The Far Away Lands of Childhood Dreams

Sunlight streaming through the clouds onto a meadow

I took this photo last Fall, and it took me back to childhood and the adventures that seem kind of silly and naΓ―ve now.

We looked into the distance and saw the sun streaking through the clouds. The dust devils danced in front of the mountains. Our minds were filled with faraway kingdoms, dragons, and pirate adventures.

"Pete! Do you see that?" Billy would say. "It's a dragon guarding the treasure!"

"No!" Jim would answer, "It's a bunch of pirates burying treasure! We could sneak over there and see where they dig and get the gold for us."

"And how would pirates get here? There is no ocean." I was always the skeptical joy kill.

As the sound of them arguing became a dull roar in my ears, I'd look at the swirling dust, and my heart would pound. I'd wonder if any of that was true. I guess I knew it wasn't, but it sure would be fun to check it out just the same. The first hurdle, getting us and our stuff over or under the fence, and then it would be a breeze.

We bolt into the house to gather supplies for our trip. We grabbed sandwiches, soda, granola, and our backpacks. No adventurer worth his salt would leave without supplies for the dangerous quest.

"Hurry!" Billy said. "Before your Grandmother sees us. She'll never let us go, and she'll tell my mom."

"Then why aren't you whispering?" Jim asked.

I noticed Jim wasn't whispering either. There... Everything packed into the backpacks, and out the door, we flew. The screen door slammed behind us, and I got dirty looks, eye rolls, and sighs. Oh well, we made it outside undetected.

I tossed my backpack through the fence, and then I pulled myself between the posts. Jim, the show-off, jumped over the fence, backpack and all. I don't think he thought that one over long enough because he landed on his backpack. He looked like a turtle spinning around, trying to right itself. I pushed him over. "Thanks," he said.

Billy's turn. He was a little accident-prone, or maybe just careless. He tried pushing the backpack through the fence, but it was too puffy. "What did you put in there?" I asked.

"I put two of your blankets in it in case it gets cold out there."

"Cold? It's 80 degrees." I must have had a WTF look on my face because he turned red.

Just then, his backpack knocked one log loose, and the left end hit the ground with a thud.

"Now what? I won't be able to get it through the posts." Billy had that quitting before we get started look again, and it made me angry.

"Throw it over the fence, you dumb ass!" I shouted.

"Peter! What did you say?" My Grandmother's voice came from the house.

"Oh, Um... Nothing. We are just goofing around."

"Well, don't say that again, and don't leave the yard."

Sigh. "Okay, Grandma."

Billy threw the backpack over, and we left the yard.

"Let's run," Jim said. So we galloped in the direction we saw the dust devil earlier. That would be our target. The backpacks were feeling a little heavy, though.

"Let's walk," suggested Billy, but it wasn't much of a suggestion. He was already walking. The sun was high, and it was getting hotter. Billy put on his sunglasses, and Jim did the same.

"Darn it! I forgot my hat." My beat-up old cowboy hat went everywhere with me. Wearing sunglasses changed the colors of the landscape, and the hat shaded my eyes just fine.

Billy stopped, removed his backpack, and undid the buckle. He opened it and pulled out my hat. I stared at him. "What didn't you bring?" I was grateful, though, put my hat on, and thanked him.

We had been walking about 2 miles or so, but it seemed like forever. A funny thing about mountains, you can walk and walk, and the darned things never seem to get any closer. We sat down on tree stumps to eat our sandwiches. Going on a long journey takes a lot out of a fellow. Off in the distance, we saw a pickup coming our way. It wasn't on any road, there weren't any there, but it was on a path.

"Crap. Is that Lee's Dad?" I asked. "He'll tell on us for sure."

Jim looked at it for a moment. "Yeah, it's him. What should we say?"

"I don't know." The pickup pulled alongside us, and Lee was in the passenger seat.

"Hey guys," he said. "What are ya doing?"

"Just hiking," I said.

Lee's Dad looked at us and grinned. "Oh, then you don't want to come with us?"

"Where you going?"

Lee shouted, "swimming!"

Jim, Billy, and I looked at one another. Jim whispered, "We can always go looking for pirates tomorrow."

I agreed. We never ever made it to where we were going anyway.

"Hop in the back, guys. I'll run you home first so you can grab your swimming stuff."

We got into the back of the pickup, and I leaned over to the driver's side window, "Just a minute, Mr. Roberts. We might already have our swim stuff." I turned and looked at Billy and his backpack. He wasn't opening it, but his face got red again. =]:)

© 2016 Peter Noah Thomas ~ All Rights Reserved

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