Sounds like a memoir title, right? Only no. It’s the mission statement of a beautiful place I have discovered. Recently I enjoyed some holiday time–pure vacation. Time off. From life. From work. From everything. Time. It’s been a rough transition back, but I’m beyond happy right now. Are you? Maybe this blog post will entertain you, reader. I feel like telling you a story.
I’m hesitant to share information about the place in this post. I don’t want this place to appear in some logarithm or in confusing online search. I don’t want to spoil the beauty of this place’s simplicity by putting it on the Internets. I’m not usually such a hoarder when it comes to joyous places, but this spot is a gem in the American West. A gem worth protecting and cultivating. Let me first describe this place and how we got there. Then I’ll embed the link in one of my sentences so you can learn about it. And if you’re a careful reader of links, you’ll discover this bit of joy that’s like a town at the end of a dusty long road. Then I’ll try to connect this experience to what I’ve been thinking about with teaching and learning which may (or may not) help prepare me for the various commitments I have from now to December.
Writing a blog post is a bit of joy—and after a massive pile of emails during the work week—it’s nice to focus on one continuous line. One project that has a beginning and an end. One project that may be a beginning to the start of something else. One project that may connect to another project. One project that becomes something else entirely. One project that takes time.
It’s almost the start to our academic quarter and I’ve had three office visits where folks expressed frustration for not having enough time to write. Or how behind they are on things they wanted to accomplish. The time they wasted this summer. The time to write. Time to complete their courses. Time to write me about their ideas for the upcoming year. Time to complete the projects they thought they would do. Time to learn about things they want to learn.
Quantifying time gets us into the realm of measurement. Calculating, weighing, parsing, divvying, splitting, dividing, planning: it’s all bits of time. And like Bob Dylan teaches us, time—it’s a jet plane. And it moves too fast.
By the time my holiday rolled around, I was ready for some adventure. When it came time for me to take my vacation, I realized what a luxury it is to take off and still get paid. A luxury that still feels new to me even three years into my administrator career—such as it is. As an adjunct, I had so much time. Time without pay changes your holiday spirit. Crushes your sense of adventure. Limits your time. Paralyzes your possibilities. I’m thankful and grateful for this time, and I feel so lucky for this holiday that is now living in my memory.
On this adventure, I got to spend some time with my mountain woman adventure hiking partner, Tami. We both work in higher education, and we’re both not so thrilled about the jobby job right now, and we’re struggling with different things that are similar yet not at all the same. I don’t want to go into that here today. What I do want to do is thank her for being so unbelievably cool and putting up with my really bad singing, my whiny princess tendencies when faced with wind and bad weather, and my crappy-ass attitude when I’m tired and/or hungry.
Case in point, all of our travel plans fell through because of the weather, forest fires, or a rejected permit. We’ve been talking about this trip since January, and when everything fell apart with our plans, and I was kind of in a funk of despair. Here’s what Tami said,
“What about a hot spring and brewery tour from here to Idaho? What about the Sawtooths?”
Can I pause right here and tell you how perfect those two questions are?
If I had to pick a song to express the feelings of my inner mountain woman’s love of adventure, it would be this beauty from Bob and Johnny:
Thank you, Tam, for being so easy to adventure with and here’s my gift to you. If you look closely at the notebook, I think Eddie’s notes say, “I have not met the woman of my dreams, and I know she’s a librarian who fights misinformation. Social justice and fiber art are so sexy. I’ll cover this song and think of her.”
And here’s the thing, we found that north country fair. Idaho state’s version of Atlanta 60 miles down a dirt road, how I love thee. Where to even begin?
In a tweet: The weather turned bad. Drove east. Rad town by way of advice. No maps. Just words. Just horrible notes from books and the Internets #Joyous
I’ve been working on a story/article/idea about the notion and/or burden of safety and learning, so let’s just say, this trip contributed to my research. More on that later.
What a vacation! We drove straight on I-90 down through Oregon and east to Idaho. At sunset, we pulled into the Hilltop Station and the bartenders helped us with directions and recommended the most delightful blood orange IPA. The citrus was light, and the color was sweet IPA so we filled a growler and made a note to stop by on the way home. Got back in the car and drove 30-40 miles down a dirt road until we saw a big black bear scramble amble bamble crack smack scratch up the hillside past the Boise River. Big paws in the headlights climbing up the hillside.
That’s when we decided to call it a night and camp in a spot that looked like a “campsite” on a turnout. Big game on the move with a full-ish moon on a dirt road scares me as a driver. Plus, I was ready to drink that IPA and eat dinner. It was so dark we had no idea what our “site” looked like, but it was free and along the Boise river. We awoke to the most spectacular view with burned trees, a clear river, rocks, and mountains.
We were heading to the trailhead, and a small town. Based on scant maps, good advice, some book learning, and good old fashion technology, we discovered a town that is both for locals and artists with a tiny school and a lovely library.
When we pulled in to Atlanta, there was something about the architecture that just slowed down my sense of time. You just want to look at the wood grain on the buildings. Run your hands along the window frames. Take a nap after sitting on the porch. Feel the sun on your face. Spend some time gazing those Sawtooths. We’re so smitten with this place we’ve been dreaming all week of buying a place there and slipping off the grid forever.
