Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Blogger Exchange

One of the greatest experiences I ever had in my live was camping.  Not the competition for a Merit Badge stuff I was required to do with the Boy Scouts.  But a three night carry in / carry out trip I took with some of my college buddies just after graduation.  

A couple of my friends did this stuff often and I was lucky enough to get invited to join them. Get a map, drive a few hundred miles, park, walk into the woods and come out a few days later.  This cityboy was actually a little uncomfortable being so far from the subway, but I survived.

Survival was the key word.  There was a few close calls.  We had a map and were taking a trail that followed a stream.  I learned that beavers turn streams into lakes.  So our trail was not so much.  Huge detours.  One of them led to a bridge that was just a big straight tree that went over about 20 feet of 3 foot deep water.  Falling in meant getting soaking wet and getting all your gear waterlogged. Game over.  Walk back to the car. Ruin every ones good time.  The experienced campers went first.  They did not make it look easy.  They used branches to balance them selves like tightrope walkers.  
I was really scared shitless.  I was gonna fall and ruin everything.  But suddenly I realized why they made it look so hard.  They were all doing it the had way.  There were billions of branches.  The water was only 3 feet deep and the tree we were walking on was only a foot above the water.  I took 2 branches and used them like long canes.  There was no way I was gonna fall.  I felt pretty good about myself, I did not just overcome my fear.  I found a way to do it less scary.

I also did not know how to pack for this trip.  I knew I had to bring and carry everything I would need for 3 days in the woods.  However, it did occur to me to bring water (heavy) or any kind of water purification device.  (That worked out fine, the other 3 guys brought water filters and 1 of them was still working after 3 days.)  But I did bring teabags.  I brought a little box of Celestial Seasonings.  The other camping novice on the trip thought the tea was a good idea.  The experiences dudes called us the Tea Drinkers.  (not to be confused with  Tea Baggers).

My college buddy Mike was the other Tea Drinker.  I was recently married, he was just married.  On day 2 of this 3 night adventure we reached out goal.  A campsite near a waterfall.  It was perfect.  Mike climbed to the top and waved back at us.  He promptly fell into the water.  He fell about 20 feet, into very deep water.  He was fully dressed and it was about 40 degrees.  The thee of us got him out of the water and out of his wet cloths.  Thankfully, he was fine.  But we had to dry his clothes.  We build an extra big fire and promptly set his clothes on fire.  Lots of little fires.  His pants and shirt and shoes all had little singe marks on them.  We were happy he was not dead.  He was worried that his new bride would find out he fell.

I have to interrupt this narrative.  I wanted to check with mike to see if he ever told his wive before I go ahead and put this on the world wide web.   So I so a facebook message



Did you ever tell Erin why you clothes were bunt on the camping trip we went on?





Michael L February 27 at 9:38pm Report
She says, "Yes."
Michael R February 27 at 9:45pm
how can we be 400 miles apart and yet the same couple.
Michael L February 27 at 9:50pm Report
No shit.

So Mike joins the Army they move to Virgina.  My wife and I visit.  They move to Buffalo, have kids.  More visiting.  Something really neat happened when we went to visit Mike and Erin after the moved to Buffalo.

When we got to Buffalo, Mike was still at work.  Erin was home with the kids.  They are teenagers now, but back then "Subway Dude" was two or three and the "The Fashionista" was itty bitty.  Well, when Mike opened the front door Subway Dude was so happy he peed his pants.  I knew then that I wanted to be the kind of Dad that would make his kids so happy that they peed their pants when I got home.  My kids are 10 now, and I have not gotten them to pee themselves yet.  Just lots of farts.

We fade away, visits get fewer.  Holiday cards....But not so much contact..  We are far apart, fading away and BOOM.

Fast forward to the 2008 NYC Marathon.  I am at like mile 17 and I hear my name called.  I barely know what is going on so I scream and yell back and for some reason took a photo.  20 feet up 1st Ave I am going to put the camera away but first I look at it. Holy Shit that's Mike.  8 miles later I see him again.  This time I know who he is.  Erin actually finished that marathon in 5:11:40 and my time was 5:11:35. 

We reunite.  But this time we don't have to drive so much.  Yea, they are in Buffalo and we are still in Brooklyn, but we got found each other on Facebook. They are adopting a baby. They visit Brooklyn and I get to take Erin on a running tour.

I stay connected and get to follow their amazing adventure.  (It all turned out wonderfully, can we call it an amazing adventure now?).  Yea, this adoption did not go as planned.  First, I don't think the Nation of Haiti makes it easy. Second, Erin did it the Super Woman way and run the Disney Marathon on a Sunday and then flew to Port-au-Prince.  For me getting on an plane the day after a 26.2 mile run is enough But then on Tuesday there was a GIANT EARTHQUAKE in Haiti.

Here is were the Internet actually improved my life.  (Yes, my friend was in an earthquake and it is about me.)  I was able to follow her on Facebook.  I did not have to bug Mike up in Buffalo to find out how is wife is.  I just check her Facebook status updates.  Real drama in real time.  But the Internet did not only improve my live, it helped to inspire me to help others.  Being able to follow the heroic actions of the Lancer family got me to do something I never did before.  I ran a race for charity.  I raised almost a thousand dollars so the good people at World Vision could clothe and feed the people of Haiti.  I used to say that I did charitable works and raced and one does not have to have anything to do with the other.  Well they can go together.




Erin comes back and runs the 2010 NYC Marathon.  I happen to be coordinating bus transportation to the start from Brooklyn.  Erin happens to be staying in Brooklyn.  I get her on the bus.  Mike repays me by taking my picture at mile 7.



Click here for Mike and Erin's blog about me!






4 comments:

  1. You sure are adventurous! A real scary story. I've never liked camping personally and never been camping but that's because when I was a child here in Sicily we didn't even know what camping was. My brother bought a camper many years ago and he took his family and my mother and I on a one day camp and I hated it, couldn't wait to get back home to all the comforts. But believe it or not, in the 50s when I was born, we didn't have electricity, running water or toilets in our houses. Greetings from Sicily! Be careful in your adventures!

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  2. One of the buddies who had a mapMarch 8, 2011 at 6:57:00 PM EST

    Douglas Robert F

    March 8 at 8:55am Reply • Report
    Mike, GREAT STORY!!! Thanks for sharing. Often two people recall the same event dramatically different but your version of the hike is spot on and just how I recall the trip. It is a vivid memory for me. I busted out laughing several times but most loudly when I saw the photo of the tight-rope walker between the towers :) By the way you kept a calm and cool exterior, I never knew how nervous you were. I remember you trying to explain to your mother that you wouldn't be able to all from a payphone and she couldn't comprehend not being able to access a payphone. And knocking on doors (in the boonies) to call AAA. Thanks again and enjoy your day... Doug

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