Vagabonds, Vagabonds Everywhere

Balloon

Launch site of the first trans-Atlantic balloon flight – Presque Isle, Maine. Jonathan Trappe, who is really cool thinks this is really cool. It must be.

It’s been too long since my last post, so let’s get right into it.

I realized recently that one of the fascinating things about being a Physical Therapist and traveling is all the different people that we get to meet and get to know as we work with them. This thought started when a man showed up at the door of our cabin looking to rent it, because our landlord has left the “For Rent” sign out front. We got to talking about this first TransAtlantic Hot Air Balloon launch site which is just down the road. At this point, the guy introduces himself Jonathan Trappe and whips out his phone to show Kate and I why he finds the balloon memorial so fascinating. “I guess it’s just a small group of us that find that kind of thing really cool. This is my balloon,” he says while showing a picture on his phone of him hooked into a harness attached to a bunch of toy-like latex balloons floating above the clouds. I say to him that it looks like he’s pretty far up. He says, “Yeh, this picture is taken at 20, 000 ft above the Alps!” You gotta check this stuff out ClusterBalloon.com – There’s place down the street that Jonathan might rent. I hope he does, maybe we can be friends.

I don’t know why this came as some sort of revelation to me that I get to meet a lot of people doing what I do – afterall, being able to be a social creature at work is one of the major reasons I got into PT in the first place. Now, I’ve been practicing for 7 years (which through some very rough math works out to 12,000 to 14,000 hours in the clinic), and I can think of a lot of really interesting people that I’ve been fortunate to meet. There’s a couple of patients I’ve treated that opened my eyes to some different and cool stuff. There was this Buddhist monk that would show up for her treatments in her burnt-orange monk robe we’d talk about the different veins of Buddhism. She’d tell me about how she was one of the first female monks in her particular denomination of Buddhism, how it was the most pure of the denominations, and how she brought it to the US several decades back. Just a fascinating woman, I don’t really remember all that much else about her, but she definitely sticks out in my mind as a cool person to have known.

There was this man in his late 80’s I saw for home care a few years back. He opened my eyes to the religion of Spiritualism. He was a leader nationally in the Spiritualist Church where they believe when people die they exist in the same world as us as spirits. To dumb it down: they believe in ghosts. And this guy was a medium who could communicate with the dead. He lived with this much younger roommate who was a tarot card reader. They were always making this soup that I can distinctly remember the smell of – It may have been some sort of mix of the soup and just the particular smell of their place that I remember, it was very distinct. I go over and work with this man a couple times a week. Somewhere inbetween he and the tarot card reader telling me fascinating stories and explaining more about Spiritualism, we’d sneak in a few exercises and some work to improve his mobility. He believed that anyone could be trained to be a medium — that you didn’t particularly need to have a knack for it. Besides this religion that fascinated me, he was just a sharp, open minded guy that I think of occasionally and wish I had kept in touch with. I did think to call him one day, but enough time had passed that I had changed phones and didn’t have his number anymore. Too bad, I’d like to know how he’s doing….. and take him up on that medium session he offered.

"Hey! Look a van with a New Hampshire plate. What are the chances out here in Alaska. On an unrelated note: Brrr, It's cold, glad we're not in a tent...."

“Hey! Look a van with a New Hampshire plate. What are the chances out here in Alaska. On an unrelated note: Brrr, It’s cold, glad we’re not in a tent….”

The travel really increases the amount of people from less-than-ordinary circumstances that pass through my life. When actually out traveling on the road or in airports, I don’t typically go out of my way to chat up people, I’d rather not deal with the inconvenience of them asking me where I live :-), but occasionally someone will creep into the daily interactions and stick as a memory. The only reason cluster-balloon-guy stopped in is because the “For Rent” sign was still up. If we had been well settled into a place for months or years, that sign wouldn’t have been out there and Jonathan wouldn’t have come-a-knocking. “New Hampshire” was the name dubbed to the couple on the Alaskan State Ferry ride to Washington who were driving a big van displaying a New Hampshire license plate and with a big aluminum canoe strapped to the top of the van. We first met them in the line of cars waiting to get onto the first boat out of the Anchorage area. The gentleman of the couple noticed our Maine plates and came strolling over saying something like, “Hey! Maine!? We’re from New Hampshire!” We continued to see this couple everywhere on the 10 day trip down to the lower 48. We saw them on the boat, we saw them out in Juneau on a 2 day stop there, and we even passed them on the highway headed out of Bellingham, Washington. My most amusing memory (of these people whom we never really got to know that well) happened one afternoon on the boat when seas were rough and water was splashing and blowing up over the top of the several story high ship. New Hampshire was hanging out nearby and I remembered they had been tenting out on the deck of the ship. It wasn’t unusual for people to tent on the deck of the ship, but this was getting late in the season and they had the only tent out there in November. The tent was tied to a railing after they were overhead paged on the boat to attend to their tent. According to the ship’s crew, it’s not unusual for winds to whip up, taking unsecured tents weighed down with gear right off the boat into the Gulf of Alaska. I was a little scared to ask them if their tent was out on the deck during this patch of rough seas, but I remember as things calmed a bit and no more water was coming over the top of the ship, Mr. New Hampshire stands up and very matter-of-factually says, “I guess I’ll go see if the tent is still there.” What a character, and neat people living a cool life, cracks me up.

Anyways, just because I feel like there’s supposed to be some conclusion here, let me say this: I like meeting people and I think PT and traveling is a nice combination that lets me meet some pretty cool people. We’re trying to buy a second car off Craiglist this week, that’s a process that lends itself to some strange people getting involved… should be fun!

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