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Looking for adventure in all the right places

Travel broadens the mind and the derriere and flattens the wallet.

Still, it is a worthy pursuit that one may control by heading for home when either time or money runs out on a whichever-comes-first basis.

No one gets to go everywhere, not even the legendary woman who is said to live year-round aboard the Queen Elizabeth II.

We've also read about an obviously wealthy man who keeps a 12-month suite reservation on a ship, which he boards frequently between business engagements. He has enough clout, they say, to have the Chinese cooks make up special dishes for him.

It has been our experience locally that Alaska and Australia are two favorite places people would like to visit. Fast gaining popularity with those is New Zealand.

Start with Alaska. It's gorgeous, even awesome at times. Go in the summer months unless you want to take up dog-sledding. We found that being there at the time of summer solstice in June during the longest daylight period was especially interesting.

It is celebration time, and there are a variety of events to attend, including a baseball game that starts at midnight.

Here's a tip we learned too late. Fly to Anchorage first, then return to Vancouver by ship. After tramping and touring rugged Alaska, you'll likely be so tired that the restful, slow cruise through the majestic scenery will be much appreciated.

We did it the wrong way, first cruising northward. Returning home, we took the only flight time available _ an all-night ride to Detroit, arriving just as dawn broke over the industrial city.

If you think that a numbing night ride from Anchorage to Detroit isn't a long trip, you could verify it by looking it up. Eventually we arrived in Tampa so groggy that Peggy and I could barely communicate.

Australia, the other "A" destination of local preference, is an underpopulated huge island.

Nevertheless, it is a fascinating country, a nation we'd like to return to even if we did spend the better part of five months there in 1986-87.

Don't let anyone convince you that Australia can be fully seen in a fortnight or less, any more than a foreign visitor could see most of our country in a week or 10 days. Consider a month's time a realistic minimum.

It is a country wide open to the adventurous. Last year, St. Petersburg retired judge Bob Beach roamed the Australian rim and drove into the interior outback in a Rent-a-Wreck car. Slept in it, too. Ah yes, there are still some people left like that. "Good on them," as the Australians say about those they admire and applaud.

A highlight for us in Down Under Land was a train trip across the country from Sydney to Perth on the Indian Ocean side. It's a three-day trek that tends to bring interesting people together. A jolly good time, if you choose to make it so.

Over a drink or two, I spent a couple of gabby hours with an Australian discussing the merits, pro and con, of English cricket versus American baseball _ that sort of thing.

However, the journey does disappoint some who contend that there is nothing to see out the train windows other than endless, mostly barren land upon which nothing over 6 feet tall seems to grow.

Perhaps our grain of travel consciousness is at odds with most others when it comes to nothingness. We cruised our boat Final Edition over to Corpus Christi from Bradenton one spring. Upon arrival, we were told that it would be a waste of time to make the 140-mile trip on down to the Port Isabel-Brownsville area on the Mexican border.

Not a lick of anything worth seeing, eh?

So we fired up the always reliable old diesel engine and took off, heading into skinny water depths, a stay-in-the-channel cruise down the elongated Laguna Madre waters.

Within a day's time we were well into large colonies of birds, hundreds of them, notably the wading specialists working a continuous buffet line in the shallow flats.

Since we began our cruising lives, Peggy and I have kept bird books within quick reach while under way.

We could have hardly asked for more in nothing-there country than the miles we spent idling by bird rookeries.

We did make it to Brownsville and Port Isabel.

That was 20 years ago, but time does not erase all memories, one in particular that occurred in the Laguna Madre area.

One afternoon, as we eased along a shoreline at low tide, we saw what appeared to be two playful dogs barking at water's edge as we came abreast of them.

Peggy, who knows a variety of dogs, was puzzled. She put the binoculars on them. The "dogs" were coyotes!

At the time, I was co-authoring a cruising book. I had a devil of a time convincing the editor that it was possible to go yachting among coyotes in the United States.

You can write to Red Marston c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, 33731.

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