“Easy as glue” – Rudy Fredeen

This quote has really nothing to do with today, but I liked it so much, I wanted to blog a moment about the concept.

There is nothing easy about glue, except, perhaps, in the application of it. A quick squirt, smudge, dollop. Glue can easily be placed on anything. However, once there, it becomes less and less easy to manipulate, move or change. If you were to travel through glue, it would be a disaster!

I like this concept as a daily reminder that what we’re doing out here is about as easy as glue. Getting started was as simple as getting in the car, but the execution of the daily life on the road can be challenging, messy and leave you feeling stuck. This is why many never take the leap. This is also why, when we have days like Day 5, we revel in the absolute ease at which the Day played out and all of the hidden delights found along the way! Let’s go!!

The Post-Apocalyptic Rest Stop:

Beautiful, clean and creepy as hell, the rest stop in Harlowton, MT could only be described as post apocalyptic. As I peed in the sterile space, a voice on an old, static-y speaker above my head stoically and mechanically recited what the weather “was” on this day across this part of the state. Did I hear that right, I wondered. “Billings ‘was’ sunny to mostly sunny on this day, 2018”, “Helena ‘had’ a 20% chance of showers and thunderstorms on July 9th, 2018.” Ok…what the heck? “Was” and “had”? Aren’t we still living this day? Why are your creepy announcements in past tense?? I tagged Jared into the restroom and asked him to listen for the ominous message. He came out and agreed, zombie apocalypse in Harlowtown, MT. We won’t be back. The town was lovely, though.

The Road to Melville:

We bought a map in the morning. I love maps. I love to physically hold my “where I was” to my “where I’m going” in my hands. My momma lived and died by the Thomas Guide and I feel something warmly familiar about a map. So, with my hair in a bandana, my feet on the dash, my hot hubby sunglassed, tank topped and behind the wheel, I hunkered down into the map to make fun of town names, see what was just around the bend, and navigate us onward. Our goal was hazy for the day, as we had no commitment until Thursday in Western South Dakota (about 13 hours away). I chose our route based on a few business choices (finding an open mic night and getting close to our Thursday gig) and a family choice (seeing Mt Rushmore). I looked at the map and noticed a little town “right on our route” called Melville.

Now, if any of you have had the distinct honor to get to know my sweet husband, you are probably familiar with his deep love of classical literature, first and foremost, Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. I mean, we named our boy after Kipling- that should have been a clue. Furthermore, if you DO know Jared, and have had the unique experience of seeing him drunk, then you may have even been “fortunate” enough to have had him recite poetry, Shakespeare, or read selections from Mr. Melville to his “audience”. The story of the white whale has plagued…I mean, pleasured our family for years and my son and I have a little inside joke about falling asleep before Dad can even get the first sentence, “Call me Ishmael…” out! It kills us every time! So, you can imagine the excitement of finding a whole town called Melville. We HAD to go! I actually insisted…cuz, even though I tease him, I support my husband’s classical addiction fully, and love seeing him thrill over things only an old man could love. (Manhattans, cribbage, pipes and slippers-to name a few more)

The “Town” of Melville: Jared’s Story

Ah, Melville. Once we set our sites on the town as a destination, Jessi and I began musing on why this town in the middle of the desolate prairie country of a land-locked state shared the name of a great author famous for his maritime stories. We took the exit and were immediately put on a dirt road, lightly wooded and clearly untended on either side. Through the trees one could see great, sprawling fields dotted with rocky outcroppings, and in the distance, through the straight line of trees, a dimly visible mountain range on the horizon. Nothing remarkable, other than the lack of a shred of resemblance to anything we were even kind of expecting. Of course, Rudy had fallen fast asleep only minutes before we took the exit.

“Wow. Boring, old, and no one cares about it. Just like Melville,” joked Jessi.

The church in the middle of nothing

“At first glance, yes on both,” I chuckled back, “but let’s give it a chance. Look beyond this, and just like Melville, I’ll bet we’ll see the underlying beauty.” Always a willing adventurer, my wife dove headlong into exploring the wonders of Melville with me.

