I am currently in the longest “dry” spell in recent memory. This is my second week in Spokane, working in our field office training 4 new hires. I love my job and I love teaching, but being away from home means no riding.
Add to it I am felling like crap with the first cold (or worse) in a long time. It can seriously bum a guy out. So here I am, in a hotel, sitting on the bed, channel surfing. I almost skipped a blog today because I had nothing to write about. But then it happened.
I stumbled upon HBO and the Hobbit, just as Bilbo was running through the Shire yelling “I am going on an adventure!” Started me thinking, what were my adventures over the years?
Looking back over the life of Mountainstroh, it sometimes surprises me all the things that I have done. Growing up, my family did a lot of camping and some short hikes (its hard with 4 kids with short legs to do long hikes). My earliest adventures started when I was old enough to gather firewood. Just like all parents they told me, “Don’t go far!”
But as I got older, I learned tricks to explore farther and farther on my own (and get away from the kid brothers and sister). Sometimes, it was rush and gather a stack of wood into a pile. Then take off to explore for a while, every now and then hurrying back to the pile to get some wood to camp. Other times, I would yell “Going off to get wood!” when the parents weren’t looking. Since they didn’t know which way I went, it allowed me to do a big circle (back to my stashed wood pile) and explore even more! (Sorry mom 🙂 )
The summer of my senior year, I was invited to canoe a circuit of lakes in British Columbia. The Bowron lake circuit. A series of lakes, with short portages, that went in a rough circle. You end up where you start. 5 high school boys and a teacher. We caught fish, chased off a bear, almost snapped a canoe in half under a log jam on a creek and had to swim to shore when we flipped a canoe in some small white water. As I said at the time “I done my best and I swum the rest….” It was a great way to celebrate the end of high school.
College adventures (not counting those involving beer) involved rivers. Freshman year, 6 of us rented canoes and went down the mighty(?) Palouse river. OK, half the time we scraped bottom since the water was so low, and once we almost lost our heads from a strand of barbed wire across the river (the water gets so low ranchers have to string the wire to keep the cows where they belong) but for 5 guys and Jenna, it was an escape from homework and up coming finals.
Otherwise, it was my dad and I rafting some of the biggest water in Washington State. Skagit, Suiattle, Wenatachee, Sauk, and Cispus. He was left handed, and would take the left front, and I would take the right. We’d crash every wave and lead the strokes. These are some of my best memories of my college summers.
Adventures waned after college for quite a while. This is one of my few regrets in life. Your 20’s are the perfect time to for adventure. Sadly, I have none really to speak of.
It didn’t stop me in 30s. 15 years of hiking and trying to climb mountains. I learned Mountains Karma, I was able to carry 40 lbs of back for hours on end, then get up and do it the next day.
I hiked in rain, snow, fog and sun. I saw elk, deer, mountain goats and once, from a distance, a wolverine. I watched avalanches on Mt Rainier, rock slides on St Helens. I was buzzed by a glider on Lassen and lead a team down from Camp Muir in white out fog. I loved my times in the mountains. When there, the only worry was keeping your footing, being careful and enjoying nature. I miss those travels sometimes.
And now, my adventures take place on 2 wheels. I really wonder where I would’ve traveled if I was as avid a cyclist fresh out of college as I am now. I won’t bore you with the adventures so far on the bike, I’ve talked about them many times in this blog.
I just hope I can keep going into the rapidly approaching 50s. I won’t lie, it worries me to know that soon I will be half a century. But then I look at my buddy Jim Devitt. The man never ages, he will be the same when he is 75, so there is hope for me as well.
I haven’t chosen next year’s big ride yet. I usually do that in January. I will let yall know when I do it.
I just hope that I have been able to pass down the adventure gene to the Mathmajor and Manchild. Every dad wants his kids to do more than he did. I’d love to see both have a life full of memorable experiences. I will do all I can to help them do so.