But when I did turn 21, it was on the 21st, and I think I felt that I had to do something really big that day. I guess I just did the really obvious thing for someone to do on their 21st birthday. Go on an overnight camping trip to the Tetons with a bunch of twenty year old girls. Duh.
It's still one of my favorite birthdays.
We left about 5 hours later than planned and got to a campsite at 11:00 at night. No reservations. No sort of planning. We somehow built a fire and put up a tent in the dark. No boyscouts there, remember. I'm actually not even sure we had a tent. But we did start a fire and cooked tinfoil dinners that took all night to cook. But it was the best dinner I have ever had at 3 am.
The next day we hiked. I can't remember which hike, but it was long and steep and ended at a beautiful lake. We ate lunch there and took lots of pictures. There's something about 20 year old girls and how much they like to take pictures of themselves. This was before camera phones. All taken the old fashioned way. Digital cameras.
But on our way down, I remember there being a crowd of people stopped on the trail. We got closer and saw that there were two bears, one on either side of the trail. Every one had stopped and was snapping pictures and whispering. It was pretty amazing.
Now this is the weird part.
I was within ten feet of two bears, and I remember thinking "Huh. Cool, bears." Then I remember us walking past the line of people and tromping through the rest of the hike like it was no big deal. What? TWO BEARS? Yeah, I know. I walked passed them like they were a couple of golden retrievers. I'm not sure why I a) didn't care or b) didn't get mauled to death.
But it happened. And on my 21st birthday. I even dug around the other day and found some of the pictures. There were like thirty of me and my friends and one of the bear. Figures.