And Now… The Dissenting Opinion

With my wife now a co-author of my blog, I figured that I better get in here and start posting before she takes over! Although I see she’s been slacking off the last several days, so this is an opportunity to make my move here. I need to get back in the game before she really goes on a roll, and suddenly all my followers are asking “Chris Who??? “We want Jean!”

Since it’s been a very long time for me without posting much at all, I’m going to try and shake off the rust by doing a photo post.

If you were a recently trained and newly certified scuba diver, but you were very inexperienced, how would you feel about teaming up for a challenging New England ocean dive with the guy who put this bumper sticker on one on his tanks?

0 - WHY BE NORMAL

 

Think that maybe you might think twice?  Well this woman didn’t give it the slightest thought at all, and probably because she was too anxious at the time, to notice that one of my scuba tanks carried a message that questioned the value of being “normal”.

1 - Jean at Riverside Park 1987 Best

This is the woman who was destined to become my wife, 25 years ago back in 1987, smiling and looking calm, while waiting to get on a very big, very high and blindingly fast roller coaster. Jean was very scared of roller coasters back then, to the point of being on the edge of terrified. But you’d never know it from looking at this picture.

For as long as I’ve known her, Jean has had a lot of courage. She’s had the courage to face her fears, no matter how afraid she is, and eventually she overcomes her fears, by having the courage to do the things that scare her. I didn’t try to convince her to go on the roller coaster. In fact I kept trying to reassure her by telling her that she didn’t need to go, and it was okay for her to just wait for me until my wild roller coaster ride was over. But in spite of being on the edge of terrified, Jean was still determined to face her fear of the roller coaster, and get on the ride with me.

I think that this is the true definition of courage, because it doesn’t take any real courage for adrenalin junkies like me to do scary things. People like me love to do very scary, dangerous, and even life threatening things, because we get a major thrill from doing these things. It doesn’t take real courage to do something that you aren’t afraid of doing, but love to do instead, because you live for the thrilling rush of doing it. I’ve always admired and respected Jean for her courage to face and overcome her fears, and I always will.

After surviving our life threatening scuba diving emergency together on August 2nd 1987, Jean and I felt a real bond with each other, and also a physical attraction for each other. But we also just really enjoyed each others company. Laughing and having fun together came naturally and easily for us when we were with each other, and soon we were together almost all the time.

In December of 1987, Jean gave me a week long scuba diving vacation in the Florida Keys for my birthday. We also explored the Florida Everglades, where I took this picture of Jean, before we headed further south down to the Keys.

2 - FLA Everglades - 1987

My most vivid memory of our time in the Everglades, was the night that we stayed in the glades until after dark, and I was shining a large flashlight down in the water in front of me, while Jean was standing three paces behind me. Suddenly my flashlight beam illuminated the very large head of a very large alligator, just barely submerged under the water, and only less than three feet in front of me! The gator’s eyes glowed bright red in my flashlight beam, and I excitedly called out to Jean “Jean look! Do you see it?!”

Jean stepped forward, looked down in the water… and she immediately screamed very loud! Then she spun around and ran like a deer over 30 yards away. I chuckled to myself “Yep, I think she saw it.” The gator quickly disappeared into deeper water, and the show was over.

Poor Jean… Because her first impression of me was that I was a skilled, knowledgeable, highly organized and very careful scuba diver, who never took foolishly dangerous risks while scuba diving, Jean assumed that I handled all aspects of my life the same way that I did with scuba diving.

I think the very close and very large alligator sighting that night in the Everglades, which delighted me and terrified her, was Jean’s first hint that I might have a different personality type when I wasn’t scuba diving. I also think I’m very lucky that when Jean ran away from the alligator, that she didn’t keep on running – to get the hell away from me for good. But… that didn’t happen.

Jean took this picture of me careening at high speed on a rope swing over the turquoise blue green waters of Key Largo. Swinging on the rope wasn’t dangerous, but my fanatical enthusiasm for swinging on that rope out over the water as far out and as fast as I could, was another sign of a behavior that I would repeat and amplify to a more extreme degree, the longer that Jean and I were together.

3 - Swinging on The FLA Keys - 1987

Notice how I’m wearing a long sleeved flannel shirt in this picture? This was because of the freakishly cold weather we experienced during our entire week long stay in the Keys, when the temperature struggled to rise above 60 degrees F and often fell lower. Which made the convertible top rental car that I paid extra for, an unnecessary and pointless expense, since it was too goddamn cold to put the top down, almost the entire time we drove it.

