Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Summer adventure

So, folks. Long time no post. It's been an interesting summer!
When last we met, we were about to embark on a move to Missoula, MT in our little RV. And we did! We split from Grand Rapids on May 5, and headed north to go over the big blue bridge, across the U.P. and over the top portion of the country. The first night we made it as far as Comstock Park (about 4 miles - LOL) because of our late start and other random errands, and then it got dark. Jim's beginning cataracts don't allow for night driving anymore, and no way in hell was I driving that thing.
Next day, we did in fact head north, made a good distance, and had a lovely time!

Goodbye, Mitten of Michigan! 
Lake Michigan from the Mackinaw Bridge

Brief leg-stretching on the north shore of Lake Michigan
In Wisconsin, south shore of Lake Superior

Connor with his guys...
Diggin' the RV
Althea and her load

So, that was the first day or so. We lunched by Lake Superior, Connor ran about and had a good ol' time. Rilo was kinda freaked out by the whole thing, and Stanley-the-Cat, well, let's just say he was still less than thrilled about the whole being-in-a-box-in-a-moving-vehicle deal. He was also unamused by his harness and leash. Unlike the rest of us! LOL!

One of the most interesting things, I thought, was how North Dakota is NOT fucking flat!! Who knew? It's not exactly hilly per se, but man there is some serious elevation gain in that state! The oil fields were amazing to see. Cities of campers and RVs, the only place we encountered where one couldn't park an RV overnight in a WalMart parking lot. Just so many people flocking there for the work on the oilfields, there was no possible way to accommodate them all, so WalMart there had to disallow the overnight thing. Muddy, rainy, miserable, thousands of people working those jobs, driving giant new trucks, wearing denim or Carhartt overalls covered in this gray, icky-sticky mud. Yikes!!!

We got into Montana, spent a night in Great Falls, then took Roger's Pass over the Continental Divide. On the way up, we saw a wolverine waddle across the road, and it proved to be the first in a plethora of awesome and stunning wildlife sightings. Made it over the pass no problem, despite Jim's misgivings. Ha! I knew it'd be just fine. I swear, the man is not happy if he has nothing to worry about! Stopped in Lincoln for a few minutes, got gas, Connor got a Sponge Bob ice cream for breakfast (this is how to make and almost-five-year-old reeeeaaaaalllllly happy), and we headed on into Missoula. Gorgeous drive! Absolutely love that country! The mountainy rivers, the pine trees... god, I was totally swooning over the scent of pines on the air during our stop! Kept the windows down the whole way in, and just basked. I LOVE the Rockies beyond words.

We got into Missoula on a Wednesday. We hung out at the Dragon Playground, because Connor loves that place! We rode the carousel, we just... hung out and enjoyed for a couple days. Then Cassady and Andy came up to Missoula from California, and picked Connor up on his birthday. 

Oh boy! Icky cupcakes with Spiderman rings! 5 year old heaven!

Carousel ride with Mommy and Gramma
The whole fam damily

And then Connor went to California to live with Mommy and Andy, and Gramma and Papa got to learn how to be sans kid. Sooooo....

We drank some good beers.
We went to Lolo Hot Springs, and soaked in the awesome water.

Across from our camp

Doggie under the picnic table

Mah shadow at the edge of Lolo Creek

And there's the creek running right behind Athea

Sooooo beautiful!

Then we went meandering about...
This is a trek to and around Flathead Lake. Man, it is so beautiful up there! The Mission Range? Be still my heart.

We spent a few days up there. Fished, hiked, sat at water's edge and listened. I love the silence of the woods, the breeze through the pines, the call of water birds in the early hours, the scent of pine, an unbelievable (for one from the city, who has had opportunity to forget) blanket of brilliant stars. 

We wandered on from here, and spent a couple days at Swan Lake.

Yeah, I really like Montana a lot. I miss Montana a lot!
Then we went and just hung around Missoula for a bit, which was lovely. I like that city. There are pretty rainbows against dark gray skies.

So anyway, we had this lovely summer adventure. But, well, we kinda freaked out, didn't stay pat and really give it a solid chance to see what we could make happen. And we pointed the buggy west again, and landed in Portland. 
Now, for a big-ass city,  Portland is pretty damn nice. Lots of trees, big parks, good coffee and food and beer. But, it's a big-ass city. So it is dirty and noisy. And crowded. We scored a decent little apartment in a pretty cool neighborhood, but it is again the hustle, and the consumption, and the go-go-go get-have-take mentality that makes me feel all yucky inside. The wealth disparity is so glaringly apparent. Lamborghinis driving through neighborhoods while people sleep in bushes with their shopping carts bicycle-locked to parking regulation signs. These are the things that make me cranky. Being in the midst of this makes me feel a deep sense of anomie, a marginalization that I did not feel in Montana. That I do not feel among the trees and birds. The air is often fairly thick, though not as much so as the midwest. There are no thunder storms. Few stars are visible. And even walking in a beautiful wooded 5000+ acre park includes freeway noise. There is no quiet place, no respite. There are beautiful places, though! 

There are lovely walking paths, and the International Rose Test Garden is here. Wow is that something to see!

And, of course, on clear days, gorgeous views of Mount Hood. But still, really, one ginormous volcano does not equal the Rocky Mountains. Not by a long shot.

So, I think we've had an amazing summer! Lovely adventures, great food, some interesting travels. But I think that, when all is said and done, Montana was the right call. We needed this interlude to really get clarity on it, and remember the why of the move itself.  So, as the job search (for me) continues, along with the projects I am concocting for some income-generation, it is with renewed motivation. Out of the city, and back to the woods. It was right, it was good, I felt like I belonged there. With the eagles and the cougars and the mountain lakes and rivers. I felt alive and at home as I've not felt in years, and I feel its loss fairly acutely. Meanwhile, though, me and Portland will continue on in our civil interactions, and I'll take away lessons from this city as I have from everywhere I've been. I'll soak up the sun, not worry about the coming rain, and take life as it comes - day by day.


Valerie Munthe said...

j'adore. No matter where you land, home is where the heart is. Although it's hard to imagine now, there will be a time when Jesse and I, too, will be kidless and we most certainly will be getting an RV and exploring the world (if there even is a world by then!).
Whatever you two do, there will be fun and certain freedoms at hand.

Gramomster said...

Thanks Val. It's good to know you're out there!

Isn't it TO DIE FOR gorgeous?! And, yano, if we can do it, we can make a world apart from the world. Chickens, some bees, a big ol' garden, and nobody comin' tellin' us we can't. That's what I truly want when it comes right down to it... a place as protected from chaos as I can manage. This ain't it. LOL!!!

Aimee B said...

I hear you Zoe! You will land in the right place!

We want bees and chickens and goats and a sheep and a big ol' garden and....

Love, Aimee

xinem said...

I saw you in Montana. That's the place for you.