I can trace my love for adventure to Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.
A handsome archeologist traveling the world on grand adventures to save priceless historical artifacts, women, and children from the evil intentions of bad men.
Yep, like many young boys out there, that’s who I wanted to be when I grew up.
I so much wanted to be Indiana Jones that I even got a hat like Indiana Jones. You know, the fedora he never left behind.
Some people thought that I got the hat because I loved Garth Brooks (which I did), but it was really homage to Indiana Jones. I wore it to school every day in the fourth grade (yikes).
That fashion statement didn’t last, but my love for Indiana Jones did.
I grew up to have a career in technology, not archeology, and I’ve never fought bad guys, but my passion for adventure persists. And, by accident, I developed my own special relationship with a hat that I can’t leave behind.
Some of you that know me in person may have seen me wearing a worn and raggedy ball cap. The one with a Shell gas emblem. The one that says Kelley’s on the front, and Sherman, Maine on the back. The one that you can probably smell when you see me.
Here’s the hat on the day I bought it in 2006. Dark black and new. You can see the Shell logo and that red lettering says Kelley’s.
I bought the hat ten years ago on the morning that I started my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.
Before reaching the northern end of the Appalachian Trail in Baxter State Park, I stopped at a Shell gas station for a Gatorade. I needed a hat, and they had a few in the back. In an interesting coincidence, the convenience store attached to the Shell gas station happened to be called Kelley’s, and they had made up some hats.
I couldn’t believe the coincidence.
The hat accompanied me as I hiked all 2,176 miles of the Appalachian Trail.
A fierce wind once blew it off my head on a rocky mountain top in New Hampshire. The hat rolled over a pile of boulders and out of site. I went over the boulders after it and found it caught in shrubs on the edge of the cliff.
A couple years later, the hat was with me when I cycled 4,500 miles across America.
The hat has fished with me more times than I can count.
I’ve twice rescued it from the ocean when it blew overboard.
The hat has protected me in heavy rain, large hail, and even a crazy acorn downpour when a tropical storm ripped through wooded mountains in New York.
The hat has wiped up fish blood, deer blood, and my blood.
It has red thread and heavy duty staples holding the strap across the back.
Ten years later, and now the once black hat is now gray, greasy, and worn.
It’s with me while RVing around America with the family.
The hat won’t last forever. It seems to show a new tear or unraveling thread each week. I’m not ready to replace it, and I certainly won’t leave it behind. However, I’m on the lookout for a new hat to accompany me on my adventures through the next decade.
I’m hoping to pick one up on this adventure when I stop to refuel at a Shell gas station in Sherman, Maine.
But if you happen to be there before me, pick me out a new hat.