They took their time and stopped several times along the way including small town city parks to monkey on the monkeybars and talking with old folks in motorhomes at rest areas.
At one point, Uncle Weed made an abrupt turn and headed up a skinny, twisty road. They hiked over some slippery rocks and climbed over a ledge to see a cliff with a sun etched in it. Bob and Otto decided everyone should know where these things are—or at least have an Uncle who does.
They all sat in the front seat of the “Earth Ship” which was the name given to Uncle Weed’s camper bus. It looked a lot like his house, except with wheels. Inside, a built-in ice-box, propane stove, and sink sat ready for use. The table and back seat folded into a comfortable bed and the cupboards were full of useful equipment and tools.
The three happy nomads headed south, singing along loudly to songs playing from an old stereo duct-taped to the dashboard. Bob and Otto were soon laughing too hard to sing because of the words Uncle Weed made up for the songs. He was a good singer too, or a least knew a lot of songs and wasn’t afraid to sing.
Bob’s favorite items were a collection of about a half-dozen wooden drummer statues. Some were natural brown wood but most were polished black. Otto’s best thing was all the bicycles–four that actually worked and a bunch more in a haphazard stack in the corner.
They emptied their backpacks on the bed so Uncle Weed could ensure they had everything needed. “Leave the chewing gum and foam mattresses here and make sure to bring all your paint-brushes and granola bars,” he suggested. He threw a toothbrush, spare socks, pocketknife and a big floppy hat into a burlap sack and off they went.
Uncle Weed’s hut sat amongst a bunch of trees, bushes, flowers and gardens. All around lived rabbits, squirrels, butterflies, and bugs. Tree-forts, doghouses and bird-feeders appeared here and there around the colorful yard, as did the dogs, birds and even a few weaner pigs with bright collars and name tags.
Inside the cabin was filled with boxes, shelves, crates, and closets filled with stuff. It was one of those places you could stay for a year or two just looking. Looking and touching a lot. Sort of like a museum and petting zoo mixed together. There were bicycle parts, wooden toys, books, paintings, pots and pans, garlic bulbs, mobiles, photographs, and sculpture. Bob and Otto decided that Uncle Weed was certainly creative and handy.
Bob couldn’t remember which of the huts Uncle Weed’s lived in, so they yodelled and hollered for him.
It wasn’t too far and before they knew it, Uncle Weed came running at top speed down a side road pushing a wheelbarrow. They leapt in and he pushed them along for a while. Then they just threw the backpacks in and took turns pushing.
First off, the boys had to trek to Uncle Weed’s cabin in the canyon. It wasn’t too far, but far enough that Bob’s Mom wanted to drive them. They thought it would be better if they hiked instead. It would get the adventure off to a good start they figured.
They went through a cemetery (it was daytime), through a canal (it was empty) and up and down a hill into the canyon. A busy road wound through the canyon, but they easily found the path along the river that led right to Uncle Weed’s cabin in the woods.
And so, Bob and Uncle Weed were going camping. Not only them, but Bob’s friend, Otto. Bob had told Otto all about his Uncle, so he thought he’d ask if Otto could come along. They were, after all, best friends.
Uncle Weed said, “Alright, but under two conditions: If Otto likes wedgies, and will laugh at my dumb jokes.” The conditions were agreed, so Otto joined the expedition.
Bob really liked his Uncle Weed. He came around fairly regularly, but not so often that it was too much, or wasn’t a treat when he did. Bob’s dad would tease about Uncle Weed’s visits, “Here comes that long hair looking for a free meal again,” he would say.
His Dad always winked when he said it so Bob would know it was a joke, he enjoyed the visits as much as everyone else.
Uncle Weed brought along curious items to show, and presents to share. Since he was a gardener, he often brought fresh vegetables or fruit.
Sometimes he brought crafts he’d made (like pottery) or objects he’d found on his adventures (like Indian arrowheads from the Anasazi tribe). You could always count on him for a load of stories and a stack of pictures as well.
According to Bob’s Dad, Uncle Weed didn’t have a “real” job. Bob’s Mom said he didn’t need one, and Uncle Weed himself said he didn’t have time for one. During summertime, he took tourists on river trips and mountain bike rides; in the autumn, he sold pumpkins on the side of the road. Then, when winter came, he sold firewood he cut from old Christmas trees he gathered.
He kept busy helping different people, and donating his time to well-meaning organizations. Bob noticed this is what made Uncle Weed happy and successful.