Adventure is what you make of the experience |

Adventure is what you make of the experience

RENO — What kind of adventure would you take if you had all the money you needed and no obligations?

Such was the question the co-author of “Chicken Soup for the Traveler’s Soul” posed Wednesday to the captive lunch crowd Wednesday at the Atlantis Casino. The group was attending the 19th annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Steve Zikman told the attentive audience to close their eyes and imagine where they’d be.

One man yelled out: “Can I take my kids?”

When he asked the group of tourism officials to share their dreams, one woman saw visions of Paris, with shopping sugar plums dancing in her head.

Nevada Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt said she identified with that scenario.

“It can be the extreme or serene,” the award winning Toronto author said. He intentionally used the theme of adventure for his talk to piggyback off Nevada’s latest promotional campaign — Bring It On. It positions the Silver State as an outdoor adventure paradise.

He asked the group what people get out of adventure. People yelled out — escape, challenge, adrenaline rush and self-actualization.

“What do I look for in adventure?” Zikman asked, answering “a sense of the unknown.”

Zikman’s book, part of the “Chicken Soup” series, highlights stories of adventure, inspiration and insight as a way to celebrate the spirit of travel.

Zikman has become an authority on the subject.

He took three years to travel the world; starting the journey in Africa.

“I picked Africa because it’s where my soul lies,” he said, citing the sky, sun, people and history as what sets it apart.

He recalled a time he became stranded on a desolate road and lived on cans of spaghetti until he was picked up by a motorcycle gang that shrank from 44 people to 10 on their journey.

Then there was the time he confused a rabid jackal for a lion outside his tent.

Zikman has encountered his share of danger on his travels, deciding to scale a peak in Ecuador with running shoes in freezing temperatures.

He said the most challenging experience didn’t involve physical exertion. On a jaunt through Bhutan and Burma, he got sick drinking too much Jack Daniel’s — a black market favorite — while staying in literally a flea-bag room. He found a bush to take refuge from his misery. A truckload of Burmese whistled as they passed him.

Zikman delves into a culture when he travels.

For instance, he soon learned Bulgarians show yes and no gestures the opposite of Americans.

Zikman gave attendees an exercise to carry on a conversation that way.

“It’s hard to do,” South Shore resident Barbara Fishman said, nodding her head while meaning no. “But I like this. You can lie and not intend to.”

The mystique of travel doesn’t have to take enthusiasts to the far reaches of the planet, Zikman reminded the group.

“I think the mystery is here in Nevada,” he said.

Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at

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