A little background on my life list:
The idea for a Life List came from famed explorer John Goddard, who came to West Covina High School each year to lecture on his world travels. He narrated silent 16 mm films he shot himself of all kinds of daring adventures in an era before The Discovery Channel. My interests at age 16 were also influenced by nonfiction adventure books written by Paul Siple and Richard Halliburton, and articles in National Geographic and American Heritage. I began working at the Los Angeles County Public Library as a book shelver and all-around gofer on my 16th birthday in May 1970. My horizons were expanded dramatically while working at the library that summer, when I drew up this list of goals for myself. It was between my sophomore and junior years of high school. From that point forward, I was usually planning a trip, as a sort of “reward” for getting myself through each semester of school. This continued through age 28, when I completed my Ph.D. in geological and geotechnical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.
The items highlighted on my list signify those that have been accomplished, along with respective dates. When there were multiple goals listed under a single heading there is usually a range of dates. So far I have managed to achieve 91 of the original 126 goals.
My original list
1. Become an Eagle Scout. Requirements completed May15, 1972, medal not awarded until May 16, 1973 (19th birthday).
2. Complete the BSA Mile Swim completed in Cherry Cove at Camp Cherry Valley on Catalina Island on July 7, 1971
3. Visit Philmont National Scout Ranch, climb Baldy Mountain (12,441 ft) and the Tooth of Time (9003 ft). Completed August 13-24, 1969
4. Hike the 69-mile Silver Moccasin Trail across the San Gabriel Mountains completed between June 1969 and July 1973 in 11 separate segments.
5. Run the 440 yard dash under 51 seconds flat. Ran 50.8 sec on May 6, 1971. PB 48.7 sec in May 1975.
6. Run the 880 yard run under 2 minutes flat Ran 1:59.4 on April 14, 1971. PB: 1:56.7 in March 1974. PB in mile run of 4:15.8 in December 1980.
7. Score 500 points on the Marine Corps Recruit Physical Fitness Test. First achieved perfect score of 500 points on the MCRPPT on Jan 29, 1971, at age 16 yrs. Continued string of perfect scores on Marine and Navy PFTs for next 23 years, up through PFT test on May 15, 1994 at NRC Santa Clara (age 40 yrs).
8. Ride bike to Huntington Beach over Whittier Hills and back (75 miles round trip). Completed in August 1970. Ate cheeseburger lunch at Ruby’s Diner at end of the Huntington Beach Pier.
9. Winter traverse Mt. San Antonio, highest peak in San Gabriel Mtns. Began at Manker Flat (6000 ft), over Baldy Notch (7082), up Devil’s Backbone to Mt Harwood (9552) to Old Baldy (10,064 ft). Return on Baldy Trail down ridgeline to Mt Baldy Village (4080 ft). Completed in April 1971
10. Traverse Iron Mountain (8,009 ft). Iron Mountain is a prominent peak west of Baldy that looks down on my hometown West Covina. There are no trails leading to its craggy summit. I began at East Fork Fire Station, took Heaton Flat trail to saddle (4582 ft) at turnoff for Allison Mine, departed trail and climbed steep spur ridge to summit of Iron Mtn (8,009 ft). Traversed peak and headed east over series of unnamed peaks (7472’, 7758’, and 7903’) along San Antonio Ridge to West Baldy Peak (9988 ft), then down Baldy Trail to Mt Baldy Village (4080’). Completed November 26-27, 1971.
11. Wrightwood to East Fork San Gabriel River - San Gabriel Mountain Range traverse. Depart Wrightwood (5900’) climb Blue Ridge (8480’) then down Prairie Fork to headwaters of East Fork San Gabriel River, descend through The Narrows, cross the 1936 Lost Bridge and continue to El Doradoville Campground on East Fork Rd. Completed in late March 1973.
12. Climb Thunder Mountain (8587’), Telegraph Peak (8985’), Timber Peak (8303’), Ontario Peak (8,693 ft) and Cucamonga Peak (8,859 ft) in eastern San Gabriel Mtns. Completed between October 1970 and August 1974.
