My Amazing Trip Through the Rocky Mountains - Conclusion
The Rocky Mountains - My Amazing Trip - Conclusion
By Dexter Yarbrough. At the end of Part 3, I had conquered my hunger and managed to get away from that coyote that was laughing at me. What an experience! I recall thinking just how I missed the sound of sirens, airplanes flying above and elevated trains screeching to a halt to pick up more passengers.
I was really glad that none of my friends came along on this specific adventure. Sometimes they can be obnoxious! But, I guess I can be as well. I won't let one friend (I'll call him James) forget the time he dated, what he claimed, was this really attractive woman. He was so protective of her. He would not let me or our other friends come around when they were together, so I became suspicious. After about two weeks, I gathered two of our friends and followed James from his house to his girlfriend's apartment.
We watched from my car as they exited her apartment after about five minutes. Since we were a distance away, it was hard to get an up close view, but from where we were, she appeared very beautiful. Yet, even from a distance, she seemed familiar. We followed them to a restaurant in one of Chicago's south suburbs. We waited about 15 minutes until they got in and seated. Our purpose was not to invade his privacy, but to make sure he was OK.
We went in to the restaurant, and after giving the hostess a description of James, asked her to take us to where he was sitting. I had to tell my friends to shut up. They were giggling a bit much! When we arrived at the table, James, who was sitting alone, jumped up and said, "What are you fools doing here?!"
I told him that we were worried about him and that he shouldn't leave his friends out. Just then, I saw his new girlfriend coming toward us from the other side of the restaurant. From a distance, she looked gorgeous - I mean drop-dead gorgeous. I told James, in a joking way, to be a gentleman and introduce us. As she walked up behind us he said, "Guys, this is Danica, Danica, these are my friends." As I turned to look her in the face, a horror came over me and "Donald?" came roaring out over my lips.
Yes. It was Donald! A guy (male) that went to the same high school as I did (he had on makeup and looked just like a woman and I remembered because he use to do this in school, making him quite controversial). Danica/Donald looked at me and said, "Oh, my God!" We all looked at Danica/Donald and then turned to James. I said, "James, did you know this is a man?" Danica/Donald said, "James, I am so sorry" and ran out of the restaurant. By this time, James was falling over into the booth seat and we had to catch him before he hit his head. Well, as you can imagine, we had to drive James home (he was truly distressed, crying and cussing) and he endured our cruel laughter and jokes while swearing he didn't know it was a man and insisting we stop at Walgreen's to get him a bottle of Lavoris mouthwash. Yep, it was funny as heck! James is married to a very beautiful woman (he told us he checked) and they have three teenagers. You just have to watch the clip to the right!
Anyway, while walking and laughing, I came across a roaring river called the Cache La Poudre River. The water was flowing quickly down from the mountains. It was absolutely beautiful and powerful. There were several other people viewing it as well. I stood mesmerized for about twenty minutes before I started to take photos of it.
A man approached me and began to make some small, friendly conversation. He was about forty-five, with pale skin and soulful eyes. He saw my camping gear and asked me where I was going. I told him about my almost two day journey and he got a big kick out of it. I told him that I was going to head about three miles east, head north and camp overnight before ending my journey.
As I began to pack up my camera, he told me that he owned a ranch about two miles away and invited me to have breakfast with him. He said, "You look hungry and a heavy thunderstorm is expected this afternoon." When you are raised in a big city, life teaches you to be suspicious of people. Hell, I mean John Wayne Gacy committed his acts just outside Chicago and Jeffrey Dahmer was just an hour north on I-94. I might be breakfast!
I said, "Well, I appreciate your offer but I..."
"Look," he said, "Come have a bite to eat. If you want to continue on your adventure, at least you'll have a belly full. My wife is expecting me. It will be alright!"
Something told me to trust this guy, so I walked with him over to his Dodge Ram 3500 and got in. He was a really nice man. He had an easy laugh and listened as if he thrived upon every word. I told him about my cow story and he laughed like there was no tomorrow. We drove down a long drive to a beautiful ranch. There was a red house on a hill behind the main house.
When we got out of the truck, five kids ran up and hugged him. A woman followed them and gave him a passionate kiss. The kids laughed and I stood there uncomfortably. She looked over at me with a smile and said, "What's wrong with you? Never seen a woman kiss her husband before?" The kids laughed and I just stood there!
She introduced herself as Shawna and told Justin (the husband) to bring me into the house. Before I went in, I looked at the beautiful mountains and hills that spread across the area. It was breathtaking! And the horses! They were absolutely beautiful. I went in, washed up and had a breakfast like you would find in a Las Vegas hotel - pancakes, biscuits, eggs, sausage (none for me, thanks), and fruit. Everything!
