Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Quetico Canada

When I think of Earth Day I always think this picture from Quetico in Canada

Saturday is Earth Day and in honor, Green Global Travel is hosting a blog carnival on nature. I want to thank Hike Bike Travel for bringing this to my attention in her fine photo essay on nature. When I think of nature and outdoor adventure travel, I think of the word “atavism.”

The Webster’s definition of atavism is a trait that skips a generation.  On a very generic level, this can explain why a grandfather and a son are a jerk, but the father in between is a nice guy.

On a deeper level though, the word explains why I love outdoor adventure travel. Seeing nature is a large component of my love for the outdoors.


Webster’s definition of atavism

Have you ever wondered why it feels good to sit around the campfire, paddle a canoe, or watch a river flow? For people who love the outdoors, these activities stir something inside of them.


Something there is that loves a fire

Most people who feel this way have a hard time describing why they love the outdoors or they may not have given it much thought. Have you ever asked a canoeist why he likes to paddle? Have you ever asked a birdwatcher why he likes to mark off a blue-footed booby off his life bird watching list? If you have, you probably got a less than satisfactory answer. They probably shrugged their shoulders and said “I dunno, I just enjoy it.” I think I can answer this question for all who love outdoor adventure travel. The answer is the word atavism.

bull moose Quetico

Bull moose in Quetico Provincial Park

Scroll back up to the definition and you may not make the connection to my point. Atavism is not just a trait that skips one generation. It could be a trait that has skipped many generations or downright disappeared for centuries.

green-winged macaw Guyana

Green-winged macaw in the Iwokrama Rainforest in Guyana

We have all lost a connection to the outdoors compared to our forefathers. Even the most active is only out on the weekends or perhaps a week or two at a time. The rest of our lives we are tied to our cars, computers, and jobs.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Great egret in the Big Cypress National Preserve in Flordia

When we do go outside and hike a trail, paddle a waterway, or see a moose it arouses something inside of us that connects us to our ancestors. This could be the pioneers that discovered, explored, and killed Native Americans or even back farther to the dawn of man in the Great Rift Valley. Perhaps this is why many who travel to Africa fall deeply for it because it ignites a spark that is deeper than anywhere else since it is where man originated.

Wisconsin Mississippi River confluence

The Wisconsin River meets the Mississippi in southwestern Wisconsin

When I sit around the campfire I am enjoying it not only because I like to burn things (although I do enjoy a good burning), I am enjoying it because I feel like a settler breaking new ground in a new world and burning firewood to survive. When I view a beautiful outdoor vista like the confluence of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers, I am not enjoying it just because it is beautiful, although it certainly is.  I am entranced with it because I feel at one with a Native American hunter who passed by this same spot on the way to hunt deer for his tribe and took a moment’s pause from his task to admire the scenery.  When I see an interesting bird it is not just a mark off a list, but a moment I share with John James Audubon when he was on his scientific quest to document the beautiful birds of North America.

Bald eagle Wisconsin River

Bald eagle on the Wisconsin River


The goal of Traveling Ted TV is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).