Monday, November 5, 2012


You never know what you can learn by reading, either a book, newspaper, magazine article or increasingly, something on the internet.

Today, I was able to learn about a couple of books I want to buy and read, and the story of the interesting couple from the 1930's to the 1950's upon whose lives they are based, and I surely wish I had heard about them before and read them in my youth. Nonetheless, I look at it as a surprise, like "discovering" a musical artist or group you had never heard of, perhaps from the 1960's or 1970's, with  something fresh and interesting to listen to.

Here's the back story about how I became aware of the very interesting story of DANA AND GINGER LAMB and one of two books they wrote (they might have written more) called Enchanted Vagabonds (1938) and Quest for the Lost City (1951).

Image from

A year or so ago, I picked up a copy of a bi-monthly magazine called THE BACKWOODSMAN and found it an interesting read. I found myself searching the newstands at the grocery store or Wally World every couple of months for the new issue. I found some old issues at a half-price bookstore.

I'm not a backwoodsman by any means. I've never trapped, and the hunting I've done has been for pedestrian species like deer, feral hogs and javalina, various birds including geese, duck and quail, bobcat and a whole host of predators and pests (snakes, raccoons, skunks, possum, nutria, beavers, etc.).

Although I've been threatened by gators a time or two, always while fishing,  I haven't ever had to shoot one, although it's advisable to have firearm protection "ready to go" (RTG) if outdoors  in Texas in gator country.

But I enjoy the magazine greatly, and will probably subscribe soon. The fellow who owns it and runs it, a Charlie Richey, even lives in here the Great State of Texas, a few hundred miles south of where I live. His address on the magazine contact information is in a part of Texas near to Corpus Christi, Rockport and Port Aransas, all places I've spent lots of time fishing at over the last 40 years.

He's had the magazine for quite a while, and when I subcribe I want to get some of the back issue compilations he has available. Mr. Richie also has a fishing lure company and sells nice old knives on the back cover of the magazine. From looking at the list of employees, it's largely a family operation, at the top at least, but the magazine features a varied group of writers and lots of interesting tips and ideas for all kinds of things.

So there's usually articles on living off the grid, on firearms, on fishing, on outdoors cooking, survival skills, trapping, archery, gardening, short, all the things that go with backwoods living. I'm not sure I ever see myself living off the grid willfully, but it's nice to see lots of cool articles on making things work and improvising and such in a wide variety of areas.

Some of the content reminds me of the cool do-it-yourself articles in Popular Mechanics and other magazines from 40 years ago and more. There's been interesting articles on building shelters and on all kinds of things like cooking without power, building an inexpensive travel trailer, foraging various plants, survival lore and stories of folks who lived off the land in some legendary fashion, as did our ancestors in many cases.

I've been fortunate in that I grew up with lots of access to the woods and hunting and fishing and camping and the ways of my grandparents and even my dad. My dad as a young kid living on an East Texas farm with no electricity until he was about 8 learned alot about living off the land. They had an outhouse until my dad and his siblings bought my grandmother some window unit A/C's and an addition to her home with a bathroom, toilet, lavatory, shower, the whole shooting match, in the early 1960's. I still recall those pre-indoor-toilet days and having to use her outhouse, wall papered with the pages of the Sears catalog.

I got to see a still in the woods at an early age, and did lots of farm pond and creek fishing and woods wandering in deep East Texas. I did trotlining on the Trinity River and at Lake Palestine and have fished up and down most of the well-known lakes and rivers in East and Central Texas over the years.

Of course, as El Fishing Musician, I live, therefore I fish. Every chance I get. I'd fish in six inches of water in a kitchen sink if I thought there was some remote chance of catching some kind of fish, undoubtedly on super-ultra-light tackle.

So stories that involve fishing, especially stories from the past when our lakes and streams and rivers and creeks and bayous and ponds were not so polluted, not so comtaminated with all kinds of stuff bad for the human body. When climate change (as I theorize anyway) and Mother Nature were not so extreme, causing weird extreme weather events.

Those days where you could go as an American on an adventure to a part of the world that not much was known about, or at least that was little visited by tourists.

So getting back to the focus of this post, that's the story I came across in The Backwoodsman. A short review of the Lamb's Enchanted Vagabonds book. It's a fascinating story, and I googled a bit to get a little more information and find some interesting pictures.

As the wiki link about them says, the Lambs got married during the depression decided to take off on a three year trip down the Baja and then Central American coasts ending with passage through the Panama Canal.

You can go here to this Flickr site and see some photos of the Lamb's, their boat and their journey, including one of the frame of the boat under construction.

Image from:

Heady stuff for a young married couple who left San Diego for points south, with few provisions, less than $5.00 in their pockets, a Luger pistol and a .22 handgun in a homemade 16 foot boat that was a combination surfboat, kayak, canoe, sailboat and who knows what else. That's not the boat they used shown in the above-picture, but the picture of the book cover at the top of this post IS the tiny boat they braved the Atlantic Ocean on. 

There's a pic I found of the boat under construction, and I have to say that it took some guts to hit the open ocean, no matter how close to the shoreline they stayed, in a boat that size.

I've been on a fishing trip on a large trawler in stormy December weather one year, and a 60 foot boat is easily dwarfed by the waves that even a mild Pacific storm can muster forth. I can't imagine soldiering through those waves in a craft such as they did.

