This story is a work of fiction. At the same time, the universe is an ever-expanding continuum in which time equals space. Probability dissolves. Possibility is reality. In that sense, it is a true story, of the past or future in the infinity of unknown time-space.
Jane stared through the blinking of the wipers fending off the early morning drizzle. They were on Interstate 90, escaping the confines of the city, and the coziness of her apartment in Amherst. They had just passed Orchard Park, on their way to the Westfield exit. From there, they would drive along Chautauqua Lake on Route 430, and then on Route 17 to the Park. She knew that they had a good two hours of driving left.
"Good!" she thought to herself. "Maybe the sun will come out."
That would take one thing off her mind.
Jane stole a glance at her fiancé, watching the road ahead as he drove. The camping trip had been at his insistence. David was so determined to do it. For Jane's part, a nice Bed and Breakfast tour through the Amish Country of Pennsylvania would have been her choice.
They could have searched for antiques for the new house. It would have been a romantic time in the rural setting; just the two of them, their final venture out of town together as an engaged couple. Soon the details and demands of the wedding would overtake them, making trips impossible until the honeymoon on Cape Cod. The wedding was slated for mid-August. For this trip they squeezed together their last unspoken-for days of vacation and wrapped them around the Independence Day holiday to create a five day interval for their trip.
David had that resolute look in his eyes. He enjoyed the out of doors more than Jane. She protested that she didn't know anything about camping.
"Just leave it to me!" he had told her. "We're both in good shape. I'm experienced in the woods. Summer is an easy time to camp. The weather will be with us."
David had set about the task of gathering and buying just the right equipment. He packed both backpacks and fastened them to the frames. He made sure that they had the proper clothes and boots. He dug his tent and sleeping bags out of his parents' attic in Rochester. David told her they were 'set'. Jane half-thought that he took on the project to evade shopping for silver and china patterns, and helping her plan wedding details, like the choice of cocktail napkins for the reception. The details were annoying to Jane, too, but had to be taken care of.
"Where are we going to stop and buy food, David?" asked Jane, as she broke the silence.
David broke into laughter. When he calmed down he looked at her in mock disbelief, shaking his head.
"We're not!" he declared. "This is real camping. We'll live off the land if we can. There are streams and brooks all over in the Park. I've got my collapsible fishing pole."
Jane looked at him, her eyes wide in un-mocked disbelief, wanting to speak, but unable.
"Relax, Jane. I packed some dried food in case things don't work out," he explained. "It's not the tastiest, but is more than enough to keep us going. I even 'cheated' and slipped in a few cans of tuna."
"A few cans of tuna, David? You're always thinking of me."
Jane rolled her eyes and slouched back into the seat. She didn't really fear for her safety. David could take care of that. One thing that she loved about him was that he wasn't afraid to make big plans, and then carry them out. She enjoyed watching him tackle them. Riding next to him, it occurred to her that in their fast-approaching married life, she wouldn't be just watching any more.
The camping trip wasn't her idea of the best way to 'get away and be romantic', but Jane was not going to pout. She reached over and patted David on the thigh as he drove the Explorer.
"Just get me home in one piece and I'll still marry you," she said.
"Don't worry—you're going to love it."
At twenty-nine, Jane and David were a little older than most engaged couples. Although they both went to UB, they never met until four years later when they were running in a 5K race. They had already been engaged for eighteen months. Jane was from Buffalo and worked as a pharmacist in a hospital. David was from Rochester, but stayed in Buffalo after college and became a CPA. They were a traditional couple, so they decided to keep separate apartments until after the wedding and that pleased Jane's family. Although they didn't share apartments, they did share keys.
David was tall and dark-haired, with broad shoulders and a trim physique. He had a look that women liked, although he never seemed to be aware of it. Many people thought he was always serious, but Jane was first attracted to his broad smile would set people at ease at the right time. He was courteous all times. Everyone in Jane's family liked him. David was a modest young man, although he had accomplished much. He always found time and patience for Jane's elderly grandparents and her many young nieces and nephews.
Jane was a good match for David. She had also accomplished a lot in a different profession. She was a bit reserved. She was good looking, too, in a different way, of average height with light hair and skin. She usually wore glasses, especially when working, and that made a few mistake her for bookish. Her slim, toned body had many men's head swiveling when they were lucky enough to see her without her white lab coat.
The Explorer was carrying them along Chautauqua Lake. The rain had grudgingly let up and the sun was imposing itself through the clouds. On the forested hillsides surrounding the lake it made a mottling of shadows and brightness. The trees were in full leaf as spring had surrendered to summer. A deep green blanket ahead stretched as far as Jane could see with the blue lake alongside and below in contrast. As her eyes drank in the view, Jane realized that it was a work of art beyond the capacity of a mortal being.
"David, I can see why you love it out here."
She looked over when he didn't answer. When he saw her searching he gave his reply.
"Yes, it's an awesome sight, but it's only part of the reason I brought you out here. I wanted to because it will be our last chance before the wedding to be completely alone together, without any possibility of distraction or interruption; a retreat to get connected in a beautiful place like this."
Jane contemplated the layers of meaning in David's words. She had dreamt of 'getting connected' in a nice fluffy bed at a romantic inn. It was clear that David meant something else. She wondered if he felt a need for more from her that what she was giving him—a connection of spirits that Jane hadn't realized was missing. The statement thrust an unpleasant stab into her contented frame of mind.
"I thought that we were connected, David. I love you. We're going to be married. You love me. What do you mean?"
"We are; I know you do; and I do, too," he answered each point in succession. "I only wanted to say that it's not possible to be connected enough."
Jane silently analyzed the content of the answer. She decided to accept it without understanding it. David glanced over and Jane made her body language tell him that she was happy again.
"You know," he resumed in a more playful tone, "getting connected can take on a lot of meanings."
As he said it he ran hand gently from her knee toward her hip and let his hand rest on the khaki pants that covered her thigh.
"Just relax and concentrate on your driving," she said with a laugh.
"Relax now, but we'll see about later," she thought to herself.
She let his hand stay resting on her thigh and closed her hand over it. She decided to tease him.
"How do you propose to get 'connected' in a public park?" she asked in her most demure voice.
"Where we're going, Jane, it's a wilderness. I wouldn't worry about anyone seeing us do anything."
"Like Adam and Eve, I suppose."
Jane was starting to become intrigued by the possibilities.
David didn't answer because they were entering Allegany State Park, their destination. He pulled into a parking space and disappeared into the office to register while Jane waited in the car.
"Let's mount up!" Jane heard David call out to her.
"He must be kidding!" Jane said to herself. "I thought that we would drive in a ways first."
At the back of the vehicle David helped Jane mount her backpack on her shoulders. Hers was lighter than his and the frame that he bought helped balance the weight. David adjusted the straps and she stood testing it.
"It's not too bad," Jane said.
"You're carrying about thirty pounds," he said. "Don't worry, you'll be tired enough when we reach our first campsite."
"How much is yours?" she asked.
"You don't want to know," he replied. Jane judged David's pack to be about fifty pounds, comparing its size to her own.
As they began walking, David passed on more information to her.
"This is part of the Allegany National Forest. The park is a plateau, one hundred square miles, covered by a forest. There's an area with man-made amenities that we'll pass through first. We'll head due south. Before we get on top of the plateau we'll have to trek up to it."
"David," said Jane, "there a lot of people here. I thought that this place was isolated."
"Don't worry!" he answered. "As we get farther in, we'll see fewer and fewer; then there will be no one around—just us."
.... There is more of this story ...