Remote and Rugged: A Father/Son Experience
In 2012, Randy and Jake Linville took a father/son trip to the Galápagos, which brought them closer together though the shared experience of new and unusual sights.
“It was really letting Jake pursue one of his passions a little more than mine,” Randy said, reflecting on his and his son’s decision to take a trip to the Galápagos Islands in spring 2012. “Jake is a big nature lover, he likes the outdoors, and he’s an Eagle Scout.”
On their family’s earlier trip to Costa Rica, Randy and Jake had gone a few days early, allowing Jake time to see the many beautiful birds that live there. Jake loved it, and the Galápagos promised to be the ultimate experience for any outdoor enthusiast.
“Because it was all so new and stunning, I also enjoyed it,” Randy said. “I enjoyed letting him experience one of his dreams. It was fun to see all that through his eyes.”
Their Galápagos adventure began with a long journey—from Kansas City to Atlanta, from Atlanta to Ecuador, and then finally a six-hour flight from Ecuador to a tiny air strip in the Galápagos. The wildness of the islands was immediately apparent.
“You could tell right away it was different,” Randy said. “When you landed in the Galápagos and saw how remote it was, it kind of took your breath away.”
The ruggedness of the Galápagos was intimidating but also beautiful.
“It was the most remote trip we’ve ever taken. There’s really nothing else out there—if you really thought about it, you’d get scared.” Randy laughed. “It was more than we ever imagined. There’s no iridescent light around. There’s no land. Nights are pitch dark.”
As soon as they landed in the Galápagos, Randy and Jake boarded their home for the next eight days—the National Geographic Islander, a ship designed especially for trips like this. They were joined by fifty other tourists, approximately ten of whom were under eighteen. The family-friendly nature of the trip made it fun for the then fourteen-year-old Jake.
Every day, the Islander would take the group to a new island where they would take a hiking excursion to view the native wildlife. The animals of the Galápagos have no natural predators, so they lingered quite near the eager tourists, allowing for some beautiful photos.
In addition to the daily hikes, the tourists always snorkeled at least once or sometimes twice each day. The sixty-five degree weather meant the cold ocean was a shock to the system, causing both Randy and Jake to appreciate their wet suits. Jake enjoyed riding the large waves all the way in to the island beaches, and Randy remembers him doing so over and over and over again.
Jake had been a strong swimmer even before they left for the Galápagos, which was one of the reasons his parents knew the trip would be a good fit for him, and by the end of the trip, Randy noticed Jake’s increased confidence in swimming and hiking. Eventually, though, their grueling schedule began to take a toll.
“We got further into the week, and Jake was wiped out,” Randy said. “He was just exhausted, as everybody was.”
Despite the intensity of the trip, Jake soon became a familiar face to many of the other passengers on the Islander. He became good friends with a boy from California and was friendly to all of the other youth on the trip too.
“He was literally known to everybody on the boat and a friend to many of them by the end of the trip,” Randy said. “He just explored with his natural extroverted nature.”
Jake also loved spending time with the three naturalists who accompanied the passengers on their daily excursions. Each had a different specialty, whether that was land, ocean, animal, or plant life, and Jake eagerly learned to identify as many of the plants and animals as he could.
“Jake hung out with those naturalists all the time—he was a little barnacle on them,” Randy laughed.
Partway through the trip, the Islander passed over the equator, and the crew hosted a small ceremony to entertain the young people on the trip. As part of the ritual, each one, including Jake, had to kiss an octopus—an event that Randy remembers as being just plain hilarious.
By the end of their trip, Randy and Jake were exhausted, but the remoteness and wildness of the Galápagos required them to take some time to readjust to home. The journey on the way to the Galápagos had seemed far too long, but Randy appreciated the length of their return trip.
“You very quickly forgot about the mainland, forgot about life. You had no cellular service and very limited Wi-Fi, so you really couldn’t communicate in any way,” he said. “Those kinds of trips are so good. They end up being more relaxing, and you learn more because you pay attention to what you’re doing. . . . But it’s a good thing it’s a long trip back, because you’re re-entering a totally different world again.”
Today, Randy appreciates the way the Galápagos stretched him and forced him outside his comfort zone.
“Don’t be afraid to go someplace because it looks different,” he advised. “With a good team and good resources and good planning, you can enjoy it. I was a little bit afraid that the Galápagos was too far out there, but it worked out just fine.”