Our family has always loved a good story. Whenever we would all sit around the table at our family cabin, Dad would tell stories from his childhood and college years. We would be completely in awe for every single one of them. His stories were always thrilling, hilarious, action-packed, and bordered the line between fond memory and a tall-tale best heard around a campfire somewhere out in the mountains.
y family loves a good story. We’d spend hours telling them around a table at our family cabin in Wyoming. Dad’s stories were the best. He had some of the craziest adventures from his youth I’d ever heard, and they only got better as he got older. I’d sit there in awe, mouth agape like a baby bird as he recounted his life to us. His accounts were always thrilling, hilarious, and action-packed, and bordered between fond memory and a tall-tale best heard around a campfire somewhere out in the mountains. I wanted to be like Dad so much, and have great stories of my own to tell one day.
What follows is a collection of some of my favorite memories of my Dad. Mostly, these are anecdotes about the adventures he took my sister and I on throughout our lives together.
Dad grew up in the seventies, when you could get away with a lot more shit than you can today. That’s just how it was, I guess. His brother, Larry, sister, Robyn, and my Gram and Pop lived up in a small town in Wyoming with a population of about a thousand people. Everyone knew Dad and Larry because their reputation for being wildmen preceded them. Dad was a star player for his high school football team, which in a small town makes you royalty.
When he got older, he mellowed out from his partying days and his thoughtful, artistic personality began to shine more. His tales became less about crazy parties and more about misadventures in nature. These new stories were even more captivating to me, I think because they seemed more realistic and thoughtful in a way. Like the time he was building a sculpture out in Glacier Park and a chipmunk crawled onto his shoulder like he was a Disney princess or something. Dad went from being a National Lampoon-esque party animal to a Henry David Thoreau reincarnation, living in general isolation in the woods.
The main setting in just about all of his adventures was our family cabin in the Bighorn Mountains. The cabin seems to possess some uncanny magic that somehow gets people in the right mindset to do things outside of their normal reality. Sometimes it was as simple as getting drunk and inventing your own board game. Or sometimes it was deciding to hike five miles to a lake at midnight by moonlight so you could fall asleep as the sun rises and hike back the next day (Dad talked my sister Nicole and brother-in-law Jesse into doing that a few years back). Something about being at the cabin makes it hard to say “No” to any experience, and Dad knew that well, so he was always instigating some kind of unexpected escapade. People outside of our family were drawn to the cabin for that reason. It’s a place where visitors understand that some once-in-a-lifetime moment might occur, or nothing at all might happen, but it will still be one of the most memorable experiences of your life. Like I said, the cabin is uncanny.
The stories I’m going to tell aren’t as extraordinary and wild as some of Dad’s greatest hits from his youth, but they’re still pretty interesting, if you ask me. These memories tell their own story about the kind of father he was, and the spirit he had. What follows is a collection of a few of my favorite adventures that Dad took me on during our time together on this planet.
Dad made sure my sister and I both lived life to the fullest. He always had a new adventure for us, and they were almost always ill-advised. The reason why we are so fond of these experiences is because they usually went south. I think it made us better people in the long run. Or at least, I hope it did. Dad is so vivid in my mind, I don’t want that to ever fade. Revisiting memories so I could write these recollections has kept them fresh for me, and hopefully you’ll be entertained as you read along.
Dad taught me to be kind, to have a sense of humor, to honor and appreciate nature, to be creative, and to enjoy what life brings us. But not to take it too seriously. I’m forever grateful that he was my dad and that he showed me these truths. I love him, just as anyone who met him did. Hopefully, these stories will allow you to know him as I did, because I think everyone should know a guy like my dad. Everyone should know someone who can bring a little adventure into their life. Dad was that person for me.