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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A Lesson from the Worst Drummer in Belize

A Lesson from the Worst Drummer in Belize

The following is an excerpt from my soon-to-be finished story about my year as a small ship cruise director traveling with and learning from my retired passengers.  

...The idea of “so what” appeared again the following week in Belize, as Mr. Gallagher danced with his wife to the sounds of a Garifuna band on deck. Every beat of the Garifuna drum tells the story

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The "Just go!" Manifesto

The "Just go!" Manifesto

There’s the blogger girl, the travel hack genius and the wandering nomad whose life you really want, the couple who sells everything and hits the road, the fearless adventurer, and the people who know exactly what to order at that amazing restaurant in Marrakesh. 

I love these people.  They inspire me.  But I'm not them

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The Last Time (A Toast to Exploration)

A while ago, I was inspired to write a toast for a group traveling aboard the National Geographic Sea Bird in the San Juan Islands. We were together for only two days but in that time were able to hike, kayak and spend a sunny afternoon watching killer whales feed.  At one point during the hike I noticed a woman bending down to touch some flowers and I bent down to do the same.  I wondered, when is the last time I did this?  It got me thinking.  That night, I read this.  It received a great response, so I'm sharing it here with you: 

The Last Time (A Toast to Exploration)

When is the last time that you knelt down and felt the ground beneath your feet?  When you ran your hands over juniper roots or purple petaled wildflowers, and wondered about the world around you?  

When is the last time that you noticed a sweetness in the air, and breathed deeper to fill your lungs, purposefully, wakefully?

When is the last time you didn’t care about getting your shoes wet?  Or lying on the ground because, hey, that’s the only way to get the shot?

Or when you stopped—just stopped—and in the silence of the forest, listened to a bird’s singular song?  

When is the last time you said wow?  Or tasted something so delicious you put your fork down to really taste it.  Or when you were consumed with anticipation—for killer whales this afternoon, or, maybe, for dessert tonight?  

Did these times make you feel excited? Awake?  Alive?  For me, all of the above.  If you felt the same, we should cherish that.  But here’s the thing about last times.  We cannot let them be the last time—not for ourselves, not for others.  

This world is too interesting, too rich, too incomprehensibly magical to exist without us peeking around every corner, turning over every rock, asking every question.  In our time here, there should not be lasts, only firsts and nexts.  If we keep to that, what great discoveries we can make.  

So let’s raise a glass and toast--to exploration, to inspiring others to explore, and to the next time that we can all do it together.

~Thank you.

The Magnificent, Lone Spruce

The magnificent spruce rose like no other tree in the forest.  Its trunk stood perfectly straight, so thick that even with three of us and a guide hugging it, our fingertips couldn't meet.  Few other trees soared as high, none as perfect.  

But there was something strange about this spruce.  From its base, it took at least fifty paces in all directions to reach the nearest tree.  The ground around it was clean except for a few bare rocks, while the rest of the forest was covered in spongy mosses and brush.  

"It's like that big one moved itself away," I said, immediately feeling silly for saying it.

No one heard because they were crawling with the guide and studying the different types of moss on the forest floor.  I knelt with them, noticing that what I first saw as a green swath was actually a network of different mosses, each with a different shape and texture and shade.  Rocks covered in bright orange and red lichens dotted the green carpet.

"These lichens secrete acids that break down the rocks over time," our guide said.  "That helps create new soil.  And you know, if you dig below this moss, you'd find what's called the mycorrhizal network." 

We looked closer.

"The mycorrhizal is a web of fungus beneath the surface that connects these trees. The cells interact with the root cells and share carbon and water and nitrogen and hormones.  Even defense cells and information. You could say that they talk."

We drew closer to the ground, as if we'd be able to listen in.

"See the biggest trees around here?  Chances are they are "mother trees" and have the most connections to all of the other trees; sometimes hundreds.  They give a lot—certain times of year more than they receive—but when they need it, and they always do, they rely on that network to feed them nutrients or information and keep them healthy.  It's a complete give and take depending on conditions and seasons.  Scientists call it the "wood wide web." 

We rolled our eyes at the joke and trekked deeper into the forest, wondering what other microscopic miracles we were stepping on. 

On our way back, we stopped at the magnificent spruce.  

"How long ago do you think it died?" my friend asked the guide. 

"I can't tell," she said.  "Years.  You can see the forest has continued to grow.  In time, it will grow back around the spruce.  Something may even spring up from inside it.  You never know.  It's the forest we need to think about anyway.  Not the trees."