05 Feb Wyoming Bound
I drove out from Sonoma after the New Year. Left behind the rolling hills, the ocean fog, the vineyards, left behind friends and left behind family. I had enjoyed the holidays at home with my folks and our golden retriever, Zack. When you know you’re leaving, not sure where you’re going, and not sure when you’ll be back, there is a unique gratitude, a thankfulness for the moments together, a hopefulness that the good memories will stay with you. I held the hugs a bit longer, walked with the dog a bit farther, visited nieces and nephews a bit more often, savored the taste of my favorite foods, hiked the trails one last time.
And then, in the dark early morning, I left. Loaded the truck, petted the dog and whispered goodbye to the ol’ tail wagger before driving East. By the time the sun was rising, I’d left behind cities and suburbs and had climbed into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. I saluted a sign reading “Pacific Crest Trail” near Truckee. I stared longingly into the wilderness imagining the recent trek through these parts. I smiled at the thoughts, almost feeling the hard breathing and sweat, the burning thighs and the dust covering my face. As it had been this summer, sadly it was no longer. In a breath, it was behind me.
The truck purred. The thermometer dropped below 20 degress. I climbed away from Reno to the high desert. The great flat expanse of Nevada marked by the buttes and mountains that revolt from the flatness and push towards the sky, capped with snow, standing alone. Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson serenaded me over hours and across the miles and miles. Gritty voices telling of long hard lives, of adventures had and lessons learned.
The sun had risen high, and, as I rolled through Winnemucca, that sun began to drop slowly behind me. Ahead of me was Park City, Utah. I had plans to crash with some good friends for a few days there before pushing on to Lander, Wyoming.
Park City was a welcome respite after a long day’s drive. Over a couple days, my pals Sailor Moon and Grease showed me the town. We shared a few drinks. I got outdoors while they worked and hiked through the mountains, stepping over moose and elk droppings, slipping on the icy trails, and breathing hard in the crisp mountain air. It wasn’t all playing though. I had my work cut out for myself. I was preparing to do something I hadn’t done in years. Go back to school.
I spent the majority of my time in Park City studying. I read and reread the misused words and dry convoluted phrases and contradictory sentences of an Emergency Medicine text book. My brain hurt within minutes. It was grueling in the most unrewarding fashion, a slothful day after day highlighting the hidden and deeply buried cogent meaning within that brick of a book. Yet, I practiced my note taking skills, my notecard crafting, and practiced perseverance. I had no idea where it was leading, but I was determined to get my Wilderness EMT certifications.
For the next month, that’s all I had on the schedule. That’s what was bringing me to Wyoming. The promise of a new skill set. Hard skills. Skills that may one day allow me to save a life (perhaps my own), skills that may lead to my next job or adventure in the wild. I’d be studying and practicing at the Wilderness Medicine Institute and hoping to walk away with an EMT certification and Wilderness add on. With that goal in mind, I read on.
The day I left for Park City, the snow was dumping, already piled high on my truck. I cleared the snow from the windshield. I’d let the wind on the highway get rid of the rest. And again, I drove East. Down from Park City and into Wyoming. The last bastion of cowboys, the open plains, and my next adventure.