In The Beginning

Man on a Camel, Beersheba, Israel
Nationaal Archief/Willem van de Poll

Another day at the museum, the fluorescent lights blazed overhead while I squinted at another dead insect, skewered on a pin. For just a moment I felt a certain communion with the long dead arachnid I now studied. When I signed on to work for the museum I imagined the journeys I might take to far off lands; what strange places and creatures I might see someday. But it was not to be, eventually I was informed that, years ago, the journeys had all be taken. The task, now left to those of us who followed, was to organize what our predecessors had seen.

Photo shows arctic explorer and scientist Donald Baxter MacMillan (1874-1970).
Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

In the hall that to my office there was a series of portraits, the directors of the entomology division, where I was employed. Most depicted scholarly gentlemen in suits against a drab background. All but one. The oldest image was a crumbling sepia toned plate of a man riding on the back of a camel. He seemed to give the camera an impish grin, despite the vast desert that stretched around him. Everyday I stopped by his portrait. Would there a place for him in today's museum? He never had an answer, just that grin.

But maybe that was the answer. Maybe a man like that doesn't need a place, maybe then, today, always, a person could carve their own destiny. That sepia tinged world I had once dreamed of had not been washed away by the fluorescent lighting. And a dangerous idea began to grow.

There were things to see out there, I knew that much. Perhaps I didn't need someone's approval, or an itinerary, maybe I could go myself and see the places worth seeing. Others warned me of the dangers I would face, but it only steeled my resolve. The man on the camel surely had faced hardship, and yet all that remained was his cheerful grin, a challenge, and a promise, to those who came later.

A pet ring tailed possum examines department of information movie camera somewhere in north Australia and assumes the operators' stance.
Australian War Memorial

Ice mask, C.T. Madigan, First Australasian Antarctic Expedition
From the collections of the Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Egypt, Abu Simbel, Colossus No. 4
Brooklyn Museum Archives


See the world, they
told me...

bayou goula towhead

the sea test

the circumnavigator pt5
the circumnavigator pt4
the circumnavigator pt3
the circumnavigator pt2
the circumnavigator pt1
falling dream
the darkness
one hell of a mile 3&4
he will return
the believers
the horror pt2
the horror pt1
death valley

paradise of outlaws
the mountain climbers 1&2
brought to surface
one hell of a mile 3
the lost world
inner gorge
a ghost story
the riddle
slaying the minotaur
heart of darkness
public lands
organ music
two sought adventure
the virgin river
the road north

steal the world
the end of the world
el dorado
the valley of the kings 2
the valley of the kings 1
one hell of a mile 2
one hell of a mile 1
the mountain climbers rr4
heroes rr3
rainy roadtrip 2
rainy roadtrip 1
the transgression
sinister 2
sinister 1
new chapter

like sedona?
torn in two
bridge to nowhere
the door
hitting the wall
elusive 2
elusive 1
pick up lines

revisited 2
revisited 1
which way?
lost mines
in their footsteps
a dance with death

casting the bones
mountain thief
the deer hunter
strange temple
burial pt. 3
burial pt. 2
burial pt. 1
the apparition
return to hell
the lower depths
underground lake
stretch sewer
the hidden lab
shadow movements
meager rations
sw8: the conclusion
sw7: lost gold mines
sw6: the big tubes
sw5: gold!
sw4: el calderon
sw3: redondo
sw2: ghosts
sw1: westward bound
formaldehyde dreams
the underdark
in the beginning