Hobo Girl hits the road

LoriKristen and Lisa kiting on the South sideBillydinner in the hoodKevin playing on the South side

I’m in Salt Lake City right now, the flying mecca of the country, finding my way among the “cool kids” of the flying community and on a rapid learning curve with my paraglider.

I left Ashland a week ago. Since my life turned upside down–dog died, relationship died, lost my apartment, quit my job–rather than mope, I decided to live out some version of my fantasy of being a vagabond-on-the-road. I’m happy to report that I have the hobo-couture down : mismatched socks, clashing tops-and-bottoms, odd scarves, oversized hats–whatever is on top of the pile in my van. And I’m comfortable with the lack of luxuries; cooking on a campstove is fine with me, and my nightly star-gazing ritual beats any tile-and-porcelain bathroom. Still, the experience has had its lows: like finding myself shivering at an RV park in Winnemucca, Nevada, drinking a beer, and eating leftover soup in the dark–the carrots and broccoli turned into a indistinguishable baby food mush. The weird thing was that the park was full of RVs sitting like empty second homes, with nary a soul in sight–no fellow nomads, no old folk to play Blackjack, or Go Fish with. Where was everyone? I strummed a few songs on guitar and tried to sing, but my sinuses were clogged. I gave up and laid in bed at 7:30 and called a few friends back home. My cell phone was roaming, but I didn’t care. I felt lost. So much for the romance of the open road.

Things are better since I arrived in Salt Lake. I am staying with a woman named Lori–a fifty-something drop dead gorgeous bundle of energy who hang glides, plays video games, and skateboards across her dining room into her kitchen. She is a mentor of sorts– modeling a way to live and fly that I admire. She’s got a Golden Retriever that stumbles around with an oversized Tigger in her mouth and four cats that meow all the time, which takes some getting used to. I like it that from her backyard you can climb up the mountain and launch from the top.

Days here have a terrific rhythm. With all this moving about, I find comfort in whatever regularity I find. Like migrating birds, the pilots gather on the south side of The Point in the morning, launching into the pink sunrise and fly till around 11:00. Just before sunset, you can see the same group launching from the North side. After landing, its huge grins, beers, and conversation. In just a few days, they all feel like long lost friends. I feel like I’ve been here for ten years.

I’m hoping to get “signed-off” with my pilots license in a week, and then head to Nebraska for Thanksgiving with my family, who I don’t see enough of. I’ll be back in Ashland in early December, completing writing assignments, and then I’ll head south after that.

I miss the familiarity of Ashland, my regular coffeeshops, my friends, the farm, the endless organic veggies, and certain views: like Pompedour Butte at sunset, or Grizzly Peak dusted in snow. I am grateful that I have a place to miss.