The words had barely left my mouth when the trees began to thin, the view opened up, and it absolutely began to take our breath away. There was a church in the middle of nothing, set against the backdrop of a majestic mountain range (reminiscent of the mountains described in Melville’s “The Piazza”). Well-kept and seemingly inexplicably attended by enough people to keep it in working order, this church was the only structure to be seen for miles. The road wound on, rough and unpaved, forcing us to take our time and not rush (much like the tangled verbosity of Melville’s writings). The land grew wilder, more rustic, and the views grew more grand. The hum of the pavement was now the soft crunch of the dirt road, and we were surrounded by the symphonies of nature: birds singing from the belt, the soft whisper of a gentle breeze, the odd babble as we passed over random streams spanned by pipe bridges. We forgot ourselves and were transported out of the world of schedules, finances, and responsibilities into a world where  the roar of daily life all but ceased and utter serenity enveloped us. Words cannot do it justice. In all, I think we discerned a total of three dwellings in the entire nine-mile trek. At one point there seemed a future vision of the church we’d seen previously, but at the end of its days.

Only the second standing structure that we saw in Melville.

The town, we decided, was not named for any tribute to the author, but perhaps came into being as an embodiment of his writing. (It probably wasn’t, but I won’t seek out the truth, nor do I care what it is.) Nine miles of gently winding roads, wonderful conversations, deep musings, deer spottings, spectacular vistas, heavenly flower-scented breaths of the freshest air, all the elements of a world that you know well, but maybe never looked at or appreciated this way or this intensely, all of it taken in at no more than 10 mph. We wondered what it would be like to live in such a place, to be from there, walking three miles to get your mail, needing a half tank of gas to go grocery shopping. And Melville (the town) was, I’m sure, just a sample of the large swaths of similar places that we’d passed by without a second thought because the names of those towns held no particular interest for us. The people of these regions gained a new respect in our minds as truly rugged folks.

At one point, the thought occurred to us that one could strip naked and walk down the middle of the road without a care in the world. A brief pause, then we looked at each other with a mischievous grin. A quick peak in the back. Rudy was still out. We stopped in the middle of the road and in a heartbeat, Jessi’s clothes were in a pile on the passenger seat, and she was strolling down Main Street Melville, naked as the day she was born. Gorgeous as I think my naked wife is, her beauty was enhanced by her utter freedom; mind, body, and spirit. Arms akimbo as if embracing the big, friendly sky for which Montana is so famous. A sight and a feeling I’ll treasure as long as I live.

Ah, Melville. We should all be so lucky to have our lives so enriched by detours.

The Stop in Big Timber:

Jessi’s back. I’ll sum up. Picnic. Puppy. Sprinklers.

We found a cool patch of grass and made sandwiches while Rudes played with a very excited Springer Spaniel. We talked a little bit about the American flag and then Rudy went exploring. After a bit we hear, “Hey guys, what’s this thing in the gra…oh!!! I’m so sorry!!!” And, just like that, our peaceful picnic was cut short by a face full of sprinklers!! (Not Rudy’s fault…just bad-or perfect-timing, depending on how you look at it) So funny!

The Remainder:

It was about 5:30 and we thought we’d drive a bit longer, find a rest stop then head to SD in the morn. Well, a “bit longer” turned into about 9:30, and we finally pulled into Broadus, MT, partially because we were tired, partially because someone was tailgating me so hard, I could smell their cologne…

We popped into CS (good omen) local store and chatted with a darling old cowboy, who I came to find the next morning was lovingly referred to as “Paw Paw”. We asked about rest stops and campgrounds and he directed us to Cottonwood Park. Said trucks parked there all the time and we’d be fine.

We bought Rudy some cheese puffs, a chocolate huckleberry bar (all the rage in MT and I HAD to try one) and drove 2 minutes to the park. It was about 86°, dark out but lit up, had a playground and was right next to a rodeo training pen…and they were training!! We got to watch them chase and lasso and ride around. Then, Rudy n dad played playground tag while I made our beds and dinner for the night. Our worries about if we were safe or if it was ok to park under this little tree we found were put to rest when the local sheriff drove by, waved, smiled then went on his way.

Another day for the books. “Easy as glue.”

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