rob roberts and brianna randall - camping with a baby

The Secret to Getting the Best Compliment Ever

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Outdoor Adventures, Traveling

Traveling without internet is a recipe for one happy family. 

Yesterday, a friend hugged me and said, “You look well-rested, Bri.”

I almost jumped with glee. “That’s the best compliment I’ve gotten in years!”

Because you know what well-rested means? Sanity. It means I don’t look like a cat dragged through the gutter after waking up every few hours to soothe a crying baby. And it means I don’t feel like a hummingbird dipping ever-so-briefly from one person, job, chore, event directly to the next.

The view from the top of the Eureka sand dunes.
The view from the top of the Eureka sand dunes in Death Valley.

The secret to my success at resting? Vacation. Actually, several of them. We were lucky enough to close out 2015 with a suite of trips, hitting the adventure trail with a vengeance during the holiday season. All told, we spent more than 3 of the past 5 weeks in a cabin, cabana, or tent. Most of those trips did not include wifi, a laptop, or even cell service, and all of them fell during the darkest days of the year. We went to bed early and stayed there late, connecting to each other instead of screens.

The Thanksgiving week crew exploring the Wallowas in Oregon.
This crew spent Thanksgiving week exploring the Wallowas in Oregon.

First up, we drove to northern Oregon to meet friends for the week of Thanksgiving, hiking in the Wallowa Mountains, saying hi to the Columbia River, and playing sort-of-in-tune music. A few days after returning home, Talon and Cassidy and I flew to Puerto Vallarta to explore a couple of remote villages in the southern stretch of Banderas Bay while Rob went on a fishing trip in the Everglades with old friends. And a week after that, we flew to Las Vegas, rented a car, and spent a week camping in Death Valley National Park with Mark and Katie.

Checking out the waves in Boca de Tomatlan, perfect for babies and mamas.
Checking out the waves in Boca de Tomatlan, perfect for babies and mamas.

As most parents know, traveling with a kiddo–especially an energetic, irrational toddler–isn’t exactly restful in and of itself. Just the opposite, in fact. We schlepped suitcases and sleeping bags, backpacks and carseats through jungles, deserts, oceans, and mountains. We endured way-below-freezing temperatures in a drafty tent, muddy river crossings after tropical rains washed out bridges, and shitty winter driving conditions over several mountain passes.

And was our personal sherpa when crossing the river in Yelapa, too!
And was our personal sherpa when crossing the river in Yelapa, too!

We consoled Talon when he woke up (often) in the middle of the night, uncomfortable because 10 people were crammed into a noisy cabin, mosquitoes were biting his head in Mexico, or an icy wind was howling across the desert.

Dirt abounds, especially when camping in the desert for a week -- the boys didnt mind.
Dirt abounds, especially when camping in the desert for a week — the boys did not mind.

But in the end, the challenges of navigating new places brought us closer as a family. It was well worth the work to watch Talon’s eyes light up at the sight of the sea, to hear his squeals of delight at the birds flying overhead, and to see his pride in climbing a sand dune all alone.

Throwing sand down the 700-foot-tall Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park.
Throwing sand down the 700-foot-tall Eureka Dunes in Death Valley National Park.

Moving beyond our daily Missoula routine gave me the space to breathe more deeply, and to focus inward long enough to rest easily while awake and asleep. I finally feel like my head and my heart are back in the same groove. Now, the trick is keeping them humming along in unified tempo back in the world of internet and errands. I’ll know I succeed if more people give me that ultimate compliment: that I look well-rested.

How’s that for a New Year’s Resolution? Happy 2016, friends!

Talon went on a rock climbing expedition to find the only waterfall in Death Valley.
Talon went on a rock climbing expedition to find the only waterfall in Death Valley.
A rare bloom of the desert sunflower above the lowest point in the U.S. ... 220 feet BELOW sea level!
A rare bloom of the desert sunflower above the lowest point in the U.S. … 220 feet BELOW sea level!
Aunt Cassidy carried Talon all over the beaches in Mexico.
Aunt Cassidy carried Talon all over the beaches in Mexico.
We spent plenty of time in PJs the past few weeks.
We spent plenty of time in PJs the past few weeks.

