Bragging Rights

On April 24, 2013 Mark Encarnación sent a simple text message: “The razor-toothed piranhas of the genera Serrasalmus and Pygocentrus are the most ferocious freshwater fish in the world. In reality they seldom attack a human.” It took him 25.9 seconds while standing outside Microsoft Studios in Redmond, WA. He was also wearing a blindfold. It is a world record; no one on earth has written those two sentences into a text message in less time than 25.9 seconds. Mr. Encarnación has the right to brag about being the fastest blindfolded texter on planet earth.

Super Mario Bros was released in 1985. Since then, the video game has challenged and delighted several generations of gamers. Most people are not able to beat the game in a single sitting. Some people (like myself) gave up after the water level. However, it is possible to complete it - defeating the final boss after 4 minutes and 55 seconds. Well, you can if you are a streamer with the pseudonym Kosmic who currently holds the record for the fastest Super Mario Bros speedrun. He is definitely bragging about his achievement.

Albert Gonzalez is in the middle of serving a 20 year prison sentence for hacking. It is the longest penalty given to any person for cybercrimes. Not sure he wants to brag about that but he could if he so desired.

Catalin Alexandru Duru rode a homemade quadcopter across Lake Oareau setting a record for farthest flight by hoverboard. Feliks Zemdegs holds the Rubik’s Cube record for solving the puzzle/toy in 4.22 seconds. And Joey Chestnut is the hot dog eating champion consuming a record of 74 hot dogs with buns in 10 minutes. They all have rights to brag about their feats of skill.

Not everyone has bragging rights worth of a world record. However, we all find something to brag about. Whether it is drumming in a band at local bars or the ability to make a really good souffle, we all have claims to make ourselves feel special. Sure, we might not be the best ever but we are pretty damn good. This is how we navigate our social hierarchies and find status amongst our tribe. Me? I can tell a great story. You? You’ll have to let me know your bragging rights.

Today, however, I do not want to brag about me. I would like to brag on my fiancée’s behalf because she will never do it for herself. Why am I bragging about Annie? Well ...

In this picture, she is nearing the end of a four mile hike along Rialto Beach to Hole in the Wall. This is the longest path we have hiked together as a family In addition to all the walking: we also scrambled over rocks to observe tide pools along the shore. The next day, we drove into the Hoh Rainforest for another hike. It was shorter but a bit more strenuous, a little under 100’ elevation gain in about a half mile before coming back down to the trailhead.

It might not seem like much. Just a couple short hikes. A walk in the woods and a stroll along the beach. Most people would call it romantic. However, there’s an additional detail I should add. Annie completed these consecutive hikes while tent camping the previous nights in occasional rain while six and a half months pregnant.

We only have 18 summers with each of the kids. They will still be around after they turn 18 but we hope they begin to seek out their own adventures after graduating high school. We have 18 summers to make memories with them before the real world takes over. 18 summers of life lessons, magic and wonder, unique experiences, the thrill of travel, and the joy of discovery. Annie is more aware of this reality than anyone I have ever met. She did not go hiking last week for her own enjoyment - she went for the sake of our kids so they could see and do and be there. She is a determined woman who will jump through any hoop necessary and make personal sacrifices to ensure our kids get the best summers with us during the limited time we have as a whole family.

Thousands of people visit Rialto Beach and the Hoh Rainforest every year. Our hikes are common destinations for people visiting Olympic National Park. Annie’s feat of endurance is one that has been completed countless times before us and will be done many more times in the future. However, I can’t think of anyone who did so with as much purpose and passion as Annie. And that’s pretty damn good.