When I was a tweenager I had convinced myself that I could be just like Indiana Jones when I grew up. There had been an Indiana Jones marathon on television that Thanksgiving and it had absorbed my entire holiday as well as the weeks that followed. I loved the dusty hat that followed Indy through thick and thin and I loved the secret doorways that opened when he leaned against the right bricks in the walls. Every vine was an escape from jungle warriors. Every door led to a secret corridor. All that glittered was gold.
It was around that time that I wrote out a list of “must-do’s” for my life. I can’t remember everything it included but I’m sure the items on that list would make me laugh now. Still obsessed with Indiana Jones, I know that many of the items exemplified this naive desire to hunt for treasure in jungles and deserts rather than containing things like “graduate college” or “get my credit score to above 700.” I don’t even think I included anything like “get married.” As I said, I don’t remember many of them, but I do remember these few items…
“Live in Alaska.”
“Meet a celebrity and treat him or her like a normal person.”
“Cook something so well that everyone knows me for it like ‘Carrie’s meatloaf’ or ‘Carrie’s potatoe soup.'”
(This has happened unfortunately. I improvised a brownie recipe that turned out so horribly I’m still remembered for it.)
And finally, “Ride a camel or an elephant.”
(This one was inspired by my love of Indiana Jones.)
I have never had the chance to make a celebrity feel like a normal person, and I haven’t spent more than a week in Alaska, but I can now say that I have ridden an elephant. For twenty minutes my friend and I sat on the back of an elephant, watching the temples of Ayuttayah go slowly by. A driver crouched on the animal’s neck with his feet resting gently on the backs of its ears. There was no thicket of jungle brush around us, nor did we hold the map to ancient treasures. We just rocked up and down to the enormous stride of an elephant.
As it turns out…an elephant ride is exciting on its own, without the adventures of Indiana Jones.
(One of these photos below is a baby elephant I got to play with at the Elephant Kraal in Ayuttayah. The other one…is the ugliest dog I have ever seen in my life. Both seemed worth mentioning.)