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Dr. Jack Wheeler

FLASHBACK FRIDAY – THE LOST CITY OF KUELAP

rh-at-kuelap10,000 feet high in the Amazon cloud forests of northern Peru is a mysterious lost city built by an unknown people many centuries before the Incas existed.  Known as Kuelap by villagers in the lowlands below, the Incas called the people who built it Chachapoyas, “Cloud Warriors.”  I led an expedition here in 1994, climbing high up into the Amazon Andes to come upon gigantic stone walls 60 feet high surrounding hundreds of stone structures.  Here you see Rebel among them. We’ll be here again in a year or two in another exploration of Peru. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #153, photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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A SULTAN’S ARABIA

nakhal-castleNakhal 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 in the Spring of ’22. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #119 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE TERRACE OF INFINITY

terrazzo-delllnfinitoOver a thousand feet on a mountain ledge above Amalfi on the Mediterranean, you’ll find the Terrazzo dell'lnfinito, considered by poets for centuries the most beautiful view in the world. It is part of the magnificent gardens of the 11th century Villa Cimbrone, in the hilltop town of Ravello, built by the Romans in the 5th century. The Sorrentine Peninsula is a finger of land south of Naples sticking out into the Med’s Tyrrhanean Sea, off the tip of which is the legendary island of Capri. The main town of Sorrento is on the north side facing Naples and Mount Vesuvius. But it is the steep southern shore of the Amalfi Coast that is our planet’s most spectacularly scenic drive with its ancient ports of Amalfi and Positano. Exploring this magical part of the world is an ultimate “bucket list” experience. And to top it off, on the way down from Naples, you get to visit Pompeii, the excavated Roman city buried and preserved by the ash of Vesuvius in 79 AD. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #115 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE HIDDEN NORTH FACE OF KANCHENJUNGA

north-face-of-kanchenjungaThis is one of the truly great mountain sights on earth yet never seen – except for professional mountaineers and those on our Himalaya Helicopter Expeditions. Kanchenjunga at 28,169 feet (8,586 meters) is the world’s 3rd highest mountain (after Everest and K2), with a drop from summit (the peak on the left in front of the cloud) to the glacier at it base of 12,000 feet straight down. You can be awed by such a picture, but to actually physically be here, to witness this magnificence personally so that it is forever a part of your life, is to feel a depth of awe that has to be experienced to be understood. Kanchenjunga is part of the Himalayas, now on the border of Nepal and Sikkim, once an independent kingdom now absorbed into India. We fly right up the North Face, and into the Amphitheatre of the Southwest Face as well. We hope to be here again in early November if Nepal opens up by then; we’ll be here for sure next April. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #31 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXVI

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In 1904, a five-word telegram ensured the overwhelming election of Teddy Roosevelt to the presidency: “Perdicaris Alive or Rasuli Dead.” An American and his son had been captured by a Moslem bandit chieftain in Morocco and demanded an enormous ransom.  Teddy sent Navy warships, the Marines, and the telegram.  Rasuli returned Perdicaris and his son unharmed, and all America reveled in Teddy’s heroism. The history is a lot more complicated than that, but legendary enough for Hollywood to make a move about it, The Wind and the Lion in 1975 starring Sean Connery, Candice Bergen, John Huston and Brian Keith. Of course it’s Hollwoodized, but the actual history is enough to draw an eerie, albeit grotesque, parallel to the White House, American hostages, and Moslem bandits at this moment today.