I was wondering just as you, the reader, so I asked Justin and Shawna if they were in the habit of inviting strangers to their home. After breakfast, Shawna got the kids up and had them to go outside. After they were gone, she sat back down and Justin told me that on this very day seven years ago, his father, Jim, died. Jim (on his deathbed) told Justin that when he was about twenty years old and an appliance repairman in Los Angeles, he went to a house to repair a refrigerator in a very run-down area of Watts. None of the other repairmen wanted to go into the area. While there, he was touched by a liitle girl with a beautiful smile. He recalled how she kept calling him "Mister."
Justin's father told him that the little girl was studying the Rocky Mountains in her class and kept saying how much she wanted to go there to see if they were as high as they were in the pictures. Jim assured her that they were, having traveled through while trying to pick up the pieces of his troubled young life. The little girl asked Jim if he had a girlfriend and he said no.
"Mister, my mama don't have no boyfriend neither." Jim told Justin that, the mother was certainly pretty enough but he was still trying to find himself and, well, the times were still hostile to interracial relationships. After completion of the job, he told the little girl to be good in school. "Mister, will you come back?"
"Sure. Mind your mother, you hear?" Jim told Justin that he thought of the little girl (her name was Tanya) and her mother often and about six months later, he was back in the neighborhood fixing an appliance for a customer. He got up the nerve to stop and say hello.
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Tragedy to Friendship
A woman (the little girl's aunt) came to the door and told Jim that the mother and little girl were driving to visit the Rocky Mountains when they were struck and killed by a semi-trailer during heavy rain, about three weeks prior. The aunt told Jim that the mother had saved as much money as she could to take that girl on the trip. Jim left the house heartbroken.
"Justin, I don't know if the mother and I could have made it. But I could have been friends with them. I have a beautiful family and I have loved your mother and brothers and sisters dearly. But I have never forgotten about Tanya and her mother," Jim said on his deathbed.
Justin looked at me and said, "Dex, my father became a very successful businessman. We lived in California most of our lives but he bought this ranch in the Rockies because he found peace here. I brought my family here after my Dad died. We really love it here. He made me promise that every year on the anniversary of his death that I do something special for someone. He told me that if I am ever in a position to help someone, to just do it."
I was not able to move on my own accord.
Justin continued. "I was out walking this morning and thinking of my Dad when I heard this scream and saw you running. I went over to see what was happening and saw you stop and then go back and take pictures of that coyote. I followed as you walked to the Poudre River. Dude, you looked hungry and I know it is supposed to rain later this afternoon. I just knew that my Dad would want me to help you out!"
Shawna chimed in and said, "Every year since Jim died, we have traveled around the anniversary of his death so that we can keep his promise on the actual day. We have been to China, Ghana, France and other places. We decided to stay home this year. This breakfast is part of the anniversary celebration of his death and I am so glad that you are now a part of it."
I played with the kids, rode an ATV and enjoyed sitting and talking while the rains poured outside that evening. Yes, I spent the night. The next day, as Justin prepared to drive me back to my vehicle at the starting point of my amazing trip, I gave Shawna and her kids big hugs. I thanked them all and we embraced again as if we had known each other for years. Upon arriving at my vehicle, I thanked Justin and told him that he had a remarkable family. He told me that he had a remarkable father. He said that as a result of his death, he had met some wonderful friends over the last seven years.
"Hey," I said. "What if I didn't take your offer to come over to your house for breakfast?"
"I put my faith and trust in God. A good spirit speaks to another good spirit," Justin remarked.
An Amazing Trip
I had so much to think about during my drive back to Chicago. Certainly, my encounters with the cows, deer and the coyote. And of course, falling down, running out of toilet paper and food. More importantly, I found that there still are really good people around and that a friend is just a "hello" away.
When I got back into cell phone coverage, I called my wife to let her know I was fine. I then called that friend, as you may recall from Part 1, who joked about me being the same color as the deer and to watch out because I might become the venison during my trip. I told him that I had some trying times during my trip, but that I really learned some life lessons. Humor, courage, perseverance and trust got me through.
It has been almost two months since I completed my trip and I have kept in touch with Justin and Shawna regularly. It is really amazing how we are connected. A little girl had a profound effect upon a young man. A son keeps a promise to a father. A family opens its home to a stranger. Life is an amazing trip. We come into this world alone. But life is so much more worthwhile when we can share our good times and lean on others during the bad times. While I may have started this trip alone, I had some help along the way. An amazing trip is out there for you as well, if you haven't experienced it yet. And you know what is so great about it? You may start out alone, but if you open your heart and have faith and trust, and sprinkle in some humor and perseverance, you won't have to go through it alone.
Copyright 2011 - Dexter Yarbrough