The Long Way or The Hard Way
Updated: Nov 9, 2020
We were young, energetic and - speaking for myself only, of course - as good looking as we would ever be.
We had big ideas and a little green car.
Back in our early 20's, Cameron Reimer and I drove his trusty Honda Civic across Canada and the United States on what we called the "North American Tour 1988."
That faithful yet mighty two-door kept pace with the big boys on crowded multi-lane superhighways, scaled steep mountain passes mostly in first gear, and braved cruel logging roads that even muddy jacked-up 4x4's wouldn't dare take on.
In the heart of British Columbia in mid-October, we arrived at a crossroads where our steep path split into two. Turning around was never an option.
A sign tacked to a tree offered two choices: the first read "The Long Way" while the second promised "The Hard Way".
We let the car decide.
Remember, this gutsy car's thread-bare tires were only slightly larger than Krispy Kreme donuts, and nearly as smooth.
And the car was weighed down with our stuff: namely, our fantastic bodies, our less-than-fantastic clothes, my guitar case, a baseball bat nicknamed "The Canadian Convincer" in case we ran into trouble, and a briefcase filled with cassettes that became the music of our road-trip.
And we had next-to-zero brakes. I didn't know that at the time because Cameron did most of the driving. It was all clever clutching and down-shifting. Yes, he is THAT good of a driver!
So which path did our intrepid automobile choose?
The Hard Way.
We had not set out on this months-long journey in search of easy roads, nor were we going to pass up opportunities to test our limits.
Facing challenges - taking the hard way instead of easier, more accessible outs - is often the best way to discover and unlock the best things in ourselves.
Oh trusty Civic - you showed us courage we didn't know we had and rewarded our faith in you by getting us safely across the Canadian prairies, down the U.S. west coast, across the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, deep into Texas and - equally important - back out again, over the marshes of Florida, through the rhythms of Atlanta and Nashville, then north to Canada which, ironically, ended up being the toughest place to get out of again.
Today, Cameron lives in central Wisconsin with his lovely wife, Kathy, and their brood of incredible kids. He remains to this day the best driver on the planet.
I've called Alberta home for the past 22 years together with my wonderful wife, Wendy, and our three awesome daughters.
Every September since 2005, Cameron and I have met up for 9 or 10 days to drive open roads, stay in nice hotels, and eat great food because, well, we're no longer broke!
But not this year. This year, the Canada-U.S. border remains closed due to the pandemic. We had plans to tour the scorching South, to bask in its history and savor its incredible delicacies, but alas that trip had to be postponed.
I miss seeing that man. My yearly fix of manly living.
Cameron is the quintessential man's man. To quote Futurama: "He's a man's man's man!"
We will see each other again soon - of that I have no doubt.
Life during this pandemic can be difficult at times. Uncertain at times. Stressful at times.
But like that fateful day in October 1988 - we do not seek easy routes, nor do we shy away from adversity.
No - we choose the hard way.
Because the hard way is often the best way to discover the best in ourselves.