We’ve been nominated! National Geographic Traveler of the Year 2012

Thanks to Vicki Born, one of our long time travelers, we have been nominated for National Geographic Traveler of the Year, 2012.

It was quite unexpected to receive this nomination. We love to travel, give back and share our love of adventure with the world. But it is not our intention to be “acknowledged” for it. So we are very grateful to Vicki for thinking of us and putting together this wonderful essay on how we have inspired her over the years to a more adventurous life.

life by design

Vicki with us in Rangiroa, Tuamotu islands, French Polynesia

We’d like to share Vicki’s nomination essay as an appreciation and we are humbled by her kind words and enthusiastic support of the adventure lifestyle.

Ridlon and Carin Kiphart are true travel ambassadors.  Do they have a big fancy office downtown?  Do they advertise in glossy publications?  No, they barely have time to maintain their Facebook site, and their “Friends” number in the hundreds, not thousands or millions.  But these two free spirits have done more to inspire wanderlust in their circle than any number of posters, magazines, or travelogues.  I know that they changed me from an armchair traveler into an avid, adventure-seeking travel advocate.

Ridlon and Carin were the water-sports managers on the Windstar Cruise line when we first met them over 20 years ago.  Their enthusiasm and energy had us snorkeling and diving in no time.  Their joie de vivre and profound respect for the environment colored the trip.  We went home better travelers, better divers, and better people. 

Before long, the couple established their own dive company, Global Diving Adventures (aka Global Dive Expeditions), and began building what they call “The Tribe.”  These fellow travelers have chosen to spend their travel dollars again and again with Ridlon and Carin, assembling several times during the year to explore new or rediscover familiar dive spots.  Because of GDA, all three of my kids are enthusiastic divers and curious world citizens.  We have traveled throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Viet Nam, Thailand, China, and the South Pacific.  We recently returned home from a spectacular GDE trip to Raja Ampat, in West Papua, New Guinea, where Ridlon and Carin led us in ten days of non-stop fun and discovery. 

Ridlon and Carin have summarized their unique world travel view in “The Live Adventurously Manifesto.”  It is typical of their positive, inspirational rhetoric:

“Adventure thrills us, enlightens us, strengthens and stretches us, inspires us and answers our curiosity.  It freaks us out sometimes, but it’s always fun and never boring.  It’s the most awake and aware life that we can lead.”

The Kipharts are members of the prestigious Explorers Club, and have led expeditions into over 100 countries.  They have recently added hiking and climbing to their list of loves, and in 2011, they added Mount Kilimanjaro and Cho Oyu (the 6th highest mountain in the world) to their ever-increasing check marks off the bucket list. They are off in a quest to climb the summits of all seven continents, and take all of the Tribe along with them through blog updates and Facebook links.  In the spirit of philanthropy, they created the Ocean of Hope Foundation, with the hope of reaching out to 10,000 classrooms and 1 million students in pursuit of an understanding and love of all things aquatic.

Ridlon and Carin don’t expect anyone to do anything that they wouldn’t do first.  They don’t let us waste one second of vacation.  They don’t waste time.  But what DO they do?  They inspire and excite…they lead and they follow…they question and they answer.  They TRAVEL.

I am so grateful that I met them along MY journey.

Thank you Vicki

Thank you Vicki and big hugs to you…..

Thank you ALL for your support along this amazing journey that we have all shared. From whale sharks to pygmy seahorses, from tribal uprisings to sunsets off the deck of amazing ships, from giving back in Malake, Fiji to our first blue ringed octopus in Indonesia … thank you all for the memories.

If you feel so inspired, you can second the nomination which would help us big time in the selection process. Just click on this link: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/travelers-of-the-year/

With love and gratitude,

Sharkman and Mantagirl

the adventure couple

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