My 20th birthday found me in a youth hostel in downtown Rome. My 30th, crossing the Alps on a bike. So I figured my 40th should be something special, albeit adapted to the life of a senile, mid-life man, who has expanded his vocabulary to include big words such as prostate and dysfunction.
So here I am. My forties found me, having sold everything, moving into a motorhome, and touring the US and Canada, with two bikes and a dog in tow.
A friend of mine once told me that I was a collector of stories. I think that aptly summarizes me– at least for a big chunk of the time. I love to live a good story and then retell it; to the point that sometimes I wonder whether I’m just experiencing life merely to tell a good tale.
I left a few weeks ago, searching for a tale– having installed solar panels to get my work fix, and carrying more laptops and gizmos than Inspector Gadget.
The morning of my 40th found me alone, with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, having found the only deserted spot on California’s Highway 1 that has T-Mobile coverage. Despite the view, it was a bit anti-climatic, so I fired her up and drove off in search of adventure.
I found an event that claimed to be a two day 100 mile endurance ride through pristine logging forests. The event was over-sold, but I figured I could use the “it’s my birthday” card to gain entrance.
Upon arriving I was somewhat dismayed that there were no bikes, but horse trailers. I ventured through the forest on foot, onto a clearing where I found a few stables’ worth of horses. I asked around, and was quickly clued into the fact that “endurance ride” in redwood country is not a bike ride, but a horse ride. A bit disappointed, with nowhere to go, and the hours ticking away on my one and only midlife birthday, I decided to continue on north.
However, while taking the 35 mile route into the main road, I ran into a hand painted sign that read “chicken and duck eggs”. I’m a sucker for fresh farm eggs (the seemingly only thing keeping me from being a vegan), so I stopped. I met Warren and Arlene, a retired couple living off the land and a military pension from 3 tours in Vietnam and countless other tours including Korea and Granada. We chatted for a bit, and Arlene told me about a book she had written, and was having a hard time getting self-published. One thing led to another, and I ended up fighting with Windows and this piece of crap software called Blurb. It got late, and Arlene invited me for a birthday dinner. One thing led to another, and after having realized there was no way the book publishing could be done in an evening, I offered to stay to see the project through– in exchange for water and WiFi.
Arlene was extremely grateful for my stay, thinking she had gotten the better end of the deal, but it was me who was cheery throughout the entire week. I had great company, great food, a backyard with a scenic view to the redwoods, and the endless chatter of chickens providing a constant background to the clicking of my keyboard.
I had more eggs in a week than I’ve had in the last three years. I was even treated to venison, from deer caught in their backyard– which apparently is the only safe place to hunt around Carlotta. As Warren says “I didn’t survive no three tours in Vietnam, so I could get shot by amateur hunters!”
I am please to say the book is done and available through Amazon and Createspace: in book, and Kindle format. If you want to read a good story of Kansas in the 1800s, click on the links above. I suggest you purchase through Createspace which gives a higher royalty to authors. Oh, and I’m featured in the author’s footnote at the end. How cool is that?
A truly great experience, meeting wonderful loving people, way off the beaten track. I’d say I’d miss them, but I know I’ll be back to see them :-).
One more story; in the bag!