A friend is very much looking forward to being in once place this winter, settling down and falling into a routine. He’s grown tired of living out of his car, buying food only for that day, sleeping on the floors of friends’ homes.
Can’t say I relate. On the go since January and I don’t want to stop.
You see, there’s nothing quite as satisfying as going somewhere. Have you ever experienced 70 miles an hour on some stunning NorthWest highway, car filled with everything needed to survive? The satisfaction of knowing that any of these forest-service roads can be home for the night?
Wandering is an addiction.
Only necessity has convinced me to tie myself down this winter in Sandpoint, Idaho. Six month lease mid-November through Early April steady employment what? That’s quite a commitment, and if it wasn’t for the issue of funds, I’d be going still.
Permanency, for any period of time, poses a threat. This blog and life have for the past two years been based on travel. The constant go, excitement of new locations and meeting new people. What adventures can be generated by staying in once place? How can I be inspired without my regular endorphin-releasing dose of travel?
Or maybe, more worrisome, are the temptations a routine will bring. The comfort zone of a steady job will begin to encroach on memories of tip money in pocket, three days off and someone new and beautiful to enjoy it with. I fear getting used to having a full kitchen at my disposal and a place to put things I have never needed before. Having a roof and steady work will start to seem more inviting than coming back from yet another unpaid day on the river to find my tent swamped out.
Permanency is an addiction.
Don’t you loose that desire, my friend Surge tells me. He says he sees in the faces of his friends the great wanderlust diminish. Don’t you stay and get it too.
I don’t dare.
“I’m looking to settle down here in Bonners Ferry for the winter and I’m scoping out jobs.”
I almost couldn’t believe the words as they left my mind and my mouth. Settle down? Job?
Things happened fast. I had quite the leisurely early September in Oregon. Things kept coming my way like the river trip with OARS, blackberry jam making and end-of-the season goodbye festivities.
I grew tired of waiting for things to happen to me though. In the end, it felt like I was trying to wring the last drops of summer out of that place.
And Idaho called me back, so I went. I visited my brother first in Portland and had a great time. We saw the Shook Twins play live, one of my favorite bands. Their positive, folksy, quirky, and sometimes child-like energy is just what I’ve been feeling lately. They were everything I hoped they’d be live, and my brother even took a liking to my hippie music.
Then I spent some time with my Dad in Clarkston. It was good to see him, we drifted the lower Clearwater, went trap shooting and ate good food. It was a perfect welcome back to inland life.
Next was a trip through Moscow and Pullman. Roller Derby, good friends, beer, nostalgic Moscow Farmers’ Market. I also took photos of a family friend for his engagement announcements, which made me feel semi-productive as a person ( see photos above ). Then blazing up to Coeur d’Alene my Mom and I saw the CDA Opera’s production of Carmen.
Then, I continued my unemployment tour to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Long story short, it was here that I found out that my original plans to go back to Oregon for one final trip would not work. I was a little heartbroken. I didn’t feel like I had said a proper goodbye to the Rogue. I had more steelhead fishing to do. I had rapids to run in an inner-tube. My summer is NOT over, damnit!
And again, I found that I was waiting for things to happen to me. So, I started making things happen for me.
Job shadow in Priest River, applications out to several places in Bonners Ferry, Schweitzer Mountain, and two leads on places to rent for the winter. Thanks to some good friends with connections and a day of action, I can move on to my next adventure.
My summer euphoria has mostly waned, it’s time to find a new happy place and make something for myself.
Over the course of a summer, I have the privilege of experiencing amazing relationships. These relationships are intense and passionate, fueled by summer euphoria and river adrenaline.
So, for the better part of the summer we river guides are in love. We are enamored with our own innocent existence in the greater river world. Because of this state we fall so easily in love with each other, as friends and as lovers.
Our guests sense that something is different about river people. They get a whiff of our free-flowing life and some can’t help but comment on it. If I could do it over I would do what you are doing, some say. Good for you, you’re living the dream while you’re young, they tell us.
It’s a great life, we respond. And it is.
But we don’t tell them that for every high there is a low, and like everything, there is a down side to spending your summer in love on the river.
The guests don’t see all the grunt work that we guides put in for their trip; the cleaning, lifting boats, long hours, infrequent showers, the physical wear and tear on your own body. But these things are not the down side to river guiding.
The worst part of this job is the goodbyes. We move with the seasons, and at each transition we say goodbye to something or someone we have fallen in love with. Rivers that have captured our imagination, lines in rapids yet to be perfected, we have to let all these things go and move on.
But for me, I always end up saying goodbye to someone I’ve unintentionally grown fond of. We can say we’ll see each other next season, but nothing is ever the same when you come back to it after so much time. Each goodbye wears on me; it’s the only thing tempting me to ‘settle down.’
It’s too much to tell our guests that we throw ourselves passionately at this seasonal life, only to have our hearts broken at the end of it, each and every summer. So we tell them we love our jobs but we don’t have it all, and leave it at that.
Can we have it all? No we can’t, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.