We also experienced watching the sun set in Key West, during the coldest recorded temperatures in one hundred years, and yes, we were there for this historic once in a century weather event! People everywhere were dressed up in heavy long sleeved sweaters and sweatshirts covered by windbreakers, and some were  even wearing winter parkas with wool hats. They looked more like they were about to watch a football game being played in December in the cold and wintery Northeast, than they did, gathering to watch the sun set in subtropical Key West, FLA.

But Jean and I still had a fun week in the Florida Keys anyway, so the cold weather didn’t get us down. Except for a couple really rockin’ and rolling dive boat experiences while anchored in rough seas, the diving off the Florida Keys was better than I expected, with a fair amount of coral and colorful tropical fish, both large and small. I also didn’t see any more very large alligators at night and enthusiastically point them out to my terrified girlfriend, or do anything else to freak her out. So it was a trip that we both enjoyed and we both remember fondly to this day.

In Jean’s first post on this blog, she mentioned a verbal altercation that I had with an approaching thunderstorm while we were high up on Franconia Ridge in Northern New Hampshire. (Yes, I really did do that!) This next photo is the view from Franconia Ridge across to the sheer 3,000 foot high cliffs on Cannon Mountain. In clear weather with great visibility, the view is very impressive, and the awe inspiring massiveness of the cliffs is almost impossible to capture in a small frame photograph like this one.

Almost all the photos in this post are in a higher resolution than they appear to be, but if you click on the photo, you’ll see the higher resolution version.

4A - Cannon Cliffs Rescan 30% IF

 

Following Franconia Ridge to the North leads to the summits of Mt Lincoln and then Mt Lafayette. This photo shows the approach to the summit of Mt Lafayette. Again, the photo is a poor substitute for the awe inspiring experience of being there and seeing this view in person.

5A - Mt Lafayette- from Franconia Ridge, NH - 1988 Best

Both of these pictures were taken during the summer of 1988 during hikes that Jean and I did together. Jean mentioned in one of her recent posts that she had a serious fear of heights, but again, she used her courage to face her fear of heights and eventually, she overcame her fears.

Jean took this photo of me hiking across the West flank of Mt Washington, the following summer in 1989, as we were returning from an ambitious three day long weekend of back country hiking, backpacking and wilderness camping.

6A - Chris on West Flank of Mt Washington - 1989 150% IF

Part of our route involved a very steep and at times harrowing descent down the Sphinx Trail into The Great Gulf Wilderness below both Mt Washington and Mt Jefferson. The Sphinx Trail scared me more than a few times during our steep decent, because as I often tell people, even though I’m not afraid of heights, I am afraid of falling… and if falling seems like a very real possibility, I don’t enjoy it. Instead of feeling exhilarated by the danger, I go into a total state of Zen like concentration to do all that I can to not make a mistake that could result in a fatal fall.

Which is why I was more impressed with Jean than ever before, because no matter how afraid she was during our very high and steep descent down The Sphinx Trail, she never panicked and she held it together all the way down, while I did all I could to help her make a safe descent.

Again, what Jean did that day, is what I call real courage, and the extent of her courage was truly impressive.

 

This is a photo of Jean and I in 1989, in the backyard of my parents’ house. I was 32 years old back then, and I can’t believe how young I look!

7 - Chris and Jean 1989 Cr 30%

 

Jean in the Spring of 1990.

8 - Jean 1990 23% P Use

 

And Jean over a year later in 1991, after she accepted my proposal of marriage. This is one of my all time favorite pictures of her. She was lying on a park bench with her head resting in my lap, and I thought that my 50 mm lens SLR 35 mm film camera was too close to her to get the shot in focus. But I was delighted when I got the film developed and this image is what I saw; an image sharply in focus that captured a moment of deepest love and tenderness between my newlywed wife and I, that still deeply moves me to this day.

9 - My Love - 1991

 

Taken on our Honeymoon in 1991, while hiking the Nualolo Cliffs Trail, on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The views from 2,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean high up on the cliffs of the Na Pali Coast were astoundingly spectacular all around us.

