Amidst any journey, we would be fools to ignore the fabulous souls we encounter. And while not all are blessings – for every gem there is a miserably short man with an ego to compensate or thieves with sweet tongues – there are certainly blessings to count. I am a guide. I work, play, and live as a guide. I surround myself with other guides. And when you collect guides in one area, you have a medley of unique people.
I wish I could say I remember exactly my first impressions of Forrest. I don’t. I do know that his real name is not Forrest, and if I remember correctly it is his middle name followed by the surname Gray. Mr. Forrest Gray… tell me he doesn’t sound like a supervillian. And then you throw in the mix of who Forrest actually is and you have a delightful character. He also goes by Bosque Gris, for those that know any degree of simple Spanish and appreciate lame puns.
Forrest is the kind of character to be stereotyped as a hippy, and while he has some of that flair he is entirely his own type. Perhaps you are envisioning some dark haired, sleek mastermind to go with the supervillian impression. Quite the contrary, when I met him he had Jesus hair and a remarkable skill at speaking only the words he truly intended to say. If you didn’t give him the benefit of the doubt, you would see his speech as somewhat slow and dazed, but in truth, Forrrest practiced intent with his words, as if he was given a limited number and was afraid to run out. There was no hidden agenda with Forrest. Just Forrest. And he always had the warmest, gradual smile.
If we were assigned to a tour where we had the chance to wait for guests, meaning we finished the gear work before they arrived, we would meet in the kitchen and mingle before work, waiting for our gaggle of guests to waddle off the bus and stare at us in confusion. Tarin, Rob, Forrest, and myself – perhaps a few others though it’s hard to recollect – waited patiently in early noon for our guests of kayak and zip line guests. Tarin was one of the few guides that lived off site, and she brought brunch with her on this particular morning. Tarin had a warm heart and a fiery nature. She did not hesitate to speak her mind, and for that I admire her. So she slowly ate her sandwich and set it aside, while Forrest eyed what remained. We talked and went on with our conversations, unaware of the brooding observation in Forrest’s mind: the sandwich had been left unattended for quite some time. He waited for the opportune moment to pipe a question in a twangy accent, “are you uh… you gonna eat that?” Tarin was less amused then we were, but the question became a running joke for the season to the point where Rob encountered Forrest the mouse as he stole scraps in the same timid manner. We always asked the question around supper time during pizza night.
And that was the primary nature of Forrest: warm, simple, and hungry. I will always admire his purpose when speaking, and his perfect timing for recollection and silly questions. “Remember when Courtney used to get drunk and run through the woods naked?” He’d ask with a dumb smile. And I’d shake my head, laughing, but embarrassed.