Days 61 & 62: Montana

Jim and I stayed up late into the night my last evening in Jackson planning the next leg of my journey.  Well, I planned; he chatted.  (Ha!)  Finally I said “You’re not very good at this planning stuff are you?”  (That was indirect for “Talk less; map more!”)  Of course, he was a good sport in the face of my razzing.

“Get ‘er done” was the theme of my Monday morning: groceries (check), laundry (check), fresh sheets (check), oil change and car wash (check, check), caffeine for the drive (check)…so I hit the road fresh and ready to go, grateful for my extended time in Jackson and with Jim.

I was eagerly apprehensive to head to Montana.  The grizzlies run wild here (unlike in Idaho and Wyoming, outside of Yellowstone), and the spaces are vast and scantily-peopled.  They’re wild in a way I haven’t really experienced alone on my journey.  And Canada will be even wilder, I expect… I’m a long ways from California; that’s for sure!

I drove through Yellowstone one more time on my way out of Wyoming (it’s the most direct route) and came into the state curious about the cloudy skies.  Was it smoke or ominous weather brewing?  Something told me to pull into a campground instead of venturing into the national forest at dusk…and I was right to listen to that voice because the rain started just as I popped up my tent – and my first night in Montana marked my first night camping in a thunderstorm.  It was scary for a bit…but the storm passed in less than an hour and I slept cold but soundly to the tapping of raindrops on my “roof.”  I can’t help but think rain is a very good thing up here right now, what with all the fires.  Thunder and lightning not so much, of course…

I wanted to catch-up on writing, so I made it as far as Bozeman this morning and settled in at a coffee shop.  I complimented a woman’s shirt (it reminded me of something my mom would wear), and before I knew it, Marj was sitting at my table and we were talking about all the things – travel and family, her rocky marriage and my journey – then next thing I knew we were planning to meet for dinner.  She treated me to BBQ at a local place – Copper (one of Montana’s nicknames is “Treasure State” because of its rich mineral deposits and extensive mining history) – and we spent the evening soaking in each other’s company, both knowing we’d probably never see one another again.  She actually thanked me for helping her make sense of some things…and we agreed we were meant to connect in that coffee shop.

Came “home” from dinner to the most beautiful sunset behind the mountains above my campsite.  It got me thinking about the enormity of the Universe and the tininess of me.  That same sun has risen and set over those mountains day after day after day for more time than I can even begin to fathom.  Regardless of me, regardless of you, regardless of any of us, it is constant.  It’s at once the same and different every day, and tonight, it really struck me.

These are the experiences that come from slowing down.

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