Currently viewing the tag: "exploration"

S. A. Andrée’s Arctic balloon expedition of 1897 was an effort to reach the North Pole in which all three expedition members perished. S. A. Andrée (1854–97), the first Swedish balloonist, proposed a voyage by hydrogen balloon from Svalbard to either Russia or Canada, which was to pass, with luck, straight over the North Pole on the way. The scheme was received with patriotic enthusiasm in Sweden, a northern nation that had fallen behind in the race for the North Pole.

Andrée ignored many early signs of the dangers associated with his balloon plan. Being able to steer the balloon to some extent was essential for a safe journey, and there was plenty of evidence that the drag-rope steering technique he had invented was ineffective; yet he staked the fate of the expedition on drag ropes. Worse, the polar balloon Örnen (The Eagle) was delivered directly to Svalbard from its manufacturer in Paris without being tested; when measurements showed it to be leaking more than expected, Andrée refused to acknowledge the alarming implications. Most modern students of the expedition see Andrée’s optimism, faith in the power of technology, and disregard for the forces of nature as the main factors in the series of events that led to his death and those of his two companions Nils Strindberg (1872–97) and Knut Frænkel (1870–97).

After Andrée, Strindberg, and Frænkel lifted off from Svalbard in July 1897, the balloon lost hydrogen quickly and crashed on the pack ice after only two days. The explorers were unhurt but faced a grueling trek back south across the drifting icescape. Inadequately clothed, equipped, and prepared, and shocked by the difficulty of the terrain, they did not make it to safety. As the Arctic winter closed in on them in October, the group ended up exhausted on the deserted Kvitøya (White Island) in Svalbard and died there. For 33 years the fate of the Andrée expedition remained one of the unsolved riddles of the Arctic. The chance discovery in 1930 of the expedition’s last camp created a media sensation in Sweden, where the dead men had been mourned and idolized. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write the story of about an adventurer who takes unnecessary risk and the consequences.

Journaling Prompt: Write about the riskiest thing you ever tried and what happened.

Art Prompt: Hot air balloon

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the story of a doomed expedition and the lessons it teaches us.

Photo Credit: Eagle-crashed on Wikimedia

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

Photo Credit: Humboldt-Bonpland Chimborazo on Wikimedia


The Jeannette Expedition of 1879–81, officially the U.S. Arctic Expedition, was an attempt led by George W. De Long to reach the North Pole by pioneering a route from the Pacific Ocean through the Bering Strait. The premise was that a temperate current, the Kuro Siwo, flowed northwards into the strait, providing a gateway to an Open Polar Sea and thus to the pole. This theory proved illusory; the expedition’s ship, USS Jeannette, was trapped by ice and drifted for nearly two years before she was crushed and sunk, north of the Siberian coast. De Long then led his men on a perilous journey by boat and sled to the Lena Delta. During this journey, and in the subsequent weeks of wandering in the Arctic wastes before rescue, more than half the ship’s complement died, including De Long. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story about an arctic expedition gone wrong.

Journaling Prompt: If you had unlimited resources and time, where would you like to explore?

Art Prompt: Arctic exploration

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience of the Jeannette Expedition.

Yellowstone Geyser

In 1806, John Colter, a member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, left to join a group of fur trappers. After splitting up with the other trappers in 1807, Colter passed through a portion of what later became the park, during the winter of 1807–1808. He observed at least one geothermal area in the northeastern section of the park, near Tower Fall. After surviving wounds he suffered in a battle with members of the Crow and Blackfoot tribes in 1809, Colter described a place of “fire and brimstone” that most people dismissed as delirium; the supposedly imaginary place was nicknamed “Colter’s Hell”. Over the next 40 years, numerous reports from mountain men and trappers told of boiling mud, steaming rivers, and petrified trees, yet most of these reports were believed at the time to be myth. –Wikipedia

Fiction Writing Prompt: Write a story involving discovery of an alien landscape and the person who discovers it.

Journaling Prompt: Write about your favorite national park.

Art Prompt: Yellowstone National Park

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience the history of Yellowstone National Park.

Photo Credit: Craig Bennett on Flickr


bathyscaphe n
1. A self-propelled deep-sea diving submersible for exploring the ocean depths, consisting of a crew cabin similar to a bathysphere suspended below a float filled with a buoyant liquid such as petrol.

