I was damn-near born a bushman. My parents took me on my first canoe trip at six weeks of age. Sure, I was raised in the big city (as big cities go in Canada), but I gained a great and lasting love for the bush, the water, the rocks, and the sky, from very early on. Any other experienced bushman out there will understand, when I say what a welcome sight base camp can be. It may be nothing more than a lean-to made of pine boughs, with a canvas cover, but it’s the height of comfort compared to crawling under an over-turned canoe in the rain, on an island in a distant lake. Sometimes it’s even a cabin with an eight foot ceiling and a wood stove. Base camp is just a place where you feel comfortable. A place where the hard travelling is done, and you can relax and reflect upon the learnings of your journey.
Before we were “2 Old Guys Walking” base camp was Ranger’s house … minus his wife and kids. His wife would take the kids on a State-side shopping excursion, and we’d launch an episode of “2 Middle Aged Idiots Getting Sh!t Faced”. Yes, that was 10 kinds of fun lemme tell you. Ranger lived close enough to me that I could walk there, and crawl back Home on my hands and knees if necessary. I may have actually done that, I don’t recall. It was a long time ago, and I forget things, because it was, a long time ago.
It would start innocently enough. First, we’d review photos from the previous adventure. You gotta remember, these were the days before digital cameras. So, every time you heard the vishu-fijak sound, that was $0.28 less in your pocket, and there was no way to see if you had any good shots for at least a week. So, we’d have to admire the photos, then review the current day’s adventure. Wait, did I say we’d review photos first ? Sorry, first we’d pour a coupla drinks, then we’d admire the photos, then review the day’s adventure. As the afternoon advanced, we’d inevitably find ourselves exploring the old barn in his backyard. I should describe Ranger’s former residence at this point. It was a century home on one of the biggest lots you’d find in a town’s limits, with a barn and a steep ravine behind it. Finally, it was heavily treed with noble old chestnuts and walnuts.
The afore-mentioned barn constantly provided us with some form of discovery. We were forever hauling something out to inspect on the side patio. ‘Course, there was a reason we always found something new in there every time we did this. That would be ‘cause it was too damned dangerous to go inside sober, so the only time we saw the interior was on afternoons like those. There were 2 floors, to use the term “floor” loosely. Continuing with the theme of “loose”, the second floor threatened to greet the ground one on a few occasions whilst under our feet. Though we carefully tip-toed across it, quite sure that tip-toeing would dissuade disaster. Though, two chunky piss-tanks weigh the same on tippy toes as they do flat on their faces. The contents of that barn were truly fascinating. To this day, I have 1850s vintage heat duct covers gracing the ground floor of my Home, compliments of the Ranger’s generosity. We climbed over old farm equipment, tools of every description, most of which we couldn’t even guess the functions of (and some I never want to know the functions of). We found an ancient outboard motor I’m sure Noah slapped onto the ass-end of the Ark when God wasn’t looking. More tools, strange boxes filled with even stranger things. That barn was like a 150 year old broom closet. You know what I mean ? That closet in your house which contains the inexplicable, that portal of the twilight zone, that stargate horizon where things … get put ‘cause you don’t know where else to … put ‘em. Imagine the squeals of delight and gasps of awe, when future archeologists unearth that Yatzee board game you put in there back in’ 73. Yeah, that’s what Ranger and I were doing. We were Arch – arche – archeol – archeologizing the barn (read that with a slur for the intended effect).
Then of course, later in the evening, there was the issue of those damned trees. Mocking, challenging, and chiding us with juvenile taunts. We could hear them from the patio. “Nya – nya – nya – nya – nyaaaaa, you’ll never climb us”. Leaping to our feet we cried out “The Hell we won’t ! Prepare to be boarded you bark bearing bastards !”. 40 horizontal and 16 vertical feet later, we triumphantly stood on the branch laughing as only victorious conquerors can. Then we looked around and stopped laughing as only a pair of drunks stuck up in a tree can. Neither of us remembers exactly how we got down without injury. Obviously we did so, like … OK, fine.
After that … and there was an after that, as was evidenced next day by the shredded potato chip bags all over the yard. Chronic munchies eh ? What are ya gonna do ? (Let me try that opening sentence again).
After that … things get a little sketchy so … we don’t, do that anymore.
These days, restaurants are our base camp (lacking the rum and 8 – 12 hours of careless abandon). There have been days when lunch was the high point, but not too often. Usually, we sit down and review what we saw, did, discussed, learned, whatever. We’ve adopted the wife’s expression of “That’s worth the price of admission right there”, whenever we see something we like. Just when I think it was a pretty dull day, Ranger rhymes off a list of things that made the day worth the price of admission to him. That makes me feel a whole lot better.
I keep threatening to launch one last “après hike” act of foolishness, and the wife cheers me on. Yeah folks, she actually supports my desire to once again behave like an ass. Is there any question why I love the lady ?. However, I support Ranger in being sensible for both of us, when he points out that we’d be asleep before the second drink was done. Not unconscious, asleep, there’s a difference (how pathetic have I become?). But I can still talk about it!
And plan on it!