Hey it’s me – Lola’s backpack. I thought it was time for me to pitch in with my side of the story. She’s planning to chronicle her adventures around the world but she hasn’t yet realized how crucial I am to her comfort.
Without me, she’d be lugging a massive Pullman – and needing a porter. She’d be spending extra money unnecessarily and not getting a work out! Or she’d be dragging one of those damned wheeled suitcases that threaten to trip other travelers as they rush through the airport.
I started life as just another internal-frame Kelly Green Kelty pack but, thanks to her, I’ve become a visual record of many of the places we’ve visited.
Of course, it hasn’t always been the two of us. There was someone before me, an Outbound guy. I met him in the last year of his life, his original Ocean Blue canvas body faded to splotchy shades of pale gray, bedraggled beyond his six years, his zip-off day pack abandoned somewhere in Mexico after the zipper split apart. I’m envious of his life, though shortened by his adventures and aged prematurely by the soot and smoke of Maya open-hearth fireplaces and the wind, sand, sea-salt, and unrelenting sun of the Caribbean. With her, he traveled for four years throughout Central America, riding through Belize, Mexico’s Maya Lands, and the Highlands of Guatemala leashed securely to metal framework on top of de paso chicken buses (sometimes in the pouring rain in spite of which he kept all her things completely dry!) and accompanied her on Caribbean dive expeditions.
On the other hand, the panorama of his travels only included America, Belize, Guatemala, and Mexico whereas I’ve been to more than 45 countries. And some of these countries – Australia, Britain, South Beach, Florida, USA, and the Maya Lands of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize – we’ve visited so frequently they’re like another home to us.
Though I must admit I’ve had a longer life. A MUCH longer life. Seventeen years to be exact. Seems impossible to believe but that’s right: she bought me in Kingston, Ontario in August 1998 for my first trip to – you guessed it – Mexico’s Yucatan. Since 1952 (before my owner was born!) Kelty has produced great packs, and I’m living proof. On Kelty’s website, I was delighted to discover my direct descendant: the Women’s Red Cloud 80. I’m envious of my great-great-great-great granddaughter’s sack appeal. I’m certain that my owner would love her large front pocket filled with organizational compartments and her handy waist belt pocket. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why I’ve overheard her suggest that maybe it was time for a new pack.
Yet I know I have a place in her heart. Even though she thinks about the newer packs with their brilliant innovations, she keeps dragging me out of the closet. “Jeff, sometimes I think I should replace this backpack but I can’t. I love it. With a smaller pack – or one without expandable interior compartments – I couldn’t have stuffed the handwoven rug from Morocco’s Southern Oasis Route or the rug from Fez. And I know those dual steel stays are supremely weighty, without them we couldn’t have safely transported those two bottles of Tequila (that we bought for a great deal then remembered we were operating under post-9/11 regulations), or the wooden masks from Botswana or Papua New Guinea.”
Yup I’m here to stay for at least a while longer. Next month we’re off to Chile! Can’t wait to hike the Torres del Paine and meander across the moonscape of the Atacama Desert. Hasta luego!