13. Crystal Lake-Baden Powell traverse. Climb Mt. Islip (8,250 ft), Mt. Hawkins (8,850 ft), Throop Peak (9,151 ft), Mt. Burnham (8997 ft) and Mt. Baden Powell (9,389 ft), descended ridge to Angeles Crest Hwy for pick-up. Completed in three segments between June 1969 and October 1971
14. Traverse Mt. Wilson (5,715 ft) in wintertime. Began at head of Lake Avenue in Altadena. Ascended Echo Mountain along old Mt Lowe Railway and up old Toll Road to summit, then down spur ridge to trail junction coming up Little Santa Anita Canyon, took this down to Sierra Madre. Completed February 1971.
15. Climb Santiago (Saddleback) Peak in Orange County (5,687 ft). Photograph San Clemente and Santa Catalina Islands. Completed in January 1971.
16. Ascend San Bernardino Peaks (West Peak 10,649 and East Peak 10,691 ft). Southern California meridian and base lines established from west peak. Completed with brother Brian in August 1971.
17. Traverse Mt San Gorgonio (11,502 ft) highest peak in the San Bernardino Mtns. Took Vivian Creek Trail from end of Mill Creek (5,600 ft), crossed peak (11,502’) and departed westerly, via Jepson Peak (11,205 ft) to Dollar Lake Saddle, mapped glacial cirque around Dollar Lake, continued down to Poopout Hill trail head. Completed traverse of entire range with brother Brian across Charleton (10,806’), Shields (10,690’) and Anderson (10,850’), East and West San Bernardino Peaks between June 1970 and September 1972.
18. Traverse Mt. San Jacinto (10, 813 ft) from Palm Springs tram (8300 ft) side down to Idyllwild (5000 ft). Completed with family June 1997.
19. Explore Sequoia Nat’l Park, see sequoia trees, climb Moro Rock, tour Crystal Cavern and climb Alta Peak (11,204 ft). Completed between December 1971 and June 1982 (with wife Trinka on our honeymoon).
20. Explore Kings Canyon National Park Completed Paradise Valley Loop and Mt. Clarence King in June 1982 (with wife Trinka on our honeymoon)
21. Explore Yosemite National Park. Climb Half Dome (8,842 ft) and Tyrolean traverse to Lost Arrow from El Capitan (7,569 ft). Explore Joe Walker discovery trail. Completed between September 1975 and April 1995.
22. Climb east face of Mt Whitney (14,495 ft), highest peak in continental United States, traverse peak and descend along Mt Whitney Trail. First attempt in March 1971, completed with brother Brian in September 1974.
23. Visit the southern California Channel Islands: San Clemente, Santa Catalina, San Nicholas, Anacapa, Santa Ynez, Santa Rosa and San Miguel. Completed between July 1971 and June 1996.
24. Climb Mt Shasta (14,162 ft) and Mt. Lassen (10,457 ft) volcanoes. Completed in August 1979.
25. Winter climb of Mount Charleston (11, 918 ft) near Las Vegas. Completed in December 1973.
26. Climb Mt Rainier (14,410 ft)
27. Climb Grand Teton Peak (13,766 ft) in Wyoming
28. Climb Mt. McKinley (20,320 ft) in Denali National Park, Alaska
29. Climb Mt Fuji (12,388 ft) in Japan. Watched sunrise from summit alongside Japanese climbers and tourists in April 1988.
30. Climb Mt Aconcagua (22,834 ft) in Argentinean Andes or Mt. Huascaran (22,134 ft), the highest peak in the Cordillera Blanca of Peru
31. Visit Mexico City, Chapaultepec Castle (Built by Maximillian), and Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacán (read Diary of Bernal Diaz about Cortez Conquest). Completed in Dec 1969-January 1970.
