An Irish Walking Stick and the Pool Guy who owns it

The Story of a Bad Ass Blackthorn Cane

This isn’t a story about me, although I’m kind of in it. This is a story about my cane. We’ll have to talk about me for a second to explain why it’s here, but after that it’ll be just the cane.

I’ve done a bunch of different things in the pool industry (retail, manufacturing, etc.) prior to going out on my own and opening a Swimming Pool Service Company. This I did for several years before I started having some difficulty walking. Then it progressed. Oddly, hard flat surfaces were a non issue. Inclines, declines, and soft surfaces (like a pool owner’s lawn) became torturous, so with the end in sight, I opted to sell my company. Really a shame, because I enjoyed what I did.

With my extensive background in the industry, and not quite old enough to retire, I began consulting/teaching. The benefit was two fold. It afforded me an income, which is good because I like to eat, but also created a means in which I could give back (even if only in a small way) to an industry that had been very good to me. Sadly, the difficulty in my mobility continued to progress and (at times) would be accompanied by  pain. Thus, the cane.

The Cane in class (seen here: discussion of Baylisascaris procyonis as a waterborne zoonosis)

I decided if I was going to have a cane that it would need to be a bad ass cane. I searched a bit before I came across the one I would purchase. A walking stick made from blackthorn, the hard durable wood grown wild along hedgerows in Ireland.  So freaking cool that it actually came with a label of authenticity from the maker who had made sticks for Presidents Reagan, Kennedy, Clinton and Obama as well. 


Irish Walking Stick Genuine Blackthorn Made in Ireland

Not quite ready to curl up in a ball in the corner, and fearing the inevitable, I decided to push through the pain and take my bad ass blackthorn cane to see what we could see before I one day reach a point where I can not walk at all. I will turn my road blocks into speed bumps and make my weaknesses my strengths. No matter what obstacle gets in my way (physical or otherwise), I will not simply overcome it – I will find a way to kick the living 💩 out of it.

My Cane will not be my Crutch, it will be my Catalyst

Mount Woodson Trail. Poway,California. 6.6 mile trail, 2,000 ft rise in elevation. Difficulty rating: Challenging.
El Yunque National Forest, Puerto Rico. La Mina Falls trail. Five mile hike, 1500 feet rise in elevation. Yes, we made it to the falls! Difficulty rating of moderate to challenging,
Backpacking Sicily (Palermo to Racalmuto).  The Cane traveled through the Ballarò street market, up the steps of Santuario Maria SS. Del Monte in Racalmuto (circa: constructed in 1543), through the the Capuchin Catacombs (which, to this day, continues to haunt me)

Crossing Frozen Chena River, Fairbanks Alaska, – 30° F. Yes, we went in February. Insane? Maybe, but we got to see the Aurora borealis, did some dog mushing, a night of ice fishing, and caught a ride with a bushmailer up to the Iñupiat village of Anaktuvuk Pass in the Arctic circle.

Spelunking The Bat Caves of New Providence (Nassau). Sneakers may not have been the best choice for trudging through the puddles and guano (bat poop) covering the caves floor, but this one was kind of on a whim.
Havannah, Cuba. WB Yeats poem Easter comes to mind where to describe something that was both alluring and sad, he used the phrase “a terrible beauty”. Such a beautiful place with such wonderful people, in a country so oppressed.
Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland. Created during a fight between two angry giants, is the myth of the causeway according to Eamon @ Number 31 Dublin
Fleet Street, London England. This barber shoppe is directly across the street from the location that is believed to have been Sweeney Todd’s actual Shoppe. It’s now a book store of sorts.
Mount Fuji, Japan. Elevation 7,560 Ft. After a quick visit to Toho studios (Birthplace of Godzilla), the cane opted for a 200 mph ride on SHINKANSEN, O Trem-Bala Japonês (The Japanese bullet-train) from Tokyo to Mount Fuji.
Climbing to the top of La Pirámide de Sol (Pyramid of the Sun). Yes, the summit was reached. One of the tallest pyramids in the world. Teotihuacan, Mexico. 75 meters.
The Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Doctors may never know what is effecting my ability to walk (I have stumped the best of the best), but with so much left to see, if I reach a point I can no longer walk… I will crawl.

 

Similar story: Swimming Pool Steve – EXPOSED! 😷

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24 thoughts on “An Irish Walking Stick and the Pool Guy who owns it”

  1. I, too, have a mobility issue that is progressive. I do not, alas, have a badass walking cane (yet); and I desperately wish that I had thought and been able to do what you’ve done and get my walking done while I could do the amazing things you’ve done. (Especially spelunking with the bats, always wanted to do that and still may!)

    In other areas (such as a head injury) I’ve done what you have – turned a weakness into a strength. You inspired me in class where I forgot you had a badass walking cane until you flung it down to make a point.

    I hope you and the badass walking cane continue to have awesome adventures together. And if some miracle happens and you don’t need to use it anymore, use it anyway because it really is a badass walking cane.

  2. I remember reading this months ago when it was first published and thought it very inspiring. I happened to come across it again when I looked up the individual who gave the amazing chemistry talk at the first pool show we have gone to in Sarasota today and it was yourself! I was as the front of the stage with my wife. We will have to look you up in a few years when our CPO expires.

    1. Thank you, David, both for reading and attending my chemistry presentation/demonstration at the ipssa Show last night. I’m glad you enjoyed it. It was a fun class to teach. Yes, definitely. It would be a pleasure to have you in our CPO Cert class!

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