Travel buddy #1
Of all the people I've traveled with, this first accolade has to go out to my friend, Blake. Blake has been a friend of mine since college, and when I mentioned I was thinking of doing a backpacking trip in Eastern Europe back in 2015, he was the first one to jump at the chance and join in. Together we went on to see six countries over the span of one month, and, largely Blake's credit, didn't have a single dull moment.
I feel like the word 'friendly' is used far too often to describe people (I too am guilty of using this), and as an unfortunate result, it loses its emphasis. I say this now because 'friendly' in the most extreme sense is the first word I thought of in order to describe Blake. And by this, I don't just mean to say that Blake is a standard nice guy. Instead, I'm trying to say that Blake has this uncanny ability to make genuine friendships with nearly everyone he meets. To put it simply, Blake is like a dog (and I mean this affectionately). He is always happy to see people, never judges, and absolutely never runs out of energy. Additionally, because of this, I must acknowledge that many of the experiences I had and friends I made during our trip would never have happened without him.
Let me use this mini story to emphasize Blake in a nutshell. It was during our time on the Aran Islands in Ireland (see 'Stories' section: Rule of Thumb), and we were walking along the shore after exploring the shipwreck. The rain had not started yet, but it was still pretty cold and windy. I had gotten a bit of a chill, but Blake got an idea. Spontaneously, he looked over at me and said, "I feel like going for a swim."
"Now?!" I replied feeling a bit stupefied, "Blake, the water is freezing and you've got nothing to dry yourself."
"I could use my shirt," he shrugged.
"Do you have another to change into after?" I asked.
""Here, take my phone. I want this on film." Blake then stripped down to his boxers, ran to the ocean, and dove in. "OH MY GOD! IT'S FREEZING!" He shouted while hysterically laughing (Blake has this tendency to laugh uncontrollably in extreme situations. And despite being soaking wet for the next six-or-so hours, Blake kept laughing and never once complained.
Blake is a personality that is one of a kind. He's the type of person who, if you do get the opportunity to meet, can make literally anyone laugh and is thoroughly unforgettable. I'll put it this way, you cannot be negative while Blake is there. It's just not possible. Kind of like how you can't be cold when its 100F (39C) outside. I don't care how hard you try, it's just not happening. So, Blake, this one is for you. Always bringing the fun and good times without fail. In the words of Jerry Garcia, I bid you "Keep on Truckin."