A Life of Travel and Adventures
“Drawing on four decades of adventure and over three million miles of travel, I hope you will enjoy this anthology of my world explorations.”- Gig Gwin
American Samoa - Talked my way into a factory tour for “Chicken of the Sea”, and saw thousands of yellowfin tuna being processed by the latest technology and shipped by sea to the U.S.
Australia - As the sun rose over Ayers Rock, deep in the outback, snapped pictures and climbed red sandstone monolith 350 feet to the very top; learned the history of dreamtime from the local Aborigines, scuba dived with my sons at the Great Barrier Reef, bought multi-colored opals, then enjoyed live theater at the Sydney Opera House; motored with Lutheran pilgrims up the Barossa Valley, following the legend of the German immigrants who established churches and the vineyards that produce today’s tasty Australian wines; guzzled local Foster’s Beer with the happiest drinking people anywhere.
Easter Island - Saw the mysterious statues of the Moai, then cooled down body surfing at Anakena Beach but cut myself on coral and bled profusely for an hour.
Fiji - Hunkered down and rode out a three-day typhoon at the Royal Fijian Hotel with a group of stranded Americans; later, in order to familiarize myself with the island, rode a local mini-bus five hours from Nandi to Suva, the capital.
Galapagos Islands - Cruised from island to island, encountering the nesting area of a colony of marine iguanas, plus red and blue-footed boobies; viewed a 180-year-old, 600-pound Galapagos tortoise in a protected forest.
Guam - In the early 80’s, landed next to endless B52 Bombers parked wing-to-wing.
Hawaiian Islands - After 20-plus trips to the islands, remember famous Sunset Beach, where I caught a surfing wave and “wiped out” in unceremonious fashion; learned to like poi, mahi mahi fish, and macadamia nut ice cream, despise cheap Hawaiian souvenirs, sea urchins and sunburns; helicoptered over the molten lava on the Big Island and down into the green canyons of Kauai, watched humpback whales spout off Maui, took a five-hour mule ride down Kalaupapa Pass in Molokai to the leper colony, and hosted a luau for 2,600 people on Waikiki.
Johnson Island - Landed on the U.S. Navy’s man-made island and heard stories of top-secret materials, but could not disembark the aircraft.
Kiribati - Wandered by huge World War II cannons, both U.S. and Japanese, on Tarawa, as old natives shared stories of the amphibious Marine landing.
Line Islands - Jetted south from Hawaii to quiet Christmas Island for sport fishing at its best, catching silver-colored bonefish.
Lord Howell Island - Landed in a wind storm and blew out the wing landing gear tires for a most unnerving arrival, then snuggled into a secluded B&B, swam in an idyllic lagoon with a friendly school of silver fish, and by night viewed the clear heavens, filled with billions and billions of stars.
Marquesas Islands - Arrived in these rugged plunging mountain islands on an adventure ship, hiked two hours to a remote waterfall, and returned to the ship to hear the sad news that one of our fellow passengers had disappeared, never to be seen again; also spent time on this trip with Roy Disney, co-chairman of the Disney Corporation.
Marshall Islands - Circled the Atoll of Kwajalein, used as a target for American ICBMs.
Midway Island - Spent four days walking among the gooney birds and albatrosses, slept in former Navy barracks, and saw the original landing area and hangers for the famous Pan Am Clippers that flew from the west coast to China.
Nauru - Toured the surrealistic pinnacle fields left by phosphate mining, which has stripped the island but made the locals wealthy.
New Zealand - Boated through the glow worm caves of Waitomo, smelled the pungent sulphur in the Maori’s capital of Rotoroa, spent a day and night on a sheep ranch with my family on the south island; took a triple challenge in Queenstown, a helicopter ride through the canyon, fast rapid rafting and a thrilling jet boat ride, then watched son, Aaron, bungee jump off of the Shot Over River Bridge.
Niue - Bellied up to the bar with a Kiwi and a Yankee, who were interested in exploring a grotto cave near the ocean; had to swim underwater for 30 yards to get into this pristine virgin cave; wrote a paper which made me eligible for admission into the Explorer’s Club.
Norfolk Island - Between the towering Norfolk Pines, played golf with a direct descendant of the infamous Fletcher Christian of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame.
Northern Marianas - Walked to the edge of storied Banzai Hill and Suicide Cliff, sites of major World War II battles, accompanied by both former American and Japanese soldiers.
Ogasawara - Slept on tatami straw mats for two days on a local Japanese transportation ship en route to Chichi Jima, but was restricted by the Japanese Navy from traveling to Iwo Jimi, considered a sacrosanct area by the Japanese government.
Palau - Snorkeled and sailed the beautiful Rock Islands, a true natural wonder of the world.
Papua New Guinea - Allowed my teenage sons to watch a tribal dance featuring fierce warriors and bare-breasted women.
Pitcairn Island - The original home of the Bounty Folk, the population of which has been reduced to less than 50 people; we encountered very rough seas and bobbed in 15-foot waves before our rocky landing.
Soloman Islands - Drove to the top overlooking green valleys and stood in silence at the Marine Monument of Guadalcanal.
Tahiti - Driving the streets of Papeete, was hit broadside by an angry French lady, who gave me an earful French style; brought the first ever 747 to Tahiti with a Chevrolet charter in the mid 70’s, and at landing, destroyed most of the runway lights; oops! I snorkeled with six- foot manta rays in the clear waters of Bora Bora, maybe the prettiest spot on the planet.
Tokilau Islands - Landed on this little-known series of islands north of Western Samoa on an adventure cruise and were told that ours was the first ever passenger ship to visit Atafu Island; the senior chieftains declared a festival and organized an all-day luau, complete with barbecued land crab and a roast pig.
Tonga - On a remote island, crawled over lava fields to view rare birds at a lake sanctuary; after three days of formal requests, was granted a private audience with the omnipotent ruler, King Taupu IV of Tonga.
Wake Island - One of the hardest places to visit in the world; landed and slept on the runway, thanks to the U.S. Army, on my way to Vietnam.
Western Samoa - Walked through the home of author Robert Lewis Stevenson and caught a picture of a storm clouds billowing over a tropical sunset at the famed Aggie Grey’s Hotel.
Three trips to Antarctica include crossing the Antarctic Circle, as well as bathing outdoors in just above freezing temperatures and 40 mile per hour winds. On South Georgia Island, photographed at ten feet, three-ton bull elephant seals in a bloody fight for territory; visited the grave of Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shacklton; sat among thousands of King Penguins, many of whom had never seen humans.
Falkland Islands - Heard stories of the Argentine Invasions, then played golf on their only course, pock-marked by old mortar rounds; enjoyed high tea at a remote farmhouse surrounded by seals and penguins. Sailed the Drake Passage six times between South America and Antarctica, twice in horrific storms; swam in the Antarctic Ocean in an island cove with hot thermal springs; was cornered by an angry scavenger bird, when I mistakenly walked near her nest; talked with geologists as our ship sailed past a ten-mile iceberg, then hit a submerged berg, jolting all aboard and breaking most of the ship’s dishes; on a group hike of a deserted island, was trapped in melting snow in a deep ravine, but joined together and made a human rope and crawled to safety; and finally watched as the Royal British Navy on the high seas, made a dramatic ship to helicopter rescue.