It is unusual for me to be up this late, and particularly writing this late. I drove from Clayton, ID to Missoula today, to see my Dad for the first time in nine years. And grief sucker-punched me right in the face. It does that sometimes, sneaks up on you when you least expect it. Being back in Montana brought me so many memories, all of them reminded me of mom. I never expected it to be so emotional for me. I am reminded of what I have lost, and though most of the time I celebrate life's beauty, sometimes I am laid low from what seems to be the pure cruelty of it all and none of it makes sense.
Montana was my mom's dream, and my dad's dream and she loved it here. I drove past the road where we spent many a summer camping up on our property. Gone. All of those dreams died, the property belongs to someone else now. As much as it might hurt me right now, I know this was the right thing to do, coming back to Montana after nearly a decade. I don't know why now. Maybe it's a final chapter that needs to be healed over, maybe it is simply a longing to see the one parent I have left. Maybe it's nothing more than a child's foolish dream to find the thing she lost, somehow, some way, in the place her mom loved the most.
I bet you didn't expect that. And neither did I. So, I will let it stand and move on to what were some of the best things of my last few days. Tomorrow will be a new day, and I know this grief will pass through. Kind of like the rainstorms I drove through today in the mountains. They don't last forever.
Salmon River Scenic Byway. If you ever find yourself in a position to drive from Clayton, ID to Missoula, MT, do it. It is incredibly beautiful, following this river. One of my favorite road trips ever. I didn't enjoy the mountain pass so much as I came into Montana, but the rest of the drive is full of beauty.
Deer. Last night after I finished watching "Hot Tub Time Machine", I looked out the camper window and the two baby deer from the night before were out grazing. It was so cute how they shimmied under the fence and back into the field. We saw one of the does earlier that night just wandering through the camp site as we were out eating dinner. On my way to Montana today, just a few miles outside of Challis, a young buck stood in the road in my lane. I slowed down and honked, hoping he'd move off to the river and he did. The only problem was I had a psycho truck driver bearing down on me and I wasn't sure what was going to hit me first. Luckily, neither did. Everyone was safe but it gave me pause to drive a little more cautiously. Especially because one of the guys on Brian's crew had rolled his truck after swerving to avoid a deer yesterday.
Ghost Towns. Between yesterday and today, I visited Bonanza, Custer and Bayhorse ghost towns in the area around where I was staying and took a ton of pictures! I love old history, and it was cool seeing these abandoned mining towns and the old buildings. I don't really know which one was my favorite, because they were all so different. Strange to see the old graves and things of people who had lived 150 years or so ago. A step back in time.
Dad. My dad did the sweetest thing and booked a hotel room for my stay. He was worried about me being too warm at his place, and not having wifi. We got me all checked in to the hotel, had a late dinner at Ruby's Cafe, checked out a local bookstore and watched "A Million Ways To Die In The West". I met his neighbors and in some ways it was as if no time had passed at all between us. I am not sure what our plans are tomorrow, I guess we'll wait and see how it shapes up and what the weather is like.
Chris. I would be remiss if I did say it was awesome to spend the week with my oldest and dearest friend. We had so much fun adventuring around together! I miss her already. She is the most giving, kindest, caring person and I love her for it. We might just have to make the 4th of July an annual trip. Hard to believe we've known each other since we were 9 years old. Anyone should be so lucky to have a friend so wonderful for most of their life. I know I am.
Writing was a wise choice tonight. My grief has settled down to a pattering rain, and in the morning my world will be clean and scrubbed fresh. It is time to make some new memories, not forever holding on to the old ones. I am excited to explore new places around Missoula and the surrounding area, puttering around with my Dad. As C.S. Lewis says....