It’s been over a year since I started this crazy trip. I thought I’d be further along, but I’ve realized just how big this country is. It seems like I’ve been in Montana forever with another 398 miles more to go before I get to Idaho, but the good thing is I have majestic mountains to look at to the west and south and a grand prairie to the north and east.
All in all this has been a good state to be in and riding into Big Timber Montana was no different. My newly tricked out bike has been a true blessing. I didn’t realize how bad the old bike had gotten until I set out on the road with my new gear. And with the trailer on the back I knew that I’d have room to stop at the Little Timber Quilt shop. The staff was so friendly and helpful. I truly wanted to spend way more than I did, but knew this would become a problem with trailer room if I filled it up with tons of fabric.
One gal helping me with my selections made some great suggestions for making this traveling quilt and helped me buy the fabric needed to chart my course on this quilt. Then, in true small town hospitality, they gave me suggestions on the best places to stay and eat in town. Of course I ended up at the Grand Hotel where I enjoyed a fabulous dinner with locally grown produce and meat. The sleeping accommodations were more than I could ask for. And it was fun snooping around this fully restored 1890’s saloon. Feeling the need to get to know these people better, I chose to stay a few days longer.
I took a horseback ride from Gallatin National Forest through Absaroka Beartooth Wilderness Area. The serene feeling I got while plodding along the trail brought me closer to God than I have ever felt. The honesty and integrity of every person living in this area was right there in front of me. There were no airs put on by anyone I met. No one boasted about what they had and what others didn’t have. It was as if I rode into the Garden of Eden where everything was perfect.
But as we all know, nothing on earth is perfect. I knew that this town faced harsh winters and many were feeling the hard economic times that so many other small towns are facing. Those that weren’t hurting as bad didn’t have a whole lot, but it didn’t seem to matter to any of the residents of Big Timber. They seemed content with the lives they led. And it made me think that maybe that’s what America’s problem truly is. It’s not that the economy is so bad, but that we’ve all gotten so greedy about what we think we need to survive that it brings about discontentment.
Here was a town where the houses were nice, but none were the huge monstrosities that line the mountainsides of Aspen. Many had clothes hanging on clothes lines in back yards bringing back memories of those crisp fresh smelling sheets that my grandmother used to put on all her beds. Those were simpler times and this town was still living that way.
It is that simpler lifestyle that has brought me to this point in my trip. I realized that the feeling of closeness to God I had on that horse ride was merely that I had left behind all the things that I thought I needed to survive which ultimately became my burden. Now I’m not condemning those who have more, but what I’m saying is we need to be content with what we have and to live within our means.
And back in my real world I’ve experienced the pain of over-extending myself, but I thank God I had family who were able to help. It is that reason why I was so willing to help my sister and her husband recently when they found themselves without jobs and were unable to secure another job for months. I don’t know what Big Timber is really like, but I would hope that it has some semblance of what I envision it to be like. It would be nice if all of us were able to free ourselves of some of the material burdens we carry with us allowing us more time to spend with family and friends. It would be nice if there was not animosity between upper, middle, and lower classes of people. It would be nice if our government leaders would work together to make this the greatest nation on earth.
But this is reality and we will always have those who have and those who have not but want to have. We will always have disparity between races, religions, and politics. That’s what this earthly life is all about. We do not live in the Garden of Eden. But what we need to do is to ensure that we are not allowing our life to be a living hell. We need to be happy and content with what we have and if one wants more then we need to work for it. Riches and happiness is not a given just like respect is not a given. We get back what we give. So take some time to assess your life and ask yourself “Am I giving of myself enough? Could I be doing more to make my life a happier more fulfilling life?” And may the answers to those questions take you to a place similar to my idea of life in Big Timber Montana; to your own version of the Garden of Eden. And as always God’s love and peace to you all and let’s keep going the distance.