Friday, April 18, 2014

Echos ...

It seems my tender body is sensitive to Hatchet Bay bug bites. A long night passed with my right foot feeling like someone had set it on fire. Long after midnight until the wee hours just before dawn was spent in the cabin while I dabbed Benzocaine and tried not to scratch the skin any more open and raw than it was already. So come this morning my world was a muffled, fuzzy, puffy-eyed kind of place, the kind of place where one's thoughts are not very well anchored in the here or the now.

I was sitting in the cockpit sipping caffeine and trying to steer my day into some kind of usefulness when a quiet but distinct murmur washed over the boat; that of twin R-985 Pratt & Whitney radial engines pulling a freight Beech 18 through the sky. Like many pilots I have a soft spot for that old bird, a soft spot with a tint of sadness. The first friend I lost to aviation disappeared on a winter night freight run over the Great Lakes. He was flying a Beech 18.

I was a skinny white kid just out of tech school working at a small mod shop. (Mostly we built drug-runners for cash, but that is a whole 'nuther story.) Ian was a hulking, short-tempered Black Man with all of the ratings and positions I would eventually gather: A&P, IA, CFI, CFII, MEI, ATP, DOM, DOO, Chief Pilot, Check Pilot. He also had a handful of helicopter ratings but I ended up with some jet types, a low level Acro Card, and a stint as an Airline Captain. Yet I have never been able to picture myself as his equal.

A few minutes later, while I was still reminiscing about Ian and the long line of friends that followed him West, the Island ferry plowed its way through the Bay and passed just a few boat lengths (ours, not his) off Kintala's port side. Once settled in at the pier with the gate down, the roar unique to a large group of motorcycles burst from the cargo deck. The thump of big-bore cruisers, the air-shredding rip of sport bike revs, and the growl of dual-sports washed across the sailboats as a big rally / ride of some kind unloaded off the Island Link, milled around for a bit, then thundered off down the Island somewhere. Deb and I attended dozens of rallies and rides over the decades we rode. Some of my fondest memories are days in a pack of howling race-replicas trying to tear the asphalt off the AK mountain roads. Days followed by nights around the campfire surrounded by the now quiet road assault weapons, sharing stories and cold ones with others still clad in riding leathers and boots.

Most lives go through phases; non-married to married (sometimes more than once), kid to kid-less to parent to Grampy T, school to workplace to unemployment to ... (that's a crap shoot there), healthy to life threatening illness and (hopefully) back to healthy again. These are all BIG DEALS and I don't think becoming a cruiser ranks among them.
Our bikes and 2 of our good friends from our AR rides.

But surely it is a Little Deal. It must be because things that once upon a time defined a good portion of my life are now just echos of a life once lived. A life that seems even further in the past than just the nine months that have passed since Kintala put the good friends of Boulder Marina to her stern. Tired, sore, hot, and a long way from kids and grand kids, this morning was one of those times where it wouldn't seem likely that the new life would compare very well with the old. Yet I was surprised to discover that was not so. There is very little I would do different if I had my life to live again, including making the choice to lighten up, get on a boat, and head out over the horizon to see what we can see.

Though I could do without the bug bites.

1 comment:

Pat and Joan said...

I still go outside when I hear the sound of a radial engine, there is nothing like it and if you hear it you know you are about to see a real airplane. We live near where they have a restored Connie that we see every so often. One of the best is seeing the B-17 and B-24 which make yearly visits.