Archive for August, 2010

Just another Montana Town or Is It?

The summer heat beating off the asphalt of the highway can be suffocating at times, but I must say the scenery around me helps keep my mind off the increasing temperatures. I’ve learned to pack enough water to get me from town to town so I don’t dehydrate myself. And as I look towards Bozeman’s city limits I’m grateful that I’ll be off the road for even just a day.

Bozeman looked like it was going to be just another one of those Montana towns, and for the most part it was, but as I’ve found so many times on this crazy trip of mine there’s always that one person that will leave a mark on your life forever. And that person came from a most unexpected person, a college student with pink and yellow hair and a chain going from her ear to her nose ring.

I met this young gal at a local restaurant I was eating at. She overheard me asking my waitress if I could replenish my water bottles. My waitress, in that oh-so-kind way and I am being sarcastic, told me that I’d have to buy my water at a grocery store like everyone else. I thought to myself “whatever!” and figured this gal probably hated her job, hated her life, or was just having a lousy day. So I gave her my order and went about my business of figuring out how to get to the park at which I was supposed to be staying.

That’s when Carin came up to me and said “Don’t mind her, she’s always a crab. I don’t know why they don’t fire her.” Well, she actually ended her sentence with an expletive but I’ve decided not to print that. Anyway, Carin told me she’d be happy to fill my water jugs then asked where I was from. I told her my tale of trekking across the United States on a bike. She just thought that was the coolest idea. She asked where I stayed while traveling. I told her that I had camping gear, but there were times I’d stay in hotels or cabins just to get off the ground. When I told her where I was supposed to be staying that night she looked at me horrified.

“You don’t want to stay there. Not only is it a pretty bad place as far as the possibility of being robbed, but they’ve had a lot of reports of wild animals. You look like such a nice lady, I’d hate for you to get a bad impression of this town because of where you stayed.”

I smiled at her thinking how nice she was to forewarn me, but I think she took my smile as an old person thinking this young thing with a chain hanging off her face was yanking my chain. Carin said, “I know I’ve probably already given you a bad impression, what with my hair color and this,” pointing to the chain, “but believe me you don’t want to stay there.” I told her I was thinking nothing of the kind, that I was thanking God that He brought her to me. Carin was the one taken aback this time for she said “You are the first person your age who hasn’t made fun of me. I mean not like I was saying you’re old, but more like someone who’s older than me.” She made me think of my nieces who often times changed the color of their hair and would have more earrings in their ears than I owned. I asked her if I could give her a hug. She obliged me, then went on to tell me about the Silver Creek Cabins which weren’t too far from where I was supposed to stay, but was a lot safer and a whole lot more scenic. She got me their number which I called half expecting them to say they were booked up, but to my astonishment they had an opening.

As I sat in my cabin that night watching the news, they talked about a bear attack at the park I was supposed to be staying at. When they showed pictures of this park I was horrified, as Carin said I would be, of the condition of the park. I guess you can’t believe everything you see on-line. I looked around this fabulous cabin and thanked God for sending this little sweetheart my way and giving me the guidance and direction I needed to keep me safe. It impressed upon me that we can’t look at anyone from the outside only. Like the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.

My waitress fit the mold of someone who looked like she was caring, well groomed, well dressed, and spoke articulately, but she was nothing more than a mean, nasty person. I can say that because I saw her yelling at a family whose toddler had spilt some food on the floor and was telling them that she was tired of having to clean up after other people’s rugrats. If you saw Carin on the street your mind would automatically think, drug user, smart mouthed hoodlum, but after talking more with Carin before leaving the restaurant I found out that she also worked with special needs children at a local agency, she sang in her church choir, and she was attending college to become a counselor/social worker for the elderly and disabled. It takes a good heart to take on like that  a life commitment.

And in my real world I’ve run across a lot of people who have surprised me by being someone they didn’t look like. How many of us have run across that person who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk; those smooth talkers who are dressed to the nine’s, drive the smart vehicles, and talk with a finesse that could astound Webster. And then you find out that they’ve cheated on their spouse, bilked their employer, sold or used drugs, or any other immoral act and did so in the name of God.

I’ve learned to not judge a person by the way they look or act. We must get to know people before making an opinion about them. It may be some bum on a street corner who pulls you back from stepping out in front of a turning car, or it may be a high school student wearing all black and looking angry who comes to your rescue when your car breaks down, or it may be a foreigner who looks suspicious who steps in when that smooth talker tries to cheat you out of something. We need to remember that God has placed each and every one of us on this earth and expects us to treat each person with dignity. It doesn’t matter to God how good you look, how much money you’ve attained, how famous you are. What does matter to God is how well you treated people here on earth and how you lived your life. May we all treat each other with dignity and live our lives according to God’s plan.

And, as always, let’s keep going the distance!

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Dreams Do Come True

It seems my new bike has energized me as I’m making better progress getting across this massive state. I entered Livingston Montana in the early afternoon on Thursday and knew instantly that I would be spending some time in this town of almost 7000. As awesome as the views of the majestic Rockies are from Livingston, it wasn’t that which made me know I’d be staying here for a few days.