10 - Nualolo Cliffs Trail - 1991 45%

 

Another incredible view of the Na Pali Coast Cliffs. Click on this one to see the high resolution photograph.

10A - Na Pali Coast Cliffs 1991

 

In 1994 Jean and I began a personal tradition of celebrating the anniversary of that fateful day on August 2nd 1987 when we first met, by visiting the Cathedral Rocks dive site where our “one hell of a first date” took place. Here we are at the dive site, celebrating the 7th anniversary of the day that changed both our lives for the rest of our lives, by ultimately joining our lives together.

11 - Cathedral Rocks on a Calm Day for Diving - 1994

Unlike on the day that Jean and I first met, conditions on August 2nd 1994 at Cathedral Rocks were very calm and ideal for safe diving. But my wife and I were content to let the other divers do the diving, while she and I soaked up some summer sun and marveled at all that had happened on that day 7 years ago, to put us in grave danger, from which our lives were saved, and then joined together in a life experience we have shared ever since.

 

In 1995, when Jean’s cousin got married in Seattle Washington, we went to the wedding, and then we took a ten day vacation to explore Olympic National Park. Here in this photo Jean is sitting on a massive piece of Pacific Northwest driftwood, formerly the roots of a giant old growth tree that grew in the temperate rain forests of Olympic National Park.

16 - Pacific NW Driftwood - 1995

One of the amazing things about going out West, is that almost everything is so incredibly BIG – compared to what we’re used to seeing back East.

 

This next photo skillfully taken by my wife, illustrates how such huge pieces of driftwood can wash ashore on the beaches of Olympic National Park. Jean and I spent three days hiking and back country camping in the Hoh Rain Forest in ONP. The trees in the Hoh Rain Forest are all old growth giants, and to see the immense size and great height of these trees in person is a stunning and awe inspiring experience.

16A - Ho Rain Forest, Olympic Nat Park, WA ST - 1995

To get some visual perspective on just how enormous this forest really is, look down in the lower right corner of the frame until you see the hiker wearing the red backpack – That’s me, and compared to all these giant trees, I am very small.

 

I’m posting this next photo for two reasons. The first reason is that it’s a dramatic image of a 20 foot high breaking ocean wave whipped up by the high winds of a huge combination hurricane-blizzard that occurred in late March of 1995. In 24 hours, this rare Spring hurricane swept up the entire East Coast of the U.S. all the way from Florida to Maine.

16B - Spring Huricane - March, 1995 - ANP

Before reading any further, click on the image to see it in a larger size, and then come back and continue reading, so I can help you envision the scale of what you see in this photo. See that steel railing fence in the lower left hand corner of the frame? It’s four feet high. The large ledge like boulder 2/3rds covered by frozen white sea water is around 20 feet high, and the breaking wave is approx 100 to 150 yards away from the boulder. Which means that from experience, I can estimate the wave is around 20 to 25 feet high.

I don’t have a photo of the big storm wave crashing into and high up over the boulder, because I knew that when the wave hit, it would launch a huge volume of extremely cold water 50 feet high into the frigid near zero degree temperature air. And a lot of that water would fly in shore far enough to drench me soaking wet, if I had stayed where I was standing when I took this photograph.

The second reason I’m posting this photo, is to illustrate a point about my wife. As the storm raced up the Eastern seaboard, I monitored its progress on The Weather Channel. As the hurricane battered the coastal Carolinas, it’s speed was around 65 to 70 mph as it headed Northeast up the East coast. This suddenly gave me a wild idea for a thrilling adventure…

If we starting packing all our gear ASAP and left immediately, we could beat the hurricane up to Acadia National Park in coastal Maine by driving 75 – 80 mph on the Interstate highways that led to Acadia. Since the weather prediction for the Northeast was high winds and heavy snow, once we were up in Acadia, we could cross country ski around the Park Loop Road, which traveled high above Bar Harbor, and then descended down to almost level with the rocky Maine Atlantic Ocean shoreline. I knew that part of the shoreline route faced East, with full exposure to the open ocean, and this would give us prime viewing of the ocean’s fury whipped up by the hurricane.

So how did Jean react, when I told her about my wild idea for a thrilling adventure? She loved it! By 1995 Jean had almost 8 years of experience living with me, and she had grown to love the adventures that I took her on with me. Jean knew that while I might take foolish and dangerous risks when she wasn’t with me, I would almost never do that when she was with me, and also put her in grave danger. She knew that for me, losing her to a foolish accident that was my fault, would be a fate far worse than my own death.

