Posts tagged Montana

All Good Things Must Come to an End

As with all good things, an end comes at some point.  No, my trip has not ended, but my money came to an end.  I found myself in Drummond Montana with depleted funds and in desperate need of a job.  I knew that I had enough money left to buy food and lodging at an RV park for a month, but I didn’t want to continue on the road knowing that my money was dwindling. 

So my first task when I arrived in Drummond was to find an RV park and then a job.   I was a bit concerned knowing that Drummond is a small town of 400 citizens, but I stood in faith that God would direct me as He had done up to this point.  What happened to me could be considered extraordinaire, but is pretty typical of what I found in small towns and by having faith in God.  I stopped by a gas station to inquire about any RV parks and was a bit taken aback when I discovered they only had a city park.  When asked why I was looking for a park I explained my predicament.  To my surprise this town had been waiting for the crazy lady riding across the United States to come through their town.  I was told to go to the Wagon Wheel Café and Motel where I’d be able to get my free lunch.  

I headed over to the Wagon Wheel thinking “a free meal is nice, but what I really need is a job.”  As I approached the Wagon Wheel my eyes immediately gravitated to a sign in the window saying “Help Wanted”.  Could God be this good to me by providing me a free meal and possibly a job?  I would soon find out.  

I entered the restaurant and was immediately greeted by the hostess.  She asked me where I was from and when I explained, her grin seemed as wide as the state of Montana.  “Great, we were hoping that you would stop in our town.  Your meal is on us.”  I thanked her and proceeded to tell her that I was also in need of a temporary job so that I could save some money and continue on my trip.  She seated me at a booth then went to tell the manager of my predicament.  The manager was soon seated across from me asking me what my talents were.  I explained that I had mostly done administrative work, but that I was also experienced with cleaning as I had my own cleaning business for a few years and also cleaned condo units while living in Aspen.  He asked if I had any experience cooking.  I told him I was a good cook, but that I hadn’t worked in a restaurant kitchen since my high school days.  He grinned and said I was exactly what he was looking for and that I had a job for as long as I needed to stay.  He also said that housing would not be an issue because he had a small cottage behind his home that he’d let me stay in.  

I got myself settled in and the next day I began working at my newest job.  My time at the Wagon Wheel allowed me to meet some great people who know the meaning of treating people right.  The staff was always happy and it showed with the work they did.  Rooms were always immaculate and the clientele would always comment on how surprised they were and how they’d make this their stop each and every time they’d come through this way.  Despite the lousy economy across this country, this small Montana town still knew how to keep business going. 

I have been so blessed on this trip of mine and I know that God is truly a great God.  I believe that my faith in God has led me on this trip and continues to lead me through life.  I spent 2 months there before I felt I had enough funds built back up to make it to the west coast.  I know that I’ll need to find jobs along the way, but I also realize that faith in God and the goodness you receive back from God is the one good thing that does not come to an end.  It grows as we grow.  And it’s through this faith in God that I’m able to continue my trek across this great country of ours.

 And in my real world, faith in God gives me the strength to deal with the sorrow of having to put my dog down, deal with the issues of caring for my elderly mother, dealing with my own health issues, and working for a non-profit that struggles with these economic times just as our clients struggle to make ends meet.  It is this faith that has kept me going forward on this virtual bike ride of mine.  I have never stuck with any exercise program as long as I have this one.  It is true that it’s taken me several months to get across one state and I did take a lot of time off during these past several months to regroup and deal with the issues of life.  But it is through my faith in God that has kept me focused on my goal and has given me the drive to continue.  I don’t beat myself up for taking so many days off or for taking so long to make it through Montana on this virtual ride.  I see this as a huge accomplishment. 

As I say my daily prayers I always include those whose faith may not be so strong.  I ask that God inspire them, motivate them, and help them through all their needs.  We all cannot be famous heroes that will be written about and remembered for years to come, but we all have a place here on this fine earth.  God finds us to all be heroes and He is there for us each and every day, giving us the direction we need.  All we have to do is ask for His help.  And that’s what I’ve done these past several months as I struggled to maintain this bike ride experience.  

Now that I’m in Idaho I find new motivation to keep going the distance.  Let us all find the faith we need to keep going the distance in our daily lives.  May God bless you all.

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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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Big Sky Country

(Photo courtesy of Big Sky Fishing.Com)  There’s a reason they call Montana “Big Sky Country”. There were miles and miles of sky above me along with some ominous looking clouds. I knew I needed to get to Billings as fast as I could to be in a place safer than the open road. And as it turned out those clouds did produce a tornado that day. It tore the roof off of some building. Fortunately I was beckoned into a café by the owner prior to the tornado touching down. After the storm passed and the skies cleared, the people of Billings came out of their homes and businesses to assess the damage. It was then that I saw how close knit this community is. The café owner fed me a fabulous dinner and offered to put me up in her home. I told her that I already had reservations at an RV park, thanked her for her kindness and was on my way. Or so I thought.

When I went outside to get back on my bike I noticed I had a flat tire. So back inside I went, asked if her offer was still available then asked where I could get my tire fixed. As luck would have it, her son had a friend who worked for a bike company. She gave him a quick call and before I could finish my glass of homemade lemonade her son was there with his truck and hauled my bike off to be fixed. When he returned with it I asked how much I owed for the repair. He smiled sheepishly and said “it’s free as long as you agree to something.” And as you can imagine I was hesitant to agree to an unknown. He directed me outside and to my astonishment there sat a new bike with a trailer on the back end with a big sign saying “Spoke Shop” on it. He said all I needed to do was take his new outfit on the road with their sign on it and it was mine. He went on to say that my other bike was no longer road worthy and that they could not send me out on the road in good conscience with that old bike. I graciously accepted this gift which also included a GPS and a small motor to help me get over some of those mountain passes that were still ahead of me.

