Monday, August 20, 2012

Shelby: The Town So Friendly You'll Never Leave!

As we cruised down out of the mountains I was feeling pretty good. We were making good time, the car temp was finally back to normal, and there were no more crazy mountains to climb before home. Nothing but smooth sailing ahead. We were doing so good that I impulsively decided to stop at a farmer's market in the little town of Shelby. Just to prolong the fun a little bit.

I parked on a side street, then Caleb and I strolled along the rows of booths. After buying a few items we headed back to the car, ready to keep moving. But the car wouldn't start. No problem, we waited a half hour or so, then tried again.

And again......

And again......

And again......

I finally had to make Caleb stop while I still had a starter left! I was all for sleeping in the van again, but my dear family insisted on the safety of a motel room. We walked up to the O'haire Motel, an establishment that hadn't changed much since the glory days of the 50's. I paid an exorbitant amount, got my key (yes, a real key), and walked outside to find my little apartment.

Caleb and I relaxed a bit, turned on the TV to catch some Olympics, and tried to unwind. Our settling-in process was soon interrupted by the sound of a key turning in the lock. I went to open the door and found a rather embarrassed gentleman standing there. Turns out the elderly desk clerk had double-booked our room. He was very apologetic about it when he found out, but it did make the stay more memorable!

Shelby is a neat old town. Lots of neon signs and old brick buildings.
The next day Caleb and I made contact with a car repair shop. Turns out that the one people most recommended "happened" to be only a few hundred feet from where we parked the day before. The repair guy was able to haul our van up to the shop using only his four-wheeler. That was nice since my AAA didn't kick in for 3 more days.  The diagnosis was grim....I needed a new starter, which would not get there until Monday.

A cool alley off Main Street.
The O'haire Motel was better than sleeping in a field, and I'll give credit where credit is due---there were no bed bugs. But I still didn't relish paying a total of $300 for anything less than extreme luxury. And the O'haire Motel was less. It was very less.

So I called my pastor, on his way out to Chicago, and his wife looked up the local pastor's phone #. Out in Montana, "local" is a relative term; he lived 120 miles away, but he was able to call a member that lived in Shelby and ask if they would take in two waifs and one pooch-waif for the weekend. Thankfully, they said "yes", so that is how we came to spend a few days with Evelyn and PJ.

Evelyn and PJ are a delightful couple in their 80's. They've been married for 64 years, and when they said "for better or for worse", they meant it. PJ has Alzheimer's and Evelyn is his devoted caregiver. What a living testimony they both are---truly living out what it means to be like Jesus.

We went to church with them on Sabbath and had a great time meeting the members there. It's a pretty small church; Caleb and I brought that day's attendance to 12, but it has a warm and welcoming heart. I got to sing a special music with no accompaniment, a feat that would have been unthinkable back in my shy days. Oh, well, I gave up being shy years ago----too much work.

Overlooking Shelby
I spent the whole weekend feeling such thankfulness with how God had worked things out. The number one praise was that my car hadn't quit on that awful Going-to-the-Sun Road, or anyplace up in the mountains. God stopped us right by a repair shop, and just before we heading into a 120 mile stretch without a large town. If the van had died out there, the towing bill would have been horrific.

Where I spent the weekend.
It was like sleeping in a fabric store!
Can you think of anything more relaxing?
Then He arranged for us to spend the weekend with some wonderful people instead of cramped in a hotel room. Even that worked out perfectly. I was all set to pre-pay when I "happened" to ask if they had a no-smoking room available instead. The guy said yes, but the guy hadn't checked out yet, so come back in a few hours and pay then. Before it was time to check in I had another place to stay. And staying with Evelyn and PJ was like staying with my grandparents back in the day...those of you who knew them can imagine what I'm talking about.

But even impromptu and forced spiritual retreats must come to an end. We ended up with a delicious spaghetti feed Monday afternoon, gave hugs to everyone, and took our leave. The van was running and I was eager to make it as far as I could. We pulled out of the repair shop and onto Main Street headed eastbound.

And stopped.

Really, Shelby. You need to learn how to let go. Sometimes relationships just don't work out and you have to let the other person move on. 

Eventually they moved the train and we were able to leave. God kept the ol' van going the whole way home and we arrived at midnight Monday night. Whew! What a vacation it had turned out to be! Of course, there was a price to be paid for my long absence. I harvested the garden just before I left and felt quite overwhelmed with the volume. It filled up TWO SINKS! Partly!

That was just the warning shot. After being left to its own devices for almost a week, sinks were not big enough anymore. This is getting ridiculous, but don't expect me to grow less next year. I'm a garden hoarder---I must always grow more than before.

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