Bravery and Boredom

our view of a wildfire burning somewhere along Interstate 90

Driving through Montana will make you hungry. First of all there are grass-fed, free-roaming cows everywhere. (You know that meat would be delicious! We haven’t tried any yet, though.) And second, the glacier-formed hills are smooth, often tree-less, and piled up like mashed potatoes on a plate.

Speaking of hungry, I forgot to tell you about when we got an early start in Yellowstone one morning and started driving BEFORE breakfast. BAD IDEA, JEFF! I was trying to navigate him to a parking lot before it got crowded. After 2 u-turns and more back and forth about which lot would be better for Taco Smurf, I said, “I told you! Turn at Upper Geyser Bacon!”

On to more important things.

Guess who’s back, Baby?!

As soon as we got to the Lange’s house (without Darla), we knew it would be a party! Dinner with 8–10 people (mostly teenagers) can never be boring. This atmosphere was just the trick we needed to make it seem like this trip was fun again. She fell for it and flew back ASAP.

Covid counts are on the rise here, but still CRAZY low compared to Long Beach. So it feels like a break from the pandemic in many ways. Everyone wears masks in public. But time with friends doesn’t feel dangerous. Lisa has one friend who was exposed and her family has quarantined the whole time we’ve been here. The same was true visiting Cliff and Noli in Idaho. Stay away from big cities, is what we are learning.

My friend, Lauren, sent me a podcast interview with a woman, Caitlin Schwarzman, who sailed for a year with her family. It was a much different experience than ours, but some of the woman’s reflexions were so poignant. The host who seemed very afraid of sailing and the sea kept referring to the travelers as brave. Caitlin replied that the journey takes determination and stubbornness. But not really courage.
Isn’t that an interesting response?
Do I think we are brave to go on our adventure?
Not really. I’m not scared of the trip anymore like I was at the beginning. So, was I brave then?
Am I brave to remain seated in the front seat when Jeff is driving around corners on a mountain? Well, yes. If being scared and continuing on in spite of the fear is bravery, then Yes, Ma’am!
The general premise of our trip isn’t a scary one, though. It was a good decision to get out of the city and take our teenagers away from their pandemic prison with us.
We were so bored. And we all get along, so there’s no physical danger. (LOL! I guess this isn’t technically funny since domestic violence is real and scary. But it strikes me as funny when I type it. The kids still COULD poison us in our sleep and we COULD still leave one of them by the side of the road…)

Maybe we are creative, but not really brave.

Zane and Darla think they are suffering, locked in this tin can with us. But we know they are not. Also, they will leave us one day. And this big, fat, memory will go with them.

As seen from Lisa’s house: Jeff in his coveralls patching the roof.

Caitlin also brought up the pursuit of comfort. She has been wondering, often physically uncomfortable on her boat, if the pursuit of comfort is a worthwhile goal. After all, growth is usually uncomfortable.

I’d like to vote for comfort!
We woke up on Friday to go camping (Lisa’s idea of course) even though it was raining and 45 degrees. I was uncomfortably cold all day. I don’t really go in for camping. And camping in the rain seems more like a reality TV show premise than a fun idea.

It rained all night and most of the campers were miserably cold in their tents. But the RV kept me cozy and dry, thank you very much.
The next morning one of Lisa’s amazing lady-friends let us use her kayaks for a while on Tally Lake, which was completely indescribable.
I was scared I would tip over into the black, freezing abiss. I wondered if I could paddle all the way back to the shore alone. I got a little nervous whenever Jeff got too far away from me.
But after about 5 minutes I was used to the kayak and the feeling of floating. Wow. Wow!

About 20 miles from the Canadian border, this lake is in a protected park. The pine trees are 3–4 stories tall. The shrubs around the lake and under trees were just turning for fall.
There were lots of teenagers in our groups and 5 really bad-ass ladies who mountain bike, kayak, or snowboard every weekend. I didn’t feel brave in this group at all. Feeling out of my element, I listened and watched. It was very, very memorable.

The weather cleared up on Sunday.

We are leaving Missoula (home to about 80k people) now and will explore more of Montana and then Wyoming for a while, heading south as it gets colder and colder.
Thanks for writing back to Darla if you did.
And thanks for keeping in touch with me, too. I’m feeling a little anxious about my lack of connection. It’s easy to start thinking this is how life will always be — no real job, no routine. But, man! I’ve got to start exercising again. Even my sweatpants are getting tight.

This edition brought to you by marshmallows and the RV heater!
I love you very much,

For current stories and the full archives, subscribe to my newsletter here.




I make a mean martini; am often reading; and usually thinking about my relationships, my teenagers and how I’m probably messing them up.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

Effective money-saving travel hacks to travel without draining your finances

Bumpy Salah

Detour: Austria (Vienna, Hallstatt)

ICELAND — My Experience


15 Best Travel Military Discounts for US Military & Veterans

10 Things I’ve Learned as an Expat in an Emerging Market

Birds don’t need paperwork to soar through the air!

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Shannon Driskill

Shannon Driskill

I make a mean martini; am often reading; and usually thinking about my relationships, my teenagers and how I’m probably messing them up.

More from Medium

Treating Lymphoma — the Journey thus far

The Unfashionable Canadian

As Nights Go By

A Pandemic Walks Into A Bar