"I was, in fact, homesick for wildness, and when I found it I knew how intimately - how resonantly - I belonged there. We are charged with this - all of us. For the human spirit has a primal allegiance to wildness, to really live, to snatch the fruit and suck it, to spill the juice." - Jay Griffiths, Wild: an Elemental Journey

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Toledo, Part Two: Community, Bikes and Beer - Oh, and a Slackline

Last night I met the rest of Scott & Krissy's "urban tribe."  Luckily for me, there are three birthdays among the group this weekend, which of course means much fun to be had.

The plan was for all 20+ people to ride their bikes about 8 miles to Swig, a hip little bar/restaurant downtown, and then on to The Village Idiot, another bar with live music.  As the rain hit only an hour before we were all supposed to meet, all but five people backed out of the biking.  Scott and I were two of the five who stayed.

What a fun, refreshing ride through the rainy twilight!

Swig, as promised, had a great beer selection and delicious food.  Two things I really love about traveling through the midwest are the excitement people have about beer, and the many creative ways they come up with to cook cheese!  Tonight I had the most amazing beer cheese dip with homemade soft pretzels.  Yummmm!

I so thoroughly enjoyed myself among these fantastic people.  They are the hippest of the hipsters among groups of friends I've come across in my U.S. travels, complete with skull caps, tight jeans, and ripped leather jackets.  From first appearance, I loved their collective grungy, artsty, thrift-shoppy style. They have names like Snack, Boombox, and Entree.  They are in bands.  They are bartenders and warehouse workers.  They are married and single and divorced, some with kids, some without.

But more importantly than these demographic details were their over-flowingly kind hearts.  Every single person introduced themselves to me personally with a hearty handshake or a hug, a smile, and a welcome.  I felt instantly part of their tribe, and proceeded to laugh my ass off with them through the rest of the night.

After both bars and three total bike rides between all places, everyone ended up back at one of their houses.  One particularly kindred spirit I met, Travis, had set up a slack line between two trees in the front yard.  Nevermind that it was wet, dark, 2am, and that most of us were in some stage of inebriation.  There was slack lining to be had.  And I gotta say - I did pretty well!  I'm hooked now.

As the night and the inebriation level wore on,
we started adding obstacles - like people sitting in the
middle of the line that had to be stepped over.
I think that what will stay with me about this night will be the conversations and connections.  So many of this crew have also traveled extensively, and also love the mountains and the landscape out west.  When I asked each person, "Then why are you here, in Toledo?" the answer was always the same.  "For these people.  We have each other, and that's reason enough to stay."

To me, finding genuine community is one of the greatest treasures about traveling.  Seeing groups of people live with or near each other and love each other day in and day out, through all the crazy chaos that life brings their way, gives me hope in humanity, and hope that I will find such a community wherever I end up.  Thanks, Toledo tribe.  Much love.


  1. Melanie -- I'm glad I know ya. Keep writing! Thanks for these pictures and stories from the road....

  2. Thanks, Richard! Knowing I have readers who look forward to my posts helps motivate me to keep writing. Feel free to become an official follower of my blog by hitting the blue "Join this site" button on the righthand side. It helps me out. :)

    And I'm glad I know ya' too!

  3. It's great you were able to stay a couple days and get a little taste of our community and a learn few of our passions. You certainly fit right in w/ the crew, good times had by all. And impressive work on the slacklining, well done ! It'll be great to get my Out West "fix" through your travels and blog, thanks. Have a Wonderfully Safe trip pursuing your adventures . We will miss ya )

  4. Thanks, Travis. I certainly did feel right at home with all of you, and I especially appreciated being able to swap Montana adventure stories with you. Thanks for supporting my writing, and for getting me hooked on slack lining!