Not All That Accurate But A Good Story

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Our family slid into our narrow car spaces and cruised over to Red Lodge last Friday for a wedding. It might seem like a long drive for one day but it is remarkable that 12 hours on the road is classified as a reasonable weekend road trip in our great state. Or maybe it is my family’s intimate relationship with this particular piece of Interstate 90, the narrow canyon that yawns open to the east, hikes tall mountains, wraps along great rivers until we turn off into hug of amber hills framed by the Beartooth’s spine. It is here, on the snaking old highway that everything relaxes for we are close to my mother-in-law slipping around her screened door the moment our car turns onto Haggin, close to friends who walk down the street to see what’s up instead of texting. Red Lodge keeps stories of our childhood and, amazingly, we continue to live these same stories, the only difference our age and dependents.

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Anywhichway, no matter the length of time we can stay, the journey there is always worth it.

I had several moments of reliving experiences, like deja vu but more understandable. For example, Andy and his tribe of childhood friends woke, grabbed their poles and walked one block to fish for a minute in Rock Creek. The same group of men has done that same thing in that same creek since they were small kids. Also, I sat on my ma-in-law’s back deck and sipped coffee while she picked raspberries and saw  the exact same scene I have seen for 14 years except for many years there weren’t two eager kids gobbling them up as they were plucked. These recurring but evolving experiences are so comforting.

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backyard berry picking at Gramma Joan’s

Yesterday our friends floated and fished the Stillwater and my man was bummed he couldn’t go, we always have one of the longest drives home and he works at 7am on Monday morning. I have written about Andy’s friends before, this posse that formed more than 20 years ago and remains tight. I urged him to float, told him who cares if we get home late and were a total junk show. His friends applied some good ol’ fashioned peer pressure and they were off.

That afternoon, it mildly sucked shoving stuff into our car at the hottest time of the day, which was also nap time, to go on a hunt for the Swinging Bridge take out somewhere between Absarokee and Columbus where our friends were dropping my husband riverside. But the girls rallied after their brief protest and we settled into our adventure, Alice’s head out the window, Margot counting cows (one through 17, repeat), Ruby picking individual sesame seeds off a bagel and tossing them all about the car.

Before we left Red Lodge I hung with friends, hiked with my kids and mother-in-law and had a wonderful day. The “free” days, when I get to stay longer than I thought, are the most fabulous.

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While on the hike I remembered hiking that same trail with Andy years ago into Black Canyon the day after watching The Blair Witch Project. I have since stopped watching scary movies. Literally, not even one. I was so annoyed with how amped up my fear was on that trip. I wrote about my memory and creating new experience in the same space for this week’s mama digs: the power of place. Also of note is that I wrote my mama digs on the drive yesterday, taking breaks to avoid puking from carsickness. When we got home I asked Andy to help me with a a title. He finished reading and said, “How about Not All That Accurate But A Good Story?” which is totally NOT surprising because we are that couple who tell stories together and think the other one is looney tunes for their recollection. So we laughed (and rolled eyes a few times) as he nitpicked my details. Then I got a text from my best friend this morning that said, Blair Witch was 1999. Ha, I suppose I am not good at the details.

Wishing you all the loveliest last days of summer!

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all photos taken with a Canon Digital SLR from Vanns.com

16 Responses to Not All That Accurate But A Good Story

  1. TRB Holt says:

    Great read!…I wonder if Andy’s “for a minute” is similar to Margot’s “real quick”?
    Isn’t old tradition & creating new so much fun? I love you so….xoxo

  2. Karen says:

    Great pictures! I love the one of the berry picking!

  3. Deb Bratton says:

    Really sorry that I couldn’t join you on the hike or lunch. I am at the 11th hour with work and getting very anxious. Next year will be so much better! We will see you on your next trip to RL.

  4. rebecca says:

    ,,,is this a test on the details and accuracy?,,,i thought first day of autumn is sept 23,,,(smile)
    ,,,love the photo of you and the girls, ruby’s laughter made me giggle out loud!,,,

  5. rebecca, that is hilarious. What a gracious way you point out my blunder. I meant to say *days* instead of day. But I am inclined to say, yes, that was a test. And you excel! ha.

  6. KWQR says:

    Beautiful writing! Love the concept of “power of place.” Husband & I have several such places that simultaneously evoke powerful memories & play a big part in the present as we share them with our two littles. One spot in particular I swear I can still hear the laughter of two-newly-in-love people at the very beginning of building a life together… completely unaware of the great adventure that awaits.
    xo
    Kate

  7. Ellie says:

    Love the photos in this post, especially the one of Ruby squatting in the forest. It’s so hard to capture light well in the woods, and you’ve done it superbly here.

  8. Ha! Love Andy’s title. I can so relate to your story telling and the ping pong of details from him.
    Thanks for bringing me back to those mountains. Reading this post was a daydream to Line Lake and Lake Fork.

  9. Melina says:

    David Sedaris says in one of his stories, “The Chef”, that exaggerations and small mis-truths within stories are good for readers. It makes them pay attention. (David also admitted at one point that his stories were ‘true enough.’)

    True enough…good enough for me and my stories!

    Red Lodge sounds like a wonderful place. Good for you for raising your daughters to think that 12 hours is a totally reasonable drive fr a weekend. There life will be so much more adventurous because of it ;) (Speaking from someone who knows)

    xoxoxo
    Melina

  10. The song “Wide Open Spaces” keeps running through my head after thinking about the 12 hour drive. Must be a beautiful journey.

    Loved the story. I felt the gravitational pull of it after you commented about the animals peeing on the side of the tent. I surely would have freaked out after seeing Blair Witch.

    -Jennifer from Annapolis

  11. April says:

    Great post! I love the way you cherish the everyday things along with the milestones, sometimes both at the same time.
    We’re enjoying summer to the max, taking the dogs to the river in the evening for swimmin’! (said in a high-pitched voice to the dogs) and relaxing on the porch. Aw yeah, summatime!

  12. Amy says:

    haha, we totally have that same “discussion” regarding details in a story…mine are always more accurate – right?! haha.
    Love the story, and I so would NOT be watching a scary movie ever again either!

  13. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, your blog. A friend recently pointed me in your direction and I have now spent many precious moments when I could be sleeping reading your beautiful words. I already had a classroom blog, but you’ve inspired me to start a personal one. Thank you for your wisdom, laughs, ideas, and photos of those adorable girlies!
    xoxoxo

    p.s. I grew up in Billings and have so many memories of camping, hiking, and skiing in the Red Lodge area. So happy you all had such a fabulous time in one of my favorite places.

  14. Minnesotagal says:

    I am so jealous of how your pictures of everyday hikes look like pictures from our much treasured vacations. Oh how I would love to like right next door to a lush pine forest and mountain stream!

  15. lauraprell says:

    Loved your story. I remember seeing that movie. I wouldn’t go outside by myself for months so I am very impressed you went camping! I have never had mt. goats outside my tent but I did have a buffalo a little to close for my liking :)

  16. This kind of quilted leather-based haul is usually fantastic