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THE INSPIRATION OF AMERICA

tt-principles-of-independence-freedomNext to the entrance of The Red House, the Parliament of Trinidad and Tobago in the capital of Port of Spain, there is this marble inscription.  It is clear that it is inspired by our 1776 Declaration of Independence and America’s founding principles.  Trinidad’s population is 99% either Indian (from India), African, or a mix of the two.  64% are Christian, 21% Hindu, 6% Moslem, others undeclared – and all have these principles as a common bond between them. Here in the Caribbean’s Trinidad is such a clear example of how America’s founding moral principles are such an inspiration to all humanity, of all cultures, creeds, and ethnicities.  They are universal, America’s heritage as a gift to the world.  This is the heritage of all Americans – something we need to hold on to and hold dear as we persevere during this current period of our country’s cultural, moral, and political lunacy.  (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #152, photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – BRANDON AT LAMAYURU

brandon-at-lamayuru High in the Himalayas of India in the remote moonscape of Tibetan Ladakh is the gompa (Tibetan monastery) of Lamayuru.  It is older than Tibetan Buddhism, for it was originally a gompa for the lama monks of Bön, the ancient animist religion of Tibet.  I took my son Brandon here on an expedition through Tibetan India in 1993.  Brandon had his 10th birthday here.  Behind him is the enormous statue of blue-eyed Sakyamuni Buddha in the central prayer hall. Brandon has never forgotten Lamayuru as anyone who has been here never does.  We’ll be here again next summer – and Brandon will be leading the expedition.  (Glimpses of our breathtaking world #151 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 08/20/21

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Yes, that is my son, former United States Marine Captain Brandon Wheeler on Fox News Tuesday (8/17).  In 2010, Brandon led his 2/6 Marines in seven months of daily combat in Marjah, Helmand Province, Afghanistan.  Marjah was Apache country when he arrived in June.  By December before he left, the Commanding General of US Forces in Afghanistan, David Petraeus, was able to walk down the streets of Marjah with Brandon safely. Earlier this month (August 2021), under the auspices of the Freedom Research Foundation that I founded in 1984 and of which he is now Executive Director, Brandon spent two weeks in Kabul, and Mazar-e-Sharif in northern Afghanistan.  There was no awareness among all the officials and warlords he met of an immediate American abandonment of their country. This is going to be a seriously consequential HFR and hopefully optimistic.  And okay, I’ll tell my favorite story about Captain Wheeler in Helmand at the end, but no fair peeking…

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HOW HAPPY CAN A YOUNG BOY BE?

jw-and-bh-on-safariAnd his father too. I started taking my son Brandon on expeditions with me at age five. Here we are in the Serengeti during the Great Migration. He saw three lion kills happen yards away, a baby born in a Masai hut – he’s never forgotten his first great adventure to this day, over 30 years later. I encourage you in every way to take your children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces on an exploration of one of our planet’s many wondrous places when they are young. It will be formational for them, a founding experience of awe for what a magically extraordinary world they are privileged to live in. And your seeing it through their eyes will be a shot of youth elixir in your veins. It will be a life-memorable bonding experience for you both. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #92 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE TOMB OF THE FRAGRANT CONCUBINE

tomb-of-the-fragrant-concubinePrincess Iparhan, granddaughter of the ruler of the Silk Road oasis of Kashgar, was so famous for her beauty and the intoxicating natural aroma of her body that the Manchu Emperor far to the east called for her. She was 22, the year was 1756. The Emperor became completely infatuated with her, making Iparhan his Imperial Noble Consort, loving her deeply until her death 33 years later in 1789. In mourning, the Emperor kept his promise to her that her body would be returned to Kashgar and buried in the mausoleum of Apak Hoja, built in 1640 by her Apaki family. And there she rests today. Everyone in Kashgar and beyond, however, knows the mausoleum as The Tomb of the Fragrant Concubine. It’s a wonderfully romantic legend, and even though there are several conflicting versions, let’s hope this one is true. Regardless, a visit to this peaceful shrine is certainly memorable. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #54 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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TASMANIA’S MOUTH OF HELL

mouth-of-hellOn the south coast of Australia’s island state of Tasmania, there is a huge sea cave the aboriginal Tasmanians called The Mouth of Hell for the shrieking and moaning the waves and wind made emitting from it.  Boatsmen prefer to enter it to this day protected by a cross on their fishing boat’s bow. The wild beauty and mystery of Tasmania is absolutely extraordinary.  At 35,000 square miles, it is the size of Maine with a population of less than half a million.  Towns like Hobart and Launceston are charming, but the magic is in the uninhabited wilderness that makes up much of the island as a hiker’s paradise.  That and a momentous coastline almost beyond belief. If you’re ever in Oz, especially Melbourne, don’t miss the chance to explore Tasmania. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #150 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXV

