A few years ago I took my oldest son on a father-son camping trip, and it was awesome. I was not as interested in photography back then, so I only took a handful of pictures of this trip, but have since wished that I had taken more and that I had documented it here on my blog rather than Facebook (which I have since more or less quit). But here are a few pictures of that trip that I manged to dig up:
My youngest son and I have been waiting for the right time to take our own father-son trip, and finally got the chance a few days ago. And it was just as awesome as my last father-son trip. Only this time I took more pictures. Rather than camp out next to a big lake in the woods like last time with my other son, this time the youngest one and I camped out on a coastal island in a small patch of woods near the sea. Getting to the island was a bit tricky, but definitely worth it--it took a train, a bus, another bus, a ferry, and then a short hike. The campsite had been scouted by a few close friends of mine, who were camping out on the island for a week.
The world is a small, strange yet wonderful place, and I can't help but be reminded of it all the time. Here my son and I go, a Chicano and a half Chicano half Swede, to meet up with an Argentinian man and a Persian man, on an island in Sweden. I've been out backpacking with my two friends plenty of times before, and I was happy but not surprised to see that these two friends of mine became close friends with each other. I had introduced them to each other a few years ago, and the three of us share a deep love and fascination with nature and escaping society.
We played and set up camp and collected sea shells. And of course more difficult matters that come along with being a father, but thankfully I packed a change of clothing, and I could use the seawater to clean up. The bugs were out in full force as dusk slowly drew near, so after setting up our tent--Big Agnes Fly Creek UL1, the same one I used for my last father-son trip--my son and I hid inside from their wrath. I waited for my son to fall asleep, which I knew beforehand would take longer due to the amount of sunlight at night here. In the summer the sun doesn't fully go down until quite late, around 10-midnight depending on which part of summer. So there is a lot of light until late, and the sun is right back up early in the morning.
Finally after wearing himself out playing and listening to me telling stories, my boy fell asleep all cozy with his little blanket and small stuffed cat. I thought back on my oldest son and how he slept so cozy as well, and that he took a stuffed cat too (though a different one than his brother's). And I thought the same thing I always think when I tuck my boys in at night, or when I am away from them and look at the picture I always have of them. I feel my mind pour my thoughts over my whole body, and at the same time feel the moment encapsulating this consistent reflection--my own reflection. The way their blanket is tucked around them, how they lay, the weather outside, how their breath and hair smell. There are very, very few things I am completely sure about in my tiny little existence in all this chaos and staggering time/space around me. But I know that I love these two boys more than anyone and anything in existence, and that I always will.
While I waited for my son to sleep and then watch him sleep a bit, my two buddies fished. They caught five mackerel when a big school of the fish happened to be passing by and were in a feeding frenzy. It was the moment my friends had been waiting for, both avid fishermen. That night we three sat on the cliffs and caught up with each other while we ate the freshest fish possible. Tomas was kind enough to fry the fillets up in some butter and lemon pepper, though I think it was Mehrdad that gutted, cleaned, and carved the fish up with his new knife. This new knife of his he had been working on for some time. He ordered the blade of the knife (full tang) from a blacksmith in Finland, and then made and attached the handle himself from a piece of hardwood my parents-in-law had given him after they had cut down a tree in their yard.
All of us agreed how delicious the fish was, how beautiful the sunset was, and how terrible the bugs were. Just before we went to sleep, with the final glimmers of sunlight, we noticed a massive cloud of mist sweeping over the sea towards us. It was eerie and lovely at the same time, but we made sure to stash all our gear in our tents to avoid getting covered with the mist overnight.
The next day my son and I woke up at almost exactly the same time from the heat and mugginess of the inside of the tent. Outside the last of the mist from the night was clearing up, and we all ate breakfast and watched the first boats sail by towards open water. Then we did some crab fishing, and my son insisted that we set the crabs free again. Soon after I packed up and we said our goodbyes, my son disappointed and a bit grumpy because he wanted to spend another night there with our friends, naturally. His frown was short lived after reminding him of the fun yet to come on the way back. And of course ice cream when we get back home.
This was a shorter trip because we had to make it back in time for a family barbecue, but it also worked out well because three-year-olds generally have a short attention span. So there was no time to be restless or frustrated really, so nearly the whole trip my son was amazed by everything around him and all the changes and new transitions and exciting things happening. Waiting for the bus to the ferry we bought some lunch at a café: some cheese sandwiches, good, strong Swedish coffee for me, and apple/mango juice for my son. Later on he fell asleep on the final bus ride back home with a slight smile on his face.