Monday, October 30, 2017

The Into the Wild Bus

Last summer my travel buddy and I were approached by two young men at a rest area in central Oregon.  They were good looking, but dirty and barefoot.  One of them asked politely if he could borrow my cell phone.

"What happened?"  I asked.  "Did you lose yours?"

"No, ma'am.  We don't believe in cell phones."

They went on to explain that they needed to contact someone in Bend who was selling a camping trailer.  One of them had a telephone number scrawled in the middle of his palm.

I handed him my phone.  Despite the fact they didn't believe in cell phones, this young man was obviously familiar with one.  He plugged in the number, spoke to the party, and then quickly brought up a map and plotted a route to the address.

He handed me back the phone and thanked me profusely.  We then watched them get into a shiny black Jaguar.

"Trustafarians," my travel buddy muttered.

Ah, youth.

We couldn't help talking about these two young Alexander Supertramp Wannabes when we saw Bus 142 parked outside the 49th State Brewing Company in Healy, Alaska.  We had both read Jon Krakauer's 1996 book Into the Wild about Christopher McCandless and his two-year travel adventures, which sadly ended with his demise in the great Alaskan wilderness.  The bus we entered was a replica of that infamous original and used in the making of the film. 

But . . oh, how we could relate.  Having spent four months in an old Volkswagen van in Mexico in the early 80's we remember so well that feeling of Absolute Freedom.  Since there were no cell phones back then, we were completely incommunicado.  Our parents were worried, but resigned.  They were confident we would return.  My dad, especially, seemed to recognize our need to have one final revolt against the status quo before we entered the Age of Adulthood.
So as my travel buddy and I sat in the 49th State bar and had a beer, we couldn't help but wonder if Alexander Supertramp (as Chris called himself) had been able to cross that raging stream, would he have returned to Virginia and gone to law school?  And what about our trustafarian friends?  Did they indeed abandon dad's Jag for a ratty old trailer? 

We then toasted to youth and idealism.  

Thank goodness we survived it.


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