Saturday, October 20, 2012

Angus Adventures- The Intro

A couple of months ago, I got called over to a short meeting with the school's PR/ Fund Development Guy. He asked me if I would be willing to escort this year's speakers. To be honest, I've never been a male escort before and I had no idea what the task entailed. Details please.

"Well," he said, "You basically give up everything important in your life to take care of every possible need for 2 adults that could easily take care of themselves for 2 days in a row. It's exactly the same as having to babysit 2-year olds with the genius level IQ." (Okay, I must confess that I am doing my best to recall the conversation in its entirety. It was a couple of months ago and I didn't realize its importance until recently. I may be misremembering some of the details.)

"What's the catch?" I thought to myself. What actually came out was, "Why are you asking me?" It turns out that this year's presenters are into endurance sport kinda stuff. They had done a fair amount of biking, hiking, and rowing. The Fund Dev Guy thought that I was the closest thing on campus that they could relate to. That sounded reasonable. I have a degree in science. I never go to parties. For fun, I exercise. I once ate a bug on purpose. I relate to just about everybody. If it was relations he wanted me to have with these 2 people, then relations I would have. I agreed.

"And Banter, there is one more thing," he said. " Don't let them die." (That may or may not have actually been said.)

The First Meeting
The presenters were Julie and Colin Angus. I purposely didn't do any research on the pair. I get starstruck pretty easily and I didn't want that to impair my judgement. I knew that they were celebrities of some sort. From the info disseminated at my school, I knew that Colin had circumvented the globe via nothing than human power (which is much different than circumcision, I later learned). I knew that Julie became the first woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean without a support boat. I also knew they were Canadian. That's about it. They had a clean slate from my perspective.

My first responsibility was to pick them up from their hotel and drive them to school. Pick up time: 8:00 am. Banter Arrival Time? 8:07 (being prompt is proven, once again, not in my skill set). Having not done any research on the team, I had no idea what they looked like. Luckily, there were only 2 people sitting comfortably in the hotel lobby. Guessing their identity at this point was fairly easy.
Julie Angus was closest to me so naturally my eyes gazed upon her first. She stood about 5'9 with an obviously athletic physique. Her brunette locks waved down over her shoulders and could have provided enough hair to fit a couple of other heads. Her skin was glowing a nice olive tone, the kind found on Mediterranean supermodels and is often mistaken for a natural, all-over tan. Her face was warm and pleasant. She smiled at me and walked in my direction with her hand raised in greeting. After giving her a subtle up-and-down, I instantly thought to myself, "This woman is a molecular biologist." Glad to see I nailed that one.
Colin Angus was directly behind her. I, um, didn't see him at first. He was just as tall as me and roughly the same build. His hair was a short, a bit disheveled, and dirty blonde-ish in color. He reminded me of one with a Scandinavian decent, possibly a Viking (it turns out he's Scottish Canadian). His blue eyes showed a deep form of intelligence where as his facial features and posture indicated his ultimate love and joy for life. My overall initial impression was that he could have been a poster child for the 'average guy' (something that I believe he gets a lot).

The Facts
These 2 have quite simply done some amazing things. Julie was/ is the first and only woman to row across the Atlantic Ocean. With nothing more than her boat, whatever supplies she could stuff in the boat, her fiance (not sure where she stuffed him but she did end up marrying the bloke) and the ambition to row across the Atlantic. It was an amazing story.

(Editor's Note: I'm trying my best not to rob any of the good details from their presentation or their story line. They have a book about the adventure called Rowboat in a Hurricane, which should tell you that not everything on the trip went as planned. I have not read this book, yet, but I have heard good things about it. Such as, it was a National Best Seller.)

Yes, that's the same guy
Colin is clearly driven by the male ego gene. See, his wife went across the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat. He couldn't handle the fact that this is a cool accomplishment and let her have all of the glory. He had to one-up her. He decided that not only would he do the Atlantic Ocean thing, but he would also do the rest of the world. Without using any petro. Allowed items, bicycle, shoes, skis, rowboat. That's it. Once in a while, he was allowed to have some food and he could drink only what he could chisel off a glacier with his bare hands. He did happen to bring along a tent and some toiletries. Although, as I understand it, he forgot to pack a razor.

His book, Beyond the Horizon, was also a National Best Seller. The adventure took just under 2 years and was full of fun stuff.

There's a whole list of other things too. There was the time when they were voted the "Adventurer of the Year-2006" Award by this no-name publication called National Geographic. Outside Magazine, in the December 2005 issue, listed Colin as one of the Top 25 Bold Visionaries. There's some other stuff too that you can find on their website.

When all was said and done, Julie's Atlantic rowing expedition was a bit more than 10,000 km or over 6000 in miles. Colin's epic journey across the planet netted more than 43,000 km or just over 'holy crap that was long' in miles.

In contrast, I, um, did an Ironman last year.

As you can probably tell, despite my best efforts, I am still a little starstruck. I got to be the guide for these 2 adventurers as they tried to navigate the complex halls of an elementary school. How in the world do you take care of 2 people with these credentials? Simple. You wait on them hand and foot and make sure that their water bowl is full. They sort of take care of the rest. It turns out that they were down-to-earth, fun-loving, flexible individuals with a lot to offer.

During my 2-day adventure with Julie and Colin, I got to talk, chat, and make idle conversation. I learned a lot from them outside of their presentations that I will share with you in the next couple of posts. Maybe by then, my school-girl awe of the magnificence called Angus (which could also include the beef) will subside a bit.


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