Flipping the coin of adventure.
In saying yes to adventure, you don’t just get the fun bits. This year, I’ve decided to be more open to trying new things, saying yes to stuff outside my comfort zone. Right now, after a recent “adventure” to the Big Island with my husband, I’m reflecting on the two-sided nature of the adventure coin.
One side, variety. The other, uncomfortable.
One side: fun; the other, annoying.
One side bliss; the other, boredom.
One side, excitement; the other, expense.
If you’re going to sign up for adventure, you’re going to get both sides of the coin, and sometimes a lot more than you planned for.
This recent trip happened spur of the moment. I said, “I wish we were going on our road trip TOMORROW!” because one thing about living on an island you’ve lived on for 14 years: it’s an island. There’s only so far you can go before you end up back where you started. Mike, going to the Big Island to buy koa for a project, said, “Come with me!” and I had a light week with counseling clients, so in a day or two, I was going.
Yay! A road trip from Kona to Hilo and back, two nights in a vacation rental, some time to plot my next book in new surroundings. I had business to take care of myself, delivering books to my marketing rep (more on that later) and Mike and I could “road test” some time together getting ready for our Big Adventure in May (a month on the road seeing the National Parks.)
A lot of the trip was great. We fell in love with the land we’d bought in South Kona all over again and planned our oceanfront dream house (at least in our minds) successfully did our business of wood buying and book marketing, and met a lot of great people. We ended the day with a lovely dinner out at The Seaside in Hilo (highly recommended.)
The last day of the trip was when the Dark Side of the Adventure Coin landed tails-up. Mike had a disaster with his cameras on his morning lava shoot—a rogue wave washed them, case, lenses, tripod and all, into the ocean. He was able to run into the sea and retrieve the equipment, but likely all will need replacing to the tune of thousands of dollars.
For my part, a blissful day alone writing in the vacation rental went south when I ran out of food and patience due to repeated intrusions (without knocking) by the homeowners’ intellectually challenged adult son. (He was worrying about me being abandoned by my husband, and being bored alone. Apparently, he’d never met a writer before.)
Mike got back, upset by the camera loss and we promptly had another debacle involving a lost checkbook. We were not happy when we finally got on Saddle Road from Hilo to Kona, a windy two-lane highway that goes between the volcano peaks in a three-hour drive. South winds had blown “vog” in, and visibility was spookily poor. Live volcanoes belch enough ashy gases to make “smog” in LA look like kid stuff!
We stopped to hike a kipuka in the wilderness, a stand of “old growth” forest surrounded by the newer land of lava flows, and I impulsively climbed a koa tree to hear the birds better. It was amazing…for about fifteen minutes. Then, I got cold, and uncomfortable, and couldn’t get down. Mike had hiked off, so I was stuck there, in the tree, contemplating my folly until he finally returned and was able to help me climb down (at forty-eight, dropping six feet into uncertain terrain is not the fun it used to be.)
This was followed by a debacle at the airport, where Mike flew out ahead of me on a different airline due to my last minute reservations. My plane, a tiny turboprop run by a company that shall remain nameless, had no ground staff, no office, no apparent budget. The breezeway between two trailers, our “lounge,” was filled with a 22 member Micronesian family with at least six feet of boxes and bungee corded coolers; when we went to get aboard, the two pilots (doing everything from checking us in to weighing and loading the luggage) were delayed a half hour sorting out who exactly of the family members was flying with us, and then weighing what we could take of their luggage. Finally, all seven of us were on board (sans chickens and pigs.) Then, the damn thing wouldn’t start.
We all got off. I still thought it was kind of Hawaii third world funny.
We waited for the mechanic to come check out the plane. He finally arrived at 12:30 pm, (3 hours later) clad in board shorts and rubber slippers. He climbed on a stepstool and poked around under the hood with a flashlight. We heard some banging, “move the flashlight up a little, willya” and other reassuring comments. By then, I was cold. Really cold. Wearing my Volcano Park sweatshirt with the hoodie up, listening sullenly to my iPod like a fortysomething teenager, trying to wish myself somewhere else—somewhere with dinner, and a warm bed, and NO ADVENTURES.
Options like hotels and rescheduling help were not offered, and I had to work this morning, so I gutted it out. Finally, saying my prayers and making my peace with God, I climbed into the plane with the other survivors of our little airport hell. I got home at 2:00 a.m.
And as we were hurtling through the pitch dark in the little lurching plane, I meditated on the fact that, when you say yes to Adventure, you say yes to the whole coin. There’s no way just to get the good stuff. But there was no doubt that I felt keenly alive and filled with adrenaline, and when I finally kissed my pillow in the wee hours, it had never felt so good.
What do you think of flipping the coin of Adventure?
Huh – I’ve been musing on a similar topic today. I just finished a week of IPS (Intentional Peer Support) training. It’s amazing stuff, and I frankly came out of it thinking that every human being should take it, not just the ones wanting to become Peer Support Specialists. It was absolutely fascinating, reassuring to see how I do some of it naturally, enlightening to see where I run totally counter to it (and now have the opportunity to be aware of that), amusing to see how much dovetails with the Interpersonal Effectiveness module of DBT, etc.
But at the same time, it was really rough. We had too many people in too small of a space, and it tended to get quite loud. It was quite bright to me, plus a projector. Half the time the room was freezing (it’s still pretty chilly up here in Oregon) and the other half they had the heat cranked up and it was too warm. I haven’t done a “typical” 40-hour week in about 6 years – I’ve been working on call with 24 hour shifts, so I only worked 2 days a week at most. Add all of that to the fact that I’m shy, introverted, and have bipolar disorder which is not fully balanced yet, and it was very rough. I started getting hypomanic by Wednesday afternoon – and then managed to forget to take my meds on Thursday morning (which I NEVER do! Second time EVER since I got new prescriptions in September!) which totally didn’t help. Thursday was just a comedy of errors, being in a group with someone who was very abrasive and with whom I felt frankly unsafe – but didn’t manage to say anything (even though that’s also a part of IPS – owning it when you’re feeling uncomfortable and working it out together). That was also the day we got into the “language of pain” and how to deal with the lovely topics of suicide and self-harm, both of which I have a history of and can be triggered by the topic in general. Couldn’t reach any of my support people that evening, and also got news that one who was going with me to a scary doctor appointment on Monday won’t be there after all. That night, I dreamed that it was Friday already and I’d gone out with a friend, only to realize that it was Friday and it was noon and I’d missed most of the very last day of training. At least Friday I had my mood stabilizer on board and we weren’t in small groups, and I’d gotten to be friends with the people where I sat, but that was a new problem. I found myself dripping tears in the car on the way in – because once I get over my initial shyness (usually in a few hours), I tend to connect with people pretty quickly (one reason why I think I’d be a good peer mentor), we’ve done some deeply emotional work which often fosters very quick and deep connections – and now it’s just over. Most of the people there weren’t local, so I’m not likely to see them around here unless maybe there are big conferences or something, and of course that was sad. I suck at goodbyes and endings, and spent the rest of the day and today with a feeling like “post-Christmas letdown”. Angel says she’ll be emailing out our contact information to everyone (there was a section on the registration form where you could say if you were okay with that or not, so only the folks who said yes will be on there), and I got contact info specifically from some of the people I felt closest to – but it’s still sad.
So it was absolutely fascinating and exciting and wonderful and felt really right (which was a huge relief, since I’ve been feeling called to the field but I have a history of things not working out, and there are several long stories around that) and I loved it – but it was also physically exhausting, mentally exhausting, emotionally exhausting, I’m still not *quite* balanced again, and I still get a little weepy over the goodbyes.
Adventures, even small ones, do tend to be very complicated things. What a lovely random validation to see another similar story just as I’m wrestling with mine. 🙂
Awesome story, Shalora, thanks for your honesty and transparency! It takes awhile to get back to equilibrium for anyone pushing themself into new things!
One of my “dark side of the coin” adventures was, coincidentally, also on a trip to the Big Island, although this was from the east coast of Canada, so it took my wife and I 24 hours to travel from our home to our hotel. We arrived completely exhausted and checked into a hotel that had an open-to-the-elements lobby and restaurant (unknown to snow belters like us) and two towers. We got our room keys, rode a large number of stops up the elevator, and found our room was actually on the *other* tower. This meant crossing an open footbridge, with heavy luggage, 15 floors up, seriously dizzy from fatigue, with only a handrail on either side that came to about mid-thigh on me. My vertigo kicked in big time. Back down to the lobby for a key to a room on the tower with the elevator, thank you very much.
…and then we had an amazing week enjoying the Big Island!
The Big Island is so PRIMORDIAL. I love it. It reeks of adventure!
