My name is Ryan Brown, but I’ve been called “The Wanderer” by my closest friends since high school. Even then I had a tendency to wander, though I doubt my friends could have imagined I would become the gypsy I am today. At the time, I was an extremely shy youth afraid of the world. Anxiety and depression controlled my life and kept me from accomplishing my dreams. Then, one day I decided not be afraid anymore. I began facing every fear I had leaving no shadow in darkness.
Adventuring became a natural extension of this fear-facing desire so when I left home for the first time on my first big adventure — a weeklong 300 mile bike tour on the Great Allegheny Passage in 2012 — I was instantly addicted. The people I met on that journey inspired me to quit my job and spend the next two months cycling to Bar Harbor, Maine. I had less than $100 in my pocket.
I hate to use the phrase “changed my life,” but the Maine Lobster Mission (when people asked why I was riding a bicycle to Maine I would answer, “For a lobster of course!!!) really did change my life. I returned with an inner confidence I had never before known. I also had a better understanding of who I am in a world that wasn’t so big and scary anymore.
The Maine Lobster Mission only fueled my desire to travel. And to travel further for longer. In 2013, I managed to cycle to Chicago while saving money for a trip from the Canada border to Panama. That journey began in 2014 but not before: a 70 mile thru-hike of the Laurel Highlands Trail; a bike tour with my younger brother along the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal Towpath to Washington D.C.; and a float-trip down the Youghiogheny River with a close friend. I called it my “summer of adventure.”
Canada to Panama became Canada to El Salvador when I flew home short of my goal. I have a list of excuses why I stopped when I did, not the least being a parasite, but that trip was never about the destination nor is it over. In the fall, after spending the summer thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, I’ll fly to Argentina where I’ll ride my bicycle from the southern tip of the world — Tierra Del Fuego — to at least as far north as Colombia. I may even continue on to the El Salvador International Airport where I last left off.