The sphinx asking a riddle: "If you could do anything, what would you do?"
Can you answer the Sphinx's riddle? In the hero's journey the Sphinx was one of the threshold guardians. If you weren't prepared, you weren't allowed to pass. In some legends, if you fail the question, you get eaten. This metaphor reminds us that we have to be willing to change. When Scott asked himself this question — If I could do anything?— that led to the Aha! Moment that inspired his journey around the world on a bicycle.

About

Important news

We’ve made some big changes. We’re focusing this site on our namesake: The Argonauts.

If you are looking for Scott, please visit his new website: ScottStoll.com.

And, we’ve also moved all our kid’s stuff to Dreamaplay.com. With lots of fun and free activities.

How to turn dreams into reality: Dream It! Map It! Play It!
Jason and the Argonauts battling skeleton warriors

Jason and the Argonauts
The Archetypal Adventure

I recommend you read about the original Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts, including the history, culture and the actual story. I’ve been collecting this info for years, and I find it fascinating how this myth has embedded itself in our culture. More info.

You might also like:
What is an adventure?
What is a hero?
What is an argonaut?

Our story

Scott’s life of adventure began with this question: If I could do anything, what would I do? It may seem like an innocent or obvious question, but to him it was the most awesome (literally meaning: frightening and inspiring) question a person could ask themself. This question drove him around the world on a bicycle seeking the meaning of life. And, this question also planted the seed for this website because he thought everyone must be asking themselves a similar question: How can I live the best life possible? He thought we could all help each other on our journey through life, so he created this forum to share our hopes and dreams and pass along the boon of our adventures, like new ideas, lessons learned and stories of our common struggles. Thus this website was born, and modeled afterone of the first adventure stories in Western history: Jason and the Argonauts.

Below you can read the history of our old website and our original mission statement. I’m proud of what we had accomplished. We were true pioneers in what has become the world of blogging and social media. Most amazingly, my dream to see people share stories of their adventures — in real-time as they happened — did come true. Even if we weren’t the ones to automate the process, I like to think we planted the seeds of this dream in society and helped develop the proof of concept.

About The Argonauts, Inc

TheArgonauts.com wasn’t just a website; for a while, we were an incorporated organization. We celebrated over 20 years online, outlasting millions of other websites born in the dotcom era. Our website was a blog before blogs existed. We shared stories before sharing was a thing. We innovated new standards. We won a few awards along the way. And, we inspired thousands of people to follow their dreams. The stories they have told us about their courageous leap into a new life have been our greatest reward. And my dream to see people share stories of their adventures — in real-time as they happened — did come true. Even if we weren’t the ones to automate the process, I like to think we planted the seeds of this dream in society and helped develop the proof of concept. The founding members of The Argonauts archived an impressive number of stories, and some went on to become professional adventurers, photographers and journalists. And I like to think all learned how to live the life of their dreams. As the founder, I’m proud of this.

Below I showcase some of our achievements.

The original website design

A screenshot of theArgonauts website from 2000-10
A screenshot of our website. It looked like this from 1999–2008 and it worked really well. Our website used to be hand-coded — every page! If you click on this image, you will see the actual standard size from this era. The whole page, including all the text images, needed to be under 64kb for dial-up modems. Maybe you can see why our website won a few awards when compared to what was considered a groundbreaking website back then: Space Jam Movie
A screen shot of theArgonauts website from 2019-05-24
Here is a screenshot of our second rebuild. It took place in stages from 2009–2015. We built a custom theme, stripped out the inline code and copy-pasted every page into WordPress. At the time, a custom theme was the only way to match the design of the original site. But it became outdated fast. So we rebuilt it again using a lot of premium WordPress plugins and the best theme we could find. So, the site you are surfing is the third major revision where every single page has been recreated and search engine optimized. SEO is something that didn’t exist when we first started and now a website can’t survive without it.

