Every year we go to the Outer Banks for summer vacation. Every year we pass by the residence of the monster truck, The Gravedigger. Over the years, this place has morphed from quasi-trailer, to full-blown amusement park…with rides, a diner, shop, and everything else you would imagine a monster truck home would provide.
Every year I say to myself….THIS is the year we stop there and take a ride. Let’s jump the scrap piles they have laid out across the circular dirt track. And every year, we blow by it…got to get to the Southern Shores bridge before the crowds and traffic stops us up.
My entire life, I’ve been a “get from here to there as fast and efficiently as possible” type of guy. I’ve made it to the Outer Banks in 5 hours flat at night. And I’ve also left the Outer Banks at 6 in the morning and drove immediately to tailgate for a Ravens/Steelers game.
Bathroom breaks? Not a chance. Beef jerky stands? No. Mermaids? Headlights? (You Outer Banksians know what I’m talking about.) Bad timing.
And then you birth other humans. Kids. And bathroom breaks happen. And food needs to happen. And one time on the way home, orange juice vomit happened all over the back of the car. Not naming names here, but I’ve heard stories of diapers thrown out the window on exits due to bio-hazard meltdown/we need to keep going philosophy.
What used to be 5 hours flat and proud of it…. became six and a half if we were lucky. Goddamn it.
Several nights ago, I went and bought a fishing license. Let’s teach the girls to fish. Better than giving them a fish and having them not be able to feed me when I’m a drooling vegetable in a few years.
So we hiked through the Loch Raven woods…down to the waters edge. One rod…I thought I could hook the fish and then let the girls reel them in. But the trail led us to an area…where you looked up and saw about a dozen bobbers and hooks in the trees. We needed a more clear area so casting mistakes didn’t result in 30 minutes of daddy cursing and restringing the line/bait.
We came to a muddy pit. With logs and sticks over it. And I got an idea.
“Girls…this muddy pit here is quicksand. And if you don’t stay on the sticks or logs, you are going to sink in and we may not be able to get you out.” All of a sudden, it got serious. They bought it.
They started planning on where they were going to step…what if they didn’t make it to the other stick? What happens if they lose their balance? Death was breathing down their necks.
Luckily, everyone made it over the quicksand and we sauntered on to fish in a cove. That consisted of me casting a line and the girls getting their shoes wet near the waters edge and building sand/mud houses. Oh, and then having to pee, which consisted of my better half yelling, “Oh God no!!!…Oh God she’s wetting all over her pants and shoes over here.”
With zero bites and a slightly sub-optimal pee situation on our hands, we decide to release the rest of our worms back into the wild and trek uphill to the car. But first…we had to traverse the quicksand pit again.
The girls were less than optimistic. “Daddy, I don’t believe in myself!” “What if we miss a branch???” It’s going to be okay….I’ll go first and pull you across. See, other folks are coming down to fish and they will cross it and be okay.
Needless to say, everyone survived with all limbs in tact.
But as I walked up the trail, back to the car, I thought to myself…
The objective of this excursion was to fish. Hook fish and let the girls reel them in. Feel the fight of those 6 ounce sunfish on the end of the line. Kiss the fish before we throw them back into the water.
We caught nothing. Not even close. But the girls had a great time. Wet feet. Wet pants (at least for one of them), mud everywhere. And I started to realize…sometimes it is the journey, not the destination. Sometimes even when you don’t come close to what you set out to achieve, you end up achieving much more.