“The Adventurer’s Son,” a memoir, focuses on a family who traveled the world seeking adventure. They live for wilderness-hiking, exploring and camping, live in Alaska and participate in back country endurance races, such as ski racing over hundreds of miles. The family has participated in ice climbing, rafting, and mountaineering. They have been to jungles, rain forests, oceans, mountains and cold and hot climates.
The father, and author, Roman Dial, is a professor of mathematics and biology at Alaska Pacific University. He is a former National Geographic Explorer and has written widely about wilderness adventures and been on television programs on the Discovery Channel, PBS, and USA Network. Dial is a highly respected and disciplined adventurer and explorer. He trained his family in the same manner. He knows full the risks and stakes involved in these activities.
In July, 2014, his son, Cody Roman Dial, a bright 27-year-old, and a scientist as well, made a solo journey to Corcovado National Park in Costa Rica, an untracked rainforest on the Pacific coast. The night before he left, he e-mailed his father saying he was going to the rainforest. Cody never made it out.
For two years, Roman and his wife searched for their son. Was he murdered? Did he get lost? Did he go off somewhere by himself? The search involved asking local people for information, sometimes accurate, sometimes not. Authorities were brought in, and the Dials eventually reached out to the United States State Department and the FBI.
The couple was led down one dead end path after another. They were lied to, ignored, and told confusing stories. As Dial writes about this frustrating and demoralizing time, he weaves in beautiful descriptions of the area’s natural landscape.
The memoir includes experiences the family had exploring other wildernesses, as Dial ponders if he pushed too hard as a father. Did he act selfishly in encouraging such vast and at times extreme adventuring and exploring? He reflects well on fatherhood, parenthood and his love of family.
“The Adventurer’s Son” is an excellent tale of nature, of exploring the wilds of the earth, and surviving enormous heartbreak and frustration.