Achievements

A dotcom baby

The Argonauts 20th Anniversary Logo

During the California gold rush in 1849, the miners were nicknamed argonauts; and, coincidently during California’s second gold rush, the dotcom boom, The Argonauts Inc. was born in San Francisco exactly 150 years later. In 2019, we celebrated twenty years online, outlasting millions of other websites, and we still rank in the top few percent of billions.

Innovators of social media

Back when we started the concept social media didn’t exist yet. But that was our goal: to create a platform where anyone could share their adventures and discoveries. Here is one of our original advertisements. I can’t even believe it myself anymore.

Sick of licking stamps? Can’t afford postcards? Post your stories and photos for all your friends — and the whole world to share. Maybe you’ll be our next feature story. Submit your story here.

Our goal was to post guest adventures in real-time. Back in 1999, we could see the Internet was going to revolutionize global communication, but the infrastructure and technology still weren’t in place. In fact, the only way many adventurers had to share their inspirational stories was to email us and have us post their story online. It may not seem like today’s real-time adventures, but we were posting stories that same day — almost as soon as we got the email, letter or phone call. Many people wanted us to automate these features, which would have essentially made our website one of the first social media platforms. TheArgonauts.com was ahead of its time but, unfortunately, we never could find the estimated $100,000 to create the features that companies like Facebook and WordPress now make free and easy for everyone.

Innovators of affiliate marketing

Our site has won a handful of awards, such as a Golden Web Award and the Cool Site of the Day. We were even the Barnes & Noble Affiliate of the Month. The reason we won the award back in 2000 is because our website was the first website to introduce the idea of combining a story with the related product link from an affiliate sponsor. Now it sounds so obvious that it is hard to believe, but TheArgonauts.com was a real pioneer on the internet.

Awards

An innovative and award-winning website.

Barnes and Noble Affiliate of the Month Award
Barnes and Noble Affiliate of the Month Award
Cool site of the day
Cool site of the day
Golden Web Award 2000-2001
Golden Web Award 2000-2001.

Inspirational advertising

Our advertising campaigns were designed not to sell but to inspire. And it worked! Below are some examples of our old inspirational banners ads. They may look looks tiny, but it was the recommended size for when people used dial-up modems.

An inspirational banner that says, "What if there were no what ifs?" with a picture of a camel caravan in the background.
Ask yourself what you would do if you had all the time and money in the world.
An inspirational banner that says, "If you could go anywhere, do anything..."
A variation of a question that changed my life, “If I could do anything, what would I do?” I would go to space!
An inspirational banner that says, "If you could go anywhere, do anything?" with a picture of a bicycle packpacker.
Another variation of a question that changed my life was, “If I could do anything, what would I do?”
Change yourself. Change your world
Change yourself. Change your world. Inspired by a quote from Gandhi.

Media coverage

TheArgonauts has been showcased many times. Here’s one of my favorites: 12 Personal Travel Websites That Will Make You Quit Your Day Job. And Scott’s adventures have been featured in the media hundreds of times. To see more, visit our press room.

Adventure archive

We collected — and still do collect — hundreds of stories about people living their dreams. Visit our Archive of stories before the era of the blog and social media. I think you’ll find the writing quality very high. Back then, stories weren’t clogged with ads and clickbait.

We also had a lot of limitations in technology. Not only were the sizes limited, but most of our photos were still shot on film. This article shows the difference in the quality of pictures between then and now. Feature photo of Sunrise Machu Picchu.

The fruits of inspiration

My measure of success is not money; I judge my life by whether I can see my dream become a reality. One way that I can see that is if other people are inspired by what I do. Over the years, I have received hundreds of letters from people saying that my journeys, books, and website have inspired them to follow their dreams, like: quit their jobs and cycle countries like Cuba, Australia or Canada; or backpack Europe; hike the Inca trail; kayak New Zealand; some people even said they quit traveling because they were inspired to go home to the adventure of building a community, pursue a new career, find a new love, or even to build a cabin in the north woods of Wisconsin; and many more testimonials. It has been an honor and privilege to have gotten so many emails over the years.

