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Oh the Places You’ll Go; Dr. Ryan’s Travel Adventures

By Ellie Sams


Biology, teaching, c-wing, and honeybees are a few things that come to mind when the name “Dr. Ryan” is mentioned. But, have you ever associated traveling to all 50 states, 12 different countries, Africa and Antarctica to his name as well?            

Dr. Ryan’s travels originate all the way back to him growing up in a small south-central town in Wisconsin called Belleville. In addition, he has also lived in Utah, Texas, South Carolina, Wyoming, Florida, Missouri, and has been living in Massachusetts for the past 20 years. The reason for all of these moves, he explained, was because of work and relationships.

As for a favorite, he simply replied, “There’s so many cool places. But, probably Texas because of the geographical variety of both deserts and mountains”.  

Although Ryan has loved every trip for different reasons, two standouts are Africa and Antarctica. He said the unique part about the Antarctica trip was that it was “so quiet and unspoiled”.

One of his favorite memories from this excursion was jumping into the “wicked cold” Arctic ocean with his wife. Tied to a rope on the boat in order to stay close by when they jumped, the lineup of him and his wife was too close together and he blocked her from the first picture that was being taken of them. Despite her thinking it was a joke when the photographer said they had to jump in again, they did it anyways and a clearer picture was snapped.

The route taken to Antarctica started in the United States then to Rio de Janeiro, followed by Buenos Aires, then to Ushwaya, then by boat from South America to Antarctica which was about a two day trip by itself.

However, that is not even the longest trip he has been on! His 2007 motorcycle trip across the United States began the day after school let out, and ended the day before faculty and students went back. Ryan started his adventure in Massachusetts, then drove along interstate 90 to Montana. From Montana, he drove to Canada to get on the Canadian Alaskan Highway, which brought him to his three-week destination, Alaska.

After exploring the vast state with his wife, she flew home and he proceeded to do his four corners ride. This included going to Washington, then to San Ysidro, California, then along the southern parts of the United States, like Key West, eventually making it back up North to Madawaska, Maine. Although he has visited all 50 states at one point or another, he has motorcycled in all but two: Idaho and Hawaii.  

In 2017 he went to Africa, specifically Zimbabwe and South Africa. “South Africa was much more urbanized and unlike the stereotypical African setting”, however he described Zimbabwe as being “a lot more what we had in mind,” regarding the description of the country.

Ryan describes his favorite memory as, “Riding in the back of a pickup truck on a safari, being 20 feet away from two mother lions and their cubs and watching them eat an elephant”.

These memories are standouts for sure, but he said the best part about traveling is, “seeing the way the world is tied together and the similarities and differences between cultures”.

Dr. Ryan encourages everyone to travel as much as they can. As he says, “I have so many friends that have never traveled before. But once they do, they’ll turn into travel fanatics”.

When asked if he preferred hot or cold climates more, Ryan gave the answer any dedicated traveler would give: “I don’t really think about that when going places”. He then juxtaposed the hot and dry climate of the Galapagos, which he first visited with students in 2013, to the frigid temperatures in Antarctica.

In regards to upcoming trips, he is traveling to China with students this summer, to Peru in February 2019, and to the Galapagos for a third time with students in February 2020.

When asked for a closing thought in relation to traveling he responded, “I encourage people to meet others, find commonalities, and see the world”. Dr. Ryan is a textbook example of someone who does not wait around for something to come to him, he goes out to find it, because well, adventure really is all around.

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