C O V E R
Everyone should have a no-holds-barred, shoot-the-moon inventory of things they'd like to accomplish in this life. These 100 can be yours, from rousing adventures (run the Rio Santa Maria) to essential skills (know how to set a broken bone) to defining moments (touch a haggis).
By Ian Frazier, Jonathan Harr, Katherine Dunn, Alan Bean, Tad Friend, Roy Blount Jr., and the rest of the band
F E A T U R E S
Here the Bear and the Mafia Roam
Welcome to Kamchatka, Russia's infamous wild frontier, so distant from anything that everything — and everyone — is up for grabs. So if you need a guide, check with the man with the machine gun. If you need a boat, spread some vodka around. And if you need the heartening tug of a salmon on your line, try all this, and then some.
By Bob Shacochis
Ben Still Needs to Run
Jacked up on steroids, Olympic sprinter Ben Johnson smoked the 100-meter dash in 9.79 seconds, making him the fastest man alive. Next came disgrace, a lifetime ban, oblivion. A decade later, with his crime now seeming more precursor than anomaly, the lost champion wants one more race in the sun.
By Mark Kram
Yeti or Not
What rough beast, smelling of garlic and whistling off-key, comes slouching toward Everest to be born? Reinhold Messner, legendary mountain climber-turned-myth stalker, says he knows.
By John Tayman
The Souring of the Good Reverend's Nature
When fundamentalist preacher Wiebo Ludwig brought his family and disciples to Peace Country, Alberta, all he wanted was to escape the system's "soul rot" and walk in step with nature. Then came the oil pipelines and the toxic gas flares — followed by the shootings and the bombings, and the specter of a final showdown.
By Mark Levine
Alberto: A Life
He was humble. He was thoughtful. He was chivalry personified. Upon the retirement of the legendary Tomba, a look back at the most dolce of vitas.
By Mike Grudowski and Paul Kvinta
Merry Christmas Island
Way off in the Pacific there's a place where presents fall from the sky. Sometimes it's fresh coconuts and seabirds that eat from your hand, and sometimes, well, it's not. Season's greetings from a peculiar paradise.
By Paul Theroux
One Small Step for Man, One Giant Leap for Middle-Aged Science Geeks and Chubby Real Estate Agents Everywhere
Space: the final frontier. This is the voyage of Team RE/MAX, whose two-and-a-half-week mission is to fly three undertrained, overfed guys to the far edge of the sky. In other words, to boldly go where no schmoes have gone before.
By Brad Wetzler
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Dispatches: News from the Field
On the Alaskan tundra, defenders of one of the world's most fragile ecosystems wage a last-ditch effort to keep oil rigs at bay.
There's only one reason to take on the feral pigs, slithery diamondbacks, and shoe-sucking mud of Florida's Fakahatchee Strand: a flower so elusive they call it a ghost.
By Susan Orlean
Being friends with the best-known Stone Age toolmaker in America means lofting darts at imaginary woolly mammoths and spending quality time with a lamb named Buddy. It also means accepting the fact that Atlatl Bob is, well, just as peculiar as the weapon he's named for.
By Tim Cahill
The Wild File
Why do tongues stick to cold metal? How thick does ice have to be to hold your weight? What was the Star of Bethlehem, and is it still visible today?
Destinations: Winter? These Guys Made Winter
Seven Olympic venues, one charming Main Street, and a host of High Peaks — it all adds up to Lake Placid, America's original snowbound resort
By Bill McKibben
Bodywork: The Outside Fitness Plan, Part Three
Staying true to your workout schedule requires equal parts motivation and inspiration — no easy task during the dark days of winter. In our latest installment, sports psychologist Jim Loehr and nutritionist Kristine Clark show you how to beat the mind-game blues and keep the fitness fires ablaze.
Review: The loot they'll love
Must-give presents for this year's holidays, including Minox's Cold War-era Spy Camera, K2's revolutionary soft-boot ice skates, a knockout of a punching bag from Lineaus, sleek new Nikon binoculars, Patagonia's blissfully basic surf trunks, the bike that won the Tour de France, and much more.
P L U S : The season's finest coffee-table books.
Between the Lines
Active Traveler Directory
Cover Photograph by Rob Howard