Thursday, January 22, 2009
Broadus VI - The Roads
When the major city for hundreds of square miles has a population of eight hundred, not too much attention is given to the quality of roads. US Highway 212 was a good road..... well..... kinda. It was blacktop, but it was rough. At least there were no potholes. The road to Miles City, eighty miles to the northwest was also paved and okay. The road going south to Biddle was paved, but you had to drive around the potholes. And they did, going about 85 miles per hour. There was no speed limit in Montana at this time. It was on this road, going south to Biddle that I had a deer leap over the hood of my car at night when I was traveling about 70 miles per hour. There was no time to be scared. The deer missed and we kept going. Such an idiot I was. But I didn't learn. And this wasn't the worst of it.
Shortly after we moved to Broadus, a lady took me to Belle Creek, a little oil town about thirty miles to the southeast across the gravel. The road was rough, twisty, and hilly and she had her foot on the floor. I was hanging on, sure that God had brought me out there to die. But she taught me how to drive on these gravel roads. So I learned by her example. I was no slowpoke and no wimp.
So one day I took Audrey and our daughter, Rana, down to Belle Creek in our '57 Dodge. This car had it all: push button transmission, V-8, and was pink and white. So I am motoring along as fast as I dared to go (not quite as fast as the lady in the previous paragraph). So I'm flying over the gravel and coming to the crown of a hill. When I got to the top of the hill, the road disappeared. The big, long hood on my pink Dodge blocked my view of the road, so all I saw was the hood of the car and sky. So instinctively I felt that the road went to the left, so I turned left. And sure enough the road was there. But now I was going down this hill going about 60 miles per hour, and at the bottom of the hill a flock of sheep stood on the road. So now I am pushing my foot through the floor trying to stop. I'm thinking, what will I do if I kill this rancher's sheep. But God was with us, the sheep started jumping out of the way as the car came skidding toward them. You'd think I'd learn my lesson.
It was just a few weeks later we were going to a place called Boyd to hold a Bible study. Boyd is actually a place where something used to exist. This, too was about 40 miles over a gravel road. Audrey was holding Rana, our baby, in the passenger side of the front seat. The Lutheran pastor and his wife were in the back seat. I was driving slower now, well, a little slower. A cattle gate is a series of pipes laid across a road that is in line with a fence. It is intended to keep cattle from escaping over the road where the fence gaps open for the road. Anyway, I was going about 50 mph when I went over the cattle gate. The car didn't touch the ground again until we were in this field. We bounced up and down and rattled around and kept rolling over the rough field until the car finally came to rest just a few feet from a cliff. I looked over at Audrey and was relieved to see our baby still sleeping. I looked in the back seat and the Lutheran pastor and his wife hugging each other. His glasses had been knocked off. But they, too were okay. Well, maybe a little shaken. We made it to Bible study on time. I paid more attention to cattle gates after that.
Wait until you hear about our car. Next time.