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Science as Leisure

Liz Marchio

I am a trained ichthyologist interested in what gets people interested in natural history, biological sciences, and science careers. My passion is to find out what fuels curiosity for the natural world.

Biology-related serious leisure activities can impact people's interest in ecology, biology, and natural history. Do these activities promote biological understanding? If so, how does that progress and to what level does it progress to? 

If you're interested in a starting a dialogue, please feel free to contact me. If you're curious about how I got here, my story can be found on the About Me page.

 

What Solo Travel Teaches

I just got back from 5-6 weeks abroad in Australia where the last 10 days consisted of me, a Land Rover (complete with tent, fridge, GPS, and camping materials), and Australians. I survived and have never been happier.

Creeped out by a fellow traveler at first, once I warmed up the gentleman (and wife) gave me substantial advice. They pulled out a map, helped me figure out a route, and gave me further ideas and information. 

Creeped out by a fellow traveler at first, once I warmed up the gentleman (and wife) gave me substantial advice. They pulled out a map, helped me figure out a route, and gave me further ideas and information. 

At the start of the solo trip, what I called my "walkabout", I was nervous. I rented a car that was out of my price range and was worried about the money I had spent, I was worried about physically driving the car since it was a stick shift and I was in a country that drove opposite of the States, and most of all... I was alone.  

The first worries consumed me for sometime, well, about 3 of the 10 days. Once I got into the car and practiced a bit... Driving was fine. The stick shift was actually helpful in making decisions about the use of the turn signal (I was told it was easy to accidentally use the window screen wipers instead). I conquered driving much faster and more thoroughly than I thought I would. And you know what? I celebrated that accomplishment daily. Each day I did well, I allowed myself to feel good. Sure, it was a little accomplishment, but that once consuming worry was fading fast and my trip was better for it. I'm usually very hard on myself but I realized it was ok to make mistakes. I made a few. I turned down the wrong streets, I accidentally got into the right lane after turning around once, and I planned poorly some days and fell behind my flippant travel schedule. But, hell. I was out there in another world, traveling on my own! And I was rocking it! 

My sweet ride camped out in Springbrook National Park. This site was suggested by a random guy I met in Surfer's Paradise on a beach as he was walking out to go whale watching. Yes, the conversation with him lasted a bit longer than I expected it to, but his suggestion turned out to be my one of my top two favorite camp sites. Note the yellow-tailed black cockatoo in the left tree.

My sweet ride camped out in Springbrook National Park. This site was suggested by a random guy I met in Surfer's Paradise on a beach as he was walking out to go whale watching. Yes, the conversation with him lasted a bit longer than I expected it to, but his suggestion turned out to be my one of my top two favorite camp sites. Note the yellow-tailed black cockatoo in the left tree.

The price of the car rental and the worries about it consumed me for much longer. There were several other car rental places that were 1/3 the price. However, when I thought about the amenities I had and the people I was supporting by renting the car... The money worries eventually melted away. The owner of the rental business, Bear Rentals (wwww.bearrentals.com.au), picked me up and dropped me off at the airports each time, he offered me a place to stay on my last night, and he shared a lot of time and information with me. He even built the camper car I rented! He ran the business! And he was my age, maybe younger. I was impressed and found myself kinda proud to support him and his venture. Plus, he hooked me up with a bike and surfboard rental, GPS, and tons of travel help. 3 days after starting my trip, I was happy with the rental and would definitely repeat the experience.

3 days in Sydney were a huge change from my previous 7 days of camping in national parks. People everywhere and like any city, sometimes a bit rough around the edges. But, once I settled down, felt comfortable and able, I felt at home.

3 days in Sydney were a huge change from my previous 7 days of camping in national parks. People everywhere and like any city, sometimes a bit rough around the edges. But, once I settled down, felt comfortable and able, I felt at home.

My last worry, traveling alone, stayed with me in a small form for most of the trip. I had my pepperspray handy in case I was stuck in a bad situation and I had an Aussie phone for emergencies. The only real issue I had was completely mental and fabricated. I listened to some older women I met at a couple caravan parks along the way- "be careful!", "don't be alone!". While these sentiments are obviously helpful, and I heeded them, it also made me unfriendly and scared. I was fearful when I would pull into a camping area. I felt like a potential victim; a target. But you know what? I never was. I never had a threatening situation beyond one time where I misunderstood a situation and another when a homeless looking man actually gave me very helpful directions on the Sydney train. Both times, I armed myself, covertly, with the pepperspray and each time, the threat faded and once I was a bit more friendly, the people around me shifted perspective in my head and became people. 

The intrinsicly good nature of people, foreign or not, was one of the best lessons I learned. Yes, it is hard to trust people and strangers can be threatening; however, if you never take chances, never let anyone further in than arms-length away, you'll always experience life a little less. So, get out there! Take chances! And as one of my favorite role models for students, teachers, and women states:

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Thanks for reading and following! The following link is to an article that helped motivate me to write this blog post: 

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/5519693?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000023&ir=Good+News

 

 

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