Following Atticus: Forty-Eight High Peaks, One Little Dog, and an Extraordinary Friendship by Tom Ryan is published by William Morrow. It tells the story of my adventures with Atticus M. Finch, a little dog of some distinction. You can also find our column in the NorthCountry News.

Monday, January 04, 2016

We Stalk What Could Be Our Last Adventure


April is approaching rapidly. Soon we'll be in our old but reliable Honda Fit, its fender held together with a few patches of duct tape, and headed south, then west, then north, and finally east. I figure it will take us two months and up to twenty-thousand miles.

I also have come to figure that it may very well be our last adventure. 

Atticus is aging quickly. He's better than Will ever was when he was with us, but things are changing. He's now completely deaf, his eyes can't always see me unless I move and he is helpless with shiny floors and the depth perception in going down the stairs. Yesterday, his hips gave out on him three different times. That was a first. But as always, we'll make do and figure things out. Or as Paige, Atti's breeder, used to say way back then with her southern twang, "Y'all will work it out."  And she was right, we always have.

Instead of concentrating on what he's lost though, I'm throwing myself into what we still have. That's this friendship and this upcoming adventure. 

If I miss the mountaintops, I would imagine he does too. But from April 21 through June 21 we'll drive to all the natural wonders possible, concentrating on ones where there aren't crowds. And for places like the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone, we'll try to get to the popular places in off hours, typically first thing in the morning for a few pictures.

As some of you know, we'll be targeting National Forests instead of National Parks because N.F. are more dog-friendly. And while some allow dogs off leash, Atticus will need his in most places we go just so we don't get separated. Being off-leash for all these years was so successful while we climbed mountains because he could hear my every whisper and respond. Now he cannot hear my loudest bellow. 

So like Tennyson's Ulysses, when the spring flowers start to appear in the mountains, we'll be on our way facing Atti's old age and whatever the world and time has waiting for us.

While looking forward, I cannot help but pay tribute to the past and all those mountains and all those miles and the things most with two or four legs wouldn't even dream about. From the first day, I've taken out as much as I can of what divides us, especially the words people use as labels, and put my energy into what we would make together in a unique manner.  And that's what this trip is about. It's one more time into the breach of a limitless life while we have it to share. Only mystery awaits us going forward, even this grand adventure is a mystery, and I have no idea what time will bring to us, but for now we have Tennyson's Ulysses to look toward, and his words at the end of the famous poem. 

"Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."

To strive, to seek to find, and not to yield...yes, two friends who have been through much will do it at least one more time, while he can still enjoy it. Best of all, we'll do it our way. 

Onward, by all means.


62 comments:

Anonymous said...

Pure inspiration. Thanks guys!

Mary Ann said...

Best of luck on what I hope is your greatest adventure yet. Thanks for sharing.

oldgoldie said...

May God Bless you both as you have Blessed all of us. Thank you.

marybeth ahlders said...

The world awaits for those who seek to find.

Tim said...

Lovely post Tom. Best wishes for you and Atti on this grand adventure. You two have shared so much together, and have shared so much with all of us online. I hope you and he find some wondrous places and wonderful times.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your life with Atticus and Will with us. Enjoy your new adventures and your precious time together.

Steve said...

Good Luck and enjoy your journey!!!

Anonymous said...

Wishing you the adventures of a lifetime!

Laura said...

Onward, by all means! I hope you will share your adventure with us, from time to time.

Jan Reed said...

I think dogs largely "see" the world through their noses, and I hope Atti's is still working well. He will have so many new sniffs to savor--the Plains, the high deserts, the Rockies, the Pacific coast. The wildflowers will be blooming, the trees leafing out, the birds will be returning along the Western Flyway. And best of all, he will be with you! This has the makings of a grand adventure, and I can't wait to read about it.

Linda Jane Gregory said...

You said it Beautifully, Blessings Tom & Atticus, from Australia xxxx

Ellen Mari said...

Beautiful & inspiring! May you have the best adventure ever.

Anonymous said...

Have a wonderful and safe trip. Thanks for sharing!

Shirley said...

Thanks for sharing, Tom - if you find yourselves in the Bitterroot Mountains of Idaho, on Lolo Pass - say hi to the mountains for us - oh, how I would love to see it again some day. Godspeed to you and sweet Atticus.

Debbie Giles said...

I leave you my ❤️ As always God bless you and thank you for your time with us. I love you all dearly. Now onward and enjoy!!

Richard Marks said...

good luck Atti and Tom be safe

Lynni OHaver said...

What a privilege for two friends to enjoy an adventure together...especially one of mystery. Going where the road takes you...cannot wait to read all about it.

jan m. said...

How beautiful the world becomes when we see through a symphony of words. Blessings to you and Atticus as you journey in the music called life. "Onward".

AWBookGirl said...

Tom, you approach this like you do so many other things. And it reminds me that there is a season for everything. The best we can do is enjoy what we have and spend our time with those we love, doing what we love. I'm looking forward to your next adventure.

Unknown said...

God bless enjoy your adventure

Lori Lucier said...

God bless enjoy y I ur adventure

kathyconsigli said...

I love that you are doing this. Whether it's the last or not remains to be seen but I have no doubt that this adventure will bring a ton of new experiences and awe inspiring moments with your best pal. Best wishes for a wonderful time!

Elsa said...

You are so inspiring to this old woman! May God keep you safe in your adventures and travels.

Carin Azarian-Fritzsche said...

Thank you for sharing and inspiring. Safe travels to you and Atticus. Look forward to the journey! God Bless!

Anonymous said...

Blessings & strength.

tara said...

Have fun you two! Looking forward to hearing about your great adventure.

Anonymous said...

