Twenty-eight years ago, a young gal from Texas had a life-changing opportunity to raft the Snake River. This experience resulted in a 2,000 mile move to the northwest. Of course, this young gal was me. Trading the pine tree lined backroads of the greater Houston area for big open skies was such a stark change that even a somewhat cranky teenager couldn’t deny its breathtaking beauty.
Other than the fact that my mom mentioned we were moving near the Tri-Cities and I heard Twin Cities, I adjusted to the fact that we did not live in Minnesota. I also accepted that “y’all,” although a perfectly reasonable contraction, would conjure up giggles and confusion for decades to come.
My trip down the Snake River marked a reboot. As our oldest approached the end of his elementary school journey, the idea of rafting the Snake River at the same age that I did was intriguing. What better place to connect as a family than the country’s deepest canyon, totally isolated from all the disruptive signals of our daily lives. We couldn’t even check the Astros score, but, surprisingly, we made it.
We lost our biggest Astros fan, my grandfather, in May. Perhaps second only to the Astros was his love of bird watching. Most of my childhood memories exploring the southwest include binoculars. While his favorite bird remained the Scissortail Flycatcher, the elusive Dipper kept his binoculars at the ready. Despite the Texas heat, we spent summers bailing hay, finding tadpoles, swimming, building tree houses, and all the other miscellaneous chores required of turning a landfill into a farm. As my great, great, double-half uncle by marriage would say (definitely another story), “it’s a good tired,” at the end of a hard day’s work. I strive to feel like that every day.