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Architect and Fervent World Business Traveler thrilled by Uganda Gorilla Tracking

While in Uganda, Taylor communed within arm's reach of 17 wild Uganda gorillas. Taylor can now instruct you in human-gorilla etiquette....

If travel equals an education, architect Bob Taylor has enough miles behind him to fill a drawer with doctorates.

For example, 54 -- count 'em -- international trips.

That's not counting 103 trips to Canada, where he has a fishing camp, by the way.

"I believe the fastest, best, most comprehensive way to learn is submersion in another culture," he said recently, seated in the downtown office of Taylor Architects Inc., the desks surrounding him heavily stacked with the paperwork of his business.

But why so many journeys?

Basically, it was a hunger for knowledge.

"I always wanted to go as a kid," explained the Dayton native, who spent 33 years teaching at Ball State University, noting the vacations of his youth were normally limited to fishing excursions.

When he travels, learning something is first and foremost in his mind, and usually happens in places he classifies as "extreme."

It could be a forest clearing in Uganda, for example, where he once communed within arm's reach of 17 wild gorillas. Taylor, it seems likely, is one of the few folks hereabouts who can instruct you in human-gorilla etiquette, meaning you should never look them in the eye and never act like you are taller than them.

He has visited the Galapagos Islands, too, marveling at their incredible breadth of species.

"It was stunning," recalled Taylor, who was dressed in a denim shirt with a bolo tie, and sporting a copper-and-lead bracelet made by Africa's Massai tribe members.

Equally stunning, though for different reasons, was a trip to Bukara, Uzbekistan, a city of more than 100,000 with almost no infrastructure, where he saw 4-year-old children physically jumping on sweatshop bellows to generate the heat to forge hoe heads, and the remains of animals, killed just for certain body parts, left to rot in the streets.

"It was an incredible impression," said Taylor, who is the father of two sons.

One amazing thing about the architect is how far he has traveled, despite getting a relatively late start when he first went abroad with his family in 1976. He was 36.

As he made up for lost time, East Germany under the Soviets left another stark impression, one he describes as "gray, gray, gray," a country virtually without color or personality.

"Those people were enslaved," he said, noting it gave him a new appreciation of his own country.

Far more lively were the 24 architecture students from what he described as the "Soviet MIT" that he met leading a group of his own students to Alma-Ata, Kazakhstan. In an ensuing celebration, one fueled by copious amounts of vodka, they dined on dog salad, a yummy concoction of shredded cabbage and, yes, Fido.

Taylor also enjoyed the ultimate delicacy -- a bear ear.

"It looks like a pork chop," he said, noting that now his constant travel companion is his wife, Eileen.

Having visited seven continents, five oceans and all 50 states (he has flown into London 22 times, by the way), Taylor is also in the business of promoting travel among others, owning a photographic safari company in Kenya named Alcedons.

Between shooting thousands of photographs, visitors will spend time with Massai warriors, who face down lions with spears and survive on virtually nothing but drinking milk mixed with cow's blood.

One of the most amazing things Taylor has ever seen in Africa or anywhere else, he added, was crocodiles eating a hippo, resulting in a horrendous commotion, not to mention odor.

Rediscovered early in the 20th century, Peru's Machu Picchu remains another favorite of Taylor's.

"It's probably the greatest man-made site that I've been to," he said, noting the former Inca dwelling place dates back to between 800 and 1100 A.D.

As an architect, he perhaps was particularly impressed with Machu Picchu's ancient buildings being in such perfect alignment; there is no mortar employed between the bricks in their construction.

He's no stranger to Antarctica, either, where giant ice flows measure two-miles long, a quarter-mile across and three-quarters of a mile deep. Obviously, he continued, he has also had some real "Kodak moments" with its black-tuxedoed penguins.

None of his ventures, he added, have come about by accident.

It's planning.

"I'm set up financially to travel," he said. "It's critical."

Coming up soon, he noted, he is taking his granddaughters to Ireland for the opening of football season.

And after that, where would Taylor like to go?

"Straight up," he said, pointing to the ceiling and meaning outer space.

It's interesting to note that Taylor knows Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, and has even flown with the former astronaut, who was a client of his.

Still, space travel is obviously a long shot.

"There's just not much opportunity," the architect said.

On the other hand, who knows? If there is ever a way ...

"This isn't just words," Taylor said, with fervor. "I really believe in travel."

By JOHN CARLSON: 20-April-2012

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