40 years ago today, while most of America was riveted to their black and white television screens to watch one of the greatest efforts our country has ever made in exploration, I was 100 miles away from civilization and television access.
Sunburned, sore-muscled and weary, I was 3/4 of the way through a long trek by canoe through the Boundary Waters Canoe area. My voyage, and that of my companions, was free, in return for a lot of hard, after-school work for one of our teachers, Mr. Wold, who ran a canoe trip outfitting business in the summer in Ely, Minnesota. We tuckered ourselves out each day, ate like offensive linebackers around the campfire each night, and narrowly escaped a raid by a black bear on our elevated bag of food one night.
We knew what was going on in the great wide world. Mr. Wold came up with a boat launch one night to tell us about the landing and to rave about what all America couldn't get enough of. I confess, most of us were sad at the thought of missing one of the great milestones of our lifetime. Then again, in the wilderness, seeming to be in commune with nature and the big old "man in the moon" each night (not to mention the thousands of stars in one of the great unspoiled areas of this land of ours), being together, being young, courageous, in love with the unknown.... perhaps we were some of the moon landings greatest spectators, even if we didn't see the film until AFTER we returned to civilization.
It's an all time favorite memory of mine. And though I traversed the Boundary Waters Canoe Area twice more in my lifetime, no trip was as special as the one where America made a moon landing with a dozen 14 year old girls, sans televisions, cheering us on. Life was simpler then