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Dr. Jack Wheeler

THE SMALL-SPOTTED RING-TAILED GENET

spotted-rig-tailed-genetIt’s not a cat, nor raccoon, nor lemur.  Genets are part of a small carnivorous mammal group called viverrids, distantly related to hyenas, mongooses, tigers and lions.  They hunt animals smaller than them like mice both on the ground and in the trees which they are very good and quick at climbing.  You see them in Tropical and Southern Africa, but rarely will one pose like this as he did for me.  Going on an Africa safari is not all about seeing the big iconic animals, but being lucky enough to spot small yet beautiful creatures such as this. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #144 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE ISLANDS OF SERENITY

mulafassur-waterfallMulafassur waterfall below the village of Gasadalur is only one example of the serenity of the Faroe Islands. They’re a self-governing Danish possession in the North Atlantic halfway between Norway and Iceland. You won’t find a place of more captivating serene and peaceful charm. Warmed by the Gulf Stream, in the summer it’s so strewn with wildflowers the roads are known as “buttercup highways.” At every turn along them you’re stunned by the incredible scenery. The capital of Torshavn is so laid back the Prime Minister’s Office – the Løgmansskristovan – is a wood cabin with a green grass sod roof. Great beer from the Faroes’ two breweries is always flowing in the pubs, where the Faroese islanders welcome you like an old friend. You can easily fly here from Edinburgh, London, Copenhagen, or Reykjavik, Iceland . A few days here will do wonders for your soul. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #18 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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KEEPING YOUR SANITY XXI

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You can be young at heart in your 80s and old at heart in your 20s.  One of the greatest crimes the Left perpetrates upon humanity is to destroy the joy, optimism, and enthusiasm that comes naturally to the young people of America. The Left fills them with hate, anger, despondency, hopelessness, embarrassment and guilt for their country -- and personal existence if they are white.  The result is so many young Americans are old – scared, timid, cynical, apathetic, pessimistic, and joyless.  Anyone who inculcates this in America’s children, teenagers, and young adults are enemies of mankind and should be treated as such. But how about you?  How much of your soul is filled with joie de vie, the joy of life, the ecstasy and thrill of being alive?  Making sure it is could hardly be a better way of keeping your sanity.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – AT THE NORTH POLE WITH MY 10 YEAR-OLD SON

jacksons-at-north-poleApril, 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)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 07/16/21

lions-feastingIt is noon Friday (7/16) here in the South Luangwa region of Zambia.  Late Wednesday afternoon a pride of lions took down a young male Cape buffalo.  You can see the lioness on the right smothering the buffalo to death with her jaws clamped upon its mouth.  It struggled in vain, and the entire pride of five adults and four cubs began feasting upon it while still in its death throes. The scene I am now gazing upon as I write this is the opposite of what is pictured above.  It is deeply peaceful and quietly serene.  Two hippos are lazing in a lily-covered pond.  Impala antelope and a half-dozen zebra are calmly grazing in the tree-dotted grassland beyond, accompanied by a few warthogs and a small troop of baboons. Yet they all must be alert, for danger can instantly arise.  At the slightest warning, the impala and zebra will freeze to stare in the direction of the warning, ready to do whatever needed to save their lives from predators.  That’s life’s lesson in Africa. It’s a lesson that is easily lost in the domesticated safety of civilized society, resulting in unawareness of the grisly lethality of human predators always lurking within it.  Societies, cultures, and nations then don’t realize the danger until it is too late, and end up like the buffalo.

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THE ROCK PALACE OF YEMEN

rock-palaceDar al-Hajar, the Rock Palace, was built by Yemen’s ruler, Imam Yahya Muhammad Hamiddin (1869-1948), atop a rock pinnacle as his summer residence.  It lies in a valley about 10 miles outside Yemen’s capital of Sana’a.  While an iconic example of Yemeni architecture, it’s impossible to visit now with civil war raging in the country.  Someday we’ll be able to safely return to Yemen again. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #143 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE LESSON OF RABAUL

