I was born the color of royal blue. My umbilical cord was wrapped about my neck and the British doctor was able to quickly unwind it to enable me to gasp my first precious breath. It happened at Mengo hospital in Kampala, Uganda and I was on my way into an exciting world.
Out of Africa
My parents moved to East Africa a year before I was born. My Dad was called to the Anglican Church in Mbale, Uganda. My brother and sister also were born there, albeit under less intense drama. We were there 5.5 years before the combination of my school age and Idi Amin’s purge of foreigners became a good excuse for us leave and return to America. Certainly it is an amazing place to live and started off my quest for adventure. There’s really nothing like bouncing around in the back of a car on safari with no seat belts!
While I in sixth grade, I took a standardized personality test. The results were surprising to me and I was not sure “astronaut” was really appropriate. After all these years, I can confirm that a mere terrestrial astronaut or “explorer” certainly rings true. Who would have thought that a test given so long ago could turn out to be so correct.
Off to the woods
My real introduction to adventure was the father of my best friend, Larry. David took us on a number of backpacking trips in Junior High school and they made a subtle but huge impact on my life. David and Larry introduced me to the outdoors and I never looked back. Sadly, David was taken from all of us when he went out on a fishing trip in the Philippines too long ago. Thank you David for all you did for me and your family.
And then came the darkroom
In Africa my dad had a darkroom and developed his photographs. When I got to high school, I discovered his kit in the basement and quickly became fascinated with the process. I loved being a school photographer and I can still smell the silver nitrate on my hands. While I did love taking pictures, I knew there must be a better way.
Architecture or maps?
College drew me to the creative side. First I thought I should be an architect, then the pull was to Industrial Design. Geography and maps become my love and I started my career doing cartography the traditional way but soon gravitated to the computer. I programmed my way through college and soon was coding algorithms on the Connection Machine at MIT. Analyzing satellite imagery and making new, dynamic maps with parallel processing techniques was intoxicating to me. Digital photography was becoming a reality.
Thirst for adventure
During my career, I focused on helping my customers simplify their complexity. My personal passion started early back in Africa, with a thirst for adventure, simplifying the risk by training and traveling with good friends. My start in hiking soon led me to world of rock and ice climbing. For most of my life, I’ve climbed in North America, Alaska, and Africa. I’ve lived with climbing most of my life, and back in the last century, I published the Adirondack Alpine Journal. After much soul searching, I have re-focused on Climb Like a Mzungu, a book on a climber’s perspective on life.
So before you leave, consider yourself “on belay” (tied to the rope), climb your life when ready, and enjoy all that this wonderful planet has to offer.