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Talon Randall Roberts in a hammock in MexicoBeach in Yelapa

IMG_2922 - Copy t and rob. waterfallrob roberts and brianna randall - camping with a babyt in crackIMG_2972-Copy1-e1451866868715-1024x852P1020601

 

Anglers Journal - Rob Roberts sailing pacific

Pacific Hitchhikers | The search for fish in the South Pacific

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Fishing, Sailing, Traveling

This story by Rob about our sailing trip was published in Anglers Journal this fall. 

Anglers Journal - page 2 - Pacific Hitchhikers - Rob Roberts“Have you seen this fish?” I asked a young boy passing by on the rutted dirt road. My French was awkward and halting — I hadn’t used it in nearly a decade — but I took a guess and called it poisson-oisseux. As I showed him a small drwaing I had made with pencil and crayon, a gang of curious schoolkids on rusty pedal bikes quckly enveloped me. Apparently, tall, skinny white guys were an uncommon sight on Kauehi, a lazy tropical island in the Tuamotu Archipelago.

It was a crude picture of a bonefish, but I had no other means of gaining some local knowledge. No guides lived in the vicinity, and finding a tackle shop was out of the question. The kids fought over the drawing and exchanged perplexed murmurs until one of them exclaimed, “Oh, kio kio!” Jackpot.

Anglers Journal - page 3 - Pacific Hitchhikers - Rob RobertsThey pointed toward a small footpath and led the way as we snaked past barking dogs and overladen coconut trees. Finally, we arrived at an endless white flat dotted with turquoise pockets of deeper water. I smiled and started rigging my fly rod — I had traveled thousands of miles by sailboat to get here, and I wasn’t going to waste a moment.

For years, I had longed to be part of the mot­ley band of adventurers, dreamers and vaga­bonds who visited the South Pacific, from Capt. Cook to Gauguin. Sure, I wanted to cast from deserted white-sand beaches and enjoy the occasional cocktail over a sunset vista, but I had ambitions of more than just a one-off vacation. I was 37 and wanted to live by tidal shift and watch the rhythms of the sea unravel slowly, the way a river reveals its secrets to those who carefully cultivate it season by season.
anglers-journal-cover-fall2015-rob roberts- pacificRead the rest of the story as a PDF.

 

 

A Distant Match on a Remote Island

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Community and Culture, Traveling

This story about our visit to the remote atoll of Palmerston in the Cook Islands — and the unexpected volleyball match we joined — appeared in Islands Magazine.  As one of the most beautiful and unique anchorages during our sailing voyage across the South Pacific, Palmerston is definitely high on our “let’s go back someday” list.

Click here to read the story.

Click here to read our past blog post on Palmerston.

rob roberts - volleyball magazine - on the horizon line travel blog

 

Mahseer by Motorcycle: Dropping Bombs in Thailand

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Fishing, Traveling

This article by Rob about our motorcycle/fishing trip in Thailand last spring appeared in The Drake magazine.  Click here to see the story.

When I was a kid, I made my own fireworks out of cardboard, gunpowder, and a hefty amount of duct tape.  So when Bobby Kauktol told me that we’d be tossing cherry bombs at large mahseer on the River Yuam, I was feeling right at home.

Fishing hadn’t been a top priority on this trip to northern Thailand, as I carted my pregnant wife around 800 miles of serpentine roads on a rented Honda Phantom.  But one evening I spotted a small ad in the corner of our route map with the words “fly fishing” and a photo of a thirty-inch fish with large scales and a gummy mouth.  I asked my wife to saddle up.

Read the rest here.

Drake cover photo

Drake article pic

camping with kids in kauai

Sand in your crack

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Outdoor Adventures, Traveling

camping with kids in kauaiWe had a taste of paradise again: a two-week sneak preview of our former life, and our (hopefully) someday-life-to-be. Using airline miles and a tent, we spent two cheap weeks camping on the island of Kaua’i, introducing our Pacific-conceived baby to the best ocean on earth.

