Born to Explore

Say you're going on a wilderness expedition and can take with you only what will fit into one compact Altoids tin: What would you take? That's just one of many thought-provoking survival questions addressed by Richard Wiese in his new book, Born to Explore: How to Be a Backyard Adventurer. Wiese, who has served as the Explorers Club's youngest president and hosted a syndicated TV show, also fills in readers on how to: build their own canoe; start a fire without a match; make an igloo; cook "Road Kill Stew" (no, that's not a euphemism); survive a moose attack; bake bread in a plastic bag; catch fish with a Coke bottle; chop down a tree; fashion a compass out of a sewing needle, a magnet, and a glass of water; and, well, a host of other useful things to know. In eight lively, amply illustrated chapters, accessible enough for the whole family to enjoy (included are many experiments and activities suitable for teens and up -- or even for parents to attempt with their kids), Wiese incites our curiosity not only about the faraway lands to which he has traveled ("Several years ago, while cross-country skiing to the North Pole?" is the sort of line he tosses off in passing) but also about the flora and fauna in our own backyards. "I hope Born to Explore inspires both the nature enthusiast and the nature-impaired and provides information on the tools needed to discover and love the outdoors," he writes. Mission accomplished?and pass the (curiously strong) mints.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

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