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Man oh Man! There are a few things I wish everyone in this world could experience at some point in their life. I am very grateful for the opportunities God has given me to explore and try new exciting things, and I pray each and everyone of you get the chance to enjoy some of the same experiences that I have. Some of the adventures I am about to list are experiences that may be very challenging for some to get to, however, if placed in the circumstance or given the opportunity, run after it, breath it in, and get from it all that can be taken. If you have already done what I have listed and loved it, that’s when you know it is time to take it to the next level and explore/experience it further and dig a little deeper. Now, I can only speak for the adventures that I have experienced in my short 30 years, but I will also list a few I hope to achieve at some point in the near future. Here are 20 of them off the top of my head, that really left a lasting impression on me, and 10 more that I hope will leave a mark on me in the future.
Alright, ready, set, let’s go!
1. Climb a 14,000 ft Mountain in Colorado. There is something humbling about physically conquering a challenge within the grandiose and majestic presence of a mountain. The views from the top are breathtaking and the struggle to the top is formative. If you can do this by foot, you will get a little more out of it then doing it in a car. If a car or cog railway is your only realistic approach, then do it! If you are unable to make it to Colorado, New Hampshire’s Mt. Washington up Tuckerman’s Ravine (or the road to the top) is just as challenging and magnificent.
2. Skydive in Hawaii. The first 5 times I jumped out of an airplane, I did it solo as part of my military training at the Air Force Academy. Other than my first jump, sky diving tandem in Hawaii was probably one of the most exciting experiences I have ever had. Falling towards the earth with the beauty of the soft sand and Hawaii shoreline below is comparable to jumping into a warm and cozy bed at the end of a long day, however don’t forget add the adrenaline of riding a roller coaster at terminal velocity.
3. Take a helicopter over Italy’s vineyards. This adventure snuck up on me. While I was in Italy, I was able to jump in the back of a VIP military transport helicopter and take two one hour flights over the beautiful vineyards of Italy. I was lucky enough to do it for free, but given the chance to do it again, I would save up the money. The scenery is truly priceless.
4. Take a stroll down the streets of a third world slum. Although almost as scary as jumping from a perfectly good plane, visiting a slum is worth the experience. I have done this a number of times during humanitarian missions in a few different countries, and each time it reminded me of how little I have done to help those in need. Realistically, we cannot help everyone, but what are we doing to help our neighbors, our family members and our friends? If you feel called to help in a third world, follow the call, but prepare to be broken in all aspects of the word. These visits are now a part of me, and what drive me to succeed in hopes of helping someone else in need.
5. Spend some time in the Embera tribe’s village. The Embera tribe is one of the last and truly indigenous people left in the world. They discovered things like Viagra and cures for cancer using plants from the Panamanian jungle. The cool thing about them is they are very welcoming to outside visitors. You are more than happy to welcome you into their village and homes, feed you, and even entertain you. While you are down in Panama, make sure you stop by the Canal, take a canopy tour, and go Peacock bass fishing!
6. Participate in a month long “boot camp” challenge. I have had four “boot camp” experiences in my life. Three came from the Academy and one came in the form of a month long wrestling camp during high school. Each experience pushed me beyond my physical, mental, and emotional limits. I think it is a good thing to challenge oneself in this way; it really helps one learn their limits and find out that you truly can go farther. I learned a lot about myself each time I chose to put myself in these situations. Today, I see all types of boot camps being marketed all over the place. Look into some of them, give one a try, and stick to it. You won’t regret it.
7. Volunteer in support of what you passionately believe in. I think this is something that should be done on a regular basis throughout one’s life. It can come in many forms. For me it has come in the form of humanitarian missions to third world countries, deploying to serve my country in the Iraq war, and helping at local non-profit organizations like habitat for humanity, the Miracle League, and my church. The adventures and challenges I have faced doing this have meant the most to me.
