I attended all the meetings and workshops, and I even managed to stay awake during the boring presentations as well as the interesting ones. The only meeting I didn’t stay to the very end was the final business meeting and my boss told me it would be over in about ten minutes and I could leave if I wanted. I didn’t see him again for another 90 minutes! Apparently, there’s a federal guy in there who can talk forever about absolutely nothing, and he did not disappoint.
All in all, it was a great week. Montana is a beautiful place. We were surrounded by snow-capped mountains and Missoula is not too big so it was easy to get around.
We arrived Monday afternoon and went straight to the first workshop. It is great to get to meet people in your field that know a lot more than you do, so you can ask them lots of questions and learn from their experience. My grandfather had told me long, long ago that the smart guy learns from watching others. So I watched, I learned, and I asked a lot of questions. Afterwards, we grabbed a quick dinner and watched the Colts beat up on the Jaguars.
Tuesday morning, I woke up at 3:30 AM. My body was still on Indiana time. I tried to get some more sleep since my first class didn’t start until 9AM. Shortly before 6AM, my step-daughter called me on my cell phone…..
“Did I wake you?”
“No. I was just about to get up.”
“Oh, good. Hey listen, I’m in Richmond (Indiana), giving a friend a ride to school, and my car just died right in the middle of an intersection. What should I do? I tried starting it, but it just rev’s up and dies.”
“Do you have any gas?”
“Of course I do!”
“How much gas do you have in the tank?”
“I don’t know, but I know there’s enough.”
“Well, the first thing you need to do is get the car out of the middle of the intersection. Have your friend help you push the car to a safer place, then call me back and we’ll see what we can do.”
“Okay, there’s a gas station nearby. We’ll push it to there and I’ll call you back in a few minutes.”
Several minutes passed by and she finally called me back…..
“Hi. While we were at the gas station, we filled the tank with gas and the car is running fine now.”
“Okay, good. Drive safe. See you Friday night.”
“Because I’m in Montana and I won’t be home until Friday around midnight.”
“You’re in Montana? Then I did wake you! I’m so sorry.”
“No, you’re okay. I had to get up to answer the phone anyway. Have a great day. Love you”
“Love you too”
Yeah. She’s real observant like that. She’s only 19 and still learning. It was nice that she called me. She could have called her dad, or her boyfriend, which were both a lot closer to where she was, even if I had been in Indianapolis. Even after I had just told her few days earlier how stupid it was for her to get a tattoo. She asked me about it before she did it and I told her it was a bad idea. She wanted one so she did it anyway. She got a flower tattooed on her side, from her hip to just under her armpit. She showed it to me and asked what I thought of it. I still told her it was most likely the most stupid thing she’s done yet. She wanted so badly for someone to happy for her and tell her how cool her tattoo is. I said I couldn’t lie to her and told her what I really thought about it. Her little brother asked what kind of flower it is and I told him it is a blooming idiot. (My wife didn’t think that was funny). But still, I’m the one she called when she was in trouble anyway.
Tuesday night we went to dinner and the waitress asked where we were from. She said we didn’t look like we were from there (we were “too clean”, she said). There’s a big “M” on the side of the mountain overlooking the town, and our waitress explained what it meant and how it got there. After she left, and elderly lady came by our table and told us that the “M” stood for Montana, and was placed there by the University of Montana. (This lady had real class. She never once said that the waitress was wrong, she just corrected certain parts of her story). The campus is located directly below the "M". It used to be formed by a bunch of large rocks, but visiting sports teams would climb up and re-arrange the stones into their own school’s letter. So the owner of the land built a dirt road around the side of the mountain so the concrete truck could get to the spot and now the “M” is made out of concrete. There’s a small cave behind the “M” where they buried one of the football player’s jerseys, since it smelled so bad. So now you know the story behind the big “M” above Missoula. Just don’t ask your waitress, she may not know.
Wednesday our sessions let out early so we drove up to the Bison Range. We couldn’t get close to any Bison (Buffalo), but we did find evidence that were nearby recently.
We could see some buffalo across the way, but none were close enough for a picture. We did get close to some elk, though. I had to step back just to get this guy in the picture. He acted like he didn’t even care that I was there and just kept eating grass. The three fellows I was with thought I was crazy and urged me to get back into the car.
On the way back to our hotel, we stopped for dinner and I had a 10 0z. Big Medicine Buffalo Burger. It was just about as big as the plate. It was good, but could have been better if they’d have cooked it all the way. I don’t particularly care for rare meat, but this fellow didn’t look like he’d even been hurt too bad!
The next couple of days were spent attending seminars, presentations and meetings. It wasn’t as boring as I thought it would be and actually learned quite a lot. Even Thursday night at the final dinner and reception party when I learned how to graciously excuse myself from the table after one of the main event guys got so drunk that he started disclosing way too much personal information. It was a little embarrassing. My boss even followed my lead and excused himself also.
All in all, it was a really great time. Friday morning, before catching our plane, my boss and I climbed the mountain to the big “M” overlooking the city. It was beautiful from up there.
The flight home was okay, even though the stewardess on our little pond-hopper plane was wider than the narrow aisle (and seemed to be in a really bad mood). She really wasn’t very nice so I closed my eyes and slept most of the way home.
It was good to be home. I missed sleeping in my own bed and I miss the smell of my own sheets. The gentleman in me prevents me from saying more.
I thank God for the opportunity to meet new friends, to learn new things and to experience more of the awesome beauty He created in the Big Sky country.
Saturday, my wife and I served on the usher team at church. Sunday we drove to Cincinnati to watch the Bengals play. (Had they actually played, they might have won). Then Monday night we went to the Encore Awards in Indy. Our director won for Best Director in a Drama, and I got to watch. After the event, I congratulated our director and we all posed for pictures. Janet, who was nominated for Best Actress, really should have won. She did an awesome job. As I shook her husband’s hand and gave her a gentle hug across her shoulders, she looked at me and said that it was enough just to be nominated. But the look in her eyes said the same thing I felt in my own heart in that, “I’m only saying that to be gracious. I really hoped to win”. Next season will be different.
This is my 100th post.
I have so much more to write about, but that will have to wait for next time.