tavurvur-volcanoThe small black mountain in front of you is a volcano called Tavurvur on the island of New Britain in Papua New Guinea. In 1994, Tavurvur erupted, covering New Britain’s beautiful capital Rabaul in ash. The entire area is volcanic, including the hot springs where I’m standing to take this picture. Tavurvur is very much alive and smoking today – starkly beautiful and dangerous. History can be like this – beautiful and peaceful, then without warning it explodes in violent destruction. The lesson then is how to overcome, rebuild, and avert its repetition. It’s an obvious lesson to learn right now, with the destruction of our economy by the Chinese Communists unleashing their virus, and the current attempted theft of the presidency and our entire electoral system by the Democrats. We must overcome these twin evils, and we must make extremely sure that we never allow such travesties to threaten our country ever again. You can climb to the rocky rim of Tavurvur to stare down into its smoking caldera. There’s fabulous scuba-diving along the coral reefs offshore of Rabaul, and upon sunken Japanese battleships from World War II. It’s a worthwhile experience to come here as you learn the Lesson of Rabaul. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #97 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HAWAII IN EUROPE

Equivalent to the Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific are the Azores in the European Atlantic. You’re looking at Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Lagoon of the Seven Cities), an example of the Azores’ astounding beauty. As Hawaii is a part of the US, the Azores are a part of Portugal – since the 1430s first discovered uninhabited. Everything grows here, cedar forest to giant tropical tree ferns, fruit from citrus to tropical, plants from corn to taro. Flowers are riotously everywhere. The sea swarms with fish being on the main Atlantic migration route for whales and dolphins. The islands are immaculately cared for by Azoreans, no pollution, air sparkling clear, weather in the 60s in winter, 70s in summer, so peaceful they are virtually crime-free. Azoreans love drinking parties, cheerful festivals, and bright colors – with their charming homes painted the color of key lime pie, raspberry mousse, or oceanic blue. They love liberty so much they’ve had this motto emblazoned on their coat of arms for centuries: “Antes morrer livres que em paz sujeitos”—" Rather die free than live in peaceful subjugation.” This is one of our planet’s truly magical places. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #11 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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AFRICAN FLATDOGS

flat-dog-crocHere in Zambia and elsewhere in Africa, crocodiles are nicknamed “Flatdogs.”  You can see why.  They spend much of their lives lying flat on the mud bank of a pond or river.  Yet when on the hunt they can attack with astounding speed and surprise, leaping unseen from muddy water upon an unsuspecting target twenty feet away in an instant.  This happened to a young boy fishing along the Luangwa River near our encampment just days ago.  Africa is unforgiving of the unwary.  (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #142 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – TRANS-SAHARA EXPEDITION

trans-sahara-expeditionJanuary 2003. Our campsite at dawn in the center of the Sahara called the Téneré in Niger. We found hand stone axes here 8,000 years old when the Sahara was green. Crossing the world’s greatest desert is a true expedition, one of the most astounding adventures to be had on earth, geographically, culturally, and historically. Unfortunately, it is too dangerous with lawless and ideological banditry today. I can hardly wait to do it once more when it is safe again. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #70 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE SANDS OF THE TAKLA MAKAN

takla-makanWhen Marco Polo crossed the Tien Shan mountains and reached the Silk Road oasis of Kashgar in 1273, he faced an enormous desert of endless dunes called the Takla Makan, meaning “You go in, you don’t come out.” To avoid this fate, the Silk Road at Kashgar splits in two – above to the north of the dreaded sand sea via the oases of Aksu and Turfan, and underneath to the south via the oases of Yarkand, Khotan, Charchan and Charklik. The two routes came together beyond Lop Nor, the eastern extension of the Takla Makan, at the oasis of Dunhuang. His father Niccolo and uncle Maffeo had earlier taken the northern route to first meet Mongol Emperor Kublai Khan, but now with Marco they took the southern route. They traveled in caravans of two-humped Bactrian camels, often crossing dunes on the edge – just like the photo you see. In 2008, I retraced Polo’s route along the southern route – part of it by motorized hang glider. He would be fascinated, I’m sure, to see what a camel caravan looks like from the air! (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #13 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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MAKING FRIENDS IN ANTARCTICA