My oldest son lived in Kona right after college, working as a construction manager for a new golf community south of Kona in 2006. He started throwing luggage at night for Aloha so that he and his family (us) could fly standby. My husband and I finally decided on President’s Day weekend 2007 to head out from our local (3 hours away) airport, Reno, for a four night visit. Standby is a fickle thing I now understand, but didn’t at the time, so off we went with happiness in our hearts at seeing our son who so sweetly is working extra so we could afford a quick trip! We were able to board the flight from Reno to LA with no problem, but the counter person said the flights from LA to Kona were looking booked. We were optimistic everything would be ok so off we went! We get to LA and and the counter person wants to know if we want our luggage on the Kona flight that is looking full and we say yes, still optimistic that we will be on it. Soon our luggage is off to Kona.. Without us. Our son says he will pick it up at the airport so no problem. We wait to see if any other Hawaii bound flights are open, but they all take off full. They counter folks ask us to try again tomorrow and we are free in LA sans our luggage. I’m sad but our youngest is in college nearby so we call and spend a wonderful day with him. Next morning I am wearing the clothes I wore previously and hair is funky with no makeup and we are ready to fly out. Off goes the Kona plane, off goes the Oahu plane, now our only hope is Maui. The Maui plane is 10 minutes from departure and I’m trying not to cry when an agent comes and says there are two seats left and we run! We get on the plane and I’m thinking that a flight from Maui to Kona will be no problem! 5 hours later I find my husband as we deplane and I notice the little Maui airport is crazy with people. We wait for an hour in the Aloha line to find out all flights to Oahu (you flew Oahu, then to Kona) were full. We check the other airlines, now no worrying as much about the free standby flights as just getting there. Nothing until the next day. I am sick of airports by this time so I tell my husband lets just rent a car and find somewhere cheapish to stay and we will make Kona tomorrow. Another call to our son, who is feeling awful about our trip nightmare, and we assure him it’s ok, but could he use the Internet to find us a place for that night, a Saturday on a holiday weekend. He says sure, then silence on the phone. I ask what’s available and he says there’s a room at the Grand Waialea for $800… We are driving over to the west side (whales!!) and we assure him we will find something. We stop by several hotels and ask, but nobody has a room. We get to Lahaina and stop at a timeshare place and the nice young guy makes a ton of calls but there are just no rooms, even bed and breakfasts. I look at my husband and say I give. Let’s go have a nice dinner and just sleep in the rental car. He agrees and off we go to have a nice dinner at Kimos. After dinner we decide to try somewhere up by the Iao Needle to pull off to sleep. Wrong. Party spot. We soon had lots of company and we drive off looking elsewhere. It’s midnight and I’m exhausted so when I see an un-gated road into a cane field I tell my husband lets try it. We rolled the windows down a bit, listened to the wind in the cane and slept like babies! The next morning the flight was half full so we had no problem getting to Oahu, then on to Kona where I was overjoyed to finally see our son! Our trip went from a four night trip with him, to two, but he arranged for a wonderful horseback ride in Kohala and lots of surfing while we were there so it was worth the epic trip out. Getting back home was no problem, but from that point on I vowed I will only fly if I know my buns have an assigned seat on the plane!
OMG. OMG!!! Yeah, the joys of travel. I’m scared of standby for those very reasons, but these days, reservations don’t guarantee much either! Wow, great story!
Ahh, Toby. How well I can relate to both sides of your adventure! And what memories your story brings back! I’ve traveled quite a bit for work and pleasure, and it seems that both sides of the coin turn up on every trip, to varying degrees. Boy, the dark side really kept turning up for you and Mike this time! (I hate the part about his camera equipment – I’d imagine he was heartbroken.) Hopefully, things will balance out and you’ll have more of the fun side of the coin on your next adventure!
Like I said, first two days were great, but enough dark side happened on the third day for the whole thing!
Good thing I wasn’t going to Forney County!
Wow, that camera equipment… and the ‘flight’. Yes, you always get the bad with the good. All in all, we’ve done fairly well in our travels – but there’s always the occasional story. And I know what it’s like on a small plane. I was on one flight when the co-pilot reached around for the instruction manual. Not a happy sight.
The “mechanic” could have at least worn overalls and tried to seem like he knew what he was doing… I like my illusions when they involve plane travel!
We still don’t know what will happen to replace Mike’s cameras, its a terrible loss…
Lovely analogy. And the truth is that we remember the sticky patches just as fondly as the real highs in the end. As my husband likes to quote; ‘If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much room.’ Great post, Toby- the writing bit sounds particularly lovely but uggg aren’t the interruptions the writer’s curse? But they’re a two-sided coin too, I suppose, I’d miss them if everyone forgot me, I just wish they could ask for favours after 6pm…
Well said, Jackie!