In January, 2003 Outside magazine ranked the top 25 greatest adventures ever recorded in literary form. At the top of the list I was surprised to find a book by the author of the world famous title The Little Prince, Antoine de St. Exupery. This book, about flying planes around the deserts of Africa and eventually crashing into the Sahara- topped the list, and I must know why.
I am a fan of certain genres of literature, and the adventure tale is one. The others are: Louis L’Amour westerns, early edition Henry Miller- all titles, Civil-rights related fiction and non-fiction, and old technical manuals on mountaineering and such. I now must find and read this plane crash in the desert book. Once you have burned through the most familiar titles finding adventure lit becomes a bit of a journey itself. This is what makes it a satisfying collectible.
It got me thinking, do you have to face death and debasement- terror and insanity- on one of the planet’s dominant main stages in order to merit being labeled a great adventure? I thought of my own greatest adventures and the often unimpressive locales which have brought me closest to knowing my true self. Often brutish and clumsy in execution, would my poor planning and lack of necessary resources earn me even a bronze medal in suffering at the Explorer’s Club?
I won’t pretend to be prepared to spin you all a proper yarn tonight, but off the top of my head I think I can easily identify the few catalyzing adventures which I would think to portray in some detail with hope of earning an honorable mention at the next campfire & whiskey awards banquet.
In no particular order…
The Lick Creek debacle. A terrifying tale of grown men crying in darkness.
Escape from Hrvatska- don’t eat the fish.
I know who killed the Lorax- a night in a Montana clear cut.
Picklesimer Exiles- Two men, one map, no h20.
The long way to Merida
That V.W. bus will break your heart
From Catalonia to Catatonia- a night out in Barcelona.
Tate’s Hell is Not a River
The Matterhorn does not appear in any of my stories, nor are there sailing vessels or hot air balloons, just plenty of hot air and hard decisions. These are tales of an ordinary man suffering in unremarkable venues, compared to Mr. Exupery, Sir Richard Branson, and Alexander Supertramp. For that matter I have suffered some trying tribulations as a terra cotta pottery salesman on Burnside avenue in Portland, or as a busboy on the overnight shift at the Village Inn in Sebring, FL.
The common adventure gets no respect,
What would you title your greatest adventures?