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Survivorman Returns

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Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

I'm a big fan of Les Stroud, better known as Survivorman. When his survival show first appeared on Discovery seven years ago, it was a breath of fresh air -- by shooting everything himself (he lugs all the gear with him; no crew), Stroud gave us a voice in the wilderness that was authentic, minimally produced, and very personal. Indeed, this is a show created by, written by, directed by, and starring Les Stroud. He even provides much of the music, and brings along his harmonica to play in the wilderness. So this is very much the vision of one man.

The initial run of Survivorman was three seasons, and they took a long time to produce. He spent a total of 170 days in the wilderness over a period of years. Stroud had to find some remote location, go there, survive, recuperate, edit the footage, and then repeat...dozens of times. It took roughly four years to put together the three seasons (a total of 23 shows), and it took a toll on Stroud -- each season's number of episodes declined, he was kinda beat-up from all that wilderness adventure, and he shot his last Survivorman episodes at the age of 47. He worked on various specials, spent more time with his family, focused on his music, and it was easy to assume from the fan's perspective that our Survivorman (in the sense of a guy going into the wilderness by himself with cameras) was retired.

Les Stroud - closeup
Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

But now, at the age of 50, he's back -- surviving for ten-day stretches in two locations. Each location is split into two one-hour-long shows, so in a sense we have a fourth mini-season of Survivorman here. It's basically the same formula (though now the camera gear is fancier and the journeys are themselves longer), and Stroud is the same man -- though he's just a touch older and wiser. And that last comment is saying a lot; Stroud has been pretty damn wise for decades.

The new season (dubbed Survivorman Ten Days) is currently airing on Discovery, and is mid-way through its run. Check local listings for show times in your area -- the new episode airs tonight at 8pm Eastern/Pacific, with a mini-marathon of previous episodes leading up to it.

Here's a clip with footage from tonight's show, shot in Norway. In classic Survivorman style, Stroud finds a novel way to light a fire:

This new Survivorman run is great, largely because it retains everything that made the original series great: Les Stroud alone in the wilderness with a harmonica. Play on, brother.

Les Stroud in Norway
Image courtesy of Discovery Channel.

Blogger disclosure: I was not specially compensated for this review. I freaked out a little when I heard there were new episodes coming -- it's like Christmas came three months early.

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Washington, D.C. Residents Pay Tribute to Fallen 325-Year-Old Oak Tree
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Washington, D.C. is perhaps most famous for its historic monuments and buildings, but residents of the city’s Northwest quadrant recently took time to mourn the death of a centuries-old tree, according to NPR.

The sturdy red oak in D.C.’s Shepherd Park neighborhood was 75 feet tall and its trunk was 5.5 feet wide, with sweeping branches that soared over the porch of an adjacent home. Experts believe it first took root in the late 1600s, making it around 325 years old.

Washington, D.C. wasn’t founded until 1790, so the tree predated the creation of the city. Over the centuries, it stood tall amid countless wars, presidents, and national triumphs and tragedies—but it recently fell victim to the ravages of time and gravity when a large section of its cracked trunk splintered off and fell to the ground.

Nobody was injured and property damage was minimal, but the arduous cleanup process took a six-member crew eight hours to complete, according to The Washington Post. They deployed a 100-ton crane to remove the tree—a job that cost $12,000, as two of the tree's base parts weighed 17,000 pounds and 14,000 pounds, respectively.

All that remains of the tree is its stump, which provided experts clues about its age through its rings. John Anna of Adirondack Tree Experts, the company tasked with removing the tree, told the Post that the red oak was one of the oldest trees he’d seen in his 30-year regional career. As for locals, many had enjoyed its shade for years and felt like they’d “lost a member of [the] family,” a former neighborhood resident named Ruth Jordan told the Post.

[h/t NPR]

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Paris to Turn Its Parks and Gardens into 24-Hour Summer Attractions
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If you're visiting Paris this summer, consider packing a picnic basket. As Travel + Leisure reports, city officials will launch a two-month initiative in July to keep 16 of the metro area’s largest parks and gardens open 24 hours a day.

Called "Les Jardins Nocturnes" (the Night Gardens), the event will run from July 1 through September 3. Nature lovers can enjoy moonlit green spaces like the Parc des Buttes Chaumont—which has a Roman temple replica perched atop a cliff, overlooking a man-made lake—and the sweeping green lawns of the Parc Montsouris in the city’s 14th arrondissement.

More than 130 of Paris’s smaller parks and gardens are already open to the public during the evening. Once Les Jardins Nocturnes begins in July, nearly half of all of the city's green spaces will go 24/7. According to officials, the seasonal initiative is intended to help Parisians enjoy the city’s natural attractions after work, and take summer strolls during the cooler evening hours.

City parks aren’t always the safest places at night, which is why security teams will be deployed to keep an eye on late-night patrons. But while you're embarking on evening nature excursions, make sure to mind your manners: In 2016, Paris launched a similar parks program, and nearly 700 residents near the Parc Montsouris signed a protest petition complaining about excessive noise and litter.

[h/t Travel + Leisure]

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