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It’s 930 miles from Whitefish, Montana to Fruita, Colorado.  We left, as has become habit, around 800pm.  730 is close enough to Little Bear’s bedtime to ensure a tranquil transition to sleep, but M forgot her snowboots and he had to go back.  All night drives south may be a habit, but even with this being the fourth such in a year the departure seems un-natural.  I drove two hours to Missoula, where M took over and I slept until the lights of Dillon, and took over for her a little north of Lima.  I made it through the heart of the night and Idaho all the way to Tremonton before cratering spectacularly.  M resumed driving and I patted LB back to sleep, getting there first myself, and we both woke up in haze, the sun still hidden, conveniently next to the McDonalds in Lehi, Utah.  The playplace got LB back in a good mood, coffee did the same for me, and it took two breaks for walking and much backseat toy action before he succumbed to naptime not far from I-70.  Him staying asleep as we gassed up in Green River confirmed that fortune shone upon us, as by noon we were in our future home, walking in the park and having lunch.

Little Bear acquitted himself well over the next six days, house hunting, filing rental paperwork, meeting soon-to-be not-strangers at my new job, living in a hotel and then camping along the scenic trip home.  We’ve built a good life for him here in Montana, but every thing points to our promised new life in Colorado being more relaxed, more fulfilling, and happier.  Returning the a dark October of record rainfall only enhances the promise of desert sun.

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M and I met and fell in love in Iowa, but our early years in Utah and Arizona built the strength we’ve put to such good use over the last 15 months of parenting.  Returning to a land of harsh blue skies, pinons and junipers, soft canyons, and ugly badlands feels correct.  It’s the right place for us, and the right place for the rapidly growing kiddo.  Hopefully he’ll quickly learn about cactus, his initial (repeated) meeting with goatheads along the banks of the Green River doesn’t give too much cause for optimism.

Needless to say I never intended to become part of “the industry” but given that my parents met in an outdoor store, and how much time I’ve put into this hobby over the past half decade, this change in careers is pretty damn rewarding.  Nothing but two weeks, some delicate case transfers at my old job, and a whole lot of packing (and a sheep hunt) between us and saying a long-term, maybe permanent hello to the Corolla of western states.  It almost cannot happen soon enough.  We have big plans.