“The biggest adventure you can take is to live the life of your dreams.” (Oprah Winfrey)
As our latest road trip saga unfolds, I’m deeply honored with the privilege of bringing back to life four heroes that I admire from the past. (See last week’s blog.) If only I could follow all of them back into that sacred place amid that blue mist cloud where they came from. But I must confess what you already know that each of them come to me each day and night as mere imaginative daydreams when I most need their advice. Nonetheless, it’s quite useful to me that I proceed with my story of this fantasy road trip by bringing to light that first road trip instance in which full awareness of their “living spirit” weighed heavily on my mind.
FIRESTORM FURY SUBDUED
Ruth and and do not consider ourselves as experienced outdoor adventurists coming from a lifestyle of suburban ease in South Florida. But in recognizing the genius of each new member of our “All Star” road trip team, the “roughing it” option seemed much more practical on this particular adventure. For we would be forced to survive by facing a major catastrophe in the rugged mountainous region of Central Colorado. The story starts then with Mr. Thoreau most in mind. For his past legacy of embracing aloneness amid simple living conditions at Walden Pond definitely influenced me to proceed with a particularly challenging Colorado “leg”of our U.S. tour. But would our group find Thoreau’s solitude during our extended stay in a modest cabin on arid valley land below the steep Rocky Mountains?
Yet none of us could have imagined the intense feeling of losing control in knowing that a massive wildfire would rapidly spread from the west to likely engulf the entire town of Grandy Lake where we planned to stay nearby. For on this Sunday afternoon in early October, we arrived with positive impressions formed by clear blue skies, a gentle breeze and fresh mountain air. So with such optimism resonating on that first night, we sat contentedly around a warm campfire, clowning around with the ever impulsive Mr. Morrison. For he screamed for us to sing together with him “The Doors” lyrics to ,“Light My Fire”, “The End” and many other somewhat raunchy worded compositions.
However, within two days of our weekend arrival, those “Light My Fire” lyrics would foreshadow a more ominous fate for us as the wind picked up accompanied by a thick cloud of black smoke hanging low in the western sky. Only Mr. Monet with his desire to paint shades of light and color could find the urge to linger outside our cabin now. For he took full advantage of the surrounding smoky mist and now reddish blaze to paint his latest “Impressionistic” canvasses of this encroaching wildfire disaster. The rest of us wisely stayed indoors during this tense time in order to dodge the burning sensations in our eyes we felt outside as the fires continued to come closer.
In early evening that Tuesday we got some not so unexpected news on the television. For a new state decree now ordered all Grandy Lake area residents to evacuate the affected fire spread area within 24 hours Given that our cabin lay directly in the projected path of the approaching wildfire, our group would have no choice but to do the same. So Mr. Gandhi, the long suffering activist of our group, now wished to lead our group to town as volunteers, so we could assist in the evacuation efforts. At the same time, Mrs. USFMAN began a telephone search several mile south of the expected fire danger areas to find the cheapest available lodging for us to relocate. As for me, I took on the task of arranging proper reimbursement by our rental cabin owner for our shorter stay expected. That left Mr. Morrison, Mr. Thoreau, and Mr. Monet the important task of gathering our most valuable safekeepings and storing them in the car.
Having found a suitable motel five miles south of our cabin site, the patient one, Mr. Gandhi saw good reason to revise his original volunteer plan. For he now strongly urged all of us other than himself to leave immediately. However, he also stressed that he would behind to assist any evacuating families he met on the short trek to town. It surprised us then to hear that Mr. Gandhi insisted that he would end his daring self- sacrifice by walking back alone to our new location ten miles south. Such a risk- filled escapade thrilled Mr, Morrison as well, who now fervently expressed the desire to see hot flames on wood up close. So when our wild rock star immediately offered to to join Mahatma then , I of course as team leader assertively told him no.
So our humble India crusader, taking only his loincloth and cane turned right toward the approaching fires in a slow walk toward Grandy Lake. Meanwhile the rest of finished piling in what we could in the car, fully committed to head the opposite way. Notably, however, it was Mr. Thoreau, not Mr. Gandhi, who stood out most prominently as a leader then. For as he forcefully quoted his dear friend Ralph Waldo Emerson taken from his essay “Self Reliance” as we loaded the car, we clearly got his message. Nothing should stop us from taking this responsible action to evacuate now! Of course that meant prioritizing we save Monet’s priceless paintings, Morrison’s prized guitar, Thoreau’s handy array of survival tools, and both for my wife and me, our delicate electronic devices.
But then our group’s doomed fate suddenly turned brighter as a fortuitous shift in the winds overnight would spare the region of Grandy Lake from imminent disaster. Mahatma would be jubilantly welcomed back to our group as a “larger than life” hero once again at our new temporary home. Yet the new reality for our four historic heroes at this moment defined each of them then not as prophets, patriots, or persuasive crusaders of past times on this day. For they’d bonded together as mere mortal, road trip travelers, working hard in the present for the survival of themselves and betterment of humankind.