our nation faced from its enemies within its gates.

Frankly, the comparison with the elation we felt back then and what we are suffering now is painful. However, it is less painful today than it was a few days ago, i.e., June 29-30, seeing our nation’s highest court deliver three 6-3 decisions thrillingly pro-Constitution.

It’s the Left’s karma: “Live by the sword, die by the sword” is now for them, “Live by unconstitutional Court rulings, die by constitutional Court rulings.”

The July 4th of three years ago was one of elation. The July 4th of one and two years ago were ones of heartbreak. The July 4th of today is one of justifiable hope.




I took this photo of Mount Rushmore looking straight on from a helicopter – so it may be from an angle you have not seen before.  This Fourth of July of 2023, it may be worthwhile to think of these four heroic Americans from a different perspective, to reflect on the almost unimaginable — for us today – challenges they faced and triumphed over to create and sustain our America.

Three years ago, the July Fourth of 2020, our Real POTUS gave a magnificent speech at Mount Rushmore, commemorating America’s founding and warning us of the grave dangers our nation faced from its enemies within its gates.

Frankly, the comparison with the elation we felt back then and what we are suffering now is painful.  However, it is less painful today than it was a few days ago, i.e., June 29-30, seeing our nation’s highest court deliver three 6-3 decisions thrillingly pro-Constitution.

It’s the Left’s karma: “Live by the sword, die by the sword” is now for them, “Live by unconstitutional Court rulings, die by constitutional Court rulings.”

The July 4th of three years ago was one of elation.  The July 4th of one and two years ago were ones of heartbreak.  The July 4th of today is one of justifiable hope.



where-is-earth-in-milky-way[This Monday’s Archive, “Unique In The Universe?”, was originally published on March 8, 2007.  Last month we saw a media frisson over Pentagon UFO reports, which many suspected was yet another “Look, a squirrel!” distraction away from the Biden Crime Family mega-scandal. Whatever one thinks of the veracity or cogency of these reports, here’s another perspective to consider.]

TTP, March 8, 2007

I propose we take a break today from the current crop of absurdities.

Liberals destroy respect for the rule of law by gloating over Scooter Libby's lunatic conviction.  Conservatives anguish over Ann Coulter using an unacceptable equivalent of "girlieman" to describe John "Breck Boy" Edwards.  Liberals see her comment far more immoral than Bill Maher's expressing his regret that the assassination attempt on Dick Cheney in Afghanistan wasn't successful.

I could go on and on, for we seem surrounded by absurdities on every side and they are closing in.  We need a break.  Let's do so by discussing one of the deepest, most profound questions ever asked:

Where is everybody?

In other words, let's discuss the Fermi Paradox.



king-tuts-golden-throneNow on display in National Museum of Egypt in Cairo, the 3,340 year-old artistic masterpiece of Pharoah Tutankhamun and his wife Ankhesenamun portrayed on facing back of the king’s throne chair was discovered by archaeologist Howard Carter in 1922.

I was stunned beyond words when I first saw it in 1971, and every time I’ve seen it since, I’m shocked into the same state of awe. It’s not simply the sheer beauty of the blue lapis lazuli, the red carnelian, the silver and the solid gold plate, nor the breathtaking skill of artistry. It’s that the scene is so profoundly, so touchingly human. As she gently rubs oil on to his arms, they are looking into each other’s eyes with the tenderness of love.

This is not some God-King high and mighty ruler and haughty Queen far above their lowly subjects, but a very human man and wife in love. This golden throne speaks to us from 33 centuries ago that back then people were people like us. Our connection to history is our common humanity. I hope someday you will be able to see the Golden Throne of King Tut in Cairo, and be in awe of it for yourself. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #168 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



jw-the-lion-of-angola August, 1983. It was pitch-black dark as I and a couple dozen heavily-armed UNITA guerrillas were rumbling over the roadless Angolan bush in a huge captured Russian truck. Suddenly there was an entire pride of lions running in front of the truck’s headlights. As they scattered, without warning a massive black-maned male jumped in front of us. The driver didn’t have time to swerve – we crashed into him full on, killing him instantly.