Friendship is but a sheltering tree.
Joy and peace to both of you! Thanks for sharing your love with all of is.

Eva M said...

I wish you both an amazing time. It sounds like a wonderful idea. Are you planning to post updates on the blog so we can join with you? I love the forests they're very special places.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully written.

Rainbow Dreams said...

wishing you and atti a splendid, joyful, love-filled trip together!

David Laurence said...

Wishing you both a safe and wonderful adventure!

Katy said...

So happy that you and Atti are going on yet another grand adventure. You commented to me a few years ago that you have always wanted to go to Colorado. The offer of a very dog friendly house and extra bedroom is always there if you are in the vicinity of Colorado City, Colorado :)
Cheers and Onward~!!
Katy

Tina said...

Prayers for safe travels.

Cherie said...

I love that Duct Tape is part of the adventure too! Praying you safely through this adventure and onward.

Marilyn Knutson said...

I hope this "possible last" adventure is similar to the grandfather of my former husband. He probably made at least 10 "last trips" to Mount Rainier.
May this adventure outlove all the others so far!

Dianne Trivers said...

Bless your new adventures. You have made wonderful memories with Atticus and we all are eagerly learning about the newest. No animal could want for a better partner than you.

PP said...

To have such adventures and such perspective ... what magnificent energy you both pump into this world!

BJ Pup said...

Have a wonderful journey in our beautiful conutry together. Being ar one with Atti will serve you both well.

Cathy Whitt said...

Every day of our lives is an adventure every day a blessing every day new and wonderful things to discover. May you discover the most wonderful things in your new adventure this spring. Thanks for sharing your life and Atticus and of course Will's. May your beat days be the ones yet to come. Onward by all means

Barbara Sutton said...

Tom, I trust you will savor each part of this adventure with Atticus. Gladness comes to me when I think of you two together.

Anonymous said...

Have a good trip! My other comment is a bit large. I think the trip is going to be so great. Great idea!

Les said...

Safe journies my friends in all you do.

Vicki Schoenbeck said...

Thank you for sharing your adventures. You both are such an inspiration.

Cajun Ghost Hunter said...

May God Bless both of you and protect you on your upcoming adventure.

Pat said...

What a Awesome Adventure awaits the two of you.Keep the Faith!

Janet Macoska said...

Love you Tom and Atticus!!! Thank you for sharing your journey with us!

Laura said...

I hope your adventures together are fantastic, as always. Onward, by all means!

Juanda Krebs said...

Thank you for allowing us to journey with you and Atticus. I am sure that the spirit of Will is with you still.

Onesnap said...

I look forward to following your next adventure!

ruth Bernstein said...

Exciting times ahead for two friends who continue their life's journey. memories in the making. Safe journey to you both X

George G. said...

"Grow old along with me, the best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made." - Robert Browning. Onward, by all means!

Karen Seal said...

<3 Have so much fun on your journey and make lots of memories! :)

Betty and Lenny said...

Hi Tom,

Traveling with a buddy ... priceless.

We wish you safe, exciting, beautiful, healthy, and peaceful travels.

Be well.

Anna Cox said...

Atticus and you will have yet another fantastic adventure that both will treasure forever. I am inspired by "Following Atticus" and have read and enjoying every moment trip up the mountains that you have taken. I am sure that the upcoming adventures you take. What a life Atticus has had because of your ability to see him for more than a dog and treat him as such. Safe travels I pray for for you both and memories to last a lifetime. God Bless Tom and Atticus.

Llama-Susi said...

We will be thinking of you two and will look for you in Yellowstone or the National Forests surrounding it.

Kelli said...

Your stories always warm my heart and remind me to hug my pups more often and treasure each and every day. Thank you.

Sharon said...

Have a terrific adventure!

Heart Centered said...

Hi Tom,
I am just finishing your book and do not want it to end. I live in the beautiful Bitterroot Mountains of Montana where I ran a very successful Professional Horse business. I just decided to close that part of my life, which has been my heart and soul for many years. That's when I started reading your book.
Enjoy your next adventure, I admire you and Atticus, if you find yourself in the Bitterroot Mountains my husband and I would love to put you up while your in the area.
Have a wonderful adventure and hold that dear little dog close as I know you will.
Best,
Kathy

Beth Schell said...

An inspirational story, a remarkable friendship. Godspeed.

Beth

Ken said...

Mr. Ryan, I am midway through "Following Atticus", living vicariously your adventure. Reading on FB, it looks like you are heading west, and will be focusing more on National Forests that are friendly for Atticus. For the past 7 years, I have been hiking and staying in national forests. If it would be helpful, I can offer quite a bit of information about good trails that would be friendly for 4 short legs, a big heart, and a shared short hike. If I do not hear from you, welcome to the west. It is wonderful.

Heather Wilson said...

Sounds like a wonderful adventure ahead of you! I not longer am able to post comments or likes on your Following Atticus page... so sad about that and not sure why! I pray that your journey as you two go 'onwards' in this adventure that it is filled with wonderful moments and quiet times - the two of you together. I pray that your journey together is filled with ONLY the ups - and no downs - that your vehicle gets you where you want to go and that you two enjoy every single moment of the time you have together on this adventure! Onwards, God bless you both!

Heather

Nan Vroman said...

Dear Tom,

I just finished reading your book, and I absolutely loved it! So full of adventure, and it was touching and profound. So many words of wisdom. I cried when Atticus was attacked and so relieved to read on that he came through it ok! You and Atticus are such inspirations to all of us. I saw New Hampshire and the White Mountains once while in college many years ago, but now I want to go back and take my husband!

Thank you for sharing yourself and for making the White Mountains seem so real and vivid while I read! I am forever grateful! I just LOVE Atticus!

Nan Vroman
Buffalo, NY