He liked it. I could tell by the fistfuls of sand he shoved into his mouth, and the excited shiver that ran down his chubby legs when the waves washed over them. He laughed more in the shadow of the Hawaiian pali, epic surf crashing mere meters away.

camping and hiking with a baby on kauaiSo did I. It was a bittersweet vacation, though. The island reminded us of what we had last year, and what we miss by living in a landlocked northern mountain state. Our feet look better with sand around the edges. My hair looks better salty. Rob is happier shirtless. Talon likes living with sandy ears.

Life is easier when it’s simple, whether in the mountains or on the sea. It feels like there’s an easily defined purpose when you plan your meals around one pot, and when you plan your day around the movement of sun and moon and tides. We had a tiny rental car, one small stove, two plates, a couple of outfits, an old sarong to sit on. A long-time friend who spent a week with us, and a new friend we met sailing who popped up unexpectedly. It was all we needed. More, even.

camping and hiking with a baby on kauaiI know it’s tempting to confuse vacation with real life, and tried to infuse some perspective during our trip. For instance, it’s hard to work without electrical outlets to charge my computer. It’s hard to sleep when it’s blowing 20 knots and raining loudly on our thin nylon tent. It’s hard to get comfortable without a chair in sight and sand in your crack. It’s hard to figure out another cooked-by-headlamp, dried-goods-only meal when all you really want is a hot burger and a cold beer.

But, to me, those are still minor inconveniences. A small price to pay for paradise. They make life real, vacation or not.

I don’t know where our family will end up, in one year or ten. Kaua’i inspired me to start planning for the next long-term adventure, though, which will likely include fringing reefs and crashing waves, along with plenty of simple living in tents or boats. Meanwhile, it was good to feel the familiar Pacific breeze on my face, and her foamy waves on my toes.

camping with kids in kauai

A Quick Exit

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Parenting, Traveling

I was just looking for a little more space. And yeah, a quick exit would have been nice, too.

“Ma’am, you can’t sit in the emergency exit row with a child,” the flight attendant informed me. With my arms full of wriggling infant, coats and snacks, I headed back toward a cramped window seat. I wasn’t sure which felt worse: being called “ma’am,” or being denied the luxury of the exit row for the next dozen years.

As I settled myself and Talon in for the short flight from Portland to Missoula, I glared at the back of the business-suited dude who slipped into the emergency row after me, glued to his iPhone and clueless about what was going on around him. I would definitively be more effective at opening the door and pulling the ripcord on that inflatable slide than he would.

It doesn’t really make sense, when you think about it. Aren’t mothers of small children exactly who you would want opening doors in case of disaster? I guarantee that mothers of helpless infants will have the exits ready for immediate departure in record time. Instinct kicks in, and we will kick down doors, take out predators, and protect our offspring at all costs. The other passengers on the plane would greatly benefit from this mama-bear instinct, meaning they should actually pay mothers to sit in the emergency exit row.

You with me?

To be fair, my snit on the airplane was a bit more existential than simply wanting more legroom. As I breathed through the claustrophobia of sitting with a hot baby in a tight corner, I was also breathing through the claustrophobia of feeling like I wouldn’t have any quick exits to anywhere—emergency or otherwise—for the next several years.

No more spur-of-the-moment road trips or impromptu jaunts to Mexico. No last-minute bike rides, ski trips, or parties. Goodbye to simply walking out the front door when life gets overwhelming. The full weight of motherhood settled around my shoulders, leaving me slightly angry, extra sweaty, and mostly petrified.

But then Talon giggled, and the urge to flee subsided like mist under the sun (at least until he started screaming inexplicably during the last ten minutes of the flight).

The point? It’s normal to feel trapped in an airline seat. And to want to flee when confronted by a massive life change. Most of the time, though, my visions of quick escapes include taking my baby with me to beaches, mountains, or even parties.

