Written by guest blogger, Craig Skiles. (Post 1 of 14)
Originally posted here.
Commentary [in green] provided by yours truly.
I usually lurk on the CrazyGuy forums at least a couple days per week.
[Sarah: As you may have noticed, Craig is masterfully setting the tone here, as the word "lurk" is reserved exclusively for creeps.]
I even read all the companion ads, hoping to find someone who might be planning the same trip as mine in about the same time frame. It has been a couple years since my last tour, and I'm getting a bit antsy. So with this mood in mind, I read a Companion Ad from Sarah (aka "Young Single Female"). [Sarah: See The Happily Married Man Rides the Olympic Peninsula for the ad.] Her ad was for a 3+ month trip to Argentina and Chile to ride the Atlantic coast of Argentina to Ushuaia and then back up north via the Carretera Austral. I had planned to do a similar trip in 2016, but she was looking to do it in 2015. Oh well, one year early isn't too bad, so I responded to her ad in a fashion such as this:
I saw your ad looking for partners for a bike tour in Argentina and Chile. I've started planning a similar trip but wasn't expecting to execute it until 2016 or 2017. But you seem to be a very organised and driven person and that entices me to maybe up my schedule and try to ride with you.
Since you mentioned your personality type, I went ahead and took the test on 16personalities.com and I came out as an ISTJ-A. I disagree with a lot of this evaluation of my personality but generally agree that I'm mostly of this type. I think I'm more spontaneous and compassionate than they have given me credit for.
I think I meet most of your touring partner requirements and I definitely earn your bonus points as I pride myself in being a superior MacGuyver, a decent bike mechanic, and am not limited by time or money.
I'm a male aged 54 and happily married. My physical condition is excellent so mountain roads and long fast days of riding are not a problem. I'm more worried that our world views may be so different that you would not enjoy my company. However, we do have some similar interests that we can talk about: early retirement, frugal and conspicuous investing, an interest in a simplified life, and the desire to travel by bike in foreign countries. And hopefully you would be interested in a gentle debate about some of your life choices and opinions. I love trying to understand why other people do the things they do. Respecting others opinions is important to me but I do enjoy discussing the reasons behind those opinions.
Let me know if you are successful in getting a group together for your ride. If you think I might fit into the group, be it large or just you and me, get in touch with me and hopefully I can be helpful to you during the planning and then later while we are in Patagonia.
From this response, it is easy to see how she might be a bit suspicious of my motives. Looking back at this email, which was my initial contact with her, it does seem a bit creepy with all the personal information and transparent attempts to let her know that I'm just exactly the partner she is looking for.
[Sarah: I felt obligated to write back to everyone who had taken the time to read my profile and compose a personalized email to me. Craig was no exception. While Craig's well-composed email suggested he was an intelligent human being, I wasn't terribly interested in his marital status or his differing world views. I wrote him a "gentle" reply, with the hopes that he'd take a clue and buzz off.]
It was with amazement that I later got a response from her, albeit with a guarded and suspicious tone.
Thanks for your email. I've been inundated with responses to my ad, which I suppose is a good thing. On the other hand, I'm certainly not wanting to travel with more than 1 or 2 people, at most.
Although you noticed inconsistencies between your Myers Briggs letter combination and what you perceive to be your true personality, hopefully you found the exercise to be at least moderately interesting. My INFJ personality combination doesn't describe me to a "T" either, but it sums up my most important personality aspects fairly well. To me, the first letter is the most important. I find that being around Es (extroverts) wears me out quite quickly.
There are a lot of positive points that you mentioned in your email. That's cool beans. I have two concerns though: 1) You mentioned that we have some different world views. Which of these views are you referring to? While I'm also respectful of differences and intrigued to understand those differences, we choose to spend our time in certain circles for certain reasons. 2) I'm surprised to have received so many responses from married men (most all self-proclaimed as "happily married"). To be honest, I'm not sure how I feel about traveling with a married man. I'm well aware that certain "tensions" can arise, regardless of relationship status. Quite frankly, I'm not interested in any confusion in that regard.
I'll be curious to hear your feedback on my concerns.
Thanks again for reaching out~
[Sarah: Alright, alright. I suppose I left the door wide open for a reply by asking for his feedback on my concerns. I take no responsibility for typing those words; it was entirely the doing of my subconscious.]
Okay, so now I'm in trouble. All I intended to do was contact a person who was planning a trip I would like to take and see if we might be able to ride together. But my creepy first email got her psycho-alarms ringing. So, I've now decided to put on my best charm offensive and see if I can save my reputation as a "Happily Married Man" instead of devolving into a "Creepy Old Man."
Thanks for the reply. I'm sure you are getting lots of responses, especially from "happily married" men. I can assure you that I am happily and monogamously married. My wife is a dream and my best friend in the world. She will be in the loop on any decision I make about touring in Patagonia. But, I understand your concern. If you are just looking for partners to ride with, then a married man would probably do as well as any other. Guys can be annoying and creepy whether they are married or not. You get to pick your partners and I advise you to not compromise on any of your requirements, especially if you plan to ride together most of the time as opposed to just setting up the trip and riding off and everyone being on their own.