Some critics claim embellishment in both books, particularly the Quest for the Lost City work, but the adventures they had can't be denied. I have not read either book, but will be hitting the local library to see if I'm lucky or hitting Amazon or Ebay if I can't get them through the local library system. And calling a few half-price book stores nearby.

It does sound cool as hell. Although I once took a sailboat trip down a portion of the Intercoastal Canal, as a Sea Explorer Scout in the 1970's, that's as bold as I've been in a small boat. Even that got rough with spring winds and rain during forays into the Gulf of Mexico. I've been out fair distances on both power boats and sailing craft into the Gulf and again, couldn't imagine taking those larger and better equipped boats on the same journey that the Lamb's took their homemade boat on.

Here's a neat bio of Dana Lamb at Classic Travel Books dot com and here's their websites description of their first journey in the 16 foot boat:

Dana and Ginger Lamb had no motive but adventure when they left California in the autumn of 1933 and headed south in a 16-foot vessel they had built themselves. How else would could you explain setting off on a 16,000 mile voyage? However the romantic young explorers did possess the Vagabunda, a frail combination of sailboat and canoe. Not wanting to overload themselves the young newlyweds also brought along a minimum of equipment and, as an afterthought, less than five dollars between them.

What followed was the one of the greatest adventure travel tales ever to emerge from the action-packed 1930s.

The Lambs shot through mountainous surf, landed on fabled islands, lived through violent storms, weathered nearly a dozen fatal wrecks, were upset in a traffic jam of whales, caught in quicksand, trapped inside an extinct volcano, and lost in a shark-infested lagoon. Then, armed with only their wits and an old machete, they survived malaria, fought off Indians, cut their way through a jungle, and avoided flesh-eating insects, all in the name of love and adventure.

“Enchanted Vagabonds” is thus the action-packed true story of their amazing combination of courage, love, and endurance. Filled with photographs taken on their historic trip, the book is a non-stop thrill from start to finish. 

Some guys my age get younger girlfriends, get divorced, get Covettes or Camaros or Boss 302 Mustangs or Harley's or Ninja's or any number of crotch rockets.

Me, I've had some adventure in my life. Some of it was life and death. Some of it I went into knowing it might be reckless and dangerous, and some of it caught me by surprise. Still, when the adrenaline is flowing and there's adventure at every bend, you feel alive and relevant. Danger to me is not synonymous with adventure, but it does often unexpectedly occur.

I'm not interested in danger per se, or thrillseeking like vertical mountain climbing or skydiving or BASE or bungee jumping. I'm more interested in seeing things that need to be seen. The Amazon. The Sahara. Australia's Barrier Reef. Various parts of Africa, particularly in the interior where some wild game still runs free. The East coast of Italy and the West coast of Croatia. Various Scottish and Irish islands, and perhaps some small French coastal towns.

So while interneting around and reading about Dana and Ginger Lamb, I came across a club of which at least Dana (it's a gentleman's club) was a member, The Los Angeles Adventurer's Club.

Image from as linked below in text.

Yes, there really is such a thing. It's been around quite awhile, and there are a few other clubs like it in some other major cities of America and the world. They have the actual boat of Dana and Ginger Lamb on display at the club, and you can go here to see it and get access to their website.'

I'm pretty sure I'm not rich enough to be a member of what appears to be a pretty cool club, this Los Angeles Adventurer's Club. However, the idea of reading some of the stories of the adventures of it's members might be food for thought and fodder for an adventure of my own. Also, I'm way overdue for visiting L.A. and when I go They have meetings every Thursday except for a few weeks around Thanksgiving and Christmas, and for a modest fee apparently a guest can attend and dine with the members. I don't know if the guest has to be a guest of a member (probably) or whether a guest can request to attend. I'm pretty sure I could email one of the members and talk them into letting me attend a meeting just for the fun of it.

So I learned all kinds of things Sunday afternoon when reading The Backwoodsman from (mostly) cover to cover in a couple of hours. I look forward to reading the tales of the Lambs and their travels. Many of the places that they traveled, according to some maps of their trip from their first book that pop up in google images, are way too civilized or touristy nowadays. But some of the areas are still wild, or fairly wild. I'm not sure that Central America and the West coast of Mexico are places I want to go right now, as an American who is also an anglo.

It's sad but true. The things that the Lambs could do in the 30's and later in their interior of Mexico and points south travels you can't do today. In my blog roll is the blog of an Austrian national male who has been traveling the world for the last 7 years, and some of the places where he slipped seamlessly into and out of without being killed for being who he is are places most Americans would be killed or kidnapped.

I look forward to getting these books in a few days and reading their stories. No telling what I might learn...  


  1. Just reading Enchanted Vagabonds for the second time (have also read Quest for the Lost City), and am enthralled by the Lambs' adventures. Did you ever find & read the books?

  2. Yes sir, I did get both of them. Wasn't that exciting? The boat just fascinates me, and I can see why folks were concerned with their fantastic adventures.

    I got both those books via my wife's best frien for Christmas that year. They were quickly read and I plan to hit them again soon.

    Really, for me, it was the Jungle Jim movies I watched every Saturday morning in the mid-sixties as a kid come to true life.

    Thanks for commenting!