Somewhere between the continuous training and deployments that define the military lifestyle of our military service members lies the 96-hour liberty. Reserved for special occasions and holidays, the 96 is a chance to spend exactly four days away from everything in uniform. It usually starts with a sprint to some location just far enough away to be different than life on the base, but close enough to ensure there’s time for maximum relaxation and adventure.
Even when our time in the military is over and we’ve gone our separate ways, there’s still something unique about taking four days away from it all for a brief reunion and reaffirmation of the bonds that were forged in a crucible far away. 96 hours goes by fast, but nothing beats the chance to catch up on life and try some new adventures with friends who a share a common history.
After an evening of stories and jokes and the first home-cooked meal together in ages, there’s always the desire to get out and relive some of the action that was central to life before hanging up the uniform. Some firearms, some ropes, and a lot of open space and high places complete the experience. Doesn’t matter what the weather is doing if you have the right tools with you.
Once back at the cabin, the clock slows down a bit while the simple things take over. A campfire provides the centerpiece for an evening in the cool fall air, and a beer or two helps the conversation along as it jumps from past to present to future.
Getting away from everything is both a physical and mental thing. The pace picks up the next afternoon with some adrenaline sports of the four-wheel variety, followed by some down time spent just checking out the views and the life at this new elevation.
The cold air and the snow complement and clarify the mood, though some hot coffee doesn’t hurt the situation at all. What goes up, must come down, and the race to get back to the cabin for dinner begins.
Along with everything going on outdoors, there’s always time to check out the nearest town and the folks who call it home. Learning a bit of the history of a place while you’re writing your own story is a great way to make the experience memorable.
The last night of a 96-hour getaway almost always brings a retrospective of the things that have come before, plus a little thinking about what’s coming down the road. Even with all that life throws at you every year, one of the coolest things about a 96 is that you know that you’ve always got room on your calendar for another one.