Friday, August 30, 2013

Rescues and Rescuers

Oooops! I just lost a page or more of blog immediately after changing the title of the post. I was working on the idea that problems typically have remedies waiting for us when we are open to them. And, those remedies often come in the form of other human beings.

Two of my recent dilemmas resolved themselves very quickly with help from strangers who became friends - or were they friends I just hadn't met yet?

The first happened outside of Colstrip when the front wheel bracket suddenly felt off my buggy when we were about to take a break in front of the Rosebud Power Plant. I put my right thumb out and held the wheel in my other hand for all to see. The second vehicle passing towards town stopped.

80 year-old Annie Purdon didn't pull over. She just put on the brakes, stepped out of her van and invited me to ride to town with her. We quickly got the rig settled in the back of hers. I was a bit worried about her parking in the middle of the highway. Annie thought nothing of it.

She drove me to her favorite tire shop looking for assistance, but the only regular mechanic there and in town was getting ready to make a towing run to Spearfish. We considered options in the middle of which Annie took me to the local supermarket.

I needed some cold liquid refreshment. While in line, I asked around, “Does anyone know a welder in this town?”

Immediately, JoAnn Kofford spoke up from another checkout line. “I do. What do you need?”

Annie and JoAnn

Annie Purdon & JoAnn Kofford

Within minutes, the buggy was transferred to JoAnn's SUV. She then drove us to Josh Clark's CTA Performance in Colstrip's industrial park. Josh was out, but his helpers assured me that they could fix the problem.

We left the Buggy and JoAnn drove us to her home. There I met her husband, Dale Kison, and two granddaughters, Chalon and Deja. I was made entirely at home, like family, and joined the four for chicken fried steak dinner.

Life in Colstrip revolves around coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Dale works for power company. JoAnn used to.

Around dinner JoAnn and Dale and I talked about Colstrip and coal and power. Later on, JoAnn and I discussed life and philosophy as well as her Mormon heritage. Eventually, I got a tour of the Kofford-Kison property and several gardens.

Before the evening was out, Mr. Clark appeared to repair the fuel pump on Dale's truck. He had welded the Buggy back into working order dropped it off. “No charge.” I have been wondering about that ever since. (JoAnn told me weeks later that Josh is also a Mormon.)

In any case, my Colstrip benefactors took kind and generous care of me. I slept comfortably in the house’s storeroom - no spare bedroom. JoAnn supplied me with goodies and a map to find my way out of town and Dale got me started in the morning as he went off to his shift as operator at one of Colstrip'’ power plants.

Thanks to a mishap, breakdown, and problem on the road, I got to know some Colstrippers, spend an evening with family, and make a friendship. JoAnn and I have traded a number of emails over recent days. Thanks once again.

From Colstrip, I was off to Lame Deer. That stretch was relatively uneventful. I met many friendly people there, especially at Dull Knife College.

During the middle of the day, a former US Marine stopped to visit as I was approaching Ashland. He was supportive of my “mission” and offered to lift me into town where he was to meet an old friend. If he had twisted my arm, I might have taken him up on his offer. Before long, I thought, “Maybe I should have accepted. Look what I got myself into.”

Around six o’clock, I approached Ashland with rainclouds building on the north. I thought nonchalantly to myself, “When it starts to rain, I will have time to get my poncho on.”

Well, I was overly optimistic. As soon as the first drops began to fall, hail followed immediately. A lot of hail and even more wind. I barely got the poncho unfolded from its pouch. (I hadn’t used before.)

The wind was BIG. It very nearly tore the poncho out of my hands. With supreme effort, I got it over my body. I couldn't manage to get my head into its covering. But, maybe that was for the best.

The hail was pounding down. I decided to sit myself on top of the Buggy. The welding job held, thanks to Mr. Clark.

I sat there with the wind and rain and hail having their way - mostly - with me for what seemed like a long time. It would have been totally unnerving had I not remembered, “Hailstorms pass quickly.”

And, that one did. The whole episode was only ten or twenty minutes with the hard part lasting half that long.

I was soaked to the bone. But, the sun slowly returned to assist the wind in drying me out.

I marched the last few miles into Ashland. I hadn't a clue what to do with my wet and bedraggled self.

A convenience mart appeared and I headed toward it. I parked my rig and moved to the front door. A young woman, filling her SUV with gas station, addressed me saying, “Were you in that storm?”

“Yes, I sure I was.”

Koyatu Jorden took charge and decided she would make room for me and my rig in the back of her vehicle. She was heading for Riddle on the other side of Broadus to her second job of the week working as a flagger on a road construction project.

We traded stories as she barreled down the road, making calls and texting much of the while. She was a multi-tasker, to be sure. Koya cranked up the heater to help me dry out.

By the time we reached Broadus, we had become friends. Koya insisted on taking me to the local motel office. But, all three plus campgrounds were full up. Against resistance, she eventually dropped me at the local park. She did insist in leaving me with a blanket which has already come in handy.

Interestingly, Koya - also called Tutu - filled me in during our excursion on some of the details of her Mormon background. I told her about my reading of the Book of Mormon the previous winter spurred by my several interactions with LDS people on my 2012 Walk to Nevada.

I kept my critique of the Book of Mormon to myself. I will merely say, “There are kind, generous people everywhere. How interesting that I was ‘rescued’ by two Mormon women in the early days of my latest expedition.”

I had for a time planned to walk through Utah on this trek. I may now have already had my Utah experience thanks to new friends, JoAnn Kofford and Koyatu Jorden - KJ and JK.

Miss Jorden

Koyatu Jorden

I failed to get a photo of Koyatu on that rainy night, so I borrow one from her Facebook page.

Comments always welcome at theportableschool at gmail dot com.

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