As you travel about ensconced in work, life, and love….take a moment and think how much better off you are than me. I know this is a familiar refrain, but after all isn’t it always about me?
I don’t mean to complain, and I know life isn’t always fair, but well….yes I do, because it’s often brutal when others have a place to hang their hat, take off their shoes, or even plant a garden and I don’t. Not that I have any great desire for cultivating squash, it just seems my part in life’s rich pageant is to be like Kwai Caine the aimless wonderer of TV’s Kung Fu fame searching for peace and joy. But all he ever got was abused of course, but fortunately for him as well as the plot—he was skilled enough to survive and occasionally get laid.
This no longer does it for me and must find a way to change. If I’m going to assume the mantle of vagabond, it’s high time for me to leave the comfort of my hovel and become one.
This kerfuffle called my life these last few years has made me strong insomuch as being prepared emotionally for the worst, but long to achieve something significant. John Chapman or “Johnny Appleseed” had little in the way of worldly possessions, but spent most of his days wondering the valleys of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana planting seeds, helping settlers create orchards, and offering saplings to pioneers headed west. He became a recognizable character given his shoddy dress and eccentric manner but was welcomed into most everyone’s home as a beloved member of the family. In today’s 21st century universe, this behavior would no doubt get you killed or at the very least put way for a while, but his efforts were appreciated and noted in his lifetime.
I’ve decided to go for a ‘walk-about’ and like Forest Gump see America on foot. I don’t believe I’ll be doing much running though, but I purchased a large backpack, sleeping bag, fishing pole, and as much food as I can carry. I’ve created a special pouch for my Iphone w/solar charger to facilitate posting accounts of my journey west. Once I hit the coast, I’ll head north until I reach Anchorage. “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” I intend to walk, but will accept rides if offered. I’m not sure what I’ll find, or how it’ll all turn out, but at least I’ll be in control of my destiny.
I found my way to Morrison and managed to kill much of the afternoon getting there. Although the days are getting longer its dark by 6:45 PM so I began to look for a place to bed down for the night. I decided to travel up the canyon toward Evergreen thinking there’d be several spots I could hunker down without being bothered or arrested.
I walked through the little town and headed up Bear Creek Rd that runs along Bear Creek toward Idledale. I found a place on the furthest southern point in Red Rocks Park. Didn’t see anyone so I found a spot close to the water (I love the sound of running water) and was sheltered from view. I broke out some canned peaches and set up camp such as it was.
It was a good location as I laid out my bag on a sand bar with few rocks. There were a few minutes before it would be totally dark so I tried my luck fishing and managed to catch a little Brook Trout on my second cast. This good fortune would indeed complement my peaches. I cleaned my catch leaving the entrails on the river’s edge. After fashioning a skewer from a forked branch, I cooked my meal over a small fire made using lighter fluid and small dry twigs rotating the fish until cooked. It was a fine meal, and all in all it was a great first day. Given my lack of physical conditioning though, I was extremely tired and ready to get horizontal so I packed it in for the night.
I’m not sure how long I’d been asleep, but was awakened by splashing sounds that couldn’t have been more than 10 feet away. Getting up on one elbow, I looked in the direction of the splashing and immediately shit my pants! An adult Bear looked to be munching on the fish entrails I’d left earlier (very stupid).
The Beast had finished it off in seconds then began sniffing the air. I knew I was dead. I quickly lay down, placed my head inside the bag and played possum. I could hear the Bear’s heavy steps as it walked toward me and as one might imagine, I rediscovered God. He/she sniffed the length of the sleeping bag until I could feel the Bear’s hot breath on the top of my head. It pushed me back and forth like a cat playing with a ball of yarn further adding to my anxiety. I continued to lay motionless, and after more pawing and sniffing the animal decided to move on.
Waiting to move until I was sure this Ursus americanus was safely away, I finally got out of the bag. It took me 30 minutes to quit shaking. But once composed, I gathered my things and headed down the creek until I found the Morrison Hotel and called a cab. On my ride back I wondered if Johnny Appleseed ever got face to face with a bear. It’s probably a good thing he didn’t, or no doubt we’d have fewer apples around.
As you’ve probably guessed I’ve called off the ‘walk- about’ for now. I’m not sure I’m cut out to be a 21st century Kwia Chang. After all, who am I trying to fool here? Are we ever really in control of our own destiny?
Anyway I had to burn the sleeping bag in addition to my underwear. Jeez.