"It's a tale as old as time Ulysses.  Boy meets girl, boy falls for girl.  Boy and girl return to home planet, get a nice little house with a white picket fence and a dog named spot." - Fred Randle, Rocketman, 1997

Today is both a 20 year anniversary and the start of something huge and new for me and my family.

Elyse and I closed on our first house today and are now residents of Manhattan.  Manhattan, MT that is.  It's a town with no stop lights.  Our neighbor's name is Ethel.  There are American flags flying from just about every home in the neighborhood.  So, basically, we moved to:

It's a dream come true.

But back to the 20 year anniversary, because it (and a few key people) are what set us spinning towards this apple-pies and sweat-tea-filled small town future.

On June 21st, 1996 my parents packed up our family and moved us from farm-country in Westby, WI to my dad's hometown of Rhinelander, WI.

To my immediate family, this was considered to be a mistake for a time.  What 9 year old wants to move away from all their friends?  We did fall in love with Northwoods though - who wouldn't?

A few things about Rhinelander:

  • It's a small paper mill town.  <8,000 people.
  • It's got the Hodag as it's mascot.
  • There are a half dozen large kid's camps within half an hour it.  <-- This is the important one.

 

Here's where the story takes off.

Given my parents' love for camp ministries, I ended up working at a few of these as a volunteer and eventually paid positions.  The Program Director for one of the camps was Chris Radloff.  A few years after we moved to Rhinelander and became friends with him and his family, Chris left to work in Southern Wisconsin at Camp Timber-lee.  In the Summer of 2004, he offered me a summer staff position, as a cabin counselor.

(Less directly, in 2005 I attended NTBI in Waukesha, WI while all of my friends from Westby attended another school together.  I met my wife at NTBI.  I doubt I would have attended there if we hadn't moved.)

I ended up working at Timber-lee in the summers and winters through early 2007.  In the fall of 2005, another staff member told me about the school they were attending in Montana.  It sounded like paradise, but I did not end up being accepted until the 2007 school year.  That year at MWSB changed my life, and I've been in love with Montana and it's wild places ever since.

Since coming out to Montana, nearly 9 years ago:

  • I married and brought my wife out here.
  • Two of my brothers moved out and met their wives here.
  • This August, all of my siblings will live out here.

All because we moved to Rhinelander, WI on this day in 1996. 

If you are living somewhere or doing something that you can't seem to figure out the reason for, don't worry about it.  You never know where it will take you.  And kids...give your parents some slack.  Odds are, they've got stories like the above and you're just in the middle of it - unable to see both sides.

PS:  Special thanks to all the folks at POMA last week who encouraged me to write/blog more often.  If you don't exercise, you'll get out of shape.

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