I’m going to start today with a random memory. There’s a good chance it will be just that – a random, unrelated story – but it came to me while I was driving yesterday and made me laugh, so I thought I’d share. It’s kind of embarrassing. Maybe it will seem relevant by the end, maybe not.

*

In 2005 I was living in a place called Navan, Ireland, 45 minutes north of Dublin. I was working as a bartender in a pub with a disco in the basement, and often didn’t straggle home until 8 or 9 in the morning. This particular morning I was headed home early, about 530, just as the sun was rising. It was a fair walk back to the house – about 25 minutes – up a country road, past a cow field, into a development adjacent the river Boyne. I made the walk so frequently I could’ve guessed the exact number of steps within ten.

This one morning I was cranky and exhausted. I don’t remember exactly why, but all I wanted to do was crawl into bed and sleep until 3 pm, when I’d wake up and do it all over again. I didn’t stop to chat with the yellow-eyed cows, as I normally did. I was six steps from the front door – about the length of a car – when out of nowhere, and with no one around to see it, a bird crapped directly on my head.

Splat! It was a perfect shot: right on the back of the noggin. It dripped down my neck like warm yougurt. I never saw my assailant, but I knew he’d been saving that wet bullet for someone special.

I remember standing in the steamy shower afterward, amazed at what had just happened. I mean, really, a staggering number of things had to happen to put me in that exact place at that exact moment. I had to move to Ireland; I had to go to Galway, and not be able to find a job; I had to take a bus across the country, walk into a bar called Rowley’s with my bags on my shoulders; I had to be hired; I had to choose a place to live; I had to leave “after-cleanup-drinks” early, before I’d even finished my beer; ect. Any one of those things is changed in even some small way – say, I’d chosen to live up the road, or I’d stopped to tie my shoe- anything different, and that bird poop splatters on the sidewalk. I’m a ghost. I’m never there.

*

After my conversation with Walter, I drove west with the windows down and the radio off. I made it about an hour before I spotted a senior center in a little town called Lincoln, Montana. I’d estimate the number of illegal U-turns I’ve made thus far is well over 1,000.

The folks inside invited me in for a chicken sandwich, tater tots (!), and ice cream…and this was exactly why I didn’t bring any guide book. The only way to learn about a place is from the people. They told me stories, one in particular that stuck with me. Apparently a man up the road had been having trouble with a bear. The bear had ripped the side off the man’s shed and kept coming back every day, inching closer and closer to the house. The children were terrified.

The man tried everything he could think of to chase off the bear. He banged pots and pans; he fired his gun into the air. Finally, as the bear crept ever closer, he took the bear in his sights, finger curled on the trigger. Just then, in another room, his wife turned on the vaccuum. The 600-pound bear dropped down on all fours and sprinted back into the woods and never came back.

And so there is your piece of advice for the day: if you’re ever being stalked by a bear, you can chase it off with a Hoover.

*

After lunch, I pulled onto a dirt road to jot down a few notes and get a drink from the cooler. I drove down a few feet and found a river there – a perfect place for me to record a video about the bear story. What happened next is explained in the video (sorry I wrote so much!).

Thanks to the Sidor family for an amazing afternoon!



3 responses to “Day 10 (Pt. 2) – Fishing the Blackfoot”

  1. Anonymous says:

    such beautiful place…getting the itch to travel. loved the random navan story and the reminder of your first irish friends…the cows
    Emily

  2. PANTS says:

    I laughed out loud about the bird poop… had you had a pumpkin costume on you probably still would have gotten drilled by the bird poop, but it would have made the story even better, just saying you should always travel with a pumpkin costume.

  3. Please somehow dress your card in a pumpkin costume.

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