The Best Adventure of All...
Dropping the pack and setting the camera on a rock near Bixby Creek Bridge in Big Sur, CA - 1997
Daddy likes adventure...mostly in arguably mild gulps, but abnormal bouts with adventure nonetheless. Kind of like Cameron Lawson and Brett DeWoody and their wild, 350-mile bicycle and packraft journey from Yukutat to Cordov, along Alaska's "Lost Coast." Following bear and wolf tracks, navigating heinous brush and swollen river deltas, engaging in true wilderness under their own power. Sounds awesome. Sounds like it fell out of a Patagonia catalogue.
Back in the late 90's I took some time away from the maddening crowd to do some of the very same sort of unnecessary adventuring. I walked the length of Big Sur, mailing packages of food and supplies ahead of myself. I lived and rock climbed and generally dirtbagged it amid the boulders and ghostly trees in Joshua Tree National Park. A few years later I wandered the Eastern Sierra with a good friend while my nephew Reece was busy being born back home in Canada. I slept in tents, on floors, crossed the country no less than three times, nearly landed smack dab on top of a rattle snake, ran out of money, got stuck in my rain soaked tent for a full 48 hours during nasty El Nino storms. I grew whiskers, got stinky and sunburnt, and acted as a general miscreant for months on end. It was beautiful. In large part I disconnected with giant chunks of society, disappointed friends, missed a wedding or two (Kev and Aimee), and mostly just avoided all normal social interactions in lieu of absolutely abnormal little selfish adventures.
Back then I was embracing a very unique state of mind, certainly one that was not sustainable, but one that was wildly experiential and incredibly life changing. I've never apologized for any of it...mostly because I don't necessarily feel as though I needed to...but do regret a thing or two. I would have liked to have seen my friends Kevin and Aimee get married. I probably could have given friends a heads up that I was leaving for large stretches and not coming back (but I always did come back...eventually)...I could have dragged June along with me to live in a tent in the middle of the desert rather than just wander off for a weeks upon weeks, but I don't think the most important people in her life would have appreciated my dragging her down into those hot and dusty indulgences with me. To a lot of people it's not so awesome...in fact, it was kinda dangerous. I'd change some subtle details of those years but I wouldn't trade a single lesson, or sunrise, blister, or snake inspired freak out for anything. Those things are a big part of how I see the world now.
I don't sit around and wonder what if, like a lot of other people. I don't rue the things that I've lost or never had. I knew what I wanted when I left, and I was even more certain of them when I came home. Some people have referred to those years, and those mild little adventures as my "bum" stage, to which typically I laugh, and occasionally agree. It may have looked like it on the surface, or from a distance, but it's part of my path to here and now, and in this place that we call home now I am happy to have what I have...to wake up to two beautiful girls, and a great career, and purpose and meaning and perspective. Part of all of that got baked into my skin by desert sun, and Pacific sea spray.
I used to walk into Twenty-nine Palms from Joshua Tree National Park to pick up packages that June had mailed me from Japan. At that point in our lives we were just friends...good friends, and certainly two people who knew, even then, that we were somehow connected. I walked those miles under the cool early morning desert sun to pick up letters and surprises from a girl I never knew that I'd marry...whom I never imagined would be the fantastic mother of an equally fantastic daughter...whom I couldn't have anticipated giving me so much, and it took the distance of thousands of miles, oceans, continents, and me falling asleep under a billion bright desert stars to make clear the notion that despite wanting to wander, I didn't want to wander too far away from this girl.
I like adventure...the kind that finds you climbing on rocks in distant deserts, and riding bikes beside crashing ocean waves, and sleeping on cramped Greyhound busses across the endless landscape of a large continent, but my favorite are the kind that leave me sitting here in this couch, in this home that I've made with this girl and this child. So far this adventure is the best one yet...and there's no rattlesnakes.