In the pursuit of essential oil knowledge and innovation, Gary’s travels became a saga of many dangerous situations, unusual solutions, and determination. That determination took him to Shabwa, the ancient capital city of Queen Sheba, hidden from the world in the “Forbidden Zone” of Yemen; to the unknown tribal land of frereana frankincense in Somalia; to the tops of the Al-Hasik Mountains in Oman; deep into the jungles of the Amazon; to Sri Lanka to find the elusive blue lotus; and to many other previously unexplored places looking for the hidden secrets of God’s essential oils.

These are just a few of Gary’s adventures in far-flung parts of the world:

Lush vegetation grows in nutrient-rich soil produced by the many volcanoes of Ecuador.
Gary explored the Amazon by longboat.


Beginning in 1991, Gary began traveling throughout Egypt exploring the pyramids, tombs, temples, and museums and visiting government offices. He even wandered through marketplaces looking at all the essential oils, dried herbs, resin burners, and beautiful oil containers to get ideas. The information was voluminous. He felt very comfortable “walking back in time” as history told its story, opening still another chapter of discovery. His experiences were amazing and the knowledge he brought home convinced him even more that there was so much that had been lost to the modern world.

Gary and Mary flew to Oman in 1995 to see the new excavation of the ancient city of Ubar.
Young Living’s first distillery and extraction chamber with Gary and Mahmound in Salalah, Omen, 2010. Today, 2015, there are seven extraction chambers for frankincense (B. sacra), myrrh (C. myrrha), and sweet myrrh (C. erythraea).


In 1995 Gary and Mary first went to Oman to see the new excavation and archaeological findings of the ancient city of Ubar, about three hours north of Salalah. It was from here that with great fear of the unknown, the ancient caravanners began their treacherous, life-threatening journey through the vast and constantly changing desert of desolation, heat, and wind from which many never returned. It was exhilarating for Gary to be there because he knew that thousands of sacks of frankincense and myrrh resins had been carried, deposited, exchanged, and distilled there.

While walking through an Omani marketplace and seeing tons of frankincense resin, especially the beautiful and prized hojari, the highest grade of Boswellia sacra (Young Living’s Sacred Frankincense), Gary made the statement that one day he would have a distillery in Oman and would produce the frankincense oil treasured in ancient times. It seemed impossible, but the dream was there and the vision was intense.

After exploring many Middle Eastern countries, Gary ultimately did build the distillery in Salalah, Oman, the center of frankincense history, close to the harvest of the Boswellia sacra resin. The distillery was later moved to Muscat, Oman.


Gary was fascinated by Queen Sheba and the ancient Hadhramaut civilization she ruled, which was located in modern-day Yemen and was the center of the land of frankincense through which the caravans passed. Gary was determined to see the remains of this ancient civilization so that he could see and document the different frankincense and myrrh species while traveling the ancient frankincense caravan trail from Oman through Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Israel.

In 2009 Gary flew to Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, to continue his research and hopefully obtain permission to travel to Shabwa, a major trade center of the ancient caravans. The minister of antiquities was assigned to travel with Gary to help facilitate his needs while traveling in the country. Gary told the minister that he wanted to go to Shabwa. He was very surprised by Gary’s request and told him it was impossible because Shabwa was in the middle of terrorist territory and was very dangerous. However, Gary was determined and insisted that the minister try to get permission.

Letters, conversations, and persistence continued for about two weeks, finally resulting in the permit he wanted. After three hours of driving from Sana’a, Gary entered Shabwa, the first outsider in 42 years. Ruins of the storage vaults, distillation vats, and the queen’s palace were very identifiable. It was a glorious experience filled with so many unknowns and much danger, but Gary felt very blessed to be able to see this ancient city.

Standing in the ancient gateway of Shabwa leading to the taxation way station.
Myrrh tree (Commiphora myrrha) in Yemen.
The Palo Santo Forest is a special place to visit.


Following a visit to Ecuador in 2005, Gary was struck by the realization that the climate there would enable him to farm year-round, which was very exciting; and there were discoveries to be made in the untapped world of essential oils.

Gary made eight expeditions into the Ecuador Amazon Jungle on foot and by canoe, speedboat, and whatever other means were available. Even at the risk of his life, he continued to explore and find new plants, which he brought out of the jungle to distill and analyze. When the oils met his specifications, he engaged the local people to harvest the plants or flowers and bring them to the farm, providing work and income for locals who had never had an income before this time. Many were anxious for the opportunity; and after several years, they still bring the plants to the farm to be distilled, enabling Young Living to offer unusual, exotic, and beneficial oils that are part of the Young Living essential oil line.