The lightning flashes illuminated the sky in an endless display of nature’s fury. Over the roar of the thunder I could make out a howling, freight train-like wind that picked up grains of sand that peppered and stung my face. Torrential sheets of rain blew sideways across the ocean and up the beach drenching what was left of our now obliterated campsite. I watched in disbelief as palm fronds were ripped from the palapa roof and disappeared into the night sky. In less than two minutes the arroyo that paralleled our ocean front Baja location had crested its banks and filled the camp. I stood there frozen by the moment, not out of fear but in pure awe and amazement...the hurricane, drawing energy from the warm mid-summer tropical waters of the Sea of Cortez seemed hellbent on consuming everything in its path, myself included. And still I stood fixated, unable to move and fascinated by the pure uncontrollable power of nature.
Upon reflection some 30+ years later, I should have been terrified, a mere 10 years old, I had good reason to be running for the safety of our camper and the small farmhouse up the road. But as far fetched as it may sound, in that moment I felt as if I too was drawing energy and power from the storm. Right up until the moment that my father’s Popeye-like forearm grabbed me from behind and whisked me away to the security of our Ford pickup. It was a defining moment for me and one that has never left my being. At 45 years old I’m still the small boy who stands foolishly out in the middle of a thunderstorm and soaks it all in… As they say, we’re products of the lives we live.
A Modern Day Lewis and His Son Clark
My father was a school teacher with a wild heart. Or perhaps more correctly, a lifelong educator with an explorer’s heart. What this meant was that my summers were the type you read about in storybooks. Unscripted, uncharted, exhilarating and occasionally fear-invoking journeys across the wildlands of the Pacific Northwest and the barren deserts or windswept beaches of Baja California. Frequently my father would pull the 1970 Ford truck and camper off the highway and onto an unmapped dirt road armed with no more than a compass and an uncanny sense of direction. Like the time we spent six days on a rutted, dusty road no wider than our vehicle traversing from Hamilton, Montana to St. Mary’s, Idaho on a tip my father had received from a local in a small cafe, whose information was questionable at best. One full day of that detour was spent waiting for someone to come along with a chainsaw to clear a stand of pines that had fallen in our path following what remains the worst windstorm I’ve ever seen.
I’ve prospected for gold with masks and snorkels in the rivers of Northern California, explored rickety deserted mine shafts, gotten lost in cavernous lava tubes, been chased by bears while picking huckleberries in the Idaho panhandle, harpooned Black Marlin from “tiny” Mexican pangas, run out of fuel miles out to sea in those same vessels, ridden minecarts into the bowels of the earth, wandered countless ghost towns, dug for fossils and the relics of our ancestors, experienced breathtaking natural wonders and all along the way met the most amazing people of my life. Individuals and experiences that have shaped me into the husband, father, and human being that I am today. In so many ways those travels defined who I am and who we were as a family. More importantly, they provided an openness, a level of communication and a foundation for my brother, parents and I that has remained rock solid for 45 years. A byproduct I’m sure of months on end crisscrossing different countries together in a small pickup and camper with no one to entertain ourselves but one another. You learn a lot about life, relationships, compromise, and the true meaning of family time when you’re confined to a 6x6 fiberglass box on a hundred miles of washboarded Baja California highway in 120-degree heat.
Lose Your Bearing and You Lose Your Soul
Sadly, as I got older and began raising a family of my own, I went through a period in life where I began to lose sight of the importance of the simpler things in life. Like so many of us, I started to stray from my roots, the very foothold that had grounded me. I can’t really explain why I strayed? Maybe just the speed of life or the desire to keep up with the Jones’s. We become so focused on our careers, on taking our piece of the proverbial American pie, on building our personal empires and the collections of toys that come with it that we can lose our bearing... At least that was the case for me. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’m alone….Instead of camping trips to Joshua Tree or Big Basin State Park we planned extravagant vacations to Hawaii, Mexican Cruises or all inclusive stays at the best resorts in Cabo San Lucas. Spending money became synonymous with quality family time. Shame on me...I knew better! Please don’t get me wrong, there's absolutely nothing wrong any of those places. In fact, my boys could carry on for hours about the water elevator at the Grand Wailea, sipping Oreo Shakes at the swim up bar in The Grotto or the infinity pool at La Capella. It’s just that I now firmly believe that these aren't necessarily the experiences that create the types of lifelong family memories that we so desperately strive for as parents. Take it from me, I’m guilty as charged...guilty of blurring the lines of quality time and family time.
Resetting The Compass
What snapped me back into reality? One simple comment from my son several years ago as we flipped through an old family photo album. “Wheres that?” he asked looking at a photo of me standing next to our camper, my summer home on the Sea of Cortez for more than 20+ years. “Mexico,” I replied. He paused, looked me dead in the eyes, and pierced my heart… “You look really happy dad”. Holding back the tears I managed to utter the words.. “I was, buddy. The happiest times of my life.” The rest as they say is history. That single moment changed the way we think about family travel, family vacations, and family time. We now seek out trips and locations that force us to connect and bond as a family unit. Destinations that are less about the things and more about the people and the experiences with each other and the human beings we meet along the way.
Yes, 45 years later, I thank God for those family summers, for two unimaginably bold parents and for a restless and courageous father who set my internal compass to true north knowing that it would always guide me home even when I strayed from course. I encourage everyone, if you’re not already doing so to turn off the well-travelled highway, grab your compass, find your own dirt road and discover the simple, fulfilling, peace of mind you’ll receive by simply focusing on the quality of time spent with your loved ones and not the price of the hotel room.
The son of an avid outdoorsman and early waterman, Scott Seymour was born into an adventurous lifestyle. Having spent most of his formative years along the remote beaches of Baja California and the dusty backroads of nearly every mountain range on the western edge of North America he understands what its like to live off the beaten path and on the road less travelled. Those early years were spent diving, surfing, fishing, mountaineering, exploring, prospecting and getting lost and found literally and figuratively on a regular basis. While an atypical childhood it may have been, it forged an adventurous spirit and a thirst for life that has continued to guide him through adulthood.
As a collegiate volleyball player at UCLA, Scott developed a passion for teamwork and helping others meet their maximum potential. He went on to build a successful career leading and managing highly efficient sales teams for various national and global organizations. In 2008, feeling that familiar yearning for adventure he made a career 180 and for the past several years has worked as a bail and recovery agent in Southern California. Scott is also a registered EMT and first responder and will be starting the fire academy in January of this year with the goal of becoming a paramedic.
A self proclaimed “gear junkie” Scott can still be found most days researching and testing new equipment and strategies while stand up paddling, surfing or exploring the coastlines of Southern California or Mexico.
He resides in San Clemente with his wife and two junior watermen.