My sister, Cassidy, high on life after a helicopter flight to a glacier on New Zealand's South Island.

Sure, I’d land on a glacier.

Posted on 1 CommentPosted in Reflections on Life

My sister recently landed on a glacier in a helicopter. Some of our friends see her pictures from adventures in the beautiful New Zealand wilderness and tell me: “She’s so lucky.” I smile and reply: “And damn determined, too.”

Cassidy didn’t just stumble upon a helicopter with an empty seat. She envisioned that remote glacier, that magical flight, that life-changing moment. And then she took the deliberate steps to make the vision a reality: quitting a secure job, leaving her comfort zone, traveling solo to a foreign country, seeking out ways to trade her expertise to make a living.

rob roberts paragliding over missoula valley

I’m proud of her. It takes guts to leap from a picture on her vision board to the actual moment in unfamiliar territory. And it’s a leap many people never risk. You know why? Because you don’t know how hard you’ll land when your sooo-much-fun, mid-air, arms-outstretched, anything-is-possible leap is over.

Rob and I made a similar leap. We hit lifetime highs while hovering effortlessly in the nether-world of traveling. It took quite a while to dust off the dirt from our clumsy plop back to reality last year. But now that we have…it’s time to start a new vision board! (Or at least a metaphoric board, since I barely have time to shower these days, much less clip magazine articles to make a real one).

talon is swing

Here’s the secret: manifesting your dreams takes work. It’s worth it, though, because life is more fun when you have grand plans, even if those plans don’t make it off the board. We’re ready to start the work again. During our recent road trip to river raft and explore the coast in Oregon, Rob and I put forward some pictures that embody a few dreams for the future:

A sailboat: starting to feel a bit suffocated without any wind in our nonexistent sails.

Books: to read (ha!) and to write.

One big backpack: I still cringe at the stuff in our house, and long for lightweight living.

Ocean: hoping to boat-sit or house-sit/swap near the sea for a few weeks each winter. Any takers?

A clock: to make the most of many moments.

Rivers: so many more to float and fish.

A vintage motorcycle: because Rob needs a new project and death-defying hobby.

Cash: piles of it, so we can retire early.

Peaks: to physically climb, and to aspire to emotionally, too.

A camera: ready to ramp up the photography skills to augment the writing dreams.

Pillows: because we both need a LOT more sleep post-infant before putting big plans in place.

Smiling faces: including us, family, friends, and strangers, since people are our axis of awesome.

You’ll notice I didn’t add “helicopter” or “glacier” to the metaphoric vision board list. That’s because I’ll leave manifesting snow-related adventures to Cassidy. Sure, I’d land on a glacier … but only if I stumbled on an empty seat.

talon walking into the creekrob and talon on the carousel in missoula

steve randall and talon roberts at rattlesnake creek

My sister, Cassidy, high on life after a helicopter flight to a glacier on New Zealand's South Island.
My sister, Cassidy, high on life after a helicopter flight to a glacier on New Zealand’s South Island:
sailing to sunrise on the horizon line

We’re Halfway There on This Gyrating Merry-Go-Round

Posted on 6 CommentsPosted in Ocean Tales, Reflections on Life, Sailing

A gyrating merry-go-round,
we teeter-totter across the sea.
60,000 pounds of steel turned tiny rubber duckie at the whim of wandering waves.

The American flag whips in tatters, the stripes stripped into ragged ribbons.
Persevering. Presiding. Present.
Like the rest of us.

Each day a repeat of the next or the last
until the uneven rhythm of teeter-tottering echoes through
every cell, meal, word, step, dream.

Until — after 1,000 miles — you want to scream:
At the flogging sails snapping against your sunbaked nerves.
At your sleeping-again seasick husband leaving you to jellyfish stings in seawater dish suds.

Until — after 2,000 miles — you want to sing:
To the dolphins dancing in moonlight and the single orca that surfaces alongside.
To the power of passing squalls that bequeath gin-clear drops to drink.

Noise become your constant companion:
The goblin-growl of the groaning auto-pilot, the rattle of loose pots, the whistle of rigging.
The slide of hanging clothes, the swoosh of waves over your head as you sleep.

Back and forth, forth and back. Back. Forward.
My bones rocking, gnawing, rubbing, riding, swiveling.
My brains swishing and sloshing on the gyrating merry-go-round.

We chant to the sails: keep full.
We dance for the wind: don’t leave.
We plead to the waves: stay out.

We’re halfway there: can’t you tell?
The blue water looks bluer, the white clouds whiter.
Halfway is directly below my Montana home.

Over and up, down and around.
We circle a straight course.
I circle my own midline.

It’s all the same: a movie set of false sunsets and frothy whitecaps.
There is no middle, there is no end.
Or perhaps the middle is it’s own end.

