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After Four Days Of Driving We Arrive In …

We arrive in Fish Guts.

FISH GUTS, Montana- I feel like I’ve come to the end of the road. Northwestern Montana. To the west is mountains where no roads go, to the north is Canada, and to the south are those endless plains until you get to the endless desert three states away. I’m in a small town that has a legit downtown commercial strip, excellent cafes, and sketchy dive bars.

I believe I’m in the middle of nowhere. There is no convenient port of entry — it’s a haul from every direction. If remoteness is measured in how long it takes to get somewhere then I don’t know if I’ve been somewhere as remote as here in years — and I’ve recently spent a lot of time frolicking in Central Asia and the Caucasus region.

I feel like I’ve come to the end of the road. Northwestern Montana. To the west is mountains where no roads go, to the north is Canada, and to the south are those endless plains until you get to the endless desert three states away.

This is where my sister chose to live. It’s in every way the polar opposite of the place we came from.

Our paternal home is green, wet, cloudy, and flat. This stretch of Montana is tan, dry, sunny, and mountainous.

My sister’s coming out here was an escape from everything she knew.

***
My sister was always the stable one in our family. She was the one who did life how you’re supposed to: high school, marriages college, marriage, kids. She was the kid who didn’t tattoo her entire body. She was the kid that didn’t set out to go to every country in the world. At one point my parents were able to look at their to-do list and check her right off of it.

Nicky: done.

Then around six years ago she flipped the script on everyone. She got a boob job, moved to Montana, divorced her husband, began dating … had adventures dating … started a string of new businesses, eloped in Vegas, and combined two families into one amounting to six kids.

At one point my parents were able to look at their to-do list and check her right off of it. Nicky: done.

I had no idea what was going on in Montana. So I decided to come check it out for myself. My sister is having her wedding reception and it’s as good a time as any to reestablish our connection.

***
Relationships are never a given. They’re like batteries. They need to be recharged or they go dead. Recharging is as simple as spending time together, of having these intermittent periods of sharing a common history. If I come out to Montana and experience this reception my sister and I will always have this time. We will be able to look back and talk about it. We will be able to recharge our batteries.

***

I never realized that I was an adult. There were no sign posts, no initiation rites, nothing notice sent to me saying,”Wade, you are now a grown up.”

I just never got this message and now it’s too late to bother. I am a man-child and that’s just the way it is.

***
“No wonder you travel. Everyone in your family always has crisises and you think this is just the way it is when you stay in one place,” my wife said to me.

It’s probably true.

***
I have no idea why my sister does things the way she does. There is often an easy way, where if you exercise the proper amount of patience things will go well, and the rushed, expedient way where you do what you want in the moment, blow everything up on a whim, and everything goes bonkers.

“No wonder you travel. Everyone in your family always has crisises and you think this is just the way it is when you stay in one place,” my wife said to me.

I get my kicks going off to far flung parts of the world; my sister gets her kicks having drama.

After years of giving her advice to not do what she is doing and pointing out a better course of action only to have her not take it I must conclude that she likes the Crazy. She cultivates the Crazy, she basks in the Crazy. She has to like it.

When we talk about priorities in life we tend to leave out the most important one: stimulation. A bored human is a tumultuous human: a little biological volcano looking to explode. When we don’t have problems to solve in our daily lives we create them.

Humans are problem solvers. We need the stimulation of finding a solution. When everything is solved already we blow it all up.

Leaving places adequately does this for me. I actually recommend this course of action to anyone … for sanity’s sake.

***
A pastor that I met in a bakery one morning:

“I like traveling, just not moving. I was in the military and I would say, ‘just give me advanced notice. I just want to know what to pack.'”

My daughter Petra:

“We probably won’t have any advance notice … Just saying.”

Filed under: Family, Montana, Road Trip

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

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