Jul. 2, 2022

A Mountain of Problems

For a writer, going on vacation can be challenging. As twisted as it may sound, writers often (brace yourself) LIKE to write. And so we try to work writing into the vacation routine. Sometimes, this can be a terrible idea. For instance:

BOB: (Pecking away, writing The Great American Novel on his tablet while walking through the African savannah.) 'The day was not as dark nor stormy as the previous night, but Nigel knew that other literary cliches might lie ahead.'

BOB'S FRIEND ROGER: Bob, maybe you should have left your tablet in the tent.

BOB: (Still pecking.) But I really need to finish this potential bestseller.

ROGER: I don't think it's going to be a bestseller, Bob.

BOB: Why not?

ROGER: Because you've wandered into a pride of hungry lions.

The lesson here is that one has to strike a balance so that one doesn't miss the great scenery, the good times with friends, and the occasional pride of hungry lions. Although, technically, Bob did not miss the lions.

I am currently vacationing in Montana and was working on this very blog entry yesterday morning, when I realized that My Lovely Wife Marsha and all of my friends were outside on the deck, surrounded by snow-capped mountains, watching frollicking whitetail deer, drinking coffee and sharing conversation. And being a writer, my first reaction was, 'I've got to finish this blog.' But then I realized that there actually are mountain lions in Montana near where my sister lives, and although I was unsure whether they traveled in 'prides,' they certainly must get hungry, and so it was probably a good idea to get my eyes off the screen for a while and onto the wonders unfolding around me.

So I went out onto the deck where my brother-in-law, John, was telling a story about how a skunk had gotten into his garage, and so he had gone to the local animal control officer for advice. The officer had told him to set a live trap in the garage, and once the skunk was caught, to throw a blanket over it, then lift it very carefully into the back of John's pickup truck. John told him he didn't own a pickup truck. So the officer had told him to just carefully walk the cage to the middle of a field, open the cage door, and shoot the skunk when he came out. John told him he didn't own a gun. At this point, the officer had appeared startled and wondered, since John owned neither a pickup truck or gun, if he was really from Montana.

I found this story greatly entertaining, and I would have missed it if I had stayed inside staring at the laptop screen.

But that's not all. The following day (today), my nephew was getting married at an 1880s homestead in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains north of Missoula. In true Montana fashion, the bride and groom offered guests two ways to get to the wedding. One was to drive up a winding gravel road, park, and walk a short distance to the homestead. The other was to park at a trailhead on the north side of town and hike a series of switchbacks over Randolph Summit and down into the homestead. Your choice. I've been to several weddings in Montana, and I believe it is a state law that every wedding ceremony must offer guests the chance to survive some pioneer-grade feat pitting them against nature.

To me, the choice was simple. We could have waited until twenty minutes before the wedding and driven up the gravel road for a short walk to the homestead. That would have given me lots of quality writing time. But instead of writing, My Lovely Wife Marsha suggested we take the rugged trail over the summit. It'll be fun, she said. And so we left two hours early and made the hike.

And do you know what? It WAS fun. My Lovely Wife Marsha's sports watch stated that we climbed the equivalent of a thirty-story building, and while in a block wall stairwell, that doesn't sound like much fun, OUR views of the city and the surrounding mountains from the trail were spectacular.

So when you're on vacation, pry your eyes away from the laptop and enjoy the adventure. In fact, I would be off on another adventure right now, except that this morning, I climbed over a small mountain to go to a wedding. Now I need a nap.