It’d just be a lot more fun to bring him along on those escapes if they paid us to sit in the emergency exit row.

bri lifting t b&w

 

 

 

Talon in his carseat

Will our baby have the travel bug?

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Parenting, Traveling

bri and talon in black and white smilingAwww, so cute!” an acquaintance remarked, stroking Talon’s fuzzy head while we waited in line at a local coffee shop. “Aren’t you glad you got traveling out of your system before the baby was born?

If I had a nickel for every time someone asked me that question lately, I’d have been able to buy my cappuccino. I know my friend meant well. But anyone who’s set off to explore the nooks and crannies of the world knows that you never “get it out of your system.” Travel is a virus that stays in your blood – kind of like hepatitis or certain strains of malaria. It lurks at the edge of your daily routine, waiting for just the right moment to surge forth and overwhelm you with the urge to pack up and go.

I bit my tongue and smiled pleasantly as I paid for my coffee. Then I took my baby to a corner table, where I vowed to him that my travel bug is dormant but not dead. Talon gazed solemnly at me with his wide eyes as I promised him future trips to new horizons.

That afternoon, I walked with my friend, Amy, through the yellowing cottonwoods in Greenough Park. She’s taken her two children to live abroad several times, to Spain, Brazil, Mozambique. We talked about the transitions to and from these adventures, and how to manage the virus that flares and recedes in our blood. Amy told me that her personal travel bug follows a recognizable pattern: it takes a full year to settle back in after returning from abroad. And a full year after that before she starts yearning again for distant shores.rob and talon in baby tiger costume

My friend, Ali, is leaving tomorrow on a nine-month international adventure, her route as open as her heart. I went over a few nights ago to cull through her already small pile of potential packables, helping prioritize what she’ll need for a trip that includes farming in Italy, trekking in Nepal, touring through South Africa and lounging in Bali. We both cheered when the pile finally fit in her small backpack. I lifted it appraisingly, and felt the travel bug nip at my heels.

It was a gentle nip, considering that Rob and I just recently unpacked our own international backpacks. But it was sharp enough to keep me awake after Talon’s 3 am feeding, my mind spinning through potential (and affordable) travel options with an infant. Could we make it through the long flight across the Pacific to visit our friends in Tonga? Maybe we could camp for a month in Baja. Where might I find a friend with a sailboat that needs looking after in February?

Then I pushed pause on the travel scenarios scrolling through my sleep-deprived new-momma mind. I made a resolution that had to be enough for that night: we will take our child abroad some day, somehow. We will take him on buses and boats and bikes. We will give him the gift of new cultures and new vistas. And – in time – we will see if he inherited the yen for exploration that courses through the veins of both his parents.  

rob roberts  and talon in black and white smiling

rob roberts - volleyball magazine - on the horizon line travel blog

Playing Volleyball in Paradise

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Community and Culture, Traveling

Something you might not know about our trip: I played volleyball in small villages across the South Pacific.  As a lifelong player, I never expected to find games in the middle of the ocean.  Turns out that volleyball is a popular sport in Polynesia.  This month, Volleyball Magazine published this article I wrote about playing in paradise.  

Click here to see the full article with pictures, or read on below.

as patoa shirt niue

After 33 days sailing across the ocean, few things sound better than an ice-cold drink, a cheeseburger, and a fresh, juicy mango for dessert. As our sailboat neared Nuku Hiva in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, the verdant peaks emerged on the horizon like a shimmering green beacon of tropical hope. To my wife and me, land signaled an end to suffering through rice and canned goods, as well as a fresh beginning for shaky legs that had atrophied during 4,000 miles at sea.

Our journey started on the Panama Canal, included a stop in the Marquesas, and eventually took us through 25 islands in the South Pacific. But this is not a story about white sand, blue water, and sailing off into the sunset. What started as a quest for adventure turned into a lesson about friendship, communication, and a redefinition of volleyball, which I have been playing for more than 20 years.

