There's snow and it's cold and it's good to be among these dear, ancient friends..
We had a waiting game day today. it started early for lee and me. We got up at 4:45 am in New Jersey to take a taxi to Newark airport for our flight via Salt Lake City (Utah) to Bozeman (Montana). The Delta flight was at 7 am.
Before we boarded Lee heard that Gary's flight through Denver was delayed b/c of a huge snow storm in Colorado. By the time we reached Salt Lake City around 1 pm, we knew that he'd gotten to Denver but missed his connection to Bozeman. At the Bozeman airport, we rendez-vou'd with Cush from Connecticut, Peter from California and Dan from Alaska, although Gary was wait-listed for a 6:30 pm flight.
We all went out for a pizza lunch in downtown Bozeman, where there was blue skies and no snow in the city. Afterwards one SUV headed out the hour+ drive south to the 320 Ranch, where we are staying en route to West Yellowstone tomorrow.
After they departed, I napped at a local coffee shop with Lee and Dan, while the others had an afternoon ski somewhere closer to the mountains.
Tomorrow, the plan is to ski in the morning and afternoon at Big Sky, a local ski resort. Then, drive to West Yellowstone from where we’ll be taken into the park on Sunday (through Friday) on these large vans on skis. I’m told it’ll take 3-4 hours to make the journey into the park, at the least, as we’ll do some side tours of the geysers and fields of bison on the way in to our yurt camp.
At least for the moment, we have internet at this ranch home where we're staying tonight, but that could be the last connection for the week. It seems certain that there's definitely no real electricity, phone or internet inside the yurt park in Yellowstone. Just a hot water bucket bath...
Actually, it seems more like a village in Nepal than being in the united states....
Yet there's a good feeling among these guys. Many of them have been doing this annually for over ten years (since our 25th reunion). They are good, gentle souls. professionals, doctors, lawyers, scientists, mostly, with clean hearts and kind minds. Although some of them were not my closest friends way back when at Amherst, we had an easy, good feeling about each other that retains.
During those early ‘70s college years, I was more on the political and counter-cultural side with Scott, Heading out to California during our summer breaks, being alternative characters, studying philosophy and religion and seeking new revelations in our daily lives.
While these good folks were more grounded, serious and directed -- but with fun in their lives and compassion in their souls.
Still, it's a warmly positive feeling to be among them, not only one on one, but as a community of six once upon a time Amherst students become graying, thoughtful, experienced men reflecting on the paths taken and not taken.
Of course, I'm the outsider in certain ways: non-skier, non-resident American, non-professional... who has made a life outside the United States, living in a foreign land, married into a distant culture and new to these male bonding annual adventures.
Guilty on all counts.
Yet, i have the sense that there is a joy and delight that I am among them, too. They listen and observe me, as I listen and observe them, hearing the distinctions and revelations that distinguish our various lives. The words, expressions and experiences that have defined our individual worlds and expectations.
There is humor aplenty with a bevy of scotch bottles open on the table. Gentle ribbing and kidding about ourselves and each other. Wry comments on our ages and our places in life. Moments of true reflection and efforts at understanding.
If I can stay up on my skis and find a pace the befits me among these quite experienced cross-country skiers, I think this will be full and entertaining week. The idea of going out in that snow for hours and hours, covering kilometers and kilometers of trail still seems a bit daunting, but all life is worthy of its challenges.
If I don't write more for a week know that I go out into this American wilderness with all of you in my heart and thoughts.