Exploring Many Pools….and Beyond

I have been wondering lately, what is the driving force behind the impulse to explore? Curiosity? Restlessness? Risk Taking? What is behind that urge to leave the creature comforts of a warm rig and comfortable lounge chair to go to such remote places for the sake of exploration? And why do some feel the call, and not others? What prompts that primal urge to push beyond the boundaries for the sake of seeing what is there? Why is finding the end of an unmarked trail as challenging yet satisfying for some as getting the last bit of peanut butter out of the bottom of the jar is for others?IMG_2229



Some say this is genetically driven. I recently read an article that suggests 20% of our species has this gene. I would be inclined to believe it was hereditary, since my Dad was the consummate wanderer, a trait which he passed on to two out of three of his children, as much as he did our brown eyes and “original” dark brown hair. The oldest drives his Land Cruiser from Texas to Nicaragua. As the middle child, I have the bottomless bucket list. Yet our third and youngest sibling still lives in our home town, and seems content to remain there.



I recently asked several of my hiking buddies this same question. Answers are as varied as the brands on our hiking boots. Some do it for total immersion and distraction via “mind-body coordination.” (What is the difference between swimming and drowning? Mind-body coordination!) Some do it for the athletic stimulation that comes from scrambling and using muscles not typically tapped. And then there are the “explorers” among us who do it simply to see what lies beyond…



Several hikes with “the gang” recently have ended only because the trail ends. We are forced to turn because of some uncrossable chasm, some insurmountable wall. Such was the case on the “Many Pools” hike, an unofficial trail in Zion National Park. Not that it was insurmountable for Mark and Bobbie, mind you, but they had 10 of us following along on this hike. So the turning point was not so much technical as it was comfort level of the group, as most of us waited behind while the “explorers” tried to chart a course over the obstacles.


But the hike just became more strenuous as we went, so the choice to turn was evident as links in the chain of hikers was broken at different intervals along the way.IMG_2331



This did not stop the “expedition,” however as the “explorers” of the group just found a side canyon to continue. Within minutes, there were shouts back from the front of the pack; “The stream has water, but it is crossable. I think it keeps on goiinnngg…..”

Gotta love Bobbie's "Fancy Footwork!"

Gotta love Bobbie’s “Fancy Footwork!”



I am curious to learn what drives exploration among my blog readers? Were you born with it? Do you feel that insatiable drive to see “what’s around the bend?” Or is a campfire and a comfy chair enough? And why?

19 thoughts on “Exploring Many Pools….and Beyond

  1. I am a born again explorer…. but then you knew that. I started all day treks at the age of 9, and my heart always pulls to the next bend. My only sibling was a nester and didn’t travel unless necessary. Don’t get me wrong, I love a crackling campfire on occasion and if one must deal with winter it is so much nicer in a warm abode without watching the solar wattage melting away. But them the restlessness sets in an the itch that is satisfied only by exploration drives me to a new and unexplored place.

  2. Im convinced I was born with it. I’ve always felt the urge to explore and always felt better, and more like in touch with nature (and myself?) while in motion. Love the pool pics. No-one was tempted to soak?


    • Nina, believe it or not, I did say “if that water was warm, I might be tempted!” But we have even found some to be coated in a layer of ice!

  3. My father grew up an outdoors-man and my mother, a city-bred girl, happily (Well – most the time anyway.) learned the craft and traveled with him, first with us kids in tow (Get it? In tow – oh never mind. . .) then later as a pair, until he couldn’t any longer. There’s a family story that I, the oldest, went on my first camping trip at the age of 2 months in a borrowed tent, and 60 years later I’m still at it, though not in a tent thank you very much! I too have a pair of siblings, but I seem to be the only one that got the ‘exploration gene’ as the other two are very much nesters.

