Douglas Noble's Birthday - scroll down for essay Traveling With Doug, by Cecilia Brainard
Through the years, Lauren and I have travelled with Doug Noble. We were together in Cambria, Central Coast, in cruises to Alaska and South America, San Miguel Allende with Hilary Walling and Myrna Horton, and the Philippines with the Allens. We also did an Overseas Adventure Tours trip with him and Hilary Walling to Vietnam; and last April, Doug was with us in Malaysia, then on to Burma to join Kim Holmquist, Patrick Culbertson, Richard Bakke, and Hilary for a memorable trip led by my friend, John Silva.
What amazes me is that Doug packs very light, two very small bags and that’s it. In the one bag that’s slighter bigger than a briefcase, he has his clothes; in the other, he has his camera gear and his journals. He never checks the latter in and has a fit when he’s separated from this bag. He will spend hours writing in his journal, blow by blow accounts of what happened each day; I used to keep travel journals but when we’re with Doug, I stopped and just let him do all the work. He very kindly sends me copies upon request.
As a camera/video person, he is most competitive, and I’ve seen him curse another avid photographer in Hanoi when the man got between Doug and a woman making rice paper. “God-damn-it!” with the stamping of the feet. But he later made up with the fellow and they became respectful pals during the rest of the trip. Another example of Doug’s passion for picture-taking happened in the Philippines when we arrived at the Bonifacio house/Museum. Eyes focused on the house, Doug rushed out of the van, and in his ardor failed to see the metal gate, or failed to see that the entryway wasn’t very big. He didn’t duck when he entered and slammed his forehead against the heavy Spanish Colonial metal so badly, he gouged his forehead and bled like you’ll never believe – I think you can still see the dent on his forehead.
Food: hmmm, we have a lot of stories about this one.
In cruises, he was famous for trying up to three soups, and five desserts all in one sitting. During those cruises, he liked to hang around the library where he’d work on a jigsaw puzzle; and during the non-sailing days, he knew the schedule of all the trivia games, raising these to a competitive level that Princess Cruise Lines is still talking about.
More on food – in Buenos Aires, he had this idyllic idea of where we would have lunch – there were five of us, the Rosses were also there; but jet-lagged and tired from the morning’s walk, the four of us outvoted him and stood in line for empanadas in a small take-out place across our hotel. Before we fully understood what happened, Doug got pissed at the people and stomped out. He did not want take-out empanadas, you see, he wanted us seated in a nice restaurant in Buenas Aires, having our grass-fed steaks and sangria. But back in the hotel, he regained his composure. I understood then that despite the American competitiveness, Doug is a Victorian romantic, which is why he loves High Tea in historic hotels, and why he will stay in them even though they’ve been downgraded to two or three stars.
Oh, and Chinese food – don’t bring Doug to Chinese restaurants. We made this mistake in Makati, when the four of us (we were with the Allens) opted for Chinese food, and Doug was very unhappy about the food. “I hate Chinese food,” he said, and after dinner, he separated himself from us saying, “I have to find ice cream to wash away the awful taste of Chinese food.” Consequently, whenever we see a Chinese restaurant called "Noble House" we always say, “There’s Doug’s restaurant.”
One last thing about food – he’s the first to laugh at the food supply I bring when I travel – I will have a bottle of Margarita, See’s candies, cheese, salami, and other goodies. But he’s first in line when I serve my Margarita, cheeses, and salami.
We’ve had great times travelling with Doug, and are looking forward to more.
tags: friends, family, Cecilia Brainard, birthday party