When Jean was going with me, I almost always took calculated and very carefully planned risks, with the same discipline that I used for scuba diving. So when Jean heard me explain my wild idea to race a hurricane turning into a blizzard up to Acadia National Park, and then cross country ski to the areas with the most thrilling views, her reaction was an enthusiastic exclamation of “Let’s do it!”

The end result was that everything about our wild adventure was a success, and even far more thrilling, rewarding and vividly memorable than I had imagined. It was a truly great experience and one of our all time best ever!

 

This was taken during Christmas in 1997 and the only reason I included it is that at the time, Jean surprised me by suddenly turning into a Red Head. I was delighted, and I loved my wife as an unexpected surprise Red Head! It was a very exciting change, and enough said… ;-)

17 - Christmas 1997

 

Just a picture of Jean and I together in 1998 that I’ve always really liked.

18 - Chris n Jean 1998

 

Jean in 1999 hanging on the anchor line of our dive boat for a decompression safety stop, at the end of our dive in the Caribbean Sea near the Turks and Caicos Islands. 12 years after that day we first met, Jean had become a skilled and accomplished scuba diver, capable of safely doing almost any dive that I could do, and I was very proud of her. Just as I still am today.

18A - Jean Diving off T&C Islands - 1999

 

This is me on the beach after the same dive. I’m grinning with excited anticipation because I’m about to go para-sailing. I loved the idea of being strapped into a parachute and towed high in the air by a fast moving boat while being flown like a human kite. I loved actually doing it even more!

18B - Chris - T&C Islands - 1999

 

A photo I took in the summer of 2000 of Frenchman’s Bay in Acadia National Park, from near the summit of Cadillac Mountain. Jean and I love Acadia NP, we’ve been there more times than I can remember, and we never get tired of it. It’s a beautiful and truly magical place for us both, and the source of so many wonderful shared memories.

19 - Frenchman's Bay - Acadia NP Orig Hi Res -2000 53%

Click on the image to see it in high resolution.

 

This is Jean and I in Cozumel, Mexico on a tropical dive vacation in early November of 2001.

21 - Cozumel Mexico - 2001 P 

After the terrible tragedy of September 11th, 2001, many people were afraid to fly long distances or travel to international destinations via the airlines. We were able to book an all included 10 day travel and accommodations package for a super bargain of a price, because the travel industry was desperate for business. The resort where we stayed wasn’t crowded, which made our stay there all the more enjoyable, and the diving was incredible.

I wasn’t going to include this photo, but I changed my mind at the last minute. I wasn’t going to post this one, because it reveals an embarrassing truth about me… which is that when I reached the age of 40, for the first time in my life, I began to struggle with seriously increasing weight gain caused by excessive eating, related to job stress. But then I thought that instead of coming off like I think I’m some sort of super action hero in this post, why not be honest and reveal that yes, I’m very human and I have my own version of weaknesses that I’m not proud of.

Like being 45 pounds overweight while on vacation with my wife of 10 years, who’s figure had improved instead of looking like she had let herself go. But in spite of becoming a fat man, I still had very good endurance and I could still make a scuba tank last longer underwater than anyone else on the dive boat, except for a couple of the dive guides. But I was still ashamed of my physical appearance to a painful degree.

To give you some idea of just how much weight I had really gained, here is a photo of me in mid 1991, when I was a dedicated distance runner, running at least 6 miles every night after work, and usually 10 to 15 miles on one day of every weekend.

21A - Chris  in 1991 150 lbs

The irony here is that at 150 lbs, I was 30 pounds under my ideal weight of 180 and I had the typically emaciated looking body of a distance runner. Although I don’t like it, this picture is actually one of the better pictures of me from that time, because it doesn’t make me look as much like a gaunt and starving man, like some of the other photos do.

 

But then fast forward to 2001, and I had become this guy… a guy who weighed 225 pounds. Why? Because it’s not easy working in a profession in which prosperity or failure depends upon the boom or bust economy of the construction industry in the Northeast. But obviously overeating as a way to deal with job stress and unemployment is not a very good idea.

21B - Chris 2001 - 220 lbs

But during my time as an increasingly fat man, my sleek and slender wife, who seemed to become even more physically attractive as she got older… she never stopped loving me in the least, and if anything, she loved me even more.

