Joan Larsen Celebrates: My First Two Years – Forming the Thread

Posted on August 6, 2014


By Joan Larsen

How could I not believe in serendipity? When the first major websites were attracting readers – readers by the thousands – with a diversity of topics to comment on daily many years ago, smart women by the hundreds – more – gravitated to a site aptly called WOWOWOW for their daily “fix”. Strangers become friends – sometimes stronger friends than we had at home – and it was on that site, now no longer active, that our Lila – one of the most intelligent women of the group – was already setting the bar in writing on controversial topics of the day very high.

When that past site folded, I knew I would follow Lila anywhere. And she always was a mover and shaker — so her own idea — FORMING THE THREAD took up the empty places that had now had left a large hole in our lives. For me, it was a Godsend when she took me on as a writer. (Thank you, Lila!)

But I have always felt that the hundreds who now consider that FORMING THE THREAD is an integral part of their daily lives may wonder who Joan Larsen really is and what she actually does in what I call “real life”.

My own amazing landmark, my second-year anniversary writing on our site with our editor Lila, seemed a good time to introduce myself to all of you in a little more depth. It just seems time for you to know me a bit better. So here goes:

Forming the Thread Questionnaire

Telling it all  by Joan Larsen


Hometown: Chicago, IL.

Occupation: I have held local political office in public life forever, have given my charitable life to the executive board of Chicago area United Way (10 men and me which I consider heaven!), never stopping exploring the world’s most remote destinations on my time off.

Favorite destinations: Antarctica, Chilean Patagonia, Iceland, and Spitzbergen near the North Pole.

Dying to visit: The above places again and again!!!  (And I do!!!!).

Bizarre travel rituals: Don’t actually pack until the last minute.

In-flight relaxation regime: Hopefully, talking to whoever I am sitting next to — that is, if I don’t have a window seat. Otherwise, staring out the window.

Always in carry-on: Everything I need if my suitcase is lost forever.

Concierge or DIY? In major cities, concierge, as I don’t want to waste time standing in line for theater tickets or best restaurants. I want to sightsee the days away.

See it all or take it easy? See it all. I don’t miss anything.

Drive or be driven? Mostly, I hike. But in the United States I fly/ drive, and in foreign countries I find someone who knows the hidden wonders to drive me.

Travel hero: Richard Halliburton, adventurer and risk-taker, who wrote The Royal Road of RomanceEncouraged by my family, by the age of 8 I had my head in atlases, planning to be the female version of Halliburton, going to remote islands no one had ever visited before. At 11, we were in the jungles of the Yucatan in Mexico, searching for lost cities, and life from then on became adventure after adventure. Years of exploring the underwater world was superceded by a love of hot air balloons and going up in blimps and gliders whenever I could. . . and endless travel to faraway places. That single book Halliburton wrote has guided my dreams ever after — and made them come true.

Weirdest thing seen on travels: A single unisex public sloped “toilet” with only tile floor and hole in center on a very old ship crossing the Straits of Magellan in Tierra Del Fuego — with the ship rolling to almost 45 degree angle back and forth every minute. It was the hardest challenge I have ever met!

Best hotel amenity: Comfortable beds.

I dream about my romantic dinner  in the moonlight, on the sand beach on the island of Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands — and later having so much fun dancing barefoot in the sand to the local band until all hours. It was close to heaven, never ever to be forgotten!

Everywhere I go, I check out the nature and the wildlife.

When I arrive in a new place, I learn the lay of the land by doing tons of research before I leave home — enough that I could lead tours to the places immediately.

I always bring back: I tend to bring home gorgeous handmade sheep that peek out of my carry-on in all directions, causing ohhs and ahhs.

If I never return to the little towns of Greenland, it’ll be too soon because, like the Inuit, the life that poverty allows them I find to be most upsetting. However, I love the beauty of the country itself.

I travel for the high adventure and have searched out just about all the extremely remote islands and very-difficult-to-get-to places in the world, sometimes being one of the very first in the world to set foot on these remote lands.  It is a dream life!


JoanAvatarWriter Joan Larsen has spent a lifetime searching for the most remote places on Earth.  But it is the polar regions of our world that she has been drawn back to again and again.  She has done research in these lands of ice, and considers Antarctica to be her “other home.”