Steve is often heard to quote Bilbo Baggins on the subject of adventures – “Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner!” – usually while on his way out the door at the start of another one. Later he will probably claim to have been “dragged into it”, but the fact is that he has a great deal of difficulty saying “no” to anything that promises to be interesting. Naomi says it’s one of his talents. He says that he prefers to sit around reading about adventures and wishing that one would come his way. It’s just a matter of being ready to go when it does.
Steve has always enjoyed travel by train. (He remembers wanting to be an engineer when he grew up – his later career in software engineering is probably a coincidence.) He grew up in southwestern Connecticut, an hour from New York City via the New Haven Railroad. Between weekend and summer classes at Columbia University, and a grandmother living in the Bronx three blocks from one of the elevated sections of the subway system, he quickly became an experienced rail traveler. Since that time one of his pleasures has been exploring and comparing light rail and subway systems in the cities he visits.
Steve’s early travels included six weeks in Europe the summer between high school and college; that and many earlier trips were combined with conferences where his father, a spectroscopy researcher, was presenting papers. Their itineraries included London (with a side trip to Stonehenge), Paris, Nice, Genoa, Naples, Zurich, Amsterdam, and Oslo, ending with two weeks in Copenhagen (where the conference was).
After college, graduate school gave Steve and two classmates an excuse to drive across the United States from Minnesota to California. In a stick shift. With a U-Haul behind him. Getting across the Rockies with that U-Haul was more of an adventure than he had counted on, but it didn’t keep him from driving across the U.S. many times since then, for pleasure. Just without the trailer.
About fifty years ago one of his friends lured him to an SCA tourney (the Society for Creative Anachronism is a group devoted to re-creating the Middle Ages “as they ought to have been”) with the suggestion that it would be a good place to meet single women. A few years later Colleen, the friend in question, asked Steve to marry her. Did we mention that Steve has trouble saying “no” to an adventure?
Other adventures they spent together, over the years, included road trips from their home in San Jose to tourneys, science fiction conventions, zoos, and museums all over the western US. Colleen had to skip one convention at the last minute for a different sort of adventure – she went into labor the first night, and spent the rest of the weekend two miles down the road in the hospital giving birth to their first child. Having a birthday party at the annual Westercon (Western US science fiction convention) became just one more excuse for travel.
Seven years later, a programming job with a Japanese company gave Steve an excuse for periodic trips to Japan… on business, but with side trips to the Ramen Museum in Shin Yokohama, Akihabara Electric Town in Tokyo, the shrines and temples of Kamakura, and a trip by Shinkansen to Nikkō. Japan was the first place where Steve had to become aware of accessibility issues – lugging a heavy suitcase down two flights of stairs at a train station without elevators is difficult even for someone who isn’t disabled.
The Westercon was in Honolulu in 2000, and around that time Colleen started suffering from a gradually-worsening case of arthritis. Steve took the side trip to Diamond Head without her. A few years later they started renting a wheelchair at zoos and airports, and Steve went to a few conventions by himself, including the one where he met Naomi. That led to Steve writing a song, “Wheelin’”, to help Naomi get over her reluctance to use a wheelchair in airports.
They bought the first of Colleen’s scooters in 2009 after she suffered a partial spinal cord injury during surgery, which left her lower body partially paralyzed. Colleen had her hair dyed purple to draw people’s attention away from her disability, and enjoyed the occasional scooter race with other disabled convention attendees. Word was passed around to watch out in the halls when the scooter brigade was on the loose.
As Colleen’s condition worsened, Steve became her caregiver as well as her travel companion, and added the scooter, its charger, and a large bag of incontinence supplies to their regular luggage. He also learned (the hard way) which airlines still used stairs instead of ramps for boarding, and how to take maximum advantage of the fact that his CPAP, being a medical device, did not count against their carry-on allowance. Since Colleen’s death in 2021, he travels often with Naomi, and also attends music and science fiction conventions on his own. In the next few years he’s hoping to get to Dominica, Antarctica, and anyplace where he can see a total solar eclipse.[