I'm Todd VerBeek, and among the things I have in common with Walt Whitman (nudge, wink), "I contradict myself; I am large, I contain multitudes."
- I've been a life-long resident of just two cities in West Michigan, and currently live less than a mile from where I was born... but I've traveled to 17 countries on three continents and lived roughly half a year (combined) outside of the U.S.
- I've been to Iceland and East Germany (back when) and Aruba... but not the standard American tourism destination of California.
- I'm cautious and shy to the point of neurosis... but I like to go to places that no one (at least no one I know) has ever been.
- I'm afraid of heights... but I love panoramic lookouts.
- I don't care for sit-in-the-sun resorts... but I go to them with my extended family (parents, sisters, and their families).
- I am the descendant of Dutch immigrants in a community where Dutch surnames are ubiquitous and second-nature to pronounce, and I'm pretty good with languages... but I speak hardly a word of Dutch.
- I have a degree in computer science and math (left-brained, logical, literal)... but another degree in illustration and graphic design (right-brained, intuitive, metaphorical).
Between my day job and other projects, I sometimes don't have much time to spend here on Wikitravel on a regular basis. So you may see little of me for stretches of them, separated by seeing more of me than you might want.
As a repeat visitor who simply adores the place, I'm a docent for Isle Royale National Park (an article I pretty much created from scratch, which was Wikitravel's first Star article for the United States, and the second destination featured for "Off the Beaten Path").
I'm also a docent for my home city of Grand Rapids, cuz... I might as well be.
Leave any questions on my talk page.
wasted spent a great deal of time on countless Wikitravel articles, but that's nothing special. However, there are certain articles that I pretty much created from scratch, or was one of a couple major collaborators on: Isle Royale (because I couldn't wait to go back there), Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pitcairn Islands (because it fascinated me), Wake Island (because someone had scoffed that no one would – or even could – write an article for it), Cruise ships (because I wanted to share what I'd learned from being dragged onto a couple), Leave-no-trace camping (because I believe in it), Wilderness backpacking, Travel photography, Wikitravel:Welcome, business owners, and overhauling Packing list and Wikitravel:Help (because they needed it). I replaced most of the last 100-something country/territory articles that were still based on "CIA Factbook" imports, with standard Wikitravel outlines (none of them made "usable" in the process, but it's a start). I'm currently working on making sure that every country (and any other governmental unit drawn on my US-made globe) has a reasonable set of regions defined. And I'm honored to be an admin, which means I get to waste spend a lot of time dealing with administrative matters instead of reading and writing articles.
As a life-long resident of Western Michigan, United States, I've been to most of the cities in the region countless times, especially greater Grand Rapids, Holland, and Kalamazoo. I've also been to Lansing, Detroit, and Chicago repeatedly.
Other places I've visited and the year I went there include:
- family trip: Washington (D.C.)
- family trip: Aruba
- church youth group outing: Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Minnesota
- family trip: Cancun/Chichen Itza, Mexico
- church youth group outing (charity work/white-water rafting): Cleveland, Ohio; New River, West Virginia
- class trip: Stratford, Ontario, Canada
- bicycle/train camping, with friend: Canterbury, England; Brighton, England; Stonehenge, England; Exeter, England; Cardiff, Wales; Lake District, England; Edinburgh, Scotland; York, England; London, England
- solo travel by train: Paris, France; Munich, Germany; Berlin, Germany; East Berlin, East Germany; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Haarlem, Netherlands; London, England; Cambridge, England
- semester abroad: Aberdeen, Scotland
- "guide" for younger college friends, high schoolers: Frankfurt, Germany; Nice, France; Lucerne, Switzerland; Vienna, Austria; London, England
- AIDS memorial, demonstration at White House: Washington, D.C.
- Stonewall 25 celebration: New York, New York
- solo travel, by train: Oslo, Norway; Bergen, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Amsterdam, Netherlands; The Hague, Netherlands; London, England
- solo travel, mostly by bus: Reykjavik, Iceland; Akureyri, Iceland; London, England
- visting my boyfriend: Brunswick, Georgia
- visiting my boyfriend: Saint Simons Island, Georgia; Atlanta, Georgia; Wachula, Central Florida
- extended family trip: Traverse City, Michigan
- solo backpacking: North Manitou Island, Michigan
- solo backpacking: Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan; Isle Royale, Michigan
- Disney cruise, with extended family: Nassau, Bahamas; Castaway Cay, Bahamas
- cruise, with extended family: Ketchikan, Alaska; Juneau, Alaska; Skagway, Alaska; Vancouver, British Columbia; Seattle, Washington
- solo backpacking: Isle Royale, Michigan
- cruise, with extended family: Galveston/Houston, Texas; Cozumel, Quintana Roo, Mexico (the ship also stopped at Mahahual, Quintana Roo; Belize City; and Roatan, Honduras... but I was quarantined in my cabin)
- solo backpacking: North Manitou Island, Michigan
- another cruise with the extended family?
There are innumerable places I'd like to visit, and I'm sure I'll never get to most of them, especially since I'm past the young-and-free-to-travel phase of my life, and the retired-and-free-to-travel phase doesn't usually lend itself well to the kinds of independent, physically challenging travel I prefer. Plus I probably won't ever have the money. But here are a few items from the wish list, both practical and not:
- Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park
- Death Valley National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Yosemite National Park
- Grand Canyon
- San Francisco, California
- Fargo, North Dakota
- Nova Scotia
- Easter Island
- New Zealand
- Pitcairn Islands
- Wake Island