“How much further?” Annoyance flooded my soul when the most overused question ever uttered in adventure travel history broke my train of thought just as the sun started to set on the ridge ahead of us. Five years ago, I was driving on the backroads with my wife, and our two youngest boys (we have four altogether) were heading out to soak up some of the last days of summer with a camping and hiking trip up on Siskiyou Peak, a semi-remote area tucked behind Mt Ashland found in the backcountry of Southern Oregon. The infamous question raised, along with its various forms of “are we there yet?” or “how much longer till we get there?”, usually breaks up the travel harmony longed for on journeys such as these. As a father, I constantly hear this traveling great distances to the corner market or adventuring wherever our outdoor pursuits take us. I just about blurted out my normal sarcastic response of ‘5 minutes’, when I noticed in my side mirror a pair of feet dangling harmlessly out the car window. Those feet belonged to none other than the originator of the question, my 7-year-old son Bren. Taking a moment (and a picture) to gather myself, I quickly realized that he wasn’t being impatient, which is usually the byproduct of hunger, urinary needs, and/or boredom. This time it came from a place of true enjoyment. He wanted to simply know how much longer he could hang his feet out the window.
Kids have such a pure and simple way of looking at life that is refreshing. Strapped into the backseat of the old Ford Explorer, with no air conditioning, and unable to have much freedom, he stumbled onto a profound lesson I believe we all could benefit from. He found a way to enjoy what he was doing despite the circumstances. Most of us, with the hustle and bustle of modern-day life, forget what this is like. We live in a ‘results’ driven culture that only concerns itself with the finished product, which constantly draws our attention to think about what we don’t have, what we should have, and what we wish we were doing that we are not. Enjoyment is sacrificed on the altar of scurrying around our urban lives trying to keep up with these demands. Getting outdoors simplifies this confusion of our lives in a way very few things can. This time, with the help of my son, the refocusing of my life started way before we got to the destination. It started with the dirt and gravel crunching under the tires and my son asking an innocent question. So next time you find yourself stressed and miserable, get away and take a lesson from Bren and let your feet fly…