The UNITA fellows had me pose with him the next morning – obviously with no rifle as I was not hunting. It was to memorialize a tragic ending to a magnificent animal. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #125 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



Welcome to the Fourth Of July Weekend HFR!

Of course, the Hate-America Xiden Administration is once again blocking a fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore, so those you see above was when we had a legitimate, Pro-America president, PDJT.

When you celebrate our nation’s independence, do so with the realization that this illegitimate infestation currently in the White House will soon be no more.  The latest demonstration of why:

Tout le monde was shocked speechless over Xiden’s “I sold state secrets” gaffe – the DC definition of which is “a politician accidentally telling the truth.”  But what really happened you can hear in the first seconds before the gaffe: “I was just thanking, ahh… ahh… anyway, I was just starting off without you…”

Thanking who?  The man sitting next to him, the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi – and Dementia Joe forgot his name.  He then tried to cover it up with a monumentally cringe-worthy attempt at humor – which everyone took seriously because that’s what he and his family have sold to China.

Earlier this week you read in TTP The Beginning of the End for Biden? (6/27) and How Can the Democrats Get Rid of Joe? (6/28).  Both authors made good cases that Xiden is way past his sell-by date and the Dems know they have to take him off the shelf.  Just how is the question.  His Modi gaffe now make this question excruciatingly urgent.

Truth is, it’s the woke fascist lunatics who’ve reached their sell-by date on the shelf of the Democrat Party.  It is they who’ve had a moment in the sun casting a dark shadow of evil over America.  The winds of the future are blowing them into the past, and America will be in the sunlight once more.  Here we go with a brimmingly full HFR!



lion-rock-of-sigiriyaRising 600 feet above the jungles of central Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is a gigantic rock column revered for millennia as Sigiriya – Lion Rock from Sanskrit. It’s flat on top, used over centuries as a Buddhist monastery and a fortress by kings. In 480, King Kashyapa had the image of a lion carved into the rock as the entrance gate to his fortress-palace on top. All that’s left are the lion’s paws that you see.

It was a risky climb via stone stairs carved into the rock getting to the top. Today there’s a much safer wooden staircase. It’s a pilgrimage site for Sri Lankans where they get to celebrate their history and enjoy the gorgeous view on top. It’s a marvelous experience for you to participate in. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #158 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



avatar_mountains The gigantic forest-covered stone pillars of Zhangjiajie in a remote region of Hunan are so famous for being a featured location in the Avatar movie they’ve been renamed the Avatar Mountains.  You can take a cable car through them to view them from above.  Hard to get to and certainly worth it. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #269 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



montezumas-castleWhen American explorers came upon this extraordinary cliff dwelling in 1860s Arizona, they dubbed it “Montezuma’s Castle” on a whim. The Aztec ruler had nothing to do with it, of course. The Anasazi people built a number of these marvelous structures in the Southwest, high up on cliffs above a river that seasonally flooded.

For hundreds of years the Anasazi flourished, skilled agriculturalists and brilliant at constructing vast irrigation systems. Yet it all came to naught with a devastating megadrought with no rain for many decades, culminating in the collapse of the Anasazi culture and abandonment of their cliff dwellings by the early 1500s.

Another lesson that it is nature that control’s the Earth’s climate, not us. You’ll find Montezuma’s Castle above Beaver Creek south of Sedona. It’s a marvel not to be missed. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #194 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



russ-sovt-expansion[This Monday’s Archive, “The Doom of Russia,” was originally published on March 18, 2004.  Appended to it, as in the original, is “A Short History of Russia,” written for the Reagan White House in 1985. Together, they provide a historical context not only for Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, but more widely, its inability to join the West after the collapse of the Soviet Union, choosing instead to remain its adversary.  Your thoughts are welcome on the Forum.]