Naps on Pillows on the Porch After a Hot Spring Soak: A Memoir
If I hyperlink to the best discovery we made to this post, will you read it after you finish this page? Don’t click now. Come back to it. There is a beauty to that style of reading. It’s like a gift. Or a sloppy shift in font color in the paragraph. Depends on how you see hyperlinking. Depends on how you see it.
But really, after you read this post I invite you to come back to this line, check out this lovely website, watch the video, and think. I’m scratching the days off my calendar until I can go to this place either as a teacher, a volunteer, a student, a resident, and/or as Tami’s visitor.
I must enjoy time there. I want to afford the luxury of time and full immersion. Time.
From our first chat with the ranger to our last hug with the bartender, we felt welcomed and a kind spirit of friendliness and hospitality. And some of the folks were so far from us on the political spectrum that we held our tongues when certain comments were made at the bar. We were guests in this town, after all.
Here’s an example: I sat next to a local who we had seen the day before on the porch of the local bar. He hadn’t said a word, and I really wanted to know his story. Unlike his companions who were interested in the two “Seattle Girls” who were there to backpack and fish, he didn’t say a word. I did notice that he chased bees away from a hummingbird feeder. This rugged tough mountain man was looking out for my favorite wee tiny bird. Who can stand it? He could have been hiding four-five hummingbirds in his beard for all I knew.
Over cheap domestic beers, I struck up a conversation with him and we chatted a bit. I pointed out he didn’t talk to us the day before at all, but I noticed that he was helping the hummingbirds by shooing away the bees from the sugar water.
No, the bees are fine, he said. Sometimes hummingbirds land on your finger next to that feeder and I was hoping to show you gals that. And yes, I don’t talk to people unless I think they’re worth it.
With that, I had a new friend, and I was so thrilled. That was a compliment, right? He had a twinkle in his eye and he was very kind. We then started talking about why we were in Idaho. I told him that it all started with us not getting a permit to hike the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in Washington.
A permit! Whatever happened to this land is your land and this land is mine?
I love that folk song, I said, it’s one of my favorites. You like Woody Guthrie? (I was dying to know what kind music this guy listened to or liked).
I don’t know who sings that song. It’s just not how America is anymore. A permit? To hike in the woods? (long pull off his beer). That’s ridiculous, he said, and he turned to talk to somebody else. Oh man, I was crushed. City Girl Blues.
I sat there pouting a bit and drank my beer while Tami was getting hit on by some divorcee tourist that was not her type. She didn’t seem to need rescuing, and I didn’t want to join their conversation, so I sat there and thought for a bit. What would it be like to grow up in a town like this? What would they think about what I do for a living? What’s it like here in the winter? What do people do for work? What does it look like inside these houses?
How do you explain that when you live in a more populated area, there has to be some way of protecting the wilderness? Permits work.
There has to be some regulation to inform people on how to respect the trails. There are only so many spaces and many, many people. As much as I hate the process of attaining permits, I think it’s a good idea. Not everyone understands the policy of leave no trace. We need a way to rescue people should they get into trouble in the woods. There are only so many places to put a tent. There is only so much space for people. There are only so many people who maintain trails.
One does not have worry about such crowding in Idaho. It’s mountain west beauty.
Here are a few photos. Credit to my friend Tami & her magic photo machine:
We hiked for over 40 miles without seeing another person. Beautiful country. Mountain West. Time in the mountains.
The clock slowed down. Time was no longer a luxury; it felt like we had found a natural pattern of the life.
No agendas. No projects. No demands. Nothing but time and authentic gratitude for the wilderness as we hiked, wrote, read, napped, talked, fished (Tami), daydreamed (me), cooked, drank, and enjoyed our time.
Time close to here:
The site of the town is admirably adapted to the purpose of building. It is a picture of serene loveliness reposing quietly in the midst of rugged grandeur and sublimity. It would seem as if the wildest dream of a poet-prospector had been realized…The town of Atlanta is situated on a smooth plain of about 200 acres, surrounded on all sides by rugged and lofty mountains. The ground slopes gradually to the river… Across this area runs a creek of good size, affording abundant water power for mills and machinery. The best timber for every needed purpose abounds in the immediate vicinity. The town contains two hotels, two stores of general merchandise, two butcher shops, two saloons, one drug store… There is an excellent school. Here water, exactly of the right temperature for bathing, gushes out from near the top of the high perpendicular bank and is caught in a cistern below where graceless bipeds go to revel in the luxuries of the bath in full view of all the salmon in the stream.
-W.A. Goulder, 1876
Oh to be that “graceless biped” again! I’ll conclude by mourning that I’m no longer there and I need to get back to what I should be working on. You know this feeling right? Feel free to grab your own procrastination hair shirt. If you’re reading this at night with your favorite beverage, I toast to you and your own brand of procrastination.
That’s really what this is about, right? The thinking. The learning. The digital record.
Sometimes I wonder—and you may be asking, what is “the this” in your interrogative statement? Ambiguous pronouns!
The this is the curiosity—the fun of sharing your learning as [[the poet-prospector]] that we have all within us. The immersion of luxury enjoying time. The time of immersion with joy. This is what it’s all about sometimes with teaching, learning, and living:
Time. Luxurious Time.