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Peyton Jobe - Safe Harbor

Dear Oru People and Canines, This email is about my beloved Oru, but it is about much more, too.

Dear Oru People and Canines,

This email is about my beloved Oru, but it is about much more, too. Bear with me.

My partner in this indescribably beautiful journey of life has been battling a rare cancer for the last nine years. Aly turned 49 this July. We have been married for 23 years, but together as a couple for 26 years.

The last three years of her life have been one long, painful tragedy, interrupted by brief glimpses of sunshine when we seem to stand in the eye of a hurricane somewhere on an island lake within a vast valley ringed on all sides by steep, frozen mountains. We know the storm has broken, but there just doesn't seem to be any safe way out, and we both know the prevailing winds always blow us back toward Truckee Hospital/Cancer Center. And that, to us, has become safe harbor. We know all the nurses, all the doctors, and they know us well. They take care of us. Aly says she feels "safe" there, even though we are admitted back in because her health situation is anything BUT safe.

Witnessing her decline has shaken me in ways that are difficult to articulate. I am not the same person I was when this journey began nine years ago on the other side of the country in an operating room in Charlottesville, VA. We have logged countless hours on the road and miles in the sky between our home of 7 years in Truckee, CA, and hospitals in San Diego, San Francisco, and Davis. I have spent too many nights to count on makeshift beds in hospitals as Aly teetered in the ICU. My aging has accelerated, the worry lines deepening around my mouth and eyes.

Along the way, though, many wonderful things have happened. New friendships have been forged, old ties strengthened or renewed after a prolonged stasis.

The friendships provide us both with the most emotional buoyancy, and, out of one of those friendships, grew a newfound, profound passion: paddling.

A friend loaned us a kayak and paddle, and, living a block off of Donner Lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains, I quickly took to the water and started paddling. And I just can't get enough of it.

Kind of like Dory (Finding Nemo, Finding Dory) (but with a twist on the mantra), I just keep paddling.

Since purchasing my Oru Beach kayak late this spring, I have adventured further afield, determined to explore as many different rivers and lakes and spend as much time on the water in as many soul-feeding settings as possible. I know it is saving me.

I now spend as much of every weekend as possible paddling, and have managed to paddle on five different bodies of water in 2 of the last 3 weekends while my son is home from college helping out at home with Aly.

Everywhere I go, I get questions about my wonderful folding kayak. It adds a social element to what would otherwise be a mostly solitary experience.

Perhaps the most comical question came this past weekend as I paddled a remote lake near Donner Summit.

"Did you make that?"

The Oru is too beautifully designed for that to be remotely plausible, and my engineering qualifications far too...let's say nonexistent, but, reflecting on the question, that is no small part of the allure of the Oru.

Every time you go out in the Oru, you feel like you made it, because, well, you sort of did, and not in the technical, manufacturing or engineering sense, but simply because you put it together before you went out on the water paddling. Having put it together - more efficiently each time - gives you that small sense of accomplishment that makes the paddling experience that much more special. When you have finished paddling, you will take it apart and stow it in a backpack and walk away with it on your back, and there is soul-feeding satisfaction in that simpler-each-time process, as well.

For now, this email is just to give all you good people at Oru the feel-good sense that you are succeeding in your efforts to promote healthy, active lifestyles by encouraging us to... adventure on. It is not just about the paddling with your Oru. It is the adventure, and we all (even if in varying degrees) crave adventures both great and small.

Best wishes for great success,