Almost every morning I get up around 6-6:30am. Today
I got up at 11. It was the first time in a few years. Some days you’ve
just got to take a break.
Thursday I go off into the wild blue yonder with my son, Gabe. I first
took him camping when he was two.
I explained to him that day, “When you are outside the tent you put
your shoes on. When you are inside, you take your shoes off.” The next
day I woke up to him staring down at me. He commanded, “Shoes on!”
We roasted hot dogs and marshmallows, but then he didn’t want to eat
them. He wanted his tofu and mixed vegetables!
At the end of every summer the two of us head out with the dog, not
completely sure where we are going. We are pretty certain we will be
waking up in the woods quite a few mornings, and cheap hotels on the
We eat whatever we want to eat – we have been known to subsist on
potato chips, beef jerky, and carrots for days at a time – with an
occasional piece of blueberry pie thrown in from a diner along the way.
We go where we want to go. Like I said, we don’t really plan our trips.
Last year we hung out at Assateague Island, Niagara Falls, and Twin
Lakes Park in western Pennsylvania.
About every 2-3 years we end up on Mt. Mitchell in North Carolina, the
highest peak east of the Mississippi. It is a favorite because the
temperature is cool, prohibiting mosquitoes, even in the midst of
August. The views are gorgeous. The campsites are few, but there is
always a vacancy. Of course, they allow dogs.
There have been a number of bear problems up there. One year we arrived
and the van next to where we parked our car had huge paw prints and
massive dents all along one side. We spoke to a ranger and he told us
the bear had become proficient at using its claws to pop out the
windows. “He just runs them around the rubber liner and out comes the
mistake was an open box of Kentucky Fried Chicken on the passenger
seat. Hmmm, we thought. Then
we went and pitched our tent. As long as the bears were in the parking
lot, we figured we’d be alright in the woods. We were right.
If you go to Mt. Mitchell, be sure to take a hand axe. The wood they
sell for campfires is never good – always too damp. You can go in the
woods and collect your own firewood from dead trees and fallen limbs if
you’ve got something to chop it up.
When Gabe was six we went out and bought three boxes of matches so he
could play with fire. These
are not necessarily activities his mom would endorse. But, what better
place to play with fire than a fire ring in a campground? Well, okay.
important to do things you love with people you love. After about three
days the conversations go deep. We talk about what fathers and son
should talk about. I don’t know any other way to get to those
conversations. The depth
carries us along and serves as a reference at other times of the year,
reminding us we can go deep when we’re inclined to or it becomes
I think I’ve felt just about as happy as I can on these excursions.
All of this is a long way of saying I’ll be off the grid next week – no
Monday Morning Mojo on the 20th because I’ll be enjoying a cup of joe
in the mountains somewhere with my son and my dog, off the grid.
I’ll be back on the 27th, with a belly full of renewal and ready to
close out the summer. Until then, it’s smoke signals.