John Wayne and a Moose walked into a bar . . . ,

Date #3

The saloon was filled with the music of the overlooking Bighorn Mountains: banjo, mandolin, fiddle, guitar, and the twangy bass of the old singing cowboy.

I had met my date several months earlier, and we chit chatted here and there. A young country guy, he wore work boots, worn jeans, and a mud-splattered hoodie.

October arrived, and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of months, so we decided to meet up for a drink.

Waiting for my date, I sat there enjoying the music–an obvious outsider from the Midwest in my leggings, RayBans, fluffy wool sweater, and glass of red wine.

Sipping my wine, I looked toward the door, and there stood John Wayne: black leather coat, woolen vest, silk scarf, white Stetson, and cowboy boots with spurs that jingled slightly with the solid thud of his heels on the hardwood floor. “Well that guy looks cool” I thought. I looked back at the musicians and didn’t notice him standing beside me until he said, “Howdy, Laura” as he tipped his hat.

So far so good. Dates 1, 2, & 3 were successes and am happy to say are now friends as well as dates 4,5,6,7,8, and 9.

Then came the final date. Date #10

We met up in Ann Arbor for dinner and a show. We walked around downtown beneath the Christmas lights and the softly falling snow. It was romantic.

I was actually really starting to like the guy. He was a very bright engineer, well traveled, well dressed, tall, fun and very handsome. He was very honest, straightforward, and bolder then most guys, and I liked it. For instance, he told me that he liked me, was interested in me, and would like to spend more time with me. Things a girl is certainly not opposed to hearing especially from a tall handsome guy, right?

His boldness was at first attractive, but then . . . , it never seemed to reach a peak. He got bolder and bolder, and I drew back further and further.

It reminded me of an evening last fall in the mountains.

I went for a walk up on the Mesa. The mountain grass was solid gold, and the peaks were dusted in a fresh white snow. I was overwhelmed by the beauty, and that golden hour of sunlight blinded me from my surroundings. I walked into the tree line, and 15 feet in front of me stood a bull moose.

We stared at each other.

My mind was whirl . . . , what to do? I backed up slowly but stayed near the trees. He walked toward me and grunted loudly. This continued for almost 3 minutes. It felt like 30.

Finally, he stopped following me, and I took the chance and dashed through the trees.

I got away.

Ok, so this dude wasn’t that extreme. He wasn’t dangerous, but there were definitely some parallels.

Both of us talked and decided that we have different sort of lives, values, and intentions and we parted on friendly terms.

Just like me and the moose. 🤓


Well y’all, I’ve emerged from the challenge unscathed. It was actually kinda fun! I met a bunch of great guys and am blessed with new friends.

Yes, I am still single and happy.

Here’s to 2018!


Tall, dark, and handsome.

Dating in 2017 is weird.

Men are confused by women . . . , women are confused by men.

What is right? What is wrong?

Let’s just say this feminist movement shook things up a bit.

With these glorious changes this tidal wave brought in, we now have to wade through waters of confusion: the changing of expectation and tradition.

For instance:

Men: you have always been expected to “BE A MAN,” initiate, ask the girl out, beg permission from her father, plan the date, pick us up, open every door, pay for everything, and lead us into our future!

Why was this the case?


Women: not that long ago, your paycheck was not legally your own but your husband’s. You had no right to a credit card/line unless your husband or father cosigned with you on the account. When did this change? With the Equal Opportunity Act of 1974. 1974 people! Just a couple years ago.

Now! A woman’s paycheck is legally her own, she can get a credit card/line with ease, she can travel or live on her own and be respectable. Women can be independent! And now that we can pay, should we pay?

Many of my strong, independent, highly intelligent female friends remain traditional in their views of dating, but expect equality in everything else.

Is this right? Is this wrong?

The worst part of not really knowing is the most awkward part of the date: when the bill comes . . . , Some men are insulted when I offer to pay, others expect me to pay, some just leave it and wait for me to bring it up,

And there’s date #2: A tall, dark, and handsome Mario Lopez type:

He’s from Chicago but I met him in Detroit: slightly taller than me, dark hair, dark eyes, and charming smile. Easy to talk to and kind, he was a gentleman with complete ease and grace from opening the doors to leaving his tab open for me! Not one hint of awkwardness. AMAZING.

He was in town for business and I was just passing through; we met at a coffee shop/brewery, chatted for almost 3 hours over a pint (Bells Two Hearted in case you were curious), swapped phone numbers, and parted ways. He came back to Detroit a couple weeks later and took me to my first NHL Red Wings game. It was fabulous! Such a fun guy and great date.

