Between the Lines

Jan 1, 2002
Outside Magazine

BECAUSE THERE'S no running water most of the year in the backcountry cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that Jack Turner calls home, the author performs his morning ablutions on the front porch. "I bathe in a tub just like the ones you see in those French paintings," he says. "Well, sort of like the French paintings. It's a galvanized tub used to feed stock. Anyhow, it's rather Degas."

A 23-year Exum Mountain Guides veteran, Turner, the author of The Abstract Wild, a collection of outspoken wilderness-advocacy essays, and Teewinot, a memoir, spends his summers teaching rock climbing and shepherding clients up Grand Teton. He devotes the rest of his time to reading the Zen poets (he was a philosophy professor at the University of Illinois for six years), writing, and striving to keep in touch with society on his computer without shattering his connection to the natural world. "It's very easy to spend time with CNN," Turner says. "Society sucks at us continually, trying to milk us for all we're worth. It's harder to spend an hour with the elk."

In light of terrorism, anthrax, and the other unnerving forces now clouding the world, a cabin in the Tetons seems like a good place to escape all that's gone wrong. Yet as Turner explains in "Walking the Line" —which helps to inaugurate our 25th-anniversary year by examining a struggle this magazine has explored since we began publishing in 1977—escaping isn't always the answer. "Those who love the wilderness walk the razor's edge between engagement and escape, " he says. "But I can not be a wilderness hermit. I miss the other world too much."

That said, the wilderness can provide solace in uncertain times. "I don't know many things for sure," Turner says, "but I do know that the sagebrush buttercup will bloom before the lupine this year. And I find great comfort in that."

World-famous chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall has relied on the labor of volunteers for more than 40 years—which makes her the perfect choice to introduce our guide to volunteer vacations , from building schools in Nepal to chasing poachers in Thailand. "You spend quality time with experts, learn a new skill, and have a great adventure," says Goodall, most recently the author of Beyond Innocence: An Autobiography in Letters (Houghton Mifflin).

We hoped to find a writer as daring as Colonel John Blashford-Snell himself for our interview with the British explorer. Instead, we gave the assignment to contributing editor Marshall Sella. "Look, I've done some scary things," says Sella. "I ate British beef for years; I just went ahead and ate it. I have a dog, and you never know with these animals—they can snap at any minute. And my middle name is Louis. So let's just say that I'm on terms with danger."

For our story on the fevered quest to find Amelia Earhart's missing plane, David Michael Kennedy photographed Mike Kammerer alongside his Lockheed Electra 10-E, which Kammerer bought for a cool $1 million. It is the last flying model of the plane Earhart used in her tragic attempt to circle the globe in 1937. "To think that she actually flew a plane identical to that one all the way across the world," says Kennedy, "is amazing."

Denver-based writer Stephen Titus had just finished profiling a homeowner installing a tropical rainforest in his living room when we asked him to write about a man with an even more grandiose scheme: Mike Kammerer, a TV tycoon pouring millions into solving the mystery of Amelia Earhart's disappearance. "The story is about the circus surrounding the search," says Titus. "It speaks to the lure of adventure—and the power it can have over rational thinking."

"I'm really into mixing up subjects that seem to have no relationship with each other whatsoever," says Los Angeles-based writer Lisa Anne Auerbach. This approach underpins Auerbach's eye-opening exposé of the powder-plowing past of Pope John Paul II, whose jones for the mystical steep-and-deep has received far too little attention from scholars and theologians—until now. To learn more about the Papal Powder Linkage Theory and the pontiff's passion for off-piste ripping, turn to page 29.

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