I got up at six, my boat wasn't going to arrive until ten, but I seriously didn't want to be late. And if I went back to sleep and didn't get up then I'd have to tell work I wouldn't be in until Thursday. (Wouldn't that have been dreadful?)
I was the first one there, and after hiking around a couple more hours to take some last photos, I sat on the picnic tables by the ranger’s post where the trip began to rest, eat, and wait. The people I mentioned before, that I frequently saw on the island, were the second ones out and sat by me. They had some great stories to tell that were such a good way to wind down an already awesome trip. We were later joined by a young couple celebrating their first anniversary. They had also gotten engaged on the island. After talking with all of them about their lives I felt a little like I haven’t lived my life to the fullest, which was fine because I left feeling very motivated.
Someone recommend the cheese place located in Fishtown just off the docks. This may be the few days of dehydrated foods and energy bars talking but it was the best sandwich place I’ve ever been to. I ordered one of their vegetarian “lunch boxes”, headed over to a bench by the dock, and watched boating people go about their business. I befriended a seagull that was so polite that I just had to share my meal. If he only knew how much I desperately wanted that food.
When I got back to my car it felt like I hadn’t been in it for weeks. On the way out of town I saw a fruit stand and pulled over to fill my Nalgene bottle with blueberries and cherries. It helped to keep me awake on the ride home and I was really looking for any excuse to stop and extend my stay.
These past five days seemed so much longer, and obviously more fulfilling than a normal five day work week. Running the same routine everyday at work or at home seems to shorten my life considerably. When each day feels like the previous.
I’m writing about this now weeks after my trip and I can still remember almost every detail. That was the big lesson on this trip. The best way to extend your life is to enjoy each moment. Repetitive days just overlap so five begins to feel like one until each year seems shorter than the last. I can’t even tell you what I had for breakfast this morning. But I can tell you what the ramen noodles tasted like on the third day on North Manitou and exactly what was going on in my mind as I ate them.
I’ve only been on this planet for 29 years but I have not once heard of someone saying on their deathbed, “God, if I had just one more day, I would sit my ass down in a cubicle.” It’s never happened and never will. Unless of course that person is me and I say it just to try and make someone laugh.
One last item, the entire trip cost under $100, including the cost of gas for the 11 hour round trip.
Go to Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
A Backpacker's Life List by Ryan Grayson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.