I believe that, as one accumulates years, one accumulates wisdom as wellâ€¦ though most evidence points to the contrary.
Many moons ago, my friend and climbing partner Bob decided that he wanted to hike to the top of Mt. Whitney in the Sierra Nevada. He invited me along. The schedule was ambitious. We were to leave on a Friday after work, about 5:30 P.M., and drive to Kingman where we would crash for the night. The next day we would drive through to Whitney Portal, the site of the trailhead, elevation 8000 feet. We would hang out there to acclimatize, then do the twenty mile hike on Sunday, driving back to Tucson on Monday.
Well, being a couple of young bucks (emotionally, at least), we were too excited to crash in Kingman, so we drove through to Whitney Portal, driving and sleeping in shifts. We arrived at first light, the ideal time to start the hike. Faced with either going or cooling our heels for twenty four hours, we went. We made it up and back, though Bob did suffer from some altitude sickness (we went from below sea level to fourteen thousand feet in the same day). Back in Whitney Portal, we enjoyed an evening meal of roast beef sandwiches and soda.
Bob said, â€œIs there anything else you want to do in California?â€
â€œNot particularly,â€ I said.
He replied, â€œMe either.â€
So off we were, yet again, like two sailors each taking our four-hour watch at the helm while the other slept. We arrived in Tucson at 8:30 A.M., Sunday morning, dazed and scruffy, but each in one piece. From Tucson, to Death Valley, to Mount Whitney (the highest point in the lower forty-eight), and back in thirty nine hours.
Fast forward twenty years. While at the computer, I often take a break and jump over to ebay where I torture myself by looking at all the sailboats up for auction. I daydream of buying this one, or that, and sailing to Hawaii with my wife. Sometimes I find a boat that would actually fit into our lives as they are today, and on rarer occasions, one that fits and I could afford.
It appeared two weeks ago. A Cal 20 with a trailer in Long Beach, California. The bidding was low, with no reserve. I looked at other offerings, but the Cal 20 was weighing heavily on my consciousness. My wife came in and looked over my shoulder.
â€œIs that the boat you want?â€, she asked with a smile.
â€œNoâ€, I said, â€œIâ€™ll show you the one I want.â€
I quickly went back to the Cal 20, and she took a close look. â€œHow come itâ€™s so cheap?â€, she asked.
I explained how occasionally you find an amazing deal on ebay, and she agreed that I should place a bid. I saw this as a sign from God.
I wandered around in a distracted state for the next couple of days until the auction closed. Part of me wanted to lose so my live would return to normal, and I could get back to doing my stuff.
As you have probably guessed, I won the boat. Long beach, while much closer than Bangor, Maine, suddenly seemed very far away. I arranged to take some time off from my day job, prepped my little truck, and put an audiobook version of Winston Churchillâ€™s History of the English Speaking People on my MP3 player, and I was ready to go.
I called a different friend of mine, also named Bob, who happened to be between jobs and invited him along. He called me back saying â€œI canâ€™t let you do this alone.â€ The presence of Bob was another bit of Divine intervention, for it would have been hellish without his help and company.
So it was, at 2:30 A.M. on a Monday morning, Bob and I merged from the entrance ramp in downtown Tucson onto Interstate 10 West.
As part of our trip preparation, Bob and I cleansed ourselves of any guns, drugs, ammunition, politically incorrect thoughts, and most other things normally associated with a free society. We were both aware that when traveling to a foreign country â€“ in this case, the Peopleâ€™s Republic of Kalifornia â€“ one must adjust to the local culture, particularly a culture where Americans are always suspect.
We went via Phoenix instead of San Diego because the route was relatively flat, and I was already pushing the envelope with my little truck. The desert areas of Arizona and California were beautiful, and we both enjoyed watching the day break on that terrain as the sun rose behind us. When we hit Riverside, we hit the famous California freeway traffic. Yuk.
We arrived at the storage yard at 11:00 A.M. Lights, wiring, bearing grease, two tires, some bilge pumping and four hours later, we hit the road. We entered the greater Los Angeles freeway system at rush hour. It took us three ours to drive through Riverside and hit I-10 East. Actually, I was somewhat content to pull the trailer at ten and fifteen miles an hour in heavy traffic, rather than sixty to seventy miles an hour in heavy traffic.
The sun set behind us as the sun rose behind us in the morning. All we had to do now was maintain for another seven hours. With lots of coffee, a few stogies, and Bob as my co-pilot, we had smooth sailing.
Iâ€™ll pulled into the driveway at 2:18 A.M. having traveled 1001 miles in 24 hours. Good times. Still young bucks, even after twenty more years.
The boat turned out to be an excellent deal. The hull and deck are in fine shape. There is a little cosmetic rust on the keel, and two of the eight bolts may need replacing. The mast, boom, and standing rigging look good. There are no sails or running rigging. The interior needs a good cleaning and painting â€“ rainwater collected inside, but the wood is O.K. The cushions cleaned up fine.
I canâ€™t wait!
Looks good from here.