    I suppose there is an element of ‘what’s over that next hill’ in it for me, but I think the largest driver in my case is getting away from the ordinary and doing something not just everybody has. I get all warm and fuzzy when I can capture that feeling of accomplishment, which is only heightened by rubbery legs, burning lungs and the occasional fright. I also do it to leave behind the noise and crowds, and find places where it’s quiet enough to hear and feel and experience the universe in all it’s many forms.

  4. I’ve often pondered this question. I realized during my working years that I was the odd one that liked change. It was my first realization that many others didn’t like change. Thinking of my parents and grand-parents, I sometimes felt I didn’t fit in, because I thought moving was exciting – couldn’t wait – no one else felt this way, I thought. It wasn’t until I was caring for my Dad that I discovered his love of travel, things changing – woo hoo, I do belong in this family! How did I miss this important trait in my Dad? How could it take me 69 years to find this out? When I asked him about this, he said “I just went along with what your mom wanted – it was easier that way”…ahhh. We spent his last months talking about places he wanted to go, and encouraging me to “go while you can”…My vote is genetics.

  5. I guess it is the born explorer. Anyone hiking with me knows the urging comment, “Oh come on, one more switchback!” I always want to know what is there, what is around the next curve, what have I yet to see. My father, someone I didn’t know well until later in life, was an airplane jumper, water ski racer, motorcycle leaper, crazy man. My grandmother hitchhiked from Arkansas to California alone in 1929. I vote genetics.

  6. I grew up in two homes both in the same town. As soon as I had a drivers license I fled. The oldest of eight I kept returning for family events. Found my man, married and planted roots, in my home town. I have been here ever since.

    One of my favorite escapes, with a grand excuse, was to take the kids hiking in the mountains. I purchased a little paperback book; 100 Hikes in Western Washington, the escape. On little cards I labeled each page #, tossed them in a magic hat, shook them up and we would close our eyes and pick a card, The hike. By 5am the next day we were on the road. By noon we were mid hike. by evening we were heading home with great stories to tell.

    Every hike had a picture in the book. When we found that location I would pose the children exactly the same as the book. It became the excuse. We have to go hiking to get another picture of us in the book. We did this for years–so many books–

    My son would rather sleep in dirt and eat squirrels than live with humans. My daughter will go camping and hiking with creature comforts. I am excited to finally leave my town and see the US. Two months ago I purchased my Airstream. Two days ago I purchased my tow vehicle. My home is near empty and will be on the market in December. I will be on the road after Christmas entering the new year with nothing but excitement about my new adventurous life. I believe it’s in the genes as I was grew up always fishing and loving it. 🙂

  7. Born with it for sure, and reinforced by a family that took vacations every year and bought an RV when I was 11…almost immediately setting off on a 6 week trip around the US. My parents (driven mostly by my dad, whom I am most like) still take long trips…they did Alaska this summer. Even when we had a house I was always searching out new places to explore in my home town. It’s wonderful to now have a wide open pallet to choose from…though any place I settle down will have to have a lot of opportunities for exploration within say 50 miles!

    I love how you are pushing your limits! Retirement does wonders for the soul!

  8. “Everybody has to leave, everybody has to leave their home and come back so they can love it again for all new reasons….And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in a play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you about learning to love a woman or a man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone…It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
    It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
    I want to repeat one word for you:
    (Donald Miller, “Through Painted Deserts”

  9. Wow, could it be both? I was a real homebody while raising my children, although a farm does make for a wonderful life, and great outdoor adventures. But animals (cows and horses) put a real crimp on travel, they don’t take care of themselves. But now the children are 18 and 20, and mom wants to hit the road. I love planning trips and new adventures! Your blog has me planning a Utah trip next fall. I am so lucky to live in NW Arkansas that is central to some wonderful areas to explore. BUT this wonderful log home we live in, will always call me back to it. Life is good isn’t it! And the children say “Where are you headed NOW”…

  10. Why? I guess with me it has always been why not? The next corner, the impossibility of it all, the desire to see what is there. The desire has led me into some wonderful, some boring and some dangerous places. Every one in retrospect was worth it. Some times scary, but I would do each one again.

