100 Days

Today is a momentous milestone. In exactly 100 days, we will be leaving the PNW behind and heading for South Dakota! Seeing that countdown timer drop to double digits tomorrow is going to be surreal.

We have slowly been preparing for the move, but that’s going to pick up steam very soon. Tara is talking about beginning to pack this weekend. Just items we hardly ever use, the stuff in the back of closets and in the far reaches of cabinets. But it’ll mark an important psychological start. What we have been doing for a while now is gradually stocking up on goods we won’t be able to find in Rapid City. I’ve got a box full of food and beverages tucked away.


Yes, lots of salts. And vodka. That probably speaks volumes about my personality.

Since this is a new blog, I thought I’d take a moment today to talk about how we got here. I don’t mean in the birds-and-bees sense; I trust y’all know about that. More to the point, how – and why – we decided to leave behind Portland for a fresh start in Rapid City, South Dakota, of all places. If you’ve already read this, then you have some background. But no need to click on the link; this will be a standalone post.

It all began a long time ago, back when Ronald Reagan was President and MTV still played music videos…

My dad was in the Air Force, and received a new assignment that took us from Hawaii to Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota, just as I was entering high school. In the interest of keeping this as short as possible, I’ll sum up our three years there by saying my parents tolerated it, but I loved it. The Black Hills are spectacular. When we left in the summer before my senior year, I was basically devastated and begged them to let me stay, but that didn’t happen. We moved on to California, I graduated from high school and college, landed a job, transferred to the PNW, and never gave South Dakota much of a thought again.

Until 2011, when I took a solo road trip to Dayton, Ohio, another place from my youth. I had planned on staying two days in Rapid City along the way, but enjoyed my time there so much, I changed my itinerary and tacked on an extra day. Sorry, Cleveland – I had to give you up. I was quite impressed with Rapid City, surprised by its proliferation of cool restaurants, brewpubs, and quaint shops. Ohio might have been my ultimate destination, but Rapid charmed me the most. I famously wrote,

I was quite surprised to find a little slice of Portland in Rapid City: quaint coffee shops, a used bookstore, and this cool alleyway I stumbled upon that was decorated all over with graffiti and murals. I strolled through there, taking plenty of pics. Love it! I am enraptured by this place all over again, and want to enjoy every last drop of it while I can.

I can’t help but marvel, once again, over the beauty of this area…and abundance of natural attractions. I’ve often wondered if I could ever picture myself living in Rapid City again, and the verdict is in: yes, I could. I wouldn’t rule it out if the circumstances were exactly right.

Yet, I could never imagine how those circumstances would ever come together, and never seriously thought it would happen. Instead, Tara happened. We started dating a few months after that road trip, she moved out here, and we settled into a happy little life in the PNW.

Until we started looking at houses last year. Seriously looking, anyway. And quickly found that we’d been priced out of the market. While the exorbitant housing costs were the catalyst that made me half-jokingly suggest moving to Rapid City, they were really only the tip of the iceberg. The idea took steam once we talked about our growing disenchantment with the Portland area as a whole, and what once seemed like the most unlikely of scenarios, actually returning to a place that meant so much to me in my youth, became reality when we took a quick trip out there this past October and decided, over a plate of fried pickles – how very Mark and Tara of us! –  to roll the dice and make it official.

And now here we are, stocking up on salt and vodka, bringing home boxes from work, and contacting moving companies for quotes. It still feels surreal, and yet, this is as real as it gets.

Countdown: 100 Days


9 thoughts on “100 Days

    1. Yes, you’re correct – all these items are available online. But in some cases, as with the Trader Joe’s stuff, it’s about 3x more on Amazon. I figure we might as well just bring as much with us as we can!


  1. I love this story so much! My husband was a military brat and I was born on a military base. His final 6 years of school 8-12 were spent on the very same base I was born on. (One of many odd coincidences in our lives) My family left in 1966. His left in 1972. Our families missed knowing each other by ONE YEAR! We ended up moving back to where all my family was – Central New York. I have longed to go back my whole life and only got that chance again in 2015. A week didn’t even come close to being long enough there. I cried when we arrived. I cried again when we left. Now, we’re looking at going back to his home state of Texas in less than five years, which will put us a mere 8-10 hour drive from White Sands Missile Range. 🙂 Your new blog and this post in particular is so relatable and thrilling to think about that one of these those 100 days you talk about here will be my 100 days.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Pamela – that’s a great story, too! I can’t wait until your 100 days arrives. (We visited White Sands in 1986 on our way from South Dakota to CA via Texas; it was pretty spectacular to see.)


  2. I have a feeling you would have loved Cleveland . . . But thanks for the summary because it filled in the missing pieces. Have you ever written about your time in Hawaii? I would enjoy that.


    1. I was super excited to check out the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame! It’s a shame I couldn’t have added another day or two to my trip. Then again, I was already gone longer than anticipated originally.

      You know, I’ve only ever written about Hawaii in passing. That’s a great suggestion for a post – I’ll take you up on it very soon!


  3. Mark, it’s so ironic because your story and my story have so many similarities – you moving back to South Dakota, and me moving back to NYC – both being places that we onced lived (and loved). I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, how life often comes full-circle, bringing us back to places that we feel a “connection” to.

    I was much younger when I first lived in NYC. Being older now, I feel as though I appreciate it even more than I did then.

    Like you and Tara, I too have been sorting; clearing out; and disposing of things in my apartment so that when I actually start packing, I’ll have minimal to do.


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