Thank God she's a country girl. Hope Olson is at home in the wilderness. Her favorite movie is Jeremiah Johnson. She liked the scenery and the silence. At times, she entertains the idea that someday there will be a movie about a mountain woman and that she will be asked to play the lead. The part fits her as perfectly as a pair of jeans. When we talked to Miss October, she was in mourning for a favorite pair of cutoffs that she had acquired from a boyfriend a few years back. (She wouldn't go into the details of the trade except to say, if the jeans fit, wear them. Until you wear them out.) Those cutoffs had been everywhere: the mountains. The desert. Down the Colorado River. Places we can only dream about. "Finally, there was almost nothing left of them. You could see through the sides, through the rear. One day I put them in the wash and they just dissolved. I guess I'll have to start all over." We will now have a moment of silence for those jeans. The stories they could tell. Hope spent the first 15 years of her life in Wisconsin on her grandfather's farm. She learned to ride horses and later to maneuver a snowmobile around an oval track. Whatever Hope does, she does well. When she moved to California, she tried body surfing. "I discovered that the ocean was not exactly the lake I had been used to swimming in. It's much more powerful and dangerous. On my first day, I wiped out completely. I lost the bottom of my bathing suit. Got sand burns, the works." On weekends, or whenever she feels like it, Hope throws a tent, a sleeping bag and a few days' worth of food into the back of a van and takes off for parts unknown. Sometimes she and her boyfriend drop in on bluegrass music festivals. "I like the idea of people sitting around, eating, drinking, raising hell. They're always friendly. We just unroll our sleeping bag and make ourselves at home." On one of her drives across country, Hope's van began to overheat. So did Hope, so she asked a gas-station attendant where the nearest swimming hole was. A 20-mile drive down a back road brought her to a glade of cottonwood trees. "It was so nice I stayed for almost a day and a half. You really should have been there." Yup.
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