‘Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven's sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.’
Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country
It’s a crazy ole life, isn’t it, friends?!
I have been attached at the hip to that lodge for a long time now!
Last summer I celebrated my 15th year on Brush Mountain!
In that time, I have had the privilege of getting to know so many amazing humans. The moments we have shared on that porch have formed precious crystalline memories that I have collected and cherish.
The recent loss of Hal Russell has me reflecting again on the inspired heart-place we have created together up there! I feel like I found service to the most perfect community in the world when I landed on the Great Divide Route.
It has been an incredible journey for me thus far…for me, for the lodge, and for the route!
From that first visit with Matthew all those years ago, (I caught maybe 4 riders that year?)…to the profound experience of having my ass handed to me (in the best possible way!) by over 500 riders last summer, we have been on a wild and beautiful ride together!
There is NO WAY I could have possibly done it alone, by the way.
I have had so many hard working and generous friends there to help when I needed.
Back in the day, when it really was just me up there, it didn't take much to keep the thing afloat. When I first thought I needed ‘hands’, I had a dude come stay just to ‘fill the gaps’…and it really wasn’t a good fit because the gaps weren’t all that big yet.
But eventually, I did need help(!)...and folks showed up! Once the community got wind of my being swamped, it happened quickly! So many folks have come out to help!
Bill and Anne Peschka came one year, and did all the laundry and stayed up late!
I had a Billy Rice/Julianna Buhring/RAAM crew one year who hung out and helped.
I had the pro-assist of Cjell Mone throughout one summer, with the extra help of Mikel that year, too!
I had old-school racer Michael Komp’s son Johnny, come and spend like a month (and his 21st birthday!) one year!
I even had JayP come up in an off-year. He helped hustle foods and drinks, and then stayed up late fixing bikes!
I had Billy Rice back to help at least two other times, too! Most recently in 2019-JUST before the armistice,-when he dragged my ice machine back from the repair shop for me!
That years’ super-crew also included Grace Ragland, fresh from chemo, sewing ‘britches’ in the quiet, night-time dining room while racers slept. There were so many others too! Friends and neighbors who brought beers, went to pick up pizzas, helped me fix a broken pipe before the racers arrived, did so much laundry, cut firewood, and much more!!
I feel tremendously grateful to each and all of you!! ( I have not name-checked all of you...and I'm sorry!..this thing would go on forever!!)(:
Thank you for loving the place, and me, and the world we create up there. It would not be anything without all of you...just a buncha empty buildings, and me, lonely on the porch!(:
For the 2021 covid-comeback, I had the surprise help of Jody and Shelley, weekenders from steamboat, early on. Grace’s son, Wills who came and threw-down for a weekend.
THEN, Katie and Andrew Strempke came in (like super heroes!!) and saved. my. ASS. (repeatedly!!!)
We also had drop-in help from Joe Fox and his son Levi…(two times they came from Kansas and helped!), and Lenny (from the toilet!), and (GIANT) Amanda! I even kidnapped a northbound rider, Chance to help for a week...!
I really don’t know how to thank you all enough…so…just, thanks...so very much.
Near the end of her stay, I was chatting with Amanda, ’Thank you for all of your help. It was awesome having you here!’
She hugged me and said, ‘Aw, thank YOU for making community!’ (or something like that?!)
My heart filled!
It has always been my hope that I would create space for people to connect up there(!)—to create community!!! It was EXACTLY what I had been dreaming to hear!
However, with ALL of that said, if I'm being honest, even in the couple of years before the covid, I was riding a wave of potential burn-out up there. While trying to avoid a complicated system of integrating staff, I mostly learned to surf that wave….(with a few crashes).
Then, the covid off-year itself, was a year filled with many losses, and much grief for me…as I know we all have experienced in one way or another…so, not as much respite there as I might have wanted.
Then, last year, despite my expecting a smaller number of riders, (borders, Covid, etc.) I hit a sort of ‘new reality’ regarding what's next for the lodge!
Lots and LOTS of people came over!!
It's clear…I gotta get more real, y’all!!(:
I can definitely feel the momentum of our community, and this sport, building beyond the abilities of just myself and some loyal, committed volunteers!
While this is really exciting in so many ways, we are a family-owned business, and we are experiencing some fairly typical “family-business-type" growing pains.
So! the BIG NEWS is...this year, we are going to take a minute to re-group and reorganize.
This means we will be ostensibly closed for the 2022 summer season.
(There will be a spigot with potable water on the porch at the lodge, and I hope to install a couple of vending machines for you as well…but service ‘like we do’ is going to be on hold for this year.)
As challenging as it is (even for me!) to tear away from the gravity of the Brush Mountain Vortex, it has become evident that the very best plan for us right now is for me to take a sabbatical while my family and I work to create a vision we can all grow and live with.
"What are you going to DO?!"
I have heard this from several friends, when I've shared this news with them. Well, I'm planning to check off some of the things that I haven't had time to do over the last 15 years!
Firstly, I am setting out to do some skiing this spring. I want to go camping and canoeing in the great north woods this summer, and maybe even ride my bicycle for longer than a grocery run...(: I have also taken up painting again, and I am writing a book about my time on the Divide and how you all have changed my life!
In between, my family and I have a LOT to work on toward the next incarnation of the lodge!
I have my Arizona house (Brush Mountain South!) on VRBO for group get-aways…. So, if you are interested in renting the place for yourself and some friends, click on the above "Arizona" tab, and it will take you to the VRBO link.
In the fall, I do plan to re-connect the ‘Brush Mountain South gravity-feed’ at the AZ spot, and to begin hosting small groups, friends, and van-lifers again! It will run more like a hostel for at least a part of the winter (22-23) so stay tuned to the Insta., or check back here occasionally, for how to tap in!
OK—so, just to recap, there will be water at the spigot on the porch…but the lodge and cabins will be closed throughout the summer for 2022.
I know this is a challenging work-around for you all, and I really appreciate your patience while we grow!
I will be missing you…❤️😘…and I will be looking forward to a fabulous return in 2023!
I love you!
Keep your teeth!😘🤘