I stare at starry skies, searching for my personal revelation.
I listen to waving seas waiting to hear the meaning of life.
I taste the salt on my shoulder, in my hair, hoping it will move me to meditate.

But revelations refuse to alight on our swinging mast.
Meaning can’t break through the noise and movement.
There’s no room for mediation amidst daily survival.

You have to stay still to receive the benefit.
You have to stay still to hear the ending.
We are never still.

Only a salty slingshot slippery sliding
rolling pitching creaking rocking flogging singing laughing
forever blue merry-go-round teeter-tottering across the endless sea.

13 interviews video - on the horizon line blog

13 Interviews – A Pennsylvania Perspective on Sailing Away

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Family and Friends, Sailing

Today is the first day of our adventure. As we enter a new country, it seems fitting to reflect a bit on where we’re going, as well as reflect on what others think about our upcoming sailing voyage.

When we went back to visit Philadelphia in February, Bri and I interviewed 13 members of my family to ask them a few key questions about our trip. Check out their insights and advice below.

[framed_video column=”full-width”]13 Interviews – A Pennsylvania Perspective on Sailing Away [/framed_video]


brianna randall eating a mango - on the horizon line sailing

A List of 10 Favorites – Here and There.

Posted on 2 CommentsPosted in Family and Friends, Reflections on Life

brianna randall eating a mango - on the horizon line sailingWhat I’m most looking forward to when we get there (and by “there,” I mean latitudes south of Montana and places more salty than not).

  1. Remembering my dreams again.
  2. Mangos and avocados.
  3. Watching the stars and sun move across the sky.
  4. Counting birds and dolphins.
  5. Bioluminescence.
  6. Time to meditate.
  7. Humidity.
  8. New cuisines, new cultures, new friends.
  9. Having time to really listen.
  10. Dancing on the bow of the sailboat.

girlfriends at bri and rob wedding - on the horizon lineWhat I’ll miss most about being here (and by “here,” I mean our home in the beautiful Rocky Mountain town of MisSOULa, Montucky).

  1. My sister.  And my parents.  Cassidy and I have never been apart longer than 6 months, and I imagine the hole left in my heart without her nearby will ache often.
  2. Girlfriends.
  3. Mountains, and the crystal-clear creeks that flow from them.
  4. Our dog.
  5. Family dinners, followed by hilarious music jam sessions.
  6. Baths.
  7. Our couch (it’s seriously awesome) and king-sized bed.
  8. The lack of bugs and infectious diseases.
  9. Biking.
  10. Watching the kids we love grow up.


rob playing with kids in Missoula - on the horizon line

bri and cass at the wedding in Missoula - on the horizon line

The Little Red Bible: Goodbye Wedding Tasks, Hello Bon Voyage To-Do’s!

Posted on 3 CommentsPosted in Reflections on Life, Sailing

A couple of weeks ago, Rob bought us a red, wide-ruled notebook (picture what you get for an 8-year-old as back-to-school gear).  It’s replaced my 3-page “Wedding To-Do List” in a place of honor, right next to the Field Guide to North American Birds and the big pile of bills.  While the wedding was fun as hell, I don’t miss the mundane organizing tasks a bit…especially since our new red bible is so titillating.

For those of you who don’t know, we’re leaving Missoula this spring to explore islands, oceans, and cultures west of North America.  A couple years back, we decided to search for some brand-new horizons.

We’re quitting our jobs in March, packing our belongings into a 5×10′ space, renting the house, selling the car, and taking one backpack each into the sunset.  Our goal is to crew on sailboats through the South Pacific, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia in 2013, eventually buying our own boat.  In between ocean voyages, we plan to climb mountains, fly off cliffs, dance on beaches, meet new people, and see what may find us.

The dream is going to be a reality in just under 6 months. Which means we have to get our s$i@ together, starting with keeping all our random “oh, we should do this before we go” ideas in one place, instead of exclaiming them to each other at all hours.

Meanwhile, back on the homefront, there’s a LOT to do before we set sail.  Rob isn’t big on electronic lists, mostly because we look at computers enough in the office.  And I find comfort in physical lists, probably because I LOVE crossing things off in big, black, permanent marker.

This red notebook is our ticket to get outta dodge.  Below are the 7 list categories so far, with one example of what’s under each category:

  • Wish List (Go Pro Hero 2 Camera)
  • Items We Need (UV water purifier)
  • Life Maintenance (buy emergency international health insurance: here’s the front runner)
  • House Prep (build a wall to separate the garage in half, creating a locked storage area for all our stuff)
  • Odds and Ends (find a new home for the chickens)
  • Sailing Prep (decide if we’re going to get a USGS Captain’s License and study like hell)
  • Timeline (put the the car up for sale in February and the house up for rent in January)

Some lists are a lot longer than others (like the Wish List), and all of them will probably get longer this winter.  Luckily, we keep crossing things off, too, inching that much closer to a new horizon line.

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