First There Were Some Mountains

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August 29th 2020
Published: August 30th 2020
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There wasn’t much else to do but to leave. We’d seen every property that looked like a possibility. The chances of new possibilities coming on the market were decreasing with summer’s end, and would grow ever sparser as winter set in. The market was now fairly tapped out, and we’d reached the end of our planned journey, and we were exhausted, and needed to get home. We just didn’t have another showing in us.

And besides, we’d found our place. That place in Whitehall we’d seen early on, that place we saw again two days ago, that place we’d quite liked the first time, we’d fallen in love with the second time. It checked all of our boxes and then some. It was in a beautiful spot. And so there was little else to do but to communicate with our third partner, and with the realtors, and if it felt right, to make an offer, all of which could be done electronically. And if we weren’t going to make an offer, we were spent, and there was nothing to do but to return home empty handed and regroup, reconnoiter, and recalibrate.

So we got up that second morning after a moose-free night and hit the road, heading east to Three Forks for a decent cup of caffeine, and then on to a big tourist restaurant right on the Interstate for breakfast, where we ate, uploaded more pictures, and videos, and had a long Zoom conversation with Sally’s brother. While Sally can talk on the phone for hours, I have a breaking point, and when we reached it, I declared myself finished, went and gassed up the caRV, drained and re-iced the coolers, and went back to pick up Sally, who finished up the call.

And then we began our vacation. We drove east to Livingston, headed south on 89, and soon enough found ourselves at the gates of Yellowstone National Park, laughing with a funny ranger, who, rather than charge us the $35 per car fee, clued us in that, due to our advanced age, we could buy a year-long pass to thousands of national parks, national forests, BLM lands, etc, for a mere $20. Since my mother didn’t raise no dummies, we took the year-long pass.

Yellowstone was beautiful and interesting. Tracking mask-wearing everywhere we go, we were pleased to find that the majority of visitors, even in the busy spots, were mask-free, despite the many signs, warnings, and encouragements we saw along the way, this being a federal facility, after all. It all seemed rather forgiving and accepting. Those who wanted to wear masks wore them. Those who didn’t didn’t. That has always seemed, to me, the way it should be, if we must wear masks at all, which many are convinced they must.

The drive down from Montana was amazing. Through the Paradise valley into Yellowstone, then into the Grand Tetons. From there a long and desolate highway to Dubois, where we KOAd it for the night. Then on from Dubois to Lander, and then Rawlins, before we finally hooked up with I-80. The roads were well-paved and sparsely driven. The Yellowstone caldera is beautiful. The Tetons awesome. Dubois was a cute little frontier/cowboy town with the requisite jackalopes in the shop windows. And the colorful rock formations lining the Wind River valley were a sight to see. We crossed back and forth over the Continental Divide half a dozen times along the way. It was all quite marvelous, and Sally and I were quite giddy, relieved to be mostly done with our task, relieved to have a bit of “down time,” glad to see such awe-inspiring and gorgeous country, glad to be amongst people who, many of them, even most of the locals, given the high numbers of tourists we encountered, were meeting this countries current media-induced madness with what we consider smart skepticism and grounded wisdom.

We stopped in Rawlins at Rose’s Lariat (Traditional Mexicana) for an early lunch, having skipped breakfast mostly because Sally was either texting or on the phone with her brother and our realtors whenever we got into an area that had cell service. All of Rose’s employees were masked, their bathroom was closed, and they wouldn’t even let me touch the machine to sign for my bill, but the auto parts store next door was allowing Rose’s customers to use their bathroom, so we went there, where nobody was wearing a mask, where everything was fully open and “normal,” and where Sally found the correct parts, and borrowed a tool, to restore the fuse for our front cigarette lighter, so that we could use our invertor more easily, and charge our devices while driving.

Since then we’ve been heading east. Through Laramie and Cheyenne, into Nebraska, We stopped in Sydney for gas and the bathroom at a fully-masked Love’s Truck Stop, where I got some salt-and-pepper pistachios on sale. Sally took over driving for a while, leaving me on the bed in the back, where I’m now writing this.

We loved Montana and Wyoming. The warm dry days. The cool dry nights. The amazing mountains and rivers and valleys and views. The welcoming people, who felt to us mostly quite grounded and down to Earth, as if living amongst such beauty, connected to that famous “big sky,” connected to cattle and horses and the awesomeness of huge mountains and clear lakes, connected to hard work and huge responsibilities on the farms and ranches, as if such things as those bred into people an uncommon sense we both wish were much more common. We’ve put together an offer. It’s in the hands of our realtors now. If all goes well, we may be making our way back out here before the snow flies. There were mountains there for a while. Now there are no mountains. There will likely be mountains again.

For now, it’s time to drive and drive. We’re going to push through the night. One long, hard, full day of driving and we’ll be back in our familiar home, in our usual bed, exhausted, spent, and ready for a real rest.

I’ll write more when we get there. Until then. Pax-T

Addendum: We’re now having breakfast in a freezing cold restaurant somewhere in southern Indiana. It’s the next morning. Who’s idea was this anyways?


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