Polynesia is used loosely to describe a huge swath of territory, starting in Hawaii and stretching west for thousands of miles through the tropical latitudes of the South Pacific. My introduction to Polynesian culture came as my wife and I were digesting that first glorious meal back on land and stretching our legs on the back roads of Nuku Hiva. We left town on what we jokingly referred to as a “mission for mangoes.” In broken French, I asked a bulky man standing under a shady grove of fruit trees if he had any mangoes that we could buy. Before we even understood what was happening, our new friend, Noelle, was loading plastic bags with mangoes, grapefruits, guavas, and any other fruit he could find.

Noelle didn’t want any money. He said that he simply wanted to share and to make us feel welcome in his country. We met his family and took a group photo. Before we left, I asked about a few dusty trophies sitting on a shelf.

“Le volley,” he said and asked me if I played.

“I love volleyball,” I said, “but I thought people only played rugby here.”

His eyes brightened, and soon he was telling me about the trophies, his glory days, and the fierce competition between high schools on the islands. Then he disappeared into his family’s small, concrete bungalow and emerged with a red and white sleeveless uniform with the team name “As Patoa” on the back. The garment was faded but obviously well cared for.

“Please take this,” he said. “It is my championship jersey, but it doesn’t fit me anymore.” Honored, I wanted to put it on immediately, but he stopped me. “No, don’t put it on until you are sailing away, so that you can remember me and remember this island.”

It would be a few weeks—and several passages on the open ocean—before I had the chance to put that volleyball uniform to good use. Arriving at a tiny speck of land called Palmerston Atoll, we dropped our sails and anchored several hundred yards offshore. A man in a small motor skiff came by, pulled alongside us, and yelled, “Has anyone been out to see you yet?” I shook my head no, and he raced away.

“What was that about?” I asked my wife.

Palmerston Atoll is part of the Cook Islands, a country comprised of 15 far-flung islands scattered in the middle of the South Pacific. There are no roads and you can walk around the island in about 20 minutes. By tradition, a local family “adopts” every visitor for the duration of his or her stay. And there are only three families on the island. By briefly talking to the man on the skiff, we had inadvertently chosen our family, and they would be our chaperones and home away from home for the next several days.

The man in the skiff returned to our sailboat with a customs official, and soon we were on a tour of the government office, a one-room building with a tin roof. Later I found the family patriarch, Simon, sitting in the sand, mending a long fishing net by hand. I asked him about the island and his life there. When I inquired about recreation, he said that the youth played volleyball on the beach every day around four o’clock. So after a lunch of stewed parrotfish and rice with our new family, I went back to the boat, put on my cherished volleyball uniform, and made my way to the beach to find a game.

rob roberts - volleyball magazine - on the horizon line travel blog

I saw four or five young boys throwing a ball back and forth over the net. The court didn’t have any lines and the net was about seven feet high and full of holes. I shrugged my shoulders and joined the game. As the minutes passed and the sun dipped in the sky, I noticed more people emerging from the coconut groves. Soon a group of teenagers and adults stepped onto the court, shooed the little ones away, and picked sides.

There are only 62 people on Palmerston Atoll. There is no airstrip. All of their supplies come by ferry, which only shows up three to four times a year. But despite this isolation, these islanders had learned to play fairly sophisticated volleyball. They passed and ran plays in a way that indicated previous coaching. They argued about legal sets and had someone on the sidelines keeping score. Between games I asked one of the players where they had learned to play, and he said that last year they had gone to play in the South Pacific Games to represent their country, Cook Islands.

I found this theme throughout my travels – courts were uneven, lines non-existent. The nets were tied to coconut trees and telephone poles. But the players were talented, smart, and agile. And they played as a team. I began to see volleyball as a perfect fit for Polynesian culture, which emphasizes the importance of family, community, and the greater good. Volleyball, by its very structure, is more about the collective than the individual. In most effective plays, three people touch the ball. And there are no one-on-one moves like in basketball. No pitchers who start every play like in baseball. The game depends on the collective.

