When I was a young boy my parents sent me each summer on a Grey Hound Bus to my aunt and uncles farm on the McKinsey River in Oregon. The adventures I experienced with my cousins during those annual visits implanted indelible memories that contributed in many ways to who I am today. I not only grew to love the country, but I learned that some of the greatest fun in life comes from innovative imagination and is most often free. I remember building long tunneled mazes in their hay loft, rope swings that launched us far out into the swimming lagoon and surfing the McKinsey River on a piece of discarded plywood tied to a long rope anchored at the head of rapids. Most of the things we considered to be fun had an element of danger and required at least a triple dog dare to attempt. The best adventures we had were motivated by a desire to avoid what could have otherwise been a non-eventful status quo summer and none of them cost money. I learned then that the best fun is homemade.
Last weekend I was reminded of how much fun “homemade fun” can be. A bunch of Brook’s friends from his work at REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) came out to Timber Butte to celebrate his birthday and construct an Evel Knievel type bicycle ramp that projectiled them high into the air and far out into our irrigation pond where they crash landed. Because it is still early spring up here the days are cool and breezy and the water temperature is still barely above freezing. They built a large bond fire at the edge of the water for those who took the jump, but I think it was more the adrenaline rushes and the constant yells and laughter that provided the greatest warmth. Nancy fed everyone a huge meal and I served as the sports photographer claiming that my life insurance didn’t have a clause for such craziness for men over sixty. I’m not too sure who enjoyed the day more – Brook and his friends or me as my old childhood memories on the Mc Kinsey River were rekindled.