July 7, 2011 - Daniel Robinson - Behind the Scenes, On a Shoestring
Daniel Robinson's career as a travel guidebook writer began in 1989, when - as an undergraduate -
he researched the first post-Vietnam War guidebooks to Vietnam and Cambodia for Lonely Planet,
then a scrappy little publisher known mainly to budget backpackers.
Since then, he has worked on dozens of guidebook projects in Europe, Southeast Asia and North Africa, most of them for Lonely Planet;
current titles that he has co-authored include guides to Cambodia, Borneo, France and Germany as well as that venerable backpackers' favorite, Southeast Asia on a Shoestring.
Daniel has worked for the Associated Press' Jerusalem bureau and currently does travel writing and photography for various publications, including the New York Times.
At the Adventurers' Club, Daniel will offer a rare glimpse into how guidebooks are researched and written -
and into his on-the-road life as he collects information and insights about things to see, transport options, places to stay,
eateries and anything else that travelers might want to know about.
He will illustrate his behind-the-scenes excursion with photographs he took while working in Cambodia, the Malaysian state of Sarawak and Brunei Darussalam.
Daniel Robinson atop Bokor Hill Station in Cambodia, with the Vietnamese island of Phu Quoc in the background
An almost impassable road in north-central Cambodia towards the end of the rainy season
Daniel and his Camry, which had to be winched up a wet-season detour on the way up to Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
Funerary effigy in a Tampuen cemetery near Voen Sai, Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia
Daniel with children from the family that grew the enormous jackfruit he's holding; on Koh Paen, a Mekong island near Kompong Cham, Cambodia
The Adventurers' Club of Los Angeles®
July 14, 2011 - Dave Gunn - Rafting the Grand Canyon
Since the first exploration down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon by John Wesley Powell this wonder of the world has held a fascination for many.
With its beautiful vistas, various geological formations, a myriad of different rocks and strata,
the canyon, when traveled by river also holds secret side canyons with lush waterfalls, deep pools and stunning views that can only be reached from the river.
Take a journey down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon with adventurer David Gunn.
Gunn has traveled the length of the Colorado River from Lee's Ferry to Diamond creek 4 times -
two of those trips were attended by club members Allan Smith and Alan Feldstein respectively who will contribute video and pictures for the presentation.
David will share with you the beauty, the secrets, the allure and yes even the danger of traveling down this river through an area that David describes as "his church."
Dave Gunn has decades of adventure experience.
His first exposure to the Grand Canyon was in 1972, at the age of 16, when he backpacked across Grand Canyon.
This experience launched him on a life of adventure including climbing, hiking, backpacking, fly fishing, canyoneering and river running.
After graduating with a degree in civil engineering from Northern Arizona University Dave began rock climbing.
Climbing became a passion and Dave became one of the leading climbers in Arizona in the 1980's.
He has multiple first ascents to his credit, but two climbs distinguish his climbing career:
one day ascents of the Harding Route on Keeler Needle,
a 2000' fang of granite just South of Mt. Whitney and the Sun Ribbon Arete on Temple Crag in the Sierras.
River rafting has always been an interest of Dave's having taken his first commercial trip on the Salt River in the early 1980's.
In 1984, Dave was on a chartered Grand Canyon trip.
These experiences gave him the confidence to pursue rafting on his own.
Since then, he has 3 private Grand Canyon trips to his credit, as well as multiple trips on the San Juan River and Green River in Utah.
His current dream is to land a private permit to float the Middle Fork of the Salmon River in Idaho.
Dave is an accomplished fly fisherman and holds a Level 2 sailing certification from the American Sailing Association and
in the past was a valued member of various cave exploration due to his climbing skills and knowledge.
Retired from a 25 year career as a civil engineer for the Central Arizona Project,
Dave now does some river guiding for Cimarron River Company on the Salt River in Arizona,
and is an outdoor educator for the Boojum Institute of Experiential Education in Anza, California.
July 21, 2011 - Dr. Craig B. Smith - Stragglers: Prisoners of Conscience
On March 18, 2010, Dr. Craig Smith gave an amazing ladies night talk at the club on
"Stair steps to the Gods: Building the Great Pyramid at Giza".
Dr. Craig Smith has returned and the members of the club will be the first to hear a
preview of his new book which will be published next May by Smithsonian Institution Press/Random House.
During the Second World War, the probability of death as a prisoner of the Japanese was ten to twenty times greater than the probability of dying in combat.
The Japanese army believed in the samurai code of bushido—"the way of the warrior."
This was a philosophy that permeated even to the lowest ranks of the military.
It taught that it was the greatest disgrace to become a prisoner, that a soldier's life belonged to the emperor,
that martial courage was respected above all else, that suicide was preferable to capture or defeat,
and that it was a duty to kill one's own wounded rather than have them fall prisoner to the enemy.
This philosophy governed not only the Japanese soldiers' behavior, but also their conduct with enemy prisoners.
Soldiers memorized this maxim: "Honor is heavier than mountains, and death is lighter than a feather."
