Chaz Darwin

Humanities, the magazine of the NEH, has a fascinating article on Darwin’s voyage aboard the HMS Beagle. The very fact that Darwin was invited on this circumnavigational “cruise” is amazing, a stroke of good luck; normally, aboard a vessel of the British navy, the ship’s doctor would undertake scientific observations. Luckily the Beagle‘s captain, Henslow, thought back to the great James Cook, and the discoveries that were made on his ships by the naturalist Joseph Banks. Darwin’s father didn’t want him to go; Charles was just 22 years old at the time.

We often think about Darwin with his notebook, scribbling details of finches and tortoises; we don’t consider him a “man of action,” but of detailed observation and lengthy meditation. So it comes as a great surprise to learn that he had far more daring adventures than anyone by rights ought to have, 22 or not:

At times he rode out with gauchos, making his way through political rebellions or embarking on shooting expeditions to get meat for Christmas dinner. In Tierra del Fuego, he saved his crewmates by rescuing a rowboat from a tidal wave. He saw stars from the top of the Andes, climbed mountains in Tahiti, felt his blood boil over the slavery that was still legal in Brazil, admired girls in Valparaiso, and splashed around in coral lagoons in search of evidence for their formation. These exploits were all recounted in a wonderful series of letters home to his sisters that still exist in the archive. Over the years, Darwin’s sisters saw his ambitions changing, his confidence emerging. Indeed, they may have discerned how unlikely it was that he would now become a clergyman.

You are definitely encouraged to read more.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/alachance/3231163757/in/set-72157612241800357/© 2008, Andy Lachance, all rights reserved

Infinite riches in a little room. Would you like to see more?


Thomas Jefferson was a scientist, philosopher, statesman, architect, naturalist, musician, naturalist, zoologist, botanist, farmer, bibliophile, inventor, wine connoisseur, mathematician and and……

Maira Kalman illustrates a visit to Monticello in The New York Times and we think it’s perfect. Happy Independence Day.


© Andy Lachance, all rights reserved

If you think this is good, you should really see it in four dimensions.

A hippo gets stuck in a 10-foot-tall water tower. He’d climbed up to cool off.

From November 21 – December 13, 2009, Travel Dynamics International will follow in the footsteps of Sir Ernest Shackleton, cruising to South Georgia Island, the South Orkneys, Elephant Island (where Shackleton climbed a mountain range following a 700-mile open-boat trip) and the Antarctic Peninsula. For a voyage of this magnitude, celebrating the impossible achievements of one of the world’s greatest explorers, it’s only fitting that a great explorer should accompany us. We have two.

Peter HillaryPeter Hillary made history in 1990 when he and his father, Sir Edmund Hillary, became the first father-and-son team to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. On another expedition, Peter blazed a new overland route to the South Pole. For more than 25 years Peter has challenged some of the most demanding, most dangerous environments on Earth: he is the first man to traverse the 3000-mile length of the Himalayas; he made the first ski descent of Mount Aspiring, known as “the Matterhorn of the Southern Hemisphere;” and he has participated in more than 38 mountaineering expeditions, including ascents of Mount Everest, K2, Makali West Pillar, and Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest peak. Peter holds a commercial pilot’s license, is a much-sought-after speaker, and is the author of eight books, most recently In the Ghost Country: A Lifetime Spent on the Edge.

dave-hahnDave Hahn holds the record for reaching the summit of Mount Everest—ten times (out of 14 tries), more than any other non-Sherpa climber. He has guided climbers to the summit of Mount Rainier 245 times, and led 25 attempts on Denali, reaching the summit 18 times. Dave also holds the world record for the Vinson Massif in Antarctica—he has reached the summit 25 times. In 2006 Dave led a team of professional athletes on an expedition to ski Mount Everest. In 1999 Dave participated in the expedition that recovered and identified the remains of explorer George Mallory, who died trying to scale Everest in 1924. A renowned expert on Ernest Shackleton, Dave has led seven expeditions to South Georgia Island and led trekkers overland on the “Shackleton Traverse,” which in 2004 won Outside magazine’s Trip of the Year Award. Dave shot high-altitude video for the PBS NOVA program Lost on Everest, and led the film crew into the mountains of Antarctica on a journey of discovery that resulted in the Emmy-Award-winning film, Mountains of Ice.

If you book this trip before JULY 9, you’ll receive FREE AIR TRANSPORTATION from Miami to Ushuaia, Argentina, economy class, on LAN Airlines. If you’d like to upgrade to business class, we can arrange that for you for just $2,500 more (availability limited). All guests on this trip will enjoy free limousine transportation from your home to the airport (if you live within 50 miles of your departure airport). Opportunities like this, with such illustrious travel companions, don’t come often, so we encourage you to download the brochure from our main site and give us a call at (800) 257-5767.

On the CruiseCritic.com forums, user Winegirl writes:

Corinthian II vs Endeavor vs Polar Star-any first hand knowledge?

Spouse is 46 and I’m 57. I have long been a student of polar exploration and am planning a trip to see some of Antarctica–only, not Falkland Islands. Spouse can get away for only a couple weeks, so we are looking at 15 day or shorter trips. Various options called to our attention are: Corinthian II, 114 passenger all suite ship. Online information looks pretty appealing–a smaller ship option so hopefully more personal service, a lot of valuable inclusions. Not cheap but seems good value for price. Other option is NG Endeavor. NG name carries a lot of weight, but the prices are sky high and the overall accomdations look less appealing than the Corinthian II. Polar Star looks promising as well. Spouse likes space and luxury, but does not like snobs. We both love great food and wine, and have done some soft adventure travel, plus some backpacking in the Rockies. He is a real science and nature buff and I just want to visit the “last place on earth. I’d feel better about having an MD on board, just in case, although neither of us has medical issues. I’d like to have maximum options to go ashore, even possibly camp overnight ( I know some ships offer that option at times.) Being from Wisconsin, the weather will be relatively similar to our January/February weather–cold, damp, overcast, etc.

I am reluctant to book on any Russian ship (first hand experiences with Russian business practices leave us skeptical,) and ships that don’t allow you to use your credit card for the final payment (leaves you with less protection in the event of a default.)

Any feedback on any of these ships would be most appreciated!

User Harbor32 responded:
I was on a Corinthian II cruises to Antarctica in Feb 2007. We had one of the best crossings of Drakes passage (both directions), great weather and a totally wonderful trip. Continue Reading »