In the morning, we’re stILL NOT DONE WORKING, so we have to head back to Marion for the proper internet access. Womp womp. We spend another long day getting grumpy at all the civilization, and Spesh literally throwing up his hands in frustration is a sign that we’re done, even if we weren’t really done. That’s how it goes sometimes.
So it’s back to Jackson Falls and shifting camp to a more secluded campsite near the helipad in the pines. There’s a place to set up our hammock with the thick straps, and a nice, flat, human-sized rock to cook on, and a whooooole lot of ticks. Spesh finds a seed tick on his arm, and, in the morning, finds one on me; I think he’s more freaked out than I am when he pulls it off. This prompts a whirlwind tick check of his body, where, of course, he finds one too. So much for the nicer campsite.
We head to work at a summer camp, eat lunch with our contact, enjoy a lovely afternoon with the teens of their Teen Leadership Camp talking all about ethics and Leave No Trace. We also have good conversations with the staff while they’re there, looking for ways to normalize the ethics in their programming. Rad. We like it when it becomes a way of life.
The next few days hold a bit of a detour: our next workshop is about three hours’ drive from here, but it’s going to take us sixteen, as we drive back north to Des Moines to watch my friend Musicaa get married1. There’s another found tick on the drive, and another interim night in Missouri – man, Missouri has a lot of dispersed camping options – and then it’s two nights inside in the lap of luxury2.
The hunt for a dress to wear to the wedding is a little comical3, the wearing of the dress even more so, as making my way inside after the ceremony, the wind decides to push the hem of the dress up around my ears. WELP. Apologies to the happy couple. Guess everyone knows me a little better now.
The weekend is a whirlwind of lounging in hot tubs, eating barbecue, drinking until late in the evening. A lethargic sort of resentment spreads over me – it seems the grass is indeed always greener on the other side, that side where homes are owned and showers are a regular thing and you have a moment just to be in a place, to make it your own. I try not to worry too much about it; there are only ten more months to go.
It’s no looking back at the end of the weekend, making our way towards one of the only Subaru dealerships in Missouri to get the requisite 6000-mile oil change and tire rotation for our house, stopping just short to spend a strange night in a dispersed campsite punctuated by friendly locals and late-night arrivals. I have the craziest, incredibly-calm dreams about sleeping inside a house with murders and locked doors and menacing people galore all around me, and only on waking in do I realize that’d be a nightmare to most people. I wonder what that says about me.
The service stop itself is uneventful, as is the drive down to Lake of the Ozarks, where we get most of the work done that needs doing for the week. Finding a nice tentsite is frustrating, as always, but eventually, we find an expansive walkup that’ll do the trick. I drive the mile back to the fee station only to find it’s closed for the evening, and there are no envelopes to pay with; the off-duty camp host tells me just to come back in the morning.
After another round of strikingly vivid not-nightmares – this time almost video-game like, involving gears and stairs and levels and map reading and a couple more corpses4 – I decide to re-evaluate my priorities. I go for a 2.5-mile run, on which I head for the pay station, pay up and get another night, and manage to make an average of 13:05 minutes a mile5. I make a list of things that need to be done, rather than relying on my brain to “remember”6 what needs doing, to keep myself on track. I linger during our camp stovetop pancake breakfast, and then again during my shower, before submitting myself to work once more.
 This isn’t a big deal re: the position, though there are financial adaptations to the normal order of things that must be taken into account when we decide to go wildly off-course like this. TL;DR I covered the difference.
 I got us a La Quinta. WHAT OPULENCE.
 It involved two thrift stores and a Target and soon will involve another thrift store because the dress already has a pull in it. I knew better than to buy fast fashion. I should’ve planned ahead and prepared better. Pretty sure we’re all well-acquainted by now with my weak spot when it comes to the Seven Principles.
 What the fuck, psyche
 Wooo I made up basically a minute and a half between my last runs and this run (~14:30 vs. 13:05 per mile). It was probably the hilly terrain, wherein I ran most of the flat and walked most of the hills, but I’ll take what I can get.
 AKA distract me with the book of many faces