Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A New Life - Part 1

 After I walked away from my job in Juneau I was in a daze.  Shell shocked.  Angry.  Sad.  Worried.  Lost.  Wondering what to do next.  Wondering where we were going to go next and what life would look like for us after Juneau.
Exhausted from the prolonged effort I put forth personally and professionally to make things work in Juneau and exhausted from the thought of having to start all over again.
Aware of the fact that many people were saying very negative things about me.  
Aware of the fact that people who were in a position to set the record straight chose not to.
LC and I spent two weeks in a mad and frenetic flurry of activity before getting on the ferry.
Tying up loose financial ends related to my work.
Scrambling to put as much money together as we could.
Trying and then eventually giving up on selling my two wheel drive Silverado truck when it became obvious that it would not sell in snow-bound Juneau regardless of how low we dropped the price.
Selling my Mountain Boys' truck, leaving us with one four wheel drive and one two wheel drive truck to take across the north west section of the country.
Truck repairs and enhancements designed to keep us safe during winter traveling.
Selling furniture and some household items - many of which I worked so hard to find and buy and transport when I first arrived in Alaska, while trying to set up a household for my family.
Packing our belongings.  Packing the trucks.  Repacking the trucks. 
Worried that they were so weighed down.  
Worried that one or the other or both would require expensive repairs en route to.........where?
Worried about traveling the mountain passes in Washington State in March.  With loaded down trucks.  One of them a two wheel drive.
Packing in cold.  And sure enough packing during and after a snow storm.
Deciding what we had to leave behind because we couldn't bring with us and didn't have time to sell.  
It was a stressful and exhausting two weeks.
And then we loaded our trucks and what was still left of our stuff and our dog and ourselves, and we boarded the Malaspina headed for Bellingham Washington.
En route to Montana.
We spent the entire first night on the ferry awake.  Sitting and talking and playing cards and drinking coffee in the on-board cafeteria while everyone else slept, and then we finally started to relax.
And by the end of the first day on the Alaska marine highway ferry we finally remembered how to laugh.  
We talked and joked and planned and.........laughed.
We laughed and meant it, and haven't laughed so much together since we both lived in Tennessee a lifetime ago.......

After arriving back in WA state my Mountain Boy and Jamie and I spent one night in a small town outside Bellingham.
 The next morning, still worried about tires on one of the overloaded trucks (and the potential for tough road conditions on mountain passes) we bought heavier duty tires before heading out.
The passes were clear.  The trucks worked very hard during the long climbs.  We made it to Montana in one piece..............

I did not take a lot of pictures during our trip.
No desire to take pictures while on the ferry.
Stress and exhaustion and concerns about the trucks and winter driving, and a desire to just keep moving meant that I did not take a lot of pictures.
These first few pictures were taken at a picnic area near the Columbia River Gorge in Washington State.
After driving in alpine environment then high plains desert then alpine then desert for most of the first day of travel I finally took a deep breath when we stopped here, and for the first time really took in and internalized my surroundings.
Three trucks were in the parking lot - one with an Alaska plate (LC's), one with a Tennessee plate (mine), and one with a Texas plate (which belonged to three hardy young men who walked towards their truck while toweling themselves down after having taken a plunge into the river).
The sky was completely and unbelievably blue.  The temperature was very warm.  It was quiet and sunny and warm and I took these pictures................
A few hours later we were in the middle of yet one more mountain pass.
There was a lot of old snow along the sides of the roads but it was obvious that it had not snowed in weeks.
We were very lucky.
We had chains for my truck in case we needed them.  Thankfully we did not.
LC and James...........
We spent five days in Montana.
We had booked a month long stay at an extended stay hotel in Kalispell.  
Big Sky Country.
After doing some research on the hotel we received mixed but mostly negative reviews of the hotel.
More phone calls to the hotel and pictures sent that showed it to be a nice place.
It was not a nice place.
Dirty, broken, trashy.
We looked at it, looked at each other and then drove to a Motel 6 across the road that happily accepted our sweet and hairy pup, and Motel 6 became our temporary home and temporary home base, while we looked the area over.

I had never been to Montana before and while I did not like Kalispell very much I did love the area.
The plan was to look north.  Smaller towns.  
And what we found was beautiful scenery.
Scenery that I loved.
Scenery that looked like Alaska............ 
Northern Montana is very very beautiful.
But the towns that we had talked about, and researched before we left Juneau, did not look like what we expected.
They were very run down, surprisingly "trashed up", very economically depressed, more expensive than we expected, and not as conservative as we expected.
We found a couple of places willing to accept a short term lease, while we continued to look around and get our bearings in this new state.
Not nice places.
One was cheap but very very small and run down, and neither LC nor I could picture ourselves spending time there.
It was on this road just outside of Eureka.

The bare tree was located right across the road...........
On a trip to Libby and Troy in the north west I took these pictures on a cloudy but very mild day.
I was amazed to see cows when I hadn't seen cows in 14 months.
I was amazed at seeing horses running in open pastures when the only horses I had seen in Juneau were in a small, grass less, continually muddy field immediately adjacent to Glacier Highway.
And I was amazed at seeing so many lovely rural homes and barns.
Someone in Juneau told me one day that she felt like she was living in the movie The Truman Show with Jim Carrey.
I completely understood how she felt because I also felt the same way.
But I also felt like I was living in the middle of a movie with a similar theme to The Stepford Wives.
I won't explain these movies other than to say that in both of them everything is not as it seems.  More to the point, the people are not what they seem........... 
After five days of looking and searching and driving and indecision my Mountain Boy asked me if I wanted to travel down to Wyoming and see what it looked like down there.
I knew less about Wyoming than I did about Montana but I had made LC a promise that this time he could pick where we lived.
We had talked about having the entire country to chose from.
But when you have the entire country to chose from where do you start???
We knew we had a decent and cheap place to stay near LC's brother in Minnesota.
But as long as I have known this man he has talked about moving out west.  Talked about Montana and Wyoming.
Those states are where I started looking for jobs while still in Tennessee, until I got sidetracked by pretty scenery and good pay and career moves in a town called Juneau in a place called Alaska.
We had talked about picking a place and then my finding a job, rather than the other way around.
I wasn't sure if I was ready to give up on Montana so soon.
It was beautiful.  It reminded me of Alaska.  But I wasn't sure about all of the signs that I had seen in north west Montana that it was becoming more liberal.
I wasn't sure about the signs that the state was seriously suffering financially (particularly in the smaller towns that we were gravitating towards).
In truth I was not sure about anything.
So I said "OK - let's go take a look at it"
We left the next day.
Headed for Cody Wyoming............

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