Friday, January 19

Benefits of Small Town Life

  • leaving the car running when stepping into the post office for a few minutes

  • the snow plows can clear all the city roads before most people have crawled out of bed

  • Wal-Mart jewelry department clerk is a former high school classmate and selectively gives discounts on watch batteries

  • cooks at local restaurant know your personal menu preferences

  • ticket to a Friday night movie costs $5

Thursday, January 18

How to Find Housing in Billings, Montana

This is going to sound crazy, so get ready. I still can't believe it myself.

A few weeks ago I sent a mass email to many of my friends and family, sharing with them the exciting news of my new job with the Montana Conservation Corps that would start in February. At the end of the email, mostly in jest, I made a comment about looking for housing in the Billings area and wondering if anyone knew folks out there that might be able to help me find a place. I chuckled as I sent the email off to thirty or forty folks, thinking, "Who knows someone in Montana?"

I kid you not when I say five of my friends responded to that email concerning acquaintances, friends, or family members whom they knew to live in the area of Billings, Montana! The first email that rolled in, I laughed out loud. Again, "I can't believe my friend knows someone who lives in Montana?" But when the second, third, fourth, and fifth email came back with news of friends in Montana, I was dumbfounded!

Now, to educate you a little about the state of Montana:
  • Population 900,000 (44th most populous state)
  • Fourth largest state (square mileage)
  • Nick Name: Treasure State
  • State Capital - Helena

As I researched a little about the state of Montana, I found that Billings is the largest city in the state with 100,000 residents. So 1/9th of all the people in this huge state live in Billings. And it dawned on me, that if anyone knows a living soul in Montana, they most likely will reside in Billings. This confirmed the number of positive emails I received concerning friends in the Big Sky State.

In no time at all I have been connected with a cousin of a friend from my college days. Cousin Kayla, has offered to let me rent a room in her town house, which happens to be located only minutes from my work headquarters. Now, let me remind you, I do not know cousin Kayla, she has never met me, and until today we had never spoken. And yet she is opening her house to me for six months. How likely is this scenario? Hardly believable, yet true! If I believed in fortune and luck, I would say that I am a person blessed with these things. But it doesn't really take much convincing for me to see that God is behind this chain of events that I call 'my life'. God did all the hard work with this one. I didn't do a darn thing.

In conclusion:
What a treasure to have friends who go out of their way to help you, but how much greater is the treasure when strangers do the same.

Sunday, January 14

Drip Drip Drop

Rain. Not such a bad thing really when associated with certain factors. Factors such as: (1) long, unyielding drought conditions (2) severe heat (3) unquenchable thirst (4) Sunday afternoon naps (5) tin roofs. On the other hand, I have discovered a problem with rain. In an attempt at not sounding too rash, maybe my problem isn't really with the rain. Hear me out and you decide.

Saturday morning I wake up in Kansas City, looking forward to finishing the last section of my cross country road trip to Indiana. Eight hours left of guiding my Jimmy along route 70 and I will be home sweet home. I step outside to warm up the truck. Brrrr. Five minutes of defrost eradicates the need to use an ice scraper. Most excellent fortune! I'm moving quickly along the interstate until I enter Missouri. Road conditions: poor. Ice and slush commandeer the passing lane. Traffic is cautious (more truthfully, unbearably slow). I lose precious minutes unable to pass the most responsible drivers. I count 29 cars in the median or on the side of the road, obscurely angled. I watch the temperature gage rise one degree at a time, praying that the freezing point will be broken and the ice will begin to melt. Illinois. Temperatures are above freezing. Ahhh, I can breathe easy now. No ice. Only rain. Ahhh, rain. Blessed rain. I love thee, wee drops falling from the sky, not causing severe road conditions, only splashing on the windshield and racing across my windows. It is at this moment that I am appreciating the rain, when I see out of the corner of my eye something fall. It is small and near my left shoulder. Definitely inside my car. Was it a bug? No, not a bug. Was it a piece of fuzz? Lent? No, neither. Then I hear a drop and feel something wet soak through my pants. What is it? Unbelieving, I look up at the roof of my car, I look above at the frame of my driver's door. I see a drop of water forming. My car door is leaking?!! And so it goes...for the rest of the trip through Illinois and Indiana: drip, drip, drop. Damp, wet, wetter! Rain! Oh, how I now lament your presence.

