Roughly. Roughly 93 million miles away from where I stand, a steady stream of photons were ejected from a gigantic plasmic orb and traveled at light speed for nearly eight and half minutes only to collide with the dried prehistoric lakebed laden with shattered and crushed gypsum and granite. I look on, towards the horizon, and watch. Eight minutes ago the sun was where I see it now. Eight minutes have passed before more energy than the world could ever use traveled through space and illuminated the living world through its visible spectrum of waves. So much could happen in just eight minutes, yet I am reminded by the dried oyster shells below my feet that it’s all less than a blink.
We are nothing in the the folds of time. History might not even think to remember the last fifty years a millennia from now. Why would it? What have we done to amount to more than a memory?
But as I stand, firm footed on the earth listening to my two oldest boys stir in the early morning hours, I realize something. The thought washes over me like the chilled waters of a brook, both suddenly shocking yet soothing. Though we may be just flashes of bouncing photons for the briefest of moments in the history of everything, the only true value of any of this time is found here. Now. With the people we care about. The people we love. And quite frankly, I think to myself, I don’t care about a thousand years from now.
I mean to leave my mark not in history, but in hearts. For now, just the little hearts waking only eight feet off the ground in our CVT Tent. They’ll be fully awake soon. I remember I was about their age when I started to remember fond moments with my father. Of course, he’s here too, so those memories continue. He’s just come down from his own CVT and it’s time to start camp back up. The desert is cold at night and the cold likes to linger long into the morning.
The ancient floor bears no wood for us. Nothing grows here but small flowers and sage. We carry in what we need. Fallen pine once left blocking a road is our fuel, but it still must be split.
We’ve fallen in love with travel as a family. So much so that I’ve dedicated an entire vehicle to improving and extending it. And with that vehicle, a small arsenal of supplies and tools. Most recently, HART has joined the family as a sponsor, filling our camp boxes and adorning my roof rack. Everything we need for camp. A mini mattock to dig the fire pit and help level the ground. A club hammer to set our stakes. The axe and maul to split our wood as well as the small sledge to drive them though a stubborn knotted piece of timber. Even Some Boy’s pocket is adorned with his first very own little HART knife meant for nothing more here, really, than status. The status of being almost five and the oldest brother.
CRACK! The beveled edge of the axe blade suddenly sets itself into the once smooth face of the chopping block. A fourteen inch segment of pine has become two as Opa has taken on the duty of preparing the fire wood. The cold will not linger long as he makes quick work of the arbor.
Even the knotted wood stands no chance as Opa sets to it with the three pound club of forged steel. I watch and notice a visible sense of satisfaction on my father’s face as he works his way through the wood like a smith. Like us, it’s not going anywhere and its fate is sealed. CLANK CLANK CLANK!!! Well…its fate is split.
The boys are up and the day has officially begun. Like the eucalyptus leave to the koala, milk has seemingly become Sidekick’s primary diet. The rest of us enjoy sausage and coffee. There’s not much time for more as we have some exploring to do. We may not be a lasting memory for the chronicles of time, but there are sediment lines to read in the canyons ahead. We set off and deliberately remind ourselves just how small we are.
Alone we travel, two hundred feet below what used to be solid ground.
Though low we may be, rocks have been elevated to the status of treasure. Abundant and never ending treasure.
Of course, there is no need to put the toilet seat down here. Everywhere is meant to be explored.
Just a few more degrees of the earth’s rotation and the last eight minutes of light will be upon us. The darkness is on its way, returning with its companion; the cold. But we have a HART for the darkness. CRACK! CRACK! The sound is cast off into the void surrounding us with nothing to echo it back. It is shortly after followed by the crackling of pine fibers and wood moisture snapping to the heat of flame. The darkness and cold must occupy a different space.
Another day is done. I’ve set my stake in the history that matters. The minds of my sons. Something for them to look back on and enjoy. Something for them to come back to and repeat in their own time.