I took an early morning walk in Dillon. This place was just too interesting to not take a closer look. It is for sale if you are looking to become the American Picker of Montana. Of interest on the chalk board is a 1975 Chrysler claimed to have eight thousand miles on it for ten thousand dollars. The store was not open, and I was not carrying that much cash so I did not investigate.
In Montana not many of the homes have central air conditioning. Rarely would anyone need it. It has been especially hot the last few weeks so improvisation is the key to remaining cool. My house has a crawl space with a little door in a room we have always called the office. I don’t know why we call it the office. It has never had a desk, or even an office chair, that I can remember. Most of the time it is just a passage to put decorations in or out of the crawl space as the holidays change through the year.
The crawl space is a good source of cool air. I have a small fan I sometimes leave propping the little door open which cools the lower level of the house quite nicely. The other levels reap some benefit from this as well.
My friend Carl travels for work sometimes, which is common in the construction trades. He has been sleeping in Scott’s room. I still call it Scott’s room even though my son now lives in Kauai. Carl settled in, hit the rack.
As I was about to dose off I heard Carl making a clunk clunk noise. I thought he was restless, not being in his own bed. A few minutes went by and I had heard the noise several times. Clunk clunk clunk. Sometimes twice, sometimes three or maybe just once. Nothing steady to it, I may have gone to sleep if it was rhythmic. I turned a few times and tried to divert my attention. Sometimes at night I listen to some Chinese traditional music to relax. That did the trick. Then at three thirty six, clunk, softly, just barely audible. What is Carl doing down there?
In the morning I heard Carl leave for work. I soon got up and took my shower. As I was getting dressed I heard clunk clunk. I descended the stairs and found this fitness jump rope swinging lightly in the breeze on the office door.
I apologized to Carl about the rope clunking all night. “No” he said, ” Never heard a thing. What are you talking about?”
Nevermore, clunk clunk, nevermore.
I saw more deer than people along the way.
I am not much of a fisherman, can’t even catch them on camera. They were jumping.
Walk over. No down to the business of the day I have dreaded. You can’t put a value on life, but when you split with a spouse you must put a value on the things in your life. It is going to be a long day. Can I just take another walk?
I am a marathoner. That means I like to run, and/or, walk 26.2 miles. While I do this someone, whom I have paid money to, provides me with water, snacks, toilets, and encouragement. All the while they keep track of the time it takes me to cover twenty-six miles, three hundred eighty-five yards.
Being a marathoner requires obsessive behavior. Preparing yourself, mind and body, takes an inordinate amount of dedication. Obsessing about the time it takes to cover this distance stops your conscious mind from realizing, this torture would have gotten a murder conviction overturned for cruel and unusual punishment. This time obsession is so common organizers feel compelled to offer badges of honor predicting finish times. Runners multiply predicted pace by 26.2 miles and pin these on shirts to show the spectators how well they know their bodies.
The Nashville Country Music Marathon starts a bit later in the day than most. I recognized an opportunity to practice another pastime of mine, sarcasm. The world record is just over two hours. Four and a half hours is a good goal for a first timer with a training plan. Many walkers and slow joggers take between six and seven hours, my category. I pinned on a 3:30 badge and strutted to the start line.
Nashville is a scenic race through the old mansion district. I had a great run and felt good throughout. I asked the nuns at the convent to pray for me climbing the hill, not revealing my Mormon upbringing. At about mile eight I passed one of the Kenyan runners. I went by like he was standing still. Poor little bugger was standing still, on the curb with a broken ankle. The course follows a path along the river. After a walk in the park, around a lake it ends up at the football stadium.
He asked “What happened to 3:30?”
I responded, “What time is it?”
John said, “uhh, it’s about 3:12 PM.”
My simple reply was “I’m early.”
In the parking lot one of John’s coworkers told me John laughed so hard he nearly fell off the announcer’s stand. I’m pretty sure that young man had been sent to verify my ignorance.
To get to Radersburg turn off of Highway 12 at The Bunkhouse Bar and go 9 miles. As you turn off the main road there is a sign Radersburg 9 miles. As you get to Radersburg there it is, mile marker 9 right at the edge of town. You don’t accidentally get to Radersburg. You need a reason to go, and there are not many reasons. The locals like it that way. It has no bar or post office. I am not sure how the town incorporated in Montana, as those are the two prerequisites. There are two semi-trailers parked on Main Street advertising moving companies that are long since defunct. They have been parked for over 9 years.
It was a sunny, hot day as I arrived at the campground. I changed into my workout gear. I wore two shirts and a jacket on the ride up, but planned to wear just the dri-fit shirt. The shirt I was leaving behind was damp from being worn, so I decided to hang it on the handlebars because I wanted a dry shirt to put on after my workout. I stowed my other clothes and Stanley vacuum bottle of coffee in the saddle bag.