By the way, please tell me: Who in their right mind drives a car that leaks when it rains?

I guess someone who doesn't have a job, right? I concede!

Friday, January 12

First Snow

I woke up today to the first snow of the season. Probably not first snow for the majority of people in the Midwest, but since I've been hanging out in sunny Phoenix, snow has been absent from my winter. But today was different. Kansas City. Tiny flakes slowly falling, a light covering on the cars, roads, grass, and houses. It looks fantastic. I sometimes forget how much I miss snow. The last three years that I've been living in Concord, NC there hasn't been any snow to speak of. So, excited I am for this little taste of winter.

On a side note: I hope to continue to enjoy the snow since I am moving to Montana in February, where there is sure to be much more of this silly little white stuff.

Wednesday, January 10

Road Trip Musings

Cruise Control: Can you imagine driving across country without cruise control? No thank you.

Road Work: Though it is entirely annoying to interrupt my 80 mph speed for a bit of road work, our country gets five stars for our road systems. We can pretty much get anywhere we want with comfort and ease.

18 Wheelers: Why not use the railroads more? Anyone with me, on that one? I'm going to count the 18 wheelers that I pass tomorrow.

Speeding Tickets: Maybe 2007 will be my lucky year. Can I really go 365 days without getting a speeding ticket? Last year didn't really count since I walked for half of the year.

New Brakes: So pleasant! No screaming brake pads or smells of hot metal wafting up from the Jimmy's nether regions!

Cell Phones: Fun way to catch up with far away friends during dull moments of a solitary road trip.

Country Radio: I don't know exactly why, but I love thee!

Gas Station Toilets: Most entirely disgusting experience, but a necessity nonetheless. I hovered over four today.

Musings brought to you from Amarillo, Texas. Day one of my three day, cross country, road trip

Tuesday, January 9

First Cross Country Trip of 2007

2006 was a year of travel for me. Whether in a car, on foot, or in flight, I really scooted around this blessed country. I thought I'd post a recap of my 2006 locomotion.

Car (March): North Carolina to Indiana to Wisconsin to Georgia.
Foot (April-September): Georgia to Maine.
Car (September-October): Maine to Indiana to North Carolina to Arizona.
Plane (November): Arizona to Indiana and back to Arizona.
Car (December): Arizona to New Mexico to Texas and back to Arizona.

I believe in 2007 I will be more settled in my locale, albeit only a bit. Since my Conservation Corps job doesn't start for another month I've decided to head home to Indiana for a visit before moving myself westward to the "Big Sky Country". And so tomorrow I will uproot myself from the gorgeous winter weather of Arizona and begin the drive of 2000+ miles to the cold and dreary state of my birth. It will mark my first cross country trip in 07, with at least a few more to follow.

Sunday, January 7


Welcome to my new blog one and all. Since the completion of my Appalachian journey, I've wanted to create a new blog to keep everyone informed of my whereabouts. Of course I have had a bit of encouragement from some of my closest friends and family who have become bored with the stagnancy of the Georgia To Maine blog. So sorry to the many folks who repeatedly check that blog only to find that there have been no updates since mid-October.

There are always lists of things to accomplish when a new year rolls around. This year has been no exception, my list consisted of two tasks. On the top of the list: find a job. Second in line on the list was to create my new blog. I am happy to report both of those items have been resolved already. On the 5th of January, I accepted a full-time volunteer position with Montana Conservation Corps for a six month term of service. My position title is "Senior Youth Crew Leader". Part of my job is to recruit 14-17 year olds to serve on one of my two conservation crews this summer. I will also get to help plan and prepare for the conservation projects that my crews will address. I'm super excited about this opportunity and can't wait to see what new experiences will come my way. By the way, if you know of anyone who lives in Billings, Montana, that might be able to help me find housing let me know. So now that my blog has been created, and my new year's resolutions completed, I can breathe easy. Whew, what a great start to a new year!

So as you can imagine it is with great anticipation that I welcome the new year in with the many new experiences that will undoubtedly unfold in 2007. And with the help of the internet, this blog, and email, we can hopefully share many of life's important moments even though we are hundreds of miles apart.