2006-04-07 / Travel

What's left to explore?

Part 1: Explorers gather at Waldorf

By road, rail, and air, Explorers from around the world, 3,000 strong, traveled to New York City to ask themselves, "What's left to explore?" After a week of meetings, seminars, reports, and presentations, the answer was, "Almost everything. We've just begun to search our universe."

Twenty Explorers from the Palmetto State took part in the annual dinner in the Waldorf-Astoria Ballroom. After nibbling on exotic appetizers and bidding on erotic adventures, they settled at two tables on the ballroom floor for a meal of crab and edamame salad, sliced tenderloin of beef au poivre, coconut passion Macao, and Redwood Creek wines.

As we sipped our pinot grigio, the auction winners were announced:

+ The Antarctic Exploration Cruise for two went for $20,000, just over Dale Boozer's bid.

+ The Shipwreck Dive to the Santa Maria went for $6,500, just out of Bruce Rippeteau's reach.

+ Twelve nights on a luxury safari in South Africa went for $20,000, bringing tears to Nena Powell Rice's eyes.

Jack Rinehart, Dale Boozer, Nena Powell Rice, and Linda SosbeeJack Rinehart, Dale Boozer, Nena Powell Rice, and Linda Sosbee + An Exotic Game Dinner Party with Jim Fowler went for $10,000, causing Jim Welch to tear up his credit card.

+ And Linda Sosbee won four autographed books by Lowell Thomas for only $450.

Between courses, Explorers from around the world took the stage with emotional presentations explaining their accomplishments and attempting to answer, "What's left to explore?"

+ Dr. Edward O. Wilson, discoverer of the chemical communication of ants, said, "We know almost nothing about the 700 species of bacteria in the human mouth."

+ Ed Viesturs, the first American to reach the top of each of the world's 14 peaks over 8,000 meters, challenged young explorers to test their human endurance on mountains and under the sea.

+ Andrew Skurka, the first person to complete the 7,778 mile Arctic Sea-to-Sea Route, is now sharing his story with high school and college students challenging them to "go where no man has ever gone before."

Dr. Bruce RippeteauDr. Bruce Rippeteau + Wade Davis, Explorer-in-Residence at National Geographic, said we must understand the indigenous peoples in South America before they disappear.

+ Michael Fay, the only person to walk through the Congo/Gabon jungle, said, "If we don't save the elephant, we won't save ourselves."

+ Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to orbit Earth, said, "Only when you are in space can you understand how small our differences are."

+ Buzz Aldrin, along with Neil Armstrong the only Earthlings to walk on the moon, said, "What's left? The south pole of the moon and the surface of Mars."

+ Bobby Harrison, first to document the existence of the long-lost ivory-billed woodpecker, said, "I thank the ivory-billed for its tenacity to cling to life. After all we have done to destroy it, it is still there."

+ Gene Sparling, rediscoverer of the ivory-billed woodpecker, said, "What's left? Everything. What we know is finite, what we don't is infinite."

Faith and Dr. Warren BruneFaith and Dr. Warren Brune + Luc Jacquet, photographer and producer of March of the Penguins , said, "Everything that man can dream is left."

+ Mikael Strandberg, the first person to bicycle from the tip of Alaska to the tip of Chile and from the tip of Norway to the tip of Africa, recently completed a trek across northern Siberia. He recounted speaking with a native when the temperature was minus 70F. The man's nose fell off and he kept on speaking as if nothing happened. "That man's existence," he said, "is part of what's left."

(Next week: It takes an Explorer to eat an eyeball.)

The Road to Nicaragua

will continue next week

Sharon and John HodgeSharon and John HodgeGinny Newell and Bob WilkinsGinny Newell and Bob WilkinsJim Welch, Joanna Craig, and Dr. Bill VartorellaJim Welch, Joanna Craig, and Dr. Bill Vartorella

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