At 54 most of my friend’s kids are fully functioning teens capable of taking care of themselves for extended periods, in college or grown and on their own. Their freedom is reminiscent of what I experienced in my 20s and early 30s, for me, it was before kids. Seeing that freedom, and with blind eye to my past carefree life, I become envious.

I can remember with the news that my wife and I were having twins a family member almost gleefully telling us that our lives will never be the same. They weren’t foretelling the joys the kids would bring, they were warning of the life to come. I think that statement was more for themselves because they let ‘kids change things’ and were not happy about that.

What they didn’t know was that Ann and I would be the same people, we would just bring the kids along, they would be part of our experience. Ultimately, the experience would be around them. Less important was a summit, days off. A far off lake many portages away or some epic adventure no longer was of interest. We found ourselves seeing the same places through unknowing eyes, eyes who saw excitement in all that is new. We spent less time looking up or far afield and more at our feet for the wonder of rocks, insect and flowers.

I get to have those epic days and weekends from time to time thanks to a grown son. A boy who I got to teach and experience a growing love of the outdoors with. He’s on to his own adventures but still makes time for me. I wrapped myself around him, forgoing friendships with other men unless it was around our families. My son was all the friend I needed. So, it made sense I guess, when as he got older and the opportunity to adopt a new young son I pushed my wife we should do it. Was it short-sighted, selfish… I don’t really know. I’ll admit that there are times that I don’t know what I was thinking. But that is in the hard times; when he’s struggling, or I’m feeling financially vulnerable. It’s not when I see peers off on their own. While I may wonder what it would be like to be free again, it is never so grate a desire as to make me question this boy.

So, here we were, movie night in The Badlands. In a simple overland topper I made in the garage. I did it with times like this in mind. Living my freedom, hopefully teaching another life to appreciate the little things… I am happy here.

We watched the sun set and hunted for ants. We went on short hikes and looked for birds. We still went on our own epic ride, gravel with the trailer bike. Talking tirelessly about the prairie dogs and stopping to watch the mountain goats when one came into view.

It would be easier to not have this little life to care for, but I don’t think it would be more fun.