Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Night in the Mountains

It was 8.20 pm, one summer day in Wyoming, The United States. My family had just had one of the most wondrous holiday driving experience. We went up to a snow-capped mountain unknowingly and it was summer! At several thousand feet above sea level, the weather up at the mountains in Wyoming was perpetually cold with snow always dominating the landscape.
That was only one to two hours ago. And we were still on the road on the lookout for a lodging place to put up for the night. Now as the curtains of the night were drawing down, we were stuck in the middle of nowhere! There was no town, no petrol kiosk, not a single soul. Instead, we were surrounded by an expanse of wilderness and the road sign read “Big Horn National Forest”. There was another not so helpful signboard that indicated one would have to U-turn back as the road ahead would be closed if the weather turned inclement. There was no reception for our hand-phones. There was no street lights. The saving grace were the light reflectors which bounced the light from our car, guiding us up the mountain road. And yes, our GPS which was cranky just now, was working fine. We were all praying that it would remain so.
The elements of nature could be highly unpredictable and anxiety was running high in me. I looked at my husband who was taking the driver seat. He replied with a reassuringly tone “I guess we would just press on.” Along the way, our car was crawling as my husband was unfamiliar with the terrain. He stopped once to avoid a mule deer dashing across the road. We also chanced upon a dead mule deer in the middle of the road. It was knocked down by a passing vehicle and we felt sad for a life lost.
“Mama, you see outside, you see, you see.” My elder boy shouted excitedly with his finger pointing towards the side window of the car. “It is snowing!”
My younger boy who was until now fast asleep, stirred and opened his bleary eyes. His eyes instantaneously widened and he was fully awaken to take in sight of the falling white snow draped the surrounding landscape.
“Daddy, can we go out and play.” He asked innocently.
“No, sweetheart.” My husband replied gently. “Look the temperature outside is subzero.” He pointed to the thermometer indicator in the car.
“We are not dressed for the occasion.” He smiled and stopped the car. “Let’s just take in the sight.”
It was then snowing intensely and my husband decided to stop and wait out for the storm to be over.
“Country road take me home, to the place I belong....” I began to sing and smiled encouraging at my two children to join me to keep our spirits high.
Snowstorm cleared shortly. Somehow up at mountains it was not as dark as I initially feared. There was still moonlight and it also lit up our moods somehow.
Just then, we saw a pair of red eyes staring at us straight in the face. It was the rear light of another car. Somehow, we were glad that to know that there was another human being in this place. We then tailed it as closely as possible and it led us out of the mountains before turning into a farm. We felt a strange swirl of relieved that we were out of the mountain but sad that while the driver in front was home, we were still in search of the next town, where the modern day comfort beckoned.
We passed by two small towns with a population of 500 to 800 before we reached the next bigger town and called it a day. For all that we have gone through, it has taught a very invaluable life lesson.
“While we can be prepared, unexpected events can still happen. Persevere and believe that good things will come.”
We went up the Big Horn Forest by accident. Yet, it gave us the unique opportunity to test our strength of our nerves and our ability to remain calm in adversity. This will help us through to face with the toughest challenge in our life. After all, we have done in when our lives were at stake.
It is the same thing for us toastmasters. We need to prepare for our speeches but sometimes the unexpected can still happen. Perseverance and belief is our ticket out of the situation.

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