32. Climb the great Mexican volcanoes Pico de Orizaba (18,405 ft); Popocapetl (17,888 ft); Iztaccihuatl (17,842 ft) and Nevado de Toluca (15,433 ft) in 1970
33. Climb Mt Kilimanjaro volcano (19,340 ft) highest peak in Africa and greatest unobstructed view in the world (between Tanzania and Kenya)
34. Climb Mt Blanc (15,771 ft) highest peak in Europe in the Alps
35. Climb the Matterhorn (14,688 ft) in Switzerland
36. Climb Mt Everest (29,002 ft) on Nepal-Tibet border, highest peak in the world
37. Visit Nepal and Tibet. See Dali Lama’s Palace in Lhasa, Tibet
38. Climb Mauna Kea (13,796 ft) shield volcano in Hawaii. Highest mountain on the planet from base to crest (almost 30,000 ft). Completed with son Jonathan in May 2000.
39. Backpack across the Grand Canyon from South to North Rim or vice versa. Completed in June 1971. Again in June 1975, June 1983, May 1984, March 2005.
40. Row a rubber raft down the Colorado River through the rapids of Grand Canyon from Glen Canyon Dam to Lake Mead . Completed in June-July 1978. Rowed it again in 1983, 1984 (twice) and 1985.
41. See Meteor Crater near Winslow, Arizona. Completed with family in November 1996.
42. Raft the entire Green and Colorado Rivers from Wyoming to the Gulf of California (read Kolb Brothers book Through the Grand Canyon from Wyoming to Mexico and John Wesley Powell’s book The Exploration of the Colorado River and Its Canyons). Completed between September 1972 and June 1986.
43. Explore the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River in Colorado (explore rafting options). Completed in June 1977, also toured Crystal and Morrow Point Dams.
44. Explore Canyonlands National Park in Utah; Hike the Joint Trail in Needles District. Completed in September 1977.
45. Explore Arches National Park, climb Landscape Arch. Completed between June 1973 (Landscape Arch) and Sept-December 1977 (extensive mapping and research, discovered Denis Julien inscription from 1844).
46. Explore Capitol Reef National Park. Completed between June 1973 and September 1977. One of my favorite places is backpacking the high country of the Waterpocket Fold.
47. Explore Bryce Canyon National Park. Completed between June 1973 and June 1975.
48. Explore Zion National Park; climb the Great White Throne; see the Great Arch, hike the Narrows of the North Fork of the Virgin River. Completed between June 1973 and September - December 1979 (research).
49. Explore Glacier National Park, see alpine glaciers, Marias Pass and John C. Stevens Monument.
50. Explore Rocky Mountains National Park; climb Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft) highest peak in Rocky Mountains
51. Explore Yellowstone National Park. See Grand Falls of the Yellowstone, Old Faithful, and other sights. Read John Coulter’s account.
52. Explore Monument Valley in Arizona, climb one of the Mittens or the Totem Pole (discovered climbing outlawed in 1973). Completed tour in July 1973
53. Raft the Goosenecks of the San Juan River in southeastern Utah. Completed in June-July 1973.
54. Climb Shiprock 1700’ climb, to elevation 7,178 ft, in New Mexico Four Corners area (discovered climbing outlawed in 1970). Completed in June 1973.
55. Follow trail of Jedidiah Smith to California in 1826 and ’27; through Virgin River Gorge in northwestern Arizona and west from Fort Mohave across Mojave Desert. Completed between November 1972 and November 1973.
56. Follow the route of the old Oregon Trail from Independence, Missouri to Oregon City, Oregon and Oregon Trail Museum in Baker City, Oregon. Completed between September 1979 and May 1986.
57. Follow path of John C. Fremont 1844-46 explorations all the way to Monterey, California. Completed between September 1979 and March 1992.
58. Follow Lewis & Clark 1803-06 exploration routes, westerly and easterly. Raft the Missouri River. Completed between Sept 1979- August 1998, still have not finished raft trip.
59. Follow route of the Old California Trail blazed by Joe Walker down Weber Canyon and along the Humboldt River. Visit Walker Lake, Walker River and Walker Pass. Completed between June 1977 and May 1996.
