Life and adventures from a high school perspective
An avid cyclist, rock climber, and all around adventurer, Francis Davis is taking to the internet to share his stories of cycling, climbing, and adventuring.
It's been a blur so far. It feels not so long ago that the school year was back upon us, and it even feels not much longer ago than that I was biking back from Maine. But as I settle back into the rhythmic life, the leaves again falling, I realize that I can enjoy being back in "the grind", or as I dubbed it in a previous post, the "return to regularity". If nothing else, I'm trying to appreciate the little things. As a lot of my day to day activities again become very rigid, it is the small irregularities that add verve. Taking a little bit of extra time to enjoy the morning coffee on the weekends.
There are the bigger things. This morning I got to skip school. Instead, I drove to Conneaut with a few of my Outdoor Leadership companions to surprise a group of school faculty on a with a first aid scenario. I had a compound fracture on my right forearm. It gave me great pleasure to yell at my former 9th grade Humanities teacher that "MY ARM HURTS I NEED YOU TO FIX IT NOW". How's that for a Friday morning?
Then there are the big things. I'm thrilled that Aunt Kim is coming to visit all of us in NE Ohio in a couple of weeks. The last time I saw her was about 1.5 years ago when she took me on the Grand Tour of California. Of the family, I actually can boast that I have seen her the most recently. For the others, it's been years. It should be fun!
Then there are great things: upcoming adventures! In three weeks I'll be heading out for a backpacking trip with Outdoor Leadership to Pennsylvania. That should be a good time. But the real event will be in December. Details are starting to be finalized for my school trip to Vietnam. I'm incredibly excited. For three weeks I will be traveling with 14 of my classmates on a grand immersion of the country. To prepare we have a semester class looking at the Vietnam War, Vietnamese culture, and the society before and after America's war involvement.
The only other fun project now is the drift trike. Another fun "from scratch" build. This project is fun in particular because I am noticing my technical improvement from the go kart. Everything is at least a little bit better. Working with my hands always provides a tonic from the weight of the world. I'll end with that.
On Tuesday the adventure continued! Dad and I set off bright and early to visit Wake Forest, his alma mater. It would probably be meaningful to explain the college strategy at this point. I sum it up simply as "defining x". Visit a few colleges that are geographically close to where I'll be (Bowdoin in Brunswick, ME), and see what some of them are like. Not difficult. Not stress inducing. I take issue with the strategy of mass visitation during the summer of sophomore year. How much of that would one actually remember in two years when application time comes? I certainly wasn't overwhelmed by Wake Forest. I actually found it somewhat similar to a scaled-up Hawken, which I think is a testament to my high school. Going forward I think I'll have to adjust my expectations to be more down-to-earth, and not to expect something wholly more grandiose than the high school that I am already in. Relatives have already mentioned when visiting my high school how similar it is to a college environment: in size, in resources, in academic rigor. I am incredibly lucky to be where I am!
This has been the first long road trip that we have taken the Volvo on; I love it. I've done longer drives in the Honda CRV to West Virginia by myself, and it is a completely different experience. These are all comparative statements, but while the Volvo is primarily designed for more luxury, the "Fahrvergnügen", meaning joy of driving, coined by VW, is strong. Going through these mountain roads, I come back to one thing: the engine. It's powerful with 6 cylinders, but the true star is the turbocharger. It gives the car enough power in the highest gear to climb hills, overtake, and not have to downshift. It's brilliant!
Finally, vacation life seems to be getting back to normal (somewhat). After Monday's flight cancellation driving fiasco, Tuesday served as a nice reprieve. Dad and I stopped in Asheville for an oyster lunch. They had 1 dozen East coast half-shells on happy hour, and then we finished with a "pan fry" of oysters and paprika cream sauce. Also excellent. After that we were all back to the cabin to prepare for entertaining our friends that I stayed with on Sunday night. In reality, they did the cooking, a wonderful Thai coconut milk curry. Not too spicy. Wednesday we are off to the Biltmore. My keen eye quickly honed in on the website to the Land Rover off-roading experience. That should be in the cards. Very exciting!
For clarity, this update was written yesterday.
Everything was going to plan yesterday. Dad and I rolled into Asheville, grabbed lunch, and enjoyed an evening graciously hosted by some longtime friends. Dad was to set off early this morning to pick up mom, Caroline, and grandma from the Charlotte airport, a two hour drive. They would all be back in the afternoon, and we would lead an uneventful evening.
I awoke at 7:30 this morning to a text from Mom that their flight had been cancelled. Quickly I gathered my groggy wits and called Dad, who was about 20 minutes already on the road. Fortunately, mom was quickly able to find another flight into Fayetteville, NC that would arrive at 2PM. The downside, Fayetteville is a 4 hour drive from Asheville. As I write this, sipping on coffee, and relaxing on the couch at our friends house, I really feel sorry for everyone involved. Mom, grandma, and Caroline were up at 3:00 AM this morning; they are going to have a long day. Dad has been on the road since Friday. Less Saturday (climbing), this will be his third day in the car. He has an 8 hour round trip drive. Hopefully grandma is hanging in there. She's a tough cookie, but I'm sure martinis will be in order tonight, as well as an early bedtime. As for me, I've had a lovely day! Slept in, noodled about on the computer, and talked college with our friends. The rest of the family should be here around 6:30.
Luckily the rest of the week should be unaffected. Dad and I are thinking about heading to Winston Salem to visit Wake Forest tomorrow morning. I'm looking forward to some mountain biking, dining, and waterfall hikes with the family. Should be fun!
The weather quickly deteriorated outside, snow careening in the air, borne by the inevitable gusts of wind. The inside of the warehouse was drafty but snug. I often remark mentally on the primal security that being in solid shelter when the elements are less than ideal can bring. I’ve been meaning to tell this story for a long time.
It was on that eventful winter night that a Hawken friend and I learned to weld. This set the foundation for our big project, the go kart. Over months we toiled, procuring an engine, building a chassis, and slowly putting everything together. Ideation, experimentation, failure, repetition, and finally, success. Often it,es it was one step forward, two steps back. But I suspect that is the plight of many a novice tinkerer.
Don’t get me wrong, I think the mechanics are great, and a valuable skill to have on their own; I think the perseverance mentality was the richer end reward. I thought of a new quantification of the numbers recently. I reckon that thus far I’ve spent roughly 10-20 times the hours working on the project than I have riding it. A rudimentary and inaccurate measurement, who is to say otherwise? Proving a point? I think so. I still think it’s worth it. The constant error and incremental nature of the project often disenfranchised my friend. It pulled at me too, but this is where I extracted the lesson. Failure is inevitable; perseverance is critical. I know this cliché is worn, nevertheless I find it meaningful. All the more meaningful that it is qualifiable in a singular project. Not persevering at life, but persevering at the go kart, and in doing so, constructing the skills to have that mindset. Dad is a large proponent of the necessity of dedication, not that he is always the premier example. I found it easier to distill meaning from a smaller facet of life instead of the other way around. At the end of it all, after the long nights, the thought problems, dead-ends, ad grueling work, it is all the more meaningful to rip around in the yard, rear wheels kicked out around the corner, pedal down.
It is indeed another cliché to apply this mentality to adventure, but again, I consciously apply it to my life. These same lessons are observed on the saddle, day in and day out, pedaling towards the destination. It’s physically and mentally deteriorating,but I’ve found that to make the result all the more rewarding. Here’s to the next project!