Socially Distancing and Slowing Down
It is that time of year--to slow things down a bit, after the "craziness" of summer, as the weather cools and frost welcome us to morning; even snow has settled in western Montana! Like the seasons, each year that the Shuttle has been in business sees a difference from the year before, from the amount of driving in a month, to numbers of new clients, revenue streams, and more. This fall, for example, so far sees a different 'situation' than fall last year. This year, for the first time in the business's three years, I felt I was able to embrace more of the 'down time' (aka, less driving and shuttling activity). The Shuttle typically endures a slower time during fall and winter; and this month, I have learned to see this time as a "seasonal gift", rather than a worrisome time, as in previous years of owning a start-up business.
By end of September, I took advantage of the much-needed break in activity by allowing myself to enjoy the first of two of amazing "mini-vacations". My first-ever backpacking trip was spent on a trail that a client introduced me to by way of a shuttle trip he requested... Montana, and our next door neighbor, Idaho, can brag of being composed of amazingly rugged, mountainous terrain, lush forests, and challenging trails. Why not experience both states at once with a 4-day hike on the Idaho Centennial Trail! This trail includes the "Stateline Trail", which allows hikers to walk on the state lines of these two states. My partner and I hiked into snow and slush on the first day (a cold and rainy one), and hiked out on the 4th day with 65 degrees and sunshine; with gorgeous scenes from up high, including endless mountain peaks, alpine lakes and natural springs, wolf tracks, moose tracks and mountain goat tracks! Spectacular scenery, challenging terrain and the joy of the wilderness became the perfect way for us to social distance and let Nature heal this weary soul!
The second of my mini-vacations was spent a few weeks later, this time on two wheels! Modeling the adventures of some of my own past trips, as well as some of my summer clients', I embarked on a mini-bicycle tour. Leaving from my home in Missoula, then heading west on the Section 2 portion of the TransAmerica bicycle route (put together by the Adventure Cycling Association, headquartered here in Missoula), I again ventured into Idaho!
Beginning with some less-than-ideal weather on my trusty ol' road bike, pounded by rain and headwind, loaded with camping gear, clothes and freeze-dried food, I spent three days on the road and riding along Highway 12 in the gorgeous Lochsa River corridor... "On the road" has a whole new meaning, when you 'lose the car' and set out on bicycle. On a highway I have driven countless times, I saw waterfalls I had never seen from within a vehicle, enjoyed the constant sounds of the famous Lolo Creek (MT) and Lochsa River (ID), an abundance of fresh air, and the joy of being a part of it all, and, apart from it all.
These types of adventures aren't everyone's idea of a good time; and might even be viewed as 'hard work', not a relaxing vacation! I get it. Yet, these types of trips and physical activities are what 'dreams' the Shuttle was made of! Many clients I serve are embarking on adventures just like mine; and so, come September, I decided that it was time for me, the owner of this Adventure Shuttle, to get back to my roots--to get back to what the Shuttle was designed for. I needed to rekindle the spark Nature gives me, as well as the challenges that face us when we are in the outdoors... To embrace what many of my clients also enjoy, in whatever season(s) they can, means that I can relate to them and their experiences as well, which, if anything, makes for some really fun conversations while we travel together!
After all, aren't 'we' advised that it is good, and healthy, to take some 'me time'--to enjoy some release and relaxation, and connect with nature?
Where would I be without honoring that craving for the outdoors, I wonder; and where would we all be without those 'gifts', whether they are seasonal or not?
Whatever you do to release, enjoy life, or simply cope, I hope that in these "crazy times", you all are finding ways to release the tensions, relax, connect with nature or others who help you feel better, to feel renewed. I hope, too, you are weathering whatever storms you face, staying healthy, happy and safe!
Please enjoy some of the highlights of my trips, in the photos below!
COVID-19, MTAS, and Montana:
Montana's spike in COVID cases has been staggering and frightening--I won't lie. The Shuttle has required face coverings since the beginning of the uptick in late spring/early summer. **For the remainder of the year, passengers will be required to wear face coverings during the entirety of their time on board the Shuttle.
It has been a challenging effort and a delicate balance, put forth by the state of Montana and its tourism-based businesses, to stay alive and/or afloat during this difficult year, while trying to protect our residents and visitors from spreading this somewhat unpredictable disease. Consistency is the key, from east to west, north to south, outside environments to inside. While transportation businesses were never mentioned in the state's mandates for face coverings or other regulations, it is reasonable to believe that there are no closer, closed environments than inside vehicles. Therefore, any effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 is appreciated--face masks, especially. I continue to sanitize between each group's trips, and wear my mask. I ask again, that you please consider that your hired driver(s), whoever they are, are just as at risk. Again, I thank you, sincerely, for your cooperation!
More details on the COVID situation and requirements for Montana can be found here, and links for other statewide info here.
Please consider checking the local coronavirus situation in the county/-ies you plan on visiting in Montana, before your arrival.
Thank you again for your continued support!!
As always, Hope you're well, and
~ Take Care! ~