Why I Embrace Adventure
By Gene Kruckemyer ’73
Adventure is often just around the corner.
When I was a kid growing up in Orlando, I’d explore with friends on what we called the Penny Bike Ride. We’d pedal to a corner, flip a penny and ride whichever way the coin directed: Heads, go left; tails, go right.
Some trips would unceremoniously end up right back on our street after circling the block. Other times our adventure would take us miles away into the unknown as we pedaled not sure where our expedition was heading or what we’d see. Abraham Lincoln was our guide — at least until it was time to head home for dinner.
I think these early explorations set the pattern for me to later embrace the draw of adventures when I wasn’t sure where I’d end up or what would happen, such as canoeing through the sweltering Everglades, camping in the freezing Yukon Territory, backpacking through desert and mountain wildernesses, spending the night in an abandoned California mining ghost town, hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail, and being pulled into many other grand and eye-opening adventures.
Heading out on an adventure is not something to be pushed into. Nobody likes being pushed. It’s more about being pulled into it. To me, that curious pull of anticipation is a strong draw to discover the unknown.
Going on an adventure is not only about finding out something about the world, but more importantly, it’s about finding out something about yourself. While doing something that is out of the ordinary for you, you discover what you can face, endure, accomplish and overcome.
Adventures teach us to see the world in a new light and may show us how resourceful or strong we are — or maybe aren’t. You might find some answers, but they may not be the answers you’re looking for.
Half the adventure is getting there.
I once went on a vacation road trip with my wife, Nancy, with no destination in mind — just the plan to drive until we decided to stop. In this case, that happened to be about 700 miles away in Appomattox, Virginia, near the site of a key Civil War battle and where generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant signed the paperwork to end that war. We stayed in the area a few days to explore the history, then headed out again to our next unknown destination stop — which turned out to be Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
We stopped because we didn’t want to drive into the Atlantic Ocean.
Our destination wasn’t the ultimate goal; our journey was. I have no desire to parachute out of a plane, jump off a bridge tethered to a bungee cord, or eat chocolate-covered grasshoppers. And on the scale of things, some of the adventures I embark on pale in comparison to what some other people may approach.
Not everyone’s definition of adventure is the same, but everyone should at least have that next adventure to look forward to — and it doesn’t have to be expensive, distant or dangerous. Sometimes it is just taking the time to understand where you are. It has been said that if you don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are.
Even little Opie Taylor, son of Sheriff Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, saw the allure of adventure. When he was nearly displaced from his bedroom by a visitor coming to Mayberry, he looked forward to sleeping on the family’s ironing board propped between two chairs. He called it “adventure sleeping.”
Opie had the right attitude. He took something simple — even mundane — and turned it into his own personal and exciting adventure.
I — we — need to interact with the world to understand it. That’s why I still like to set out on adventures large and small, such as exploring Boston, Philadelphia, Portland, the Florida Panhandle and Charleston, South Carolina, in the past few years. But I also embrace the adventures of make-believe in a backyard treehouse with my imaginative grandson, finding shells and interesting driftwood along the beach, and discovering that some of the best things are the simple things.
Even writing this turned into an adventure — when I started, I didn’t know where it would take me or how it would end. And that is what adventure is all about.
Gene Kruckemyer ’73 took the adventure of enrolling at the new and uncharted Florida Technological University in 1969 — long before it was known as UCF. After a newspaper career, he now serves as the university’s news editor.