11,000 miles and 1,100 photos Part 1

Man, I was doing pretty awesome there with all the regular blog posting, huh? Well that basically came to a crashing halt once I left Theresa in Las Vegas a few days ago. This is not our typical work style. Normally if the two of us are together, we dissolve into a blanketed mass that giggles uncontrollably at our own jokes, then rewarding ourselves for those jokes with salt water taffy. So you can imagine my surprise at discovering I haven’t actually been super productive since I got to Salt Lake City.

I am going to blame some sort of combination of drinking for the holiday, access to cable Nature Programs and pollution death cloud that settles over the city every winter. All in all, I’ve just been feeling very lazy, and have been doing a lot of reflecting. Which is I guess what people do when they are unemployed and have cable TV.

With both the year and my trip on their last legs, and every internet media outlet copping out in this last week of December with “Year in Review” articles, I thought I would take a webpage out of their book, and do a Walkabout Photo Redux for you. Before we get started, I do solemnly promise, to you, my most dedicated readers [Mom], that I am in fact working on pulling together an outline for the long form article I set out to write, as well as giving some thought to my next steps career-wise.

But let’s recap.

APRIL

dramatic re-enactment

dramatic re-enactment of what most of my spring was like

A visit to Chicago with my mom to do some intensive career aptitude testing leaves me on the brink of emotional and mental collapse. Returning home to find my car illegally towed, a grad school application that was mishandled, as well as a crash course in the more unfortunate aspects of running family business send me over the deep end. I spent several days crying, then quit my job, and after listening to “Measure the Globe” by Astronautalis on loop an embarrassing number of times, I decided I need to do something else with my life.

[I think it’s probably worth noting that in this photo shoot, which has the barista at the downtown SLC Starbucks wondering about me, I am again, listening to Astronautalis.]

JULY

I got my trailer in July, and I quite love it.  My dad’s anxiety level about the trip is skyrocketing, as I find mine dropping. I am not a nervous traveller, because I usually have a pretty detailed Plan and no one to upset if I need to deviate from the plan. Plans are like security blankets and I am coming to the point where I can just cuddle with one, and not have to really pretend to myself that they’ll keep any monsters away.

Business at Turkey Hill is starting to pick up, and I start to feel guilty about saddling my dad with a lot [all] of the work. I also am overtaken with a sense of indignation that I should feel guilty and overcompensate with pure selfish-ness that is probably only acceptable in young people. I was coming off a long period of not knowing what to do with myself. There is a certain kind of emotional gymnastics that accompany self doubt that I just don’t have the flexibility for. It’s exhausting not being able to trust yourself, and the amount of introspection that comes with over analyzing every decision is not something I can muster for very long.

Me, being awesome.

Me, being awesome.

If I am being honest, I felt broken and exhausted, and buying the trailer put an end to that. The trailer was the only thing that I didn’t have an anxiety about. Having the trailer in my possession made me feel confident again, and that I was in my own estimation, awesome. The only other decisions I can compare it to is the one to get my first tattoo. I did it because I could and I wanted to. The tattoo and the trailer are symbols of my often ignored impulsiveness and came at the end of long periods of not trusting my better judgement.

SEPTEMBER

Much of the early part of September was spent pretending to everyone that I had more of a plan than I did. While I was pretty ok with the total lack of firm plans for the first farm visit, most people I talked to really weren’t. This was a great exercise for anyone who wants to be a writer, I think. When people would ask me what I was doing, how I was doing it, or for god sake’s WHY, I had to find a way to turn an ambivalent shrug into a satisfactory answer that was good enough to prevent more in-depth questions. It’s an art, really, trying to turn something that is profoundly selfish into something that other people can relate to.

I left my parent’s house September 19th, with some hard farewells from the dudes in my life.

My dad shows his love the best way he knows how. Checking to make sure I hitched the trailer right.

My dad shows his love and relieves some of his own anxiety by checking to make sure I hitched the trailer right, for probably the 30th time. Not pictured: him checking the tires, oil, and probably lowjacking the car.

IMG_0963[1]Max is also ready for me to leave. He is just not sure why he doesn’t get to come along

I spent the next few days heading westward, making stops in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and Glacier National Park, getting introduced in the RV life. Trailer life involves mostly discussing your rig with retired folks, and explaining that I can stay warm enough in that thing, and working very hard at finding a way to back into a camp site without anyone watching.

I also am starting to learn the ins and outs the blogging world, and have to come to the ego-killing realizations that the posts that get the most engagement are not ones that I write, but ones just have pictures from National Parks. So kudos, US Department of the Interior, you win.

After some quality time with my cuz in Spokane, I make my way out to Western Washington to spend 3 weeks on Skipley Farm.

OCTOBER

IMG_1234I spent three weeks on Skipley Farm, and it was my first WWOOF experience. It was not what I was expecting. I was impressed with the welcoming and helpful attitude that the men on the farm demonstrated, but it was hard to find my place. I was expecting an sort of up at dawn, work til sunset kind of way. But I quickly learned Skipley boys set their own pace.

The farm was beautiful, and very focused on perennial agriculture. I learned a lot about plant biology, and progressive farming ideas. Skipley Farm is out to improve the world, and their idealism and passion is admirable. Their style of farming is all ideals and academics, and I found it hard to get practical questions answered. They knew the what and the why, but had a harder time with the how.  It was not hard to leave Skipley Farm, emotionally at any rate. The disorganized nature of the farm made it very hard to actually get in the car and go. I was antsy to get going and make a visit to Seattle and to see my family.

I am also starting to concede that selfies can be useful, especially when taunting your work-mom.

I am also starting to concede that selfies can be useful, especially when taunting your work-mom.

In Seattle, I felt some pretty impressive love and support from my friend who flew out to spend an afternoon with me, showing me her favorite spots. Being downtown in a major city was definitely a reminder of all the travel experiences I had before, and am fairly good at. It reminded me of the type of travel I had enjoyed previously, and with the time spent in Pike’s Place market made me feel like there is a way to reconcile two important parts of my life: playing outside, and being in cities. Plus, getting to share that experience with Erin reminded me that I have some pretty badass people in my life.

IMG_1322I rounded out my October with some time spent with my remaining cousins in Portland. I got to hand it to my family for being a pretty accomplished and supportive bunch. That’s a pretty great thing to have in a family. Because while they make you tear out cabinets when you come to visit, damn if they don’t get sh*t done.

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