September 22, 2013: Paddling the Americas, Blind Date Adventures, and More

Greg Mallory, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident, chases white water and adrenaline from Washington State to Chile. Here he rides Ecuador's Rio Zunag River. (photo courtesy Greg Mallory)
Greg Mallory, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a skiing accident, chases white water and adrenaline from Washington State to Chile. Here he rides Ecuador’s Rio Zunag River. (photo courtesy Greg Mallory)

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, or pick your favorite segments and listen now below!


A man, his kayak, and thousands of miles of rivers.  Greg Mallory embarked on an incredible two-year journey traversing the rivers between Washington and South America’s Patagonia – and did so without the use of his legs.  After a skiing accident left Mallory paralyzed from the waist-down, he turned to the water sport as a way to continue to pursue adrenaline.  He joins Boyd to talk about how this traumatic experience became his impetus for seeking greater adventures. Listen here.

With India’s recent boom in technology, people often forget the richness of its national parks and unique wildlife.  As a child, National Geographic Emerging Explorer Sandesh Kadur was spent his time thinking about leopards, tigers, and elephants and now uses photography and filmmaking to capture the magic of his home’s natural resources. In his new book Himalaya: Mountains of Life, he exposes the beauty of the mountains that borders his homeland.  Kadur speaks to Boyd about how his unconventional journey to become a photographer and award-winning filmmaker has led him to become one of India’s leaders in conservation efforts today. Listen here.

Mother Nature has not been kind to Colorado this year.  During the hot summer months, severe drought and wildfires destroyed over 140,000 acres of land and, as the summer gave way to fall, torrential rains and record-breaking floods washed over the state.  Meteorologist and founder of the weather-tracking website Joel Gratz provides his take on why the Centennial State can’t catch a break.  He focuses on the most recent deluge, in which nearly two feet of water fell in just a few days. Listen here.

Each year, over 275 million people visit America’s national parks to experience the great outdoors.  Wolf Trap of northern Virginia provides a unique park experience in which natural beauty becomes the perfect backdrop to showcase the nation’s cultural life.  Wolf Trap President and CEO Arvind Manocha talks about how America’s National Park for Performing Arts plays an important role, not just as a venue for the arts, but also a tool for educating and nurturing young minds. Listen here.

On this installment of Nat Geo Weekend’s newest segment, This Weekend in History, National Geographic library’s head of research, Maggie Turqman shares significant points in history and who was behind them:  the invention of the elevator, the development of paved roads, the importance of gallic acid, and the importance of just showing up. Listen here.


Alaska is known for having some of the most extreme terrain for outdoor sports. Cameron Lawson and a friend challenged this notion by travelling the state’s 200 miles of coastline by bike.  Lawson tells Boyd about how this trip on Alaska’s Lost Coast took them over glaciers and garage-sized boulders and how it has left him wanting for more. Listen here.

Cassowaries are one of Australia’s largest and most beautiful birds.  In National Geographic’s September 2013 issue, evolutionary biologist and science writer Olivia Judson shares her findings about how this colorful bird plays a vital role in promoting the nation’s botanical vitality.  Growing up to 160 lbs, cassowaries are uniquely capable of spreading large fruit seeds throughout the rainforest; but with humans encroaching on their forests, the big birds and their role in the ecosystem are being threatened. Listen here.

Since 1993, the National Geographic World Championship has challenged geography students from all over the world.  The championship grew to include some first-time participant countries this year, including a team from Mongolia.  Boyd travels to St. Petersburg, Russia to speak with Mongolian contestant Amarbold Lkhagvasuren about how it felt to be the first to represent his country in this international competition. Listen here.

There’s an old adage that states, “Failure is not an option.”  But what if it is?  In her most recent article for National Geographic magazine, “Failure is An Option”, Hannah Bloch says that failure can actually lead to success in some of the most unexpected ways.  She brings up a couple famous failures in history, including the first attempt to reach the North Pole by air and how Ernest Shackleton’s leadership helped his men return alive from Antarctica after being stranded for two years. Listen here.

In this segment of Wild Chronicles, Boyd recounts his own experiences with blind dates, both in a romantic sense and from an explorer’s perspective.  He shares a blind date of his own, when he first met the group of explorers with whom he’d endure a 10-day survival course in the Australian Outback. Listen here.


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Meet the Author
Justin O'Neill produces the weekly radio program National Geographic Weekend with host Boyd Matson. Check it out on on SiriusXM satellite radio (XM channel 133 Sundays at noon), subscribe to the iTunes podcast, or stream it directly to your smartphone with Stitcher Radio.