My friend Doug calls them my Mad Lib Friends.
“I know a (girl/guy) who lives in (insert a location) who does (insert an unusual hobby or occupation.)
I can’t remember the friend or occupation that I mentioned that started the phenomenon, but I notice myself doing it a lot since he pointed it out.
“I know a guy in Georgia that runs 500 mile foot races and lives on the Appalachian Trail.”
“I know a couple in Montana who rode their bikes past a herd of Bison while watching a geyser erupt.”
“I know a girl in California who works for the USGS determining worst case scenarios for Cascade volcano eruptions.”
“I know an engineer in Peoria who raises bees and chickens and helped me install my water heater.”
“I know a dude in Memphis who looks like a friendlier version of Colonel Sanders and makes a living as a horologist.”
It’s not that I feel the need to name drop or anything. It’s that I’ve been truly blessed to have an eclectic group of friends and acquaintances with incredibly interesting lives. I love to meet people who are passionate about something- poetry, rafting, knitting, music, cycling… it really doesn’t matter to me. Any time someone is excited about their hobby and wants to share it with me, I’m just thrilled. I’m curious. I’m ready for adventure!
It was in the company one of my “Mad Lib Friends” that I found myself this Tuesday evening.
“I know a doctor in Quincy who likes to cycle, jam on his guitar, and who is a pilot with his own plane.”
My friend Tim is a physical therapist by trade and a downright interesting guy by nature. I think we first met in the Quincy Bicycle Club on one of the larger group rides, but lately he’s been hanging out with my husband and I at our local music store’s jam sessions. The loose jam sessions include musicians of all skill-levels. We gather and the Second String Music store comes alive with classic rock, oldies, country and contemporary music. Everyone plays and sings and has a great time.
Sometime during one of the great conversations that a pause in a jam session tends to facilitate, Tim and I got talking about ourselves and he told me he was a pilot and he’d recently gone in with some other friends and bought a plane. I lit up with interest and explained that during college, I’d had the opportunity to ride with the Civil Air Patrol and learn a little about flying. I’d always wanted to complete more formal training and get a license.
That’s why, late Tuesday afternoon when Tim sent me a message that said, “I’m taking the plane up- feel like going for a flight?” I nearly fell out of my work chair trying to type, “yessssssss!”
We met out at the airport after work in the cold, crisp early evening and I watched with interest as Tim went through the preflight checklist. It’s been since 2002 that I flew with the CAP, but each time he’d mention a term, a little bell would go off in my head signaling, “Oh yeah, I remember that!” VORs and headings, air speed indicators, trim, run-up… the words swam around my head and tried to reassemble themselves after a decade of rust.
(On a related note… can it really have been ten years since 2002?)
Pretty soon the preflight checklist was done, the propeller was cycled and we were headed down runway 3-1.
I was likely grinning like an idiot (as I’m apt to do) but I could tell Tim was just as excited to break the bonds of earth for a moment and get out of town. Once he leveled the plane off around 3,000 feet, he said, “Okay, take her where you want to go!”
At first, I was uncharacteristically nervous and I daintily turned the plane towards the river. It was a windy night and the plane danced around a little when the wind caught it right and I kept searching my mind for the things I used to know.
I asked lots of questions about what we were seeing on the dials and Tim was happy to explain. He especially enjoyed showing me all the awesome tricks his Garmin could do- like bringing up nearest airfields, pointing us directly to where we wanted to go, and even showing glide plains for landings with poor visibility.
(Another aside: in 2002, the Cessna that I flew in had a GPS unit but it was nowhere near as cool as this Garmin. Back then, the GPS pretty just displayed point A to point B. Isn’t technology grand?!)
In no time at all, Tim and I had arrived somewhere over Hannibal, MO and he challenged me to spot the airfield. Once the beacon was in sight, he pressed the call button on the steering yolk and “lit the runway.” Evidently at uncontrolled airports, the major runway lights don’t stay on all the time, and a pilot can turn them on from the air. It was like the coolest version ever of The Clapper!
(ooooh… another dated reference. Remember? “Clap on! Clap off! Clap on, clap off- the clapper!” *sigh* This blog is making me feel old.)
We left Hannibal airspace and decided our next destination would be Pittsfield, IL. Tim deftly turned the little craft to the northeast and we rolled through the crystal sky right facing the constellations of Orion and Gemini.
I pointed out the constellations, the Andromeda galaxy and Jupiter and after a while Tim asked how I knew all of these things. And I replied simply, “Well, I love science!”
The rest of the flight continued on like that. Tim taught me more about flying, I taught him more about astronomy, and we soon were headed home. As he circled around the airport, my mind circled around an idea I’d always known but had never really fleshed out. By the time he called out, “Quincy traffic, Cherokee 16253 headed on final approach runway 3-1 (?) Full stop, Quincy,” I had it figured out. It’s the whole key to my Adventure Foot.
People are really interesting!
I know that doesn’t sound like a groundbreaking idea, but let me explain.
Whether it’s Tim and his plane, David and his bees, Clint and Ryan taking me rappelling, my friend Cindy and yoga (blog coming soon…), or any other of the many people who I’ve had the pleasure of sharing an activity with, they all have one thing in common: they are passionate about something. And passionate people are always passionate about sharing their favorite adventure with anyone who wants to learn.
Which brings me to my last point before this rambling gets out of hand: if there’s just one purpose to this blog it’s to show you how much fun it can be to take your Adventure Foot out the door and try something new. Don’t let excuses or fear stop you from going.
People, for example, will say to me that all of the cycling looks really fun but they know that I cycle hundreds of miles sometimes, so they don’t want to go out and try it with me for fear that they’ll be no good. Don’t be silly! It wasn’t that long ago that I got my first bike as an adult. And I’d love to show you why cycling is the best thing that ever happened to wheels! Just because I can ride a long way doesn’t mean I can’t go for a leisurely ride with you sometime. And maybe you’ll love it as much as I do and you’ll get great and someday you’ll take a beginner out and… well, you see where this is going.
So make it a New Year’s resolution! Try new things! Have an adventure! And talk to people… because they’re all interesting and have a lot to teach you!