I have a vague memory of it being my birthday in Australia at some point when the skies were bright orange. Beautiful, but outside it was so unpleasant to breathe that you couldn't fully enjoy it. I also remember driving along the highways and seeing fire literally burning trees at the side of the road. Weird sight, but just part of the circle of life i suppose.
Growing up in places where forest fires are relatively common i have often found it a bit uncomfortable when people treat campfires like they're just a bit of fun. You want fun? Bring a sound system. You want to cook? Use a gas stove, bro. It's been drilled into me since childhood that you should pretty much never light an open fire, not unless you're legitimately at risk of hypothermia. I've still spent plenty of time around the fire at outdoor parties, but every stray spark tends to make me nervous. It's not as relaxing for me as it seems to be for others.
Anyway, a couple days back i took a walk along the riverbank. There are some riverside parks here, but a lot of the riverbank is a strange no man's land. I think in the spring it will be full up with meltwater so probably you can't walk it, but this time of year there are beaches and vegetation for miles. Lots of people are sleeping rough out there.
I was walking along a trail while a guy frantically scuttled along in the bushes beside me. He jumped out and yelled "why the fuck do people keep stealing my tent?" I said i was sorry and that that sucked. He grumbled some more then disappeared off under the next bridge.
You have to be a real shitheel to steal a homeless person's tent. A lot of these guys leave their tent and clothes bundled up under a bush while they head into town to panhandle or dumpster dive or charge their electronics. If you're not homeless, then you are truly an asshat for shitting on people with less than you. And if you are homeless, then you should fucking know better. Steal from the rich, motherfuckers, not the poor.
Anyway, the nice thing is if you walk along and find a vacant clearing, you can just sit down there and drink booze and smoke cigarettes and no cops or busybodies will walk by to make your life miserable.
It's fun to lounge there and watch the world go by. Sunbathers on the opposite shore. Dickheads on jetskis. Woodpeckers in the trees. These little guys scampering about.
I squatted down by the water to look at the haze from the smoke gathering in the distance. I must have been there a while because a girl called out from the bushes asking if i was alright. I said i was okay. There is some kind of community amongst the punks that live on the edge. One enterprising crew had built a large wigwam. A couple downriver were knee-deep in the water, washing their clothes.
Not sure i'd want to sleep rough myself, despite it being an epic moneysaver when you are traveling. Especially in Canada i'm a bit worried about bears, although this close to town it might be okay. The other worry is assholes with weapons, probably the same assholes who steal people's tents.
I walked back home along the railyard and saw a rider sneak through a hole in the fence to hop a train, maybe out east to Revelstoke, or west to Vancouver. I hope he went east, given how bad the smoke is here and on the coast right now.
I would like to hop a train one day. Apparently most of the time you are very cold, very dirty, probably also low on water and either worried they'll unhook you in the middle of nowhere or terrified of being spotted and arrested. But in the in-between moments, traveling all alone with wind in your hair, through countryside where there's literally nothing for miles around, i think that would be a nice emotion to experience. Bucket list stuff.
For now, though, i am holed up in a house with a yard and a truck.
It's that weird period before it gets too cold to do anything, where you kind of want to go out and enjoy what's left of the good weather. Soon every time i step outside i'll get wet socks that will take days to dry. But also i feel like since i am paying rent here it's a waste of money to travel somewhere else, even just for a weekend. And this fucking virus, man, it's still not gone away. If it wasn't here, perhaps i'd be on the road. America is a scary place with all the gun nuts around and the woeful healthcare system, but it's still a beautiful country and i know there are some warm and happy corners to spend the winter.
Alas, still got virus, so i am hunkering down. I'm most worried about getting tempted back to work, as headhunters continually ping me on LinkedIn and other industry sites. I wonder if i should update my status to indicate that i am legit on sabbatical? Fully cut the cord. That would make it really real.