Life’s An Adventure

Life’s An Adventure

Living it to the fullest with Ed “Cosmo” Reed 

When I reach Ed, he’s unsurprisingly out exploring, walking a greenway along a river in Nashville, Tennessee. He’s come here to visit his daughter as well as escape the massive snowstorm blanketing his home back in Colorado. “It’s okay, we need the snow,” he states, adding, “but I’m glad I’m not sitting there.” The more I talk to Ed, the less it sounds like he ever really sits anywhere. 

Starting in February each year, Ed has a “major trip planned for each month.” And when winter hits, “I’ll ski or travel to places like this,” he says of Music City. A schoolteacher for over 40 years, Ed is taking full advantage of his retirement, exploring the US one magical place at a time. But his travel bug isn’t anything new to retired life, but rather a part of his personality since the beginning.  

Life’s An Adventure


Ed, who also goes by his trail name “Cosmo,” began his teaching career “in the bush in Alaska in a fishing village,” he explains. And while people usually associate Alaska with snow, Ed is quick to point out that Hydaburg, located in the southern part of the state by the Canadian border, is more akin to the rainforest, with an annual precipitation of over 100 inches.   

“So, I lived in a village of 300 people and back then it was 10 hours by boat or 2 hours by air to get there. We had a town phone, a town generator, I mean it was like camping for 2 years,” he laughs. And when it was time to move on, Ed understandably went searching for a bit of sunshine. Landing in Grand Junction, Colorado, Ed taught shop and eventually engineering, spending the last 6 years of his career working with children with disabilities, “just because they’re my favorite kids.”   

His decades-long career not only introduced him to hundreds if not thousands of people along the way, but also introduced him to a love of travel. “When I was teaching, I went to a lot of conferences and […] I just grew up liking different places and different things,” he says. But it wasn’t until his 5th back surgery that Ed really set his mind on seeing what was out there. 

“I had a really active childhood growing up, I mean I jumped out of planes for 20 years, I flew hang gliders, I skied, rode motorcycles, rode horses, I just physically got beat up,” Ed explains. Four years ago, after emerging from his 5th back surgery at a hospital in Nashville, Ed found himself paralyzed from the waist down. “Through the grace of God, I was able to at least get up on a walker. And then I spent 9 months after I got home in rehab just learning how to walk,” he says. After such a grueling and challenging experience, “I was just determined to walk until I can’t.”  

Today, not only does Ed walk, but he paddles. 


When he’s not working on his farm or paddling Colorado’s lakes with his dog in tow, Ed is saving spots on Instagram to his wanderlust bucket list. The latest spot he knocked off that list—Death Valley in California’s northern Mojave Desert. But not just hot, dry, and low Death Valley, but Death Valley after a deluge of storms created a lake in one of the driest places on Earth.  

Most of the time, water evaporates faster than it can accumulate in Death Valley’s Badwater Basin, which at 282 feet below sea level is one of the lowest-elevation places in all of North America. But after a record 4.9 inches of rain in the past 6 months (it typically sees 2 inches a year), Lake Manly formed to the delight of Ed and explorers everywhere.  

Having already booked his trip out to the desert months prior, Ed happened to be watching the news when he saw a broadcast about the lake. Wanting to make sure he could believe his eyes, he called a park ranger within the national park to confirm that it was in fact there and that you could paddle board on it. The answer was a resounding yes.  

Grabbing his BLACKFIN for its maiden voyage, Ed headed down to Badwater Basin. “There was this one serene moment where I was out in the middle of the lake, and I was the only one on the lake for as far as I could see. It’s just hard to describe something like that. You’re one of few people that have done that and you’re right in the middle of it you don’t see any people and there’s no noise, it’s so quiet out there.” 

A week after Ed left, the lake had gone. Winds from the Sierra Nevadas had blown the lake until it became too shallow and dissipated. “Timing is everything sometimes,” he says. 

Life’s An AdventureLIVE THE ADVENTURE 

So, what’s next for the avid explorer? “So, I’m in Nashville now. At the end of this month, I’m going to be in Arches. The middle of next month I’m going to be in Capital Reef. May will be Grand Canyon and Zion. I’m going to climb Angel’s Landing. So, I’ve got the summer planned up to August,” he says. And wherever there’s water, he’ll bring his paddle board along for the ride.  

Sharing his photos from his travels, Ed notes he’s always seen sitting on the board and paddling it like a kayak with some help and comfort from his kayak seat. “Part of my surgeries that I’ve had balance and equilibrium is just something I don’t have,” he explains, adding, “So I just compensate, so I can still paddle board, I just kayak. Just because you have a disability doesn’t mean it should stop you.”   

Life’s An Adventure

“A lot of my friends are retired you know and they just kind of sit around and talk about the things they want to do. And I’m going, ‘Do you know how easy it is to do this?’ “It just takes desire.” And the desire to explore is something Ed has in spades. And he’s not slowing down anytime soon. 

“The more you travel the more you see. So, I go to these places where there’s just no people but the coolest things on the planet. That’s just it, life’s an adventure,” he says. 

We’ll raise a paddle to that.  

PLEASE NOTE: As of April 2024, there is no longer a lake at Death Valley. Please do not attempt to paddle here. Always check weather conditions and check in with the National Park service regarding paddle boarding locations and rules.