I suppose it was a lot of ego (combined with what little remains of my testosterone) that pushed me to make the decision to ride a horse through the Andes Mountains. Or maybe it was the great promotional copy and the photos at www.rideandes.com:
“…ride through a stunningly beautiful, remote area of Northern Patagonia along old smuggler’s routes—crisscrossing rivers, skirting around brilliant blue lakes, riding through ancient forests, stopping off to fish or swim in crystal clear waters… an exclusive journey into hidden valleys through this rural gaucho (South American cowboy) culture, from the Chilean Lake District to an Argentine national park. Enjoy the adventure long after the road has ended in the pristine Patagonian wilderness.”
Wow! It almost sounded like Robert Louis Stevenson was inviting me to visit Treasure Island. So, screwing up my courage, I decided to try to sell my wife Rose on this idea. (She is the one with the common sense in this family.) “Rose, I want our grandchildren to remember their grandfather as a man who, when he was sixty, rode a horse through the Andes from Chile to Argentina.” She looked up from her work and calmly asked, “Have you talked to Ken Ireland at Northwestern Mutual about this?” I answered, “No, why?” She said, “You need to take out more life insurance before you go.”
So with that heartfelt vote of confidence, I did two things:
I sent in my deposit for the horse trek; and
I applied for a substantial increase in my life insurance.
Later, I learned that when my mother heard about my plans to embark on this Andes Mountains crossing, she predicted that I would not come back alive. I chose not to mention her prediction nor my eight-day horse trek on the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance policy application.
Shortly before the horseback ride, I received a letter entitled “Travel Notes: Essentials!” We were advised to pack no more than 32 pounds of gear, and told that the airline would fine us for any overweight luggage. In all caps it stated, “RAIN PONCHOS will be provided. You must bring suitable waterproof trousers and jackets. Be prepared for wet and cold mountainous weather. Bring easy-to-dry clothes.” What?!
I said to Rose, “I’m going in February, but it’s summertime in South America, right?” Rose got on the internet and discovered that even though my horse trip was in the Patagonian summer, it’s still a mighty cool and wet place. In fact, one of the side trips that is offered before the ride is a day trip to the island of Chiloe to see the penguins, seals, and an occasional orca whale. Oops! I did not own any waterproof pants or quick-dry clothes—but I do now!
The weather did start out cold and rainy, but during the actual ride we had sunny skies. Every morning was cool and damp, but by 10:30 a.m. we had peeled down to shirtsleeves.
The trip was truly one of the travel high points of my life! If you would like to read the eight-day itinerary, you can click on this link: Ride the Andes Itinerary. If you would like to view a gallery of our photos from the ride, you can click here to see my photo album.
I highly recommend Sally Vergette and www.rideandes.com and Catherine Berard at Open Travel. I have taken some kind of a progressive horse trek every year since 1985, and this was one of the best ever. If you have questions or just want more information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you enjoy a chance to act like a kid again? I sure do! Recently I received an invitation to a Halloween party at Heritage Woods in Yorkville, Illinois. My friend, Jane Johnson, is the marketing maven there. Heritage Woods of Yorkville is a supportive living facility (SLF), more commonly known as an assisted living facility. Residents of SLFs need a little help from someone with their everyday activities of daily living.
I gathered up my costume and my four-year-old granddaughter Lucy and we headed off for the party. Lucy was dressed up as Belle, who is better known as the “Beauty” in Walt Disney’s movie Beauty and the Beast. Lucy was my date for the big party.
When we arrived, we were greeted by the residents, the staff, and families, many of whom were dressed in holiday costumes. As with most parties, it was lots of fun and there were way too many good things to eat! Heritage Woods had a whole day of events. The staff competed in a chili cook-off—the savory recipes were submitted by members of the local police and fire departments. Not surprisingly, the dietary manager won first place. (That seems to hint at the idea that the residents eat mighty fine!) In second place was my friend Jane Johnson, the marketing director. She had prepared her favorite “white chili with brown turkey” recipe.
More than 75 residents ate chili, listened to music, and enjoyed the ice cream sundae bar. After lunch there was music and even dancing. All the employees were dressed in costumes. Norma, who was dressed as “the scarecrow”, was voted first place for staff costumes. The best resident costume was won by Joan, who was dressed as a witch. The pictures in this blog tell the story much better than words.
The only thing that surprised me was that many of the residents left the hubbub in mid-afternoon so they could catch a nap and refresh before dinner. But a great time was had by all! Thank you, Jane, for inviting me to a fun-filled afternoon at Heritage Woods of Yorkville.
My father, Richard Law, has died, but we celebrate his life! Those of us who recently gathered at the hospital for many days and then the funeral home represent a ‘blended family’ of lineal descendants, adopted children, and step-family. It has been amazing to experience the common expression of love and care from each one for each other.
My father gave each of us the treasure of unconditional love. When Dad smiled at you, you knew that he loved you just the way that you were, and he never thought about how to “fix” you. There were many times during Dad’s chemotherapy-induced illness that I marveled at his great and caring attitude. I would often say to myself, “Rick, try to be more like Dad!”
My dad taught me how to live as a caring—and thus successful—person. He lived out many of the rules of success that have come to be my life standards. Richard Law lived and died loving others and being loved right back. That is a successful life!
Seven Rules for Life:
Dad Law made sure that I learned this one: the Golden Rule, here quoted from The Message Bible— “Jesus said, ‘Here is a simple rule of behavior. Think about what you want from other people, then, grab the initiative and do that for them! All of the Law and the Prophets hang on that.’”
Dad Law taught me, “Don’t do anything that you would not like to see on the front page of the Chicago Tribune.”
Dad Law showed me that “Integrity is doing what you promised to do, even when the circumstances have changed and you really don’t want to do it anymore.”
Ignore whatever comes before the ‘but’ in a sentence. It does not matter how many words precede the ‘but”; what someone really believes and will act upon follows the ‘but’.
Hire people who have demonstrated a success-pattern—e.g., when they got their first job at McDonald’s, did they rise to “Fry Chief”? How people behaved in the past is an imperfect but helpful guide to how they will act in the future. I cannot train people to have either initiative or integrity; they either have it or they don’t. (My dear friend Jessica Bannister is a living example of this rule. She is a model of initiative and integrity!)
Give winners a mission-goal, then get out of their way. Nonetheless, you cannot expect what you don’t inspect! (I also learned this one from my capable brother-in-law, Inno Okoye.)
You get the behavior that you reward. When you experience negative behavior with your spouse, kids, and/or employees, check to see if you are actually the cause. Many times, our leadership flaws create rewards that lead others to act badly to get our attention.
Good-bye Dad! I pledge to live and love more like you!
When I first went to law school, I carried the “cowboy code” inside me. Like many idealistic law students, I imagined using my legal skills to fight injustice and protect the innocent—just as my heroes had done. But I soon found that real lawyering is seldom as glamorous and interesting as a TV show.