At its heart, adventure travel is about testing limits—of altitude, temperature and, at times, good sense. Here, some thrill-seeking pros explain the urge to take things to extremes.
Illustration Dave Murray
Alaska Travel Adventures: Randy Timothy
“I’ve been leading prospecting tours for about eight years now. Each one lasts about two hours, including travel time. We guides are older, pretty much retired, and we try to make it fun. We each have a nickname, for instance—mine is Rocker Box Randy. I wear a big floppy hat with a feather, and I let my beard get straggly. I keep a little dust in my pocket, so if a kid fails to find anything I can sprinkle it in his pan.
In the 1880s there was a big mine on this site. There’s still millions of dollars’ worth of gold here, but the problem is it would cost at least that much to get it all out. The gold is scattered everywhere, like someone took a giant salt shaker and sprinkled it.
People aren’t doing this to get rich—if that were the case, I wouldn’t be driving buses—but you might come away with three or four dollars’ worth of gold flakes. It’s kind of addicting. You’ll see older women with their grandkids, and they’ll say they don’t need any equipment, that they’re just here for the kids. Two hours later, you won’t be able to find Grandma, because she’s out there somewhere on her hands and knees, in her nylons and her dress, trying to find one more piece.”
Among the tours offered by Arizona-based Archaeological Adventures are ones that it describes as “hands-on”—meaning clients have the opportunity “to probe the mysteries of the past.” In other words, to crawl around looking for little bits of pottery on large pieces of land. archaeologicadventures.com
For noise, speed and dirt, Redneck Resort Mud Park, in Sweetwater, Tenn., has 150 acres dedicated to mud-bashing in all-terrain vehicles, plus post-bash music events at Club Mud. Jackets not required.