In 2002, I did a trek through Morocco.
It was one of those group things where people from all around the world meet in one place and then go on a bus tour for a week or so. I was roomed with Bernard, a retired school teacher from Belgium (that’s us at the left). He loved to travel and, as many Euros, had been to much of the world.
I loved the camels, and the kasbahs, and the mint tea of Morocco, but one thing has stayed with me from the trip – the promise Bernard made each of his boys when they were in school. When they were done, he promised to take them anywhere in the world. Just the two of them. One son chose Thailand, the other South Africa. Bernard obliged, and when each graduated high school the father-son tandem took off for two weeks.
What a great motivator. The kids have a bucket list item checked off, and Dad gets a week or two with his son as he prepares to send him off to be a man at university, or career, or wherever. What a wonderful gesture. I’ve made that promise to my boys (although at 3 and 6 I don’t think they fully grasp it yet).
But the bar has been raised. In 6 weeks when students get driven to University by teary eyed parents, unloading cardboard boxes and kissing their kids goodbye, one student will arrive at his dorm having taken the long way ’round.
Graham Durgan is driving his son Edward to McGill University in Montreal where he will start Political Science studies in the fall. They left their home in Berkshire, England on May 6 and by the time classes start in September, they will have covered more than 18 000 km. Yes, to get to the first day of school, they drove around the world.
“My mother really does think we’re bonkers. She tried and tried [to dissuade us from making the trip], and so did my grandmothers,” the 19-year-old told the McGill Reporter. “But my father and I decided we wanted to do it, and once we had the idea we couldn’t not do it.”
Edward and Graham are not wild camping adventurous sorts. They don’t know how to fix cars that can break down in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. Graham hasn’t been camping since 1975, and isn’t particularly a good cook. All of that adds together to make this story so magical.
Edward admits he’s learned that is dad is “more adventurous than I thought, not many people who are nearly 60 would be happy to drive around the world with their 19-year-old son. Travelling with friends is one thing, and is a completely different experience to travelling with your father/parent. I don’t think you could create a bigger father/son bonding experience than this.”
It’s a Father/Son adventure that would make my Belgian friend jealous and one that I would gladly take with my son in a dozen years when he’s done school.
As our kids head back to school and we get ready to give them all they need to set out in life remember, it’s not the destination but the journey. Take the scenic route, it just might take you around the world.
You can follow Edward and Graham down the homestretch from California to Montreal on their blog.
Image via Buzz Bishop