"What were you doing this summer, sir?" Carter asked.
"Hmm?" Jack said, poking at the campfire. New York tomorrow, home shortly thereafter. That was the plan. George's plan. Good old George, who was once young and slender and had hair. Both of them good men to put your faith in. Man. Good man.
"Summer of '69." Carter smiled invitingly. "Quite a time."
"Oh, yeah," Jack agreed.
"So?" Daniel prodded.
"What was young Jack O'Neill up to?"
"Come on, sir." Carter coaxed.
"How old were you?"
"Seventeen. Well. Almost."
"And you were…?" Daniel gestured encouragingly.
Jack smiled into the fire.
"Confess," Teal'c said.
They all jumped a little. "Hey," Jack said. "Faking kel'no'reem…"
"What makes you think the colonel has something to confess, Teal'c?"
Carter had a big grin on her face. Jack glared at her on principle.
"I am acquainted with him."
Jack switched his glare to Teal'c.
"That's a valid point."
Jack rolled his eyes and didn't bother glaring at Daniel. Daniel was immune, even more than the other two.
"Come on, Jack."
Jack poked at the fire again, mouth twitching. "What was I doing in the summer of '69?"
"Yes, please," Carter said, settling back in happy anticipation.
"Terrifying my mother."
"Really?" Daniel said after a long pause.
"Pissing off my father."
Teal'c broke the silence this time. "Indeed? In what manner?"
Jack grinned. "It was a road trip back then, too." He considered those words. "Back now." He looked at Carter. "Now?"
She nodded. "Right now."
"Right now." Jack stared into the fire. "Right now I might be staring into a fire."
"Picturing your mother's terrified face?"
Teal'c gave a rare grumble of laughter and Daniel grinned at him.
"No, Daniel." Jack's lips twitched. "Contemplating the universe."
"So, same as now? Er, our now?"
"Except with better knees. Way better knees." Jack shook his head a bit sadly. It wasn't that he wanted to make that road trip again, it was just disheartening to admit that he couldn't. But he shouldn't complain. He had other planetary places to go and alien people to meet.
"Kinda mandatory equipment on a bicycle," Jack said. He made pedaling motions with his hands. "Makes it go. 'Round and 'round."
"Where did you go?" Daniel prompted.
"Left Minnesota, headed up to Canada, kept pointing northwest until I hit Alaska."
"Alaska?" Carter said, eyes wide. "That has to be…well, it's thousands of miles!"
"Told ya the knees were better," Jack smirked.
"But I think we've found our first clue as to why they may have fallen apart on you." Daniel looked as stunned as Carter.
"Hey!" Jack protested. "They're still hanging in there."
"By a thread, no doubt."
"Enough about the knees," Jack groused. He rose to his feet as smoothly as he could, managing not to grimace. "Well, I guess we've given the kids enough 'private time.'" He made air quotes.
"If the van's a-rockin'," Daniel said softly. Carter giggled.
"Bedtime, campers. Carter, will you do the honors?" Jack gestured toward the fire.
"I will assist."
"Thank you, Teal'c. Daniel? Shall we?"
As they strolled toward the van, Daniel asked, "Good memories? Your trip?"
"Let me put it this way. If it did kill my knees, it was worth every ache and pain. And every potential future surgical intervention."
"Wow. Meaning-of-life stuff?"
Jack thought back to the boy he had once been. Not particularly enamored of school, hormonal and not too smart about possible consequences of his sexual escapades, quick to run off at the mouth and land himself in trouble, and with no solid plan for the future, just some half-assed daydreams.
The trip was a sudden whim, but he'd planned it all out as carefully as he could. Heading off into the great unknown, on his own? Even as a punk kid he'd realized the magnitude of what he was doing. The planning, the constant adjustments to the plan, the endless hours of solitude, the ever-fascinating landscape around him and the boundless horizon before him…
"Yeah." He nodded at Daniel, and smiled crookedly. "I grew up."
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it's only yesterday
In The Year 2525 by Zager and Evans
(#1 on the Billboard charts for six weeks in the summer of 1969)