Mr. Saturday Night - My First Day As An Assistant Cruise Director

The follow is an excerpt from my memoir, Will My Cane Float? (Voyages into Adulthood and the Adventurous Retirees Who Showed Me the Way). 

...From the bow of the Yorktown Clipper, I looked out on Juneau and watched as bald eagles soared high above the Sitka spruce and hemlocks.

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Travel is Medicine. Literally.

Travel is Medicine. Literally.

After reading my 6 Ways to Find Happiness on the Horizon download, a friend from way back contacted me about her experience with the power of travel.  She practices as a physician assistant in orthopedic surgery in Oregon and her story fascinated me.  

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Is There Anything Good in Yellowstone? Or: How I learned to Leave the Crowds and Love the Park

A stout man in khaki cargo shorts and a red t-shirt emerged from his group and approached me on the boardwalk at Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone National Park.  His nametag said, “Jason.”

“Anything good up there?” he asked. 

I stopped, noticing the reflected mix of thermal pools and forest in his tinted Oakley sunglasses.

Anything good up there?  You mean like this?  Like everything around you?  Like the fact that you’re walking on top of a super volcano right now?  Do you mean in this eternally changing cauldron of travertine, with bubbling waters, broad, blue skies overhead and a breeze blowing from snow-capped peaks in the distance?  Anything good in these 2 million acres that Ulysses S. Grant designated as the first national park in the world?

“Anything good up there?” is something you ask a store clerk stocking the top shelf.  

Have you seen the bison roaming on the plains?  The black bears and grizzlies in the forests?  Have you felt the prick of pine needles from trees that Native Americans once used to build teepees?  Christ, there were elk in the parking lot.  Unless you drove here from Narnia, I’d say it doesn’t get better than this

I took a breath, put on a smile.

“Yeah.  Everything’s great up there.”  

And I got as far away from the place as I could. 

And that made all the difference...

And that made all the difference...

I'm a Whittling Man

A week after I returned from Haida Gwaii, British Columbia I found wood shavings on the floor of my Brooklyn apartment.  Ok, my wife found them. I put them there. I had been teaching myself to carve while she ran errands.

“What are you doing?” 

“I’m whittling.”


“Yeah, whittling. I’m teaching myself to carve like the guys in Haida Gwaii.” I took another notch out of the wood in my hands.

“Where did you get the tools?”

“Hardware store on the corner.”

“Where did you get the wood? It looks like a bunch of sticks.”

“It is sticks. They are sticks. I found them in the park.”

By now, my wife had already thrown a pile of wood shavings in the trash and was heading towards the closet where we kept the vacuum. I put my blade down on the coffee table.

“I want to learn to carve like Jim and Christian,” I said. “You should have seen it. They make giant totem poles, like fifty feet tall. Eagles and ravens and bears. All sorts of designs. They’re amazing. And Jim doesn’t sand his pieces when he’s done. He finishes them all by hand and they are completely smooth. It’s incredible!”

“Marc,” she said. “I love you. But it looks like you’re making a bunch of wooden knives.”

To her credit, the couch was covered with a handmade wooden arsenal befitting Lord of the Flies. They were supposed to be finely carved miniature totem poles with whatever designs I could muster. But the round sticks kept getting slimmer with each cut and eventually tapered out to a flat, sharp edge. I could have gutted a deer with each creation.

“They’re…letter openers,” I said.

I stood up to help my wife pick up the shavings, which caused even more to fall from my lap.

She watched, dumfounded. “Is this going to be your new thing?”

“Maybe,” I said, eyeing an untouched stick. “I think I need to go back and apprentice.”