Who Dat?

Back in the 80s, long before the X-Games existed, Tom Haig traveled the world as an extreme athlete. He visited more than 50 countries as an international high diver, doing multiple somersault tricks from over 90 feet.

That life came crashing down one Sunday morning in 1996. While training on his mountain bike, he smashed into the grill of a truck and became paralyzed from the waist down. But less than a year later he completed a 100-mile ride on a hand-cycle and traveled by himself to Europe and the Middle East.

Since then he has continued to travel the world as a consultant, writer and video producer. He spent six months launching a Tibetan radio station in the Himalayas and shot documentary shorts on disability in Bangladesh, France, Albania, Ghana and most recently Nepal.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Time Travel

I just woke up in a very small hotel room in a modern suburb of Istanbul. I landed at Ataturk Airport this morning at 04:30 and was told by Turkish Air that since my flight to Kathmandu doesn't leave until midnight tonight, I have the right to a free hotel room for the day. I just had to wait until 10:00 for them to clear a room. At 08:00 I went to the desk to ask them if I could go to the hotel to wait  because the airport wifi signal was too weak. The Turkish Air hostess looked at my boarding pass and said, "You are leaving tonight. No need for hotel."  I should have struck while the iron was hot.

But having slept at the Istanbul airport twice before, I decided I'd rather try my luck finding a super cheap room to chill out until my flight leaves. I went to the hotel desk at the airport and asked them if they knew a cheap hotel where I could crash for the day. The man at the desk was very polite and told me I could get a room for 100 Euros. I raised my eye (which is tough because it's black from a dance floor incident 10 days ago) and said, "Does it look like I have 100 Euros for a room?"

The man sized me up, looked around to see if there were any superiors around, then jotted down a phone number on a piece of paper. "Give this to a taxi driver," he said, "Tell them to call the number and take you there. Hotel and Taxi should cost you about $40 U.S." Now that's what I'm talkin' about!

So with sleep in my eyes and a congested nose from the horribly polluted skies of industrial Istanbul, I am opening up the Captain Crip blog which has been dormant for most of the past 5 years. And it's a great time to start writing again, because I have,  indeed,  discovered the secret of time travel.

I'm a big fan of Morgan Freeman's Science Channel show, Through the Wormhole. It's an awesome show that breaks down very complicated subjects in physics (quantum mechanics, dark matter etc.) and explains them graphically to lay people. One subject that has taken up several episodes is time travel. Einstein proved that traveling forward in time is easy as long as you get your giddyup on and approach the speed of light. Actually even the astronauts will jump ahead a millisecond or so when they reach the speeds it takes to leave the atmosphere.

But the real nugget is traveling backwards in time. A Swiss physicist, Prof. Nicholas Gesan (sp?) claims that by the process of quantum non-locality, a weird proven fact that photons can appear in two different places at the same time, has discovered that he can actually make the same photon appear in the same place at two DIFFERENT times - one just nano seconds before the other. From this he extrapolated that in the far distant future with computers getting faster and faster, eventually we could conceivably build a time machine that goes backwards. The only caveat is that you couldn't go any further backwards than the date the machine was built..

This week I figured out how to do that. You simply travel to Holland - provided you turned your time travel machine on many years earlier and have 40 years of patience to make it work. I got on my time travel machine (a Lufthansa airbus) and after 20 hours or so, I found myself in Den Haag, Holland. I went outside the station and patiently waited until my friend Maaike Leeuwenburgh, whom I hadn't seen in 27 years, popped up from around the corner. She gave me a big hug and a kiss, and threw me in her car. It's just that easy. 1) Turn on your time machine. 2) Have the sense to make really awesome choices in who you hang out with (optional, but highly recommended). 3) Remember where they are. 4) Let decades pass. 5) Go where they are.

Works like a charm. If the person isn't a tool, you just simply pick up where you left off and get going on new adventures. Maaike and I used to work as circus clowns and acrobats in the late 80s and as it turns out, no matter what kind of serious crap we've done with our lives, we have pretty much remained circus clowns and acrobats.

Although Maaike would be my keystone for the week, I still had more time travel to do. Two days later I got on another time travel portal (they're all over the frickin' place - you just have to know what's at the other end) and 90 minutes later found myself in Harderwijk, an old North Sea port town that, because of sea reclamation, is actually is no longer on the North Sea. I lived there in 1987 with a most amazing woman and just like that, she appeared at the end of the time portal and, just like Maaike, greeted me with a hug and a kiss.

Linda was one of the great loves and my life, but for one reason or another (mostly we were too young and lived on different continents) had to break things off. While my time machine tends to age my skin and physique, hers some how does not. She looks exactly as she did in 1987 - in fact now she appears even younger, if that's possible. She'd gone through a lot of soul searching over the past few years and with the grace of long solitary walks, has correctly decided that she is a most incredible mother, businesswoman (she runs her own clothing shop) and friend. Her face glows with a confidence that neither one of us had back when we were together.

I had lunch with her two sons then strolled along the medieval  city walls visiting old haunts and talking about friends past. I know some people who still live there, but I am no longer in contact with anyone except Linda. She also is not in contact with anyone I know. She is my only friend on Facebook with whom I have no other friends. But none of that seems to matter. We just walk and talk like we used to and tell each other about where our lives are going. We finished off the afternoon with a couple of drinks at Nikki's Inn, the local pub where we first met. She walked me back to my time machine and then with a hug and a kiss, we moved back towards our secular lives.

