Nothing beats a summer adventure

By Geoff Lee

May 30, 2018 12:41 PM

Just about everyone’s had a most memorable summer adventure or outing.
For some people that could mean anything from a trip of a lifetime or participating in a an athletic or cultural event to a personal or spiritual journey of sorts.
One of the most memorable adventures for me came in the summer of 1973 when I hitchhiked about 10,000 miles before my first year of journalism at Ryerson in Toronto.
With barely $100 in my pocket I thumbed from Toronto or T.O. as our generation called it, to a deserted beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island that would later become Pacific Rim National Park.
After a week of semi naked hippie living where it seemed to rain every day, I pulled up stakes and hopped on a ferry to Prince Rupert.
Onboard I connected with a “far out” dental hygienist from L.A. who kept singing Paul Simon’s, Moma Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away as we made our way to Alaska on the dirt highway of the day.
Somewhere north of Liard Hot Springs, we got picked up by a Michigan dude in a Volkswagen who bought himself a leaky boat in Dawson to float down the Yukon River by his lonesome.
His favourite song was Moon Shadow by Cat Stevens.
He gave his car keys to me and my L.A. friend so we drove to Eagle Alaska the oldest town in the state.
By then I had about $5 to my name and she had eyes for someone else.
When Michigan man made it downstream, I convinced him to give me his car and I would meet him at that same hippie beach I liked on Vancouver Island.
He had planned to ferry it to Seattle at much cost so he gave me gas money and his trust as well. When he caught up with me on the island, it was like one of those movie re-connection moments with slow motion running and high fives.
That summer, the radio also started playing John Denver’s, Leaving on a Jet Plane which in retrospect signalled the end of the hippie era when everyone was going back to school or getting a job or a hair cut.
Before it was all over, I met a nice French Canadian girl on the island and we hitchhiked to Jasper then all the way to her place in Quebec city and she came and visited me when I started school.
Michigan man also drove up that fall to meet me at my parents house and confirm our shared stories.
The lady from L.A. even wrote me a couple of nice letters that I still have, putting that final summer of freedom at the top my adventure list.
My bucket list trip is just to walk all the way to the top of the mountain in Peru to see Machu Picchu.
But if that doesn’t happen, the memories from the summer of 1973 will carry me through.

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