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Amelia Earhart’s last confirmed words were spoken at 8:43 a.m. on July 2, 1937. She said, “We are on the line 157-337 flying north and south.” Earlier she had spoken the fatal words, “We are on you but cannot see you.” She was in trouble, and she knew it. Earhart and her navigator, Fred Noonan […]

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Amelia Earhart, probably the most famous woman in the world in her time, disappeared 82 years ago, on July 2, 1937. Amazingly, the search for her is still very active, has cost over $50 million to date, and involves some of the top minds and searchers on the planet. I am lucky to have played […]

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Our April 2019 circumnavigation of Japan aboard Holland America Line’s MS Westerdam Cruise Ship ended with a week on our own in Tokyo, Japan.  We had been a bit nervous about this, since we do not speak Japanese. We knew that few street signs are in English, and the subway system appeared very complex. By […]

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Our 2019 circumnavigation of Japan aboard Holland America Line’s Westerdam included an odd stop – Vladivostok, Russia. This port was included for several reasons such as giving passengers some sea days, complying with a Japanese law that foreign cruise ship itineraries must include at least one non-Japanese port and adding some variety and contrast. Our […]

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For 14 days in April, we sailed on Holland America Line’s Westerdam in a circumnavigation of Japan. This month, we highlight our Japanese ports of call, starting with the best – Shimizu. Shimuzu itself is not a major attraction, but look north to see one of the most stunning sights in the world: snow-capped Mt. […]

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For 14 days in April 2019, we sailed on Holland America Line’s (HAL) Westerdam in a circumnavigation of Japan. In this series, we will cover the ship, our ports of call, a stop in Vladivostok, Russia and an extra week we spent in Tokyo. We boarded the Westerdam in Yokohama, the huge port adjacent to […]

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While down in Alabama excavating and documenting the now defunct Old St. Stephens, the first territorial capital of the state, I was asked to research local residents of the town who went on to help Mobile rise as an important city. Imagine my surprise when one of the first people I found was from Maryland, […]

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Last month, we described the Great Race, the classic car rally run each year across different routes in North America.  Today, we talk with classic car expert Brad Phillips from Salisbury, Maryland, the only Marylander in the 2018 Great Race, which ran from Buffalo, New York to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Montgomery Sentinel (MS): Brad, how […]

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This month, we focus on the 2018 Great Race, probably the coolest motoring and travel adventure you never heard of. Next month we will interview the only Marylander in the 2018 Great Race, and then we will describe the highlight of the event -the scary climb and terrifying descent of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. […]

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How to survive a television reality show

Shell fishing can keep you starving. PHOTO COURTESY OF LEW AND SUSAN TOULMIN  Last month we discussed what gear you need to survive and win one of the many current, popular TV survival shows set in overseas jungles and deserts, such as Naked and Afraid (NAA), Alone, Ultimate Survival, The Island, Build to Survive, Dual Survival, Man-WomanWild, Marooned, Survivorman, Dude: You’re Screwed, Out of the Wild, the various Bear Grylls and Ray Mears shows. Don’t forget the show with the best title of all: Fat Guys in the Woods! This month and next we will outline what actions to take, in order to win.

Note that all this info on gear and actions might save you from becoming a Zombie’s lunch, if you believe in prepping for an impending Zombie Apocalypse or other disaster. Here are actions you need to take, in either event:

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Doubtless you have heard about the two tragic Malaysian aviation mysteries in the last fourteen months. But you may not recall the original mystery of all mysteries in Malaysian (and Thai) history – the disappearance of Jim Thompson, the “Silk King of Thailand,” in the Cameron Highlands of central Malaysia in March, 1967. This led to the biggest land search in Malaysian (and perhaps south-east Asian) history.  

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Friday, March 13, 2015 was the unluckiest day in the history of the 45-year-old South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.  Twice rated as the “happiest country on Earth,” on that unhappy day Vanuatu was struck by the worst Pacific storm in living memory, Cyclone Pam.  This killer Category 5 hurricane packed winds of up to 180 miles per hour, with gusts up to 200 mph. 

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Thanks for putting down your mesmerizing smart phone and picking up a real live print newspaper.  Today I will continue last month’s story about the little-known exclave of Azerbaijan known as Nakhchivan, which is southwest of Armenia, east of Turkey, and north of Iran. 

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Today I’ll tell you a true story about a sort-of country that I bet you never heard of.  What do you want to bet?   

I am talking about Nakhchivan (or Nax?ivan, or about ten other similar names), and it is just east of Turkey, northeast of Iran, and southwest of Armenia.  I’ll bet I won our bet! 

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Last month we began describing a cruise on the tall ship Star Flyer from Malaga, Spain to Grand Canary island in the Atlantic.  This month we will discuss climbing the mast, the food on board, ship’s tours, and a minor accident that affected the ship’s schedule.

Climbing the mast was popular with many passengers, including some in their 70s and 80s. This involved putting on a harness with a safety line, and climbing up the windward ratlines on the foremast, as high as the foretop, about 38 feet above the deck.  

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For years a major item on our “dream trip bucket list” has been a voyage to the romantic island groups scattered across the eastern North Atlantic.  A cruise from Malaga in Spain in October 2014 aboard the tall sailing cruise ship Star Flyer filled part of the bill.  Scheduled ports were Malaga, Tangier, Cadiz, Funchal (Madiera), and Las Palmas (Grand Canary).   

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Last month we met Chief Isaac Las Won in his village of Lamakara in southeast Tanna, an island in southern Vanuatu.  The Chief is the leader of the famous John Brum (or Prum or Frum) tribe, which believes that American aid and their prophet Brum will someday end the world.  

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Many travelers have heard about the so-called John Frum cargo cult tribe in Vanuatu, which supposedly believes that a huge American soldier named John Frum is coming soon to save them.  Wrong, wrong and kinda wrong.

As usual, you have to come to “Travel Tales” to get the real truth.  Unfortunately, the bad news is that these may be the last words you ever read.

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Last month we learned from Chief Linlin Jack Naiua of Yaohnanen village on Tanna island in the South Pacific country of Vanuatu, that Prince Philip of Britain is really from Tanna, not Greece, and that he paddled in a canoe from Vanuatu to Britain to marry Princess Elizabeth. 

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One hundred and fifty years ago this July, President Lincoln, standing on a parapet at Fort Stevens, was ordered to take cover from Confederate fire. He had traveled north six miles to observe General Horatio Wright’s defense of the Nation’s Capital from Jubal A. Early’s Confederate army.

 More remarkable than this was the fact that it wasn’t the first time a U.S President had come under enemy fire during a battle. Fifty years before the Yankees discouraged Early from advancing on Washington during the Civil War, another U.S President found himself in dire straits.

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Last month I described my research into a mysterious air wreck in the Republic of Vanuatu (ex-New Hebrides) on the north shore of Ambae, the real “Bali Hai” from South Pacific.   From unit war diaries, matching part numbers, and interviews with villagers, I was able to construct a detailed version of the crash.

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What started as a trip to see my eldest son graduate from Eastern Washington University and to visit with family turned into an epic siteseeing adventure. 

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    There is a famous saying that you “shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” meaning you shouldn’t check the free horse’s age and condition by looking at its teeth. When it comes to cruising, however, that isn’t always true. Consider the case of Caribbean Cruise Line, which offers free or low-cost two-day […]

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Last month I described how I found out that I had an ancestor, Brigadier General Andrew Williamson of the South Carolina Militia during the American Revolution, and how he had turned traitor and joined the British. He was even officially listed as an “obnoxious person” by the South Carolina rebel legislature, and all his property […]