Mike Prehis is a retired airline pilot who makes his home in Wilton Manors, however he does not take his retirement lightly. His vacations do not involve midnight buffets and planned excursions, often times they seek to give back to the international community. In fact his entire vacations seem to be...excursions.
In May, Prehis will leave the comforts of home to join 12 other thrill seekers as they trek 1,000 miles across the Gobi Desert in Mongolia.They will also have an eight camel caravan to carry their gear.
The trek, in addition to offering “really bad dust and sandstorms, heat stroke, extreme temperature fluctuations, blizzards, equip- ment failure and injury” will benefit schools in Mongolia. Schools around the world are also invited to interact with Gobi2011.com so students can experience what life in an indigenous Mongolian village.Through the website, trekkers will blog about their once in a life time experience. “We are raising funds with a charity called edurelief.org to benefit school children in Mon- golia,” said Prehis.“you can send a kid to school in Mongolia for as little as $20 per month.”
Trekkers must afford their own way, although through donations and the patronage of a Danish noble – The Countess Alexandra Christina of Frederiksborg – costs keep coming down for the team.
This is not the first time he has trekked for charity. In 2007 Prehis climbed Mt. ever- est to raise money for orphans in Nepal. Prehis has also climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise money for children in Uganda.
“There were 12 of us who did that, it’s one of the schools that will be linked to the expedition,” said Prehis, who added that despite the anti-gay climate in Uganda he felt comfortable working in the country, which recently tried to ratify the death penalty for homosexuality.“I’m out, everybody knows, but in Uganda it never came into play.The people we were with were fairly open-minded.” If Prehis seems like a living gay Indiana Jones it will further interest you to know that he recently flew a single engine plane from egypt back to the United States. He took a Northern Atlantic route, making stops in a wide arc every 1,000 miles or so.
oh, this was after he lived in egypt for a year launching a start-up airline.
“It was a sort of on demand airline, a taxi sort of. Clients would call asking to be picked up in Cairo, then flown out to see sites like Luxor,” said Prehis who has also been a yacht captain in the Mediterranean and in Fort Lauderdale as well.“But now I just enjoy being retired.”
The Gobi 2011 trek, which consists of an international group of adventure seek- ers, including a young woman who co-led an all-woman team up Mt. everest, known British Desert explorer ripley Davenport, and French filmmaker emmanuel Berthier who will document the trek, the interaction with local peoples as a means to educate
the modern world about groups “who have proudly continued their way of life regardless of climate change and globalization.”
Prehis does not seem deterred by all of the difficulties he and his team will encounter during their trek.The traditional home of no- mads on the Gobi desert is the yurt, or ger in Mongolian.These are known to be primitive, yet comfortable, portable dwellings made of wood and lattice, and covered in layers of fabric, often boasting sumptuous carpets inside.
Perhaps the only aspect of the trek he seemed to lament is the cuisine.
“We will also be eating the local food,” said Prehis.“Mongolian food is known to have little vegetables, and a lot of people consider it to be really awful.When you meet locals, of course you have to accept their hospitality. one of their specialties is fermented horse milk and well, we’re their guests.”
For more information on Prehis and his adventure, please visit Gobi2011.com