Commentary: Travel mercies abound on DeLight Side

Our auto trip was to the Big Sky state. Beautiful scenery curved along with the rivers and hills. The rivers were high, some with white water. Fields near the rivers were sopped. Green everywhere! 

We were enjoying our trip.

My husband’s goal was to attend a one and a half hour lunch/lecture. This was a 12-hour drive, so we broke it up into two days. 

Yes, that’s right, four hotel bills for a “lunch/lecture.”

The morning before we were to leave, I checked the invitation to discover that the meeting was Wednesday, not Thursday. This meant we needed to leave NOW, not tomorrow. 

That meant we packed duplicates and forgot things.

Within three hours of our trip, my body decided it needed an emergency stop, at any old hotel lobby. Travel mercies, not.

My husband had made two hotel reservations which had to be changed. We stopped at the town, but he couldn’t remember the hotel name and didn’t have it recorded ANYWHERE, not his cell phone, not in calendar, and not it my things. 

He said he emailed me, but we left a day early so I didn’t check my emails.

I suggested we stop at any hotel because they would know what other hotels were in that city. So we did. They were polite, but weren’t any help.

I noticed four men in dress suits—unusual in this Big Sky state—with several two-foot stacks of Bibles.

“Are you Gideons?”

“Yes, we make these trips as soon as the tourist places open, and before the tourist season begins.”

I told them about our phantom hotel problem. They had a list of all the hotels. One hotel sounded familiar to my husband, so he drove there to discover that it was the one.

Whew! That is how close we came to paying for two hotel nights we weren’t going to use.

On to the next disaster. The freeway signs said detour ahead, but trucks were continuing, so we did too. Miles and miles later, we saw a long, very long traffic backup.
Jeeps and pickups were turning through the median, so we did, too, in our passenger car. Miles and miles back to an off ramp – and a detour! 

We followed every array of vehicles in the dust, through residential areas, over gravel, then dirt roads. 

Eventually – much later, eventually – we got to a road that led back to the freeway.

We spent that night at our destination hotel. The hotel and the staff were exceptional. But it was in the commercial side of town, which meant our view was of six railroad tracks and a petroleum refinery.

We didn’t want the breakfast buffet because we were having “The Lunch.” So we bought uncooked oatmeal at the hotel desk, but didn’t have milk. 

If we moved our car to buy some milk, we would lose our precious parking place. We decided that it wouldn’t hurt to ask if we could get just the milk at the buffet. Wow. The waiter gave us a huge glass and told us there was no charge.

All morning we met other attendees and the guest speaker, who mingled freely with us.
“The Lunch” was a salad— yes, a salad—a nice salad, but a salad. Plus nice rolls, even with choice of jams, and gorgeous desserts. (Are you impressed yet?)

We met a 94-year-old rancher in the Big Sky state with his granddaughter. My husband didn’t know you aren’t supposed to ask, so he asked, “How many acres is your ranch?”

The answer: “It keeps us busy.”

We were tired on the way home, so we stopped at the first motel in a little town. The parking lot was excavated—even included the equipment.

 We were to drive to the back. A riverside hotel. What a view of the river and a grassy lot, playground equipment, picnic bench. Awesome!

The motel’s lamps wouldn’t go on because there was no light bulb. What about the other lamp? The switch was broken. 

The water was brown, ran it for a while then it was less brown. So we did not brush our teeth or take a shower. There were lots of clean towels, but we didn’t need them.

The next morning, the tire was flat.

The little town had a Les Schwab, which fixed it and we were on our way.  

The winding roads following the river continued to amaze us. Hills were green—a bright flushed green. Then, along the road with no turnouts, my husband choked and choked and choked. He got out and hunched over the car. 

People were concerned. About six cars stopped. They had to for our car partially blocked the winding road. 

It was a worrisome long time before he could get his breath.

A couple in a camper stayed with us, then volunteered to follow us to the next town. Then we had lunch together.

Travel mercies? We did have travel mercies. Beautiful scenery, wonderful people and we came back alive so we called it a good trip.

Pauline Sheehan of Vale contributes a humorous touch in her DeLight Side columns in the Enterprise.

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