June 22, 2012

Campfires. I have always loved them. Loved the heat they provide. The crackle that fills the otherwise stillness of night. The hypnotic dancing of flames that can hold my attention longer than most feature films. I even love the pungent smell that lingers on your clothes long after the last embers fade.

Maybe that's why I've never preferred hotels when bike touring. Campfires in hotel rooms are internationally frowned upon, and that fireplace video just doesn't hack it.

I love the ritual, after the panniers are unpacked and the tents are set up, of gathering wood and kindling. The magic of taking that little flicker of flame from a match and building it into a fire. It isn't instant. It takes time and commitment to tend a campfire. But the rewards are great. And a campfire has an alchemist's way of turning small talk into soul-searching conversation.

Friends. Bikes. Food. Beer. And a campfire.

I think I may have just come up with my definition of happiness.

Photos by Willie Weir


SIGHTS AND SOUNDS is posted every other Friday. Willie Weir is a columnist for Adventure Cyclist magazine. His latest book Travels with Willie: Adventure Cyclist will inspire you to hit the road and just might change the way you approach bicycle travel. He lives in Seattle with his wife Kat. You can read about their adventures at


Thomas July 11, 2012, 4:30 AM

Great trip we had, Willie! So many good memories!!

Winona, Media Director June 22, 2012, 1:32 PM

Hi Richard; Thanks for your comment. Yes, setting up a campfire where there is a fire ban would be a terrible idea. But, there are still places where campfires are fine to enjoy -- when enjoyed appropriately.

Richard Levy June 22, 2012, 1:25 PM

With fire bans proliferating throughout the west, the timing of this post could not be worse.

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