Friend #18: Danielle

Blarg!  In the process of breaking up my previous post into two more manageable chunks, I accidentally deleted what I had written about Danielle.  To have one snaffoo like that thus far isn’t too bad, though, I suppose.  So here’s Take 2:

So I drove from Seattle to Missoula, Montana on Day 8 of my cross-country adventure.  I had done this drive in the opposite direction with Susan when we moved her out to Seattle.  Most of it was in the dark.  And snow.  Coming down the side of the Rockies with all of her earthly possessions in tow.  And who was driving. Oh, that would be me.  Awesome.  Needless to say, this was a much less stressful journey in the daylight. I got to enjoy the cloud-covered, snow-tipped peaks of the Cascades as I weaved through its canyons.  More than one waterfall seemed to be coming straight out of the rock.  Eastern Washington turns into rolling agricultural hills, then the northern tip of Idaho and the western edge of Montana show off with the Rockies.  I stopped for lunch in Spokane at a charming French cafe called Madeleine’s and became enamored with the architecture of the downtown area.  I didn’t explore much (this was before my stop-and-enjoy resolution), but I had parked right next to the spot where the Salvation Army was started in Spokane.  Both my mom and her mom before her were heavily involved in the Women’s Auxiliary of the Salvation Army in St. Louis.  It’s funny, it felt like I was surrounded by reminders of the people in my life on this particular day.  Passing exits with street names of friends or friend’s companies.  Passing a semi from a trucking company with the same name as my hairdresser in LA.

By the time I got to Missoula, dusk was falling on the second longest day of the year.  My friend wasn’t home, so I camped out in her back yard for some welcome down time, then went to explore the University of Montana campus.  We eventually got in touch and reunited (she had been trying to locate the cat she was cat-sitting before the owners got home that night–oops!).  Danielle and I worked at a camp together in the upper peninsula of Michigan for in the summer of 2002.  That’s 3 months’ time 9 years ago.  But I tell you, thus far, Danielle has expressed some of the most enthusiasm and excitement about seeing me (perhaps it was easier to detect because we communicated more by phone than by email)–and it’s completely mutual!

I remember her as fun and spunky and easy to talk to.  The camp we worked at was a training center for college students; Danielle worked in the kitchen (with longer and more extreme hours) and I worked in the office and managed the camp store.  At that time, she was studying to be a veterinary technician and often expressed her love for animals.  She wanted to work with horses, but most of the work was with people’s pets.  She was also a faithful and patient friend to some pretty complicated people.  She knew even then as an undergrad how to see underneath what people were saying to what they really needed to hear.  And she genuinely expressed it from her heart.

Now, Danielle is a vet tech at an orthopedic clinic and an emergency clinic.  And she house/pet-sits.  And she does photography (she moved to Missoula to study at a photography school).  So she’s busy.  But at the end of her long day of work and cat-chasing and my long day of driving, we grabbed dinner and a local microbrew (Bayern’s Dumptruck Summer Ale), caught up on all the news (like her engagement!), and then she took me on a hike.  It was a perfect plan after a long day in the car.  As the sun set over the mountains and deer trotted by, Danielle told me she’d recently gotten a horse.  I literally threw my hands up in the air and started shouting when I heard.  It was a real bona-fide dream come true!  So thrilling!

Danielle wanted to do a mini photo-shoot of me on our hike, so here is one of her shots:

Taking it all in.

We went back into town to stop at the local ice cream spot, Big Dipper ice cream, which sported flavors like cardamom and red tea chocolate chip.  I thought, “I could see myself spending summers in Montana.”  Apparently Missoulians hate Californians who use their quaint town as a summer retreat.  Oops.

Danielle and me with our unique flavors from Big Dipper.

Over and over again, Danielle expressed that she wished I could stay longer because she would show me this and that.  I ended up staying 3 1/2 hours after I thought I would leave the next morning because I was so enjoying our time together and didn’t want it to end.

One last photo shoot before I left:

This is Danielle's very large cat.

Home on the range

Who knew that 3 months at summer camp could form a bond like that?

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