Cruising is our dream. It started out as EW’s dream, but I jumped on board fairly quickly. Sometimes I’m not sure what that says about me:
Am I adventurous?
Am I just another Good Wife following her husband?
I didn’t have a firm dream before I met EW, but I remember remarking during my senior year of college that, “I can’t see myself in the burbs with a station wagon and a couple of kids. I want to travel a bit.” However, I didn’t actively seek out travel, in fact my first job was at the Maine Public Broadcasting Network on that same college campus.A few years later I met EW, who had dreams big enough for the two of us.
I am, therefore, so impressed by young people, especially young women, who grab on to a dream in their twenties and work for it. Our son, Favorite did that. At nineteen he quit school where, “I’m really only here for the sailing team,” and began an Olympic campaign as a Finn sailor. He campaigned for two quadrenniums and traveled all over the world. It was an incredible experience and he has become an incredible and accomplished man.
My cousins’ daughter, Lynelle, was a much-loved teacher in a small Maine coastal town when she decided to see the world by teaching in American schools abroad. She lived and taught in Argentina and Italy before meeting her world traveling husband and moving with him to Zurich, Switzerland where he worked for FIFA. Now they are moving back to the states for their next adventure.
Our sailing friends, Paul and Sheila, share Paul’s daughter, Jessie, who also taught at a small Maine school. In Jessie’s case it’s a very small, one room school on Mohegan Island. Sheila and Paul sail on S/V Que Rico, have sailed to the Caribbean and back to Maine, and certainly have shown Jessie something about living one’s dream. Jessie is currently through hiking the Appalachian Trail, alone, and writing about it on her blog: An Extraordinary Hike.
Photo above of Jessie and her pup in Maine. From her website.
Her blog is an excellent, sometimes funny, sometimes painfully honest account of one young woman pushing herself to her physical and psychological limits, having fun, enduring pain, missing family, making new friends, and living her dream. Every day. Day in, day out. For months.
I am struck by how many similarities exist between her experiences those of cruisers like us:
- She had to leave her golden retriever behind, and she misses that sweet dog every day. Like us, she seeks for what I call a “fur fix”, the chance to hug and play with a friendly dog.
- We often comment on how friendly and helpful cruises are, as if our little island hopping “community” was unique in that way. Jessie has met incredibly friendly and helpful through hikers and segment hikers. Like us, sometimes she walks and camps with them for a few days. At other times, due to schedules, equipment, or physical concerns, she hikes on alone, or stays somewhere to rest while her new friends move forward. That’s exactly how we sailed the Bahamas and up and down the Caribbean islands – sometimes alone and sometimes buddy boating.
- Just like us, she has to find Wi-Fi. She actually has that a lot easier than we usually do, but she may have hike out of the trail a mile or more in order to find a place to charge her devices. At least we can do that on the boat.
- She has been lonely, and misses family – celebrating the Fourth at the lake, and hanging out with friends. Just like we do.
- Weather is her friend – and her enemy. Rain, wind, sun, heat, cold – just like us cruisers, often the weather is the sole “decider” regarding a good day on the trail or on a passage, or a bad one.
- Like many of us, she has met wonderful “locals” who’ve helped and befriended her along the way. Did you know there are “Trail Angels”? These people spend a bit of money and time stopping by the trail with cold drinks, hot food, sandwiches, and sweets. Someday I want to be a Trail Angel along the Appalachian Trail. Paul and Sheila were excellent Trail Angels when they visited Jessie on Paul’s birthday.
Sheila from S.V Que Rico who along with Paul – hat at lower right – and their two dogs created Trail Magic along the AT. Photos by Jessie from her blog.
- There are days she loves the experience and days she hates it. Most recently she has had to ask herself whether or not she wants to continue. She knows folks who have quit the trail more than half way through their hike. We’ve known folks who’ve swallowed the anchor years before they had planned to. Jessie has recognized that there is no shame in that, just as we have recognized that each cruiser must chart his or her own course. I would never through-hike the AT, and we’ll probably never sail around the world. But we’ll “segment sail”, creating our own path across oceans and following our dream.