Unplugging, Part 3

I believe I left you at the time of my college graduation and first “real” job.  I will spare you all the details, but just to give you an idea of my mindset, I admit there was a scene involving me driving my red pickup truck through a barren desert wasteland somewhere in Southern California on the way to my new life, with me singing along to the Dixie Chick’s “Wide Open Spaces” and bawling my eyes out.

I sweated my way through my first California summer.  The schedule was grueling. Rewarding, but grueling. Between caring for the horses, teaching lessons doing devotionals with staff and with the campers, hiking back and forth up a steep hill from the dining hall to the barn, campfires–and did I mention somehow I ended up leading worship with my guitar for the campers evening chapel time?–I only had one day off a week (sort of, if it wasn’t my turn to feed the horses) and a couple hours to spare in the afternoons.  By the end of the summer, I was spending those afternoon breaks with soon-to-be Mr. Wrangler, taking illegal trail rides into the state park land that bordered the camp property.  Shhhhh don’t tell the park rangers!  It was a wonderful way to get to know each other, though–plenty of time to talk yet with the safe buffer of the horses to fill any awkward gaps.  Here’s a pic Mr. Wrangler snapped of me on one of our date rides.

peter and I

By the time Mr. Wrangler had done his job wooing me and we were planning our life together, I practically cried with joy when he found a job as a farrier’s apprentice in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  He was excited to try living someplace new, and I was thrilled to be so near Silver Birch Ranch and within a few hours of all my friends and family in Illinois.  True to my friend’s prediction, we were married in less than a year after my college graduation.  We spent our first year and a half of our marriage in America’s Dairlyand, but Mr. Wrangler was growing dissatisfied with his job (for a very good reason, too–I’ll get to that soon).  One day he said, “Why don’t you see if you can get a horse job in Montana or something?”  I laughed.  I knew from experience how hard it was to find the “perfect” horse job, but at the time I was just working at a temp agency and teaching a few riding lessons on the side.  I did, for the very first time in my life, have my own horse!

dewey side shotme and deweydewey close up

Wasn’t he a cutie?

However, I had bought him with the intention of training and selling him.  Really, there wasn’t anything solid tying us down in Green Bay, as much as I liked it there.

Thinking I was merely humoring Mr. Wrangler,  I hopped online to an equine job staffing board and found a listing for a job teaching horsemanship at a girls boarding school–in Montana.  I sent in my resume, had a phone interview, and before I knew it I was on a plane headed for a real interview.  I stayed in Missoula the first night there and was absolutely enchanted by it, but the real treat came the next day as I drove my tiny little rental car north into the Seeley-Swan Valley.  Snow-capped mountains, crystal lakes, majestic pines, wildlife galore–June in northwest Montana is simply breathtaking.  I saw moose and bear just driving to the school for the interview–which I nailed.  Obviously.  I was able to spend a few extra days exploring the area and hiking.  I saw waterfalls and a secluded, appropriately-named Crystal Lake in the Mission Mountain Wilderness.  Every night when I called Mr. Wrangler, I told him, “I can’t wait for you to see this.  You aren’t going to believe how beautiful it is here.  You’re going to love it.”

The wilderness was calling us!

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