rh-and-elephant-sealThis is my wife Rebel relaxing with a native of Antarctica while on a visit to the Palmer Science Station there. Getting up close and personal with Antarctic wildlife is so easy as they have no fear of us at all, be they seals, elephant seals, or penguins. Better not get too close to male elephant seals in domination combat, however, as they can weigh up to 7,000 pounds. And steer clear of full grown leopard seals, which are apex predators weighing over 1,000 pounds. No worries, though, for Rebel with this young fellow. Experiencing Antarctica is always a memorable adventure. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #94 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE HANGING MONASTERY

hanging-monasteryThe architectural wonder of the Hanging Monastery was built on a vertical cliff face by the Tuoba people of Inner Mongolia over 1,500 years ago (in the 490s). Devout Buddhists and brilliant engineers, they defied gravity by inserting huge wooden crossbeams deep into the cliff to suspend the monastery’s temples, shrines, and monks’ living quarters, connected with bridges, corridors, and boardwalks, out into space. Liao Mongols in the 900s rebuilt and sustained it, and it has been carefully refurbished and restored in the centuries since. While it remains primarily Buddhist with statues and depictions of Sakyamuni (the historical Buddha of 5th century BC) and Maitreya (the future Buddha), the monks welcome reverence to Taoism and its founder Lao Tzu (4th century BC), as well as Confucius (551-479 BC). Thus you also see shrines and statues of them like nowhere else. It is a unique and inspiring experience to be here. We’ll be here again in our exploration of Inner Mongolia next year. ((Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #116 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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EVERY COUNTRY IN THE WORLD INTERVIEW

every-country-in-the-worldThere’s a Danish fellow named Henrik Jeppesen whose website is EveryCountryInTheWorld.com.  Having been to every country himself – defined as all 193 UN Member States – he interviews people who have done so or aspire to themselves. He recently interviewed me, and I thought you might be entertained by my answers to his questions.  This is in lieu of a Keeping Your Sanity column or the next Father-Son Adventure chapter, as I am today on my way to Zambia to take your fellow TTPers on an Africa Dream Safari.  Here we go…

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HALF-FULL REPORT 07/02/21

happy-4th-americaWelcome to the Fourth of July HFR! What a difference a year makes.  Last July 4th, 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. This July 4th, all of those dangers have materialized as nightmares becoming real.  As a companion piece to this HFR, we are posting the full video and text of President Trump’s Mount Rushmore address of a year ago.  Frankly, the comparison with the elation we felt back then and what we are suffering now is painful. So I might as well get the way I really feel off my chest now.  Then will get to the good news, for there’s plenty.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – TIGER LEAPING GORGE

tiger-leaping-gorgeMany centuries ago, a tiger was plaguing the Naxi people who live in the mountains where the Yangtse River cascades off the plateau of Tibet.  He was eating the goats the Naxi needed to feed themselves.  So Naxi hunters chased the tiger into a deep narrow gorge of the Yangtse where they were sure they had him trapped.  Suddenly, the tiger sprang onto a large rock in the center of the raging river and from there leapt to the other side and escaped, never to be seen again. Ever since, where this took place has been known as Tiger Leaping Gorge.  Here you see Tiger Leaping Rock.  I was first here in July 2002 on our overland expedition across eastern Tibet.  Last time 2015.  Maybe again? (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #141 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE TEMPLE OF ULU WATU

ulu-watu-templeBuilt 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)

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IRISH DREAM

rock-of-cashel-castleTop of the mornin’ to ya! We have a greenlight for the Emerald Isle! Ireland is open!  I’m celebrating with a cold pint of Guinness and announcing that – thanks to so much TTPer interest – Wheeler Expeditions will be offering my Irish Dream twice this summer:  August 13-23, and September 1-11. This really is the dream exploration of Ireland you’ve always wanted.  You won’t believe all the totally awesome places we’ll go, what we’ll learn and experience, the wonderful Irish people we’ll meet and befriend.  Click on the link above and you’ll see for yourself with the photos. Like the Rock of Cashel castle above, or the Hole of Sorrows and the Cliffs of Moher –

