I guess everyone feels they have had a remarkable life. Mine has been an extraordinary one. I am the most fortunate of men. I've spent almost all my adult life making my living by following my passions.
I was born on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana. My family had a ranch, and our summer range was right in Glacier National park. Every summer of my early life was spent there, surrounded by natural beauty that I was too young to appreciate. I was astonished when I learned that people saved all year to come there for a vacation. I was even more surprised to learn that people actually paid money to ride horses! We had to PAY people to ride horses.
I left the Reservation as soon as I could. I went to California determined to become a Rocket Scientist. I achieved that goal only to find I was a very bad rocket scientist. I just was unhappy doing dry technical work.
While going to college I had a little garage business making motorcycle "fairings" a type of streamlined windshield device. Business boomed and soon there was a choice between engineering and messing with motorcycles. The choice was a no-brainer. I followed my passion.
Because I was so passionate about what I did I did it well. At one time my designs were on record setters in every sphere of motorcyling. Touring, road racing, flattracking, drag racing, and a Bonneville streamliner that set a new Land Speed Record.
In 2007 I was honored to be nominated to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
Success didn't sit well with me. Instead of having fun with motorcycles, I was soon dealing with bankers, trade unions and legislative issues. One day I came back from an exhaustive day dealing with problems. I just wanted to hide away and play with my motorcycle collection.
We had a full-time guy who took care of them. I stunned myself when I came to a realization. What I wanted most in the world was HIS job! The company went up for sale the next day.
My passion shifted to sailing. I took a a course in Naval Architecture and began working on a design for a globe trotting sailboat. We put the boat in production and it became a hit instantly.
A few years later history repeated itself. I was running a big company with a $15,000 weekly payroll., It was no longer fun. We built a boat for myself, sold the company and I went sailing for the next ten years.
It was ten years of realizing every sailors dream; sailing about the world to exotic islands and ports of call. No real destination, just go where the winds blow and the people are fun. Pure and simple Hedonism was the plan of every day. Then history repeated itself again. I had met all the challenges, weathered all the storms, enjoyed all the people and the pleasures. I became bored and restless. I was contributing nothing. My life needed more purpose, more meaning.
I headed back toward the US. I would resume my counseling work and explore whatever artistic talents I might have.
Cancun and Cozumel scared me. Here were all these frantic Americans trying to relieve a year of stressful living in a week. They radiated anxiety. I felt all the stress I had sailed away from ten years before. Could I really go back to that? I nearly turned around and headed back South.
Luckily I had a crewmate whom I had promised to take to the States. She couldn't afford to fly. Even if she could I had made a commitment to her. We agreed to press on to Key West. After all, Key West was hardly typical of the States.
Key West saved me. I was able to reenter American life "Conch Republic" style, sloow and eeeasy. I bought a bicycle.
I do recall a road trip to Miami with a friend. She drove carefully, never over 65. I was pressing the imaginary brakes on the floorboard all the way. Prior to that, the fastest I had gone was in an Indian canoe with an outboard. I was glad to get back to Key West.
During the Key West days I recieved a letter from a lady that looked like a promising soulmate. She was a sailor, a boatbuilder, and an adventurer. The clincher came when she sent pictures. She was young, lithe, tanned and altogether gorgeous. There was one large problem. She was on a boat in the Virgin Islands. She couldn't afford to fly here, and if things didn't work out, I couldn't afford to fly her back. The only thing to do was sail there.
Experienced sailors know that the trip to the Virgins is a nasty one, dead against the wind and current. Many depart only to turn back. An experienced delivery skipper gave me the way the pros do it. Hang out in the Bahamas until a huge Norther comes across the States. Let the storm take you due East until it drops you. You then just make a hard right and have an easy sail to The Virgins. I did just that, probably setting a record for a small sail
One day was particularly glorious, the best day of sailing in ten years. We had a full gale at our backs. The waves were breaking everywhere. The sea was white with foam. Our little boat was totally unperturbed, sailing joyfully at top speed. I stood in the companionway for hours just marveling at it all.
On arrival in Saint Thomas I dropped off my crew. She was taking a job as manager of a Honeymoon resort. She married a local and is still happily there.
On the day I was to pick up Jackie i was in a bit of a tizzie. I tidied the boat three times over.
I had come so far. I had made a big commitment. What if it didn't work, what if we didn't click?
At the appointed hour her boat sailed up to deliver her. She was a dream, a goddess. Her long blonde hair flowed in the wind. She was lean, voluptuous and tanned. She wore a string Bikini that used about 36 inches of yarn. She was in love with me. Hoo boy! I was already in heaven.
We had a glorious downwind sail through the Bahamas and back to the States.
We began twenty years of adventure doing art shows and Renaissance Festivals. In the off seasons we sailed the Caribbean, motorcycled in the mountains of Colorado, lived in Thailand and twice went around the world.
We lived on an island in Florida that was accesable only by boat. There were about 15 other year-rounders on the island. We were a solid community that needed each other. We had no police, no fire department, no ambulance. We were our own police. If bad guys appeared on the island they were invited to leave by a cadre of shotguns. We bought our own fire engine. Some trained in medical rescue. If someone got sick or hurt, there was a pickup to take them to a pontoon boat which would whisk them to the mainland where a van awaited. In many ways it was a trip back two hundred years when people needed each other, cared for each other and otherwise left each other the hell alone. We had all come to an island by choice.
Jackie and I spent fifteen years together, then screwed it up by getting married. We spent five more years struggling to make it work while our maturity took us in different directions. We had an extremely amicable divorce and are still great friends. We still work together occasionally.
When we split I wanted to go to Taos, Santa Fe, or some community of artists. Jackie gave me some good advice. "Go where there are people you love" I came to Louisiana to be near my "adopted son". I have absolutely thrived here. I have grown artistically and spiritually. My work is winning National awards.
I am one of those rare few, a happy and contented man.