Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Life gets moving

So, as I've alluded to in my last post, I had a pretty screwed up 2015. My ex-wife moved out of my house on the 7th of January, and 2 weeks later, I found out that she had supposedly met someone in the 2 weeks that she had been gone. She'd never admit to it, but I later found out that she had been cheating on me since at least December (I hate to be petty, but damn, don't post that crap on your wedding announcement website!), and then several months after that, found out that she slept with at least 2 other guys while we were married. I had been married for 16 years, and suddenly, I was in a big empty house. It took me some time, and some serious thinking, for me to realize that it was honestly for the best. For both of us, I hope. I have come to realize that she had probably wanted out of our relationship for a few years, but she couldn't bring herself to leave until she had a "support network"; i.e. someone to drive her around.

So, fast forward a few months, and about 3 weeks after my divorce was finalized, I was out riding motorcycles with some friends. I was on a friend's borrowed motorcycle. His bike, a Suzuki V-Strom 1000, was significantly heavier than my KLR650, so when the going got tough, and some newer riders wanted to split off, I did as well. We rode for a while, but I began experiencing some of the exhaust popping and stuttering that the bike occasionally had, so I decided to split off on my own, go test out new helmets, and then see if I could get his bike sorted out. For some stupid reason, I ended up doubling back to run down a road that I like. I was in the middle of an 18 foot wide dirt ride, and as I came over the top of a small but fairly steep hill, a low tree branched blocked my view of an oncoming SUV. I saw it in time to move out of their way, but I apparently gassed the throttle, and I think that the back end broke loose. I flopped onto my back at about 20 miles per hour, and landed just right to cause my T-4 vertebrae explode.

So, super long story short, I spent 9 days in the trauma unit Vanderbilt, before moving to Stallworth Rehab for 5 weeks of PT and OT. I got to work with some great people that really helped me turn things around. The support from my family and friends was immeasurable. My mother took 9 months out of her life, sleeping on my couch for most of it, to help me get back on with my life. I missed 5 months of work, and then worked my way from 3 days a week up to full time again over the following 4 months. A week after I finally got my El Camino back from becoming street legal and having a hoist and hand controls installed, she was finally able to get back home.

To top off a super crappy year, my dog Duke had to be euthanized on December 26th due to renal failure. Fortunately, my super awesome friend Lisa had both of my dogs at her farm outside of Paducah Kentucky, and I know that she gave him as much love as I could have during that time, and he no doubt enjoyed the freedom he had to roam around his last few months.

So, anyway, this is a blog about travel. Obviously, my ability to travel as much as I used to, or as much as I want to, has become more challenging, to say the least. Between fears of flying (horror stories include lost wheelchairs, broken ankles and elbows getting on and off of planes, etc.) and logistics such as transporting my extra medical supplies and equipment, plus things such as renting cars with hand controls and finding hotels that I can actually get my wheelchair into all rooms is always a gamble.

Rewind the story a little bit, just before my divorce was finalized, I met this girl, Kaity. She is pretty awesome, and we hit it off well from the start. We dated on and off initially, both of us unsure what we were doing. I wasn't sure if I was ready to start dating again, and frankly wondered if I was making a mistake as I had been married for 16 years and hadn't ever really lived on my own. Working together always adds another odd element as well. We got along well, and things were looking up. And then I had my crash. It was obvious that she was very upset when she came to visit me in the hospital, and after a few weeks, it was obvious to us both that this wasn't going to work. And frankly, it was probably best that way as I needed to concentrate on my recovery efforts.

Fast forward to June of 2016. The day of my one year anniversary of my crash, I heard that she was looking for me. I assumed because of the date, but it was to let me know that she had taken the LSAT and was planning to go to law school. She has talked about it while we were dating, and I encouraged her to dig in and see if she really wanted to. Anyway, we talked for a fairly lengthy time, far more than we had since August of 2015. It was good catching up, and we said maybe we would grab lunch someday. I had no delusions that we would be anything more than friends, but was a little surprised when a few days later she called me and asked if I wanted to go see a movie. We ended up hanging out or doing something 4 or 5 times in a week and a half or so.

And now, what this whole blog is about. Fast forward a few months, and we are happy to say we are dating. One night she came over to visit, and I had been watching a travel documentary, which was great, but simultaneously depressing. She could tell something was wrong, so I told her my fears of travel, and how travel had previously defined so much of who I was, so it sucked a lot. She started to suggest things like “if we were to fly somewhere, where would you want to go?” I eventually asked her to stop bringing it up, because I didn’t want to dream of things that weren’t going to happen. She agreed, and the next day while we were hanging around my pool, she said, “Let’s do it, let’s fly somewhere.”

We booked tickets to Boston the next day. I was super excited, and we had a 2 month period to plan things out. I had not left a 150 miles radius of my home in over a year, with the exception of one trip to Indiana for my Aunt and Uncle’s 50th wedding anniversary. This was an whole new, terrifying world, but I had someone that wanted to help me conquer it. We both had been to Maine previously, but neither of us got to spend much time in Portland, so we decided to go there. I took very few pictures, but we had a great time. We saw Hannibal Buress on the first day we were there, we went on a whale watching tour and saw a Minke whale, seals, porpoises, etc. I had been waiting to see whales for a long time, and while it wasn’t a breaching whale, it was still awesome! We ate at some great restaurants (Central Provisions was a stand out, but far from the only good meal we had), and even took a day trip up to Acadia National Park, which is truly breathtaking. We even went on a “hike” on one of the old carriage roads. It was an incredible experience, and Kaity’s enthusiasm rocked my world. She was an absolutely incredible travel partner, and never batted an eye at the things that I saw as a hassle. Plus, she drove a lot in just a few days, what with the 2 hour drive from Boston and then 3 hours up to Acadia, both roundtrip in a 4 day period.

We both had a good time, and really seemed to connect even more on the trip. On the flight home, we were already planning our next trip, even if it was more of a dream. It wasn’t long though, and we decided to visit Louisville for her birthday. Again, nearly zero pictures, but we stayed in the historic Brown Hotel, ate some great food (check out Ramsi’s CafĂ© on the World), and saw some great sites. The highlight of the trip was definitely the Muhammed Ali Center. I have zero interest in boxing, but really, it’s not about that so much. I will be going back there, maybe before the end of this year.

So……. That pretty much sums up my travel life from the last 2 years, and then some. Things have changed, but I still get to “ride” with my motorcycle buddies in the Dune Buggy that Chris modified, and I currently have someone that I really like to travel with. Yep, I’ve gone through a ton of crap lately, but things could be way worse.

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