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Adventures with National Geographic

Courtesy photo | BDN
Courtesy photo | BDN

BANGOR — Tom and Lynn Abercrombie spent 40 years traveling the world to collect photos and stories, inspiring their daughter to want to pay tribute to them.

Mari Abercrombie of Newburgh will read from her parents’ book, “Traveling the World for National Geographic,” by Tom and Lynn Abercrombie, at 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 22, in the Story Room at Bangor Public Library.

It was an adventurous life, to say the least. Abercrombie’s parents’ cameras were smashed in Yemen. Her father helped with an emergency toe amputation in the Himalayas. When a young tribal member from an isolated village in Venezuela taught Tom to drink water using a leaf, he learned that “here, in this cozy village, it is I that is the savage.”

A section from the book reads like an adventure tale: “Travel in the north, where most of the 70 million live, was easy going on scenic asphalt highways — but in those days the deserts and dirt roads of central and southern Iran were still considered an adventure. An officer in the U.S. Military Advisory Group in Tehran leased us a Jeep station wagon for our travels and loaned us camping gear and jerry cans for water and gasoline, then loaned us carbines and a shotgun ‘in case we ran into trouble.’ Then he called us aside and slipped each of us a small aluminum cylinder the size of a lipstick tube. They were .22 caliber suicide guns — to avoid torture if we were captured! Ed and I looked at each other dumbstruck. We would go anyway, but agreed we would move with great caution. We were relieved to find the Army ‘experts’ were all wrong about the desert nomads. Turns out the only dangers we encountered were the bone-shaking roads that seemed bent on destroying our well-worn Jeep.”

Armed with a medical kit, a pilot’s license, a scuba certificate and several quality cameras, Thomas and Lynn captured iconic pictures. Two photographs, Mecca at Night during Haj, Saudi Arabia; and Woman with Birdcage, Afghanistan; appear on National Geographic’s collection of “50 Best Photos.”

Mari Abercrombie is director of Windover Art Center and wrote this “labor of love” in honor of her parent’s accomplishments. During five years of research, she scanned more than 350 high-quality photographs for the book. Lynn Abercrombie contributed exact details of adventures, such as the time spent on the South Pole or their two years with Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Mari and her son edited the book and created a press, Birch Landing Press, for the publication. After their presentation in Bangor, Mari will travel to Washington, where Qaboos bin Said Al Said, the Sultan of Oman, will host a book signing.

“Traveling the World for National Geographic” is available by mail for $60 plus $10 shipping from Birch Landing Press, 3001 Kennebec Road, Newburgh, ME 04444.

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