60. Visit sites of the Battle of the Little Bighorn (1876), Fort Phil Kearney (1866-68), Fetterman Massacre (1866), Wagon Box Fight (1867) along Old Bozeman Trail in Wyoming. Completed between August 1968 and October 1996.
61. Follow Santa Fe Trail from Independence, Missouri along Arkansas River, across Raton Pass down to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Completed between August 1969 and September 1979.
62. Retrace route of First Transcontinental Railroad between Council Bluffs, Iowa and Sacramento, California. Completed between September 1977 and June 1995 (with family).
63. Visit the Panama Canal and transit the canal. Completed in June 1991. Wonderful cooperation from the Panama Canal Commission.
64. Visit and transit the Suez Canal
65. Travel down the Nile River from Khartoum; see Aswan Dam, Abu Simbel Palace moved up onto cliffs. Visit the Egyptian Pyramids, Temples at Karnak, Valley of the Kings, Luxor, etc.
66. See Victoria Falls on East Africa Rift discovered by David Livingstone in 1860
67. Visit the Holy Land: see Jerusalem, Temple Mount, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Bethlehem, Sea of Galilee, Hula Valley, site of Dan, Jezreel Valley, Megiddo, Mt Carmel, Golan Heights, Nimrod’s Castle, Jordan River emanating from cliffs at Banias, Mt Hermon, Dead Sea, Qumran (Dead Sea scrolls site), Jericho, Wadi Kelt between Jericho and Jerusalem, and Petra. Completed with father and brother-in-laws in July-August 1995 and by myself in May 2000.
68. Drive the Alaska Highway and raft the Yukon River in Alaska. Completed between June 1973 and April 1988.
69. Raft the Yangtze River in China (reconnoitered in May 1989)
70. Visit the Great Wall of China
71. Explore the Amazon River (reconnoitered ion June 1991)
72. Take a river boat down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Completed between July 1968 and June 2002.
73. Explore Taroko Gorge in Taiwan. Completed with family in April 1989.
74. See South Pacific Islands where WW2 was fought: New Caledonia, Espiritu Santo, Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Santa Isabel, Choiseul, Plum Pudding where John F. Kennedy crew of PT-109 survived sinking along New Georgia Sound, Bougainville, and New Britain. Completed between April 1988 and June 1989.
75. Take amphibious Jeep between islands in eastern Java, between Bali and Timor (Aug 1962 National Geographic). Never accomplished, but this article greatly influenced preparations for Jeep explorations of Baja California and Sea of Cortez in 1974-76.
76. Visit Philippine Islands, see Bataan, Corregidor, Taal Volcano (where Magellan sailed). Completed between April 1988 and November 1995.
77. See Krakatoa Island in Sunda Straits between Java and Sumatra in Indonesia. See Dutch warship that was carried 6 miles inland by great tidal wave in 1883. Completed in June 1989, nothing left of the ship.
78. Visit New Zealand, see great landslide blockage used as a hydro power plant. Completed June 1989.
79. Visit Australia: see the Great Barrier Reef and Ayers Rock. Completed between June 1988 and August 1989.
80. Visit Buddhist Temples in Bangkok, see temple carvings that rubbings are made from and see Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. Completed in April 1988.
81. Visit Midway Atoll, see Gooney Birds, relics of Battle of Midway. Explored in detail in August 1988 and November 1990. Also explored Kure Atoll, northernmost atoll in world.
82. Visit Marianna Islands: see Guam, Saipan and B-29 runways at Tinian Island where atom bomb missions flown from. Completed in November 1990.
83. Visit Oahu. At Pearl Harbor see relics of sunken ships, dry docks, underground fuel storage tanks, climb Diamond Head, Stairway to Heaven in Haiku Valley, Kolekole Pass, Kaena Point, Pali Highway Overlook, Hanauma Bay. Completed with family between June 1985 and September 1991.
