So this first post will be pretty lengthy as I've already been away from home for almost three weeks. Feel free to take it in bits and pieces or skim any parts that become way too descriptive or boring.
My journey really began at two train stations. One in St. Paul MN where Mom and Dad dropped me off, and the other in East Glacier MT where my sister (Erin) and her boyfriend (Andrew) picked me up. While leaving parents never becomes entirely comfortable, this time felt the strangest yet. This wasn't back to school for a few months with visits interspersed. This wasn't moving away from home with a new job and wife. It was somewhere in between. We said goodbye, Mom holding back apron string tears and Dad with a smile of pride touched with a little bit of "I wish I was going with you." Then there was nothing stopping the train of departure. Except for seven hours of delays due to flooding, construction, and probably Sasquatch for all I know.
Very long and tedious story short, we limped into the platform in East Glacier around 3 AM. I got off the car and saw my breath fog up in the lights of the two room station and cars parked in the gravel lot. One of which was a familiar red Toyota Tacoma with a certain energy filled girl and a more reserved bearded compatriot standing beside it. Like a loaded spring with seven hours of tension, Erin ran up and hugged me. I threw my bags in the back of the truck and we rushed down the mountain road north and then west to Rising Sun. Andrew drove through the mountainous veins that become familiar when one works as the boat maintenance guy for all site of the boat tours in Glacier National Park. Erin fought off "carcolepsy" admirably and we all caught up on the last two months before I crashed on their coach for a few hours of sleep.
Over the next week I climbed close to the peak of Going to the Sun Mt. (Erin and Andrew of course blazed their way to the top), kayaked on a glassy and glacial St. Mary's Lake, spent three days on a solo backpacking trip where I met some awesome people on the trail and saw a rainbow encompass Elizabeth Lake from Ptarmigan Tunnel, ran into four bull moose to keep me on my toes, and rode on possibly the last boat tour Erin will give. Even though I came out of the week with an pooped out knee (don't worry Mom it's fine now), it was a wonderful and comfortable start to my journey.
After a commiserative breakfast with Andrew after Erin left on the eastbound train, I putzed around town until I took an blessedly on time train to Seattle that night. I spent the first three nights with Connor at the Foote household in Queen Anne. We explored the many floors (and most importantly used book stores) of the Pike Place Market, went to trendy converted warehouse bars, and watched the Packers get trounced by the Seahawks. I left the bar quietly in the 4th quarter so as not to disturb the cross room chants of "SEA-HAWKS!" Connor put up with my meek Midwestern yells of "Go Packers" for at least a quarter.
I spent the second half of my week in Seattle with Zack and Kelsey on the opposite hill of Magnolia. We spent one day exploring Discovery Park's western shore. After descending through a sandstone canyon and raised rainforest runway, Zack and I walked out a few hundred feet in low tide past the point of no return or possibly no future children. The water was chilled with a hint of Lake Superior. We found a dead crab floating in the water and we gave him a proper Instagram funeral before tossing him in a tide pool. Then we discovered some rare aquatic creature that popped sea water like a pimple and sucked back into the sand when touched. We finished by filling three Tupperware containers with blackberries that stained our hands red. They were the source of local flavor in out mojitos that night when Connor joined us for stir fry. It was a wholesome day with recognizable laughter. It was a familiar feeling with familiar friends in an unfamiliar place.
The next day Zack, Kelsey, and I hopped on the ferry to Bremerton for the day. We made our way in the unseasonable Seattle dry heat across the Manette Bridge to Der Blokken Brewery. In an eating area aired out by the old garage doors of the building, we were served creamy Scottish Ale, Parmesan fries, poutine, and the best BBQ sauce I've had in a long time. A brisk trot then brought us back to the ferry just on time, where we dosed in the sun as we glided our way back to the big city.
And so ended my two weeks of vacation to start my vacation. Putting off my great labors to improve the world in all manners, I was content with simply hearing voices that fit in my memories. With uncertainty looming in the next year, old constant friends are worn woolen blankets for the blustery nights that might lie ahead. New friends keep you fresh and evolving, old friends keep you grounded and you. I think I'll end this quite lengthy post for now. The next one will delve into my new life here at the farm. For now I'm going to hit the hay (pun absolutely intended) so I can pitch some tomorrow.