Monday, September 22, 2008

4-Wheeling as Service

My husband is an explorer. I am a fire tender. Two hundred years ago, he would have been pushing west with the mountain men, and I would have been clinging to the eastern seaboard, venturing no farther than the Appalachians. Can an explorer and a fire tender find happiness together? We have, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing.

I mean the smooth sailing bit literally. I vividly remember, still, the time we were out in our little diesel trawler when a freak storm blew up so fast out of the Pacific that the Doppler radar didn’t register it coming. We pounded across from Sucia Island to Macia, and someone with a better radio than we had said that it was going to get worse in the afternoon, so we figured we’d better head for home. I would guess the wind was blowing about fifty miles an hour, and a crossing that usually took us forty-five minutes took three hours. My husband, the explorer, was enjoying every minute of it, but all I could do to get through it was douse myself with cold water to stave off seasickness and sing “Jesus Savior, Pilot Me.” It took three months for my knuckles to regain their color. (However, that trip was great writing fodder, and I used it in my book, Mist of Quarry Harbor.)

Senior citizenry and Old Man Arthritis has slowed the explorer down considerably. He was able to extend his backpacking trips with the aid of burros, but finally, he had to give even that up. Wistfully, he thought that he’d probably never get back into the mountains—until the family bookkeeper said maybe we could manage to buy a couple of used four wheelers. The family bookkeeper, it turns out, is also the sidekick, and that’s how I ended up in the mountains of Central Washington traversing lonely forest service roads on a red Suzuki four wheeler.

I must admit, it was a glorious week. The sky was cloudless, and the weather was warm the entire week. The only bear we saw was when I was safely in the pickup, and we only got lost once.

My life has certainly been richer for throwing in my lot with an explorer, and I think my husband has learned a bit about fire tending, too. Though his gold standard for movies is The Guns of Navarone, he’s watched every Masterpiece Theatre offering with me at least once, and stayed awake during most of them. Why, the other day, when I came home from a meeting, he was watching the most recent Pride and Prejudice, all by himself. What a guy! No wonder I’m willing to follow him up the rocky, 12% grade to the lookout atop Bode Mountain astride an ATV.

Return to the Neighborhood


Rebecca Talley said...

Sounds like you had a great time. What a fun couple you must be!

Liz Adair said...

We have fun together--don't know if you could call us fun or fuunny. Just a couple of old fossils doing the best we can.