It all started with Gayle.

Actually, it didn’t “all” start with Gayle, but this particular part of the story did.

In early September of 2011, my friend Gayle and I were having coffee at a coffee shop in Seattle. She had just been laid off from the company I had left a few months before. She and her husband were about to take a vacation to Yellowstone, and I had just finished my first book. It was a time of change for both of us.

She asked me what was next. I shrugged and said, “I don’t know, I guess I’ll find out.”

Then a naughty thought came to my mind, naughty in the “watch me stick my hand in the cookie jar” sort of way.

“I’d like to walk,” I said. “In fact, I’d like to walk across Iran.”

It wasn’t the first time that thought had crossed my mind, but it was the first time I had voiced it to anyone.

I expected Gayle to balk at the thought, to rein me in, to tell me I was crazy. But she didn’t blink an eye. She looked at me with a matter-of-factness I would expect to see if I had just told someone I was going to walk down to the corner grocery store.

“I think that’s a great idea,” she said.

The horse was out of the barn, and at least one person was okay with it not going back in.