Sunday, October 25, 2009


I have a four day off weekend coming up and I thought I would collect some of my old camping gear for the paddle down Calderwood Lake to my favorite camping spot. This time I want to take some comforts along in the way of cooking items, stove and even coffee. I want the camp out to be a "no rush", easy going, laid back experience. As I rummaged among the old broken boxes filled with stuff; I came upon a cardboard box full of pictures. Pictures were housed in frail paper envelopes, cardboard pouches and many were laying loose in the box as a result of no less than eight residential moves. They were covered with a thick layer of dust. I pulled out a group of photos held together with the standard drug store plastic spiral keeper that fits into notches cut into each photo. The photo's were of my friend Terry and me when we toured Northern Pennsylvania on bicycles. Oh the memories! Terry was my outdoor buddy. We back packed and bicycled together every week. We sort of lost touch when he moved West to Colorado. Distance will do that. The bulk of the photos pertained to uncountable trips by motorcycle to all points of the country. The photos referred to areas from British Colombia to every National Park in the United States. I put a lot of miles on motorcycles in my life. Pictures of friends and all the different motorcycles I have owned are in the box. Fly fishing and camping trips forgotten are captured vividly on film and await my attention. I know of another box containing over three thousand slides of motorcycle trips West. At one point in my life I would head West on the bike and never used a road map. I knew the roads well. Now days I walk into a room and forget why I went there. I guess it's an age thing. But, I found some camping items that would be useful for the overnight stay on the lake this coming weekend. I even found an old blue pot that I carried on a back pack trip in the Winter with Terry. It snowed so hard we couldn't find our tents that night. The old pot was used to boil water for our coffee. I will take it on this trip. It will boil water for oatmeal in the morning. Oatmeal and honey; can't beat it. I did order a peculating coffee pot earlier this evening. I have a liking for hot coffee in the morning when camping and desire the convenience of just putting the coffee in the strainer and heating. Then I saw a another rather large box. In it was one of my old Colman oil lamps. I had two of these but I can't lay my hands on the second one. This one looks in great shape. Ok; I'll take it too. And then I saw something that made me think about times long, long past. There in the box lay my old Bushnell binoculars. My dad bought them for me when I was eighteen years old for a birthday present. Oh, they aren't much by today's standards. They are of the 7 x 35 variety and have proved useful through the years. When I returned home on leave from advanced infantry training before shipping out to Vietnam; dad asked me if I packed away the binoculars he got me. I didn't, but told him thanks for reminding me of them. He said "they might come in handy for you over there." Actually, I know he didn't really mean that. He wanted me to have something personal from himself to go with me. I didn't figure that out until I was older and he was gone. They did serve me well. I carried them through Vietnam and used them often. They show the dents and nicks of much usage. The case was covered in mildew which I cleaned off tonight. The scratches are many but the binoculars still work perfectly. I have had others over the years that have been more powerful and of better quality, but none have had the character that this pair have.
Beside the binoculars lay a knife. It was an exact replica of the knife that was issued by Special Observations Group (SOG) when I was in country. I carried the knife religiously. Funny to think back and remember putting ones pants on and threading the pants web belt through a knife sheath on a daily basis. I don't remember what happened to the military issue knife I used to carry. Maybe I turned it in with the 45 caliber Colt 1911 A1. I just don't remember. But I did order a new knife that is an exact copy of the one I had and it also, is military issue.
It is a wicked looking thing and exact down to the lanyard in the hilt. This knife is razor sharp and will cut flesh simply by laying the edge against the palm and slowly drawing it across with absolutely no more pressure on the blade other than it's own weight. And last but not least I saw my old Timberline folding knife. I thought I had lost it in all my moves from one dwelling to another. This knife will now go with me everywhere. It is an absolute beauty. The knife was bought in the early eighties. It is extremely light weight and is a pleasure to carry. It's condition is new and it, like it's wicked sister, is razor sharp. What a find! I believe this is the knife I carried the day Terry and I were fly fishing in Northern Pennsylvania on motorcycles in the mid eighties. He brought the fly rod forward after a back cast and the fly hook caught in his rear end through his blue jeans. I howled! Yes; I have pictures of that little episode also. It was one of the funniest moments I can remember. Lots of memories. Some good and some bad. But, most are good. Friends have come and friends have gone. Some have moved away and some have passed on to the better life. Memories; they become more important the older one gets. No; I take that back. They are not just important but necessary. For without memories life would be shallow. What is the purpose of life? It is to collect memories. Memories are what makes getting old tolerable. Think about it. Until next time; don't forget our canine friends.