Think of it as one of those dime store serial novels of the late nineteenth century.
This is a story about Scouting.
There are two ways to go about Scouting. There's the way the Scouting Handbook tells you to do it, and then there's the way that all red blooded, immature, pyromaniacal, air breathing, earth dwelling American boys do it. The two ways are not the same. Not remotely.
The Scout Law says that scouts are trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean and reverent. And they are. When their mothers are in the room. Sometimes. But a more apt description, something approaching reality would be: A Scout is hungry, dirty, hungry, wet, hungry, distracted by shiny things, ravenous, way too undisciplined to be handling that sharp object (not to mention the firearm), lurpy, curious, too curious, awkward and hungry. And has the attention span of a gnat. An over-caffinated gnat, with ADHD, and commitment issues.
Now that we've laid the ground work, I'm going to tell you about one scouting experience in particular: Hiking the Courthouse Wash.
The Courthouse Wash is twenty five mile long stretch of riverbed, meandering through Arches National Park. Arches, is the biggest collection of natural arches on Planet Earth, and it's possible to hike the entire Courthouse Wash without seeing a single arch. I know. I did it. I had no idea until a subsequent trip several years later, that we had been inside the park.
The cast of characters include, as near as I can recall -- Aaron will have to fill in the ones I miss -- Aaron and I, Aaron's dad Talmage, Danny Luscher (back when we still called him Danny), Paul Stoddard, Erin Bawden, and more faceless scouts that I can't remember. But these are the ones that figure prominently in the following narrative.
Before you start any scouting trip, it's important that you gather all of your supplies. The Scout Handbook suggests things like a sleeping bag, a mess kit, enough food and water to last for the duration of your trip, rope, poncho etc...Real scouts bring a knife and a lighter. Why? Because they plan to hunt and gather their own sustenance and cook it over a campfire each night?
Because they want to destroy everything in their path, and light shit on fire.
This particular trip took place over Spring Break, 1987. I was in the eighth grade, and as an aside, I am now the father of a scout, in the eighth grade. I now realize that our scout leaders had brain damage. Why, on God's green earth, would you haul a half dozen, pimple faced, smelly, irresponsible, adolescent boys out into the middle of the desert for three days? It must have been a sense of duty, because they sure didn't seem to like us much.
The drive to Moab was uneventful, aside from Aaron and I lighting stuff on fire in the back of the truck, and then throwing the nearly spent lighters at the cars following behind us, and watching them explode in the dusk of evening. The lighters, not the cars.
The real excitement began the following morning, as we gathered our bearings, prepared to set out on a three day trek into the wilderness, and Aaron set Arches National Park on fire...
To be continued...