I am in the great city of Great Falls, Montana. I am glad to be here for oh-so-many reasons, not the least of which that we had plane troubles en route. Losing an engine is never a good thing! We were “diverted” to Spokane and then, after many hours, sent back to Seattle to start all over again. It took me less time to get to Qatar than it did to get to Great Falls!
But once I arrived, it was well worth it. The Montana Reading Association is made up of the nicest folks you can imagine, including Tara Hagins who waited up until 12:30 a.m. to pick me up at the airport! Of course, I was scheduled for the first keynote of the morning. Of course. I think I managed to be somewhat coherent for my talk and then signed books and chatted with lovely librarians and reading teachers for over an hour afterward. I got the chance to greet old friend Sneed Collard III but his fans wouldn’t let me chat with him too long. I also met the singing and dancing author Stephen Swinborne and Christopher Carlson, whose presentation I missed because of my delayed flight.
One of the loveliest things about the conference was being able to accept Mary’s and my Treasure State Award for the Two Bobbies.
Today, I saw small town kindness in action. I decided I would take the city bus downtown to the library, which also houses the Cascade County Historical Society. Of course, I was waiting on the wrong side of the street but, when I waved at the driver, he not only stopped, he made sure I got off at the proper stop and got down out of the bus to show me where to pick it up for the return!!! Can you believe it? But the generosity didn’t stop there. After hitting the library book sale (where I scored 4 issues of Montana: The Magazine of Western History), I wandered into the rooms of the historical society, on the 3rd floor of the library. There, I was taken under the wing of Jan Thompson, coincidentally one of the original 30 founders of the Montana Reading Association. She helped me find materials I was looking for and even hooked me up with an employee of the Planning Department who — even though the Planning offices were closed — walked me down the block and across the street to unlock the building so she could photocopy some maps I was looking for!! But wait — there’s more! The historical society ladies let me stay an hour past the closing time AND one of them drove me back to my hotel. I can still hardly believe it.
Tomorrow may bring snow but it will certainly bring Sharon Redfern who is my ride to Lewistown, where I’ll spend this coming school week visiting 15 or so schools.
I can hardly wait!
Yikes, Kirby! That plane trip sounded like a nightmare. Glad you finally made it to Montana safe and sound (if exhausted). Have a great time doing your school visits, and I hope the trip back will be on time and completely uneventful.