I spent the last 20 minutes wrangling with a post of photos and captions that did not want to line up properly. And finally said fuck it and deleted the whole thing. Instead of photos, words.
This is probably the last epic road trip I will make with my son for a long time, and certainly the last one of this nature, when he's still a kid--an almost-17 kid, but kid nonetheless--and there are a few vestiges yet of him looking to me to show the way. After two weeks and the long drive home looming in just a few days, we have simultaneously been gone forever and only just left.
Planning this trip I thought it would be mostly camping and fishing, with college visits the official excuse for taking three weeks of vacation to traipse across the Pacific Northwest. It hasn't quite turned out that way, with far more hotels and sushi bars than tents and wriggling silver fins and scales on the end of a line, but that's okay. He's not the dirt-rolled camping critter he was when he was five, and my aching shoulder is probably better off for having spent more nights on a bed than on a Thermarest. We never had much luck catching fish anyway, and our tortillas got soaked, so...
So we drive from city to city, mostly me behind the wheel but sometimes him as I clutch the armrest and try to keep my voice modulated. We take scenic routes when we come across them, the slow meander through the redwoods and the waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge making up for the scuttled plans of camping on the Oregon coast, his unmasked wonder at the giant trees and quiet, impossibly green moss-draped rocks and rushing streams bringing me a deep satisfaction and pride. I am glad he has seen these things and found them beautiful. I am glad it was with me. Even though the larger waterfalls themselves were crowded with other tourists, we somehow managed to be the only car on the roads between them, allowing a slow, solitary exploration unintruded by other people.
He plucks a long strand of grass from the rock and pokes it into my ear as we walk up the trail and says nature fight! and grins.
Magic moments are hard to come by. I'll take these.