Hopped Up On Drugs

I’m hopped up on drugs again this week thanks to Nurse Stickum at National Geographic.  Before leaving on any trip overseas for National Geographic all of us who work here first stop by the medical office at Geographic.  It’s staffed with a full time nurse and a doctor who is on call for special needs.  They keep detailed records of all our visits and the various shots and treatments, and medications we have been give over the years.  That way we know if it’s time to get another yellow fever vaccination, or polio booster, or whatever shot might be required for the country we are visiting.

Next week I leave for the Central African Republic in the Congo Basin to hopefully see lowland gorillas, and forest elephants.  This week I picked up my anti-maliarial pills and got a typhoid booster all of which I discuss on this weeks edition of National Geographic Weekend.  This video is from that episode and in it I reveal one of my self-medication secrets.

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny hides treats for good little boys & girls

Mr. and Ms. Easter Bunny were busy little rabbits today putting out baskets of treats for the kids and hiding eggs.  Well scratch the eggs.  The kids now over twenty-one are no longer interested in coloring eggs and they’re even less interested in searching the yard to find hidden candy treasures and colored hard boiled eggs.   So this year Mr. and Ms. Bunny tried a new approach to spark Easter excitement.

liquid offering for Buddah

bush beer?

We hid a case of beer in the yard, twenty-four bottles placed  in bushes, behind rocks, in trees, next to lawn ornaments.  Erica is in NYC so Taylor was left to find the bottles on his own.  He proved up to the task and gone was his recent reluctance to participate in our Easter festivites.

Taylor searching for his Easter treats

Ms. Easter Bunny was thrilled to have the family eagerly participating in the holiday fun once again.  She understands it’s all about knowing your audience.  Find out what they like, what motivates them and then deliver the goods.

Ms. Easter Bunny is all ears


Eye in the Sky

The genius engineering geeks toiling in the basement at National Geographic have done it again, creating a new and improved way of taking aerial pictures.  The guys who are always making design improvement on the critter cam, our camera system that’s been attacked to all kinds of critters from lions to sharks, have now designed and built a remote operated flying platform to carry small video cameras and still cameras.  During our radio show, National Geographic Weekend” we took the “photo chopper ” out for a test flight on our courtyard.  The video from the event which I’ve embedded here gives you an idea of what a great new tool it will be for bringing a different perspective to stories at National Geographic.

Just Ducky

The ducks are still drawing a lot of attention at National Geographic.  But people had better get their pictures soon, because the ducks may not be here much longer.  There’s a worry that when the chicks get a little older mom won’t be able to control them and and some might waddle out into the street and get hit by a passing car.  Plans are being made to transfer the ducks to a safer home in Rock Creek Park.

I talk about out new feathered friends on this weeks National Geographic Weekend radio show.    The above video is from that segment and includes pictures of the ducks.   Enjoy their cuteness.

Lucky Duck

get your ducks all in a row

Had lunch with the ducks today. Ms. Mallard and her ten babies have appropriated the National Geographic courtyard as their personal villa. According to some, the mom gave birth to the babies a week ago in a nest across the street. Then, at least one report claims, the family used the crosswalk to march over to the National Geographic headquarters here at 16th and M st. in downtown Washington, D.C.  She and the kids are indeed lucky ducks to land at Geographic. Who better to appreciate wildlife, than National Geographic.

ducks ignoring the "don't get too close" sign

We’ve built a ramp to help the youngsters walk down into the pool and back out.  We’ve posted signs asking people to give the ducks plenty of room so the mom doesn’t take off and leave the kids.  But mainly people just come down and ooh and aah and take pictures and engage in silly baby talk, saying things like, “Oh you little guys are just sooo cute.”  It’s almost embarrassing to see the adults who specialize in going to remote parts of the planet to bring back films of exotic creatures rushing out of the building at every opportunity to catch a glimpse of the ducks.  This weekend on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend, I even spend some time discussing the ducks, or as we like to think of them, the newest members of the National Geographic Society.

leading her ducks to water & making them drink

Rednecks in Vietnam

Redneck Chicken in Viet Nam

Who knew there are Rednecks in Vietnam? Saw this chicken on the street in Hanoi and wondered was this bird showing his Communist Party loyalty by exposing the red neck, or were its political affilations more in line with the American Rednecks? Then again, maybe this is some kind of genetic experiment where the head of a turkey has been attached to the body of a chicken.

Turns out it’s none of the above. My speculations are answered this week on my radio show, National Geographic Weekend. In our regular segment, “The News You Need to Know, Even if You Didn’t Know You Needed to Know It,” we discuss the “Transylvanian naked neck chicken” and how it came to be. The featherless neck chicken first arose in northern Romania hundreds of years ago. Although the genetic mutation began in vampire country it was not an adapatation to make the neck easier to bite. The bare neck makes them more resistant to hot weather. To find out more tune into this weekend’s show.

Oh, and that redneck chicken in Vietnam is a relative of the Transylvanian bird.

Trekking in Gabon

Mike Fey doesn’t know the meaning of the word “detour.” That’s one of the first things you learn about Mike if you ever go trekking with him. This week on my radio show “National Geographic Weekend” I share the story of the time I followed Mike through the forests of Gabon looking for elephants and gorillas. We found the elephants but I also found a tiny creature I wasn’t looking for and for that I blame Mike and his insistence on pushing forward come crocs or thigh deep swamps.

In this video of me telling the story I’ve also added some pictures from the journey to show you the swamps we navigated and the elephants we found at the end which made the whole adventure all the more memorable.

Flee The Wrath to Come

The End is Near

Saw this unusual marketing strategy for a business along side a highway in Texas and had to stop and take a photo. First they issue a warning, “Flee the Wrath to Come.” Then they offer an easy way to escape the impending doom, by suggesting you buy one of their buildings. But how bad could the wrath be if a portable wooden structure will be sufficient shelter? Clearly the approaching wrath does not involve fire and brimstone or even a Texas tornado.

The Gobi March

We called it,”The Race of No Return.” It was seven days, 150 miles of running and walking across a stretch of the Gobi Desert in Northwest China. Adding to the torture factor, we had to carry all the supplies we needed for seven days in our backpacks, food, clothes, bandaids, sleeping bag, everything except water which we got at check points along the route. Fully loaded, including the water for the first section, my pack weighed about forty-five pounds. I think I won the heaviest pack competiton, the one event where it’s best to come in last.

I was thinking about that race this week while recording my radio show,”National Geographic Weekend” and shared a few of those memories in our “Wild Chronicles” segement. This is the video from that part of the program.