“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aesop
More than that, travel has made me who I am. I love my home, Florida. The first time I moved away on my own I was terrified. I thought that like many of my friends, I should be destined to stay home, loving everything about it and not missing the rest of the world. Fortunately, the part of my brain that yearned for adventure won out. I have been lucky to experience many places, and the list of those I want to see is ever expanding. Over time, I have come to appreciate more and more about being home, but I also know that the wanderlust will never leave me.
My idea of an adventure usually involves physically delving into natural ecosystems. Increasingly, I appreciate culture and human relationships, but the natural world is my first love. When Traveling, I often spend significant time alone wandering, finding what I can on my own. I spend little time planning beyond what I can see ahead of me. Friends who travel with me have coined my wanderings Bryant Adventures. Whether spanning a few ours, or a few months, I set a goal and attack it bringing only what is necessary. The result, even if I fail to reach the initial goal, is always worth the trepidation, exhaustion, and hunger. These organic experiences have more value to me than fastidiously planned trips to see the greatest hits. Just go outside, you never know what you will find.
What follows is a list of travels that I have undertaken on my own, a few words about the places, experiences and means that made them possible for me. They qualify my current blog and I hope offer insight and inspiration to others seeking their own adventure.
Location: Florida’s Gulf Coast, Ten Thousand Islands, and Keys.
Reason: Mote Marine Laboratory Intern
Funds: Unpaid Internship, Costs Covered.
Impressions: As an intern for Mote, I was able to revisit many places that I had been with my family and learn new dimensions to them. The work made me more capable and perceptive in the natural world. It was an honor to work with many of the species of fish that we handled and studied. The most rewarding experiences were tagging endangered Sawfish in the Marquesas and Ten Thousand Islands.
The author with Eugenie Clark
The Author with his first sawfish 10k
Juvenile Sawfish Turner River
Shark Tagging Sarasota, FL.
Date: Summer 2008
Location: Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
Reason: Summer College Field Course
Funds: School grant and self.
Impression: This trip to Panama was primarily academic. I attended classes and conducted a research project in coral reef ecology. The strongest impression on me though, was the spectacular natural setting of Panama. The Bocas Archipelago is relatively undeveloped and features a host of incredible ecosystems. I was able to climb, using technical methods, 100′ tropical hardwoods in the rainforest, and dove on what I recall being the most pristine reefs that I have encountered in the Caribbean. I also had short side trips in the City, and the spectacular mountain town of Boquete, hot springs, cloud forest and all.
A powered Dugout in Bocas del Drago
The Author 100′ up a strangler fig
Date: January 2010.
Reason: College Field Course
Funds: School grant and Self
Impression: Seeing the Amazon was momentous experience. It lived up to every expectation. Personal highlights were glowing fungus, river dolphins, and an anaconda. For the course we studied canopy herbivory rates. I also took a side trip to Machu Picchu, which, was outstanding despite the disney world like lines.
Misty Morning in the Amazon Canopy
The Author with a striped sharp nose snake (Xenoxybelis argenteus)
Date: Fall 2011-Spring 2012
Reason: Post college trip, visit friends, work in another country.
Funds: Self, Family, In country work.
Impressions: Traveling to another continent alone, with few plans in place, was terrifying. I eased into life down under staying with a friend in Melbourne. I was nervous about life, and my initial impressions were tempered. In retrospect, Melbourne is a fantastic city. From Melbourne, I volunteered on a 3 week field study with a University of Melbourne student, catching tawny dragon lizards in the NSW and SA outback. The drives, views and hikes were wonderful. I then traveled alone to Cairns, in search of a job. It was easier finding a job and place to live than expected. When things fell into place it felt like divine providence. I worked on a live-aboard dive boat, and spent every minute underwater. The Pacific marine life was stunning. My last four days in country where spent wandering Sydney, which as a place to visit, ranks in my top 5 cities.
Outback hiking garb
Outback Road, NSW
Flying Fox, Cairns
Far North Queensland
Date: April and May 2012
Location: Namibia and South Africa
Reason: Adventure, visit a friend.
Impressions: Africa was incredible. I spent the majority of the time traveling with a college friend who was studying in Namibia on a Fulbright. We car camped across the country and saw many of its best sites. Of course the wildlife was captivating, but I was also struck by the divided landscape, not fully understanding the state of African development and conservation. Still, I fell in love with the landscape and had many incredible adventures including having a car breakdown in the middle of the night on a park road with lions walking past our windows. After Namibia I spent a few days in Cape Town, which remains on my list of favorite cities. I hiked table mountain for the first time. It’s spine track has become my favorite walk in the world. I also learned that in Africa, dangerous trail actually means dangerous trail…
Table Mountain, Cape Town, ZA
Dead Vlei, Namibia
Date: Summer 2012
Reason: Employee of ActionQuest
Funds: Paid Position and travel
Impressions: Its not worth trying to explain ActionQuest here other than to say it is a summer camp for teens. Google it if interested. I worked as a captain, marine science instructor, and dive instructor in the BVI. This was my first visit to the virgin islands. They are incredible. Most of the diving is so so, save for the Rhone, The playgrounds, and the wreck of the Chikuzen, which is my favorite wreck dive in the world. Above water, the BVI is unbeatable. Lava flow is the most spectacular beach I have ever been to. The sunsets and Islands make the worlds best vistas. The consistent trade winds and setting make the BVI my favorite place to sail.
The AQ Fleet in Soper’s Hole
Soper’s Hole, West End, Tortola, BVI
Location: St. Croix, USVI
Reason: Work, Cane Bay Dive Shop
Funds: Paid Local work
Impressions: St. Croix is the most underdeveloped of the USVI, and although poverty and crime are a problem, the natural features of the island are exquisite. The diving is the best I have experienced in the Caribbean. Reefs are fairly healthy, sharks are abundant and the North Shore wall, which plunges from a shallow coral garden off a cliff thousands of feet down is the best. I spent my days off hiking the island, and photographing the bird life. Blue mountain/ mount eagle, the highest point is a decent trek. The east end goat mountain trail had spectacular 360 views. Point Udall, Ham’s Bluff, and the botanical gardens were all highlights. Having a cardboard box for a window and mice infestation were not.
VI Sunset, Hamm’s Bluff
Green Throated Caribbean Hummingbird
North Shore from the Hamm’s Bluff light
Dolphins at Cane Bay
Date: Summer 2013
Funds: Paid Employee and Travel
Impressions: Same Same!
The Bight, Norman Island
The Baths, Virgin Gorda
It’s Going to Rain!
Date: Fall 2013
Location: England, Norway, France, Spain.
Reason: Wedding, Friends, Backpacking
Funds: Self and crew work on sail trip.
Impressions: My main impression of England is that it was and remains the only place I have experienced an attempted mugging. I have done many stupid things, and traveled plenty of questionable roads, but Liverpool almost got me. I wish my response had been more masculine, but fortunately I was fast enough to get away. That aside, I attended a friends wedding, saw many friends in London, which is a great city, and went free diving off the south coast. My favorite though, was the lake district. I also traveled Norway with a friend and loved the country, despite its high costs. Many of the landscapes were otherworldly. I then joined two others on a sail delivery from north France across the Bay of Biscay, Around Spain/ Portugal and into the Med. This trip tested my sailing skills in two 60+ Knot Storms. I’m happy to not see weather like that again!
South Coast, England
Natural History Museum, London
Fjords of Norway
The Author in Oslo
Passage to Ibiza
Thats a scary number!
For 2014 and on see my blog for more in depth stories and photos. Additional photos at Flickr.com/bturffs. Thanks for Visiting!