Okay, let’s go back to that back parking lot, the sun fading as the fire exit door closed on my dream for the last time. With a heavy heart I climbed into our van and turned the key – the last employee – ex-employee now, having driven away with a trunk full of inventory stripped from the shelves of my defunct restaurant. I pulled the transmission into gear and pressed the accelerator softly, rolling away like a funeral procession from this truck-stop that I had helped build, set-up, and become successful. There was no glory left for me in this place, no celebration of my accomplishments, and I suspected, within days, no mention of me at all.
As I was driving home I was reflecting on all that had been happening in my life and what it all meant. Meaningless. It was all for naught. I had climbed that mountain of success. I had achieved my highest dream, my largest accomplishment and it turned out to be a pile of shit. Worse, though, was because of the sudden closure of the restaurant I now had a staggering debt load to deal with. The prospects of being unemployed once again overwhelmed me. Figuring out how to pay my bills overwhelmed me. Figuring out what to do with my life next overwhelmed me. Then there was the adoption process. Being unemployed would jeopardize the adoption process. Declaring bankruptcy would end the adoption process.
I could only see one option.
We needed to get the hell out of Dodge.
Fortunately my wife was feeling the same way. We needed to get out of this valley city – to regroup and rethink life. To figure out what our next move would be. There was one option waiting for me. The sales agent of the supply company that I utilized for the restaurant had approached me. He explained that a couple who owned the local historic hotel had just recently been scammed in their attempt to sell the business and were forced to take it back over. However they were in desperate need to have someone come along and help them clean up the mess. I told the sales agent that I would think about it but what I was going to do right now was to take off for an indefinite amount of time with my family – to clear my head and figure out what my next move might be.
With that my wife and I packed up the children and some suitcases for a trip to somewhere, nowhere, and anywhere. The children were excited and we just didn’t care anymore. So with an eenie meenie miney mo, we chose the highway leading to the south Okanagan. We traveled on a whim, stopping wherever we wanted to stop and staying wherever we wanted to stay. No reservations, no planning, just going and stopping as we wanted – as we needed.
Without a care in the world we pulled up to museums, roadside attractions, and eateries that caught our eye as we traveled along the highway. As we drove, we began to put a bit of plan in place, deciding to travel into the southern part of this most western province, back into an area where my wife’s family lived and back to the mountain top village so I could prove to my children once and for all that I truly did walk uphill both ways to school.
Along the way we took a detour that weaved its way up into the mountain passes that dominated the bottom half of the province, surrounded with lakes and lonely, isolated mountains, long ago searched for gold with only their make shift gold rush shanty’s telling the story today. We got distracted with a quest to find one of these forgotten places, the last stop for an old paddle-wheeler, where my wife’s long ago relatives came and settled. We found it after driving along a windy and often narrow road.
It was a beautiful place, in a haunting sort of way, the surface of the massive lake still and quiet, echoing the sounds of birds, which interrupted the silence. We found a cabin to rent and booked it for a few days. We took in the sites around this quaint little community, toured the paddle-wheeler that had been dragged onto the shore and turned into a tourist stop. We searched the cemetery but could not find their resting place, however the cemetery was much, much larger than we had realized, for this was an old town and an important town back when these hills were luring the young man with tales of riches and fame.
After a couple of days the loneliness of that place was beginning to catch up to us and we found ourselves reflecting on our own failed dreams and uncertainties of life that awaited us back at home. Our present circumstances had found us so it was time to pack up and take off again in hopes that we could outrun them in the high mountain passes of my old stomping grounds. But it was too late. They caught up and stayed with us, pressing on my wife and I and we began to fill the journey with talks of what was next.
The option waiting for me back home was beginning to look a lot more attractive. Any other option surely meant that we would have to end our adoption journey and we did not want to do that. I would at least have a conversation with them to see what it was that they wanted help for and perhaps it would provide a fill-in-the-gap sort of thing until I did get my head screwed on correctly to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life.
And so, having solved none of the world’s problems, and only a handful of our own, we turned the vehicle around and headed back home. It had been a shorter trip then we would have liked but it was chalked full of memories, fond memories that the children still talk about to this day, a spontaneous vacation filled with sights and sounds, a fun adventure for them and a hard drive down the road called life for us.