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Written by MITCH MAERSCH   
Wednesday, 16 August 2017 17:24

Port couple’s travels have taken them to every one of the world’s seven continents

It didn’t start out on his bucket list, but when Tod Brown went to Ireland for his 60th birthday in 2008, he made it his goal to visit all the world’s seven continents.
This spring, Tod and his ex-wife and traveling partner Sharon, both of Port Washington, completed their seven-continent circuit with an Antarctic cruise. Along with China, South Africa, the Panama Canal and Australia, the Browns covered them all.
Their world travels took them 1 degree from the Antarctic Circle and 1.5 degrees from the Arctic circle.
They didn’t set foot on the frozen land of Antarctica — few who aren’t scientists or penguins ever do — but their passports were stamped “Palmer Station,” the United States’ research facility on the continent.
All the Browns saw was ice, mountains and buildings on the continent. The water was 34 degrees and the temperature was about the same.
On their way north to Buenos Aires and the Falkland Islands, the Browns remember a dinner on the ship.
“All of a sudden a whale came up and waved its tail at us,” Sharon said.
On the cruise that started in South America, the Browns met a tall man in his 80s who dressed dapper named Stan. He got on the ship in Miami and was to disembark at the same place. He was on a 94-day trip around the world.
They also met a woman who has lived on the ship for four years.
On land, the Browns visited a penguin refuge that had markers — but no fence — signaling where not to go. People can read the signs; penguins cannot.
If a penguin walks across the line, Tod said tourists are told to “‘consider it a Kodak moment. Do not pet them. They will bite, and it will hurt.’”
None crossed over while the Browns were there, but they did stand five feet from the beloved black and white birds.
They saw the widest river in the world, the Rio de la Plata, which sits at the mouth of the Amazon River near the ocean. At 145 miles wide, they couldn’t see land on the other side.
South Africa, 2015
On a safari in Kruger National Park, the Browns’ vehicle stopped to let elephants cross the road.
They also saw rhinoceros, cape buffalo, leopards, lions and giraffe.
From the safety of a bridge, the Browns saw hippos and crocodiles.
Just getting around the country provided unique scenes like termite mounds five feet tall with an eight-foot diameter at the base.
“There was an ostrich racing with our bus,” Sharon said.
At a restaurant, the Browns tried a game plate of impala, kudu, boar sausage, wildebeest, springbok, ostrich and beef.
“The ostrich tasted like beef tenderloin,” Tod said. His favorite food was Cajun calamari.
Australia and New Zealand, 2008
The Browns petted a kangaroo on the chest, the safe place to touch the native animals. Going for the head or around the back triggers an attack, they were told.
They saw Tasmanian devils in a pen, and emu and koalas and interesting vegetation.
On a cruise to New Zealand, the Browns had calm seas in what is known to be rough waters. They went through fjords where land was “much higher” than the ship, Sharon said.
“There were waterfalls everywhere,” she said.
New Zealand’s landscape reminded Tod of Ireland. The Browns visited a farm where sheep had four horns and where Sharon bought yarn and later made a vest out of it, and they watched a border collie work.
China, 2012
At every hotel, whether Beijing or Shanghai, staff took tourists’ passports and returned them upon checkout.
“You knew you were in a communist country,” Tod said.
They were awed by the Terra Cotta Soldiers.
“It’s huge. It’s unimaginable,” Sharon said.
“All the soldiers have different faces,” Tod said.
The Browns took a 200-mph train and stood on the glass floor of the Pearl Tower, 849 feet above the ground.
“That will take your breath away,” Tod said.
The pair had two meals on their own without guides. One restaurant had English speakers, the other didn’t.
“You hear about where they point at things on the menu? We did it,” Sharon said.
Some English translations didn’t quite work. Bomb-sniffing canines had vests that read “explosive dog,” Tod said.
During a visit to Tiananmen Square, Tod was taking a photo when he heard stomping of soldiers coming his way.
“I’m in their country. I’ll move,” he said.
The Browns visited the Great Wall of China and learned it’s the longest graveyard in the world. Workers who died on the job were buried on the spot. One million people of China’s 5 million population helped build the wall.
Traffic is as chaotic as it looks on TV.
“Although there were five lanes, there were seven cars,” Sharon said. “Our bus driver was very talented.”
Panama Canal, 2010-11
A 17-day cruise starting in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ended in Mexico.
Passing through the locks of the Panama Canal was a highlight. It took a full day.
Tod nearly squeezed his index finger and thumb together on each hand.
“There was that much room on each side of the ship,” he said.
 Gatun Lake serves as the waiting room for ships going from one side to the other.
During a tour in Columbia, the Browns saw torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition. They heard howler monkeys during a boat ride through the jungle and saw the Jesus lizard, which scampers across water.
At Cabo San Lucas, Tod took in the local cutlure of Tequila Don Julio.
“I’m not a tequila fan but that’s smooth,” he said.
Alaska, 2009
The Browns already had North America covered, but Alaska was one of Tod’s favorite trips.
The couple took an inland passage cruise and  saw Denali (formerly Mr. McKinley) and other breathtaking scenes. Sharon captured a rare photo of an iceberg breaking off in Glacier National Park.
Ireland, 2008
Tod had to get over sitting in the wrong side of the car and traveling down the wrong side of the road and going through roundabouts in the wrong direction.
The Browns toured Waterford Crystal and saw one of its most popular products, a crystal copy of the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the winner of the Super Bowl.
They visited Giant’s Causeway on a windy day causing the palm tree leaves to blow, took a land tour and visited Belfast and Dublin. Tod kissed the Blarney Stone and bought a postcard of different colored doors in Dublin.
“They all paint them a different color so when they come home from the pub they can find their door,” he said.
Sharon tried black pudding, a blood sausage.
“It wasn’t my favorite food,” she said.
“It looked like Campbell’s pork ’n beans for breakfast,” Tod said.
What’s next?
The Browns aren’t finished. They’d like to see Iceland, the Galapagos and Cuba, and take a Mediterranean cruise.

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