Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Adventures, Various: Reading Merle's Door While The Lads Are On Walk-About

I returned home from my time with friends at the Faerieworlds Festival (1) to find a tall, dark man sitting man sitting on my couch, eating my food and petting my new dog who was looking up at him as if she'd found the true meaning of life (2). I hadn't seen Steve in almost two years, and there he was, grinning from ear to ear, giving me one of his patented bear hugs. That night he told us stories about his recent trips to Thailand, Africa, China, and Egypt. Since you don't know Steve, I should explain. Two and a half years ago, after he had finished his graduate work in engineering, Steve quit his high paying managerial job in Silicon Valley, sold his beautiful house and vineyard in the Los Gatos hills, (a place he loved and worked on every weekend for years), got rid of all his "stuff" and went a-wandering. He has been traveling around the world on about $10 dollars a day, with his best pal and fiance, Mary, ever since. Mary, too, quit her own high paying marketing job and sold just about everything she had ever acquired. They had talked it over and decided that it was time. Before they settled down together and had children, they wanted to travel. They wanted some adventures, the kind they couldn't have when they were older and stiffer and a bit less foolhardy...excuse me (was that my inside voice?)...a lot more cautious. I admire them both without having the desire (or the stamina) to copy their lifestyle. I'm not even sure I can keep up with their summer reading list. But then, I'm not laying about a beach in Thailand, now am I? (I love you anyway, you bastards).

Much as I love to travel, I couldn't sleep in some of these places these two have bedded down in and I'm not brave enough to go to some of the hots spots they visited of late. (Still...to spend New Year's Eve with the wild gorillas in Uganda...who wouldn't want to do that?) Being techies, they took their laptops with them (into the Sudan, no less), and took amazing photos and kept a blog the whole time. (Knowing Steve as I do, I can tell you that not every story is in there....just as well.)

I should admit that Steve and Mary are a good deal younger then I am, but they are fitter and more courageous then I was when I was their age. For me, courage and a willingness to risk came with age but even so, I can't say that my personal forms of daring are either physical or financial. So, I keep these two people in mind whenever I am about to try something new along those lines and the little voice in my head says "You can't." Most days, I find that yes, I can. Besides, if I wimp out, on say, taking that chain saw class, I'd have to tell Steve, and he'd never let me live it down.

As I write this, my beloved and his best friend Steve are on walk-about, making their way around the coastal areas and wild lands in the Pacific Northwest, while Mary visits her family in California. Eventually, the men will make their way up to Canada. I'm here in the Oregon mountains, blissfully alone, except for the beasties, and reading just about the best book anyone has ever written about our relationship with dogs. It's called Merle's Door and it is by Ted Kerasote, another person who's life and adventures I admire. His wildlife & outdoor essays are some of the finest you'll ever read. What I wouldn't give to put him and Steve in the same room. Anyway, if you love dogs and books about dogs, you won't want to miss Merle's Door.

Now and then I get a phone call from the guys telling me about their travels and saying "We love you, we're having a good time, and no, we don't need any bail money." Good to know.

Have fun guys. Enjoy your wanderings. I'll be here when you get back, keeping a thought for you both as you hike through the forest, climb rocks on the coast and at the end of the day walk into bars I would never enter in a million years. Bail money at the ready - call me if you need it.


Photo: Mango seller in the Caribbean - from Steve & Mary's blog.


(1) Where much fun was had. We'll put the pictures up soon. My thanks to all the volunteers, performers and others who make this lovely event possible.

(2) She developed such a crush on him that she followed him all over the house and insisted on sleeping near him at night. Excuse me, madame, but who got you out of that shelter, hummmmm?

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