Fiction Writing Prompt: Use the word of the week in whatever you write today.

Journaling Prompt: If you could explore undersea, what would you be most interested in seeing?

Art Prompt: Bathyscaphe

Non-Fiction / Speechwriting Prompt:Use the word of the week in your article or speech.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia

Road to the forest 2

Create whatever this visual prompt inspires in you!

Photo by Anton Novoselov on Flickr.


We have tried to understand the rules by which the door operates. It appears and disappears unexpectedly. When we step through it, we do not know where we will be, or how long we will be there. When it comes back for us, it usually takes us home. But not always. -Theodora Goss, Pug (Asimov’s Science Fiction July 2011)

Writing Prompt: Take your character on a trip through a door that mysteriously appears out of nowhere.

Journaling / Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: If you could open a door and walk through it to anywhere, where would you go?

Art Prompt: Door

Photo Credit: Hamed Saber on Flickr


Adventure is when you go into the woods and stay there a real long time—so long that Mom begins to get worried—doing things. It’s tracking a deer or a rabbit in the snow. It’s looking to discover a fossil that no one has ever seen before. It’s seeing how close you can get to a flock of wild turkeys without them running away. It’s swimming in a new place, or going fishing with Grampa. Any boat ride is an adventure. It’s finding a perfect stick, and pretending it’s a gun or maybe even a magic sword. -Stephen Brennan and Finn Brennan, The Adventurous Boy’s Handbook: For Ages 9 to 99

Writing Prompt: Create an adventure for your protagonist.

Journaling Prompt: Write about an adventure you went on as a kid.

Art Prompt: Adventure!

Photo Credit: {studiobeerhorst}-bbmarie on Flickr


Have you ever been put into an extreme situation where you had to make a difficult decision in order to survive?

He was the man who ate his shoes, and had been for twenty-three years, ever since he returned to England in 1822 after his first, failed overland expedition across northern Canada to find the North-West Passage. He remembered the sniggers and jokes upon his return. Franklin had eaten his shoes — and he’d eaten worse on that botched three-year journey, including tripe-de-roche, a disgusting gruel made from lichen scraped from rocks. Two years out and starving, he and his men — Franklin had dazedly divided his troop into three groups and left the other two bands to survive or die on their own — had boiled the uppers on their boots and shoes to survive. Sir John — he was just John then, he was knighted for incompetency after a later overland voyage and botched polar expedition by sea — had spent days in 1821 chewing on nothing more than scraps of untanned leather. His men had eaten their buffalo sleeping robes. Then some of them had moved on to other things. But he had never eaten another man. -Dan Simmons, The Terror: A Novel

Writing Prompt: Write about a character in a life and death situation. What does he or she do to survive?

Journaling Prompt: Have you ever been in a life or death situation? What did you do to survive? If you’ve never been in this kind of situation, write about one that you know about, either about someone you know or something you’ve seen on the news.

Art Prompt: Arctic Survival

Nonfiction / Speech Writing Prompt: Tell your audience a dramatic story about a fight for survival.

Photo Credit: Instant Vantage on Flickr

sailing ship

Humans have fabulous imaginations. Anything we don’t understand, we will create an explanation for. No matter how unlikely our explanation is, it will relieve our anxiety.

The ships of the early navigators, with masts and sails and other requisites for directing their motion or influencing their speed, would be objects of astonishment to the inhabitants of the countries they visited, causing them to be received with the utmost respect and veneration. The ship was taken for a living animal, and hence originated, some say, the fables of winged dragons, griffons, flying citadels, and men transformed into birds and fishes. The winged Pegasus was nothing but a ship with sails and hence was said to be the offspring of Neptune. -John Vinycomb, Fictitious And Symbolic Creatures In Art – With Special Reference To Their Use In British Heraldry

Writing Prompt: Create a scene where a character must create an explanation for something they do not understand. Exercise your description skills.

Journaling Prompt: Write about a time when you, as a child, made up a magical explanation for something you didn’t understand.

Art Prompt: Pegasus

Nonfiction / Speechwriting Prompt: Tell your audience about the history of naming ships.

Photo Credit: pareeerica on Flickr