My second week of March was originally going to be spent doing some backpacking on Mt.Charleston in the Las Vegas area, but due to the amount of snow and some personal reasons I decided to cut my visit short and head north to the Boise Idaho area. I have a few friends from Las Vegas that now live in that area and they have been begging me for years to go visit, so I finally did. I also have friends from Yellowstone who live in that area and my best friend from deployment lives there as well. It was kind of awesome to have all these friends from VERY different parts of my life all in one place. I even made some really awesome friends while I was there and got convinced to go participate in Trivia Night at the Elk’s Lodge. If you know anything about me, you know that I enjoy watching people play but I don’t play. Before you know it, I’ll be up singing karaoke or doing an open mic night!!!!
I started off my mental health vacation by hopping on the Harley and going for a ride around the Nampa area. It was exactly what I needed to help wind down from being in Las Vegas. The ride was a little chilly, and my face and hands were completely numb by the end of it, but it was 100% worth every second. I don’t think that I was expecting it to be so pretty. I’ve driven through eastern Idaho a lot to get back to Colorado when I was living in Yellowstone, but I don’t think that I’ve been that far west before. In my head, I was expecting it to be flat and boring, it wasn’t. There were some amazing views of the countryside with the surrounding mountains in the background. I broke my back in 2011 and haven’t been able to enjoy being on a bike but I can honestly say that going for a ride that day definitely helped heal my soul a little bit. Between the wind in my face, the windy country roads, and the smell of cows, I felt like I was home.
I had to make probably one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make while I was in Idaho… Due to her age and overall happiness, my pup is staying in the potato state with my friends. They have a 5 month old Doberman named “Gunnar” who will be keeping her company, along with some cats and chickens. From all the photos that I’ve received this last week, I don’t think that she minds staying there at all. This will be the longest time I’ve been away from her in 9 years and there is a chance that I will miss her birthday for the first time ever. It might be incredibly selfish of me to continue to do this without her, but I know that it would be unforgivable to drag her along. I feel bad for her not be able to run and play on days that we’re on the road, or be able to walk on days that we’re out hiking.
One of the major aspects of this trip is trying to heal from some of my previous experiences and learning to forgive other people and myself. My best friend from deployment and I had a falling out a few years ago. We were both in a really rough place in our young adult lives and I don’t think that either one of us knew how to cope with what was going on so we took it out on each other. That was 2010-2011 and for the first time since then, her and I are in the same town. So I went over to her new apartment and played catch up. It was amazing to chat with her and to hear how much she has “grown up” and “matured” since the last time I saw her. And then I started to think about some of the other people I had deployed with. It was a few hours of pure nostalgia and I felt like we needed to be blaring Katy Perry or LadyGaga in the background. But I’m fairly certain neither one of us are willing to go back to being in our early 20’s again.
My Idaho trip had a rather dramatic closing… Jessica and I were very good friends in 2012. Both of our husbands were deployed together and we both were FRG board members. Through some extremely messed up situations, Jess became the best friend I didn’t know I needed. Her and I had a major drift due to some personal reasons and I didn’t bother to keep in touch. I found out about her death through the grapevine soon after but it wasn’t until 2014ish that I had actually made any attempt to find where she was buried. Every time I drove through the area where she is, I would look up the addresses for cemeteries. For some reason when I looked them up, my phone always took me on a goose chase through the town. Since I was driving in that area, I decided to give it one more shot. This time, the directions took me straight to the cemetery and now all I had to do was find her stone. The cemetery isn’t that big, but I could have easily spent an hour looking for her. But the universe decided that I was ready to deal with this part of my past and I literally parked right at her row and walked right up to her gravestone. I sat and chatted with her, yelled at her, cried for her, and even laughed. She’s taught me the hardest lesson of letting go. I’ll never understand why she did what she did, or why she took her life, and that is something that I’ve had to work on. In the end, I’m truly grateful for her part in shaping who I am now.