Helena Driving across Wyoming and Montana is a homecoming as memories and mountains swallowed 50 feet of truck and trailer, family and friends, as we gulped in the view, cool dry air, and good company. At lunch we lived a highlight reel as old comrades and friends, Pat Sweeny of WORC (Western Organization of Resource Councils) and Theresa Erickson of Northern Plains Resource Council (now 38 years old!) showed us their environmental showcase green building in Billings and talked about times past and times to come. Dinner found us heating a pizza and drinking Grizzly Drool (Montana’s own) with old buddy and companero, Jim Fleischman at he and Deb’s huge place virtually within sight of the state capital of Helena. For all of the stress and struggle of pulling 7000+ pounds of trailer over the mountains, all of this felt like a gift!
Chaco, CJ Butler (nephew and invaluable chief technician on this tour), and I pulled all of the gear out of the truck and trailer in the evening to see what we had and what we needed. Old batteries had to go, mantels needed to be bought, missing outdoor shower found, fishing gear box lost, so it was pretty much the usual, though it was the first time on a camping trip a broom and mop had made the list, but the Silver Bullet needs care and attention. Fishing licenses need to be bought, reels strung up, and a hundred other last minute items of work and pleasure checked off today.
Tomorrow finds us with an even larger crew heading for Secky’s Sweet Spot a piece along the blue ribbon trout stream where the Silver Bullet will come to rest after 4 years of post-Katrina service for staff and volunteers and a year of helping CJ and a buddy find a soft berth in the move from Conway, Arkansas to Denver, Colorado. Assuming we can get all of this up 15 miles of dirt road and across a wooden bridge (how wide and how much weight), level the ground and the trailer, then this 1978 Airstream International Sovereign will be good to NOT go and available for service as an annual fishing camp, store house, and guest lodge for friends, family, and fellow travelers savvy and swell enough to know Secky or me. That’s the plan. Fingers crossed.
Cell phone coverage ends at the highway. For 4 or 5 days, the longest time in years, we’ll be off the grid. Internet absent, blackberry turned into an alarm clock, and nothing but us and all that makes Montana special. As the younger members of this tribe say: sweet!
In checking off my list before going into radio silence, I had to think about how much my buddy, Glenn Beck, would be missing me. A couple of days ago driving through Wyoming, a friend in Los Angeles had taken a day off and was surfing TV channels, and started texting me as he came across Beck. The messages were classic:
“Beck has u on the top of the blackboard again”
“Sweet Jesus! I had no idea u orchestrated water bottle throwing in Phoenix this weekend.”
“Apparently u have ur hands in Greece uprising too. I suspected as much.”
What could I do, but laugh, a dangerous man driving a Suburban and pulling an Airstream across my birth state of Wyoming. I had to text back that I would have told my friend all of these stories but couldn’t because if he was caught, I didn’t want him tortured. The headlines in Sheridan had been about Wyoming’s ranking as the most conservative state in the country, but being conservative and being a Glenn Beck style instigator and hater are really two very different things. In Wyoming folks might be on the right side of the highway, but they were unfailingly helpful, friendly, and welcoming in the way that is common in the West (and South!).
I won’t miss the daily Google alerts reporting the Glenn gymnastics of disjointed connections and conspiracies, rattling the already angry, unstable out there. The gyrations around the California shooter and shootout involving the Tides Network have been chilling to many, though it’s all catnip to Beck and his ilk. We are obviously waiting for god knows what to happen and it won’t be pretty and there will be some “oh, I’m sorry” and “we should have seen it coming,” but that will be too late. All of that will be as effective as the folks who argue that there need to be apologies to Sherrod and ACORN, as if it matters to her or it could bring ACORN back from the dead.
I’ll just dial it all down along the stream side, wet a line, build a fire, talk about times past and times to come, and let ‘em wonder about what ideas and plans might be churning to let us get some justice down the road here and abroad, so that in the words of the song, “we can give ‘em something to talk about.”
At the end of the day, there’s talking about it and there’s doing. They can keep talking, we’ll keep doing, remembering always that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”