Hey, Spike! tracks author and Engine No. 633 in Cambodia
Dreaming, wandering, writing and fundraising are strong, positive traits to have in your personality quiver.
Here is such a guy: Doug Mendel, who lived around these parts for 20-plus years, and now calls Washington, D.C., his home base.
Living in Frisco, Silverthorne and Montezuma, Doug became well known for his philanthropic efforts in obtaining a couple of fire trucks and a bunch of gear, which he shipped to Cambodia.
One of those fire engines — No. 633 — was donated by the Red, White and Blue Fire Department in Breckenridge and shipped overseas.
Doug’s efforts and the story of No. 633 is the subject of his just-released book, “Cambodia Fire,” available from Amazon in hard and soft covers and on Kindle.
“Because I just published the book, ‘Cambodia Fire,’ a memoir of my journey with Cambodia as well as the delivery of two fire trucks and tons of gear, I am doing my best to market the book,” he says. “I will go back to Cambodia in May for about two weeks to check on No. 633, see friends and relax a bit.”
Now 50, he’ll be returning to Cambodia’s Prey Nop, about 25 miles north of Sihanoukville, down in the southwest corner of the country.
He says the fire truck “is operational, though it needs some work for it to be in better condition.”
This trip will mark Doug’s 21st visit to Southeast Asia.
“During my first trip to Cambodia in June ’97 for three days as a traveler as part of a six-week trip in Asia, I fell in love with the people, the culture, the weather, the handicrafts and the food,” he says.
Doug may include a book-signing tour stop back to Colorado and Summit County, his home from 1991-2015, with a three-year break for stints in Moab, Utah, and Montrose.
It was a possible job that attracted him from California, where he was born and educated at Humboldt State.
“I had a job interview with the Breckenridge Outdoor Educational Center in October ’91, but didn’t get the job, and stayed anyway for the beauty, the people and recreational opportunities that Summit County offers,” Doug explains, adding he earned his Emergency Medical Technician certification at Colorado Mountain College.
Doug’s first travels took him to Israel in 1981 with his confirmation class. The following year he was in a program with the Experiment in International Living, where he lived with a family in Frankston, Australia, for a month and for a couple weeks on a sheep farm on the North Island of New Zealand.
“That set a wanderlust in my heart that was unstoppable,” he remarks.
After a year break from travels, Doug went to Scandinavia in 1984 with the Experiment in International Living. Experiencing the cultures and meeting the locals in Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland whetted his thirst for something new and different.
It would be a long break until 1993, when Doug would venture to Europe for five months. Discovering Europe via Eurorail was an amazing experience to visit cities and many countries. He stayed with a friend in Berlin, Germany, to use as a base while he visited Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, England, Wales, Luxembourg and the Vatican.
Based on his many cosmopolitan travels, Doug published another book: “The Adventures of Carrie the Koala and Karl the Kangaroo,” a children’s book.
Here’s that story:
Carrie the Koala and Karl the Kangaroo are Marsupials in Australia who take a bus ride from a city to the Outback for an amazing adventure of living, growing, learning and experiencing all that life has to offer beyond their wildest and crazy dreams.
Once there, Karl dreams of learning to fly and surf, which definitely sets him apart from his other kangaroo buddies as he explores the skies and oceans off the coast of Port Augusta, Australia.
Carrie’s dreams come to fruition as she learns that she doesn’t have to fit the self-imposed confines of what a koala has to live by.
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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