Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Home Free

I found myself staring at a computer screen in a Moab cafe the Monday after Thanksgiving.  It had begun to rain in the desert and many of the climbers were moving on to warmer climates or winter jobs.  I still didn't have a job, or place to live for the winter and desperately needed to start making some decisions.  I fired off applications and resumes to Sun Valley, Bozeman, Carbondale and Telluride and wished I'd started doing this weeks before.  I was scrolling through photo after photo of my PNW friends balls deep in powder when I received an email from my old job in Leavenworth.  "I have you penciled in for this Saturday, but I wasn't sure if you'd be back yet."

The last day of climbing in Indian Creek. Above: P1 of Lighting Bolt Cracks on North Six Shooter, Below: Top of North Six Shooter,    Dan Kluskiewicz photo   

Without stopping to think too hard about whatever miscommunication got me scheduled when I hadn't planned on returning to Washington, I sent an eager reply and got straight in the car.  I spent a few days in Hood River skiing and retrieving Mr Morrison, then cruised back to Leavenworth for the first weekend of Christmas Lighting festivities.

Reunited with winter and my four-legged baby.
Late November Pow

I hadn't planned on continuing to live in my car for the winter.  In fact, the concept seemed unimaginable in the damp, cold northwest weather.  But as the weeks of December flew by, I worked 60 hour weeks during the holidays, squeezed in as much skiing as possible and comfortably survived over a dozen days of temperatures in the teens and single digits.

Though comfortable might be a generous term.

My "kitchen"
Nights are cold, but my bed is warm.  Mornings come with ice covered windows (on the inside) and an extended defrosting method.  Numb fingers clumsily fire up the stove so I can cradle a hot cup of coffee.  We take long walks in the soft, white forest to move blood back to the tips of my toes.  The cooler is now for keeping things warm, because no one wants frozen eggs.  Simple tasks become more time consuming, using the bathroom now requires foresight and strategy.  I've grown used to having numb toes throughout the day.  Every one of these little inconveniences are just that, inconvenient, but more importantly, a challenge.  I like to work harder, it's rewarding.  I prefer the way I spend my free time, compared to when I lived in a house.  Once, upon using the word "homeless," a friend answered, "No, home free."

Home Free

I now have a completely different understanding of what I can handle.  Sure, I've been cold, I've been frustrated, I've just wanted to curl up in a bed and watch TV and I tend to spend way too much time rummaging through the organized chaos of my small living space.

But guess what else?

When I could be zoned out in front of Netflix, I'm romping through the snow with my dog.
When I could be working, I'm skiing.
When I could be shoveling the driveway, I'm..... well, probably digging my car out of whatever snow drift I drove it in to.

Elaborate gear drying system

And best of all, during my four days off, I can go anywhere.

I'm always packed to roam.

And I hate packing. 

Dan Holz Photo

"I, who consider intimacy with the landscape to be the goal of our wanderings, believe that the ultimate intimacy is being so lost that I have not the slightest idea where I am. I am not somewhere on a map; I am simply there." 

- Joe Kelsey

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