The next day I returned to the Den Haag Zentrum and had a rendez-vous with Doug Siglin, a friend of my Portland Adidas days. I'd seen him within the year just before he moved to Rotterdam to live with his girlfriend.  It was a strikingly sunny day so we meandered through the busy market streets of Den Haag and settled at an outdoor pub. There is nothing better in the world that sitting at an outdoor cafe in Holland to take in the free freak show that undoubtedly will pass by. From the outside it seemed like a pedestrian day (lit & fig!), but as I told Doug before we split, it's days like these that will give us the biggest smiles when we're on our death beds.

Later that evening, I found another time portal which was actually just a subway stop one kilometer from Maaike's apartment. There I ran into Dr. Wessel Zimmerman, who for one short year was my college diving team mate. Wessel was one of the best divers in the history of Holland and came to the University of Illinois, sight unseen, because my coach Fred Newport COLD CALLED him from Champaign.

Wessel ended up being an NCAA All-American and a cum laude graduate, but not of Illinois, rather Nebraska where he transferred after a tumultuous freshman season. But more important than that he returned to Holland and became one of the top Sports Medicine doctors in the country. He works for the military and helps soldiers put their lives back together after years of rigorous military training. He also developed some of the most successful beginning diving programs in the world and may have the biggest library of diving literature on Earth (> 400 titles).

This is where my time machine had to do it's heaviest lifting as we hadn't seen each other since 1983. Thanks to Facebook (which is quite crucial in the operation of my time machine) we hooked up again and I just figured it was time we get together. He brought his son to dinner who is also a crack drummer so I, of course, set him straight on rock and roll (I know NOTHING about drumming).

It's actually a bit scary using the time machine like that because you really have no idea who you're going to see at the other end. This is where rule No. 2 (Have the sense to make really awesome choices in who you hang out with) becomes quite crucial. If you stick with that principal you have much less to worry about when using the time machine. In this case, I couldn't have been more correct. Wessel Zimmerman, as it turns out, is still a really awesome choice.

The gas on my time machine was running thin, but I still had one more run to make. I had to visit two old friends whom I hadn't seen in quit a while. One was the city of Amsterdam. Unlike other major cities, Amsterdam is a living organism. The buildings move around at night and actually end up hugging each other during the day. Construction is not a thriving business in Amsterdam, because the buildings themselves mate and create their own offspring. Amsterdam swallowed me up in 1985 as if it were  a Borg Collective and I willingly accepted capture. I happily return to the mother ship from time to time to check in. We were very happy to see each other again.

And out from the middle of that organic stew, came one Daniel Bodner, I've actually known longer than the other participants in my time travel. We were distant friends in high school, but as my younger brothers began playing music, Dan's brother, Jon was always the drummer. Even though we only get to play once every few years, he's still the drummer. Through Jon and several other friends, I've gotten to know Dan over the years. We discovered that he moved to Holland the same year I moved away and that's why we'd never hooked up there before.

The difference is that Dan never left. Dan is a successful artist and has had lofts and studios all over Amsterdam for  more than 30 years. His partner, Robin, lives in Manhattan, so he's got a foot in each continent. But his talents were obviously much more useful to the Amsterdam Borg, so he's been kept on. We had a tremendous Indian dinner, warming my stomach up for the subcontinent, then stopped off at a local coffee shop.

Even though Oregon now has legal weed, I've been quite a slacker on the pot smoking front and have rarely taken advantage of the privilege. But when in Amsterdam...  do as the Romans do.  In short time I was spiced out of my gourd and in full paranoid blaze - much like I was on my first trip on New Year's Eve in 1985/6.  I was spaced out, got lost and, at one point, forgot who I was talking to. We strolled around his neighborhood until I had a paranoid delusion that I was late for the last train back to Den Haag. I wasn't late and it wasn't the last train either. But we rushed over to Centraal Station and, after sprinting after one train, easily made the next. Total amateur hour on my part. Thank god there was a sane experienced local to straighten my act out and get me on the train.

But now the gas in my time-travel machine read empty and it was time to cruise. Maaike and I spent so much time together that we are no longer old friends talking about war stories, but fresh new buds - actually more a brother and sister combo. One great thing about the sport of diving is that we train with the opposite sex. I often visit my old teammates and it doesn't matter whether it's a man or a woman. I love them all - we're just teammates and  friends. Very few sports have that kind of male/female camaraderie. And sure, I guess that leads to quite a bit of diver mating, but what the hell - We did a lot of sit ups so we get first choice!

After using my time machine to see five old friends (one from high school, one from college, one from my high diving days, one from my life in Holland and one from my days in Oregon at Adidas) it's time to tuck the time machine away and start re-charging the batteries. As odd as this seems, I'm sitting in a tiny hotel room, with no chance of getting into the bathroom, in an Islamic neighborhood in a city that's not sure if it's Asia or Europe - and I've never felt more at home. That just means that it's time for adventures again.

Captain Crip has officially re-opened. 


  1. Off you go, my boy. Be careful, help people and come home with love for all of us, as we love you! xo mom

  2. Loved reading this. Can you send me a link to your blog? I am not a blog person so know nothing about them.

    1. Thanks Jim!
      The link is right at the top of the page -> http://captaincrip.blogspot.com.tr/

      Hopefully it stays interesting!

  3. Loved reading about your time travels! I hope the time travel to Kathmandu is as inspiring and as easy on your belly. See you next month!