Sunday, May 17, 2009

Are You a phD YET?

Geocaching has introduced me to a vast number of interesting, talented, and all-around wonderful people. Just over a year ago, while on the hunt for a cache, I ran into a friendly cache-hunter who went by the name UNCGBogTurtle (whose real name is Beth, but don't repeat this, as it's a dirty little secret). Turns out she was a friend of a friend—who, quite coincidentally, is also a cacher (Cupdaisy, a.k.a. Ermengarde). So the lot of us went on a big old nighttime cache outing, which proved to be just a wee bit on the fun side. Then we up and did it again...and again. Before I knew it, we were getting together regularly, along with another friend, Geodogg (whom I will call Climbacus, though his real name is Joe). During this period, Ms Bog Turtle was laboring diligently to earn her phD in geography.

Well, at last, she has done this thing. Yesterday at their place, Beth and her husband, Al, hosted a graduation party that included family, friends, and the caching cadre. (That's Ms Bog Turtle in the photo above, along with an old fart and Mrs Death, in case there's any ambiguity.) Nice affair, for sure. The sad part of all this is that Beth has accepted a position at an institution of higher learning far, far away, and she and Al will be leaving all too soon.

Over the past few months, Beth and Al have become such good friends to Peg and me that, despite our best hopes and wishes for her success, I fear we are going to be very glum cachers indeed. In the relatively short time we've known them, it feels like we've shared many years' worth of adventures—experiencing new places, sharing life stories, conquering fears, and re-energizing ourselves when life's burdens have grown heavy. I mean, wow. Among the many wonderful friends I've made over the years, there are few with whom I have experienced so much life in so brief a time.

Of course, we wish them every success in their new home, and particularly Beth as she embarks on a whole new stage of her career, in brand new, distant digs. But we're going to miss you peoples like we've missed few others. I hope that, somewhere down the line, we'll all be back together for the long haul, and we can take up our adventures right where we left off. Y'all do mean the world.

Here's looking till then.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Mark, you and Peg are INCREDIBLE!

As Mark said, he and I met while pursing a cache just a few days before an outing arranged by CupDaisy. She told me he wrote scary stories and that one scene in his book Balak was so vivid, it was burned onto her mental retina and would forever haunt her.

I don’t like scary stories or movies and spent many nights as a child and teenager trembling under the covers after seeing or watching something, and especially after watching Dark Shadows. I swear I spent most of those years with a sheet wrapped around my neck, a cross in one hand and garlic in another. I never saw Halloween or the Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but heard a few clips from each movie and it was terrifying enough to keep me awake through many a night.

Now . . . imagine finding yourself alone, in the dark, with someone whose imagination tends to lean significantly towards the nefarious, beastly, hair-raising and horrifying, AND he turns to you and says, “I think this is where Jason comes out with his chainsaw.” All I could do was scream,

DEBBIE ! ! ! ! SAVE ME ! ! ! !

Yep, this was my introduction to Mark Rainey, yet it was one of the most exciting adventures I’ve ever lived through . . . I mean had! (Yes, it’s easy to say this now that I’ve made it back alive!)

Mark and I have since become great friends and he was gracious enough to bring Peg with him on a camping trip Al and I planned for my students. Peg is absolutely wonderful. I felt right at home with her and we hit it off right away. I remember the next time I saw was closer to Christmas. She came walking up to me in the parking lot of UNCG with a big Santa hat and a great smile. She came right up and wrapped me in a big hug, one that has been repeated each time we meet or leave one another.

Mark and Peg and Al and I have shared many adventures and cache runs. Yes, we’ve become close in a short period of time and that’s what made yesterday so special. There is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are surrounded by family and friends in celebration of a momentous occasion. The love, joy, and pride were reflected in the faces we looked out at and it was a moment we will remember fondly for the rest of our lives.

Al and I will miss you two terribly! There are few people in our lives that we can truly call “friends.” We are so fortunate to be able to count Mark and Peg among them. I have faith that we will all be together again for more caching adventures before you know it!