Well, it's late April and to me that has usually signalled the big wind-up for my weeklong canoe trip to the hinterlands of Nova Scotia. Years ago, when I was a student studying geology at university, we had a very dynamic instructor who ran caving trips down to West Virginia for us students who were so inclined, and I was forced to make a choice: canoeing or caving (please don't say spelunking -- it's nice that you know that word but that's really just for academics! Sometimes I chose canoeing, sometimes caving but either way it was always a grand adventure. One year in particular though I chose caving and a good buddy of mine came with us and drove down in the pickup truck with my other friend from school. It was pretty much a 24 hour drive so we listened to LOTS of tunes and I swear we pretty much wore away the cassette tape of the Traveling Wilburys first album and Steve Earle's Copperhead Road. Other than the caving, we had some pretty good adventures from being stopped at the border for a couple of hours (I though we looked like students but the customs officers thought we looked like drug runners) to getting pulled over by a state trooper for making an illegal u-turn in Jersey ("Everything's legal in Jersey as long as you don't get caught!") It was always a pretty wild time when down in WV -- good caving during the day and some good blowing off steam at night right after final exams. Sometimes things got a little out of hand -- I'm thinking of the communal drink pot on the front porch with some crazy break-dancing attempted by all. But looking back, we were young, no one got hurt, and other than having to sleep at the far end of the cowfield surrounded by cows and "cow paddies" one night, no harm, no foul!
And now my tangent... You and I may not know each other from caving or canoeing; perhaps I was hitchhiking in Newfoundland when we coincidentally ran into each other or perhaps I met you while prospecting in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick or Quebec. Maybe I met you on a plane or talked all night on a train in Europe. It could be that we drank a few bottles of cheap wine on a dark back street in the Plaka and got a little too emotional. Or perhaps we met on a train while traveling above the Arctic circle in Norway and Sweden and spontaneously jumped off to camp together in Abisko. You could be one of the people who didn't laugh at my really bad guitar playing at a warm summer night's beach party or even one of the dear friends I grew up with in New Jersey as a young boy.
Looking back as a family man who has more or less settled down (other than canoeing the last week in April , I'm so grateful that I've had these experiences and this life as they were so incredibly memorable. I feel blessed to have shared the camaraderie with so many wonderful people throughout the years. I've gone on solo camping trips before, and the truth is, they are nice... but to me, it's all about sharing those times with people and that is what has always made it the best for me. With all that in mind, I want to thank all my "brothers and sisters in arms" over the years for the great times and please know, that I think back to those times whether they were planned or chance encounters, with fondness and a secret smile. I still remember those times, I still remember you, and would love nothing more than to someday bump into you again Thank you so much.