84. Jog, walk and bike entire California Coastline, from Mexican border to Oregon. Completed between Summer 1971 and January 1990.
85. Explore Baja California all the way to Cabo San Lucas. Completed in four trips between December 1974 and January 1976.
86. Drive the Pan American Highway all the way to Tierra del Fuego. Partially completed: trips in 1969 (Mexico), 1970 (Mexico), 1974 (Mexico), 1975 (Mexico to Guatemala) and 1991 (Costa Rica, Panama, Columbia).
87. See Niagara Falls, study geology and rate of upstream retreat. Completed with family in October 1996.
88. Explore the St. Lawrence Seaway (by boat through the locks)
89. Become a commissioned officer in Navy or Marine Corps. Affiliated with Marine Corps PLC program on April 18,1974, later received direct commission as Naval Reserve intelligence officer on November 5, 1984.
90. Earn my Navy wings of gold. Awarded NAO wings at NAS Moffett Field on October 3, 1990, while assigned to VP-31.
91. Go aboard nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise CVN-65. First visit in August 1982 at NAS Alameda (with wife), many more visits, including two duty periods in 1986 and 1987 working in CVIC.
92. Catapult takeoff from an aircraft carrier. First completed in July 1987 flying S-3A Viking from VS-41
93. Arrested landing aboard an aircraft carrier. First completed in July 1987 flying S-3A Viking from VS-41
94. Fly in a plane going supersonic speed. Completed in F-14A Tomcat from VF-111 in November 1987 (even buzzed Ruby’s Diner on tip of Huntington Beach Pier).
95. Become an astronaut; leave Earth’s orbit. Screened for astronaut program at NAS Moffett Field in August 1989, but did not proceed further at family’s request
96. Ride on a nuclear powered submarine, submerged and surfaced. Visited USS LaJolla (April 1986), USS Los Angeles (March 1995). Rode on USS William C. Bates August 1998 between Pearl Harbor and Lahaina Roads. My son Jonathan even got to dive the boat.
97. Fly a B-17G Flying Fortress like my father flew in World War II, interview Jimmy Doolittle. Completed between November 1989 with father (flight) and May 1991 (interview in Carmel).
98. See the B-29 Enola Gay; interview Paul Tibbets. Completed between September 1992 (toured plane in Silver Hill), June 2000 (phone interview) and July 2004 (met at Oshkosh).
99. Fly a sea plane taking off and landing on water
100. Fly a glider. Completed in Calistoga, California in April 1993, with daughter Beckie.
101. Fly a hot air balloon or ride in the Goodyear Blimp
102. Parachute out of an airplane. Completed at Bracket Field, CA in August 1975.
103. See a live volcano eruption (Paricutin [9,200 ft]; or Kiluea ?). Flew over Kiluea, Hawaii eruption in August 1987, visited active crater and vents on ground in May 2000 with son Jonathan
104. See the North Pole. Completed in February 1987 flying Navy P-3C Orion patrol bomber.
105. Visit the South Pole. Read account of Scott and Amudson explorations.
106. Visit England, see London: see changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace, the Victoria Monument where my dad watched VE Day Parade, Big Ben parliament clock tower, Piccadilly Circus, Hanley’s Toy store and my father’s 401st Bomb Group base at Deenethorpe in Northamptonshire. Completed in April 1992, took parents to 50th anniversary of US 8th Air Force in England.
107. Visit France, see Normandy landing beaches, Mont Saint Michel, and Jean and Lucette Schwab in Paris. Completed with parents in April 1992.
108. Visit the Netherlands, see bridges over Rhine River at Arnhem, over Waal River at Nijmegen, scene of Operation Market Garden in Sept 1944, reclaimed coastal polders, levees, old windmills
109. Visit Germany, visit the Zeppelin Museum, see Rhine River, Frankfurt, Berchtesgaden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. Completed in May-June 2000
110. Visit Ardennes Forest area in Belgium, Battle of the Bulge and Patton grave in Luxemburg
111. Visit Austrian Alps, see von Trapp mansion (from Sound of Music) near Salzburg
112. Visit Italy: see Vesuvius and Naples, in Rome: Vatican City and Roman Coliseum, Apian Way, site of Spartacus slave uprising, site of Cincinnatus’ farm (the great Roman citizen-soldier), Rubicon River, diVinci and Michelangelo museums in Florence, the Dolomite Mtns; also want to see path of Hannibal through the Alps with 50,000 men and 40 elephants between Spain and Italy (264-241 BC). Partially completed in May 2000.
