Mom and Dad walking the walk in the Himalayas
Kids are generally infinitely cooler than their parents – that is a fact of life – so I know that it is weird to gloat about your parents. However, when it comes to my parents, I have come to realize that they go bigger than anybody I know. They talk the talk, and walk the walk. Literally.
Not only are Mom and Dad sailing around the world (a journey on which I joined them for the first three years), they also decided to take a little month long trekking adventure through Nepal along the way. They left the boat in Phuket, Thailand and flew into Kathmandu a few weeks ago. In the past two weeks they have trekked over 65 miles in the Himalayas – like, in Mt. Everest’s backyard. I don’t care if you’re 26 or 60, that’s badass.
Dad celebrated his 60th birthday in Nepal on October 1st. Amazingly, they had internet service wherever they were staying and I got to call and wish him a happy birthday. When I talked with him he sounded like he was on top of the world – probably because he was.
“Happy birthday, Dad! How has it been?” I asked.
“Oh Cork, it’s been… Exquisite… Over the top…” He replied slowly through a surprisingly clear Viber phone call, considering a signal beamed from my iPhone 3 into outer space and landed somewhere in the Himalayas.
“Cool! So, what has been so exquisite about it?” I asked with a pang of jealousy.
On a side note, I have spent some pretty cool birthdays with my dad in the past three years: one in Tonga, one in Vanuatu and one in Bali, so it was hard to imagine this one being “over the top” (or better than all the rest). But I understood after he started elaborating:
“Oh Cork..” he began in a soft voice, “Just all the little details. For example, this morning before sunrise we got a soft knock on the door and a little voice said, ‘It’s clear, go watch the sunrise this morning.’ So we got up and watched the sunrise over the Himalayas. After that we returned to the hotel and had a big breakfast. Ruthie went for a hike later in the morning but I stayed in the room and smoked a big bowl of strong hash. Then I went up to the rooftop bar and got a cold beer; the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining. Two falcons were flying around each other and suddenly locked talons in some kind of mating ritual, plunging toward earth and then soaring back up into the sky… The owner of the hotel was so honored that I would spend my 60th birthday at his hotel he brought me a cup of goat’s blood from a freshly sacrificed goat… It was delicious.”
At this point if you looked up “Euphoric State of Being” in the dictionary I am pretty sure you would see a picture of my dad. I completely understood why this birthday was his best ever.
But he continued: “Cork, Nepal is an amazing place. You have to come here. It is destitute, but the people here are incredibly hospitable and warm. And everybody works incredibly hard – it is just a part of life. It doesn’t matter if you are 6 or 60, everybody works every day.”
Not only Nepal, not only the people, but the fact that my parents, who are both 60 (which is the new 40) are doing ridiculously long treks at sky high elevations, drinking goat’s blood for lunch, also happen to be sailing around the world. Yep, that’s impressive.
My parents have always been my role models, not only because of their work ethic, success in business or adventuresome spirit, but because they are a team. My dad pushes my mom to do things she never thought she would do in her wildest dreams, and my mom keeps my dad grounded and down to earth — which it seems is harder and harder to do these days.
My conversation with Dad ended as follows:
“So, when are you guys going back to the boat? When will you be back in Phuket?” I asked, slightly frantic at the thought that my parents might become monks and stay in Nepal forever.
“Oh, in about a week or so,” Mom replied from the background of their hotel room.
“Maybe…” Dad said, a little too casually.
I heard giggles from both of them.
And then the signal dropped.