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Posted August 5, 2020 in Adventure Journals by Jim Markel
Traveling back to the summer of 2017, Ethan Mayefsky fulfilled his life-long dream to visit Montana. He says it was the last great trip he had taken and the first vacation he’d had in a decade. It would also be the first flight he took in a decade as well. This story reminds me of that old western song by Gene Autry Home on the Range: "Oh give me a home, where the buffalo roam, and the deer and the antelope play"…. Let’s check in with Ethan for his Summer Adventure Journal submission before we get too sentimental singing songs about our home.
Dear Red Oxx Herd,
For as long as I remember, Montana has been on my list not only of places to visit, but to move to. For twenty years I had dreamed of making it there.
After living in New York, Florida, California, New York again, and then Florida again, my yearning for the West grew. A friend of mine has a home in Columbia Falls and invited me out to visit him. That’s when I started really planning.
Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a bag fanatic. I have always loved and been drawn to any and every bag. I started researching, about a year before my trip, bags made in the USA, but more importantly, bags made in the areas I would be visiting. My trip would include time in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
I found Red Oxx and never looked back. I made a list of the bags and accessories I wanted and started saving. One year later, my trip came.
I flew into Denver and drove to Cheyenne. The next day, I drove to Billings. That was going to be a two-day stop for me with a visit to the Red Oxx store and a tour of the facility from Jim, the CEO. I made a day out of it and walked away with two things: a memory I’ll never forget and a boat-load of Red Oxx gear. The prices had changed a day or two before I got there but thankfully I had been saving for a year. I had budgeted into my trip, the purchase of the only bags I’d ever need for the rest of my life.
I had brought two rolling suitcases on the trip filled mostly with copies of the novels I’d written. I am a self-published author – and responsible for my own promotion – so I handed out novels all across the West. After my trip through Billings, I emptied the two suitcases, minus the novels, into my new Red Oxx gear.
Man these bags are made with perfection. The complex simplicity is astounding.
From Billings, I went to Helena. Then to Columbia Falls. Then to Missoula. Then to Yellowstone. Then to Idaho Falls. Then Sun Valley and Ketchum to visit the last place my favorite author Hemingway saw before he killed himself there. Then to Casper. Then back to Cheyenne. Then back to Denver and back home for the saddest flight of my life.
After getting home, my phone had many problems and ended up erasing all of my pictures of my trip. I can still see them – when I close my eyes – but I have no other reminders… except my bags.
While in Montana visiting my friend, we went to nearby cities and hiked and ate.
You must get to the Huckleberry Patch and buy their Huckleberry preserves. It’s so good you might never leave. Also Montana coffee roasters has it down to a perfect science. Dag Gum I love Montana.
Yellowstone, with its inherent beauty, changed my life – as did driving from Yellowstone through Jackson past the Grand Tetons. A little while after the Tetons, I saw the red rocks in Wyoming. The sight alone of those rocks affected me deeply. As a writer, I was inspired by the entire drive from start to finish, and as I talked to myself, narrating the drive, I began the foundation for a new series of novels.
Cheyenne was another life-changer for me. From the Frontier Museum to Downtown, Wyoming called me.
I think back often to my trip and everything that happened on it. But I also think back to the time before I went, when I was just planning. I remember every aspect of that too. I remember the day I first found Red Oxx. I remember writing the list of bags I wanted and the first dollar I put away in the jar near my bed.
I have longed to get back to the West for trip number two, and that will be coming soon.
The two years that followed were rough. Thirteen of us were laid off from my job and I spent a year with no work. When I finally got a job again, it was part time. I’ve depleted my savings paying for bills and my dream for another trip went up in flames. Thank God I have the memories… and the bags. I use them regularly and I will often just take them out and look at them. They are constant reminders of the freedom that trip allowed me to experience.
I miss that freedom.
"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then, sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."