Born from a French father and a New Zealander mother I was already “international” from birth. From the very beginning I traveled extensively with my family. We spent 2 months every summer “caravan” camping. We went all over Western Europe.
When I was 9 & 10, we lived in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa for those two years. Many “adventures” there visiting amazing nature and animal reserves such as the Kruger National Park and many others.
In Nice at 11, not too much happened until I was 14, except for performing at the Munich Olympics in 1972 at age 13, but that’s in the Dominic Derasse “The Musician” page.
14 was the start of my adventurous life. For starters, I got my first motorized 2 wheeler. More importantly for the rest of my life, one of my middle school teachers was an avid mountaineer. He took some of us on hiking/mountaineering trips in the nearby Alps a few summers in a row.
My second motorized 2 wheeler came at 16. A CB125 Honda motorcycle.
When I left Nice for my studies in Paris in 1976, the outdoor adventures sort of disappeared from my life for a while. Except for a fall from a cliff, that required plastic surgery on my face to repair damage to my lip and cheek in order to ensure I might still be able to play trumpet!
In the summer of 1979, between my studies in Paris and Boston, I went on a Brass quintet tour to South Africa and included numerous escapades in between concerts. One of which was spending the night high up in a tree, in the wilderness, waiting for wild boars that never showed up…I think that they figured out that we were there. The tour ended on Mauritius Island in the Indian Ocean. The rest of the quintet stayed on that incredibly beautiful island while I flew back to Paris because I had to get to Boston within a few days. It was on that flight back to France that the Air France Boeing 747′s left engines caught on fire over Kenya and we had to do an emergency crash landing in the savanah. As if this ordeal wasn’t enough, we got caught in a massive brush fire that had been fueled by our plane dumping fuel prior to the “landing”.
While in Boston, 1979 & early 1980, I traveled to New York City to study with a Zen master. That experience was life changing for me in too many ways to try and explain in this writing.
I became very busy and successful as a result. Both professionally and in other areas.
After 2 years back in Paris I took a course in the famed Rally driver Bernard Darniche’s school.
In 1982, I won the “Challenge Darniche” and was awarded a season (’82/’83) in the French Rally Championship driving an Audi Quattro in it’s inaugural season. In addition to the racing, winning this contest also enabled me to become an instructor at the school. In the ’83/’84 season I switched to Track racing because a music producer I knew, asked me to race his Porsche 930 Turbo in the European Porsche Supercup. During these 2 years many mishaps happened, one of which was me rolling over 8 times.
One of the biggest “moments” in those 2 years was meeting 15 members of the famed GIGN who came to the school as students.
I spent the next two years (1983-’85) in close contact with them. Countless” adventures” there!
After moving to the USA in 1985, I spent the next seven years mostly working and starting a family. Got married in 1991 and moved from NYC to NJ. I became an EMT in 1992.
Had children in 1994 and 1997. I quit smoking in 1997, was still very busy working, no time for exercising and put on 40lbs: YIKES!
The family took some really nice trips though. Visiting grandparents in France, going on a cruise to the Carribean, renting and subsequently buying an RV we visited many National Parks across the country such as Grand Canyon, Monument Valley, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains and many others.
After the attacks of 9/11 I was also involved in a couple of special moments. One of which is “documented” in the ABC News special. Another is also documented in some press articles and pertains to how the Broadway Show “Kiss Me Kate” responded in a special way to the needs of NYC and the people working in the rescue/recovery efforts a Ground Zero.
In 2002, I decided I had been somewhat idle and didn’t like being overweight so I started mountain biking and hiking. First on my own and then some colleagues and friends I was telling about my outings started joining me on a regular basis most every Tuesdays and Thursdays all year long, no matter what the weather. That same year, I also decided to volunteer some more and became a firefighter in my town in NJ.
In the summer of 2004, I took a canyoneering course taught by Rich Carlson of the ACA (American Canyoneering Association) in Cedar City, Utah and became hooked on canyoneering.
Since then, I have “descended” canyons in Utah (Zion), Arizona, New Zealand, France and recently “discovered” one in the Catskills Mountains, just 2 hours from NY City.
Other outdoor passions involve swift water. Rafting & Kayaking, even white water tubing.
One of my closest calls with death was while kayaking….
I joined New Jersey Search and Rescue in 2007 and am now the Lieutenant of their Alpha team as well as a member of the MRA (Mountain Rescue Association)
I must add that by now, October 2010, I have almost lost all the extra weight (36lbs) I had put on when I quit smoking…Never thought it could be done!