Summer of Sara

Hey there! You might know me from blog posts such as “The Patient Wife” and “She Who Knows Dehydrating.” Well, that’s me! Mark and I thought it would be interesting to share my perspective on his adventure, since a lot of the questions he’s gotten have been about how I feel and what my plans are.

First, a little background. Mark and I started dating around the time of his first MR340. My friend Susan and I drove to Jefferson City to see him and Norman at one of the checkpoints. We were armed with Subway sandwiches and a dashboard jesus and were completely blown away by how many people were out there racing and supporting racers. It was amazing. We saw them for about 15 minutes, they passed on our sammiches after being tempted by fast food burgers courtesy of Mark’s cousin and were off. I went on to be ground support for the next three MR340s that Mark did, and even one last year that he didn’t. It’s exhasuting and exciting and I love it.

Before the last 340 he did, in 2017, I tried to talk him out of it. I thought that he should try something new; a different river or a more challenging race. I can barely do the same 5k or 10k more than once, I couldn’t imagine 340 miles of the same river (and yes, I know the saying about the river and changing, so I’ll stop you there). On our honeymoon, we stopped in Three Forks, Montana, home of the Missouri River Confluence. Mark was so excited and told me that one day he was going to paddle the entire thing. I believed him, because he’s that kind of guy, but I had NO IDEA it would be so soon.

In the summer of 2018, Mark asked what I thought about him doing it in 2019. I told him to go for it, but was cautious that he might not get everything planned or work wouldn’t give him time off or that something would come up. Nothing did, obviously, we’re here in Montana getting ready to cook the last homemade meal he’ll have for weeks. Everything fell into place. We talked about financial needs and boring stuff. And scary stuff. But we came up with a plan and the rest played out pretty much how you’ve read up until now. However, I got so many questions. So. Many. Concerns. Mark thought he had a lot, but those were about logistics and maps and food. So let me answer a few.

1. Are you going too? No, I never, EVER thought about going with him.
I’m a land girl. I love water, but only for swimming. I get sick on boats and I hate them for long periods of time. I got sick on the lazy river once, AS AN ADULT. So no, it never crossed my mind.

2. What are you going to do for four months? The same thing I do every night, Pinky…
This has probably come up the most. “You can do whatever you want!” “It will be like a party every night!” “The Summer of Sara!” I mean, that sounds like a blast, but I still have a job, the truck, two cats, and a boat (haha) load of new chores to take care of…looking at you, yard. So while I’ll have plenty of alone time to go out and get crazy, realistically I’ll be at home a lot, most likely playing Zelda (finally!) because one thing I don’t get to do a lot with one TV is play video games.

3. Aren’t you worried/nervous/scared? Yes? I have to say yes, right?
All joking aside, of course I’m nervous, but not about Mark. He knows what he’s doing and has a solid plan. I’m worried about stuff like my packages getting lost in the mail and him not having resupplies or one of the cats going missing or a tree falling on his car while I’m out of town for the weekend. You’re welcome, because now you have those same fears.

4. How often are you going to go see him? Maybe once.
Most of his trip will be far away from StL and I can’t take a ton of time off to go do that. Besides, we’ll be in contact and talking enough that the months will fly by. And I’m encouraging others to go find him along the way, he will love to see friends along the river!
I plan to post updates about Mark and will plan on an event closer to when he’ll finish. It’s important to both of us that so many friends have reached out and asked us these questions about the trip, it just means that you care! And it means so much that he has your support and love.
Happy blog reading and following, feel free to shoot me a message if there is anything you’d like to know about where to find him.

Love and kisses, SF

Departure’s Eve: Montana Abides

My initial arrival in Montana got off to a little bit of a rocky start. A missed boat inspection point and subsequent pull over by the cops, plus a pop up wind and rain storm just outside Billings that pushed my car and boat all over the road had me a little nervous about what I was to experience in Montana.

But I am happy to report that it has been smooth sailing ever since. Norm Miller and Chris were fantastic hosts in Livingston. We talked for hours about my trip, my plans, challenges, Norm’s experience and a lot of other subjects. After Sara’s delayed arrival, we made our way to Butte and then on to Wise River. We met our old time hasher friends Bereth and Barry and had an impromptu mini pub crawl through Dewey and a few other local dives. It was fantastic catching up with old friends, laughing, telling stories, and sharing some drinks together in a beautiful place. We had a relaxing evening around the fire pit and a great dinner before turning in for the night.

Bereth and Barry had to catch a 6:00 a.m. flight back to the East coast leaving Sara and I on our own for Sunday. We went into the nearby town of Anaconda for a late breakfast enjoyed inside a Herbie car then headed out to some local hiking trails.

After one mountain road proved to have too much snow and mud for my trusty Subaru to navigate, we headed to another spot called Echo Lake. Driving up a mountain road brought us to more snow and a tree that had fallen across the road. Not to be deterred, we parked and then had a lovely 5 mile hike up to the mostly frozen lake and around the lake. On the way back, we stopped and grabbed some groceries for dinner for my last meal before the trip starts tomorrow morning. Sara has found a way to watch Game of Thrones soon, and this is my view as I enjoy a beer and dictate this post into my phone.

I am incredibly excited to start the trip tomorrow. Montana has been amazing and I can’t wait to experience it for about another month. All systems go for a Monday launch!