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Lebanon doctor seeks to go around the world in 30 years

Angie Mayes • Apr 7, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Dr. Tyler Walker has a goal in mind before he turns 30 in August; he wants to see more countries than he the number of years he’s lived.

So far, the 29-year-old Lebanon doctor has been to all 50 states, Canada, the Caribbean and all six continents outside, excluding Antarctica.

It all started when he was a young man. His aunt, Traci Walker, bought him huge atlases, and he would spend hours looking at the books, studying countries and their information.

Walker is an emergency room doctor at Clarksville’s Gateway Hospital. He was in college at Middle Tennessee State University when he and his younger brother, Zac, took a weekend trip to St. Louis. The travel bug bit Walker.

“I started going to all of these places because I loved to travel,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to see the world and thought wouldn’t it be fun to see 30 countries by the time I’m 30. I’d like to see more countries than my age. That way, I would always have seen more countries, no matter how old I became.”

So far he’s seen 28 separate countries. He’d traveled to Canada and the Caribbean early on, but thought it would be fun to travel to Europe and other places.

“I found a great deal to Amsterdam, and that’s how it started,” he said. 

That was during his first year of residency at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Since that time, he’s taken advantage of every free moment to go somewhere.

He has a lot of great memories, including running up the stairs of the Great Wall in China; taking a helicopter onto a glacier off New Zealand and hiking on the glacier; snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and flying to Japan one weekend for a Motley Crüe concert.

One of his favorite places to travel to is Ireland. That’s partly because he was always under the impression his roots travel back to Ireland. He took a DNA ancestry test and discovered 94 percent of his ancestry is from Great Britain, 1 percent Irish and 2 percent Italian or other Mediterranean ancestry.

“I always thought I had American Indian in me,” Walker said. “My family always said a grandmother was 50-percent American Indian. There’s no American Indian blood in me.”

On most of his travels, he has good weather, but there have been times, such as the time he was in Milford Sound, New Zealand when it was raining so hard, he couldn’t see his hand in front of his face.

“But 99 out of 100 percent of the time, the weather is beautiful,” he said.

Most of the trips have been good, but air travel can make even the best-planned trip difficult.

“One time, my girlfriend and I were coming back from a trip to the Czech Republic and Hungary. We almost missed our plane in Paris. And then when we were flying into JFK [Airport] in New York [City], the plane was late because of high winds, and we missed our other plane. It was Christmas Eve, and there were two cars left at Hertz. We booked one of them and drove 15 hours back to Tennessee, so I could go to work that night.”

He said he’d never travel after that, but the bug kept biting, and off he went.

In Hawaii, he went to Kauai and Oahu and flew over the Waialeale Crater, which is the rainiest place on earth. It rains 500 inches and 361 days a year.

Recently, Walker was focused on buying a house and getting moved it, so travel has been on hold. Still, his mind is on his next trip.

“I’m thinking I’d like to go to Iceland for my 30th birthday,” he said. “It’s a small island about the size of Indiana, and most people take the seven- to 10-day trip around the island to see things such as the Blue Lagoon Thermal Spa, the waterfalls and the glacier fields.”

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