World of possibilities
David Stock worked as sales director for archery manufacturer Field Logic in Superior.
His wife, Lina Stock worked in information technology for National Bank of Commerce.
The couple traveled when they could get time away from work.
"It wasn't uncommon for us to take five or six trips a year," Lina said.
"We were living the American Dream," David Stock said. "We had great jobs. We left on wonderful terms — we wanted to live our own dream."
While on their honeymoon in Southeast Asia in 2010, they met people who were traveling full-time, and were backpacking around the world, Lina said.
"And we were like 'people do this.' That got us thinking 'wouldn't that be cool if we did that,'" she said.
The couple started talking about it and by the end of 2012, started putting a plan in motion to do just that — saving whatever they could, liquidating assets, selling their home and cars, and giving notice that they were quitting their jobs.
"It took us about 18 months to get rid of our stuff," said Lina, 33.
"It was hard too," said David, 32. "We had stuff that we've had forever. I had a classic car that I bought when I was 18. We built our house. So it was kind of scary to see those things go."
About three years ago, the couple jetted out of the Duluth with a one-way ticket to New Zealand.
In the last three years, Lina and David Stock have traveled to 75 countries on six continents. The only continent they haven't visited yet is Antarctica. They hope to make it there by the end of the year.
"The biggest thing is people are good," Lina said. "For the most part, people are good. Everybody's out there in this world trying to do the same thing. They're trying to provide for their families, give their children good opportunities. For the most part people are friendly ... welcoming."
David said while people may not do things the way Americans would, it's only a different way of living. He said travel has allowed them to experience different cultures in the world.
"We visit a lot of really poor countries (by American standards) and they don't know that they are poor," Lina said. "We meet people and they're happy. They're so happy and to them life is great ... they're poor by our standards but they are probably happier than most Americans."
Lina said the media really doesn't capture the way other cultures in the world live.
It's something the couple is doing now with their travel blog, divergenttravelers.com. They also work with tourism boards and travel entities to market adventures.
It has allowed them to transition from their original plan — to travel the world in a year or two — to their new goal.
"We want to complete the world's top 100 adventures," David said. "These are attainable adventures ... anybody in town could do. They're bucket list adventures. It's not necessarily climbing Mount Everest, but it's going to base camp of Mount Everest."
And they've had lots of adventures — whitewater rafting the Nile, gorilla trekking in Rwanda, skydiving and sandboarding (similar to snowboarding) in Namibia, and cage diving with great white sharks in South Africa.
"We do crazy stuff everywhere," said Lina, a Northwestern High School graduate.
While everyone may not be up to it, Lina said it would benefit humanity if everyone could take an overland trip through Africa.
"We did a four month, 119 day, camping trip from Capetown to Cairo through 14 countries in Africa and that was such an eye-opener," Lina said. She said the trip immersed them in cultures, travels and adventures that revealed the mutual curiosity of people when they meet someone new.
David said the trip that stood out to him involved rhino trekking on foot in Zimbabwe.
"It was amazing to learn how they're trying to protect these rhinos," David said. "People protecting them have given up everything. They're not getting paid. They're as poor as poor can be, but they're giving up their life to be armed guards for these rhinos and watch them 24 hours a day and monitor them so poachers don't poach them."
He said it was an honor just to shake the hands of men who gave up everything to save the rhinos and to say thank you for the effort to save these animals.
"We'll probably be one of the last generations to ever see them in the wild because they're almost extinct," Lina said.
David said they also stayed at a lion reserve in Zimbabwe where they are trying to teach the locals that it's not OK to kill the lions, something they've done for many generations.
David said they are traveling less to have a greater focus on the experience. It's given them a better perspective of the world. From tribes in Africa to peace-loving Muslims in the Middle East, the couple says they are just people.
"When we left, we said we were never going to live in the Duluth-Superior area," said David, a Superior High School graduate. "We're going to live on a beach somewhere; we're going to live in a tropical area."
But they always come back and stay — drawn by family — but also a love for the area.
"Nowhere else in the world can you find a pine tree forest," Lina said. "I know that sounds funny, but the pine tree forest that we have here is really unique."
But the world is still ahead of them — this year alone possibilities include Mexico, trekking Petra's Back Door in Jordon, a kayaking expedition in the Sea of Cortez, photography tours in Morocco and Cuba, an adventure trip to Fiji, among others.
"We have some big plans for the year," Lina said. "We love what we do and we love travel."
For more about the couple's travels, go to divergenttravelers.com.