We had decided, before they were born, to raise M&E out west. Now was the time to live up to our commitment. As the West is a big place, we had to find just the right location. We had eliminated most of the country. All that was left were two places and these were yet by us unseen.
On the eve of M’s fourth birthday, we embarked on a mission of discovery and decision. After a stop at the Grand Canyon to visit Brother No. 1, we headed north through Utah to southeastern Idaho.
Our destination was the town of Preston, Idaho. We spent a morning in Preston absorbing the feel of life in a small town. As nice as Preston seemed, it just didn’t have the required scenic beauty. I would recommend you watch the movie “Napoleon Dynamite” and experience this town for yourself.
On we traveled toward not only the last place, but also The Last Best Place, western Montana. Leaving the barren lava flows of Idaho behind, we crossed Monida Pass into Montana. Greeted by the purple mountains majesty, we instantly knew we had found the land we were searching for.
We spent the next week exploring western Montana, and found it to our liking. According to the plan, all we had to do was sell the house and come back for good.
Before we sold the house we needed to do some renovating. An exciting business opportunity presented itself, next 911, and a recession. The few months to fix up the house turned into three years.
During these three years, I spent quite a bit of time pondering how I would earn a living out west. My habit was to go to the boat launch and read a book or work on the occupational dilemma. One morning while driving down Wilson St. toward Vintage, on my way to the lake, a light bulb went off in my head. In that instant, my problem was solved.
I was heading toward a new life in a strange land. My knowledge of the place and its culture was so limited as to preclude any intelligent solution to the occupation problem. Now freed, I realized that I could only venture into this unknown by playing it by ear. Perhaps I would even get a job. Jobs, though not recommended, can pass the time while one is not gainfully employed. To test this hypothesis, I worked at a few jobs during the next year.
When I was a newlywed, I had a job, paid my bills, produced three children, and had what we needed. Sometimes I would pass the house we occupied during those early years. It reminded me of a simpler time that, in retrospect, seems almost pleasant.
Armed with this limited knowledge, I concluded that the “worst case scenario” would be that I would have a job and live like an eighteen year old in Montana.
Everyday for four long years, I had this wish. I wished that I was only reminiscing, and that I would wake up out west. Finally the ordeal of a future on hold was over, and we were on our way.
Another four years have passed. Most of this time has been spent in that worst case scenario. Every day I wake up in the cool, clean air of Montana, with no regrets.