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THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA

sands-of-iwo-jimaThis is the black sand beach the US Marines stormed on February 19, 1945, beginning the legendary Battle of Iwo Jima. Overlooking the beach is Mount Suribachi, where four days later Joe Rosenthal took his iconic photo of six Marines planting the US flag on its summit. You can come here once a year at a commemoration jointly held by the US and Japanese militaries. Guests of honor are the few Marine veterans of the battle still alive. To be here on these sands and on the summit of Suribachi, where the memorial lauds them – “On Iwo Jima, uncommon valor was a common virtue” – with these heroic men is an indescribable privilege. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #23, photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE FATHER-SON ADVENTURE: BRANDON AT THE NORTH POLE

little-brandon-on-sea-iceBrandon at the North Pole April 1990 It seemed like we were the only people on the face of the Earth.  Just eight of us – Brandon, me, my four client-friends, our pilot and co-pilot – flying a few thousand feet above an endless expanse of sea-ice. It had been a little over an hour since we had flown past Cape Columbia, the northernmost point of land in Canada on the tip of Ellesmere Island to head straight north over the frozen Arctic Ocean. I got down next to Brandon.  “How are you doing, buddy?” “Dad, this is so awesome!  Wow, the North Pole!  But…” he looked out the window… “how does Santa live up here? How does he feed his reindeer?  There’s nothing for them to eat in all that ice!”

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DYING TO VOTE

What’s dying is the Dem chances for passage of their HR1 Vote Fraud bill. It went down in flames on Monday (6/21), the Senate is on July 4 Recess until the 11th, shortly after comes the August Recess, then comes the Raise the Debt Ceiling cat fight. There’s hope for a honest ’22 election yet. dying-to-vote

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HALF-FULL REPORT 06/25/21

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This was during a White House press briefing yesterday (6/24).  At 4:37am this morning (6/25), Newsweek reported Biden Whispering Video Viewed Over 3 Million Times. Instantly, all over the Internet the Man from De Mentia has a new nickname: Creepy.  Twitter is reporting #creepyjoe is trending worldwide. Google Biden+creepy+whisper and you’ll get over 800,000 hits and climbing. Mind you, this was on top of his getting confused the day before (6/23) on gun control, and ended up essentially threatening people opposed to him with “F-15s and nuclear weapons”. He, the Dems, and Woke Elite are losing it while we are winning.  This HFR explains how.

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – DIVING IN A GALAPAGOS FISH BALL

jw-diving-in-galapagosGalapagos Islands – November 2015.  In the waters here, enormous schools of striped mullet swim together in one huge swirling ball by the tens of thousands. One of the more astounding experiences a scuba diver can have is to swim far below one of these rotating living balls, then slowly rise straight up into it.  The fish do not scatter, but merely create an empty column or vertical tunnel for you – so you float inside the ball with countless thousands of calm unperturbed fish circling around you and your dive buddy (who took this picture of me). I’ve had the good fortune to go diving all over the world for the past sixty -plus years, and this experience is surely one of the most memorable of all. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #140 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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SLOVENIA’S VINTGAR GORGE

vintgar-gorgeIn a hidden corner of Europe, the Radovna River pours off the Julian Alps to carve out the Vintgar Gorge with crystal clear water. A mile-long walkway with towering limestone cliffs on either side is your access. Nearby is the gorgeous Lake Bled, with Bled Castle suspended atop a shoreline cliff. The medieval village of Piran, built on a spit of land projecting into the Adriatic Sea and encircled by a white sand beach is a short drive away. Ljubljana is one of Europe’s most utterly charming capital cities. Most people have only heard of Slovenia as the birthplace of First Lady Melania Trump, but those who have been here understand it is one of the most entrancing countries on the European continent – pristine beauty, spotless environment, friendly and hospitable people, safe and very well-run. Whenever your next visit to Europe may be, try to include a few days or week or so here. You’ll never run out of fascinating things to do. A stroll through the Vintgar Gorge is an example out of so many. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #19 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE EMPRESS WHO LOVED ACHILLES

