The Prune: Spontaneity? It’s key to embarking on adventures


THE PRUNE’S FATHER check’s out the ’62 Chevy Nova Station Wagon’s engine, preparing it, perhaps, for the next family outing to the outdoor theater. submitted photo

by Todd Sharp

Sometimes I have a great notion to set forth on adventure!

When there’s an opportunity for adventure, travel and good eats, it’s time to GO!

There is a 25-acre parcel of land were the Ripon Drive-in theater used to stand. It’s for sale.

One of my early and favorite childhood memories of adventure and exploration dwells on this spot.

I hated going to bed in the summer while there was still a sliver-wisp of light at the horizon. It was painfully sad, a missed opportunity to keep playing outside. Sure, now as I’ve gotten older, I appreciate the afternoon nap as much as any sleep deprived adult… but when I was younger, it killed me to go to bed with any trace of available remaining light. I took it personally, my time was being stolen.

On some of those same early nights, our parents would wake up my brother and I with the smell of popcorn sweeping up the stairwell to our room and my Dad hollering for us to come down and jump in the car.

We were off to the movies! We didn’t care what was showing.

We didn’t even change out of our PJs. The excitement was an amplified combination fire drill and a “come as you are” movie premiere. Without hesitation, we’d hop in our original getaway wagon, a red ’62 Chevy Nova station wagon.

We were quickly on our way to the drive-in theater, north of the first big curve heading toward Green Lake on Hwy. 23.

A natural amphitheater curve, all the spots were good ones. We settled into the home-sewn quilts my mom brought along, stretching out in the back of the station wagon, munching on fresh popcorn.

We strained to hear the scratchy sound on the little metal speakers and fell asleep. I don’t remember what we watched, but I do remember how much fun it was getting there.

Last week, I had the opportunity to fly to Portland, Oregon for a last-minute vacation. I wanted to discover what makes the city such a popular destination for people to visit and relocate. I had no concrete plan for sightseeing but allowed plenty of time for the serendipity of discovery, trying local eats and renting a good bike to get to the coast. I wanted to see seals and the craggy rocks.

After mixing up a.m. and p.m. flight times, the trip started out a little hectic, but I enjoyed finding a couple (OK, a dozen) hours of unstructured quiet nap time.

Arriving well rested, I was ready for adventure.

Mountains, the distance, and lack of good, wide road shoulder kept me from pedaling all the way to the coast.

I attempted the trip two days in a row and got plenty of wonderful riding in.

I found the people of Portland to be remarkably friendly, open and liberal.

The Thai food was the best I’d ever had.

Deciding to go to Portland at the last minute was similar to going to the movies late at night.

An unexpected adventure.

Editor’s note: When not gobbling popcorn in his jammies from the back seat of a station wagon, Todd Sharp sells advertising for the Green Laker, Express and The Ripon Commonwealth Press.

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