fight-wokenessWokeness is the real Pandemic infecting America. What’s needed is a vaccine for Wokeness.  What could that be? It would have to be a psychiatric vaccine for the Woke brain, as wokeness is a psychiatric mental illness.  So we start with famed Czech psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, MD. Born 1931, Grof is 90 now, and for many years traveled frequently to the US. On one occasion at a conference, a scientist friend of mine spoke with him at length. It was in the early 90s, and they discussed the liberation of over 40 years of Communist dictatorship imposed upon Czechoslovakia by the Soviet Union – a peaceful non-violent overthrow called The Velvet Revolution. “What is unknown in the West,” Grof told my friend, “is that it was a psychiatric revolution.”

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THE WORLD’S REMOTEST INHABITED ISLAND

worlds-remotest-islandThat would be Tristan da Cunha in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Some 260 Tristanians live here, all British citizens as the island is a UK Territory, in the island’s only community of Edinburgh-of-the-Seven-Seas. There’s no way to fly here – you have to take a boat for at least a week from Cape Town (and then a week back). Tristanians are among the world’s most special people. Since the island was first settled in 1810, there has never been a single murder, abortion, or divorce among them. They are at peace with themselves, unfailingly cheerful, hospitable, and contented. If you are lucky enough to reach here, you may not want to ever leave. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #42 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – SWIMMING THE HELLESPONT

jw-swims-the-hellespontJuly, 1973. The Hellespont is the famous strait separating Europe from Asia, where the Black Sea after flowing through the Bosphorus at Istanbul and a widening called Marmara empties into the Aegean Sea of the Mediterranean. One of the great stories of Greek Mythology is Leander swimming the Hellespont to tryst with Hero, the woman he loved but was forbidden to see. Thus he swam at night, and she lit a torch for him to swim to. One night a storm blew out the torch and the strong currents swept Leander onto the rocks to drown. So I first swam the Hellespont at night in 1960 and almost drowned myself (LIFE Magazine, Dec. 12, 1960, pp 91-94). This was the second time, swimming from Leander’s village site of Abydos on the Asia side to Sestos, Hero’s village site on Europe’s. Here I am having reached the Sestos shore. The Hellespont is where the Trojan War was fought, where the Persians crossed to lose against the Greeks at Marathon and Salamis, where Alexander crossed to conquer the Persian Empire. Lord Byron swam the Hellespont in 1803 to make all the legends and history a part of his life. I was determined to do the same, twice to make sure. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #100 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 08/13/21

bide-saigonWelcome to the Friday the 13th HFR.  It’s a majorly bad luck day for the putz pretend president infesting our White House with the contempt and ridicule of the world pouring down upon him. Above is today’s (8/13) New York Post cover, with the cover story inside:  This Afghan Rout Is Entirely on Joe Biden. “It doesn’t get more idiotic: ‘The Taliban also has to make an assessment about what they want their role to be in the international community,’ White House press secretary Jen Psaki said with a straight face Wednesday (8/11)... Hello? The Taliban have never given a damn about world opinion… These are fanatics out of the 10th century. They’re turning girls as young as 12 into sex slaves as they advance. The Afghan army, meanwhile, is showing all the fortitude of the Iraqi forces who melted before ISIS in 2014: Provincial capitals (plural) are falling every day, with Nos. 10 (Herat) and 11 (Ghazni) gone Thursday… Now it’s a race to Kabul, where Uncle Sam is desperately rushing to airlift out all Americans in a replay of the 1975 fall of Saigon.” You’ve all seen the iconically infamous photo:

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THE STONE TURTLE OF GENGHIS KHAN

genghis-turtle800 hundred years ago in 1221, Genghis Khan established the capital of the Mongol Empire he created at a place called Karakorum in the grasslands of central Mongolia.  It became a city of palaces, temples, and mansions of the Mongol nobility, a place of fabulous wealth that left Marco Polo in awe when he visited in in the 1270s. When Mongol rule over China ended a hundred years later, the Chinese rulers of the Ming Dynasty ordered Karakorum razed to the ground with all evidence of its existence obliterated.  All that was left was this solitary stone turtle lying in mute witness to the glories of what was here once and is no more.  Known as the Stone Turtle of Genghis Khan, it’s all there is for you to try and imagine the magnificence of the past amidst what is now an empty wilderness. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #149 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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BALLOONS OVER BURMA

burma-balloonsFrom 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)

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RUNWAY ABLE

runway-ableIt is a profoundly somber experience to stand here on this abandoned weed-strewn airstrip.  For this is Runway Able on Tinian Island in the Northern Marianas, where 76 years ago, on August 6, 1945, a B-29 nicknamed Enola Gay piloted by Capt. Paul Tibbets took off with Little Boy in its bomb bay bound for Hiroshima – and three days later on August 9, a B-29 nicknamed Bockscar piloted by Maj. Charles Sweeney flew off with Fat Boy in its bomb bay headed for Nagasaki. As a consequence, on August 15, Emperor Hirohito announced the surrender of Japan to America.  Here is where World War II was won, and the Nuclear Age begun. This lost bit of tarmac is the most consequential airstrip on earth.  Be prepared for a deep complex of swirling emotions if you ever stand here yourself. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #14 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE WELL OF JOB

well-of-jobWe’re all familiar with the sufferings of Job in the Old Testament’s Book of Job. But what happened to Job after his sufferings were ended? All the OT says is that, with his health and riches restored, he lived long enough to see his great-great grandchildren. The OT says Job lived in the “Land of Uz,” which was “beyond the Euphrates.” That would place it in modern day Iraq. There is no connection between this Hebraic name and the land of Uzbekistan – meaning the Land of Uzbeks, a Turkic people. Yet the Silk Road city of Bukhara in today’s Uzbekistan is thousands of years old. Jews have lived in Bukhara for 3,000 years, although almost all have emigrated now (some 150,000 Bukharan Jews live in Israel). Thus it is a very ancient legend that during a terrible drought in Bukhara, Job visited the city and struck the ground with his staff – causing a spring of healing water to gush from the ground, and continues to do so today. A shrine was built around the spring – the Well of Job – and the water is clear and drinkable. One of the many extraordinary experiences in what we call Hidden Central Asia. We’ll be here again next May. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #114 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXIV

forcedvaxThat’s 5th generation US military officer USAF pilot LtCol (ret) Wendy Rogers, member of the Arizona State Senate and true American Patriot. It is so easy to lose your mind with all the Vax Insanity swirling around us.  But TTPers are not interested in whining about problems – they are interested in solutions to them.  That’s what TTP does its best to provide.  So here we go. Today we focus on your own personal protection and options.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – CANNIBAL TREEHOUSE

cannibal-treehouseAugust 1977.  High in the mountains above the source of the April River, a tributary of the Sepik in Papua New Guinea, I had a First Contact with an undiscovered tribe calling themselves the Wali-ali-fo.  They ate “man long pig,” cooked human meat and lived in thatch dwelling built up in trees.  Here I am in one with my Sepik guide Peter who got me here. Peter translated a description of their practice:  “When a man dies, we take a pig to his wife and exchange it for the body of the man.  We take the body out into the forest and…cook ‘im eat ‘im.  We do this so the man will continue to live in the bodies of his friends.” Not something we’ll do but something we can understand, yes?  These are people we could laugh and joke with, tell stories with, enjoy being with.  A very different culture, but human all the same.  (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #148 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 08/06/21

fredo-hateOdds are growing we’ll get a Schadenfreudelicious Two-fer this week – the political demise of America’s most disgusting governor and the media demise of his obnoxious brother. No sympathy anywhere for Prince Andrew, while Fox shed crocodile tears for Fredo this morning (8/06).  Chrissie-pie earned his infamous sobriquet when he had a total meltdown two years ago over a Trump supporter calling him “Fredo,” the weak, cowardly nebbish brother of Michael Corleone in The Godfather.  He’s a jerk. His brother is not just a jerk – he’s murderously evil, nicknamed for good reason “The Butcher of Albany” and “Governor Death.” Ereyesterday (8/04), The Onion satire site ran a marvelously brutal takedown of him: Cuomo Increasingly Desperate To Shift Focus Back Onto Nursing Home Deaths.  Yet there could be something far more infernal at work.