achilles-statueOn a mountain top on the island of Corfu in 1890, Empress Elizabeth of Austria built a magnificent marble palace called the Achilleion, dedicated to her hero, the legendary Achilles of Homer’s Iliad. Here she retreated from the world, amidst the palace’s gorgeous gardens overlooking the Mediterranean abundant with larger-than-life statues of her ideal man, “who despised all mortals and did not fear even the gods." All of Europe knew her as Sisi. Adored by her husband Emperor Franz Joseph I, renowned as the most beautiful – and most beloved -- woman of her time, she was Austria’s Empress for 44 years. Her life ended tragically, murdered at random by an anarchist who wanted to “kill a royal.” The Achilleion today is maintained immaculately in all its original glory as a museum you can visit. Don’t pass the chance to see it for yourself. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #76 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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WALT DISNEY’S REAL CASTLE

castle-of-st-hilarionThis is the ruins of the Castle of St. Hilarion in Northern Cyprus.  In 1191, the Byzantine ruler of Cyprus made the mistake of capturing a ship carrying Princess Berengaria of Navarre and held her hostage.  She was the fiancée of England’s King Richard the Lion-Heart.  You don’t do that to a guy nicknamed Lion-Heart. Richard proceeded to conquer the whole island and turned it over to a group of French Catholic knights led by Guy de Lusignan.  The knights built a series of fortified castles around the island to ward off the Moslem "Saracens."  The most spectacular was atop a vertiginous crag high above the port of Kyrenia named after a crazy hermit who lived near there whom the knights dubbed St. Hilarion. When Walt Disney was making his classic Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937, he chanced upon pictures of St. Hilarion’s Castle, which his imagination transformed into the fairy tale castle of the movie.  Can you see how he got the idea? In the castle museum, there’s an explanation with some of Disney’s original sketches based on St. Hilarion’s.  Disney was an imaginative genius. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #139 Photo ©Jack Wheeler) disney-sketches-based-on-st-hilarion

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THE FATHER-SON ADVENTURE: BRANDON IN AFRICA

jw-and-bh-on-safariBrandon in Africa August 1988 The Masai guide quietly stopped our Land Rover at the edge of a line of acacia trees.  We cautiously stuck our heads out of the roof to watch the scene in front of us unfold. A draw of dry grass about a hundred feet wide with another line of acacia trees on the other side.  A trio of tawny lionesses crouching so deep in the grass you could barely see them.  To the left, a small herd of wildebeest were warily making their way up the draw, being herded by a male lion behind them.  All you could see of him was the end of his tail with a black tuft of fur sticking straight up above the grass. The wind was right, a slight breeze wafting up the draw, so in addition to their seeing the tip of the male’s tail, the wildebeest could smell him – but not his female partners in the hunt waiting for them to get closer.  A half dozen wildebeest slowly and cautiously moved ahead of the rest until they were less than 20 yards away.  The lionesses charged in unison.

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THE SACRED MONKEY FOREST OF BALI

bali-monkeysNear the town of Ubud on Indonesia’s paradise island of Bali there is a Hindu sanctuary of spectacularly luxuriant rain forest providing a haven for over 1,000 Balinese long-tailed monkeys. Here’s one communing with a group of moss-covered monkey statues that dot the sanctuary. This is a sacred place for the Balinese people, as it contains three temples over 600 years old, and is devoted to the Hindu principle of Tri Hata Karana – “three ways to reach spiritual and physical well-being” -- harmony between people, harmony between people and nature, harmony between people and the Supreme God. There is perhaps no place on earth in which to better experience the blissful harmony of Tri Hata Karana than Bali. It is a marvelous privilege to be here and experience it for yourself. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #106 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY — AFGHANISTAN 1984

afghan-jackI showed this picture to my mother after my latest sojourn with the Afghan Mujahaddin fighting the Soviet Union and she didn’t see anything unusual. She didn’t recognize her own son standing in the middle. Good thing – if I had been caught by the KGB or Spetsnaz, it would have been, ahh… unpleasant. I was there with the “Muj” at least a dozen times until they defeated the Soviet Red Army in early 1989 – which led to the Fall of the Berlin Wall eight months later and the extinction of the Soviet Union itself by the end of 1991. It was one of the most thrilling – and consequential – adventures of modern times. ( Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #80 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 06/18/21

