Like a bad habit I can’t quit, I’m headed home for harvest once again. I believe I began getting paid for field work when I was eight years old, which makes this my 20th consecutive year. For at least the past five, I’ve been promising to quit, to move on, to have summer plans that don’t consist of sitting on a dusty, John Deere seat, tooling around in large circles at five miles per hour. I thought this would finally be that year, since I had big plans to spend my summer as a whitewater raft guide on Colorado’s only Wild & Scenic river. When that failed (read here to learn why I quit being a raft guide), I knew I’d be home for harvest yet again.
I decided to turn this return home into a road trip of sorts. I leave today for Elko, Nevada, which is about halfway at 10 hours into the trip. I’m meeting my best friend and her family for the summer fair and rodeo (we love to get cowgirled up and dance, don’t you?) before spending tomorrow out on the lake, boating and wake boarding and soaking up the sun.
Come Sunday, I’ll steal Autumn to keep me company for the next leg of the trip to my second hometown, Bend, Oregon, before continuing the final three hours to my parents’ farm in rural north-central Oregon.
After a few sticky weeks on the combine and whatever else develops while I’m home, I’ll return through Arches National Park in Utah, check out the small city of Moab and then head to Hanging Lake in western Colorado to camp with a friend and hike around. That will allow me to see a new part of Colorado, and drive back along Interstate 70, which winds through the mountain resorts, before hitting Denver and heading back north to begin my teacher training at Colorado State University.
I’ve only recently had the realization that my future teaching career will continue to allow this break in my summer schedule (and a shortage of funds), meaning it’s likely I’ll never actually succeed at quitting harvest.
I’m okay with that, for now. But ask me again two days in, and my story will likely be very different.
- Road Trip America: Oregon to Colorado
- This American Life: I Drive a John Deere
- Oregon’s Natural Beauty: 8 Favorite Spots
Have you ever experienced rural American life? Life on a farm?