The best thing that could have happened for me, was when in early 2002 Jean and I decided to go on a two week long second honeymoon in Hawaii. This was just what I needed to stop overeating and get my weight back under control.

As a result, this is me in Hawaii in 2002, at 46 years old and back down to 180 pounds. I’m standing near the Kilauea Caldera crater in Volcanoes National Park, and the steam rising up from fissures and flowing out behind me is from the volcanic activity going on underground.

21C - Chris at Kilauea Cauldera - 2002 - 180 lbs

 

And here is my lovely travel companion with a “friend” that she met at the bed and breakfast where we were staying, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

22 - Jean with Kitty - 2002

 

Looks like mutual adoration to me, and I know just how that cat was feeling as Jean gave him lots of love and affection. :-)

23 - True Love 35%

 

On our second honeymoon in Hawaii, we witnessed the most astoundingly beautiful sunset that I have ever seen in all my life, before or since. And Nature deserves all the credit for this photograph, because all I did was point my camera and shoot.

24 - Sunset frm Aawaawapui Trail - 2002 48%

Click on the image to see in high resolution.

 

This one was self taken on August 2nd 2004 by Jean, using the timer on her camera. We are smooching just above the round stone beach that saved our lives 17 years earlier.

25 - Near Shore Exit that saved our lives in August 1987 - Photo Taken on Aug 2nd  2004 - 17th Aniversary

 

Celebrating my Dad’s birthday in 2004 with our dog Bo, who thought that whenever anyone unwrapped a present, it should be full of dog treats and chew toys for him. Lol :-)

26 - Chris Dad and Bo Dog 2004 32%

 

Jean in 2004 trying to celebrate her birthday, by blowing out the candles on her birthday “pie” before Bo can steal it from her. Right after taking this shot, I grabbed Bo and kept him at a safe distance away from Jean and her B-day pie. (The pie was my Mom’s idea)

27 - Jean and Bo on J B-Day 2004 37%

 

Jean on a tropical dive vacation in 2005, on the Caribbean Island of Bonaire. I know that my opinion is very biased, but click on this photo for the high res version and if you see even some of what I see here, you’ll see the woman who made it almost impossible for me to believe that she was really a 44 year old woman when I took this portrait of her.

28 - Jean in Bonaire - 2005

 

And check out the woman who used to be afraid of heights, here on the highest mountain in Maine, in 2006. She’s sitting on the edge of a ledge near the summit of Mt Katahdin, with a 3,000 foot drop directly in front of her.

29 - Jean on Mt Katahdin, Maine-looking across to Knifes Edge - 2006

 

Here’s the picture she took of me up there, that shows what it looks like to look 3,000 feet down a cliff.

30 - A Long Way Down - 2006

The first two years that I knew Jean, she wouldn’t have been able to take this picture because she would have been too afraid to get that close to a cliff and unable to look that far down through the view finder of her camera.

 

But she was on top of the summit that day, and she even looked happy to be there.

31 - On Top - 2006 IF MS

 

By 2006 and 19 years worth of experience dealing with my thrill addicted adrenaline junkie stunts, she wasn’t even afraid of my occasionally deranged behavior anymore, even when nothing made me happier than the possibility of being struck by lightning.

31A - Look OUT

If I got too crazy for her common sense and good survival instincts, she’d either tell me to stop being dangerously nuts in very emphatic language that I understood, and if that didn’t work, she’d leave me behind and seek her own shelter and safety without me.

Okay, the real truth is that the reason I look so happy in this picture, is because we had just won the race against the ominously dark thunderstorm looming over our heads, and we were about to beach the canoe and get into the relative safety of our car.

I’ve done some crazy shit in my life, but with the exception of one time only, I have never taken foolish risks with lightning. On the way home from one of our trips to Acadia National Park, I had to pull over at a gas station because we were on the verge of running out of gas. Just as an entire wave of multiple thunderstorms was heading North right up Interstate 95 and right at us.

As I was grabbing the gasoline nozzle, a huge lightning bolt struck an electrical transformer on a telephone pole less than 30 feet away from me. The transformer sounded like an artillery shell going off as it exploded into a huge shower of blue and white sparks falling down all around me, and the entire gas station instantly went dark. I dropped the gas nozzle and in less than two seconds I was in the car and driving away very fast for the next exit with a gas station. Because even if we ran out of gas, we’d still be inside the car with four insulating rubber tires on the road and far less likely to end up like that transformer did.

