A couple of years ago, I came to Wallace from Missoula for the 1910 Fire Commemoration. I’m not usually one to worry about getting an author’s signature but since I was there I decided to wait in line to have my copy of The Big Burn signed. While waiting in line, I met Ruth. Ruth and her husband have a cabin up the North Fork and were in town for the festivities. She and I talked about the book and how much we’d both enjoyed the talk. I explained that Forrest and I were hoping to move to the valley and we exchanged contact information. About a month later, we were back in Wallace for my birthday and some job hunting and arranged to meet Ruth and Dave in Kellogg for lunch. That turned out to be the day I got my job here and the day we found the cabin.
Ruth and I have checked in with each other off and on since but haven’t manged to meet up again until last night. She and Dave invited us up to their cabin to join them and their friend Chikako (my best stab at spelling) for dinner. We had the most lovely time. It was wonderful to catch up with them and share stories of our time here in Idaho. We told them about renovating our house, about working on the cabin, and about our future plans.
As we talked, I just felt this sense of relief to talk to people who seemed to delight in our ideas and plans. Not to mention, I think I grinned like a fool the whole time we talked with them. It’s not often I get to look at what we’ve accomplished and what we have planned from someone elses point of view.
It’s also not often that we’re treated to such wonderful dinner conversation. The conversation ranged from politics to travel to vehicles to F’s “wisdom.” Chikako (born in Japan) gave us her view on what makes America unique and so full of vitality. We continued the conversation over tea and cake. We wrapped up the evening with promises to stay in touch.
Sometimes I forget how good people are and how much fun I have talking to them. Last night, I remembered.
And on the drive we saw a bald eagle, a moose, ~30 elk, and ~20 deer. So much fun!
The very first paragraph of the book drew me in (and was read aloud to Forrest):
When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked.
When Ezra was here last week one of the projects he took on was building me some bookshelves. One of the things I love about old houses is the built in storage nooks. We used the area behind the guest bedroom door and instead of it being wasted space, it’s now home to my book collection!
The collection is much pared down from what it used to be but as I unpacked the books last night I remembered that I have a kick ass collection of awesome books. (The books have been packed away since we found out we were leaving Missoula almost a year ago.) And somehow, just having them and seeing them makes me happy. The shelves still need to be painted, along with all the other trim in the house, but they’re there and they’re being quite useful.
Aside from the Reclaiming Wife posts being freaking awesome for putting marriage in perspective, see, sometimes, I miss just sitting around and talking with a crew of smart women. I was lucky enough to find such a crew in high school (ohhh The Sisterhood) and there was no shortage of such women at Bates. Being able to recreate that feeling after college has been kind of difficult. It’s the type of thing that I know will come, I just have to keep working at it and, even harder, be a little patient.
Note to self: Get on with the hard work already. Note to reader: If you happen to be reading this and happen to be passing through somewhere near where I might be I’d be more than happy to pour you a glass of wine and we can look out at the mountains and gab.
Connecting with Team Practical via the comments section has been fantastic. (And checking in on blogs like Finding A Wife, We Ski Slow, StofnSarah, and more has been absolutely a delight.) Sometimes I don’t agree with exactly what is said (but if I did it would be so boring!) but the spirit is almost always right on.
And it got even more freaking awesome when I found a group of girls in Missoula with whom I could connect in person. (Yeah, it’s 100 miles away…but that’s part of the deal when you live here…) We met up for the “APW Book Club” to discuss Tara Parker Pope’s For Better. We talked, ate food, and sipped some awesome strawberry lemonade cocktails. For hours. About everything. I drove away in the absolute best mood.
Forrest left me to douse the fire and read Ghost Rider while he went for a real ride. Sprocket and I pretty much took the day easy as I couldn’t drag him out of the cool cabin and I couldn’t put down the book.
Forrest went riding with Rick and friends. “It was fun. It was 160 miles of dirt all mixed up.” In the evening, Roxanne made a fabulous BBQ dinner with pasta salad, chicken, and corn on the cob. Everything was fantastic! Forrest and I headed back up to the cabin later and packed the jeep to move on to the Blue Ridge Parkway!