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POPEYE’S VILLAGE

popeyes-villageEver 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)

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THE BLUE CITY OF CHEFCHAOUEN

blue-city-of-chefchaouenMy wife Rebel and I love this uniquely picturesque ancient Berber village in Morocco where everything is painted in shades of blue. Suffused in soothing blue, there’s no more relaxed place than just about anywhere. Everyone is welcome from the wealthy staying in sumptuous boutique hotels to backpackers in hostels. There are no “tourist spots,” for every café and bar is where the locals go themselves. (It’s pronounced shef-shah-win, by the way.) Berbers – “Amazigh” (Unconquered) in their language, are the original people of Morocco having lived there for over 12,000 years. They are directly related to the reindeer-herding Lapps of Lapland in northern Scandinavia (they share the same mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U5b1b). Both are descended from the same stock of Cro-Magnon Ice Age hunters in Western Europe that split in two 15,000 years ago – one moving far north, the other south crossing the Gibraltar Strait to Africa. One more reason why Morocco is so magical. Would you like to experience the Magic of Morocco with us next year? (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #21 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE LAND OF THE DRAGON’S BLOOD TREE

dragons-blood-treeThis 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 April of 2021. Let me know if you’d like to be with us. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #34 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXIII

will-not-complyMight you be interested in a religious exemption from covid vax mandates? When my son Jackson was matriculating to Langley High School in McLean, Virginia, they requested his vaccination records.  They rejected them, even though he had a lot given all the countries I’d taken him to that required them. I got mad and told the school’s health officer, “He’s been to more Third World countries than you’ve had birthdays!” No points for that. So my wife and I marched in with the state form for religious exemption from vaccination (even though Jackson had every vax needed, but we didn’t have sufficient records).  The health officer and other admin folks didn’t say a word, just promptly processed him in as a new student in good standing. It turns out you just may be able to do the same thing where you work, shop, dine, play, and live.  Read on…

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A VIEW OF MOUNT EVEREST YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE

everest-2019Photo taken at an altitude of 22,000 feet (6,700 meters) in a AS 350 B3 ultra-high altitude Eurocopter on our Himalaya Helicopter Expedition. We are looking into the Western Cwm (valley), West Shoulder of Everest in the left forefront, entire Southwest Face of Everest summit (29,029 ft-8,848m) to base on the left, Lhotse (4th highest on earth at 27,949ft-8,516m) straight ahead, the flank of Nuptse on the right. The climbing route is from Base Camp to Camp I past the top of the Khumbu Ice Fall (bottom of photo), up the Cwm to Camp II at the foot of the Lhotse wall, scale via fixed ropes to Camp III perched on the wall, then up to the notch between Everest and Lhotse (on the horizon in the photo) that is the South Col and Camp IV. The summit is reached from there via the Southeast Ridge on the other side of the photo. We’ll be here again in late April-early May next year. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #91 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: THE TOMB OF CYRUS THE GREAT

jw-cyrus-the-great-tombIn the vast valley of Pasargadae there stands this simple tomb with nothing around it for miles and miles. It has been like this for many centuries, for it entombs the founder of Persia, Cyrus the Great (600-530BC). Revered as the liberator of the Jews from their Babylonian captivity in 539 BC, hailed by Herodotus for his humanity and wisdom, this small structure symbolizes the humility of an extraordinary man. Yet the tomb is a structure of engineering genius, the oldest built on principles of base-isolation withstanding the countless earthquakes Persia has suffered for the last 2500 years. I was first here in 1973 when Persia (renamed Iran in 1933) flourished under the Shah. Here I am in 2014, when everyone I met expressed admiration for America and their contempt for the mullah tyranny they endured. I hope to return once more when the Land of Cyrus will be free again. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #146 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 07/30/21

