Tuesday, February 12, 2008

An Escape?

It seems that this humble scribbler has been tagged by a colleague blogger with an assignment of sorts. To wit: If ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ had an inexhaustible supply of financial resources, and time, where would he spend: One Week, One Month, One Year and Half of his Life? Answering such questions, though academic and more than a bit fanciful, tends to reveal the life experience of the respondent as well as his/her/its philosophical outlook.

Firstly, the answers to these questions will vary widely when asked of individuals of varying ages; for example, Leonidas has had the good fortune just prior to the onset of midlife to be able to embark on a lifelong dream of sailing away aboard a smallish sail boat to experience a somewhat self sufficient and at times adventurous lifestyle visiting a surfeit of exotic and out-of-the-way places not available to the average tourist. Interspersed between these exotic locales were the expected instances of joy, awe and terror such as riding out hurricanes, being jailed as a spy by a revolutionary communist government, trading skin magazines with local fishermen for buckets of lobster and shrimp as well as being offered a huge stalk of bananas in exchange for the ship's cat in an anchorage on the north coast of Haiti. That particular Haitian averring that: "There's lots of good meat on that cat." The ordinary Haitian diet is lacking in protein. Needless to say the offer was declined and Caloosa T. Katt retained his position as the chief mate in charge of varmint suppression aboard the good sloop Leonidas.

As is inevitable, all of life's adventures must be surrendered with the passage of time and the concomitant onset of boredom and diminishing capabilities, the most influential of which is the "been there, done that" attitude. This, even though the aforementioned adventures were interspersed with 3 transcontinental motorcycle trips as well as ranching in the northwest US and surviving a gunfight with a dope grower. Anyway you get the drift.

In view of the above, it is safe therefore, in this instance to dismiss the first 3 questions posed in the first paragraph of this posting and focus on the 4th and final one: "Where would Leonidas spend his remaining and allotted time on this planet. My colleague Wollf answers this question by referring not to a geographical location but to an ideal relationship. He is wise to focus on such a choice but Leonidas happily arrived at that nirvana some score of years ago and will address the geographical issue.

There exists in the northeastern Caribbean a remarkable volcanic island of scant 5 square miles extent which rises to an altitude of about 3000ft. The island is steep to and has no beaches or harbors for large vessels. It is thus mercifully free of the ubiquitous cruise ships and their accompanying gawking throngs that have been the bane of many an erstwhile pristine tropical island paradise. Visiting the island by small vessel is problematic as there exist no safe all weather anchorages and changes in the wind direction of only a few degrees can make the existing anchorages untenable. Additionally, the absence of level ground precludes a long airstrip necessary for aircraft capable of carrying large numbers of tourists.

In spite of all of the above "drawbacks", the Island of Saba administrated by the Netherlands boasts a friendly and resourceful population as well as the modern amenities including long distance communications taken for granted in western societies.

In view of the electoral choices available here in the US come next November, Leonidas would seriously consider becoming a US ex-pat resident of Saba were the issues of family logistics to be overcome by an accretion of financial resources. Any contributions?


Anonymous said...

An interesting question, with a difficult answer. Above and beyond that is that I am very impressed with what you’ve done with your life, Leonidas, with one caveat. You should have shot straighter. But hey, no one is perfect.

Of course I am joking, I cannot imagine the difficulty at taking good, careful aim when you are being shot at.

Okay, to the question at hand…

I could find myself wishing for another week in Belize and Guatemala exploring the rainforests, floating through underground rivers, and tramping around ancient Meso-American ruins like Tikal, Xunantunich, etc. However, since I’ve already done that (along with the hair-raising experience of having my van searched by a Spanish-speaking 16-year old soldier with a machine gun about 30 miles into Guatemala), I am thinking that a Red Stag hunt in either Patagonia or New Zealand is next on my one-weekish trip.

One month, without question, would be a safari in Zimbabwe. Current political situation notwithstanding, Zimbabwe has been a very good steward of its wildlife resources, and they therefore offer hunting opportunities that few other African nations offer. I think that a combo safari that includes an Eland, Kudu, small plains game, cape buff, oryx, and possibly a leopard would be awesome. And to those of you that think I am a jerk for killing these animals, I assure you, if the Africans had not discovered long ago that their wildlife was so valuable to sell to rich hunters, there would be no African wildlife. The entire continent would have been pillaged by now. Additionally, the funding that keeps the game preserves and protections set up comes from guys like me, so shove off!

One year is a little more difficult. I believe that the location is not so important as the setting. I am thinking a beautiful meadow somewhere in the high Rockies, maybe Wind River, possibly Selkirk, but the actual range is unimportant. Accessible only by foot or by horse, a minimum of 7 miles from the nearest drivable road (including ORV) with a nice cabin with a wood stove for cooking and warmth, a good sized stream chock-full of cutthroat trout, no TV, no phones, and a type-writer with which I can use the evenings to write the next Great American Novel without interruption. My family would come with me on this one, and I would use the time there to teach my sons about personal responsibility, the incontrovertible truths of nature, and the value of taking care of oneself without anyone else’s help. I think I could write more on this one, but this is already getting a little windy…

Half of my life? That one is impossible for me to comprehend right now, but since I am currently working a career in Spokane, WA, which I do not plan to give up for 20 years or so, I guess the half my life question is truthfully a boring one. Unlimited resources may cause me to want to move to Montana to a ranch not unlike the cabin I described above, only not nearly so remote. I would want to be able to drive a pickup truck to it year-around. Keep it close enough to Missoula or some other airport that I can take my trips to Patagonia and Africa without driving too far.

So now, since you’ve read this and are wondering why you should care, I merely refer you to Leonidas’ question. This is my contribution. Patagonia, Africa, and somewhere wild. Those three places I wish to see before I die.

ΛΕΟΝΙΔΑΣ said...

It is possible that having been a "better shot" would have resulted in the planet being one jerk better off I must however confess to 1) being adrenalin "overdosed" and 2) the revolver having only 6 rounds being SOL if expending all of them. Your choices are very good and were I a bit younger would consider them worthwhile projects. As you are for all practical purposes anonymous, I cannot tag you. In any event, consider emerging from the "closet" and the best of luck.

Wollf Howlsatmoon said...

Saba...hmmm, has a nice ring to it.

I absolutely knew that your response would be eminently readable.....

If you need a "security" detail to accompany, I know a nice little Jewish girl who might be willing to assist me.....heh, yup, THAT good, my friend.

I can definitely see the Eye in the Sunset.