Thursday, January 21, 2010

bright january

Januarys are sometimes difficult for me. Might even be my least favorite month of the year, although some very important people in my life were born in this month. Missoula is gray and socked in and it is not as easy as it used to be for me to just take off skiing up Lolo Pass or climb to the top of Sentinel everyday (above the foggy layer).

One of my best friends in the whole world makes an annual trip to Missoula in mid-January and it has proven to be a BIG BRIGHT spot in this otherwise dreary month. I'm still glowing from a few wonderful days with her.

(last Saturday we were in the process of trying to get out of the house to go sking at Lolo Pass.  I didn't bring my camera on the ski - but it was AWESOME - but mostly because Holli was with me.)

Friends like this are precious and they act as a compass...they remind you where you've been, where you are and where you are going... They kick you in the butt if you need a boot, and they love you unconditionally. I know Holli loves me unconditionally (and I her)...and maybe it is because of what we have been through together...more than it is due to the amount of years I have known her.

She has a very special place in my life, due in part that we grew up in the same town, went to high school together, and shared a circle of friends in college at the University of Southern Maine... But one of the biggest reasons could quite possibly be attributed to a game of rock paper scissors on one cold Maine January night in 1997.

Holli and I got this brilliant idea that we needed to do something life changing.... something BIG. I had graduated from USM the summer before and was working some stupid office job, she was graduating that coming June. I'm not sure exactly how it all transpired but we thought up two very different but equally adventurous ideas. One adventure we both wanted to do was to hike the Appalachian Trail in its entirety....and the other, well, was to take a road trip out West! Without much other discussion we out of three. I think you know which one won out.

The thing about travel, I think ~ especially road trips, I find I learn much more about myself and the people I travel with, more than I could ever hope to learn about the places I visit. It becomes the part you remember...and if it's a "real" trip it not only becomes the part you remember - it becomes YOU. It changes you in small and BIG ways. You grow in ways you never thought possible, and this may sound strange but, I am my very BEST self when traveling or deep in some remote wilderness with nothing but what I can carry on my back (part of the reason I love adventure racing so much). Even writing this I can conjure up that feeling I have and it almost makes me teary. It moves me. I am free of routines, I'm light, I'm open.

I won't pretty-it-up for you, Holli and I wanted to kill each other at times. A couple times we went our separate ways (I'd take the car and camp out for a night alone, and visa versa), once (while staying with a high school friend Andrew in Arcata) I even pondered a plane ticket home. We are two completely different people, living completely different lives, but there was just something magical about the trip. It was the perfect time in our lives to do it. It, obviously, could never happen today....not a 4 month trip. I got Holli's journal and am still planning to write about this magical trip, but, since I'm supposed to be packing for a trip to Glacier National Park, I better get going for now.

Holli and me in the Badlands (my Mamiya 645 was never too far from my grip on this trip)

(one of MANY open mics we sang while traveling across the country. This happened to be in Missoula, MT)

(Holli - Glacier National Park)

(Farley  (The 1985 Honda Accord with over 300,000 miles on it before even starting our trip) had broken down a.g.a.i.n.!  This was taken near Mount Rainier)

(dressing up and going out on the town in Seattle with our high school friend Elizabeth.  My outfit compliments of the last Salvation Army we hit.)

(ok - these are not flattering but they were taken after about a week without a shower with the tangliest hair we've ever had - and these were some of the best days of my life!)

(looking completely out of place ~ but oh SO completely in place - Las Vegas, NV)

(one of the self-timed photos that Holli wasn't too psyched about taking - but who can resist THIS for a backdrop?.... somewhere in UTAH)
(Yes, this is one of the two jobs we stopped and worked along the way....we were out of Arcata, CA. We worked as cleaning ladies for the dorms at Humboldt University. We also worked outside Boulder CO in Longmont answering calls for Newsweek by day, and slept in Boulder Canyon in our trusty tent by night. Had to pitch our tent in the dark since camping was NOT ALLOWED.)

Here are a couple photos I took this week. Astrid turned 19 months last week:

1 comment:

Eleanor said...

HIya Elizabeth -

great post. So loved hearing about your friendship with Holli and seeing photos of the two of you. The trip sounds lifechanging and amazing. Makes me want to hop in the car and GO. You were both so brave. I love that you took such a big leap. I've only known HOlli for 3 years (she started my women's group) but I do love her dearly. i am a little envious of your having known each other for so many years (but then again, I have my very own "bestest" and not everyone can say that). I hope to meet you when you come to visit again. Thanks for being such a good influence on Holli (and PS your daughter is magical!)