The Journey

Chapter 3

By Sunshine Boy

"Mom, Dad...I"ve been giving this some thought and I"ve decided that this summer I"d like to go on a trip, a camping trip."

"To where sweetheart?" His mother asked.

"To Vancouver, I"m going to go to Vancouver then walk back to Calgary camping along the way."

"Uh, I don"t think so." Dan"s mother said very definitely."

"Oh, don"t be so harsh Hun, it sounds like fun, who are you taking?" Dan"s dad interrupted.

"Well no one." Dan said then quickly saved himself, "It"s a youth group program that I signed up for (Dan left out the internet part) we all camp as a group and hopefully I"ll meet some new people."

"But you don"t belong to a youth group." His mother said.

"It"s Beau"s youth group, he doesn"t want to go on the trip so he asked if I"d like to go in his place." Dan lied through his teeth and desperately prayed that his parents wouldn"t do their research.

"That"s strange that Beau doesn"t want to go, did he say why?"

"Umm no, he just didn"t want to I guess."

"Why do you suddenly want to do this, you"ve never really been an outdoorsy kid." Dan"s dad asked.

"Sure I have, I used to really love camping and I was really good at it, we just haven"t gone for a long time. I just think it"ll be fun, and I"ve given it a lot of thought."

"What kind of equipment will you need?" His dad asked and in that instant Dan knew he had won.

"They said we need to bring all our own gear and we have to carry it ourselves."

"Wow, that"s a lot of work, are you sure about this?"

"Oh yeah dad, I know I can do it."

"Okay well go out to the garage and pull out the camping stuff."

"Hang on a sec." Dan"s mom broke in. "Frank, we haven"t agreed."

"Janet he"s 18 years old, we don"t have to. What we do have to do is support him in his decisions. And besides this will be a good life experience for him. Go get out the stuff Dan, I"ll talk to your mom."

Dan pushed his feet into his shoes and was out the door.

It had been a good three years since the family had gone on a camping trip. The big plastic box was underneath a tall pile of various garage related things and Dan had to move a lot of stuff out of the way to get at it.

He spilled out the box on the floor; pots, pans, camping stove, lantern, fuel, soap, kettle, big plastic water jug, water proof matchbox, plastic tarp, tent. The sleeping bags were hanging from the roof. Dan got out the ladder and got down his sleeping bag but as he did he noticed a dusty black camping backpack hanging in the rafters above the sleeping bags. He climbed all the way up the ladder and pulled it down to examine it.

"I see you found everything." His dad"s soft voice came from the doorway.

"Oh, hey dad. Yeah I think I"ve found everything." Dan said as his dad walked over to the old camping stove and began examining it.

"When I was your age I was really into skiing but my dad couldn"t afford it. The winter after I finished high school Tom told me he"d found a job for both of us as chairlift operators at Lake Louise. His parents wouldn"t drive him, his dad used to say that skiing was an elitist sport and he wouldn"t have anything to do with it. My dad"s car would never have made the trip so Tom and I pooled our money and bought backpacks and some supplies and we walked. Well I gotta say, it was colder than the heart of my first girlfriend. We got a hitchhike from Canmore to Banff from a really really creepy man who scared the hell out of us but we got there, and spent the winter working at the resort. I learned a lot about myself and about life and I met people that I would be very close friends with for years. Well anyway, I"m sure none of this is really important to you now, but what I"m trying to tell you is that I realize why you want to make a journey of your own. Now I managed to get your mother to let you go but I want to tell you Dan, please be careful, there are a lot of dangers between here and there and I just want you to watch yourself because I love you and I don"t want you to get hurt. And second, have fun no matter how hard it gets. This won"t be easy all the time but there will be moments I"m sure when there won"t be a place in the world you"d want to be more. And I know you will come back an even better person then you are now for it." Dan"s dad got up and looked down at all the camping stuff lying around. "You may take anything you see here with you, but if there is anything else you need then I suggest you buy it yourself." He said and left.

Dan fooled around with the camping stove for a while and even got it lit. Then he looked inside the big camping backpack and found some interesting stuff; a compass, a survival knife and a worn photo. Dan read the caption on the back before studying the image. 'Tom and Frank, Lake Louise, Feb 2nd/1972." Dan studied the image closely; one boy was definitely his dad. The other boy was a younger version of Tom whom Dan knew as 'uncle" Tom. They were dressed in heavy coats, toques, gloves, and boots. The lake was in the background and frozen over and the sky was harshly blue. The picture must have been taken just in front of the Château Lake Louise. They were grinning at the camera and standing close. Dan studied the image and noticed that they were also holding hands. He considered this aberration for a moment then put away the picture.

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