Bobbie and I had something in common long before our paths ever crossed. Though mere youngsters with nothing much to show on our Resumes of Existence beyond preparatory schooling and Pie in the Sky dreams, we both valued where over what… Place over Occupation. It was that shared philosophy that landed our orbits out west where they had a chance to intersect… and eventually did.
Bobbie thought sticking around Virginia after college sounded boring… same old people, same old places, same old things. Her dad must have thought his little college coed daughter peculiar; she smoked a pipe when studying, and had her heart set on, of all things, a Willys CJ-5 ragtop Jeep for her graduation present.
Not ready to jump into a teaching career right out of college, Bobbie joined VISTA (a minimally stipend volunteer organization) and pointed her Jeep west to a Navajo Indian Reservation in Northwestern New Mexico. It was an obscure, off-the-map, backward place, a century behind reality. Bobbie met her partner, Sandy, at a preliminary crash-course in Navajo language and customs. A couple of weeks later they they were shipped off to be "Community Organizers" in a culture that didn't really lend itself to "organization," at least not in the sense of the American Way. It was at times a frustrating and unfulfilling experience, but she left with a better understanding of the trials and tribulations of displaced native Americans.
To this day, I remain in awe of Bobbie's courage and adventurous spirit at such a young age. It was a giant leap into a completely oppositional lifestyle, one of "damn the torpedoes; full speed ahead," casting off safety nets of home, family, and security in order to fully embrace the unknown.
When her year was up on the Reservation, Bobbie migrated a couple hundred miles north to the San Juan Mountains and took a job teaching manners to wild and wooly elementary school conscripts in Montrose, Colorado. She fell in love with the rugged outdoors and Wild West atmosphere and decided to call this place "home."
Our paths intersected at the Montrose Athletic Club where Bobbie worked as a fitness instructor and personal trainer. Our first date was a training run in preparation for the Black Canyon Ascent… a six mile race with two thousand feet of elevation gain. I knew I had found my soulmate when she kicked my ass in that race.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Happy Birthday Peppermint Pattie! From your Big Hunk :)
Photos are from a recent snowshoe outing to Barstow Mine up on Red Mountain Pass, 12,000 feet above sea level.