Sunday, March 21, 2010


When Norman Vaughan passed away just a few days past his 100th Birthday it made the news and not just beause of his Centurion milestone. Mr Vaughan was the last surviving member of Admiral Byrd's South Pole expedition of 1928-1930. Admiral Byrd named a mountain in his honor and in 1994, just 3 days shy of his 89th birthday this gentleman climbed it! He was planning another climb, to celebrate his 100th birthday when he was taken ill and passed away.

This book and his autobiography, "My Life Of Adventure", are 2 wonderful books!! "With Byrd At The Bottom Of The World" opens in 1927 with a meeting between a young Norman Vaughan and Admiral Byrd. Norman was knowledgeable in the handling of dogs and was hired on in that capacity for the 1928-1930 expedition. This book tells not only of their exploration of the South Pole but the relationship that exisits between dog and man. He writes in particular of one of the dogs growing lame and the lengths that someone will go to in order to save him.
This is from Mr. Vaughan's website:

Antarctica, the vast frozen continent, eerily lit by a sun that never sets in the summer, plunged into months of darkness in the winter ... for Richard E. Byrd, exploring the land that had already taken the lives of many great adventurers was a challenge he could not resist.

His 1928-1930 expedition was history in the making, and Norman Vaughan was there to see it happen. Brought on to handle the expedition's sled dogs, the young Vaughan was in for the adventure of a lifetime.

Admiral Byrd and his men attracted worldwide attention with their accomplishments: the building of Little America, the first settlement on Antarctica; the discovery of Marie Byrd Land; an important of Antarctic geography and geology; and the historic first flight over the South Pole.

For Vaughan, it all began one day in September 1927 with a newspaper headline that read, "Byrd to the South Pole." Vaughan persuaded Byrd to let him join the expedition by agreeing to work without pay to get Byrd's dogs ready for the trip to Antarctica. He spent a year training dogs, building cages and sleds, and assembling gear for a year on the ice.

The voyage to Antarctica was itself an adventure. Vaughan worked with the coal-shoveling gang in the hold of the ship, spent thirty-six straight hours in the crow's nest spotting icebergs, and had to solve a crisis with the dog food supply.

The expedition's arrival at the Ross Ice Barrier heralded a new set of challenges. Vaughan and the other drivers spent three full months carrying 650 tons of construction materials and supplies from the ships to Little America, nine miles inland.

Once settled in Little America, Vaughan and the others expected to peacefully wait out the months of the long night. It was not to be, however. Another dog driver, jealous of Vaughan's popularity, was plotting his murder! The tension brought on by the endless hours of darkness led to conflicts among the men, and it was all Byrd could do to keep order.

When the sun returned, Vaughan set out with the geological party to explore land on which no man had ever before set foot. The hundreds of miles of hard traveling took a toll on the dogs, and Vaughan was forced to make hard choices.

Bad weather threatened to keep the expedition in Antarctica another year, but their luck held, and as the freezing ice closed in behind them, their ship began the long voyage home.

Safely back in the United States, Vaughan had trouble adjusting to normal life. When Byrd offered him an opportunity to join the second Antarctic expedition, Vaughan jumped at the chance. But Byrd was continually changing the plans and focus of the expedition, largely because of his unwillingness to share the limelight. In growing disillusionment, Vaughan resigned from the expedition. Nevertheless, Vaughan and Byrd remained friends in the years that followed.

In With Byrd at the Bottom of the World, Vaughan vividly recounts this amazing series of adventures. From the sublime to the ridiculous, nothing is left out. The historic moments, the practical jokes, the jealousies and the affection among compatriots, the dangers of a frozen and inhospitable continent, plus Vaughan's insights into Byrd's personality and place in history - all are related with warmth and sincerity.

This gentleman lived more in his 100 years than anyone can even grasp or imagine. This book captivated me right from the start. Norman's motto for life:
Dream big and dare to fail!"

Good words to live by!

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