Herbert Newton Lape. He was my grandfather, father of 6 children (including my dad) countless grandchildren and great grandchildren, a legend among anyone that knew him, and an incredible inspiration on my current life. He would attack life as if it were a game set up specifically for him, strategically putting him in the position of happiness. He was funny, loved his family and close friends, and sprinkled in just the right amount of asshole to balance everything out. When I decided to thru hike the appalachian trail it was his idea that I borrowed. (See my post titled ‘Inspiration’) He has traveled around the world to some his favorite places on earth and even managed to choreograph a family reunion every three years in a different place around the u.s. The love story of his wife and him is unmatched. He worked with THE ohio state university, flew small airplanes, and even ran for mayor of Bexley, Ohio. I can still picture him and I in his car as he bounces his elbows to bluegrass music and simultaneously slaps my leg as he says with great enthusiasm, “what do ya think jase?!” … I loved him. On July 17, 2016 he passed away at the age of 90.
I had found myself yet again ahead of Josh as I came to a road crossing in greece. It was about 11 in the morning and conveniently placed at the crossroads was a shady little resteraunt with meat dripping on a spit filling the air with gorgeous smells of Greek food. I felt I deserved a meal and a cold can of coke while I waited for my buddy as well as to route our next move. I ordered a healthy portion of lamb meat with a side of potatoes. As I turned on the wifi, messages started to pop up on my screen. “I miss the way he laughed” “he was a great man that loved his family”
No. I thought, hoping to hide the unavoidable thoughts that were creeping into my head. I knew it would likely happen as i was traveling but still wasnt ready. The tears started as i continued to read. A young bearded man brought me my food as I threw my sunglasses on trying to keep it together. The food was incredible and only appropriate considering my grandfather’s go to meal was usually some kind of Greek food at a place called “the easy street café” in Columbus, Ohio. As josh leaned his bike against the wall and walked up to my table he saw that I was crying.
“Whoa dude, you okay?”
“Yea man, this food is just incredible” I said as I shoved another bite of food into my mouth trying to mask the sadness.
“I’ll have whatever he ordered” he told the waiter.
I thought about him a lot the next few days, imagining him hiking the mountains around us, or having a glass of wine in some of the cafes we visited. Josh and I had slowed down a bit in greece not only to enjoy the beautiful scenery of mountains and cliffs but also because we were ahead of time and would have to wait for our packages if we made it to athens too early. While taking a lunch break at a bus stop (our favorite place to eat lunch because of the shade and a place to sit) a tiny kitten ran across the road fearing his life. I was making a makeshift gyro out of thin pita bread, fresh tomatoes, feta cheese, and tzaziki sauce when I saw the little furball. It was terrified yet curious and I thought the only humane thing to do at this time would be to offer him some water and maybe a bit of cheese. Everytime I came near he would sprint behind a bush behind the bus stop so I left a small kitten size portion of feta on the ground in front of him and a puddle of water in the lid of my container. After eating it quickly i offered up some stale bread or croutons and Josh threw in some old bananas which this little guy ate. After Josh fell asleep on the bench I made it my goal to get closer to this cat through love and food and after about an hour of slow movements and more food this guy let me pet him and eventually pick him up purring as I stroked his fur. (Probably had never felt love or the touch of a human before)
“Josh, wake up” I said
“Haha! What? You trained the cat?”
I wanted to take him with me, imagining people seeing the cat hanging on the back of the bike and referring to me as that dude that bikes with a cat. After a few trial runs with my new friend on the back of the bike I snapped out of this love affair with the kitten and realized the only logical thing to do is to leave the cat behind. With a slight sadness and a heavy heart we biked off after filling his water dish and leaving a few more peices of bread and cheese. I named him Ferbert Crouton Lape. Ferbie for short.
After waking up early, sweating with the morning sun burning through my tent we packed up our things and were on the road. After 20 miles or so of beautiful curvy roads sandwiched between smaller mountains and the sea we came to a resteraunt hidden under a large canopy of vines and trees. There was plenty of shade and friendly faces inside so the only thing left to ask was if there was wifi. There was, so we ordered a coke and some water.
“You eat Greek food!” Our young waitress said to us. So we ordered some meat and potatoes to go with our beverages refusing the salad and about 3 others things this young waitress/salesman was offering. As we sat there longer than the average person, watching locals come and go, our waitress who was fascinated with our bikes and the fact that we were biking around the world, offered us a place to camp next to the resteraunt.
“How will you get across the oceans?” She said.
“Swim” we said while making swimming hand motions.
Later that night we met Niko who was the son of the owner. It seemed that everyone in the family had a role at this resteraunt including Niko (10 years old) who would bring us more food and beers and his two younger brothers Billy (8) and George (6). I taught them magic tricks with the playing cards they had and made stupid noises with my hands which they thought was the absolute funniest thing they had ever seen. They sat at our table while we ate and did funny tricks trying to make them laugh. We looked around at the other people sitting enjoying the Greek music playing over the speakers and eating their meals and wondered what they must think of these two American boys with bicycles and tents set up next to the resturaunt. After a few hours of games well past our usual bedtime as the sun sets, Josh and i were exhausted. “What time do you go to bed?” I asked niko. “Around 3” he replied. I decided a rowdy game of basketball on the dusty patch next to my tent might tire these kids out and we could go to bed. It didn’t work so finally around midnight, now exhausted from basketball, i told them we were going to sleep and we’d see them in the morning. After climbing into my tent and about 9-10 “good nights” from George, the youngest brother, we went to sleep. He even came back after what we thought was the last one 10 minutes later and whispered “goodnight” thru my thin tent. Josh and I laughed and my last thoughts before shutting my eyes were how lucky we are to be in the position we were with great food, great music, and great friends around the world.