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I believe she loses a loved one and decides to take a pill to make her better. She eventually embraces technology and becomes a interplanetary (and possibly inter-galaxy) traveler. She travels using beacons of some sort. Eventually returning to earth (Washington state area, maybe Oregon. ). Wow - I know that's vague. Thanks for any help. I did try and search.

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Sounds like "The Gentle Seduction" by Marc Stiegler, which was identified as the answer to this old question and this other one; do those descriptions sound familiar? You can read the story for free at the author's website.

Summary: A technology-averse woman lives by Mt. Rainier in the State of Washington. Her husband dies, her dog dies. At the age of 82 she takes her first nanotech pill, for her aching back. One thing leads to another, and eventually:

But in addition, the nanomachines in that system would continue to build. They would build machines and living flesh well suited to the conditions of the planet. And then the nanomachines would come back together into a single structure—not a needle now, but a communication bubble. Through the bubble and its instantaneous communication she could live across space. She could dwell at home near Jupiter yet roam among the stars.

She was often one of the first humans Called to newly opened planets. Her wisdom from earth, her expertise from Jupiter, these made her invaluable as an explorer and a guide. As she had swum within the methane oceans, so now she swam in carbon dioxide atmospheres, or flew through liquid mercury. She imprinted herself upon organic synapses and silicon circuits light years from home, and lived in many places.

Mentally she was bigger now than she had been at 25. The meaning of complexity had changed for her; she understood the laws of physics with the same simple clarity that she understood the rules of checkers. She could build a starship as easily as she could pitch a tent.

She pays a deathbed visit to her old mountain:

The day came to say goodby to her oldest friend. With her wonderful old earth-born body, she returned to Earth to hike Rainier one last time: Rainier, whose surface lay so cold and eternal, was boiling within. With dawn, she knew, the boiling fury would break through, in the greatest volcanic event in earthly centuries. She stood at the summit the day before the end and surveyed the horizon. Her feeling of appreciation grew till she thought she would burst. This was home in a sense few others could now understand.

  • Wow, yes! Thank you very much. I've been trying to find it for a re-read. – Brian Apr 16 '14 at 10:00

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