Everyone has different priorities in life but for me, God, family and my health are at the top of the list. Every day these are part of my life. When I began my major adventures and traveled far from home these became even more important. Every day I prayed: God please take care of me; my family; and please keep me healthy. When I ran the Sahara Marathon it was please let me stay healthy. The food conditions there made me nervous. When I was hiking in Kenya I was wholeheartedly concerned about my safety against the elements, the wildlife, and the food. When I was in Russia alone waiting to meet my guide I was concerned for my safety and crossing the high mountain passes hoping not to be mistaken for an enemy and gunned down by an overzealous guard. For all of the times that my family could not join me I was still glad I had the courage and will to go alone, because this was a fulfillment of my dreams and goals.
There have been times when family has been able to join me on an adventure and for that I am thankful. One special time not too many years ago, my daughter, Heather and I traveled and a hiked in Turkey. We spent most of the time hiking in Cappadocia. We had a great time and before leaving for home my daughter convinced me to take time to visit the ancient site of Troy. It was a long hot day of travel to get there. We left Istanbul before dawn, our driver was a speed demon and was stopped for speeding twice, but that did not deter him from continuing the same way the rest of the trip. He did not use the air conditioner and he wanted the windows up, we suffered. Our guide did not seem to want to interfere in the driver’s business. We had to take a ferry to cross The Straits of Dardanelle. Then the hazardous car ride continued until we arrived at the site of Troy. It was 110ᵒ. Our guide wanted to give me a little history of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. As I sat under the blazing sun I couldn’t remember one thing he said. Only that this was as close to a heat stroke as you could get. We walked and walked and all the workers were on siesta from the deadly heat. No one was there just us. We went layer by layer within this historic site where they are still discovering more cities on top of each other, I think he said it is more than twelve cities. As we departed we drove back to the ferry crossing not complaining about the terrible heat in the car, as under the sun at Troy it had been even hotter. We stopped to see the Anzac War site at Gallipoli where so many Australians and New Zealanders lost their lives in this horrific battle. Then we endured the long drive back to the city center of Istanbul. I chuckle when I think how we suffered the heat, but I will always remember Troy. The trip was special to us taking time to do something together.
My son, Mike, hiked with me over 400 miles on the Appalachian Trail four years ago. He was a great sport as he is a fast hiker and would sit and wait for me along the trail, in the rain, the cold and the wind. Sometimes he had to sit a long time and he never complained. Sometimes he would leave his trekking poles at a turn off to a lean-to and I would know he was waiting for me there. In The Great Smokies Mountain National Park we encountered a snow storm. Instead of taking a zero day and not hiking we hiked for two days with snow that sometimes was up to my hips where it had drifted. We stayed in lean-tos so crowded we could hardly move because the weather was bad. He never complained. If he was cold or hungry he never complained. He carried extra in his pack to help me, too. It was lonesome when he left the trail and I had no one to cook and share a hot meal with at the end of the day. He is a great companion and fun to be with on or off the trail. He helped me to succeed.
Besides hiking my son and daughter trained and we ran our first 5K together on Mother’s Day in 2010. We all trained for the Chicago Marathon which Heather and I ran on 10-10-10. Due to a stress injury a few weeks prior to the marathon, Mike could not run. We ski, kayak and spend holidays and as much time as possible enjoying family time. Life is short, it is what we make of it. I am thankful for my family and friends who share and enjoy something that is so important to me.