When you leave on vacation it is only natural to think “out with the old, and in with the new”. It becomes second-nature to get caught up in the moments and forget why you’ve decided to nest where you do. You’ll enjoy your fresh mentality for the time being, and when you’ve finally returned home it may take a couple of days, or even weeks, to unpack your bags and re-settle. Although you’re now back in your element, your brain is still on vacation. That “change-of-pace” you’d looked forward to for so long may have felt short-lived. Is that because you took too short a vacation? Didn’t complete the extensive “to-do” list that you only gave yourself a month to complete? Or because you didn’t fall in love? Only hit 12 out of 15 destination surf spots? Made two birthdays and a bachelor party, but missed the wedding reception? It rained for the majority of your tropical vacation? Got laid twice but missed out on the orgy? No. And let me explain why.
As the saying goes, “The grass is always greener on the other side.” We knew this when we re-located. And again when we re-re-located. I find I tell myself this regularly to justify some of my life choices. I believe this is what keeps life interesting. Those feelings of dissatisfaction can be constraining, but they can also lead to new beginnings and new adventures. We’re always searching for something more, exploring new terrain and testing our boundaries. And once we’ve filtered through the ups & downs enough to know where we’d like to rest our heads between adventures, we can be at peace. After you’ve found a place to call home, the need to flee will subside. The cravings for change will diminish and you will find other ways -local methods- to soothe the soul.
Spending most of the year above 8,000′ has its ups & downs (pun intended). Mostly, it has its ups. We live in a valley, so every trip involves a mandatory uphill prior to descention. The pay-off is rewarding because the required effort is strenuous, and the downhill becomes much more enjoyable after working up a sweat getting to the top. Other “ups” could be the low-stress, healthy lifestyles and fun-loving culture that we’ve created for ourselves, the gargantuan national forest that we call our backyard, and the fact that given our proximity to trail networks we can be daily-warriors, as opposed to weekend-warriors. The few “downs” I can pinpoint – the cold and dry weather almost year-round, the distance between myself and my friends and family, and less opportunites for socialization (hence the population) – aren’t enough to leave me feeling unbalanced. I have had doubts, but they’ve usually been justified. “Well, I’d rather this, but then I’d be less content without that and these.” For each negative there seem to be two or more positives. I imagine this is because I enjoy the day-to-day so much.
The pros definitely outweigh the cons on my scale. In fact, when I go on “vacation” I tend to do things that make me feel more “at-home”. Five-star resorts and room-service are not exactly my “cup of tea”. I enjoy being covered in dirt and grime and being exhausted from outdoor exercise. I love how delicious oatmeal or a bland pasta dish can taste when you’re beat down and dirty. Actually, a high-carb can of beans can taste just like a four-course gourmet dinner after a long day on “vacation”.
Since I left my home in Crested Butte, I have run at least five miles per day (I don’t even run much at home) and have eaten for less than $10 per day. Versus stopping for Starbucks, I have prepared all my own drip-coffee from my Whisperlite camp stove (multiple times daily). I have yet to sleep past 7am. My two-year old labrador is tired and limping. Still, I imagine that when I return to Colorado these antics will subside. The energy required simply living at that elevation can be exhausting, not to mention having tons of fun while you’re there. The five-day work week will resume, but with plenty of daylight during the summer I will still find a way to do something awesome everyday. For now I guess I’ll just enjoy myself. And when I get home, I’ll probably continue to do so.
Some pictures I took during my short stop (due to crummy weather) in the desert: