I camped a lot this summer, partially in preparation for a service trip to Nepal. I had returned for the weekend ... or possibly longer, to my favored summer solace site on Rampart Range. It is in the open camping area, and, the mind-blowing view is what had continued to draw me back. One could see for perhaps 70-100 miles to layers of mountains, disappearing into an arrow's tip past infinite.
The lone rider, and his antique Harley, had set-up camp close by. As I unpacked and unrolled the bright orange REI tent, and began pitching my outdoor lodging, Dave came over to where I was setting up. He was a grizzled Gandolf. I kept an eye on my camping axe that was at my feet. At this point, I didn't know whether he might be friend or foe. He had long grey, dirty tangled hair ... a torn grease spotted shirt and filthy brown Carhartt jeans ... the overall appearance of being homeless. His face was horridly peeling from the worse sunburning, I had ever seen. He had ridden non-stop from somewhere south of Chicago, to see his son, who lives approximately in-between the proximities of the Colorado Springs - Denver areas.
After we had chatted for a while, I not only felt at ease, I felt somewhat bonded to him and quite intrigued. Gandolf Dave said, "You know you're alright and pretty damned (along with a whole 'nuther eloquent string of "Biker" adjectives) cool ... I'd like to share my fire with you tonight. Come on by and join me." And, he walked on back over to his "tent" and crawled in for a nap.
I got back just after dark and, set myself down in front of Gandolf Dave's roaring beauty of a fire. And, we cooked and feasted. GD said I was a "genius" for picking up the perfect fireside eatin' and discussin' food. He sure did enjoy those chili dogs. I'm guessing that he hadn't eatin' a full meal in days. We roasted marshmallows and assembled sticky s'mores. And, we quenched our thirst with beers to wash it all down ... and, we talked most of the night.
Turns out, Dave had been a computer genius corporate executive guy, who had worked his way on up the ladder. He had done well for himself and retired. His trip resulted from his utter disillusionment with "retirement." Years of lonely nights in front of the TV eating frozen dinners had left him ill, feeling isolated, and wondering why the "golden years" weren't the shiny times he had daydreamed about during the years wearing a tie.
And, Gandolf Dave was a sage ... he quoted everything from Buddha to the Bible, classic poets ... and, John Muir. His wizardry included an uncanny ability to slip in, the most complex of concepts and ideas (like from quantum and theoretical physics), into plain sounding conversation ... and, regarding topics that weren't plain at all. We theorized about time travel and jumping through portals in space, and we enjoyed the bright stars that lit up the sky.
It would be a safe bet, to say that GD's natural IQ is somewhere just short of Einstein's. And, with his mastery of language and the interweaving of well-timed cursing symphonies, it is likely that it catches him right up to even with ole Alfred.
We talked about raising children, when we were just young stupid children ourselves .. and, about love and simplicity ... and, how humans always mess that up with complication ... and, a bunch of other interesting and insightful things.
As I crawled into the sleeping bag in my tent that early morning, I was thankful for being on the mountain, and meeting Gandolf Dave ... and, that Life is wonderfully surprising ...