I once posted a classified ad while looking for a partner to ride the Colorado Trail and got exactly one response. But it turned out he was a great bike rider and a good person to ride with. I guess I lucked out. Getting too many responses is definitely worse than getting one.
My world view is best described as Naturalism. I am basically a fiscal conservative, social liberal, non-smoking, atheist, carnivore, that uses an annoying amount of sarcasm (a bad habit I am always trying to break).
I responded to your ad not because you are a young woman but because you seemed to have your sh&t together. I did the usual Goggle search, read through your blog, etc. You struck me as a serious person and someone I could trust if need be. I have fond memories of my solo tours (all in the USA and all only 4-8 weeks long). But I've recently discovered that I have more fun when someone is sharing the experience with me. I think this is because it helps to lean on a partner when things get tough and I also find I'm stronger and less affected by trying times when someone is leaning on me.
Good luck in your partner search,
[Sarah: He sold me with his "I advise you to not compromise on any of your requirements" line. This is fantastic advice! I've learned the importance of not compromising over the years as I've worked to better honor my compass.]
To my further surprise she actually responded again.
Thank you for understanding that men can be annoying and creepy.
It sounds as though you and your wife have a healthy relationship -- especially if she's comfortable with you traveling with another woman...in another country...for weeks on end. So, points earned there. :) And more brownie points earned with encouraging me to not compromise. :) I'm big on that. I'd far rather do something on my own rather than do that something with a someone I don't want to be with, just to have a someone be with. I'm comfortable with solitude, and I'm confident in my capabilities. Though, I've also come to realize that joys can be doubled and sorrows can be halved when sharing an experience. Hence...my ad seeking a compatible companion.
As far as the differences in world views go...while you may chronologically have a few years on me, I've been told by many that I often seem years older than my true age. (My best friend, for the record, is a 65-year old woman.) :) With that being said, I enjoy having a good time, and I love to let the little kid in me find the humor in things and laugh until my stomach hurts. The only blatant differences I see are the atheism (while I wouldn't describe myself as being religious, I am deeply moved by nature) and eating preferences (I've been a vegetarian for 26 years). I'm not too concerned about those differences. As for the sarcasm, I'd probably find that enjoyable. :)
Yes, I have my ducks lined up. I prefer being around other people who are on top of their ducks as well. It takes one to know one, and so I get the impression that you would also be a reliable and competent riding partner.
Are you the same Craig Skiles who has a few journals on CGOAB (Great Divide, FL, AZ/UT)? If so, let me read a bit about you. If my emails haven't scared you off, and if your journals suggest you'd be a good match, I suggest we do a Skype or phone call to chat more about the trip.
Where are you located? In a perfect world, it'd be ideal to do a mini test tour or two together before setting off into the other hemisphere. But, I fully realize that the world has its imperfections (and I fully realize that those imperfections can be quite beautiful).
Over and out for now~
I'm not sure what I said in my emails, but suddenly Sarah seems to think I'm trustworthy. Whew! I really am trustworthy, and my wife really does trust me (I have earned that trust and don't mind taking advantage of it). But I think this is the first time I have had the opportunity to convince someone via email about my trustworthiness.
So we talked on Skype a few times and then exchanged real phone numbers. She mentioned that she planned to take a tour around the Olympic Peninsula, and I suggested that I join her so that we could further determine if our touring styles would be compatible with a long trip in South America.
[Sarah: For the record, I don't recall Craig inviting himself along on the Olympic Peninsula trip -- he's far too polite for that. Rather, I recall inviting Craig to join me on the trip.
There is some background information that would be helpful to disclose at this time...
During our Skype call, I told Craig that I had tried to get rid of him with my first email response. He was surprised to hear this, which makes perfect sense given my Pacific Northwest tendency towards passive-aggressiveness. Craig likely assumed that my invitation to ride the Olympic Peninsula was probably a hollow invitation. As such, I extended a formal invitation to him via email the following day. The invitation included a high-level itinerary of the trip. I wasn't blowing smoke -- I really did want for Craig to join me on my ride around the Olympic Peninsula. After all, if he turned out to be a creep, it'd be a heck of a lot easier (not to mention safer) to ditch him in Washington state versus ditching him in South America.]
She agreed to host me and I booked an airplane to Seattle. It all happened so quickly, but because Sarah is so organized and experienced, it all came together perfectly.
[Sarah: I was truly surprised and utterly impressed that Craig decided to join me. While it's true that men can be creepy, women are capable of an assortment of "surprises" as well. As I told Craig, he had "cojones de acero" (balls of steel) to fly out to Seattle at the drop of a hat and join me on a 10-day test ride. It's a good thing I like balls. Particularly steel ones.]