First order of business on Thursday was to reorganize our supplies for the trip, because we’d moved up our departure date the “things to go” just went rather than being carefully packed away. The Cherokee and motorcycle both got baths and Sprocket got to run around the yard and play in the hose.
After we’d finished up with our road “chores,” we loaded the bike back on the Cherokee and headed into town for a bit. Forrest went to visit some friends at Moab Tour Company (where he used to give Hummer tours) while I hung out in Back of Beyond Books (pretty much one of my favorite bookstores ever) before we all headed up to Slickrock. Forrest rode his bike around the Slickrock trail while Sprocket and I walked the practice route. Sprocket had a blast but that up and down the rock in the warm weather just tuckered him out. He got back to the jeep and crawled right under it and wouldn’t move. I had to give him his water under there!
Afterwards, we made a quick pit stop at the grocery store and took our lunches over to a park where Sprocket played in the fountain. We came back to Danette’s and then went out to hike on Steelbender. We had to drag Sprocket out from his kennel but he came. He had a blast splashing around in Mill Creek—I think he decided it was worth getting up for. He got to walk back to the car with Danette though because Forrest, Robin, and I decided to take a “scrambling” route over a fin of rock. It was really fun, I love how there are so many opportunities to do that here!
We finished up the day with dinner at Pasta Jay’s in town—the pasta was pretty darn good. Back at the house, we all headed for bed pretty quickly, it had been a busy day!
Things are still progressing here in Philomath. Forrest spent most of yesterday working on the Cherokee and checked a few more items from the list. (I must say, my jeep has been getting five star restorative services in preparation for the trip.)
For my part, I’m trying to clear out the house. I’m working on selling various small things we don’t really need on Craigslist but more importantly trying to sell off some of the items Forrest carted home from the HP auction so we don’t have to cart them around. The house is well on the way to being packed up–the maps came down yesterday and the walls look sooo empty!
I also finished Blue Highways last night. I was continually struck by how many places I’ve already overlapped with Least-Heat Moon’s travels. His route in the Sierra’s almost exactly followed where Forrest and I were last August, traveling through Quincy up to Lassen National Park then following California Route 89 along Hat Creek (he was brave enough to jump into it’s gorgeous but frigid waters…I chickened out). He also visited Crater Lake, where we visited just last fall. His next stop was actually Corvallis where he used US 20 to travel out to the coast, mentioning Philomath and Burnt Woods before arriving in Newport and traveling 101 north to Depot Bay and Seaside.
His travels continued on US 30 passing through Astoria on the way to St. Helens which reminded me of my trip to Long Beach with Maryanne and Katie ages ago–the trip where the drunken Asian trophy wife worried about us, where we were all horrendously sunburned by the unexpected June sun, where we told the park ranger we were all 17 to get a discount a museum, where the Blazer seat broke, where we were completely soaked but decided to go home via Astoria anyway. He headed out WA 14 along the Columbia sparking memories of Forrest and I getting a private tour of Bonneville Dam and searching out a hot springs (which turned out to be flooded). Finally, his discussions of New England, particularly Woodstock, Vermont and Kennebunkport, Maine also delighted me. I’d been to both towns and cannot wait to return to my old stomping grounds for a bit.
It was the places he mentioned that I haven’t been to yet but will be arriving in soon that delighted me most though–hearing about Cajun Country: Breaux Bridge, St. Martinville, Opelousas, New Iberia, Abbeville; reading about his drives through Appalachia; and generally savoring the excitement of starting out on a new adventure to new places!
I successfully defended my masters project on Thursday so now it is all systems go for our trip! I am so excited to be hitting the road “with my boys.” We’re working on getting the house and garage packed up–I think we’ve packed as much as we’ll be able to for awhile now. Hopefully we’ll start seriously checking off some items from our pre-trip to-do list this week! In the meantime, I’m re-reading Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon and imagining our trip as a less moody version of his trek in Ghost Dancing.