Rome News-Tribune

Daydreamin­g ... again

- Associate Editor and business columnist Doug Walker is always looking for news and tips about area businesses. To contact Doug, email him at or call 706-290-5272.

The last couple of weeks have witnessed a pair of extravagan­t dreams come true. First, Sir Richard Branson flew his Virgin Galactic rocket into space. Then, this past Tuesday, Jeff Bezos was buckled in to his Blue Origin spacecraft for a 10-minute ride of a lifetime.

Just in case you haven’t kept up with the multibilli­onaires, understand that Bezos created Blue Origin, the company, back in 2000 and Branson started Virgin Galactic in 2004. There’s no telling how much money the two men have pumped into making their fantasy flights come true.

I rather suspect you’ve heard someone else say this in the last couple of weeks, but can you imagine the good the two men could have done for the world if they had spent a minuscule portion of their fortunes on any of a number of myriad human needs.

What if they had pumped billions of dollars into drilling new water wells for native population­s in Zambia? What if they had created jobs on any of a number of Native American reservatio­ns in the United States, where very real poverty still exists?

I can’t even begin to imagine the thrill of being rocketed into the stratosphe­re, pulling as many as three Gs, or floating in a weightless manner around the cabin of a spacecraft. I’ll grant you that it’s probably pretty cool. I think it was Bezos who said one of the reasons he wanted to explore space is because this planet we call Earth only has so much room.

“We’re going to build a road to space so our kids and their kids can build the future,” Bezos said.

I’m sorry Mr. Bezos. If you think the future is somewhere other than on this planet, you’re badly mistaken.

No one ever confused me for an astronomer — though I did have a couple of pretty nice telescopes when I was much younger — but mass population of the moon or Mars, or anywhere else in the Milky Way just isn’t going to happen.

Not in my lifetime, not in their lifetime, not in their great-great-great-greatgrand­children’s lifetime.

So let’s just call it what it is — a joyride for folks with more money than they know what to do with.

And that’s fine. If you’re one of the 600 people who have reservatio­ns for future Virgin Galactic flights at $250,000 a pop, God bless you!

If you’re one of those who plans to be on either of the two other Blue Origin flights tentativel­y scheduled for later this year, God bless you!

But living on the moon? Forget it! I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer myself. A seriously more down to earth dreamer.

I have this one recurring dream that involves the City Auditorium. All I can tell you is that nothing in that dream costs $250,000.

One thing the Branson and Bezos flights did prove was that if you stay after your dream long enough, you can make it happen. Fortunatel­y, they have the financial resources to make their dreams come true.

That’s the pretty big difference between those guys and me. So I have to dream smaller.

Let’s start with a 2022 early fall vacation to the coast of British Columbia to try to photograph Kermode bears. The First Nation folks in Canada call them Spirit bears. Those are the geneticall­y-confused black bears that are actually white.

I spoke with a travel agent in Port Angeles, Washington, just this week about such a trip. I can charter a sailboat for eight days, all meals included, and take 11 of my best friends for only $84,000.

Add in the cost of airfare and I’m going to need about $96,000. Did I mention something about dreaming small? Oops!

Another frequent dream of mine is to be a spectator at the Tour de France. I want to be that fat guy on ESPN running alongside the bikes waving the American flag.

I want to be on L’alpe d’huez in the French Alps, or perhaps the Col du Tourmalet in the French Pyrenees. Now those are some more beautiful mountains!

I promise I won’t get in the way of any riders and cause some 40-bike crash!

The last dream that I would relate to you is to have a book published. I’ve actually been working on two of them for the last five years and one of them is getting very close to becoming a reality.

As you might imagine, both of them are photograph­ic books involving nature. The one that is about to become reality has a working title of “Second Nature” and involves the bald eagle and other species that have been to the brink and have made a great comeback. Whooping cranes, osprey and other critters that can be seen in our little neck of the woods will be featured.

It’s being designed for the elementary­age audience and all of the photograph­s are being cartoonize­d. It will end up at somewhere around 40 pages.

The second book will be focused on Alaskan wildlife. That’s a little further down the road. I’ve got some good photos of grizzly, moose, caribou, seals, whales — both humpbacks and orcas. I’ve even got some good Dall sheep and ptarmigan, the state bird.

The two critters that I want to add and don’t have real good shots of are wolves and walruses. They may get left out.

All I need to get the first one to print, and on the shelves of Charlene Mathis’ Last Stop Gift Shop, is one more check from Mr. Biden, or Mr. Bezos, or perhaps Mr. Branson.

Dream on, Doug!

 ??  ?? Doug Walker
Doug Walker

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