It was the soldier's duty to fight to the death, or, "To eat stones," meaning to fall dead, face down on the battlefield.
To those Japanese who failed to die in combat, suicide or dishonor were the likely alternatives.
Some sought a third choice, not committing suicide, but not surrendering either.
These were the stragglers who remained hiding in jungles long after the war ended.
In a new book by Craig B. Smith, He tells the stories of six POWs—Horyo, in Japanese.
They were imprisoned because of the conflict the Japanese called "The Pacific War."
As in all wars, the prisoners were civilians as well as military personnel.
In the spirit of objectivity, He included prisoners from both sides of the conflict.
Two of the prisoners were captured on the second day of the war and spent the entire war years in prison camps.
First is Garth G. Dunn, who was a 20-year old U.S. marine stationed on the island of Guam and was among
the American military personnel taken prisoner by the Japanese the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed.
He survived four different camps, brutal beatings, starvation, and work as a slave laborer in a Japanese steel mill.
His last camp was a hundred miles from Hiroshima, and he will tell you how the atomic bomb saved his life and the lives of thousands of other POWs held by the Japanese.
Second is the remarkable story of Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki, captain of one of five midget submarines that tried to penetrate Pearl Harbor during the attack.
All were lost, including their crews, with the exception of Sakamaki, the sole survivor.
He suffered the ignominy of being Japanese POW number 1, captured the day after Pearl Harbor,
and had the further humiliation of being the only Japanese POW for the first seven months of the war.
Simon and Lydia Peters were civilians, European expatriates living in the Philippines.
Their story is typical of the thousands of non-combatants captured by the Japanese.
Their house and belongings were confiscated and they were separated and placed in different camps.
Eventually released by the Japanese, they reunited and fled to the jungle for
a harrowing existence in a no-man's land between Philippine guerilla raids and Japanese counterattacks until finally,
on the verge of death, they were rescued by American forces.
Theirs is an incredible story of love and survival.
Mitsuye Takahashi was a U.S. citizen of Japanese descent living in Malibu, California.
Hers is another story of disruption, dislocation, loss of homes, jobs, and belongings, and love and renewal.
She symbolizes the plight of the 100,000 Japanese-Americans who were unjustly imprisoned by America for the duration of the war.
Finally, Masashi Itoh was a Japanese farm boy who enlisted in the Japanese army
shortly after Pearl Harbor and came to Guam near the end of the war.
After the Japanese defeat, he remained hidden in the jungles of Guam,
held captive by his own conscience and beliefs until 1960, 15 years after the end of the war.
In an unusual chain of events, I happened to find his wartime diary, had it translated, and later found him still alive and living in Japan.
Eventually I arranged to meet him in Guam, where I returned his diary during a ceremony 40 years after the end of the war.
As part of this remarkable story, I explored the jungles of Guam and located some of the straggler's hideout,
using maps in his diary (all of this before I knew that he had survived the war).
In this presentation, I'll briefly mention the five other POWs in a preview of my forthcoming book,
Counting the Days: Stories of POWs, Internees, and Stragglers of World War II in the Pacific.
The main thrust of my talk will be to relate the story of my encounter with the sixth prisoner, Sgt. Mashashi Itoh, in the jungles of Guam.
It was certainly one of the most amazing adventures I've ever had.
His is a story of raw courage, ingenuity, and dedication to the principles he valued that will astound you.
In a sense, he was not truly a POW, but rather was a prisoner of his own conscience,
confined by it to a few square miles of inhospitable jungle as securely as if he'd been behind barbed wire.
July 28, 2011 - Ladies Night - Fran Capo - Fast Talking Woman Adventurer
Meet Fran Capo, the Woman Who Holds Five World Records as the Fastest Talking Female:
The queen of fast talking, Fran Capo, has been doing stand-up comedy for more than 20 years.
From performing for Hells Angels and a room full of nuns, to politicians and preachers, CEOs, secretary, PTAs, and Chambers of Commerce -
she's made them all laugh out loud.
But then, the New Yorker is officially the "Fastest Talking Female," as noted in the "Guinness Book of World Records," "Ripley's Believe It or Not," "Planet Eccentric," and the
"Book of Alternative Records."
Fran Capo has been doing adventures since an early age.
As an adventurer Fran has bungee jumped, swam with sharks, flown combat aircraft, driven race cars, crawled in a polar bear den,
slept in an ice hotel, climbed Kilimanjaro and dove to the wreck site of the Titanic.
She has written several articles on her adventures, journals them in her weekly blogs, and has authored the book "Adrenaline Adventures: Dream it, Read it, Do it!"
which not only chronicles 50 of her adventures, but tells the reader where they can go out an do it themselves.
What drives this woman who has been compared to a modern day Nellie Bly to do these things?
The bottom line is this. I'm not crazy or nuts for doing these things,
although some may say otherwise.
At most, I'm told I'm a real character.
But to me, life is to live, not to watch.
There is so much to explore in the world that it doesn't make sense to limit yourself to doing the same things over and over again,
unless you really like them.
That's like going to a buffet table and only trying one dish!