8. Get a ride in a fighter jet. Getting a flight in a real fighter jet is possible, but for most will cost a boat load of money. Nevertheless, it was incredible experience flying over Venice Italy in an F-16. To be honest, most of the ride felt like being in an airliner, but when we started the 2 v 2 air battle it got real and fast! We pulled so manny G’s I started getting tunnel vision. If you never plan on getting a ride in a fighter jet, I think I had just about the same amount of fun riding Millennium Force at Cedar Point in Ohio. I did it at night, in the dark, with a bunch a smoke filling the air. It was incredible.
9. Scuba dive. Scuba diving always made me nervous and it still does. To sink 40+ feet underwater while completely dependent on a manmade breathing apparatus scares me. While I never had any issues, or known anyone else to, for some reason going down under seems like a huge risk. That being said, I loved every minute of exploring the deep blue. There really is a peace about swimming calmly through the coral and seeing some of the God’s most beautiful and unique creations. If scuba is not for you, you can get a similar experience snorkeling Hanauma Bay in Oahu. Sarah and I have snorkeled there over 10 different times and each time loved it more than the last.
10. Share a cup of tea with someone in the Middle East. Whether it is in Iraq, Thailand, Morocco, India, Panama or Peru, sharing a cup of tea with a friend from a foreign country, in their country, is great way to learn about the culture. For some reason every country does tea differently. In Morocco, I am pretty sure my tea was just a block of sugar with a splash of tea; I literally had to chew it.
11. Hike the Na Pali Coast in Kauai, Hawaii. Sarah and I accomplished this task on Christmas Eve of 2009, right before I deployed to Iraq. It was a quite the challenge. There are a lot of people that do the 3 mile hike to the beach and the waterfall, which is incredible and highly encouraged. But if you have the time, take this hike all the way to the end! It is about 22 miles round trip, so you will need to pack some light camping gear. Unfortunately, Sarah and I only made it 14 of those miles due to dangerously lose rocks after mile 7, but we did get the chance to camp for a night near the edge of a cliff. Also, since not many people hike the entire Na Pali coast, it feels like you get all of Hawaii to yourself. Sarah and I spent 3 hours swimming and resting at the base of a remote waterfall. We had it all to ourselves, without a worry in the world. If you are not the hiking type, you can kayak the entire coast. When we go back, that will be something we will definitely tackle.
12. Listen to your grandparent or parent’s childhood stories. Although time travel doesn’t exist, talking with your grandparents or even your parents about their childhood experiences is a blast. This one by far is one of my most cherished adventures. To go back in time to find out your roots, is exciting. I encourage you not to let this opportunity pass you by, because you never know when your opportunity will expire.
13. Watch a football game at Lambeau Field, a baseball game at Fenway Park, and a soccer game in Brazil. I consider these stadiums the meccas of their respective sports. To cheer along side some of the world’s greatest fans for the world’s greatest athletes is an incredible rush. Each one of the events is different and special in it’s own way. In Brazil, I had the opportunity to attend a soccer game at the second largest stadium in Brazil, Mineirao, in Belo Horizonte. While cheering for the Packers at Lambeau or the Red Sox at Fenway is incredible, there is something about being in Brazil and watching soccer that cannot be topped.
14. Wander the streets of Venice, Florence, and Rome. This experience will take you back in time and revive any closet romantic’s charm. Venice, Florence, and Rome are a must see. You can take a train between all three cities, seeing them all in one 3 day weekend if you don’t have much time to spare (like me). I would suggest taking your time, at least 2-3 days in each of them so that you can appreciate all they have to offer. You can see the David, ride a Gondola, tour the Vatican City, and gawk at The Last Supper all while chopping down on some of the earth’s best pizza!
15. Eat Dinner (Pad Thai) in the tallest building in Bangkok, Thailand, Baiyoke Sky Tower. Thailand is a beautiful country, the food is amazing, and Bangkok never sleeps! Taking an elevator to the top of a 1000 foot building and seeing the glimmer of the city lights was incredible, it has inspired me to put Hong Kong next on my plate. All that being said, viewing NYC from the Top of the Rock in Rockefeller Center in my opinion was just as extraordinary.
