Adventure goes hand in hand with one of my central mottoes: Live Large. As a curious person who loves to learn, every morning brings with it a new opportunity for adventure. Of course, some are bigger than others.
In 1999 I was invited to be the medic on a National Geographic explorations committee-funded first descent of Ethiopia’s Blue Nile River from its source to the Sudan border. Other expeditions there had all had loss of life and did not succeed. After 30 days in tents on the banks of that incredible river, we were the first. That adventure whetted my appetite at a time in life when going to far-distant places became increasingly possible.
Before then, I had other adventures, beginning with surviving birth (second children of rH-negative moms usually died in those days, but there were new technologies, and I was the first to receive the benefit of that care in Denver). A later childhood adventure was catching the neighbor’s grey horse, Nugget (that took a half day), then disappearing into the Connecticut woods bareback for hours at a time. How lucky I was to live in that more permissive era!
Along the way, I learned how to do extended backpacking, mountaineering, and other great outdoor skills. Many came from experiences with NOLS, which has introduced legions of people to using the backcountry safely and responsibly (see www.NOLS.edu). In 2017, I had the distinct honor (and adventure) of writing the history of their first 50 years: A Worthy Expedition: The History of NOLS.
Ours is a family that has shown a zest for travel starting with my great-grandfather’s letters home from Europe in 1895 (and before that, too). For years, I had a quiet dream: going around the world. In 1981, as newlyweds, Jim and I decided to go for it, west from Denver to Denver for 49 weeks. JEMS kept me working, reporting on EMS systems in 16 countries along the way. I learned that people are essentially good wherever you go, that resiliency and self-sufficiency are relevant skills, that coming home is welcome (for awhile anyhow!).
A more recent amazing chance to travel came from being tapped to report on the final three weeks of the Khmer Rouge trial in 2013 in Phnom Penh for the Cambodia Tribunal Monitor blog. Hard! But life-changing, as any good adventure should be.
I believe that travel and adventure are cousins, and it isn’t about notches on a belt as much as viewing them as wonderful opportunities. It can be an adventure to dive into a challenging book, have a thought-provoking conversation, chip away at a degree, or...yeah...head out to points unknown and far away. I’ve had (made) the opportunity to go to 40 countries or so, and I intend to keep going every chance I get. It’s a matter of time and money, of course — and it’s also a matter of staying fit for the journey and having the gumption to go.
Where’s your next adventure?!