113. Visit Gibraltar, see underground fortifications
114. Visit site of Carthidge in North Africa
115. Visit Spain and Portugal, see Palos de la Frontera in Portugal where Columbus embarked on first voyage to the Americas on 3 August, 1492; see Eiffel’s bridge near Lisbon.
116. Visit prominent Napoleonic forts in USA: Fort Point San Francisco, Fort Sumter in Charleston; Fort Pickens or Fort Jefferson in Florida. Completed in December 1976 (Fort Point), March 1986 (Fort Pickens) and November 1996 (Fort Sumter).
117. Walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Oakland Bay Bridge. Go up inside suspension towers. Completed between December 1976 and November 1989. Loma Prieta earthquake-induced closure allowed detailed inspection of SF-Oak Bay Bridge, including ascension of suspension towers.
118. Visit Straits of Mackinac and Mackinac Bridge in Michigan
119. Visit the Gateway Arch in St Louis. Go up inside arch. Completed in November 1996 with family, night time ascension in September 2001.
120. Visit, climb, hike over Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota and Stone Mountain, Georgia. Completed Rushmore in August 1968 and Stone Mountain in June 1989 (with daughter Beckie). Traversed Stone Mountain in November 1996 with family.
121. Visit New York City: top of Empire State Building, Verrazano Narrows Bridge, George Washington Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. Completed between October 1996 (with family) and April 2000.
122. Visit and tour the Eiffel Tower and Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Completed in April 1992.
123. Visit and tour Hoover Dam, see Lake Mead. Completed in February 1973. Again in June 1975, June 1979, October 1984, May 2000 (with family) and March 2005.
124. Visit and tour Glen Canyon Dam. Explore Lake Powell and Rainbow Bridge National Monument. Completed in June 1973. Again in June 1975, June 1977 (research) June 1978 (research), June 1979 (research), September 1979 (research), and May 1984 (filming).
125. Visit and tour Shasta Dam and Shasta Caverns. Completed dam tour in November 1978, Caverns tour with family in July 1992.
126. Visit and tour Grand Coulee Dam, see the Dry Falls of glacial Lake Missoula
The list comprises six general categories: 1) mountain climbing; 2) river running; 3) exploration of historic trails; 4) scenic wonders, such as national parks; 5) man-made wonders, such as dams and bridges; and 6) some miscellaneous personal goals, such as besting particular times in track and field, becoming an Eagle Scout, and various goals associated with naval aviation. One curious aspect is no mention whatsoever of post-secondary educational goals! A naturally curious person, I had great difficulty choosing a major during my first two years of college. An extended exploration of the Colorado Plateau in the summer between my freshman and sophomore years piqued my interest in geology and geomorphology (the study of landforms). At the end of my sophomore year I settled on majoring in geology with a minor in civil engineering. In graduate school, the emphasis was reversed, majoring in geological and geotechnical engineering with minors in engineering seismology and structural engineering. I never dreamed I would spend 10 years in college, but time flies when you’re having fun. Berkeley had a world expert in just about any field you could name, so I enjoyed satisfying my natural curiosities about a multitude of subjects during 6 years of grad school (1976-82).
Believe it or not, most of the post-graduate forays (since 1982) have occurred through serendipity, and not out of my own cleverness or planning. I simply trust that God will guide where He wants me to go. I have tried to focus on helping other people get to where they want to go and they seem to have helped me get where I want to go. Many of these opportunities have been things on my “life list”! Sounds corny, but its true.
"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart"