By Stu Whitley
This is the first post in a five-part series.As a young boy growing up in England, I was consumed with tales of the ‘Dark Continent’. The memoirs and descriptions of Burton, Speke, Livingston and Stanley enthralled me, especially their references to the fabled graveyard of elephants, where the fading behemoths of the Serengeti went to die. Trying to conceive of a place like this was such an effort that it faltered on the steps of my young imagination. The African elephant can live as long as 70 years or more: the idea that this intelligent beast should know its time nears and be drawn to a resting place with its kin seemed fantastic.
These thoughts eventually released their hold on me
till nearly half a century later. I was on a canoe trip down a stretch
of the Yukon River known as the ‘Forty-Mile’, where the broad Teslin
River has its confluence. Suddenly, on the riverbank, there loomed the
enormous remains of several paddlewheel steamers. It was still easily
possible to imagine these vast engines of commerce, now in various