As I got about 4 miles from the motorcycle I heard thunder in the distance. It started clouding up. A storm was imminent. A few dirt bikers came by and asked if I had rain gear. I indicated I was Okay. Some people in a Powerstroke offered me a ride down the mountain. They were perplexed by my response that if I got wet I was sure I would dry off. I never told them that had I taken the ride I’d have been standing, shivering until the rain subsided.
I like walking in the rain. A lightning storm in the mountains is a spectacular display when you get past the what if it hits me worries. I had dry clothes to put on back at the bike. So I walked as the rain let up and ducked under trees to wait out the heaviest downpours. The rain had let up as I hit a nearly level stretch in the road. I thought this would be a good place to run a bit. I had seen a snake on the way up the road and merely stepped around as it slithered off to the side. This time I was moving faster and it was a rattlesnake. When already running it is not easy to make your foot go an extra distance before hitting the ground. Somehow I managed to do so. The snake poised to strike as I jumped sideways up and back in one motion. I don’t know if snakes can laugh, but that had to be a sight.
As my life flashed before my eyes in that instant one picture stood out. Me hanging my shirt to dry on the handlebars before this torrential rainstorm. Walking down the trail I sang to myself “Tonight We Dance”, and wondered what Spanish for snake dance was (Baile de Serpiente). As I changed into dry pants and donned boots in place of running shoes I had to make the decision, very wet stinky shirt or dripping wet shirt. Very wet stinky shirt won out, and I apologize to the clerks at Town Pump in Townsend for that.
I walk/run marathons for a hobby. many of my training workouts are in the evening. I like the solitude, and cool of the night air. As I approached the Montana State Capital building I remembered the first time I thought of the artistry of a building. At least three generations before me were home builders on my fathers side. Homes and buildings had always been just work accomplished in my eyes.
I dated a woman named Beverly for a short time, not short enough I say. We had gone out a few weeks when I decided I needed control of my life. I told her it was over, been real, thanks, see you later.
It was not that simple. She called my mother and attended church with her the next 2 weeks. My mother was not impressed and made a remark about not wanting to be in the chapel during the lightning strike.
Next Beverly called my friend Carl, cried, begged and started dating him. I had once told her a friend commented to me that she was a woman I should hold onto at all costs. Beverly mistakenly thought Carl had made this comment. Carl is more savvy than I in these things. He grew weary of her company after a few days. He suggested I ask her out to set him free, as she may have mentioned me occasionally, OK constantly, while they were together.
I asked her out the next night. Beverly called Carl to apologize, she wouldn’t be seeing him again. I am certain she believed her plan worked, dating my best friend to make me jealous. She didn’t know I was taking her out to say “No, this is really goodbye, and Carl is dating someone else now too.” You would think after I put the boot to her the first time she would have seen it coming. No, she seemed just as surprised the second time around.
Now to the part about the Capital Building. Beverly was not quite cooked yet. Time to turn up the heat. I lived in Great Falls, she lived in Black Eagle, 89 miles from the capital. She had a house in Helena, but needed some help with repairs. Would I go with her to look it over? Sure, no problem. She picked me up early evening, not the normal time to go estimate remodeling jobs. We got to Helena and visited friends of hers. I never knew what that stop was about.
Then we went to the Capital Building. She remarked how beautiful it was. I did agree, and still marvel at the magnificence of the structure built when stone was still a hand craft. That moment changed the way I viewed the work done by true craftsmen. I had never appreciated the things my dad knew, and did. I never did get on well with him, even after this.
We ventured over to Beverly’s place. I say place because the trailers built in those days were not houses, by any means. She started carrying on about moving there with me. We could live there rent free, get state jobs etc…. I still lived at my parents house, at no cost, had worked construction at age 13, never dreamed of living in a trailer in my worst nightmare. I was away from home, in her car, and stuck that way until she decided different. It was winter in Montana, without heat in the trailer. Thankfully, we only stayed long enough to verify that her ex-husband had left the place intact. On the ride home I came up with a new plan. Enable her to find someone else on her own.
The next morning I called the Air National Guard recruiter, MSG. Tim McCann. Everybody I knew that had a decent steady income worked at the guard. I went up to The Hill and took a test. I have always been good at tests. He handed me a book about four inches thick and said pick any job in there, you qualified. I still had ditching Beverly on my mind. The longer I was at guard school the more likely she would find a new muse. There it was, Electronic Communication Cryptographic Equipment Systems Repairman, 35 weeks. Some people struggle and strain, read books, visit colleges, talk to friends and family before making a career choice. I was going lower on the hierarchy. I just wanted freedom from the lynch mob that was tightening a noose on my neck, Beverly.
As predicted she was long gone by the time I returned from basic training and technical school. By chance, I was successful at communications repair. I have been making a living at it since 1979, including my current pension.