I’ve met so many generous people on this trip, but none quite this generous. At this very moment Billings was my favorite town. How could it not be with the hospitality that these people have shown me. I spent the night at their home. The next day I was able to visit a few of the town’s main attractions, and tested out my newly outfitted bike. I soon found myself back on the road and heading to Laurel Montana. From Laurel you can enter Yellowstone National Park from 4 different cities. I was tempted to make a side trip through Yellowstone, but after checking my new GPS I decided to stay on my course.

I could feel the richness of the railroad history in Laurel along with its small town atmosphere. It took me back to when I was a little girl visiting my grandparents who lived in a small Nebraska farming town. I have fond memories from back then and am creating fond memories of the present. Life was good.

And in my real world as I read Jason Christensen’s blog of his actual Cycling for Change trip through some of the same country I’ve virtually ridden through, I’m convinced that my imaginary bike trip is not all that far off. For he writes about the wonderful people he and the other team members have met and the generosity of so many of them. Now we all know there probably isn’t a bike shop around that would give someone a tricked out bike outfit for nothing simply to advertise their store, but I do believe there are people out there that would show the hospitality that my imaginary café owner showed me. Jason’s blog is proof of that. And it’s proof that God’s power and word fills the hearts of many.

One can follow the C4C team’s actual trip by logging on to http://www.ccharitiescs.org , clicking on the Cycling for Change icon, then clicking on “follow Jason’s ride here”…You’ll be able to read Jason’s blog and to see some pictures of the scenery that this team is seeing for real. God is a true artist with the beauty that He has given to us.

Unfortunately many of us are harnessed with the trials and tribulations of our everyday lives so much so that we don’t take the time to see the beauty around us not only in the terrain, but in people too. Some are so bogged down with hurt and pain and loneliness that they can’t see the forest for the trees. It’s some of these very people that Catholic Charities tries to help the best we can. It’s through the generosity of our donors that allow Catholic Charities to continue our mission.

And it’s your dedication and enthusiasm that helps me to continue my virtual trip across this great nation. May God bless you all, keep the C4C bike team in your prayers, and let’s keep going the distance.

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A Lesson in Life

Ah, Montana at last. Big sky country. And what a country this state has. I’ve seen TV documentaries on the Little Big Horn Battlefield and always thought that the surrounding countryside looked beautiful despite the horrific battle that was fought there, but this site in real life is truly awe inspiring. And I’ve often said in previous blogs how I could feel the history, but here you really can feel the spirit of those who fought in this battle.

As I toured the grounds and facilities the savagery of this battle is well documented. I know the government had their reasons for trying to contain the Indians and the Indians could be extremely savage, but if someone were trying to kill our family and take our home away how savage would we be? I decided to attend both the ranger’s talk and the movie which offered a huge lesson in life.

The ranger talked about Custer’s actions or lack there of, which could have greatly altered the outcome of this battle. Custer had sent part of his troop to the right flank of the Indian camp. This group of cavalry was the first to engage in combat with the Indians. From his vantage point, Custer could see that things were not going well for his troops. He was asked by some of his troop leaders to send help, but Custer stayed his course. We all know how this ends, but what the ranger said next totally surprised me. Had Custer sent help to this first group the whole outcome of the battle would have ended differently.

The ranger went on to say that the Indians fought not only for the land, but also for the safety of their women and children. Custer, on the other hand, fought for the government, but it became apparent that his attitude played an even bigger role in how he conducted himself as a leader in the cavalry. Custer’s attitude seemed to be more about him and who he was than it was about defeating the Indians for the safety of the settlers trying to make their homes on these lands.

Then someone in the crowd made a comment that completely opened my eyes as to how history repeats itself. This person said “maybe if corporate America ran their companies more like the Indians ran their tribes instead of being arrogant like Custer this country wouldn’t be in the mess it’s in today.” Oh how those words ran true. The Indians fought selflessly and would give up their lives to save their people. Life was not about the warriors, but about the tribe’s survival. All things done in a tribe was for the good of the entire tribe and not a selected few. And like the man had said, so many corporate America businesses are run with arrogance, and, like Custer, have failed.

So the life lesson I learned at this great battlefield monument was this, no one person is better than any other person in the eyes of God so if we live our lives selflessly and with integrity we should be making the right decisions in life for all mankind and not just a few selected people. But I must admit that’s not always an easy pill to swallow. I’m a strong-willed woman who was raised to be independent, to speak my mind, and to never give up the fight. I know that I’ve walked on people to get to where I am today. But seeing the carnage this battle brought and how it could have been avoided has made me rethink my strong-willed attitude. To win doesn’t always mean victory and doesn’t always make you right. Being humble and helpful is more of what God is wanting from each of us.

And in my real life I think about all the people that Catholic Charities helps each day and how our numbers have increased throughout these past years. It makes me wonder how much arrogance and poor choices by businesses has forced these now unemployed people to come to Catholic Charities to help make ends meet. Were these choices made to improve the life of a few? We know that for many businesses who have received government bailouts that this was true, but the real question is did these executives making those poor choices learn from their mistakes? We may never know the answer to that question, but the solution to never putting a business in that predicament again is to throw away your arrogance and become more humble and selfless in life. And as always let’s keep going the distance.

God bless you all!

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