tucker-video-061521You may have to listen to what Tucker is saying on Tuesday evening (6/15) more than once to grasp its enormity. Namely, that our corrupt FBI didn’t just have an “intelligence failure” in not being aware of a “ terrorist insurrection” being planned to seize Capitol Hill last January 6, just didn’t warn the Capitol Hill police to take preventative measures once its agents found out about it – but that the FBI organized the “insurrection” with its agents in place with the express purpose of demonizing Trump supporters, patriots and conservatives as “domestic terrorists.” Yet this, and so much more this week, is actually good news for us.

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THE HYPOGEUM OF MALTA

hypogeumThe extraordinary rock-cut necropolis known as the Hypogeum (hi-po-gee-um) is the only prehistoric underground temple in the world. For over a thousand years (3500-2500 BC), the temple and burial complex (eventually housing 7,000 skeletons) was carved out and down – dozens of chambers, with rock-cut replicas of above-ground temples including simulated corbelled roofs. (A corbelled roof uses stone slabs that progressively overlap each other until the room is roofed over.) The Megalthic Maltese learned to cut from the limestone bedrock with tools of stone and antler horn for they had no metal. These folks figured out all by themselves how to build extraordinary temples to their gods and goddesses close to six thousand years ago. Nobody taught them. They were the first. Only one reason Malta is one of our planet’s most fascinating places. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #109 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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SPEAKER TRUMP?

proud-president This could be the most genius political idea of our lifetimes.  Who thought of it first is unclear.  It wasn’t POTUS, as he was caught by surprise when passed by him. There are five stages to follow in sequence.  Here they are in outline.  Be ready – to call this genius is no hyperbole.

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MOROCCO’S DADES GORGE

dades-gorgeThis astounding road is how you traverse the Dades Gorge on the Road of a Thousand Kasbahs in Morocco. Kasbahs are fortified villages of the Berbers, who have lived here since the end of the Ice Ages 12,000 years ago (related to the Lapps of the Scandinavian Arctic, both descending from Cro-Magnon hunters in Cantabria of northern Spain). The road is rated as one of the most scenic drives in the world. It is in the High Atlas Mountains (once higher than the Himalayas and joined to the Appalachians in the northeast US before splitting apart to form the Atlantic Ocean 200 million years ago). Here you go from the sand dunes of the Sahara to the fabulous kasbahs of Skoura, Ouarzazate, and Ait Benhaddou. The drive is one of the many life-memorable experiences we have in our exploration of Moroccan Magic. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #110 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE REMOTEST CHURCH

baihanluo-catholic-church Baihanluo Catholic Church is the remotest Christian Church on earth. The isolated village is in a roadless region high on a Himalayan mountain ridge deep in “The Great River Trenches of Asia” – one of our planet’s most dramatic geological features where four major rivers – the Irrawaddy, Salween, Mekong, and Yangtze all spill off the Tibetan Plateau coursing south in tight parallel for 100 miles. catholic-mission-in-laos In the late 1800’s, French Catholic missionaries made their way far, far up the Mekong from the French colony of Laos to befriend the Nu and Lisu tribespeople up here. They responded by building this beautiful wooden church that has been lovingly cared for by the local parishioners ever since. I led an expedition traversing all three of the great trenches twenty years ago (2001). We were welcomed so warmly by the devout villagers. It’s hard to get more remote than this, yet they have retained their faith for at least four generations now. You can imagine how powerful and experience it was to be with them. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #138 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE FATHER-SON ADVENTURE: FOUR WORDS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE

Brandon Holiday Wheeler – Age 4

Brandon Holiday Wheeler – Age 4

Four Words That Changed My Life November 1987 Leading two lives had kept me away from home a long time. At last I was back home.  That was in La Jolla, California back then.  In our den we had a two-person wide chaise lounge, upon which I was regaling our first son, Brandon with stories about where I had been.  He had just turned four years old. Brandon sat next to me quietly, not saying a word as I carried on and on… and on. Then, in a break of silence from my monologue, he spoke, his voice barely above a whisper.  He said just four words.