The one time only exception when I did take a foolish risk with lightning was the time up on Franconia Ridge that Jean told you about in her post. But even then, I knew that thunderstorm was going to miss us, because I could see how the mist of distant rainfall was being blown on an unusually severe angle in the direction of Southeast and away from us.

I still was out of my mind to be foolish enough to climb up on a ledge and make a game of “taunting” the storm, because I know that people have been killed by lightning strikes even when there was no thunderstorm anywhere in sight.

So why did I do it??? The answer is complicated… and maybe I’ll explain it another time.

 

Back to fair weather and happier times… One of my favorite photos of Jean and Bo together on a beautiful July summer day in 2007 on a sailboat in Casco Bay, Maine.

32 - Jean and Bo Sailing - July 2007 45 %

 

Jean probably won’t appreciate me posting a very close up shot of her face, but the dog wouldn’t be bothered by it… But this was taken less than three weeks after Jean’s 46th birthday, and I never cease to be amazed.

33 - Jean and Bo - July 2007 45%

But by 2007 I had managed to get seriously fat again, and I was my heaviest ever at 250 lbs. I still managed to climb Mt Washington that summer, but it was the most physically difficult hike of my entire life and by the time we got to the summit, I was in a state of near complete exhaustion.

For those of you who don’t know, even though Mt Washington has an elevation of only 6,288 feet at the summit, which is puny compared to the big mountains out in the Western U.S. – Mt Washington is at the center of an eternal perfect storm of potentially extreme weather that kills hikers almost every year, and the mountain has taken lives in every month of the year, including during the height of Summer.

Summer means nothing on Mt Washington, because with a speed that is almost impossible to comprehend as actually real and not just a hallucination or a bad dream, the mountain can turn a hot August summer day into a frigidly cold winter blizzard, with zero visibility whiteout conditions and hurricane force winds that can drop wind chill temperatures over 50 degrees below zero.

I know that this is true from my own personal experience, because in 1983 I climbed Mt Washington on a mid September day when it was 85 degrees at the base of the mountain. It was hot and muggy for most of my entire climb, but as soon as I reached an exposed plateau called the Alpine Garden, I was hit with an instant blast of snow and icy cold high winds. If I hadn’t been carrying full winter gear in my backpack, I could have ended up on the list of the over 120 people who have been killed by the mountain’s deadly weather.

So in 2007 when we were up on the Western flank of Mt Washington at an elevation similar to that of the Alpine Garden, and what began as clear weather turned into thick fog and increasingly high winds, I began to have serious thoughts about my own mortality. I knew that I was too old and out of shape to survive a sudden change for the worse in Mt Washington weather, and I was also extremely fatigued, which meant that if it got extremely cold, I’d succumb to fatal hypothermia that much faster.

Of course I kept these thoughts silently to myself and never mentioned one word of my concern to Jean, who was in excellent shape and not badly fatigued at all. Instead, when the wind and fog got worse, I mentioned to her that if we lost the trail in the fog, we could follow a compass heading due East and inevitably we’d run into the Cog Railway, which we could follow down the mountain to safety, even if we couldn’t see where we were going.

But the Mt Washington Weather Gods gave me a very rare pass that day. Although we were hiking in the fog with the force of the wind increasing, the wind was warm instead of cold. This was a very strange and unusual weather condition that I had never experienced before during my four previous hikes up Washington, and I had never heard any similar stories of other hikers who were high above the treeline on Mt Washington when it became fogged in with strong winds that were blowing warm air. Instead of high winds blowing extremely cold air that turns fog into a frozen mist of ice crystals and forms a coating of ice on everything exposed on the mountain, as the wind chill rapidly drops down to potentially deadly levels.

This rare reversal of temperature while strong winds were blowing and gusting high up on the mountain is probably the reason why I didn’t become another Mt Washington fatality that day. We made it safely to the summit and since I knew that I was in no shape to hike back down the mountain, we got a ride down the nine mile long auto road from a Park Ranger.

This is a photo that Jean took of me on the summit of Mt Washington that day. Our dog looks spooked because the winds were gusting stronger than ever, but the wind was still bizarrely and mercifully warm.

