America’s baddest badlands

badlands, Death Valley
One of the greatest things about the United States is its environmental diversity. From towering forests of pine to sun-hammered deserts, from snowy peaks to steaming swamps, this nation has it all.

Some of the most compelling places are also the harshest. Take this view of the sand dunes of Death Valley, taken by talented photographer John Bruckman. This is the worst part of the Mojave Desert–lower, hotter, and drier than any other spot in the country, yet it has a subtle beauty this image captures so well. With the majority of us living in cities or suburbs, these open, empty spaces call out to us.

They certainly do to me. When I moved from the leafy upstate New York to southern Arizona for university, I discovered what people really mean when they talk about America’s wide open spaces. They set you free, and they can kill you if you’re not prepared, yet somehow their deadliness only adds to the feeling of freedom.

America’s badlands remind us that life can cling to even the bleakest of landscapes, that the empty places can sometimes be those most worth visiting.

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British adventurer plans to circumnavigate the globe in a wheelchair

Wheelchair Adventurer Any CampbellBritish adventurer Andy Campbell isn’t big on making excuses, or letting a little thing like the fact that he can’t walk, get in the way of chasing his dreams. Eight years ago he fell while rock climbing, injuring his back and confining him to a wheelchair. Despite that horrible injury however, he continues to climb, ski, kayak, paraglide, and even scuba dive. And later this year, he intends to set out on his greatest adventure yet – a circumnavigation of the planet under his own power.

In June, Andy will depart from London and begin a 30,000 mile, 2-year long, journey that will begin with him crossing Europe and Asia in his wheelchair, paraglider, and kayak. Upon reaching the Pacific Ocean, he will then hop a flight to North America, and continue the expedition by traveling from Alaska to the southernmost tip of South America. Along the way, he intends to kayak the Missouri and Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico, and roll his specially designed wheelchair along the Pan-American Highway.

While the trip will certainly be its own reward, Campbell has other aspirations in mind as well. He hopes to raise as much as much as £1 million (roughly $1.54 million) for his fledgling Chutkara Initiative. This new charity is hoping to fund purchases of outdoor gear for disabled athletes who may not normally be able to afford those items themselves. For instance, an off-road wheelchair can cost as much as £2000 ($3085), while an adaptive climbing harness will run £900, or about $1388. By helping to provide that gear for the disabled, Any hopes to inspire them to get outside and experience their own adventures.

Campbell has been training for this challenge for awhile, and will be as physically fit as possible once the journey begins in a few months time. He’ll also be joined by a two-person support crew who will assist him as needed along the way and ensure that he safely makes it across some of the more challenging regions he’ll be traveling through.

This is a pretty inspiring endeavor and it should be interesting to follow his progress once he gets going.