Planning big adventures brings connections that last a lifetime.
Many years ago, Anne and I decided to compete in a triathlon in New Hampshire with two of our good friends, Mary and Ken. We trained for months, and then the four of us boarded a plane to Boston to drive the remainder of the way to Bristol, New Hampshire. When I say we “trained,” I’m going to be the first to tell you that we, as in Anne and me, didn’t train hard. To say we were underprepared is an understatement.
At any rate, we headed north to swim 1.5 km in Newfound Lake, bike a very hilly 40 km, and run 10 km. This trip turned out to be pretty crazy from the very beginning. Up until the minute we arrived in Bristol, New Hampshire, it was basically underwater. The entire town was flooded. Most of the stores and businesses were closed due to roads being closed. The race producers had thought about calling off the triathlon altogether. Which, if I’m being honest, I would have been more than okay with. However, no such luck, the race was on.
The first night, we stayed in a place that I am pretty sure had at one point been a hospital before being converted to a hotel. We never saw another person the entire time except for the person at the front desk. I half expected to see a ghost or Jack Nicholson coming down the hallway at any moment.
The next night, we drove closer to the start of the race and stayed in a cabin. This cabin made the cabins that I stayed in at 4-H camp look like the Taj Mahal. The shower was a garden hose, and the beds were wooden boards. That was it. The night before the race, I slept in a sleeping bag on top of a wooden board and my swim cap on my head for warmth.
Anne and I raced one morning, and Mary and Ken raced the following day, they were doing a different race than we were. The day Anne and I raced, it rained the entire time. It rained during the swim, but you don’t notice it when swimming. However, you absolutely see it when you’re on the bike. It poured rain while we biked the entire course. Anne had a speedometer on her bike, and she rode in front of me. I would yell to Anne, “How far have we been?” and she would yell back, “12 miles!” A little later, I would yell again, “How far now?” She said, “12 MILES!” I yelled back, “What??! You said that last time.” She said, “I lied last time.” Ha! I think she was scared that if she told me we hadn’t been that far, I might just abandon the bike altogether and walk off the course. So, the entire race, I didn’t know where we were or how much further we had. What I did know was that I was ready for the rain to stop and the race to be over. But then it was over. We had finished the race. In the pouring down rain, completely drenched, we had crossed the finish line.
The next day, Anne and I cheered on Mary and Ken as they had their race. We could barely walk, but we were smiling. After the race, we headed to Maine. I think back on that trip, and it makes me smile so big. I would relive every single moment of it. It meant that much to me. I can’t tell you how many times we laughed that week. Through all the ups and downs of that adventure, we laughed so much. And that is precisely what it was…an adventure. You know what happens when you go on an adventure? Connection. Connection with yourself. Connection with the people around you. Connection with your environment.
The connection I made with my friends on that trip will last my entire life. Isn’t that what we want in this world? It’s so important. It is connecting with our friends and family, laughing, making memories, holding on to each other during the hard times, and smiling from ear to ear through the good. That, my friends, is what inspires us. Connection makes us feel alive. It makes us feel free, and it also makes us feel included.
In a time that is made up of technology, 24/7 news, social media, and overstimulation, I encourage you to plan more adventures. Make it a priority. Make connections that will sustain you when life gets hard and when it gets great. It’s worth it. I promise. Your soul will thank you.
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