Day 82 & 83 – Wyola the Few…Wyola the Mighty!

Okay, we already know that the required rest days seem to be getting closer and closer together. Day 82 was no different. I began to walk on Day 82, but with bad weather looming, I easily convinced myself that I should spend the day getting some ZZZZZ’s in Sheridan.

Sheridan, for those of you that haven’t been there, is a beautiful little town. From my experience, I think its one of the coolest towns I have ever been to in Wyoming. All services you can imagine, beautiful backdrop with the Big Horn Mountains and a vibrant energy that is more than ranchers and oil workers. Not that there is anything wrong with that…I’m just saying.

On day 83, all I could think about was getting to, and past, the Montana border. It’s my home state and I was looking forward to seeing some familiar places. That of course is still another 130 miles away.

Before the Montana border, the most memorable part was a little store in the town of Parkway, approximately 15 miles before the border. The town consisted of a little store/bar…nothing more. At the store, they sold t-shirts with the following written on them:

” Custer should have stopped here”  Now that’s some funny stuff right there…

A common thread on this trek has been people voluntarily sharing information or providing warnings about what I’m soon to encounter. Whether it’s bad weather, steep hills, rough parts of town, rabid dogs or even Indian reservations. Immediately upon crossing the Montana border, I was entering one million acres of the Crow Indian reservation. I was warned to be careful about the lack of police enforcement and potential knuckle-heads. I understood what they were saying, but I couldn’t be strangled with their past experience or stereotyping. I marched forward and looked to create my own experience.

A proud nation with a long history of contributions to America! On this trip, probably most notable for their partnership with the Northern Cheyenne and Arikara nations to defeat Custer. Within just a few miles of entering Montana, my experience with the Crow nation began. Left-Hand and Corrine pulled-up beside me and asked me what I was doing. After a brief conversation, they both shook my hand and wished me well on my journey. Next came E.J. and Tina, who found me looking for a place to camp on the outskirts of Wyola, MT. Again, shaking my hand and recommending that I make camp at the local church in town.

E.J. and Tina directed me to the church and then quickly had to go. They said if the church didn’t work out, that a place on their couch was available as a back-up plan. This generosity was just the beginning of my experience in Crow country.

I was now in front of the Wyola Baptist church. Established in 1934 and on a good day, a congregation of about 30 people. Today was the beginning of their annual revival and spiritual meetings. As part of the celebration, a large circus-like tent is erected outside for outside worship. In front of the tent, I walked up to, and met, Corky Yellow-Tail. I asked Corky if he would mind if I pitched my tent on their property for the evening. His response was simply; “Are you hungry”? I said “yes” and he directed me to the basement where they were just wrapping up their potluck. He told me to get some food in me first, then we will worry about the tent later.

Downstairs I was immediately introduced to no-less  than 20+ people. After about the first 10, my retention of names was quickly maxed out! Most of the food had been eaten, but they did have hot dogs and rice-crispy treats left. They apologized for not having more. Are you kidding me?! They obviously didn’t realize that rice-krispy treats have been my dietary staple for the last 30+ years.  Yeah Baby!!

The group fed and entertained me for the next hour. I learned about them individually, as Christians, and some of their history in the area. I must admit, very few times in my life have I felt so immediately accepted by a group of people. Towards the end of eating, Corky told me that the deacons had spoken, and that they would like me to stay inside their church tonight. This was fantastic! Mainly because outside was skeeters the size of  a Chevy Geo.

In order to stay, they asked if I would attend their 7am service in the morning. After the service, they would feed me breakfast and send me on my way. My response was a non-delayed “YES OF COURSE”!

Everybody left the church rather quickly. Their homes located anywhere from a couple of miles to 50-miles from the church. Locked inside, I made myself comfortable on an 8-ft long couch and relaxed for the night. Looking forward to spending time with them in the morning, I also felt a sting of guilt for having some fear of what I might encounter in Crow country. Those fears experienced by others…I couldn’t relate.

I hope I get a chance to provide guidance/advice to future travelers across the state of Montana.

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