Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Road Trip Therapy

We've completed our version of a Great Circle.  The Offspring, Mrs. Fading Angler, and I arrived home last night around 9:45 PM CDT.  I must note for everyone's benefit that 95% of the total miles and 100% of the miles towing the Mobile Hotel® were driven by Mrs. FA.  I haven't been allowed to be in the driver's seat when towing this RV.  This is probably wise, but not fair that I'm unable to share the burden of driving on a 17 day round trip.  She's amazing.

The Great "Circle"
(click images to enlarge)

Some facts from the trip:

  • Slightly over 4000 miles driven
  • Highest altitude reached: 9642 feet above sea level, at the Big Horn Medicine Wheel
  • Major destinations:
    • Glacier National Park
    • Missoula, MT (heart checkup for Offspring 1.4)
    • Phillipsburg, MT (sapphire mining for The Offspring and Mrs. FA)
    • Yellowstone National Park
    • North Tongue River in Wyoming's Big Horn mountain range
  • Wild animals observed
    • deer, whitetail and mule
    • mountain goats
    • big horn sheep
    • elk
    • bison
    • wolves
    • garter snake
    • moose
    • coyote
    • red fox
    • pika
    • marmot
    • Eddie Rivard
    • ravens 
    • bald eagles
    • osprey
    • various hawks
    • assorted chipmunks, squirrels, and ground squirrels
  • Waters fished
    • Flathead River, Middle Fork, Montana
    • Flathead River, South Fork, Montana
    • Rock Creek, Montana
    • Madison River, Montana
    • Trout Lake, Yellowstone Park
    • North Tongue River, Wyoming
  • Trout caught
    • west slope cutthroat trout
    • brown trout
    • rainbow trout
    • cutbow trout
    • Yellowstone cutthroat trout
    • Snake River cutthroat trout
This trip was a significant investment.  The route, stopping points, and length of stops was along negotiation.  Discovery was necessary to find places to park the Mobile Hotel® and make reservations.  Fuel. I earn my income by the hour with no "paid time off" for vacation, so I "spent" 4% of my annual income in opportunity cost.  Mrs. FA endured about 40 hours of driving each week, touring and hauling the Mobile Hotel® to the next campsite.

Years ago, I would have NEVER been willing to sacrifice more than a week's worth of income for a vacation.  Isn't it interesting how priorities change when the ticking of of your life's clock accelerates and gets noisier?  We stopped to see old friends, one in failing health that we may never see again.  We spent time with my parents, who's lifespans I do not take for granted.  We got great news about my son's heart.  We went up to our elbows (and occasionally over my head) into experiences we crave and cherish.  I ended nearly every day thinking, "Wow. What a ride!"

I accepted and embraced more of my Fading.  I challenged my abilities and exceeded my limits, finding consequences.  I learned I don't have the stamina I had a couple of years ago, and smiled about it.  I was frustrated to the point of anger at my waning memory and cognitive issues.  So I shed some ego ballast and floated along a little more.  Why fight the current?  Who rages against the dying of the light?  My parents and brother were able to see the changes in my abilities since our last times together.  The fade is being pushed.

This perhaps gives the impression that hope is lost and surrender has been offered.  Would that be true if, for the first time, I've started thinking about what might be on "the list of stuff to accomplish" for 2017?  I've been inspired for some new experiences, perhaps some novel once-in-a-lifetime stuff.  I'm worrying less and anticipating more.  And I remain vividly aware that we've done so many things this year that others will only ever dream of doing.  Tick tick tick.  Motivated choices, permission to live and not just exist.  Someday I might just exist, living very little.  How do I fork lightning?

Strong current has a tendency to smooth rough stones as they're rushed, tossed, and smashed downriver.  I'm being reshaped into somethings else.  I wonder what my stone will look like?


  1. Hey Chris, missions accomplished! If this was your last trip (which it isn't bub!) you really made good use of the time and money took care of family/friend obligations. Looking forward to making a few more memories next month.

    1. And what a mission it was! Knocked a few corners off my rock. Soon I'll be a rolling stone! Or a mossy one...