This is Don, 79 years young, and his amazing, endearing girlfriend, Bobby. They've been together for 6 passionate months. Both their spouses passed away years before.
Don is quite the catch. He's one of those characters that I'll never forget. He's got these bright, twinkly eyes, and a grin from ear to ear. He fascinates me.
He's a true mountain man, a wilderness purist. He knits his own wool sweaters, and can make a fire with flint, He doesn't use tents, or tarps. He's one of those guys who can survive in the wild with just his wits and experience, much like Alaska Rick.
"Without a tent, you can feel Nature around you," he tells me. "You can see the stars at night. You can see what's coming. You're more part of your surroundings."
Don is so full of life, I can't help but fall in love with him. He's a living testament that you are only as old as you think you are.
"You see that rock up there on the mountain? I stood up there," he says, quite proud. "Ain't too many people can say that. Yeah built myself a cabin way up in those mountains. Hauled all the wood up myself. Took 7 trips... Killed an elk once and lugged it out on my back, all 135 pounds, through 18 inches deep snow. Yeah I was a tough one back then."
You still are.
Don is as strong as a 40 year old. That's what a lifetime spent in the mountains will do. He is a trail maintenance crew chief in Olympic National Park. His volunteers call him Grey Wolf. That's how he met Bobby, his girlfriend. She was on his trail crew. How could she resist?
Don, I love you, wherever you are. I'm so grateful to have met you and shared some crazy stories around the fire. I saw you were tempted to come hitchhiking with me. What a pair we would have made!
You inspire me so much. It's part of why I take such good care of my body and mind. You are a living testament that life doesn't have to get any more boring, or lonely when we get older if we stoke the fire of our spirit with play, work, love and fresh air.
Yes I want to be like you when I grow up, a child at heart, but a tough one indeed.