unvaccine-notice “Pasta, Vino, and Liberty!”  That’s the motto of the HFR’s favorite restaurant, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino in Huntington Beach, Orange County, California. Owner Tony Roman put up the sign over the weekend, to which the LA Times responded with a snarky hit piece on Monday (7/26). Tony fired right back on Facebook: "Los Angeles Times prints an article about us, and again here come the haters, and with it, the harassing nonstop phone calls, threats, and hundreds of one-star reviews. And guess what? We at Basilico's Pasta e Vino wear it all as a badge of honor! Attention: tiny tyrants, wannabe little dictators, pro-lockdown/pro-mask/pro-mandatory vaccine mini-Gestapo American traitors and snitches, and yes especially 'Gavin Pelosi' and 'Stronzo Fauci' ... We feel blessed to go into battle against all of you in defense of American liberty and freedom, so bring it on!" Go, Big Tony!  Is he the hands-down HFR Hero of the Week or what? tony-roman-resto-owner

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BURMA’S SACRED GOLDEN ROCK

golden-rockSome three hours’ drive east of Rangoon brings you to Mount Kyaiktiyo, at the top of which (3,600ft) is a gigantic granite boulder covered in gold leaf perched on the edge about to fall off. But it never does, held in place, legend says, by a strand of the Buddha’s hair put underneath it 2,500 years ago. Ever since, the Golden Rock has been a sacred pilgrimage site for the Burmese people and Buddhists around the world. There are very few people here other than pilgrims, who devoutly pray, circumambulate the rock, and reverently place small strips of gold leaf upon it. It’s a marvelous experience to be among them. I’ll be here again in January of ’22 – you might consider joining me. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #112 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE LEG ROWERS OF INLE LAKE

intha-peopleThe men of the Intha people living on Inle Lake in Burma have a unique way to fish. Using their large conical nets, they row by standing on one leg on the prow of their canoe, and paddle with their other leg. They feed their families this way. Burma (Myanmar) is one of the most picturesque, historical, and serene places on earth. We’ll be there again next February. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #27 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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DARK HEDGES

dark-hedgesYou’ve seen this spooky place called King’s Road in HBO’s The Games of Thrones – but where is it and what is it really? It’s in Country Antrim in Northern Ireland near the town of Armoy. Originally it was the driveway to a mansion built in 1775 by James Stuart, descendant of King James I of England (1566-1625), who lined either side with beech trees. Now almost 250 years old, their branches intertwine eerily, giving rise to its name of “Dark Hedges,” and legends of ghosts haunting it like the “Grey Lady.” Northern Ireland has had its terrible Troubles as we all know, but that’s history now. It’s a place of stunning scenery and natural wonders like the Devil’s Causeway and Marble Arch Caves, and those man-made in addition to Dark Hedges, such as Dunluce Castle and Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge. Then there’s the Victorian opulence of the Crown Liquor Saloon in Belfast. All in all, Northern Ireland is a marvelous place to visit. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #43 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY_XVII

dogfish-beerIt’s true what they say about beer – it’s so much more than just a breakfast drink! Yes, we are going to talk about beer and sanity. Sounds like fun – and this will be, in ways you didn’t expect. We start with a type of beer that’s become a ubiquitous craze among breweries and beer enthusiasts: IPA. That stands for “India Pale Ale.” Does that mean beer that comes from India, or once did as a historical name? Neither – for it has a magic ingredient instead.

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXII

(Photo ©Tex Manchester)

(Photo ©Tex Manchester)

You’re looking at something that’s absolutely astounding.  It’s not a cloud or patch of fog in the night sky.  Let me tell you what it is. What it is, is astounding enough.  But just why it’s absolutely so – well, let’s walk through the what of it first, then we’ll get there, for it’s a great way to keep your sanity.

