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November 17, 2013: Horse-Riding Across Asia, Roadtripping America With a Canine Copilot and More

Theron Humphrey and his dog Maddie have visited every state - twice - collecting stories of everyday Americans and their rescue pets. Maddie is very patient and has great balance, so she has posed for some photos of her own along the way. (Photo by Theron Humphrey)
Theron Humphrey and his dog Maddie have visited every state – twice – collecting stories of everyday Americans and their rescue pets. Maddie is very patient and has great balance, so she has posed for some photos of her own along the way. (Photo by Theron Humphrey)

Every week, embark with host Boyd Matson on an exploration of the latest discoveries and interviews with some of the most fascinating people on the planet, on National Geographic Weekend.

Please check listings near you to find the best way to listen to National Geographic Weekend on radio, or listen below!

Hour 1

Adventurer Tim Cope rowed from Lake Baikal to the Arctic, cycled from Moscow to Beijing, and completed many other adventures. But when he decided to ride a horse 6,000 miles across Central Asia, his mother expressed concern: Tim had never ridden a horse since he broke his arm, falling off one as a child. For Segment 1 of Tim’s interview, listen here: 

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But three years later, the National Geographic Adventurer of the Year finished his ride, retiring his horses at a farm in Hungary. He tells Boyd that on the way, his horses were stolen, he raised a dog on the steppe, and learned a lot about life, love and commitment along the way. Tim’s chronicled his story as well as the history of life on the steppe in his book, On the Trail of Genghis Khan: An Epic Journey Through the Land of the Nomads. For the second part of Tim’s interview, click here: 

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Ancient humans didn’t live their lives thinking of how easy finding their remains will be for future archaeologists. During the last ice age, many cave systems became final resting places for North America’s earliest residents; these caves are now hundreds of feet under water. Waitt Foundation Executive Director and archaeologist Dominique Rissolo discusses one such site in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, named “Hoyo Negro,” or “Black Hole” in Spanish. He tells Boyd what we can learn about a person just from studying their bones thousands of years later.

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Smaller creatures have to learn to find ways in the animal kingdom; if they can’t physically dominate their environment, other, occasionally strange, survival behaviors develop or the animal is wiped out. Entomologist Gard Otis studied bees in Vietnam and observed that they regularly treat the outside of their hives with animal dung after they had been attacked. He also shares about how the smaller bees thwart wasp attacks, and why wasps attack people.

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Camouflage helps predators get closer to their prey, like the orchid mantis in Malaysia’s jungles, which have evolved to look just like the orchid flowers that flies and bees are drawn to for sustenance. But James O’Hanlon has observed that the orchid mantis, are able to attract more bugs than the flowers that they resemble.

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Hour 2

Humans impact the world so much that it seems the effects are felt everywhere. David Doubilet hoped that one place in particular, Kimbe Bay, has maintained its beauty in the seventeen years since he last visited. Despite setbacks with the weather and destroyed cameras, Doubilet tells Boyd about what he saw back in the South Pacific, and he also provided a short list for divers everywhere of his favorite reefs. His photographs appear in the November, 2013 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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Adventure is not a measure of total miles traveled: it’s the richness, and often, the difficulty, of those miles where the journey is earned. Geoff Harper lived this adage on a recent 500-mile expedition around Iceland by bike. He avoided roads, whenever possible, and found that the raw natural elements that shape the small island also impeded his progress. He shares his story and gives some equipment tips for those looking for off-road biking adventures.

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Moose are big, powerful animals that most things wouldn’t be able to kill them alone. As it turns out, it can take over a hundred thousand ticks to bring a moose down. Jim Robbins says that is suddenly becoming easier for ticks to do, with milder falls and shorter winters in the northern regions of the United States. There are a large number of causes harming moose, from pine beetles attacking the trees that provide them cover, to brain worms that live in snails. Robbins says that scientists aren’t sure what to make of the declining numbers, but the sum of many weather-related changes combine to hurt the moose.

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Photographer and dog lover Theron Humphrey hit the road last year to meet a new person every day across the country and share their story with the world, in a project he called “This Wild Idea“. To keep himself entertained, he placed his copilot and dog-friend Maddie in many precarious places and snapped shots with his iPhone camera. The end-product was his book, Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project About Dogs and Physics. Theron continues to tumbleweed around the country for his latest photography and story-collection project about pet rescue, called “Why We Rescue“.

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In this week’s Wild Chronicles segment, Boyd tells the story of the time he was browsing the internet, looking at funny photos of awkward families, and found a photo of himself from when he was caught in an uncomfortable embrace with a 300-pound reticulated python.

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