Journey to the Centre of the Earth

Mag Cover This page has background information for and a link to the cover story: Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the September 2016 issue of Open Skies the in-flight magazine of Emirates Airlines.
This article about Extreme Travel features 4 travelers:
   Don Parrish
   Charles Veley
   Harry Mitsidis
   Jorge Sanchez.

This page has five sections:
   1. Individual Pages of the Article
   2. My Original Photos in the Article
   3. My Photos of Travelers in the Article
   4. My Photos of Author Mark Johanson
   5. Additional Photos and Links

For the article: Click for pdf file of cover story.

For full issue: Click to download entire September issue (pdf file).

Click for enlarged version of the cover illustration.

1. Individual Pages of the Article

A magazine makes an article special by designating it as the cover story. By commissioning illustrations, it alerts readers to a special story worthy of their time and attention. Journey to the Centre of the Earth has three illustrations: the magazine cover and two with the article. These illustrations dramatize travel to polar & cold regions, jungle & tropical regions and stormy seas & remote islands. All 4 of the travelers in this story have done that and more.

Words: Mark Johanson     Illustrations: Alexander Wells
Don Parrish Don Parrish Don Parrish
Page 59 Page 60 Page 62

Click to read the whole article with all illustrations.

2. My Original Photos in the Article

As is typically the case, I supplied several photos for potential publication. One the editor used records the milestone as I arrived on Palmyra Atoll becoming the first person to visit 850 of the 875 locations on (MTP). Other travelers will become Number 1 on MTP at some point, but I will always be the first to reach 850.

Palmyra Atoll is one of the most pristine atolls in the Pacific and it has the distinction of being the first place with a SheerWind INVELOX installation. Unfortunately in 2018, SheerWind filed for bankruptcy protection and put its patent up for auction. The Nature Conservancy, which owns most of Palmyra, wanted a green power solution which protected birds and the habitat. I followed up with Nature Conservancy technical staff a year after our visit and they had experienced some practical limitations with the SheerWind solution.

Palmyra Atoll is a difficult, but fascinating place to visit. In addition to its flora & fauna and the scientific research, there are also artifacts from WWII.

The other photo is distant view of Cape Town, South Africa taken from Robben Island, a World Heritage Site, and where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years. It was moving to visit because the guides are former prisoners and many of the visitors are South African families. I enjoy visiting Unesco World Heritage Sites (WHS) and I created a dual use planning page. I designed it for both me and other travelers. It is simple to use with drill down tables. The WH Sites are grouped by country with three different sources of info on each WHS. Great for trip planning.

Don Parrish Don Parrish Don Parrish Don Parrish Don Parrish

3. My Photos of Travelers in the Article

I know all three of the other travelers mentioned in the Emirates article. They are impressive people who have made important contributions to travel that benefit all travelers. All four of us are members of the Travelers Century Club.

Charles Veley is a key pioneer in organizing and popularizing extreme travel. He led the way by building on and extending the list of the TCC after he was the youngest person to complete it. MTP has 875 locations compared to TCC's 325 countries. He innovated making MTP a free club on the Internet. Travelers could tick off the places they visited and compare themselves with others automatically. MTP has many useful and fun innovations for travelers.

I met Charles via email as I reported a few problems on the MTP website. This led me given my background to make suggestions for new website features. Charles took most of those ideas, improved them and had them implemented. The photo of Charles and I was taken at ETIC in Grozny. Everyone enjoys listening to Charles tell his many travel stories.

Harry Mitsidis brought competition to MTP by creating NM. It has 1281 regions compared to MTP's 875 locations. Harry innovated by verifying top traveler claims. I was among the first to be verified and was awarded icons for both my visits to UN countries and NM regions. Harry recruited me to serve on NM's first Executive Committee. One of our accomplishments was to tune-up the list of 1281 regions. I contributed to that detailed work and suggested website improvements. Harry has led the effort for a polished website design with many useful features.