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LUANGWA LAGOON SUNSET

luangwa-lagoon-sunsetIt’s hard to find a better example of the glory of nature than here – a lagoon off the Luangwa River in Africa’s Zambia.  It’s also hard to believe I took this picture just a few days ago – and now I’m back home, and Africa so far away. It was so fulfilling, so rewarding for me, over the past weeks, to provide a life-memorable experience of real Africa to eight TTPers – they’ll never forget it ever.  I’ll be here again in July of next year – perhaps you’ll be with me.  There’s a primordial magic in Africa that grips your soul like nowhere else.  The wisdom of those most familiar with the world is: “If you can visit only two continents in your life, go to Africa – twice.” (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #145 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY: AFGHAN MUJAHADDIN?

jw-the-mujahaddinWhen my son Brandon was a cadet at Virginia Military Academy, his professor teaching Modern Military History gave a lecture on the 1980s War in Afghanistan fought by Afghan Mujahaddin against the Soviet Red Army occupation of their country.  One of the pictures he showed was the one above of “three typical Mujahaddin fighters.” Brandon raised his hand.  “Yes, Cadet Wheeler,” the professor called on him.  “Actually, Professor,” Brandon said, “only the man in the center with the white beard is one.  The man on the right is United States Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, while the man on the left is my father.” The professor was stunned while the rest of the class stifled laughter.  “Are you quite sure of that, Cadet Wheeler?” stammered the professor.  “Oh, yes sir,” Brandon replied.  “I recognize my own father.  That photo is framed in my father’s study.  It was taken in November 1988.  The Afghan Commander’s name is Moli Shakur. I have known Congressman Rohrabacher all my life.” The cadets all applauded in appreciation.  To this day, this remains one of Brandon’s fondest college memories. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #145 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 07/23/21

empty-cnn-townhallEreyesterday, Wednesday July 21, CNN held a townhall in Cincinnati, Ohio for a man who claims he got 80 million votes last November.  CNN did everything it could to disguise the fact that the hall was mostly empty. Jennifer Epstein, the White House correspondent for Bloomberg News, tweeted her photo above to reveal the reality – in response to CNN pretending otherwise.  Much fun has been made of Dementia Zhou’s word salad gibberish and his train wreck townhall. But this is no time for ridicule, for what characterized this event was its despotic dishonesty. So now we get serious, as we explore to what extent the Xiden Regime, along with that of many other countries such as France and Australia are committing actual real crimes, Crimes Against Humanity, for which their leaders could or should be imprisoned.

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AZENHAS DO MAR

A cliff-top fishing village on the Italian Riviera? Nope, Azenhas (ah-zhane-yas) do Mar – Watermills of the Sea – is on the Portuguese Riviera. This is a magic place of fairy tale castles, thousand year-old fortresses, luxury boutique hotels, fabulous food, great wine, gorgeous beaches, and postcard-perfect scenery everywhere. The Portuguese people are among the kindest in Europe, while Portugal is one of the safest countries in the world. Of all the planet’s First World countries, it’s hard to find one more calm and serene than here. If you’d like a personal experience of the best of Portugal, Wheeler Expeditions can arrange it for you. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #87 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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AMONG A MILLION PENGUINS IN SOUTH GEORGIA

million-s-georgia-penguinsThe Antarctic island of South Georgia is home to a million King penguins, plus countless fur seals, gigantic elephant seals, staggering numbers of seabirds such as albatrosses, amidst a backdrop of towering mountains with massive glaciers spilling off them. Nothing can prepare you for the incomprehensible size of the penguin rookeries here, densely packed as far as the eye can see (all those white dots on the hills behind are penguins). Nor for the size of bull elephant seals weighing up to 8,000 pounds, especially when they rise up and crash their chests against each other in mating challenges emitting deafening bellows. Nor being surrounded by a thousand fur seals unafraid of you. The density of wildlife combined with the magnificent beauty of the island is completely overwhelming. Here also is the abandoned whaling station of Grytviken where the heroic explorer Ernest Shackleton is buried. You can only get here by expedition cruise ship. South Georgia is one of the great experiences on our planet. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #96 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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