**Warning: This post contains some ample self-pity, proceed with caution (and empathy if possible).**
"Adventure is just suffering in retrospect."
These wise words were permanently affixed in my mental library just moments after I first heard them. I had just stepped out into a temperate evening in Japan to hike up Mount Fuji, blissfully unaware of the freezing rainstorm and overcrowded, treacherous trails that awaited me. After my fellow hikers and I somehow made it to the top, we huddled for warmth in a urinal next to hundreds of others in the same bind, all of us having departed at night in hopes of watching a legendary sunrise over Tokyo. The murky dawn came and went, the sun and the horizon obscured by freezing mist.
Of course I lived to tell the tale and to have many other, far more pleasant, adventures during my time in Japan and beyond! But that phrase always reminds me that there will inevitably be a low point, or more honestly many low points, to remind a traveler that an extended time away from home is not an escape from the challenges of real life. A long journey away is more like a disorienting reorganization and exaggeration of one’s normal range of emotions in pursuit of novel experiences, personal growth, etc. etc. I can’t explain exactly why I am drawn to such experiences any better than that phrase does – the suffering eventually fades from memory and the adventures remain.
I recently called my mom to vent about our situation on the boat (which since that phone call has become significantly more complicated and frustrating) and she said something along the lines of, “Not sure why you keep punishing yourself, life doesn’t have to be this hard!” I appreciated the sympathy and the reminder that not only was I not blackmailed into going on the boat, the crucial art and science component was almost entirely my idea!
Well I’m here to report from the trenches of one of the low points. We are on day 13 in Moore Haven, $4,000 poorer than when we arrived, with a brand new engine sitting on our deck that is unable to run properly without parts that will arrive on Saturday. Said parts will likely still leave the motor too large to fit into the engine well of the Wildcat, meaning the metal engine mount below the deck has to be rebuilt. While we float in a canal with a healthy alligator population. In a tiny town of 1,600. Without a car. Or a shop. Oh and we spent yesterday afternoon in the ER while Zion got a cut on his finger stitched up.
Hence some frustration and a gratuitously whiny blog post. After making it to the 3,000 mile mark in December we thought the hard part was done; we high fived, got drunk with our friends, and set off to ramble our way back up to North Florida and complete the Climate Odyssey project. Now it looks like the Wildcat will be immobilized until at least early March when we get back from our month away. Upon our return Zion will get down to business rebuilding the engine mount and hopefully we’ll be back in business! He’s made enough miraculous repairs at this point that I have faith we’ll get it worked out.
Despite the conditions our spirits remain buoyant. We’re comforting ourselves with a long list of “Well at least…”’s and “It could have been worse if…”’s. Not to mention a bag of Cheetos and a hard earned pack of Hostess cupcakes.