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THE SAINTS WHO LOST PARADISE Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 26 April 2013

Jamestown, St. Helena, South Atlantic Ocean. If you have ever heard of this little 47 square mile island lost in a vast sea, 1,200 miles west of Africa and 1,800 miles east of Brazil, it’s because here is where the British exiled Napoleon after Waterloo, and here is where he died.

The 5½ years of Napoleon’s exile – October 15, 1815 to his death on May 5, 1821 – dominate the island’s 500-year history. For the last 354 years, since 1659, it has been a British possession. Yet such is the grip of Napoleon that the Brits ceded the home and property of where he lived in exile on St. Helena – called Longwood House – to the government of France.

It is French territory, as is his original burial place nearby. Moreover, there is a Consul appointed by the French government, who lives in a diplomat’s mansion on the island.

Personally, I have no regard for a megalomaniac responsible for the deaths of millions of people. The Brits should have treated him as a war criminal, executed him by firing squad aboard a ship far out to sea, and dumped his body in the ocean.

But no. Instead...
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FREEDOM PARADISE FOUND Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 18 April 2013

Edinburgh-of-the-Seven-Seas, Tristan da Cunha, South Atlantic Ocean.  Welcome to the most isolated community on the planet, on the world's remotest inhabited island.

Named after the Portuguese captain who discovered it in 1506, Tristão da Cunha, it is 1,736 miles from Africa, and 2,466 miles from South America.  The nearest inhabited land is the island of St. Helena 1,343 miles to the north, itself so remote that the Brits exiled Napoleon there.

It's not simply that Tristan is far away from anywhere else, it's amazingly difficult to get here.  We are the first passenger ship to land here since March of 2012.

Why bother?  Why brave often incredibly rough and dangerous seas for days or even weeks to come here on the off-chance that you can go ashore?  Just to be able to tell your friends back home you set foot on the world's remotest inhabited island?

Maybe for some.  For me, it was the opportunity to meet perhaps the most extraordinarily unique people on earth.  I came hoping to find a freedom paradise (more accurately, a conservative-libertarian paradise) - and I found it.  But before you start packing your bags, be advised:  there is, of course, a catch.
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ENDURANCE Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 12 April 2013

Grytviken, South Georgia Island, Antarctic Ocean.  It's a shame I can't transmit pictures where I am, but at least I can send this text for Miko to post on TTP.  Then again, there are no pictures that could do this place justice, for you can't put awe into a photo.  That's something you can only experience first-hand.

There is no place on earth I know of with more spectacular geology, geography, and jaw-dropping scenery, combined with such a hyper-abundance of wildlife it puts Africa's Serengeti to shame, than South Georgia.  Add to this one of history's most heroic sagas, the perseverance of one man to overcome odds that are beyond belief, which can serve to inspire us to surmount the travails our country faces today.

It is considered the most impressive accomplishment in the history of exploration.  Let me tell you the story - and the lesson we can learn from it.
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CHILDREN OF THE ICE AGES Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Friday, 05 April 2013

Wilhelmena Bay, Antarctica.  This is a land of ice caps, gigantic glaciers, and frozen earth.  The waters of the bay are filled with icebergs, chunks of glaciers calved off and fallen into the sea.  In a month or two, the bay will be frozen over with pack ice, but now at the end of the austral summer, it is teeming with life.

Rookeries of gentoo and chinstrap penguins cover the patches of bare earth on the shore.  Crabeater and Weddell seals are lounging on the bergs sunning themselves.  A pod of humpback whales is slowly skimming the surface, scooping up massive mouthfuls of seawater containing hordes of krill, tiny shrimp upon which they feed.

It is a wondrous world on a sunny summer's day. Soon, however, the sun will vanish over the horizon and not reappear for months, plunging this world into a dark, lifeless, frozen hell.  The Ice Ages still exist here, just as they do in the Arctic, where life blooms extravagantly in the northern summer, then vanishes with the sunless winter.

It is a world that seems alien, remote, and exotic to us.  Yet it is in this world that our species emerged from evolutionary history.  Human beings are children of the Ice Ages - and we make a grave mistake to think we are no longer. 
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HIDDEN ADVENTURES Print E-mail
Written by Dr. Jack Wheeler   
Thursday, 28 March 2013

It was ten years ago this week, in late March 2003, that I launched To The Point.  I was almost 60 then, and I am perilously close to 70 now.  I figure the only way to keep from slowing down is to speed up.  So I am launching a series of what I call Hidden Adventures.

Adventures and expeditions to amazingly cool places in the world that few people know about, and far fewer have ever been to.  I start tomorrow with The Hidden Atlantic, which begins here in Ushuaia, where I and the people with me board an expedition vessel bound for Antarctica and South Georgia, home to fur seals and penguins numbering in the millions; the world's most isolated community at Tristan da Cunha; the island the Brits exiled Napoleon on, St. Helena; and secretive Ascension Island, with its joint US-Brit military base.

I'll be at sea for a month, and most of the time be in touch with the world only with my satphone.  I have to admit, I am really looking forward to this, not having to pay attention to all the craziness in Washington and everywhere else in the slightest way.

Of course, TTP will still be here! I'll be posting my articles whenever I can.  Jack Kelly will be manning the HFR ramparts, and Miko will make sure the TTP Weekly Report with a full complement of articles goes out every Friday.

So -what Hidden Adventures are upcoming? (Hint: look in the TTP left side bar.)  And what's the Easter message in this?
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