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THE PILLARS OF HERCULES

pillars-of-herculesOn either side of the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar there are two small mountains known since great antiquity as the Pillars of Hercules.  The pillar on the northern, European side is the famous Rock of Gibraltar.  That on the southern, African side is Mount Abyla, Phoenician for “lofty mountain.” The legend for the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans was that Hercules pushed the two pillars apart to join the Mediterranean with the Atlantic. We think today of Hercules as a comic-book bodybuilder, while the truth is opposite. The entire ancient Mediterranean world very seriously worshipped him.  For the Phoenicians, he was Melqart, King of the Earth.  For the Greeks, he was Heracles, Divine Protector of Mankind. He was the same for the Romans, who pronounced his name as Hercules. The Phoenician trading port of Abyla has a history of 3,000 years, from Phoenician to Carthaginian to Roman to Byzantine to Christian Visigoths to Islamic Berbers to Portuguese – and since 1668 to Spain, which continues to govern it today as the Spanish Autonomous City of Ceuta on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco. Ceuta is a charming European city with beautiful beaches, open air cafés with great sangria, very relaxed and pleasant.  It is here you find the statue of Hercules separating his Pillars commemorating the legend pictured above.  Easy to get to with high-speed ferries from Algeciras near Gibraltar, Ceuta is definitely worth your while to experience. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #137 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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FLASHBACK FRIDAY – THE CRUSADER FORTRESS IN THE CAUCASUS

This is the fortress town of Shatili in an extremely remote Caucasus region in Georgia called Khevsureti. It was built by the Crusaders 1,000 years ago. The Khevsur people who live here trace their ancestry back to these Crusaders and until the 1930s still wore chain mail in feud-battles with other towns. I took this picture in 1991. American traveler Richard Halliburton (1900–1939) saw and recorded the customs of the Khevsurs in 1935. The Khevsur men, dressed in chain mail and armed with broadswords, wore garments full of decoration made up of crosses and icons. They don’t do that anymore, but they proudly retain their Crusader Christian heritage – for Georgia adopted Christianity in the 4th century AD. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #85 photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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HALF-FULL REPORT 06/11/21

And Elite Private Schools Too

And Elite Private Schools Too

On today’s (6/11) TTP, Victor Davis Hanson plaintively asks when will “enough be enough” for there to be a public rebellion putting an end to the Commie-Fascist Woke madness engulfing our country. Such a rebellion never starts across-the-board, but will always start over a specific issue, a concrete target in particular.  That’s what happened this week.  It’s been building for a while, but now we have liftoff. And it’s just one example of what a terrible week this has been for America’s domestic enemies.  You’re going to enjoy this….

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THE TO SUA SWIMMING HOLE OF SAMOA

samoa-swimhole “To Sua” means “giant swimming hole” in Samoan. It’s a collapsed lava tube hole on the south coast of Upolu in Samoa.  On top of lava cliffs overlooking the South Pacific, you clamber down the ladder for a memorable swim.  To Sua is but one of the attractions of Samoa: gorgeous waterfalls, marvelously friendly people, and the historic home named “Valima,” of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), where he and his wife Fanny spent his last years. On a hilltop rising above Valima is the gravesite of “Tusitala” – Stevenson’s Samoan name, meaning “Telling of Tales.”  Engraved on the side of his tomb is his famous epitaph he wrote himself:

Under the wide and starry sky

Dig the grave and let me lie:

Glad did I live and gladly die,

And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you 'grave for me:

Here he lies where he long'd to be;

Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.

Should you be lucky enough to come here, you’ll fall in love with Samoa as did Tusitala. (Glimpses of Our Breathtaking World #136 Photo ©Jack Wheeler)

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THE GRAND PRISMATIC SPRING OF YELLOWSTONE

yellowstone-prismatic-springThere 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. On Monday (6/07), we got a Glimpse of Horseshoe Bend in northern Arizona and reflected on how much more there was to experience in just that region of the American West.  And that’s just one region, one part of one of the most spectacular places in all Creation. 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)

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