I enjoy camping. Especially in the Spring and Fall when the evenings are crisp and cool. I like sitting around a campfire. Toasting marshmallows and enjoying a coffee or a coffee milk. Kahlua and Cream (in my case, milk...). I like staring into the fire and daydreaming.
I like to catch sticks on fire until the end is a hot coal...
...then blow out the flame and write my name in the air.
That just made me flash back to a night on the Great Drive Across Canada chapter of my life. Not like a literal flashback (though I still say that I was promised flashbacks and I feel gypped) but a warm memory.
If you know the Jenkins brothers (or of them...) then you might know how they travel. They have driven across the states and Canada more than once. They taught me how to slow down and realize that the journey is part of experience.
As a kid we traveled a bit. You may recall that my parents were part of the National Campers and Hikers Association. So we camped quite a bit when I was growing up. And of course there were family vacations to the beach (and once to Disney World by van...another long batch of stories). In all those trips I was the typical kid: when will we get there? The trip was an obstacle to overcome before we got to wherever we were GOING!
So it was a strange experience when I started traveling with the Jenkins boys. We stopped for gas after a couple hours on the road in Ontario. May have only been an hour...Dan was on the motorcycle, so we were limited to how far we could go before stopping.
After getting gas - I assumed we would be back on the road. But instead...Dan laid on a picnic table to rest. John got out his guitar. I sat at the picnic table kind of confused. After about 45 minutes or an hour...we got back on the road.
After another hour - we stopped at a rest area/overlook of a river. They got out the cooler and made sandwiches. John played the guitar. Dan lay on the ground. Then we walked to the river and sat around for another hour.
When it got dark - we would look for a place to park to sleep. It may have been the very first night when we "camped" at a closed provincial park (like a state park...but Canadian). I was certain that we were going to be arrested and fined because we drove in through the out gate and parked in a clearly closed place. And then when they decided to spend the night AND cook AND light a fire on the lake's beach!! Holy crap! What are you people? Crazy?
But somehow, I managed to relax. Mostly. And when darkness settled in with the deep velvet that only Canadian wilderness can give you...and we were relaxing on a private beach...and John was playing the guitar...and Dan was giving us an incredible light show with logs from the fire...
And the stars shone above like glittering diamonds in the densest black curtain.
That is one of the best nights of my life.
And strangely - I had forgotten it for a long time.
That trip was full of incredible experiences.
Man...I sure do miss those guys. They taught me to slow down and enjoy the ride. It took us 9 days to cross from Ontario to British Columbia. In 8 nights, we slept twice in motel rooms. We paid for a campsite one night in Manitoba, I think. Otherwise, we found places to be. Never had a bit of trouble.
I need to remember how to slow down again.
Perhaps just the recollection of it will help.
And maybe sometime this weekend -
I will watch the light show in the fire and think of my friends.
And the night sky somewhere in a cold spot in Ontario.