TTP, March 18, 2004

Last week, Vladimir Putin was re-elected President of Russia with over 70% of the vote. Does this portend the re-animation of the Soviet Russian Empire, led by a man with an unchallenged grip on power, possessed with a deep nostalgia for the glory days of the USSR, and determined to bring back those days again?

No, it means that Russia has taken itself out of the global game. It means that Russia has no future. It means that Russia is resolutely determined to screw itself.

Monopolies of power rarely work in today’s world – especially ossified ones. Putin may look young and energetic, but worked his whole life for the KGB – and every member of his cabinet now is a former Soviet apparatchik. There isn’t a single new thinker among them.

All of them are trapped in their past. In the Kremlin and in the totality of influential academic and journalistic thought in Russia today there is a complete absence of rational analysis of Soviet-Russia history and why the Soviet Union collapsed. There is never an accounting or realistic appraisal from anyone in government or academia.

There is only nostalgia. There is nothing but nostalgia. As Lionel Barrymore would say at the end of a play: “That’s all there is – there isn’t any more.”

This thinking is not imposed upon the oppressed Russian masses whose yearning for freedom is stifled by the tyrannical elite. No, it is reflective of common thinking. The recent elections demonstrate that Russians as a whole simply do not want a real democracy like those emerging in their former colonies of Eastern Europe, with real pluralism, small business growth, and economic freedom.

Americans have a naïve tendency to look upon the world as a place where everyone wants the political and economic freedom that we have if they had the choice and opportunity to have it. Maybe in a lot of countries, but not in Russia.

Let’s draw three bottom lines from this.



leshan-giant-buddha Carved out of a cliff face of red sandstone on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau over 1,200 years ago by Buddhist monks, the 233 ft-high Leshan Giant Buddha is the largest and tallest stone Buddha statue in the world.

I took this picture from a boat on the river that runs past it. As you can see by Buddhist pilgrims working their way down the stone steps on the side and in front carrying umbrellas, it’s raining. Rain is so frequent here that a sophisticated drainage system was incorporated into the statue when it was built. It is still in working order. Behind the Buddha’s head, between his two ears, and scattered throughout his body, there are several hidden gutters and channels carrying out the rainwater that have kept the inner areas dry and prevented the Buddha from eroding since the 8th century.

Knowing this adds to the wonder of beholding this extraordinary achievement. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #268 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



jw-bw-iglooApril 1990. When our oldest son Brandon was six years old, I took him with me to the North Pole. It was my 14th expedition there, and as always, we stopped to visit friends at Canada’s northernmost community, the Inuit hunting village of Grise Fiord on Ellesmere Island. Brandon thought it would be cool to sleep in an igloo, which the Inuit do only when they’re hunting seals or walrus far out on the ice.

So the villagers happily complied, showing him how they built one, carving out blocks of wind-blown snow, shaping and placing them in an inward-sloped spiral with one block on top, and packing snow as mortar between the blocks. When it was bedtime – still daylight with 24-hour sunshine by April – they lined the inside with caribou skins, which shed like crazy with hairs everywhere but sure are warm. Snuggled into our arctic down sleeping bags, we slept like stones.

It was an experience both of us will never forget. Never pass up an opportunity to have an adventure with your kids they’ll always remember. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #50 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



elephant-sealThe Antarctic island of South Georgia is one of the most extraordinary places on earth. Square miles of king penguin rookeries, thousands of fur seals, hundreds of gigantic elephant seals amidst a backdrop of massive glaciers and snow-capped mountains.

All of the animals here have no fear of you whatever and ignore your presence – except if you make the mistake of getting too close to a bull elephant seal for his comfort. It’s a mistake I made as you can see. Luckily, with several tons of blubber to carry, this fellow can’t move as fast as me, so I hightailed it quickly. That satisfied him, and all was soon back to placidly normal again. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #62 photo ©Jack Wheeler)




First Lady Melania Trump would instantly recognize Lake Bled, for it is considered the most beautiful place in her home country of Slovenia. It’s a glacial lake up in the Julian Alps near the border with Austria. The small lush island you see has been a pilgrimage site for millennia – first to the Temple of Ziva, the Slovene goddess of love and fertility, then until now to the Church of the Mother of God. For all that time, Slovene couples came here to get married.

