The Excuse

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There was a time when going climbing for a day, as an example, was just the excuse we used to hang out with our friends.  Mike coined that one, but he was right.

Just the excuse. We - my friends and I - took it upon ourselves to lace up those insanely tight rubber shoes that cost us at least a hundred bucks a pair, flail around on a rope attached to some bizarre mound of desert granite nowhere near civilization, destroy the skin on our hands and arms by hoisting our bodies up the rock using the cracks and crevices of said mound, and sit atop just to munch on jerky and Red Bull and prod each other for who's turn it was to rappel off some 25-year-old rusty anchor first.  We'd come home with sunburns, bad breath, sore muscles, and damn good memories.

Like that time Russ and I drove out to Oak Flat campground to camp on a Friday night so we could embark on the long approach hike in the morning and have a full day of making fools of ourselves on an Apache Leap climbing route.  I remember little about the climbs.  I remember mostly the night we spent in the campground, too climb-crazy to bring a tent because it'd require too much time in the morning to break it down.  We chose instead to sleep on the picnic tables.  It had to be 40 degrees, and neither of us could sleep. So we had an entire converstation by quoting David Wilcox songs well past midnight.

Now that I have a daughter, one whom I enjoy taking on trips, I often feel like I need to authorize what we do by asking, "Am I needlessly dragging her on one of my escapades?"  You know, like I need to check to make sure I'm not just strapping her into the backseat and forcing her to sleep outside for a few nights, eat meals solely cooked on an open flame, and brave the wind and cold.

The funky thing is she likes it. She often wakes up from a nap at home and says crap like, "Papa open the tent."  She equates our roof top tent with fun.  She wants me to go pull the truck out of the garage and flip open the Eezi-Awn in the driveway so she can climb up and just hang out.  Seriously, when people ask us if we're ready for another baby, I'm like, "Hellooooooo, this one's perfect.  Let's not screw it up."

It's not all perfect actually.

Still, this kid loves to get outside and check out the world.  She wasn't quite two years old when we went down to Cochise Stronghold and located a really cool campsite among giant granite boulders.  Chloe was far too small and new at walking to handle hopping on the boulders like her older cousin did. But she went for it anyway, oblivious to the dire consequences of a fall.  Oblivious to the heart conditions her parents contracted keeping an eye (and hand) on her.

I keep my fingers crossed that when I'm old and breaking down she'll come take me out for a trip of our own - let's say a road trip to the Yucatan peninsula - and we won't say it aloud, ever, but we'll smirk from the corners of our mouths and know that all these trips and adventures over our lifetime was just an excuse to hang out with each other.

 

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