ON SCREEN // Thank You Notes: Let’s Build a Teepee.

Thank You Notes, by Dawn Asher, Good Taste & Gatherings Curator

I am grateful for teepees.     

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When you share three meals a day with people you’re just getting to know, it’s almost overnight it seems you’ve known them for decades.

My husband, Jeff, and I invited new friends Will and Janet Liu on a an 11-day camping road trip to the Pacific Northwest.

One morning Will gently nudged Janet, as any kind husband might do for his wife, to keep a steady pace getting ready, as we needed to get on the road toward our next destination.

“We won’t have time for dillydallying, Janet,” Will said. 

Later Janet told me, “…next thing I know, I see both of our husbands strapping Go Pros to their heads.”

That’s right. We “needed to get on the road”—but first, the boys had to film themselves…feeding chickens. 

Chickens, and more: I present to you a series of “Interludes”…

We moved up the coast, making stops to camp in a variety of terrains. At night we would sip our wine or hot chocolate and exchange our thoughts while gazing at our surroundings: an expansive starry sky, the thick redwoods, a misty beach fog…

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, everyone. Once you are here, you will never want to leave.  

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We did it all—and, even with an ambitious itinerary, we always created space for spontaneity.

Ruby Beach is the place where I knew we’d made a home for ourselves. Will had the genius idea of building a teepee. I had never built a teepee before, so how could we not build a teepee with a sea of driftwood before us? And, what might we do in a teepee? We decided…

Janet would play a piano…

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Jeff would build monuments…

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Will would start a fire…

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And I would eat something on a stick. 

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While we’re on the topic of first-time experiences, here are a few more for good measure:

Janet flew a kite!

I touched a sea anemone!

Will and Jeff took an off-roading excursion! 

The mini adventures and small victories—like battling the gusty wind to build a fire while simultaneously keeping sand off our chicken skewers—was the context in which we created a family “mobile home” with a cozy fireplace. Honorable Mention: my husband Jeff is the Master of All Things Campfire. 

I mentioned these friends were “new”…back in college at USC, Will and I briefly met, playing Club Ultimate Frisbee together; and I ran into him years later, and met his beautiful wife Janet, at Sarah Magidoff’s wedding. You recently met Janet too, in Sarah’s bike ride story. Though we had been getting to know Will and Janet over the last couple years, we had not yet approached the “let’s-hang-out-one-on-one-and-be-solid-friends” phase.

I’m proud to say, from Day 1 of our adventure, we became the “solid” kind of friends. 

I consider these first-time moments and why they bonded us so: We were simply discovering life together, embracing both the “spur of the moment” adventure and sharing our reflections.

Between meals, we played like children—seeking the new, pushing our limits and finding delight in the smallest things. So by the time we would get back to camp to roast artisan bread croutons over the fire for our bacon spinach salads (ahem, camping cuisine at it’s finest), or heat tomato soup for our Tillamook grilled cheese sandwiches…

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…we were accomplished journeymen, freely sharing our life stories with knowing abandon. 

We were gathering wood to build teepees all the day long and inviting each other inside to stay for a while. 

An epic exploration over mountains, along beaches and even through a national rainforest turned into a series of gatherings I’ll never forget.

Now that we’re back in Los Angeles and settled into our day-to-day work, I’m preserving this teepee idea. This Fall, I’ll be sure to leave space in my busy schedule to gather wood with friends. 

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Hand drawn map and teepee photos, courtesy of Janet Liu. 

"Interludes" edited by Jeff Asher, music from Hillsong United. 

Enjoy more from Dawn Asher at Tribe of Asher.