I mentioned a while ago Jeniqua was the one who brought me to nature. Had it not been for her, I would not be doing this right now...she got the ball rolling. Let me tell you who I was before her. I remember it like it was yesterday... *Fill screen with white wavy lines indicating flashback sequence*
I grew up mainly with three sets of toys, K’nex, Legos, and a farm set. Oh, and there was the train track but that was almost always with the farm set. Pretty much every weekend I would play McDonalds in the upstairs hallway with my younger sister. When not playing that I would build with K’nex and Legos. K’nex almost always became a steerable car or amusement park rides. Legos were guaranteed to become a weather station. I remember that usually the most pride out of the weather station was not that it was two stories, but that the motor that ran the satellite dish actually had a passive heat duct built into housing. All three toy sets would then merge on the top bunk of the futon I had in my room, while I slept on the couch due to a fear of heights and rolling off something so high.
This pretty much summed up every weekend in elementary, middle and high school, at least until we got the family computer at which computer games also got included. I still think the Christmas gift of Flight Simulator 2002 was a ploy by my parents to get over my fear of flying, which did work and is still an awesome game. My first laptop resulted in lots of cities being made in Sim City, lots of flights in FS2002, empires concored with Civilization 2, and trying to see if Intelligent Qube and Crash Bandicoot from the PlayStation would work on my laptop. My time on my laptop and the family computer is why I know so much about them now...I liked to experiment and break things, then hopefully fix them before the parents got home.
When it rainned outside I would go outside after it was done and use sticks to change the flow of water going down the driveway behind the house, or move puddles in the pasture using the rubber boots I had on and squishing the ground. Sometimes we would build bonfires or I would ride my bike into a cement wall (pre-teen and teen years...also how I learned how to ride and use the rear brake not the front). Sometimes we would head to the ravine behind our house, a forth mile away (I love Iowa, everything is so grid like), and go on a walk or sledding.
One of my favorite places of “where the dead cars are” ravine was the large hole in the ground where the water in the ravine would drain into the neighbors land. It was a six foot diameter L shaped metal tube that went down then under the fence. There was always the worry when sledding we would get swallowed up in it like my closet once did (thanks mom for getting us out) and be trapped forever. Yet, other than the spring pit out there, I didn’t really care about the natural parts of the ravine. Heck I cared so little I spell it revene, which spellcheck says its wrong so I go to reveane. Time to look up words similar to vally (which adds another step since its really valley) in order to get ravine, which odd since I say it revenue.
Anyways, dad would sometimes ask me if I wanted to go to “where the dead cars are” or somewhere else for a walk. I could tell he was disappointed but I didn’t really care about going on some boring walk exploring nature...Train Simulator is more interesting...each tree is six flat services rotated 45° from each other so no mater which angle you look at it looks full. Great way to be pseudo 3-D and use less processing power. No, figuring out how they programmed this game is way more intresting.
Then I met Jeniqua. We met part way through our fall freshman year. She was an outdoor nerd, I was a computer nerd. A perfect contradiction. We became friends and she got me to enjoy the outdoors. In the mornings we would go on a walk either in the ravine or ravine or ravine. When your college is surrounded on three sides by a ravine, its where you go to explore. I just now released that gives a little more meaning to the Jurassic Park gates the college installed. I remember the end of my freshman year, mom was driving me home and looking in the ditch at purple flowers would remind me of her. Nature had become not just intresting, but with meaning to other parts of my life.
In our junior year of college we went camping twice. The first time was just to Washburn and was a trial for an epic adventure to Canada! I believe the socially correct phase for describing the trip is “OMG so AWSOME!” On one night, we hiked to the top of a mountain to watch the sun set, went back down to have dinner and stare at the stars (must be what staring is all about, they both start with star) then slept until 4 am before hiking back up the mountain for pancakes and watch the sunrise.
Before this I didn’t go camping at all but these two adventures started it for me. In fact, both that summer, and the summer after I went back to Washburn to camp, and hopefully see loons. Oddly enough to get there its 16 miles. Sound familiar? Yes, I biked out there and back too. And, unlike what I am doing now, everything I had to camp with was attached onto my bike. Fairly minimalistic, just sleeping bag, pad, tent and JUST enough food to last, and off course my camera. If it had not been for those spring and summer trips, I would be currently living on campus, spending 300$ per month and having my pots and pans stolen like last year.
Thank you Jeniqua!
From the guy with his eye on the sky, Travis...The Camping Lifeguard