"What is your perfect day?" It's the kind of question I never know how to answer. What kind of fabulous combination of people and adventures makes up a perfect day? It depends on where and when you're at. Over the 4th of July I had not just a perfect day, but also the best Independence Day holiday I've ever had. I didn't even stop to take a picture of any of it because I couldn't bear to let a viewfinder get in between me and the moment.
It began Friday afternoon with a last minute trip to Salt Lake City. I left Gardiner worried and confused. I arrived in Utah late that night to find my old roommate, Amy, waiting up for me. Saturday dawned clear with a sunrise walk, time in the temple, and an afternoon spent with my sister-friend Miriam. Have you ever met a person that you know is your sister, but was stolen away at birth? That's Miriam. We drove up to the mountains to swim in cold lake water, laughed in the sun, and ate at a fancy French bakery for dinner. In Montana bison burgers are easy to come by, but nicoise salad is much harder. That evening I went with Amy to see fireworks. We danced to the live band and I reveled in the sparkling array that lit the night sky. As I lay on my back and watched the sparks dance, I reflected on what a great honor it is to work in the National Park world. At that moment, my work felt rather patriotic. Amy and I talked far too late into the night. I had forgotten what it was like to have someone to talk to before bed!
Sunday morning found me attending church in the chapel where I worshiped for my time in Salt Lake. I soaked up hugs, friends, and the looks of surprise when friends saw me. In the afternoon I drove south to visit with my sister Eve. We cooked Indian food, took long walks, talked and talked and talked, wrote, read, and then were silent. An old friend came by that evening for a visit which ended with us running through sprinklers in the dark and laughing as the water dripped our noses.
Monday morning came. Eve and I went for a short hike and then I began working my way north. I stopped for dinner with my family in Idaho and then drove to our cabin to stay the night. It was Independence Day and although there were no city fireworks to see, an evening thunderstorm created a show much more impressive than any city could accomplish. I arrived at the cabin where the mosquitoes were as thick as the rain. The storm had knocked out the power, which was fine because I was so tired I fell right into bed. In the morning I rose with the sun and finished the drive to my work.
The confusion that I had felt leaving Gardiner was gone. Instead, there was clarity and peace inside. I understood myself and my course. A perfect day, or days, don't have to be complicated at all. Looking back, the events are a small part of the equation, but being with people I love more than completes it. I've said it before and I'll keep on saying it: people matter most. No wonder I studied sociology! Of course there were friends I didn't see during that whirlwind weekend, but I still look back and see that Independence Day trip as the best holiday I've had in a long time.