While we were 100% committed to each other and our relationship, we had differing perspectives on what our life would be like now that we weren't thousands of miles from each other. I think what complicated things was living with his family. He, essentially, left his comfortable life in Montana to pick me up and bring me into it; why shouldn't he have expected his life would continue with a general sense of normal? Me, I didn't know what to expect and that probably stressed me out more than anything else. But I knew deep down - and on the surface - that this was what I wanted; and no matter how many times I briefly entertained the idea of going back to Florida, my head and my heart knew that was just going to ease my anxious stomach, not make me any happier. What would make me happy was putting down roots in this new place; I did it a few times before so this should have been no different. Plus, no way I was leaving when my hair had finally returned to its normal size and texture.
So in his quest for me to feel welcome, Jacob showed me around our new home. And it wound up being a wonderful summer.
Once they became friends and got [sort-of] used to the idea of being around one another 24/7, they had a lot of fun. I know Louis enjoyed his new, giant backyard after growing up a city-dog. Even today, though, they both look at Jacob and I like, "Ok, I've had enough fun, can we go back home where it was just the 2 of us now?"
When he was single, Jacob spent a great deal of his free time driving as far as a tank of gas would get him. So as soon as I arrived, his first order of business was to show me his plethora of favorite spots.
First up was the Beartooth Pass. I'm not sure how long Jacob has been traveling the road but he loves it so much he'll sometimes drive just to where the gate closes it off during the winter. Obviously, it wasn't winter anymore but we stopped at the same spot we had the previous January.
At one of the view spots as you travel up the windy, steep road.
That teeny, tiny point smack in the direct center of the picture is the Beartooth mountain. Taken May 2009.
Jacob was surprised I got this close; frankly, so am I.
We took a similar drive for my birthday, but that time Jacob took me to lunch at Bogart's. There isn't a whole lot of "theme" to this theme restaurant, but it's a cute, nice place with good food and souvenirs that say Bogart's.
My first excursion to Yellowstone National Park. The place is awesome no matter which direction you're looking. We happened quite a ways from Old Faithful but still saw some cool geysers peppered throughout the park. Sometimes man-made structures just can't compete with Mother Nature.
A year earlier Jacob had told me the wonder that is Boat Float; i.e. a 4-day rafting-trip down the Yellowstone River covering about 80 miles. But since it's over the arguably most calm parts of the river, it's a float and not some crazy, Maryl Streep whitewater adventure, leaving plenty of room and opportunity to drink and party.
Most of Montana participates so it's one large drunk party in the woods. This was the first time I ever saw Jacob drunk; one beer and he was gone, introducing me to the same guy on our boat a good 3 times. Like I said, the float lasts 4 days but Jacob had to work so we only floated one. In the end, though, we just couldn't hang and one day was one day too many. I asked Jacob if he wanted to go this year and I didn't even have to finish the thought before he said, "NO! Just thinking about it is giving me a headache."
If nothing else, moving to Montana brought me closer to my parents. My dad jokes I moved 1000 miles away right after high school, then they moved down to Arizona, and I packed up and moved across the country. Pure coincidence, I promise. :-) I hadn't found a job, yet, so while my dad was doing FEMA training, Louis and I drove to Pinedale to keep my mom company.
If nothing else, Louis sure enjoyed himself! It was the fish that finally lured him into the water, hating and refusing it even if his tail were on fire. And the fish that jumped up and slapped him across the face didn't change his mind, either. Last summer he even showed Durbin the wonder that is Wyoming.
Me being able to easily travel to Wyoming (although nothing about the journey is easy) also made it easy for my mom to come visit me. She visited for a couple of weeks and, thanks to awesome Jacob who scored me free tickets, got to go to the Kelly Clarkson concert with me. :-)
One weekend, we drove to Thermopolis, Wyoming to meet up with my parents at the hot springs. It stinks and is filled with wrinkled old men and weird children but it's impossible not to feel relaxed after spending a night there.
Jacob, the famous Erica Dobbs, and I at her July 2009 wedding. To make it even more special, we have a similar picture from our own wedding.
To cap off the summer, Jacob was subjected to meeting the majority of my extended family (just kidding :-)) at the family reunion. We'd never had one before, save for those Christmases at Grandma's where there were too many people so the celebration spanned over two days. But since Grandma isn't with us any longer, it's up to the rest of the family to keep it together, so my uncle arranged for the family to go out to his cabin. I underestimated the trip by about 300 miles so we were car-lagged and sleepy but still had a great time. You will never meet more interesting people, or hear the craziest stories than when you're with my family.
Jacob and I enjoying the homage to Grandma's German potato salad. (Thanks for the picture, Aunt Linda!)
It was summer-love, that's for sure. We enjoyed each others company, had a lot of laughs, were friends, and just generally didn't want to continue life without the other. A standard recipe for where we were headed.
To be continued................