For a few weeks every year, Heart Mountain takes on a color other than brown. It happens slowly enough that you might not notice until it’s almost over. During that short event, it feels fantastic to be in Wyoming. These are the best weeks to tube down the Shoshone, visit Yellowstone, or catch one of the nightly rodeos in town. Soon after the Fourth of July, the cool winds are traded for hot ones, and the Bighorn Basin begins to bake once again. One afternoon, sitting in a friend’s backyard, I was, as usual, too distracted by the Mountains, the birds or thinking about work to be of much use in conversation.
In January 2008, I took a job working for a sponsor at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. Again in 2010, I attended the festival, this time staying with one of my very best friends who had recently moved to Salt Lake City. Later that year, I decided I liked the festival so much that I moved from Michigan to Salt Lake and worked the 2011 festival as a Sundance Volunteer. Later THAT year, I accepted a position as Art Director and Producer of an outdoor television series in Wyoming. At this point, my best friend, Tami, had become my girlfriend, so she came with me. It wasn’t too far from Utah, so we were still able to attend Sundance in 2013.
Perched on a fence post nearby, a Western Meadowlark sang a summer anthem, and a couple of pheasants called to each other somewhere in the distance. Our friend emerged from the barn, carrying a tent and a cot for us to borrow on a coming trip into Yellowstone. By this time, Tami and I had visited most of the National Parks in Utah, and we were excited to start on Wyoming.
Tami and I love the West. We love the mountains. We love the wildlife. We love the quiet, and the Dark. We love the drive-thru liquor stores. Our friend asked if we planned to settle in Cody. The answer was that, even though we both loved the West, we were both compelled to eventually return East, closer to home. We explained that we were considering moving to Detroit. She quickly replied with what became an all-too-familiar response: “Why the hell would you want to do that?”
Detroit seemed a million miles from Wyoming, but I missed it. I missed the water. Tami and I both come from families that rarely have a holiday without some sort of swimming involved. Wyoming is so dry! And brown! By the end of the summer, we visited and swam in the best lakes Wyoming could offer us. The beaches of Glendo Lake are surprisingly nice, and Jackson Lake is among the prettiest lakes either of us has seen. There is just no substitute for true open water like the Great Lakes.
After a typically glorious sunset, the first stars began to appear over the McCullough Peaks. We made our way back to our double-wide on Appaloosa Lane, where we’d spend another night exploring the galaxy from the front yard. In a couple years, we’ll find the same lovely Darkness on a beach on Lake Superior.
My husband and I are terrible at sitting still. We spent our 20s bouncing around, living all over the US, both independently, and together, even before we started dating. I used to catch myself telling people that I knew our relationship would work out, partially because he was (is) the only person I’d known who moved around more than I had.
Perhaps we are restless.
When we moved to Michigan, we told ourselves that stability was something that we were supposed to achieve in our 30s. The relative lack of chaos has been eye-opening. It’s been a transition, trying to learn how to be content staying in one place. It still feels weird, though, somehow.
On last year’s annual UP camping trip, Dave posed a question that came pretty out of the blue: how would I feel about finding a boat and sailing around the world together?
Yes! Of course! Holy shit, that’s crazy. It’s going to take some time getting used to the idea, and I have no idea how on earth we could pull that off, but, absolutely, yes. We’ll figure out the details as we go, right? How could we possibly afford this? Neither of us has a clue how to sail. I’ve never even been on a sail boat!
Then a boat appeared.
She looked great, and sounded like a good fit, but was way out of our price range. Dave emailed with the owner because he really liked the boat. We considered starting smaller – maybe it would make sense to buy something trailerable that we could tow with our truck. We could save a bunch of money that way, but might not be able to take overnight trips. How and where would we learn how to sail?
We got a puppy, Tesla, from Montana while we lived in Wyoming. Dave knew he wanted to get back to boating, and wanted a dog who was comfortable in the water, so we made sure to introduce her to all the lakes we could get to. It worked: she loves water, and she loves boats.
We took the Seamanship course through our local chapter of the United States Power Squadron, and the classes were held at the Detroit Yacht Club. Dave had been talking to me about the DYC since he started talking me into moving to Detroit in 2012, but this was our first excuse to check it out in person. Those classes gave us an introduction to the club itself, and we both quickly felt comfortable there. We were introduced to a variety of USPS instructors , many of whom were also longtime members of the DYC.
Dave built a relationship with the owner of that boat, life worked a little magic, and all of a sudden these pipe dreams started to look like reality. The pieces quickly began falling into place. We joined the USPS. We were accepted as members of the Detroit Yacht Club. Most importantly: we bought that boat.
Before we’d even finalized the paperwork, it quickly became apparent that our boat, Vashti, had quite a history. The day we turned in our completed membership application at the yacht club, we were introduced to someone who, upon hearing what type of boat we were buying, immediately guessed her name, and excitedly told us that she was the first boat he’d raced on.
Since then, we have essentially decided to sit back and see where Vashti takes us. She has been based at the DYC with various owners over the years, and her return has created quite a buzz. She certainly seems to have dazzled many in her day. We can’t wait to get her in the water and to her new well at the DYC with its lovely view of downtown Detroit.
Will spring ever get here?