This evening I was expecting to use my last bit of gas to warm up a can of soup for dinner. I expected to camp in a lonely spot along the trail. The river would be my host, I, its guest.
I disembarked from the CO trail at Paw Paw after a cataclysimic 30 minutes of technical disasters-- a flat tire, forgotten sun glasses, backtracking, iPod sucked into spokes, headphones destroyed, sun glasses lost, macbook battery cracked.
Paw Paw is a little town in West Virgina , with a 'Value Dollar' store. After loading up on my frayed equipment at disconcertingly low prices, I packed up my bike in the parking lot. Three kids were batting their new foam swords around beside me-- one bravely inquired where I was going.
Impetuously I told the truth. Its not that I normally lie. I just abbreviate. I don't want to get into a long story with every casual inquiry. Usually, I say "Washington-- the end of the CO trail". This time I said "Berlin". Something about that caught their and their father's attention. Graciously, just as they were pulling away, the father asked me if I wanted to stay the night at their place.
I don't really need a place to stay. I am not looking for it, nor wanting it. I am overjoyed at each night I camp in my tent along this beautiful trail. However, perhaps it is precisely that position of not wanting, that is drawing me so many kind and hospitable invitations. Just the other night I camped on the lawn on a beautiful home of a Cumberland PA family-- I was treated to a wonderful breakfast and a packed lunch. The night before, while eating at a restaurant in Connellsville, the man washing dishes in the back stopped to talk to me. He invited me to spend the night at his humble home.
Tonight, instead of my solitary soup, I've had a great BBQed dinner, a carefully poured Guiness, and the company of three rambunctious boys. Their father writes for the Washington Post and Playboy. The mother is the vice president of the World Wild Life Fund. They invited over two Russian artists and we set a big bond fire ablaze.
I couldn't make this up if I tried.
The stars and the velvet night sky are as lucid as in Smithers. We're surrounded by forest and the river flows nearby. The three kids cannot fathom how lucky they are. Tonight they camp out on the porch with their loving and spectacularly involved father.
Maybe one day they too will sit on a porch with a beer in hand, and realize how fortunate they were one summer long ago.