Our last stop in the South Pacific was the Kingdom of Tonga. A small chain of islands north of New Zealand, Tonga has never been colonized. Some people consider it to be “true” Polynesia, a place where people still wear tapas —woven straw mats like skirts for special occasions—and where the deference to family and community dominates everyday life.

We were anchored off Ofu, a small fishing village, when I first met Iloa. He was working construction, carrying 50-pound concrete sacks, two at a time, up to a building site at a nearby eco-resort. Most Tongans speak at least a little English, so I asked him if they played any sports on the island.

“We play volleyball,” he said. “Each day in the evening.” After a pause, he added, “You come tonight?”

With the tropical sun starting to dip in the sky, I hopped in our motorized dinghy and made my way to Ofu. Strolling down Ofu’s small, sandy road, I found Iloa sitting with his extended family in the shade of an awning. Grandparents, parents, and babies were gathered around large bowls of sweet potatoes, cassava, and fried fish. Iloa jumped up without a word and walked inside the house. He emerged with a flat volleyball. He walked into another house and emerged with a net and a pump, both in good condition.

 

I helped Iloa string up the net on two poles – 10-foot logs that had been anchored into the ground. He carefully wrapped each end of the net around the pole several times and tied the line around a large boulder that was used to keep the pole from moving. The net was just beyond my reach, about eight and a half feet high. “Maybe it’s good,” he said.

Tongans are large people. The youth are big-shouldered, more like linebackers than volleyball players. Their play is straightforward: play fast, hit hard. Repeat. For them, volleyball games seem to be a chance to have fun and mock the players on the losing side. After every point, I heard jeers from the crowd, terse exchanges mixed with a giggle that I had come to think of as typically Tongan – a high-pitched squeal that seemed incongruous for people of their size.

Unfortunately for me, Tongans are also very communal people, which means that they took no pity on a lanky white guy with sea legs and a sunburn. When I heard Iloa yell the word palangi—“foreigner” in Tongan—I knew what was coming next. They were going to set me the ball, and everyone on the opposing team was gong to try to block me. There was definitely some laughing at my expense, but I didn’t mind. Playing volleyball on Ofu gave me a unique insight into Tongan life and an opportunity to learn about their culture as a teammate, not a tourist.

I never intended to play volleyball on our sailing voyage. But my volleyball interactions with Iloa, Noelle, and my adopted family on Palmerston Atoll defined my trip through the South Pacific as clearly as the vibrant coral reefs and the stunning sandy beaches. Volleyball became a universal language. It created a common ground by summoning emotive concepts that all people understand: competition, teamwork, and glory. That first day in paradise, my simple search for a mango had snowballed into a new way of communicating, many new friends, and a new appreciation for my lifelong sport.

Originally published in Volleyball Magazine in June 2014.

On the Horizon Line Blog - Brianna Randall and Rob Roberts

Transitions Suck

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Reflections on Life, Traveling

Yesterday we sent our lack of responsibility up in flames. After almost a month back in Missoula, we awoke too early yet again with our brains swimming in a sea of “should haves” and “need tos”. We seem to be constantly spinning these days, whether its from trying to find a job, trying to move into a new house, trying to figure out how to have a kid, or trying to remember why we left the tropics and returned to a truckload of responsibility.

Transitions suck. They just do. There’s no getting around the fact that changing your life completely is going to be stressful. Or the fact that you’re bound to question the decisions that led you into that stressful situation. Sure, change is exciting, stimulating, and a critical component for personal growth. But it’s also a cause for anxiety, uncertainty and losing sleep.

We’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, starting blindly into the dark, too wired to sleep. Our minds are full to bursting, circling through the hundreds of details required to re-assimilate into the life we left. The days fly by in a rush of searching for used cars, researching how to install vents for the bathroom fan, building a business website, calling old contacts, looking for possessions buried in storage, and on and boringly on. It’s exhausting. It feels like we’re hamsters in a wheel.