Our original mission statement

An adventure-travel community dedicated to inspiring the human spirit by enabling people to venture into the unknown and sharing their dreams and discoveries with the world in real-time.

100% of profits donated to adventure and exploration.

That was our idealistic mission statement when Scott’s first adventure-travel website, theArgonauts.com, came online in 1999. I find it interesting that after 20 years and a lot of thinking that my current vision and mission statement above is essentially the same dream in a different form.

After my trip around the world on a bicycle, my definition of an adventure had changed. I came to believe everything in life to be an adventure. The challenge was to see it as an adventure and not a problem. So I added:

No matter what you call it — adventure, expedition, the hero’s journey, wanderlust, walkabout, vision quest, coming-of-age ritual, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, spiritual awakening, enlightenment, the travel bug, voyage into the unknown, self-transcendence — or simply hope — and, no matter whether your adventure is to travel the world, bake cupcakes or sweep streets — this is our exploration of life and the human spirit.

Our original story

Mohandas Gandhi

Be the change you want to see in the world. This has always been one of my guiding principles, and one of the reasons I wanted to inspire others to live their dreams. Here is the original quote.

“If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.” ~

The Argonauts Inc. first began to take seed as two of the founders, Dennis and Scott, were bicycling across the United States, from coast to coast. This journey changed their lives by breaking down cultural, modern and self-imposed barriers that prevented them, and most of us, from fully experiencing the world. Soon, The Argonauts was founded upon the belief that the world would be a better place if everyone had a similar opportunity to redefine themselves and their surroundings.

Launched in October of 1999, The Argonauts is growing tremendously, powered by a group of dedicated volunteers and our growing community of adventurers. Now more than an online adventure magazine, The Argonauts features real-time expeditions and our Travelogue section serves as a forum for all travelers’ photos and stories. We’re also proud to announce that 100% of our profits are donated to adventure and exploration. In the future, The Argonauts will be sponsoring expeditions that expand humanity’s physical, mental and spiritual boundaries.

You can help us achieve our dream by following the adventures of your fellow Argonauts, telling us about yourself (watch here for our survey), and referring our site to your family and friends.

Thank you and happy trails.

But the world changed

The following may sound sad, but it also is a record of the interesting era that I find myself living in, and the reason why I was forced to adapt. Change is good.

I wasn’t expecting my new business to be easy, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to keep getting harder. Our original website was all hand-coded, and we’ve had to completely rebuild it four times to slowly bring it up to modern standards. Our small team spent long hours editing guest posts. I spent years generating world-class content through my travels, experiments, blog posts and books. So, there was little time left over for practical business matters. And, it was a constant and growing challenge to find an audience. As time went on, our brand got diluted. Google now indexes our old website not as a travel-adventure blog but as a mythology website. (The word “argonauts” has several meanings: one being the band of heroes, the other being synonymous with an adventurer.) The competition has grown exponentially over the years as technology improved and the internet opened doors all over the world. And the final straw was the invention of social media. It made it free and easy for everyone to share stories of their adventures. In short, people no longer needed our website to share their adventures.

And so I changed

Nonetheless, I still hoped to share many inspirational stories. So, for better or worse, I decided to throw my hat over the fence and use myself as the role model, work-in-progress or guinea pig, depending on your point of view and whether I succeed or not. In other words, I decided it would be my new challenge to live the best life possible, and I would hold myself accountable with my own website as witnessed by friends and fans and strangers. And, that I would share my lessons learned in the hopes to help other people live more joyful lives.

So, there you have the long story.

Even now, with the invention of social media, I still love to share inspiring stories; and it gives all of us a greater reach. So, don’t forget to submit your inspirational story.

Thanks for supporting y/our dreams,
Scott Stoll and the team of volunteers here and at Dreamaplay.com and theArgonauts.com.

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