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Everyday Adventures, a guide for your inner Jones

People often say, "I'd love to go on an adventure, but I don't know where to start."

They think to be a consummate outdoorsman you need some kind of special training. I wish I could say that I spent a year roasting scorpions over an open fire with the French Foreign Legion, but that was not the case.

Truth be told, I am not much different from many of you, just a middle-class kid from the suburbs who spent too much time watching Tarzan movies on a black-and-white TV.

But long before Indiana Jones made adventure cool, I dreamed of traveling to far-off, exotic places in search of a wild life that I knew existed from reading the pages of National Geographic.

It took a couple of decades and several thousand miles of globe-trotting before I figured out that the excitement I sought could be found right here in my own back yard. I often referred to these jaunts into the swamps and scrub as my "everyday adventures."

In college at the University of South Florida, I often wondered how I could make a living messing around in the woods and on the water.

I took a variety of courses, including Canoeing, Viking History and one called Beginning Reporting, where I learned how to write stories about traffic accidents and city council meetings, instead of doing something that I really wanted, like chasing alligators down the Hillsborough River.

The only really fun thing that I remember about my years as a journalism student was reading a piece about a monster hammerhead shark by a fellow named Jeff Klinkenberg, outdoors writer for the St. Petersburg Times.

"I want that job like that," I told my instructor.

"There are only a dozen of those in the country, Tomalin," he said. "And you're not getting one."

But somehow, less than a decade later, I found myself at the St. Petersburg Times, writing about the Great Outdoors.

Like any good Boy Scout, I knew how to camp and fish, but all that other stuff — from scuba diving to sea kayaking — I had to learn on the job. If there had only been a book to help get me started, it would have saved me much pain and suffering.

Well, it has taken me 20 years, but after countless scrapes, bruises and a few minor surgeries, I have compiled much of what I have learned into a book called Everyday Adventures.

I chose the title for a reason.

The activities and trips — some last just a day and others could take as long as a week — are designed for everyday people with a spirit of adventure. If a middle-aged father of two can do it, why can't you?

Everybody has to start somewhere, so don't let your prior experiences limit your future. So what if you have never surfed a hurricane swell or gone lobstering in the Florida Keys? This book will tell you how and where to get started.

Want to paddle a sea kayak around the state? Or maybe just canoe across the Everglades. No problem, Everyday Adventures has the inside scoop.

It doesn't matter if you want to fish for tarpon or hunt alligators, you can do it. Trust me. I know.

After a lifetime of adventure, the one thing I can say for sure is that the more I learn I realize the less I know. This world is a big place. Every time I step outside, I pretend it is for the first time.

Keep your eyes and ears open. Try new things. If I can do it, so can you.

Great adventurers are not born, they are made, one small accomplishment at a time.

I used to think, "Attitude is everything." But today, with more than 20 years of adventures under my belt, I am older and wiser. I know now that "Attitude is the only thing."

.fast facts

Everyday Adventures: A Florida Outdoors Guide

By Terry Tomalin

Seaside Publishing, $14.95,

The book will be available at the Times' Festival of Reading on Saturday at the USF-St. Petersburg campus. Tomalin will give a presentation at 11:15 a.m. in the Science & Tech building, Room 123, and be available to sign copies from 1 to 3 p.m. at the St. Petersburg Times tent. To learn more, go to

Everyday Adventures, a guide for your inner Jones

10/20/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 5:51pm]
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