When Harry made his first visit to Chicago, I hosted him at our Circumnavigators Club September 23rd, 2014 event. The Circumnavigators Club is one of the oldest travel clubs. It was founded in 1902 and the requirement for membership is to make a trip around the world.

I took the photo of initial meeting of Charles Veley and Harry Mitsidis in 2017 in Serbia on the attempt to visit Liberland. Harry suggested a photo of the three of us. It is available here.

Jorge Sanchez has written a number of travel books. He is also a prolific contributor of trip reports to both MTP and TBT. And as the Emirates article points out he created his own travel list, Traveler's Exploits Club, to focus on accomplishments in order to emphasize in-depth travel. It is a different kind of list with 22 different categories. It makes for interesting reading. And like all travel lists of any type, it gives travelers ideas to enrich their travel plans.

When I first met Jorge in 2009 on Wake Island, he was number 3 on MTP and I was far down the list.

In the BBC article naming me as one of their 6 travel pioneers of 2015, Jorge was quoted: "Don is honest, "he said. "Everywhere he goes, he learns about the place. He travels for the experience."

Due to the success of the BBC article on me, BBC realized that there is interest in extreme travelers. BBC choose Jorge as the next extreme traveler with this touching article in December 2016. Now BBC is planning a series.

Charles Veley Harry Mitsidis Jorge Sanchez

4. My Photos of Author Mark Johanson

Mark Johanson, the author of the Emirates article, interviewed me in May on the phone. In October 2016, I had a pre-planned trip to Chile where Mark lives. I invited him to join me and my driver/guide on a day trip from Puerto Montt to my last remaining Unesco World Heritage Site in Chile, the Churches of Chiloé, located on Chiloé Island.

We had perfect blue sky weather and flawless logistics. We collaboratively tuned up my initial list of churches to visit. Near the end of the day, I became the first person to show Mark the Emirates magazine with his article.

MarkJohanson1 MarkJohanson2 MarkJohanson MarkJohanson4 MarkJohanson5

After this delightful day trip, Mark wrote an article for the Chicago Tribute published on January 1, 2017 entitled Downers Grove Man May be the Most Traveled Person in the World.

5. Additional Photos and Links

I am in the process of adding photos and links to provide background on my trips including ones mentioned in the article. This section will seem both incomplete and random because it is under construction.

Here is a 4 minute YouTube video done by the Daily Herald in 2014. It was created using my photos and with an audio of my answers to their questions. It is an easy way to get a feel for some of my travels.

Don Parrish France In the summer of 1965, I worked in a metal factory Vacuumschmelze in Hanau, Germany and rented a room in the hone of a German family, the Spielmanns, in the village of Niederissigheim now a part of Bruchköbel. They had 3 children.

At the end of the summer I went on vacation with some German friends who were members of Naturfreunde. Ten or 11 of us rode our motorcycles to rural France and went camping. There were two local French girls who visited our camp. Here I am in my lederhosen with one of them.

I had no camera, but thanks to one of my German friends, I have this photo.

Don Parrish Tuva Republic In 2010, I was on a trip to Russia, one of my favorite places to travel. I've been there a dozen times over the years starting in 1969. Of course, in my visits to its 83 political subdivisions, I have taken planes, trains and even ships on the rivers, but my favorite way to travel is by car.

As we crossed into the Tuva Republic, I took photos of Buddhist prayer flags, in few more kilometers, the car was stopped for a routine check of its papers. I was surprised when the official wanted to see the photos in my small camera. He was pleased with what he saw. He insisted that I get out of the car and that we have our photo taken. I was thrilled when he loaned me his baton for the photo. I know its power. Cars immediately stop when that baton is pointed at them.

Clipperton 2011 In April 2011, it was my first time scuba diving in a number of years and first time to use a dive computer. It was a delight to be in the waters around remote Clipperton Island on a trip on the Nautilus Explorer. The other divers especially enjoyed seeing sharks. I saw a large group of 25 Silky sharks during one of my 5 dives. At the end of one dive, there were 6 or 7 Galapagoes sharks circling us. My log book, signed by assistant dive master Joel Ibarra, is full of notes.