16. Visit LA, Vegas, Washington D.C., and NYC. I am not much of a “big city” guy, but seeing these brightly lit metropolises at least once is worth the set of plane tickets. The people watching alone should make your day, not to mention you will be amazed by how industrious and creative people can be. Of the four cities listed, Washington D.C. was my favorite. There is something about seeing our nation’s capital (the buildings/monuments) that made me proud to be an American. Viewing the Lincoln Memorial at night is worth its weight in gold.
17. Explore Alaska! Go deep-sea fishing in Homer Alaska, visit Eagle River’s Nature Center, and take a flight over some of Alaska’s solemn glaciers. This should be on everyone’s bucket list. Go in August and you won’t have to worry about bad whether or endless darkness.
18. Take part in a disaster relief mission. We all hope and pray there won’t be any more disasters needing relief, but it seems that they are on the rise. I encourage everyone to save a little of their income each month to be reserved for helping those in need. Whether it is personally traveling to ground zero, or financially supporting those who do, this adventure is one that will help others in a time of need, build community, and allow you to partake in making the world a better place.
19. Try a Beer and Sausage in Germany or Austria. Mustard, Sausage, and German Beer oh my! While there, stop by a castle or two if you get the chance! I got to see Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria.
20. Run in the Boston Marathon. Wait don’t…well actually, I will leave this one as optional. I have ran two of them (marathons) and it has become a love/hate relationship. The secret to get into Boston, without being a champion runner, is to raise money for a charity. I figure, if you are planning to run a marathon, you might as well make it Boston! Stop at the Sam Adam’s Brewery for a tour, and make sure to hit Doyle’s Cafe for lunch while you’re in town.
Now for some of what is to come…
21. Travel to all 7 Continents. I have been to 5, Australia and Antarctica are waiting for me…
22. Hike Annapurna. I am not one that would hike Mt. Everest, but I would love to hike beside it at 10-20 thousand feet.
23. Snowboard in Montenegro. After seeing James Bond, Casino Royale, this country became an immediate must see adventure.
24. Spend a night camping at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. This one I have heard a lot about. People come from all over the world to experience this great divide, I might as well climb down and take a look for myself and see what all the hype is about.
25. Go Fly fishing in Montana. Always being a bait and lure guy myself, I have never taken on the challenge of fly fishing, until now. This winter I went out and purchased my first fly rod to prepare for my upcoming adventure. I know a lot of great people from Montana, and absolutely love the movies that have been filmed there: A River Runs Through it, Lonesome Dove, and Legends of the Fall. (Although Legends of the Fall was based on a ranch in Montana, it was filmed in Alberta, Canada). I think it is time for a vacation to Great Falls, Butte, Missoula, Big Timber, and Paradise Valley. Who knows, I might even buy a ranch and retire there while I am at it.
26. Learn a foreign language and use it! I can’t wait for this adventure to begin, and the countless opportunities it will bring. It is already in the works (language TBD). I will be sure to keep you updated.
27. Play soccer with kids, barefoot on gravel, in a foreign country. While I was in Thailand I was stepping all over the kid’s bare feet with my clunky shoes while playing soccer in the gravel street. At that time, I made it a goal of mine to toughen up my wimpy feet and return someday.
28. Take on the challenge and privilege of being a parent! Yes mom, it’s in the cards.
29. Become the Mayor of a city. This is one of those adventures I plan to tackle after I “retire.” There would be nothing more humbling than to have the honor of being chosen to help a city, and all its residents, reach their max potential.
30. Wildcard. I will leave this one open for whatever door or doors open next. There is hardly a time I turn down an opportunity that is worth taking. Some of the most exciting adventures I have been on are ones that I have spontaneously decide to attain and that were never in the cards…
What are some of your past adventures? What do you have planned for the future? Please share!
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