Mt Washington 2007 250 lbs P

It was obviously a serious mistake for me to even attempt to climb Washington that day, since I was so badly out of shape. This photo, with the Mt Washington summit sign looking like a cross in a cemetery, has often served me as a powerful reminder of how lucky I was to survive that mistake, and how unlikely it is that I will ever have that kind of luck again.

Soon after that day, Jean and I planned for another tropical dive vacation, which combined with my experience on Mt Washington, was all the motivation I needed to once again take the weight back off, and hopefully I’ll keep it off for good this time.

This is not one of my favorite pictures of me, but proof that I can still do what has to be done, when I really set my mind to it. In around a year, I lost 70 pounds and I was back down to my ideal weight of 180 lbs. I’m wearing a favorite t-shirt that Jean gave me back in 1988, that hasn’t worn out because of the years that I couldn’t wear it when it didn’t fit me.

Chris in early 2008 150% P        

 

Jean and I made it back to Cozumel, Mexico for a tropical dive vacation in August of 2008, seven years after our first trip there in 2001. Here in this photo she’s still looking great and just like the woman that I love so much, even though her long legs have what’s called where she comes from, a “Maine Tan”. Lol ;-)

34 - Jean in Cozumel Mexico - 2008 Crop 33%

True Mainers from families that have lived in Maine for generations, think of tanning as just another damn fool thing that “Summaahh people” waste their days doing, because they don’t have enough real work to keep them busy. Jean is not a true Mainer, but “from away” which is what Mainers call anyone who wasn’t born in Maine, even if they’ve lived almost all their lives in Maine since early childhood.

I’m saying all this with affection and amusement because I like most of the Mainers that I’ve met and gotten to know, even if some of them don’t think very much of me. It doesn’t even bother me that I will be forever known by Mainers in Harpswell and other nearby towns as “the damn fool that got lost swimmin’ in the bay, but was just damn fool lucky enough to get found and live in spite of his damn foolish ways.”

Jean still looks great to me here, even with her Maine tan, and it’s only fair to mention that I took these photos on our first day in Cozumel, and Jean was soon attractively tanned by the powerfully direct rays of the Caribbean tropical sun.

35 - Jean in Cozumel - 2008

 

On August 2nd 2012, Jean and I celebrated the 25th anniversary of the day we first met. Jean is standing on the very spot where we both plunged into the ocean that day in 1987 at Cathedral Rocks. Once again, the sea was calm and ideal for diving on the day that I took this picture of my 51 year old wife, who still looks like a kid compared to me…

38 - 25 Years Ago Today - in 2012 70% IF

 

Because in this photo that Jean took of me the same day, I look more like “The Old Man and the Sea”.

37 - Cathedral Rocks Shore Entry - 2012

 

I like this photo taken last Summer in Maine better, even though I still look like an old buzzard here. But at least I have the gentle inner and outer beauty of my wife by my side to help diffuse the harsh and haggard look of my face.

37A - Chris n Jean  summer 2013 Use

I heard someone say once, that as we get older, we wear the face that reflects the kind of life we have lived. I don’t think that’s really true for all people, but if it is true about me, I’d rather not spend very much time thinking about it.

But I do think that my wife is living proof that there are some people who really do wear the face that reflects the kind of life they have lived as they get older. Jean is not a Saint; she’s a human being with her own version of faults and failings just like all human beings have. But Jean is also the most consistently kind and compassionate human being that I have ever known, in all of my entire life. Not just to me, but to almost everyone that she comes in contact with in her life experience.

She has a gentle spirit within an empathetic soul, and her heart has a wonderful capacity to love, and to generously share herself and whatever she has to give with others. And somehow, she became my wife… and I’m not really sure why that happened, or what I did to deserve having a wonderful wife like Jean in my life, as the one true Love of my life for so many years. When people ask Jean how she and I first met, she’s quick to answer “Well, we met scuba diving and on the day we first met, Chris saved my life.”

But I’ve thought more than a few times, that the more complete and accurate version is that back in 1987, I saved both her life and mine, and she’s been trying to save my life ever since.

About Chris Sheridan

I’m a 56 year old guy who is young (and immature) at heart, and I love humor and laughter. Married for 22 years, but still enjoy all the glories of womanhood everywhere, even while dedicated to one woman only - and I hope my wife never finds out about her!
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