Monday, April 01, 2013

Journeys: #3

With so many in our family heading to far away places today, it seemed like a good time to tell you about the next leg in the journey that Coty and I are on - a journey together that has taken us to California, Kenya, the DC area, Massachusetts, back to Kenya three other times, Cameroon, and in the last ten and a half years, North Carolina.

Our nest has emptied in the last few years and with Joel's college decision imminent, the young will all have fledged, spread their wings and flown to various places, near and far.  In the last few months, as Coty and I have anticipated this next stage of life, we have talked long into the night on many occasions about our dreams for the next season.

Years ago, when asked what he would do if he didn't have six children, Coty said, "Drive a nicer car."  We've chuckled about that ever since, looking back on a long succession of mini-vans, massive 15 passenger vans, and inexpensive, but serviceable smaller run-around town used cars.  Coty has never had the opportunity to drive the kind of car he'd truly love to drive, to take curves the way he'd like to, to off-road or travel at the kind of thrilling high speeds he'd love.  That's been part one of the conversation we've been having about being empty nesters.

The second part involves my love of Africa.  In the years 1981, 1991, and 2001, we headed to Africa.  Kenya in '81 and '91, and Cameroon in '01.  I'd always said that I knew where I'd be in 2011 ... somewhere in Africa.  But circumstances made it impossible, as we'd just had two weddings in the previous six months, and well, you know what that means for disposable income.  So, I figured my string of visiting Africa every ten years had come to an end.  But as we've talked and talked about being empty-nesters, Africa kept coming up and my yearning to return has grown stronger and stronger.

And then, it hit us.  Our two longings, nice, fast cars and being in Africa, could merge in a glorious adventure,  something we had actually talked about and witnessed years ago, and something ironically, that we have been able to prepare for while staying put right here in NC!

Friends, we are excited to tell you that this November, Coty and I will be returning to Kenya where we will be participating in the 2013 East African Safari Classic Rally.  The race is from November 21-29, eight grueling days of driving through the wilds of the Kenyan bush in a custom-made Toyota Rally Car. (no, not our Matrix).

When we were in Kenya in '81, visiting friends in Nyeri province, we watched as the rally cars maneuvered and splashed their way through massive mud-holes in the seasonally rain-drenched and washed out rural roads near our friend's village.  We were back in Nairobi by the time the rally ended and even went to the finish line along Uhuru Highway to cheer for winners Shekhar Mehta and co-driver, Mike Doughty in their Nissan Violet GT.

Some of you may remember a trip we took to Arkansas several years ago for the wedding of a friend and the blog post I wrote about our traveling travails.  What you may not realize is that the moment Coty gunned the engine of that rented minivan and plowed his way through the mudhole, he knew that someday he'd return to Kenya and drive in the Rally Classic.  We have secretly nurtured our dream to be in Mehta and Doughty's place, driving the winning rally car, and finally, as soon as we drop Joel off at his dorm room in late August, we'll be on our way!

We'll be following in the footsteps, or I should say muddy tracks, of Travis Pastrana and his female co-driver, Fabrizia Pons, when we embark on this epic adventure of a lifetime!  (Mind you, there are only a few women who have raced the Safari Rally.  It's much harder than anything NASCAR has to offer.  Eat your heart out, Danica Patrick!)

Our team, affectionately nicknamed, BBFAT (those of you who know us will chuckle at those last three letters) stands for Big Birds Fly Away Too.  As I said earlier, we've been able to start preparations right here at home, living so close to Charlotte Motor Speedway and NASCAR teams, with their racing expertise.  We are extremely fortunate to live so close to Harrisburg's own Wood Brothers Racing, whose design gurus and engineering geniuses are helping us build our car.  Anderson Uniforms, also right across the street from Wood Brothers will be designing our custom made rally race suits.  We are also working with a graphic designer here in town on our team logo which will feature the African Cuckoo Hawk (Aviceda cuculoides).  We've been spending so much time right up there at the Caldwell/49 intersection that we've probably tried every possible combination of tea and slushie flavors at the QT.  They got curious as to why we were in there so often and when we told them about the rally, they jumped at the chance to sponsor us.  So, we'll be sporting QT's on our rally helmets and hoping that our race will indeed be a Quick Trip all the way to the finish line.

In other news, it's a gorgeous spring day here today.  Sunny, mid '70's, cherry trees in full bloom, azaleas on the way.

Happy April, everyone!



Anonymous said...

so I'm trying to decide if this is another one of your famous April Fools Jokes :-)

If not - how very exciting!!

Sharon M.

Lisa said...

So, I'm having a hard time figuring out if this is an April Fools post or if you guys are really going for it. I wouldn't put it past you! Please- satiate my curiosity! :)

Carla said...

I'm definitely thinking...April Fools! You are such a good writer though, Beth! So believable! You had me "fooled" there for a few seconds, I must admit! Loved your post last year!!!!

Anonymous said...

You had me fooled till the end last year but I figured it out a little sooner this time. :-) Good one, Beth!


Laura A said...

I dunno. I'm thinking: Go for it! It looks like a blast!