When I was 15 years old, my hero was Richard Halliburton—a Princeton graduate who in 1922, at age 22, had bummed around the world, visiting such then-exotic places as Ceylon, Tibet and French Indochina. He did the exciting, even the forbidden. He slept overnight in a restricted area of the heavily guarded Rock of Gibraltar; he swam the Hellespont; he spent a night inside the Taj Mahal.
But to me, in 1945, his most impressive feat was climbing the world’s greatest pyramid—Cheops’ at Giza—and spending the night there. Together with the Sphinx, he watched the sun rise in the east. I read that passagefrom Halliburton’s The Royal Road to Romance over and over again. “If he could do it, I can do it!” I said to myself. That’s how my dream began—and a lifelong fascination with the pyramids.