Paris Goodnight: The mind of an adventurer, not the heart and soul

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 19, 2023

It’s easier to have the mind of an adventurer than to take on the heart and soul of one, like those who would climb Mount Everest or try some other personal challenge. Our own David Freeze, off and running again on his goal to touch base in all 100 counties of the state at some point,  is moving along with his latest trek.

He’s the type who would venture out on a biking route that took him across the country or on roads through Canada and the Yukon Territory, where bears were known to roam.

My own adventures only include little snippets of such activity, like biking around Rowan County’s back roads or spending a few nights hiking along parts of the Appalachian Trail. You may even find me in a tent out in the woods beyond my backyard if you come by at just the right time. That would be while the missus is away because she says the neighbors might talk if they see such a thing while she’s around.

So even when the temperatures drop like they did recently and the local students and school staff members were enjoying their spring break, I was venturing off to the hunkin’ achin’ woods, as one of the Goodnight kids used to call Chistopher Robin’s playground of 100 acre woods in the Winnie-the-Pooh tales.

The campfire roared as the sun went down too, which is one of my favorite pastimes, though the smoke of those distant fires also does not agree with my wife if she gets even a whiff of such when I come back inside. Don’t even mention the cigar smoke that might accompany such activities. Or the cold drink or two out there.

If you’ve ever had the pleasure of trying to build a fire with wet wood after a long rain, you know that’s not the easiest task for someone who isn’t skilled in such outdoor activities. I’m sure everyone from the cavemen on got a little better at it by doing it more often, especially when that was more of a necessity. But if you’re just a weekend warrior, or a camp counselor type, trying to do get the flames going  from scratch can bring you to your knees.

Once when I was in charge of a group of campers up in the mountains of North Carolina, I failed at my task of getting the fire started and was crushed since the young folks would not be able to cook the meals we had planned for our overnight outing. They didn’t seem to mind though, since they got to enjoy the smores supplies raw, and they really didn’t even notice I had been trying for what seemed like hours to get that fire started. My volunteer co-counselor pointed out that I was basically putting all that pressure on myself.

I was basically doing the same thing this most recent time when I tried to get the fire going, and the more I tried, the less it wanted to cooperate. Plenty of accelerants were around if I chose to use them, but of course that wouldn’t be part of the He-Man code I was trying to adhere too. Some might even frown upon the use of old newspaper as a fire starter. But that’s usually my standard, and I won’t go so far as to require flint and steel to create the first spark. But I really was about to give up and had only one last sheet of newspaper — when, poof, the fire took off like it was supposed to and never died down again until I was ready to head off to bed.

That was a good feeling.

And the cold air was no problem with a dog or two along in the tent to help me stay warm. It was nowhere near being a three dog night, which I have been known to sneak out to enjoy when I get the chance. No, this was only cold enough to be a two-dog night, and we had an extra one around from the in-laws. I’m not sure the little ball of fur was quite sure what was going on being outside as the wind blew and the mercury dropped. But I’d say she handled it like a pro, as did our own dog, who has gotten used to such late-night activities. He actually seems to enjoy trotting outside and hops right in the tent opening when it’s time to settle down for the night.

Neither of them seemed to be bothered by other dogs barking in the distance or the occasional rooster crowing as it got a little closer to daylight. Now the winds blowing the rain flap around did have them a little uneasy, or maybe that was just me wondering if the big box store’s tent bought on the clearance aisle was going to keep me dry as the rains rolled in.

I must say it worked like a charm, as did the hand-pump air mattress that my daughter supplied after hearing my laments of not having the same gear as one of my old hiking buddies. He figured years ago out that was a necessity and convinced me of just the same as my bones and joints get a little older — it seems they just don’t tolerate the rocks and roots underneath as easily as they once did.

Paris Goodnight is editor of the Salisbury Post.