Moose “hunting” is now my new profession. Read on.
Cary and I make a point to travel a lot in life. We are both self employed, so it gives us an amazing opportunity to see the world & work remotely. Typically, this makes us that much more productive because we know there’s a world of exploring waiting for us. It’s like the ultimate, “you can play after you get your chores done” thing. That being said, we haven’t had a real vacation in a very, very long time. Unplugged wasn’t in our vocab.
As I neared turning 30, I chatted with him about really wanting to go somewhere beautiful for my birthday and be unplugged. We both agreed it would probably be good for our sanity to literally NOT be ABLE to check email. So, we settled on this: I would visit my family in Washington State for a week, he would spend a week white water rafting in Idaho, and we’d meet up in Montana and see where the road took us that week.
It was one of the best trips ever: I unplugged for almost an entire week. My senses were heightened, noticing smells and colors I would have missed before. I felt alive in a way I’m not sure that I have felt since I was a kid. I wasn’t planning on writing about my vacation here – just our unique living situation. But because our unique living situation allowed us to take a longer trip, it seemed fitting: instead of paying for rent, I bought a plane ticket. In Washington, I spent time in the garden with my dad, (He has about a 1/2 acre garden and enough tomatoes to feed a hungry army), got to make loads of dried and canned food, spent time with my fam and had a second Birthday party (even got sung happy birthday to), hung out by a river, and finally saw my very best childhood friend’s baby. I love him. I love her, too. 🙂 Pop and I went on some beautiful hikes, one being right behind our house on a road I grew up on as a kid. I thought the road ended 5 minutes away from the house. It turns out, the paved road turns into a gravel road, and the gravel road turns into an old logging road, winding us straight up the hill to magnificent views of the valley below. We even came across an old growth forest and pond. While it was a 45 minute drive, it was still on the same dead-end road that I grew up on and thought ended way before. It was pretty eye-opening realizing something you thought ended your whole life actually kept on going. Makes you wonder.
After a week in Washington, I boarded a plane, onward to our wild, moose-“hunting” adventure! (Cary and I really like animals. We were determined to find moose and everything else under the moon.) We started in Big Sky and went on a VERY long 10 mike hike. I didn’t realize the elevation was so high and completely wore myself out. I basically couldn’t breathe. But, of course, just when I thought I couldn’t take another step, the mountain would entice me to go over that next hump….we had to check it out! We ended up scaling a cliff in search of an amazing view, and a mountain goat (because someone had just seen one). We got our view, but the goat hid. Stupid goat. When we turned around and realized what we had just climbed, I think we both breathed a sigh of relief that we both safely made it. Even though the goat hid, we were lucky enough to see a black bear with its baby later on (at a safe distance) and a moose tromping through the woods. Check, check! Two animals off our list! In the span of a week, we saw some of the most magical places we’ve ever seen. Yellowstone was more enchanting than I could have imagined. With about 10,000 thermal features, it has the highest concentration of active geysers in the world….I thought I’d see about 5 hot springs, so clearly I did my research. 🙂 Buffalo really do rome free in this area. We saw hundreds upon hundreds. Some of them were in huge herds, and some were loners. One loner happened to be parked on the side of the road, scratching a small tree when we turned the corner. We slowly pulled off to the side of the road and the buff didn’t even care. I think if we reached out to give him a scratch, he would have been pleased. Cary asked to ride a buffalo for his Birthday, and that day was his Birthday. I think that’s as close as one could get…if one actually planned to ride a wild buffalo. Luckily my man is crazy, but not that crazy. We did want to take the creature home, though. Not sure the airlines have a fee for that yet. After two days of exploring Yellowstone, we headed on our way to the majestic Tetons and Jackson. It truly was postcard beautiful…everywhere you looked. We visited Mormon Row, a line of homesteads from the early 1900’s. Many of the famous barn photos you see from Wyoming are taken here. I now share with you my new profession: moose hunting, aka moose spotting. We spent every afternoon in a ritual: grab the binoculars, head to the riverbeds and wait for movement in the trees. There were signs all over this damn land that said, “moose crossing” or “be watchful of bear” but we had only seen both on that first day in Big Sky and one other moose. We were determined each night and day to find 1) moose and 2) bear. This might sound boring to some, but this was the best damn experience I could ever ask for: searching for huge animals with the backdrop full of beauty. We saw a lot of elk and, on one lucky night, 5 moose. Still no bear. Finally, on our last day, we got extremely lucky and came across a small bear by the side of the road eating berries off the tree! That night ended up being the best of all: as the sun set and the stars completely filled the sky down to its horizon, it seemed that all the animals were coming out to say adios – even the noisy elk and frisky fox friend. Alongside seeing unique animals, there’s another somewhat strange huge love that Cary and I share: storms. To end our night, this storm rolled in with all of its glory. It was quite the way to end a true vacation.
I will now always make time to take true vacations. It’s good for the soul.