The Road Has Always Led West

“It should not be denied that being footloose has always exhilarated us. It is associated in our minds with escape from history and oppression and law and irksome obligations. Absolute freedom. And the road has always led west.”

These are the words of the “Dean of Western Writers”, Wallace Stegner, as quoted in the film, “Into the Wild”, the great ode to the spirit of adventure.

Driven by the same spirit, the boys and I, along with the greater T & Sons family, took Stegner’s words to heart and took the road that led west. Not the American West but our own version, in the Western Province of South Africa. Starting from Cape Town, we headed to Yzerfontein on the Atlantic coast, about an hour’s drive away.

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For us, freedom is about the celebration of life, unrestricted. An unexpected thing happens when you remove the rules from the lives of children who are used to rules. They don’t necessarily rebel, act out or cause a ruckus. They very often, simply, find themselves again. They relax into themselves.

The beach does this for my two. Instead of them becoming wild in the company of a remote expanse of beach sand to gambol on, a stillness comes over them. A sense of peace. They still run about, scurry between rocks and in the shallow waters of the ocean lapping the shore, but the tone is something similar to the calm contentment you see in those scenes in “Into the Wild”, when Emile Hirsch, playing Christopher McCandless, runs with the wild horses, plays in the sea’s strong waves, rides the river’s rapids. It’s a sense of being at one with nature.

We can’t bottle that up to take home with us, but we can return, again and again, to the rocks, the shells and the sea sand, and we can hold onto the memories. The memories that stir later in life when you think back to the places where you felt the most at ease. The most at home.

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Where we stayed: Bakoven in Cape Town and Gong Beach House in Yzerfontein.