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Guys, I don’t know the answer to this one . . . , who should pay and who shouldn’t? Should we stick to tradition? What’s right and what’s wrong?

If Jeremiah Johnson were a history teacher…

I was in the car on my way downtown to meet date #1 for coffee. My stomach felt funny, and I wanted to go back.

Thankfully, Rachel was driving and flat out refused to turn around: “Laura, this is good and you’ll have fun! How bad could it be?”

I immediately remembered an incident five years ago…

I met him in an English Lit class. He was cute, well dressed, made intelligent comments on Victorian poetry, and smiled a lot. Not bad, right?

Friday night we decided to go ice-skating. We get our skates on, and set foot on the ice… He immediately grabbed hold of me in desperation not to fall. He failed to mention that he had never skated before. EVER.

Within 5 minutes, in the cold arena, he was drenched in sweat.

Within 20 minutes, he had fallen on his chin, cut it, and was bleeding (He refused to end the skating early, and to his credit continued to try his very best to stay on his feet).

25 minutes later, he fell on his chin AGAIN. This time, there was a gash in his chin and there was blood EVERYWHERE.

After finding a first aid kit and bandaging his head, he said that he should get home and call his doctor. We left the ice rink, and didn’t see each other until class on Monday.

He got 16 stitches.

How bad could it be, Rachel says? Let’s not talk about the options.  Besides, it was only coffee and no ice rinks, right?

I found a table and began to read BBC news while waiting for this guy I didn’t know while trying not to remember every detail of the ice-skating chin date.

I looked up and there he was walking into the coffee shop. He was about 5’11”, had a thick scraggly beard and was wearing an earth-toned wool shirt and contagious smile.

“Are you LauraEllen?”

The date was so fun! Conversation was easy, and we chatted for 3 hours mostly about history, hiking, books, and ultimate frisbee. He’s hiked all over the world, played Ultimate Frisbee all over the world, failed a self-made survival trip in Canada (he underestimated the cold), has a degree in philosophy, computer science, GIS, and is just completing a high school teaching certification in history.

Date #1, Check! 


Don’t worry guys, you’re just a number.


On October 13 of this year, I turned 26.

I am single.

I have been single since I was about twenty-one. He was my first official boyfriend, and we dated for four months. I already had had some lingering doubts. The moment I knew for sure it wasn’t right was when he asked me a simple question… “can I kiss you?”

First of all, what are we in middle-school? Why would you ask a girl to kiss her? Be man! Have you ever seen James Bond or any movie? Since when does Sean Connery or Chris Hemsworth ask a girl to kiss her? My advice, if you’re a dude and she’s already your girlfriend: go for it and take the debonair approach, DON’T ASK!

Since he reverted to asking, it made me very uncomfortable and awkward and then I had to think about it…

Insert Laura’s thoughts: **”do I wanna kiss him? I mean he’s kinda cute and nice…but I was already thinking of breaking up with him, so I probably shouldn’t lead him on…”**


I told him I wasn’t ready and GAVE HIM A HUG.

Ehhh…makes me shudder just thinking about it. And bull crap! I wasn’t not ready, I just didn’t want to be awkwardly asked by my boyfriend if he could kiss me. Three weeks after this unnatural interaction, I finally built up enough courage to break up with him.

He was my last official boyfriend.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve been on a lot of dates and have had several almost boyfriends but they just haven’t quite worked out and hey, the last 5 years been busy.

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The other day, I was chatting on the phone with one of my best girl friends about dating, and how we just haven’t made dating a priority.

About 7 of my closest friends are female (and with the exception of one or two) are unmarried. They ARE AWESOME (including the married ones): bright, hardworking, adventurous, ambitious, and exciting, and most of us just haven’t made dating a priority…

Over the phone my friend said, let’s do a dating challenge…

10 dates before Christmas!

I accepted.

Here we go! 10 dates in 2.5 months.

This challenge is made possible and brought to you by dating apps (take a guess as to which ones).



Fall arrived in the Bighorns.

The musical flutter of the aspen leaves in variegated color, a Jackson Pollock effect of golds, oranges, and reds splashed across the mountainsides. While early to the rest of the world, the Bighorns were in the full bloom of Autumn.

It was the second-to-last-day before the rest of the crew would clear out of the ranch. I hiked along to the mesa. I was on the trail to CowCamp, my favorite.

Paradise was officially closed. On September 24th, the rest of the guests had left, and the following five days were a whirlwind: laundry bagged, water plugged, cabin doors shut, horses trailered to winter pasture, dishes packed, and the ancient elk mount draped in its winter wear, a ghostly white sheet….it was quiet…it was over.