  11. Oh, yes, we are always looking around that next corner. We rarely ever sit and relax until dark which is why we aren’t real concerned about what our parks look like outside. As long as I have FHU’s, I am a happy camper anywhere I can get out and explore.

    I guess for us our wandering is genetic. My parents wandered the world constantly and John’s parents were US wanderers in a pop up. Never really thought about it being in our blood, but it is:)

  12. I’m definitely an “around the bend” girl, but mental stimulation and physical exertion of exploring are bonuses I’ve gotten addicted to the last few years as well. The only thing that keeps me out of trouble when I’m out wandering is knowing either that it’s going to be dark soon or that my less wandersome husband is waiting for me back at home base. I keep saying I’m likely to die falling off a cliff someday…I kind of really hope that’s how it goes but how likely, right? In the middle of reading “Alone But Never Lonely” BTW.

    • Pam, thanks so much for comments, and for your support with the book. It was definitely a “labor of love,” so I hope it doesn’t put you to sleep, but maybe be a good cure for insomnia. 😉

  13. Sorry, didn’t mean to be done. My two kids didn’t inherit the wanderlust and my parents don’t have it either but as a kid I was exploring canyons in California and climbling trees in Illinois as we moved with my dad’s Navy transfers. The Navy situation is especially weird since my Dad has no interest in travel or exploration at all, can you believe they DROVE THROUGH Yellowstone years ago and didn’t even get out of the car? Just the thought makes me insane.

  14. The scenery here is fantastic and like nothing anywhere in Europe. Great pictures too. I bet those hikes are tiring as its most rock scrambling, and very little flat walking, still good for the leg muscles. You’re having a good time with the BC crew, and I bet work seems like a lifetime away now.

  15. I loved, loved LOVED each and every one of these responses! Thank you so much to all my “kindred spirits” for sharing your thoughts on what drives the “explorer” in you. The question certainly prompted a lot of self-reflection for me as it apparently did for each of you. I think we all know there is no one certain answer, except for the obvious…”Follow your heart!”

  16. This is one of the best posts I have ever read in all my blog reading days! I love the comments and this is something I have been wondering about as far back as I can remember wondering.

    I have no idea why I’m the way I am. No one… absolutely no one, I knew ~ family or friends in my world … Texarkana, Arkansas~Texas ~ had a wandering or a wondering bone in their body.

    Maybe that’s why I left at 18 in 1961 .. when no woman did anything other than get married ~ have kids and write their prospective groom’s name in their notebook 5 bazillion times …

    I can remember sitting on our front porch when we lived in the country until I was 8 … looking out over the rim of trees ~ wondering what was there. I would go into my little pine forest grove beside my house … and spend all day with my animals looking through the trees with the filtered sunlight beaming down … thinking.. someday … I want to see what’s up there …

    I was fascinated with planes ~ no TV back in those days ~ just our imaginations … and boy! did I have one.

    What a ride this 71.5 years has been … I’ve never hiked or backpacked as you … but I explored life in many peculiar, exhilarating, how can I still be alive ~ ways.

    and, I have no idea where it came from other than … if it’s genetic .. from whom did it come … maybe Marco Polo was an ancestor .. you reckon?

  17. It makes perfect sense that wanderlust would be genetic. The species needs to have some highly curious explorer types for long-term survival. But thank goodness only a relatively small percentage of the population has the gene. Otherwise, no one would stay home and the wild places and highways would be overrun with people!

    For me, the love of travel and exploration is driven by curiosity and a desire for stimulation and change. Those same drives also led me to move every few years and to change jobs frequently. I moved to Alaska when I was 20 without knowing anyone there. Just because it intrigued me and I wanted to see what it was like. My husband did the same. Made for a good match.

    But I also have the nesting gene–coming from a long line of farmers. Love to garden, raise bees, have dogs, cook, fix up houses, and mess about in boats. We are traveling now but likely will eventually combine part-time travel with a little homestead as well. The best of both worlds for us.

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