There are 99 steps from the rowboat landing to the church, and from ancient times to today, the tradition is that for a happy and long-lasting marriage, the groom must carry his bride up all 99 steps while she must remain silent while he does.

Lake Bled is a place of deep serenity and joyous calm. Come here to experience both. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #178 photo ©Jack Wheeler)



maya-ruinsThis is Temple IV at the ancient Mayan capital of Tikal, now in northern Guatemala. It was from the top of Temple IV that the shot in the original 1977 Star Wars movie was filmed of the Millennium Falcon landing (at 44 seconds) near jungle temples (Temples II and III) at the Rebel Base on the moon of Yavin 4.

Built in 740 AD, at 230 feet it is the tallest pre-Columbian structure in all the Americas. While Tikal’s earliest buildings date to the 4th century BC, it was from 300 to 800 AD that Tikal flourished as one of the Mayan Empires most powerful kingdoms.

Then decline set in, with drought, deforestation, overpopulation, and constant warfare with rival kingdoms. With Tikal abandoned by the end of the 900s, it remained covered by rainforest jungle for over a thousand years. American archaeologists began excavations in the 1950s. Today with its major temples restored, Tikal is the most impressive example you can visit of Mayan civilization. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #118 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)



Plato 427-347 BC

Plato 427-347 BC

[This Monday’s Archive, “Platonic Conservatives,” was originally published on October 1, 2003.  To what extent do you think it applies to those conservatives today who are rooting for the dollar and the American economy to crash, for Russian barbarism to win and Western Civilization to loseThey were among us twenty years ago – are they among us for the same reasons today?  Your thoughts, please!]

TTP, October 1, 2003

There is an organization of conservatives which has met in private thrice annually since 1981.  As a member for over 20 years, I am obliged not to mention its name or membership.  Suffice it to say that virtually every major conservative figure in America belongs.

Its meetings are the only place where all the leaders of the entire conservative movement can get together to socialize and strategize.  During the Reagan Presidency, the organization played a principal role in creating popular support for the “Reagan Doctrine” which successfully eliminated the Soviet Union.

My wife and I have formed many close friendships with its members and always look forward to attending its meetings.  Having just returned from its latest at the end of September, I regret having to report to you that it was the most disappointing in two decades.




National Geographic calls the remote island of Socotra off the coast of Yemen in the Indian Ocean “the most alien-looking place on our planet,” because of its incredibly weird and bizarre plant life like the Dragon’s Blood Tree.

Yet it is safely far away from anarchic Yemen, peaceful and serene in its isolation. And it contains places of mesmerizing beauty – like this natural infinity pool on a cliff edge high above the ocean in full view. Socotra is spectacularly exotic, like nowhere else in our world. It is truly life-memorable to experience it. Wheeler Expeditions was there in the Spring of 2014 – and we’ll be there again in the Spring of ’23. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #129 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)




September 1979 – my Hannibal Expedition took two elephants over the same pass Hannibal used in 218 BC across the Alps to attack Rome. There is only one pass that fits the contemporary descriptions of both Greek historian Polybius and Roman historian Livy: The Col du Clapier on what is now the French-Italian border.

Unrecognized as Hannibal’s Pass in 1979, it is still a roadless trail today crossed only on foot or mountain bike. But since our expedition, there are now signs proclaiming it La Route d’Hannibal, and even a life-size statue of an elephant at the French village of Bramans where the track over the pass begins.

The photo you see is us climbing high above Bramans (I’m the one in front with the red backpack). It took us five days to carefully guide our elephants (from an Italian circus) over Clapier and down to the Italian village of Susa. First time in 2,197 years and never repeated 41 years since.

Hannibal’s crossing the Alps with elephants is one of the most epic events of world history. To retrace it yourself with elephants is to make that famous history a part of your life in the most uniquely powerful way. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #15 photo ©Jack Wheeler)