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Angels Found On a Winter Road Trip

Photo by Rick Knobe

Last week I was on a winter road trip from Des Moines, Iowa to Bend, Oregon. The purpose was to assist a friend driving a new 24’ RV from the dealership to her home.

It was an amazing experience for a variety of reasons.  This friend is from my high school days, 50 years ago.  Around Christmas, Marion made contact announcing the purchase of an RV.  Unit to be delivered in January,  to Des Moines from the plant in Elkhart, Indiana.  After trading more emails, I volunteered to be her man “Friday” for the drive.  If you want to learn a lot about a person in a short period of time, a road trip, in an unfamiliar, high profile vehicle, with high winds, threats of snow, and cold weather, will provide plenty of information. More on this later.

The drive across Iowa and Nebraska was uneventful. Things changed in Wyoming.

Met some angels  along the way.  Twenty miles west of Laramie, Wyoming, at a truck stop on I 80, the lady running the café was one of them.  The winds were blowing  50 plus mph, driving was  a challenge and frankly scary.  She helped us get connected to local weather  info, prepared a couple of delicious buffalo burgers, and presented Marion with a rock of local geological significance. We opted to return to Laramie, as the forecast called for the winds to continue at gale strength.  Next day stopped at same truck stop. Winds had not significantly diminished as promised by the Wyoming DOT. Do we go back again, stay put , or forge ahead?

Enter more angels.  An large RV, coming from the West, pulled into the truck stop. First person out was a young man. Scruffy beard, nice looking pants, shirt and vest.  Amish. He was not the driver, but stated the drive was fine.  Next out, a large man, wearing a Corn Huskers, polo shirt. He was the driver. He assured us the drive was doable. He was also honest about seeing some accidents along the way. Blown over trailers, etc.  His story is interesting. His previous work had been with juvenile offenders in Pennsylvania. He lasted about ten years in that profession. Now he hires out as a driver for Amish groups in Pennsylvania.  He loves his job. Everybody is polite, including the children. There were 11 people on this trip. Several adults, a few youngsters and a 10 week old baby.  And according to him, the cooking is fantastic. He made that statement as he was patting his rather large belly. Talking to him, and watching the younger Amish people  as they smiled and looked genuinely happy, gave Marion and me the confidence to continue our journey west.

Next angel, is Franchoise, a French Canadian. Met him at a Rest Stop. He and wife were also going west, to a new job for him. Visit was short because of the strong winds. Nice man.

The rest of the journey was not a driving challenge. Utah won the Beautiful State Award. From the  intersection of I 80 and I 15/84 north, the snow on the mountains looked so soft, kind of like grandma’s feather comforter. We stopped on a side road, basked in the warmth of the sun, took pictures of the rig, the breathe taking scenery, and each other.  Made the stress of “Windy Wyoming” worth it.

No snow in Idaho. Like the rhyme?

In Oregon, live human beings fill the fuel tank at all gas stations. Have no idea why.  Larry was our “fuel man” in Burns. Asked about a good local eatery. With a smile on his face and enthusiasm, he sent us to our final angel.

Todd. He owns  “The Meat Hook Steak House” in Burns, Oregon.  Homemade soup. Fresh Salad, Warm Bread, Grass fed Sirloin, steamed veggies, with a scoop of a hot fudge sundae for dessert. Less than $50 for the two of us, great competition for Minervas in Sioux Falls. ……His life story was fun to hear, including time in the movie industry in Hollywood.

I write all of this to let you know, that in the midst of all the angst about what is or is not happening in Washington with our money, and the discussions about what seems to be out of control violence, there are people in this country, doing their part to keep us moving forward.  The angels who entered our lives, were positive, upbeat, happy people, willing to help us as we struggled with various parts of this journey.

While tired from the long drive, I am refreshed about the future of the country.  The angels helped me see and feel positive energy.

Feeling down? Take a trip. Get away from the situations and people who bring you down.  In our case, angels appeared.

We took a “road never traveled by either of us” and I am better for the experience and the deeper friendship. .

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