It took 4 days and a lot of hours but eventually I made it Montana! And somewhat in one piece to boot. A new member joined the traveling crew: Dee the Garmin. She saved me from my own HORRIBLE sense of direction. She was actually a present given to me by some wonderful friends. Do you know anyone that seems to have been created with the specific purpose of being an example of God’s love? I am so thankful that I do.
It was an amazing experience to see so much of the country in such a short amount of time. The beauty and range of God’s creation is a bit overwhelming. I wish I had been able to leave a bit earlier so I could stop at times to really take it all in and spend more time with the friends I visited along the way. One night was definitely not enough.
I played a game with myself where I summarized my experience in each state to one sentence or less so I could remember what I thought of it. Sure, at times I had all sorts of poetic descriptions going through my head of the beauty and majesty (and other times all sorts of angry rants of frustration) but the rule was one sentence. Extra points if I could do it in one word. I had to entertain myself somehow! Here is what I came up with:
Florida – wide variations
Alabama – beautiful trees, smelled like pancakes
Mississippi – smelled like someone left those pancakes out for a while
Tennessee – the land of expensive gas
Arkansas – corn
Missouri – long
Kansas – beautiful rolling hills and huge prairies
Colorado - green
Wyoming – Silhouettes (Someone had made these black silhouettes of very western things, like a cowboy riding a horse or a buffalo, and placed them on top of bluffs and such. Seeing those makes you think for a while that you’re witnessing a real cowboy who rode his horse to the edge. It’s not until you get right on it that you realize it’s fake. It’s pretty cool. P.S. This is an explanation and not in a description, so not only am I within the sentence rule, but get extra points for one word.)
Montana – mountains everywhere
So there you have it. The trip in a nutshell. Except the craziness of the last day…
I stopped to get gas at some little town in Wyoming after not having seen another station for almost 2 hours. I got back in, thinking Ethel and I were both refreshed, when suddenly my check engine light came on. In my past experience, anytime my check engine light has come on it’s been a major, expensive repair. My heart sunk. No, Ethel! I did what any reasonable person does whenever a car has any slight issue: I called my Dad. Not sure what I expected him to do for me from 2000 miles away, but it seemed like the only logical thing to do. Then, I took Ethel to the service station that was fortunately just the next exit away. The mechanic checked her out for free and told me it was my internal computer, something I had just replaced already not even a year ago. After weighing all my options and making some other plans, I finally had the most manageable solution. I would continue to drive Ethel the 600 niles to Helena and drop her off at the dealership there so she could be repaired while I was at orientation. The mechanic couldn’t tell me for sure if Ethel would be able to make it the whole way or not, but that was really my only choice. I was terrified. 600 miles to go with hours between cities in a place I didn’t know anything or anyone.
The warranty issue was something else all together. I was 2 days under the year warranty but 1,500 miles over the 12,000 mile limit (basically, that trip). I’d like to say that I held my cool and calmly explained my reasons why this was unexceptable… But I won’t lie, I threw a fit. A hissy fit. And it worked for the most part. I’m not proud, but it went from an $800 repair to a $200 deductible. The Helena dealership was very nice in helping me, and the service center in Douglas, Wyoming didn’t charge me a thing after helping me for over an hour and a half. I made it, my new friend Jared (the Vista who served in my same position last year) picked me up and got me to the hotel, and Ethel was fixed by Thursday afternoon.
It took me a while to figure it out, but as my sister reassured me, there must be a lesson in this. It dawned on me finally that I’m not going to be able to do anything this year without trusting God. I can’t even get to Montana without riding on the backs of prayers rising up from all over the country. This year is not about what I am able to do, or how I am able to help people, it’s about being 100% willing to be a vessel to God. Because without him I’m stuck, unable to move forward…