The grass is always greener. That’s one of the takeaways from our transition. When we were in Tonga, we thought we wanted the cultural stimulation of Southeast Asia. When we were in Thailand, we craved quiet mountains and remote rivers. When we were constantly on the move, we longed for a place to unpack our bags. Now that we can unpack, we are overwhelmed by the amount of stuff we own. Now that we’re back in the mountains, we miss the sea. It’s confusing, since we’re usually pretty decisive about what we want and why.

It’s just human nature to feel confused after so much change, we tell ourselves. This transition stress was inevitable, we console each other. But it still sucks.

At 6:30am on a snowy Sunday morning (yes, snowing in May in Montana), Rob brought our tea to the couch – the only furniture in our seemingly-vast new living room – and said, “Let’s have a ceremony. We need to break this cycle.”

We talked for an hour about how to summarize and memorialize the last year of our lives. About how to officially let that year go. About how to find a center point after so much mental spinning. About the why behind our transition anxiety. Rob hit the nail on the head: this particular transition is a mourning period for our lack of responsibility.

We’ve been clinging to our glorious, selfish, unfettered, unbounded year of shirking all duty. We’ve been trying to cram that carefree model into “real life” here in Missoula, a place where “should haves” and “need tos” are central tenets of the life we used to live.

So, we burned that selfish and glorious lack of responsibility in the cold, wet Montana morning. And we began redefining the term responsibility as a frame for holding together all that we hold dear: each other, family, friends, creativity, autonomy, flexibility, adventure, a home.

As I started writing this post, it felt like deja vu. I remembered writing about similar transition-angst just before we left. I wrote about the “pinch point” where it feels like too much life is trying to rush through too small a space. That’s how we feel again, 18 months later. We’ll come through it, hopefully soon. This pinch point too shall pass. Thanks to all of the friends and family who have listened to our anxieties and soothed our stress during the transition. With your help – and a little fire ceremony – we will slowly start to center again.

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Spring traveling through the Northwest US - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog - Brianna Randall and Rob Roberts

Melding Back Into Missoula

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Reflections on Life, Traveling

Transitions can be exciting or scary, slow or abrupt.  But rarely are they comfortable.  As Rob and I transition back into “real life” on land here in Missoula, Montana, we are attempting to accept the discomfort that comes with change.  Our life is full of unknowns right now: where will we live?  What will we do next?  Who do we want to be when we grow up?

Luckily, even while immersed in the unknown, it feels good to be surrounded by familiar sights and our favorite people.   Our transition back to the States was buffered by spending two weeks wandering the Northwest before settling back in Montana.  We reconnected with friends from Bellingham to Bend, stopping in Seattle, Portland and Mosier in between.

Spring traveling through the Northwest US - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog - Brianna Randall and Rob Roberts

We saw balsam root flowers springing up along the Columbia River, and mushrooms poking out amid the cedar forests near Canada.  We played with doggies and goats and chickens, told stories, caught up.  And we bought warm clothes at Goodwill to ease our heat-soaked bodies into the cold northern spring.

Now, vacation is over.  By choice, for sure, although the ending is no less poignant. Rob and I are both ready to delve into new projects, new passions, new challenges.  We’ve been back home for a week now, living in my parents’ very comfortable house and reacquainting ourselves with Missoula.  When we get overwhelmed by all the “to do’s” in front of us — find a house, a car, insurance, income — we call a friend we haven’t seen in over a year and go for a walk in the hills.

Spring traveling through the Northwest US - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog - Brianna Randall and Rob Roberts

It’s almost too easy to slip back into old habits.  But that slip seems to make the transition even harder, as we struggle to hold on to those hard-earned travel lessons.  We are working to find the balance between embracing our old lifestyle and carving out a new one that accommodates our expanded horizons.  Mostly, we’re just taking the good advice of a wise friend: be kind to ourselves, and forgive ourselves when we hit rough spots on the road as meld back into our home.

Spring traveling through the Northwest US - On the Horizon Line Travel Blog - Brianna Randall and Rob Roberts

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