I USUALLY COME UP with my best ideas or problem solving before I get out of bed in the mornings around 4:30. Mimi and I have stuff to figure out whether it be related to business or family or our own relationship. I can get into the issue at hand but I can’t usually resolve the issue on the spot. My head is just worn out from the issue building days that we all encounter. We are usually physically worn out from the days at our garden center and greenhouses. The greenhouse work that I’ve been doing lately has me really sapped by the time I get home.
Sometimes I do wonder how much water can pour out of a human. Lately I’ve been adding Pedialite to my diet to put some of that sodium and potassium that runs down my back like a river all day. Since I’ve added that supplement I have had my first month of solid sleep nights with no leg cramps. I just figured that was my curse I would have to live with in my otherwise wonderful life. For the last 15 years I would feel my foot begin to arch back into a weird contortion and begin to pull on my calf muscle so hard that I would have to get up as quietly as possible in order not to disturb Mimi’s sleep and do what I call the Leadco shuffle. (I guess you’d have to be my age or older to remember a washed up cousin Jeb from Green Acres selling some kind of siding to know what the Leadco Shuffle was, he used to do a little ditty and a dance, horrible.) I would have to walk around the house for five or 10 minutes until it would subside enough for me to try to get back to sleep, at least until the next one. It would usually wait until I fell into a deep sleep to start the whole process over again.
It was a terrible cycle that left me worn out with sore legs even after I stopped running. It was always easier for me to get up around 4:30 than to lay around and wait for the next cramp to come along. It’s during this time that the resolution to whatever issues are going on in my crazy world comes easily along and shines the light on the answer. Now that I’m sleeping peacefully throughout the night I still wake up at 4:30 naturally but way better rested my answers are coming through stronger and more positively than before. Ode to the Pedialite and Ben Profilet at Garden Works who put me on to this life changing method.
All that being said, it was during one of these pre-daylight moments last week that a memory came to me I thought might make for a good musing. When my brother was 14 and I was 13 we made a life changing journey to Colorado with one of my sister’s friends who at the time I thought was an adult, He was probably 18. He had a Volkswagen Rabbit that was surprisingly speedy. Chip had his learner’s permit so we had two drivers and me in the backseat absolutely useless.
We had it in our heads that we would drive straight through to Aspen, a 24 hour trip if you never let up. Our friend would drive as far as he could then Chip would take over until he couldn’t go any farther. We didn’t have all the music options we have now (man, I’m beginning to sound old) maybe a cassette player at best, this was 1977 so it might have been eight track tapes, I don’t remember.
After plodding through Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and into Colorado and over Independence Pass we made it to Aspen in exactly 24 hours, that little Rabbit was flying. Back then there were still cheap accommodations outside of Aspen. We found some really cheap accommodations, like the kind that had a place next to the bed where you could drop a quarter in and the bed would vibrate, it wasn’t much of a bed anyway but we had a good laugh and crashed out.
The next morning our friend drove us to the trailhead of a hike he had heard of called Conundrum Springs. On the map it said it was an eight mile hike, sounded like a piece of cake. Keep in mind this was our maiden journey as far as hiking in the mountains went so we were totally unprepared. We had blue jeans, which quickly became cutoff shorts, regular tennis shoes, probably Chuck Taylors with zero support. We had a tent and a canteen with the old fashioned water purification tablets made of iodine, a flashlight and some matches.
That eight mile hike had to have been more like 13 miles and after losing the trail a few times we made it to paradise. At the top of this mountain, around 12,000 feet is a series of hot springs made into pools with spectacular views in all directions. Very few people were up there so we wandered around and soaked in the pools for a couple of days. That hike awoke a beast in me that has never released it’s grip on me. I loved hiking in the mountains. I have been back to those springs probably eight more times and whenever someone tells me they are looking for a good hike in Colorado that’s where I tell them to start, It’s hard to beat. Mimi and I have been up there several times and we’ve been back with Mia and Max.
FROM THERE THE journey took us to the southwest corner of Colorado to a ranch where my parents had us set up to do some hunting and survival skill lessons. Our friend dropped us off and where he went I have no idea. Chip and I woke up every morning along with about eight other guys to some camp style breakfasts and then to take care of the horses we would be riding and hunting off of for the rest of the day until sunset when we would return to the camp to clean up the horses, reload our bullets, catch a meal and get to know the other guys. They were from all over the place. We were all around the same age and nothing but trouble but we had a great time.
We knew we had a survival course or test coming our way and that day had finally arrived. We loaded up some raft and provisions and took a van to the Colorado River and rafted down it for three nights with very little to survive on. I’m pretty sure the dude who led the group had no idea what he was doing, but we didn’t run into any major catastrophes or weather events. It’s hard to get lost on a river but we did take some excursions into the desert when we pulled off onto the sandbars that definitely could have gone sideways, but we made it. We didn’t know about hydration and things like that, we were totally winging it, that’s what made it so much fun. To guys our age we were in heaven.
Chip and I both shot a ram and took them to the taxidermist out there. The heads were shipped to our house in Mississippi where they stayed in mom and dad’s house attic until their house burnt down, no more ram heads. I know Mimi is probably relieved that she didn’t have to veto the ram head on our walls of the house we live in now, doesn’t really fit with her decor style.
That trip began my life as a travel bug. Again, I had no idea what we were getting into and no idea what a lasting impression it would make in my life and who I would become. I will always be grateful for my parents’ insight, maybe blindly, and the freedoms they allowed us four kids. It was daring of them but being brave is what we learned from that. We all four remember and laugh about the looney things we got to do as young kids. We all seem to remember things differently but the different perspectives is what makes it so interesting to me. There was a big age gap between my oldest sister and me so life looked a lot different from each of our views.
It was a fun time to grow up with so much responsibility and the trust we had in our parents that surely they knew what they were doing and the trust they had in us that surely we knew what we were doing (at age 13) shows that we were all faithful someone was looking after us and would keep us safe as we rambled down our paths.
I told my kids just the other day to never doubt that everything you say and every thing you do matters and will reveal itself to you one day as to how it matters. Lately that exact puzzle has begun to come together for me to the point I catch myself in the ahah moment very frequently. People I met or helped, things I did right and things I did wrong, jobs I did well and jobs I didn’t do well, all these things have affected my life in one way or another. It’s so interesting when you get to see how these things matter so much.