Dearest Bulkeleys, how lucky I am to have you as a second family. To think my alternative Christmas would have been riding the train for 3 days form Perth to Melbourne on Christmas Eve and Day. It seems the lone wolf has found a pack at the bottom of the world. Or maybe the pack found a lost wolf. Whether you all found me or I found you I don’t know. What I do know is some of the most gorgeous memories of my life have happened in the past 7 months in your company and around your country. And now, in response to the many questions I have received thoughtfully begging “just how did you get to Australia?” And, “how did you meet your roommates?”, I will now recount the legendary story of how the Bulks met their lost wolf…
It was a dark but not stormy night at the base of a 3,000 ft. rock face in the infamous Camp 4. Brian, my former partner and I were already at the site eagerly awaiting the additional mystery couple that would be joining us. As the camp gets quite cramped at this historical landmark, strangers are provided an opportunity to become familiar. And out of the whispering distant epic story yarning and crackling fires in the distance came two voices. To our delight, as the voices approached, it was evident they weren’t American and they were from some other far away land which embraced pleasantries and cheery salutations. After we introduced ourselves, we quickly bonded over a poached shower, stealing of fire wood from some emo-teenie-boppers, broccoli spaghetti, and a concern for the parasite which claimed Sharon’s intestines as a home. I recall thinking to myself “wow, that Sharon is really something! Getting rescued off a hike in a stretcher, what a bad ass.” I vowed to be just like her when I grew up. And soon it was time to say good-bye, but not for long.
Sharon and Luke would come visit us in our new home in Bend, OR, renting a car and driving all the way from California, just before Luke was to win his rookie of the year award for facial hair at a Thanksgiving competition. Sharon was so proud. We wined and dined at the best Bend has to offer, hikes next to the Deschutes, soaking in the Turkish style pool at McMinamens, enjoying Bud Wheat beer, and Sharon taught me how to prepare pumpkin risotto.
Fast-forward two years and several huge life changes for the Collins crew, now 1, and the Bulks crew, now 3. I was unsure whether to take this kind couple up on their offer to visit such a distant country. But they insisted that they liked lost wolves, it would be no imposition at all, and that I should catch the soonest flight.
When I saw Canberra for the first time, I was floored. Rolling hills, suberbs hidden in the shade of valleys, a market in each community, an intricate network of bike paths connecting everything, world class museums, pristine lakes for recreating, and people I would rank amongst the lovliest in the world. Staying with Sharon and Luke in their home was an absolute treat. Would you beleive that Luke acctually squeezed orange juice for the house nearly every morning? There was never a loss for a bike even if I had a flat, Sharon taught me the art of taking a hot water bottle to bed in the winter, Cami’s midnight cries always made me feel at home, I found a love for massaman and other curries, and the office episode nights are some of my favorite memories. Sharon helped me with my resumes, Luke and I dominated Nav Sheild together, and they both let me build the recyclops (my bike) on their gorgious slate floor in the kitchen. While I didn’t expect the cold of winter to be so cutting in Canberra, the warmth of the Bulkeley house hold was every bit as warm as anticipated. How lucky I am to know these people and their family. Sharon, Luke and Cami, I love you guys!