Movie maker George Lucas created a multi-billion dollar franchise in the Indiana Jones movie series, using the fictitious adventurer Dr. Henry Walton “Indiana” Jones, Jr. to capture peoples’ hearts and imaginations across the world, as he got involved in one dramatic situation after the next.
But could such a swashbuckling, globetrotting, risk-taking person exist in real life? Yes.
In 1939, 15 year old John Goddard decided he would never live a conventional life and listed 127 adventurous goals to tackle in his lifetime. He then set out to accomplish them.
John planned to climb some of the world’s highest mountains, navigate treacherous rivers, sky dive and even land on the moon, the latter being one of the relatively few goals he did not attain.
“The Nile expedition,” said John’s son Jeffery. “…10 months he was out there. He almost lost his life several times. Nearly buried in a sand storm, shot at by river pirates, accused of being an Israeli spy (and) he came under attack from crocodiles (and) from hippos.
“No-one else has been successful taking the Nile from source to mouth, 4,132 miles. Dad did it. Many have failed because of crocodile and hippo attacks. Dad did it in a balsa wood kayak and light weight wooden canvass (in) 1950. He was just 26 years old.”
As a young man John graduated from the University of Southern California. And as the years passed and his accomplishments grew, he became a very popular speaker giving lectures in various schools and universities and in numerous other venues.
John also documented his travels on film and in two books: “The Survivor: 24 Spine-Chilling Adventures on the Edge of Death” and “Kayaks Down the Nile.”
In another adventure, “The Congo,” his son Jeffery said: “Not as long (as the Nile) but far more treacherous. Raging rapids: If you collapsed you would be held under water for an extensive period of time. Dad was held under water for a long time when his kayak collapsed, over three minutes.
“There is no way to pull yourself out of there. You just have to hold your breath until you are swept downriver. Jack Yowell, his partner was swept under and was killed early in the expedition. Dad made the remainder of the trip alone.”
Throughout his adult life, John lived for such adventures, until at the age of 88; he passed away at a Glendale, California hospital on May 17th, 2013 from cancer. He is survived by Carol, his wife of 33 years and by his six children and 12 grandchildren.
But John made the most of those 88 years, living an incredible daring life. In 2004 he told the Los Angeles Times, “It’s ridiculous to tippy-toe through life.” And John never did tippy-toe.