Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mowgli Ain't Got Nuthin On Me

You know how there are “Army Brats”? You know, children of military families who grow up all over the place due to being dragged from base to base, have their own lingo due to the abundance of military terms used in their household, and band together and form little posses?
also, they enjoy European football and being poor losers.
That was my childhood. Except instead of being an Army Brat, I was a NOLS Brat. If you don’t know what NOLS is, go here:
Basically, if you’re too lazy to click on the link and still don’t know what NOLS is, it stands for National Outdoor Leadership School, and it’s a non-profit organization that leads expeditions of people on wilderness experiences for anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months. It has branches all over the world, from Wyoming to India and just about everywhere in between. If that explanation confuses you, too bad. Click the link, whiner.
or you could just look at the pretty picture/logo
So anyway, both of my parents worked for NOLS. That’s how they met- they were instructors on a course together. My dad still works for NOLS, actually, though my mom is now the math teacher at the alternative high school in my hometown.

This means that, much like the military kids, I grew up with a sort of cultish subculture in rural Wyoming. (K, maybe “cultish” is a little extreme) The first time I went camping was probably before I could walk (I don’t remember, ‘cause I was probably like 2 months old), and I have a very distinct memory of catching my first fish when I think was about 5 or 6. I remember standing on the bank of some creek in the sun in my awesome orange rainboots, and feeling the tug on the line that meant a fish was nibbling. When I finally landed it (pretty sure it was a brooktrout) I was ecstatic. In my memory, the fish is like 8 times as long as my arm, but I’m pretty sure that’s a bit of an exaggeration. Regardless, it was a great day.
like this one, but HUGE. kinda Jaws status, actually.
Like I’ve already told you, much of my childhood in the winter was spent in the middle of nowhere in Utah. Approximately 4/8ths (yes, I am aware this equals ½) of the rest of it was spent in the Rocky Mountains, and the other 9/12ths (once again, I know my fractions are off. It’s a humorous math mistake, duh!) was spent in the Yukon Territory in Canada. It was sort of like being raised by well-traveled wolves, minus the uncooked elk meat. (usually)
Mom? Dad?
When I was 8, my dad accepted a job that would take all of us up to the Yukon with him for 5 months out of the year, in the summer time. At the time, my mom was working for Nols as an editor/contributor of their news publication, and so could telecommute by emailing things back to Wyoming. And so for 6 years of my life, we would make the long drive up to Whitehorse, YT in early April, traveling in our huge black truck (a.k.a. The Prairie Schooner, as my dad christened it) through the windswept plains of Montana and Alberta, winding through the chilly forests of British Columbia, and into the sparsely populated stark beauty of the Yukon.
also, Mounties! (thanks for the picture Dad)
Once there, my dad would usually be incredibly busy trying to run a Nols branch out of a pink-floored warehouse, and my mom, my sister and me to explore the wilds of the North.

I have too many fantastic memories of those six summers of my life to attempt to cram them all into one (already long) blog post, so let this be a little teaser:
This one time, I almost got eaten by a bear. True story. More to follow.
this could have been the last thing I saw!
click there to see more wonderful photos my dad has taken. sadly, he did not take the bear picture.


  1. reading this is sooo much better than studying for finals.

  2. Hey Marshall! Love the post. Great story. Our stories are so intertwined. I am sitting in the pink floored warehouse now and dreaming of a re-match of four-square! Great to see you out there!

    Jaret Slipp