As I rode my bike through town my eyes connect with a store front that was beckoning me. Huge rainbow trout adorn the front of this building and the “Open” sign seemed to pull me in. Dan Bailey’s Fly Shop is a store I knew would be able to help me realize a dream of mine: fly fishing.

I had always wanted to take fly fishing classes while living in Aspen Colorado, but I never got that job done. I just knew today was the day I’d sign up to fulfill this dream. So I parked my bike and went inside. The place was a fisherman’s dream come true. This store had everything you could imagine. I was as excited to see the array of fishing items as I am when walking into a new quilt store.

I soon found what I was looking for; the sign-up sheet for a fly fishing excursion with fly fishing lessons. I promptly made my reservation before any fears of mine would wake up halting me from taking this trip like it did those years I lived in Aspen. I was shown the equipment that I’d be using and was told that if I liked fly fishing I’d be getting a 20% discount on all new items purchased after the trip. I was also told about their classes on fly making. With my crafty mindset, I knew this was a class for me.

Once I completed all reservations for the next couple of day’s events, I checked into the Murray Hotel. This was a hotel where such celebrities as Buffalo Bill and Calamity Jane stayed. The accommodations were mind-boggling with marble stairways, hardwood floors, and rooms that were sometimes bigger than apartments I lived in. Of course, since it was just me, I chose a nice standard guest room. The price was better than some chain hotels I’ve stayed in.

After a nice meal at the 2nd Street Bistro Restaurant inside the Murray Hotel, I went back to my room where I lay in anticipation for my trip and classes. It took awhile for my mind to shut off, but I did manage to get some much needed sleep. And the next day’s fly lesson and excursion was everything they said it would be. I was taken to the river where “A River Runs Through It” was filmed. Hollywood does a great job of highlighting the beauty of certain areas of the country, but I must say they don’t hold a candle to what God has truly given to us.

The water was crisp, clear, and cold, but with the temperatures hitting the 90’s the water felt good. I had difficulties with my fly casting at first, but after a couple of pointers from the guides I felt like a pro even though I knew I was nowhere close to being one. I was beginning to think that this would only be a lesson in casting, but suddenly I felt a tug on my line. The guide helped me land a 14 inch rainbow trout. I could taste that fish already although I knew this was a catch and release trip. After my trip was over, I did indeed buy some fly fishing gear and hoped that future rivers on my cross-country trip would give me fresh fish to eat and enjoy.

My fly making class was just as fun and Dan Bailey’s Fly Fishing business got a few more dollars out of me. It was amazing how one could make an insect out of some silk, feathers, a hook, and a few other items. I’m a sucker when it comes to crafting things and I knew I was hooked, no pun intended.

After spending 3 days and a lot of money in Livingston, I knew that I needed to be on my way. I was grateful for the experiences I had in Livingston and knew that I would be back there some day.

And as my real life continues on, I think back on all the dreams I have had and am amazed at how many have come true. I also think about how many of those dreams started out as a prayer for I think prayers are sometimes no more than us asking God to help us achieve dreams we have in life. And God working His powers on prayers/dreams became very evident in my life when I found myself getting laid off after 8 years of service at a local check printing company. It was a heart wrenching day in February, 2004, but I decided to go through their call center training at a much lower rate of pay to avoid having to search for a new job. The fear of doing something new kept me from searching for a new job just as my fear of learning fly fishing years ago kept me from ever taking those lessons.

After going through 5 weeks of call center training, I soon began to realize what a hard job customer service in a call center was. My nerves were shot each and every day. My self-esteem was plummeting. I knew I needed to get out because I knew my best was never going to be good enough for that company. I knew I needed to face my fear and find a new job and soon a dream began to form. I knew the type of job I wanted and I knew how much longer I could stand working for this company that seemed to hold so little regard for their employees. I asked God to guide me to that job where my talents would be used and I’d be treated as a child of God.

Each day I would go home and search the internet for possible jobs. I was concerned about how long it would take me to find a different job more suited to my talents. My mother told me not to get my hopes up, but I told her that God just had to listen to me.

When I saw the ad for an administrative assistant at Catholic Charities I thanked God because I knew that was the job for me. I applied for the job on that Monday, was interviewed on Thursday, offered the job that afternoon, and went to my soon to be ex-job on Friday tendering my resignation. I went home after saying good-bye to people I had grown fond of and knew, without a doubt, that God had been beside me, helping me along this bumpy path in my life. He had helped me overcome my fears, He had guided me towards the job of my dreams, and He had made it work out exactly as I had hoped it would.

My faith in God, in my prayers, and in myself grew immensely during that period of my life. I think it’s having faith that helps dreams come true. And Hebrews 11:1 states this with clarity: Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see and the conviction of their reality. It is my faith that keeps me strong and moving forward knowing that a bump in the road is just a bump and that God is there beside me.

And one more note, I no longer desire to learn fly fishing not out of fear, but for 2 reasons. I’m not a fan of catch and release which most fly fishing lessons are, but more importantly I’m not a fan of killing any living creature. I love fish, I love meats, but I just don’t have it in me to end any creature’s life. I’ll buy my fish and meats in those nice little plastic trays covered in plastic.

May God bless you all and let’s keep going the distance.

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