I am currently sitting on the back patio of my longtime girlfriend’s house in Bozeman, MT. She is like sister to me and her two sons my nephews. Our kids grew up together and we went through some of the toughest times in our lives with each other. She is my mentor, friend, and role model. I love this woman!!
I will be housesitting and dog sitting for her for the next two weeks. I came in last night after an 8 or so hour drive. Honestly, I was exhausted and only made it because I ate my way across three states. Those last couple of hours were a struggle. Had I not been headed for her place I would not have driven that far. I made it and slept about 10 hours. Restful, peaceful sleep of the dead. I needed that! I can still push my body and my mind, but it does need time to recover. Being here will offer me that and give her peace of mind during her absence. Burning Man Bound!
The Jeep will get the star treatment during my stay. I plan to detail her out. If I cannot get it done myself, I will pay someone somewhere to do it. I mean deep clean. I have food and spiders and God only knows what else taking up residence in my mobile Jeep home. I plan to completely empty her out, even take off the top case. Heck, let’s go crazy and take the top down for some naked Jeep exploring! All of my gear will get looked at, cleaned and organized. I find that process very soothing and a comforting ritual. A good cleanse to get me back on track. The next time I plan to clean her like that will be in Florida when I am staying at my parents place. The timing should be perfect and by then I am sure she will need it again.
I am tired because I just finished working my summer circuit. The WaterFollies, or boat races to the locals, the Omak Stampede then the Moses Lake Rodeo/Stampede. I am not quite sure what the difference is between a stampede and a rodeo. The boat races were in the Tricities and we had a nice, grassy area upon which to camp. We had prepared meals and access to running water and plumbing. I was there with my close friend and we worked, shared camp and carpooled. The travel was much more fun with him around! I worked the paid parking area directing traffic, taking money and giving parking receipts, answering questions. The shifts were 8-10 hours, with breaks and lunch, in the sun and on my feet. Personally, I love working outside and to be moving the whole time. Sure, it gets hot and sweaty, but I will take this over sitting in an office any day.
I had a few days break to regroup and mess around before I showed up in Omak. I actually spent time at a free campground outside of Okanagon, WA. I really liked that little town and, even though I got bored and antsy. I had fun exploring and hanging out. It was too hot to hike and not really a bike riding area. In Omak, we camped on the stampede grounds in and around a softball field. Overall, the grass was nice and we were out of the majority of the noise. Mind you, I said majority! I was still camped next to the carnival and roads. People were always walking around, horses and trailers on the move, workers getting garbage and so forth. The sounds never stopped, but somehow and by the grace of God, I managed to sleep. I enjoyed a shift that generally went 4:00 pm to 2:00 am. I know that sounds horrible, but when the temperatures peaked at 102, sleeping in the cool of night and morning was as blessing. I also got some nice time to chill and sleep as long as I wanted or needed or was able. No wake up alarm and time for tea. Score!
Moses Lake was much the same, except we were camped like sardines in a can. We were the only tents amongst a sea of RV’s and horse trailers. There were ATV’s, kids, dogs, and the rodeo traffic never stopped. This was more noise, more dirt and dust. However, in return, we got flush toilets and free individual showers. One cannot have it all, I suppose. I was fortunate to have the same shifts, even starting a little earlier. I chose to work those hours, as making money was the only reason I was there. I was a ticket taker and worked in the beer garden. My primary duty there was to check ID and provide wrist bands. Let me tell you how hard it is to put those stupid stick on paper wrist bands on people! Yuck.
I showed up in Montana with 40,100 miles on the Jeep, a cracked windshield, and layer upon layer of dirt and dead bugs. I need this time and this rest and the ability to cleanse. I worked my body and my brain and that felt good. I struggle with the “children” who seem to be the managers at these events and some of my teammates who barely function in this world. I struggle with the heat and the dirt and the lack of regular or whole meals. However, I learned how best to care for myself and did so as much and as often as possible. I would arrange my food, downtime, even my work time so that I had what I needed to function as best I could. Me caring for me.
I met so many folks, some amazing and some dirt bags. I watched people and animals push themselves to their limits, and I watched extended families enjoy precious time together. I even got to whip out some Spanish which only improved the more I used it. I met rich cowboys and struggling carnival workers. I met hetero and gay, men and women, and folks who live in between them all. I worked in blistering sun and heat, gentle drops of rain and cool breezes. I lived near a lake, in the green grass, and in the dirt. I ate steak and snacks and drank more water than a swimming pool can hold. The essence of who I am has, again, expanded. The core of my being is enriched from all of these folks and all of these experiences, no matter how positive or negative they were. My cup runneth over.
Today, in this space and at this moment, I am blissfully happy. I am doing those things I set out to do. Those things I planned for myself. I am in and of this life. I am collecting experiences and adventures. I am living the life I was meant to live. How do I know, you ask? I know because I am joyous even in the dirt and the heat and the long hours. I can wake up with a smile on my face even after only four hours of fitful sleep. Those feelings of restlessness, discontent and angst I struggled with as long as I can remember are gone. Poof! I struggle no more. Even at my worst, hungry, hot and sweaty and dirty and tired, I am happy because I CHOSE THIS!! I am where I am doing what I am doing because I choose to. If it is really that bad, I can walk away. I can leave anything I am doing at any time. Let me tell you, brothers and sisters, that is fucking freedom! Nobody, and I mean NOBODY, owns me. Not anymore.
Raise a fist in the air, raise your glass to the sky, put your hands together and give a CHEERS to absolute and unabated freedom!!