Storms rolled into the Bighorn Mountains, and the peaks were soon blanketed in fresh snow. One day it was freezing, the next was warm. The bipolar temperature concocted a sort of misty fog-like cloud around the valley that hung suspended above the Mesa. It was soon bored of its sedentary state and began its curious descent into our valley. It came sneaking around Fan Rock before it crept into camp, and when it did, I walked out into it. Snow stuck to my glasses.

The season was over. Paradise was ready for winter and just in time.

Arrangements of Bach’s Cello Suite was playing in my ears. Balancing across the damp and crudely-made log bridge across French Creek, I passed through CowCamp and into the forest. The rest of the trail would wind along all the way back to Paradise Valley. This was my favorite part of the hike.

The brown of the mud was a perfect brunette. Bright changing colors of aspen and willow beside the florescent green and orange of the deadly wolf lichen covered cliffs enchantingly enhanced the fog.

Still in disbelief, this place was my home for the past three summers.

Nostalgia gripped my stomach, and this past season flashed before my eyes: the little cabin in the woods where I had lived with three of my best girl friends, nights of dancing, bonfires, music, road trips, sunsets, and late night hiking adventures that involved chasing cows…

Leah’s cancer was gone, and I worked beside her all summer.

Summer of 2017, were you my favorite? Not sure, but you sure are at the top.


Gus and Me

It all had to fit…3/4 of my life into the back of Gus, my little hatchback 2003 VW GTI.

A “reign of terror” befell my room…

I bottled my nostalgia, locked it away, and lined up each item (whether clothes, shoes, or books) to face trial.

Each item came face-to-face with the stiff jury:

Keep? Pitch?

Emotions ran high: tears ran, blood was shed, graves were dug and 4 rounds later, my room was light and half empty, and I couldn’t even remember the items I had just purged my life of.

I packed, stuffed, squeezed and somehow it all fit, EVERYTHING:

My gray felt hat sitting on the dashboard, 15 (give or take) pairs of shoes sticking out of cracks and crevices wherever I could stuff them, 2 bins of clothes, 1 bin of art supplies, 3 crates holding my pantry of flour, oats, yeast, sugar, etc. I managed to pile my 40 liter Osprey on the very top of my bedding. Even I could fit AND see out of all my mirrors!

We were ready.

With a full tank of gas, Gus and I hopped on the highway and headed west.


“Don’t worry, Laura,” Eve had said. “The mountains are coming.”

She had read my mind. After driving, for what seemed like days through the forever plains of Minnesota, South Dakota, and Wyoming, the lack of mountains slightly worried me. However, Eve reassured my that they were just around the corner…

Here I was again–Gus and me–exactly 2 years after Eve brought me to Wyoming…

Dozens of goodbyes were still floating about in my mind. Sadness for what I was leaving and anticipation for what was coming made me anxious. Then I heard Eve’s reassuring voice in my head ” Don’t worry, Laura, the mountains are just around the corner.”

And they were.

Gus and I topped a hill, turned a corner, and suddenly I couldn’t breath…there they were, the Bighorn Mountains capped in snow and surrounded by looming clouds of storm and wonder. My senses numbed by their magnificence.

My anxiety flew out the window and was laid to rest in the great plains as Gus began the ascent.

So here we are once again: Gus, me, and 3/4 of my worldly possessions ready for the summer of 2017 in Paradise.








My Beloved State,

In just a few short weeks, it will be time to bid you fare well.

The seasons have changed.

You have changed.  

Just as I thought I couldn’t stand you any longer for your slush, cold, wind, and dreary gray scale, you go and decide to do this, bloom and grow. Your dashing runway-of-a wardrobe is bursting with color. You pair each piece so well. How do you manage it?

You’ve donned a new perfume, a full bouquet of colorful aroma… cherry blossoms, golden forsythia, violet lilac, and periwinkle myrtle. Its luster engulfs my senses with each deep breath. Where can I buy it?

Your skin glows with this new warmth. Were you this bright during the winter? Or are my defrosting eyes just sensitive to the light?

The attractive curve and flow of your shape is reflected in Lake Michigan and outlined by the mounds of sand along the shore. I look out onto the steady blue of your waters, and watch as they wash over my sand buried toes. I look up, westward; the sunset explodes into colorful chaos. The west! Where I will return yet again.

Are you also ready for change, Laura?

Michigan, will you ever truly be my home again? Will I ever feel for you as I once did in my childhood? Why do I want to leave you once again so soon?

Will I ever find my place?

These questions once scared me, but now I find excitement in the unknown and revel in my journey.

The seasons have changed.

And I have changed.

And again, I am ready to go.

Yours faithfully,