Saturday, March 12, 2011

Living The Big Sky Life: Been There, Done That

Not unlike many kids who grew up in the 60’s, “Green Acres” was one of those weekly T.V. shows that I rarely missed. Never, however, in a million years could I have predicted that as an adult I’d actually come to know first hand how Eva Gabor’s character and uprooted city dweller, “Lisa Douglas”, must’ve felt when she was convinced to move to Hooterville because her husband, “Oliver Wendell Douglas”, craved the simple life.

Impartial observers would be hard pressed to find any outward similarity between me and the likes of Lisa Douglas, yet when I made the big move to big sky country, I could’ve sworn her hillbilly universe had somehow intersected my own; for here I was, just like Lisa Douglas, loyally compelled to live out my husband’s dream of ‘quality of life’ which was appearing more and more each day to surreally coincide with Oliver’s definition of the simple life.
Chef doing ‘an Oliver’ in the backyard 
… or maybe just his best 'Forrest Gump'
My Hooterville, as it turns out, was called Whitefish, Montana - a resort town named after its own lake (or perhaps it was the other way around) and nestled at the base of the Big Mountain ski resort. Whitefish is 25 miles west of Glacier National Park, 25 miles north of Flathead Lake, and about 60 miles south of Canada’s BC/Alberta border. Considered to be a vacationer’s paradise by many, and historically nicknamed "Stumptown" by the local community, I secretly came to call the place “Boy’s Town” instead because it was where all the boys came to play, and well, live the dream of being one with nature, even if that meant hunting nature down. Yep, it had it all, and anyone who heard the call of nature and yearned for the Big Sky Life after seeing “A River Runs Through It” or “Legends Of The Fall” knows what I’m talking about.

Now I appreciate the wonders of nature and beautiful country as much as the next human being, but living the dream for me at this point simply did not include camping, fishing, hiking, or hunting, because frankly, I’d been there, done that (except for the hunting part…never gonna happen).

One look at my childhood and a typical King family vacation can only beg the question: where do two parents with little money to spare take Grandma King, five daughters barely a year apart in age, and occasionally an older brother they called uncle on an affordable family vacation every year?

Camping is where. Out into the great outdoors where the dirt is free. And as the nature spirits prepare to take the stand in my defense, I swear there’s probably not a campground in California, Oregon, and Washington that the King family hasn’t camped in, a lake or river it hasn’t fished in, and a waterfall is hasn’t hiked or packed in to. The Colorado, Utah and Arizona territories were covered when I got a little older. Then, of course, came Montana.

So when those vans, trucks and campers would come rolling through Whitefish every year over-packed with the latest roughing-it regalia, fishing gear, and loaded rifle racks, I confess that I wasn’t quite prepared for the strong level of boring distaste that would sweep over me every time I'd hear “isn’t this the life?” The ensuing flashbacks of a childhood rife with camping trips and bright orange plastic tube tents didn't help my attitude much either. Undoubtedly some of those memories will make their way out of the closet in a continuation post I feel compelled to call “When Nature Calls, All I Get Are Flashbacks”.

Anymore I find it intriguing how often people tend to confuse the whole communing with nature thing with ‘quality of life’ - which typically translates into living a lifestyle that induces an overall sense well-being. Achieving that sense of well-being is a very personal thing, and what ‘quality of life’ feels like to one person can be completely different for another. And as I heard those Boy’s Town die hards chronically bleat on about ‘quality of life’ as if I didn’t get it, I couldn’t help but wonder…who were they really trying to convince? Me or themselves.

Frankly Dah-ling, just give me the sea, because the mountains don't do a thing for me.

For more of “Living The Big Sky Life”, learn what I should’ve known by “Reading the Signs”.

Living The Big Sky LifeTM
© by DK King