70 Days, 7000 Miles-Days 35, 36, 37, 38

July 29, 30, 31-August 1, 2001

IMG_2386I’m on the road again and in Deer Lodge, Montana found the nicest fabric store. I thought about my neighbor who quilts.  She would love this two story shop.


Inspired, I bought a pattern and some coordinating fabric to make a fly fishing wall quilt to commemorate my trip.


(This is the quilt that I made when I got home. It now hangs in my Adirondack style screened porch. Two places have come together but to the trout and nature it’s all one beautiful world.)

I got a campsite near Missoula, Montana. I like to make a campfire, drink my coffee and read for an hour or so in the morning.  A lot of times I have to hide deep in my site so I’m not disturbed.  People see my New York State license plate and that I’m traveling alone  and want to know what I’m doing so far from home.  They are just trying to be nice but sometimes I  just need a little quiet time.

For some reason, one afternoon  I felt like heading home. The thought was very persistent. But I had made a 70 day promise to myself or some strange force had planted the promise in me.   They say in life we don’t regret the things we did as much as the things we didn’t do.  Good life lessons are crystalizing for me everyday. They are catching light and strengthening within their faceted structures. They make me happy as they flutter beams in all the colors of the rainbow across my mind. I am glad for it all, the variety and all the possibilities ahead. I can’t give up.

Some people in the campgrounds invited me to join them for their family reunion.  I had fun and my first elk burger.

70 days, 7000 Miles-Days 33 and 34

July 27 & 28, 2001


I’m no longer worried about how I look. Gave that up about two weeks ago. I’m good enough just the way I am…… acceptance.  I feel strong.  I have been brave all my life. Yes, I have done cowardly things  but I have had enough courage to never give up hope.  There is a Buddhist quote, “fall down seven times, get up eight”.  I have fallen a lot put I always get up and go forward.

It rained so I am staying another day in Butte, Montana in a motel. It’s nice to be in a regular bed and the room phone gives me a chance to call my family and to be in contact with the places that handle my bills so I can send out checks in the right amount.

Staying put. Flowing, not hurrying. A bookstore appears. And then another and then one more. Heaven on a rainy day.

I see that Julia Cameron the author of The Artist’s Way, has another book, Heart Steps. I find a chair and sit down with this  book of “Prayers and Declarations for the Creative Life”. Praying has been on my mind.  Prayers for my smoking tires. Prayers of gratitude for being able to take this trip. Prayers to become a writer because writing has been a part of me since I was a little girl.

Julia Cameron wrote,'”I surrender my anxiety and my sense of urgency………I open my heart to God’s timing. I release my deadlines, agendas, and stridency to the gentle yet often swift pacing of God……..As I relax into God’s timing, my heart contains comfort. As I allow God to set the tone and schedule of my days, I find myself in the right time and place, open and available to God’s opportunities.”

Wow! I buy this book!

I moved on to the next book store, find a book about growing old and another comfy chair. The author wrote about having value in one’s later years by finding purpose.

“Those who have found some purpose in life do have one conviction in common; they all have faith in their intuitive sense of direction……..Great healers have always understood that intuition is the conscious voice of a deeper wisdom within us and our ability to live a satisfying existence depends on our willingness to surrender to that voice, wherever it might lead us.”

What a great few days of insight.  I have always believed in the saying, “when we are ready, a teacher will appear”.

And there is one last thing today.  I pray for peace because there has been  a lot of conflict in my life.  I’m hoping for the skills to express my needs and feelings more effectively so people don’t hurt me and I don’t hurt them. I was never taught how to do that.  Now I’m confident that knowledge will come.

Thank you, God, for this journey and all my blessings.


70 Days, 7000 miles-Day 32


July 26, 2001

Virginia City, Montana

Wow! A old time Western town.  What a surprise! What a great way to spend a day!







When I left  Virginia City, I had to go down a steep mountain.  At times, I could smell the brakes or the rubber on the tires or whatever. Scary.  Hope I didn’t do anything bad to the van. A lone traveler’s nightmare,  car problems.  Keeping my fingers crossed.


70 Days, 7000 Miles-Days 29, 30, and 31

July 23, 24, 25, 2001


My next stop was Ennis, Montana on the Madison River and a RV campgrounds.  I got a campsite that was a treeless patch of gravel with a picnic table. I tried to put up my “cabana” ( an open tent top to cover the picnic table) but it was too windy.  I did get an invitation to go to a party in one of the large RVs but I was more interested in going fishing.  I had seen a beautiful blue fishing shirt in one of the fly shops and sternly told myself  I couldn’t buy it unless I actually caught a fish in the Madison River. Anything less just wouldn’t be right.


After I ate some dinner, I headed out on the river. I caught a fish right away but the hook was deep down in his throat.  I tried and tried to get it out and soon the poor fish was bleeding in my hand. When I put him in the water he just floated away on top.  I love nature and my destructive act made me feel bad. If a person takes the time to really analyze the sport of  catch and release fly fishing it can broken down into three steps. (1) Catch the fish. (2) Scare the bajeesoms out of it. (3) Put it back in the water so it can be caught and scared again.  Struggling with my conscience, I vowed to be more careful  in the future and never kill a trout again.

Fishing is a lot like gambling in a casino, you don’t want to stop until you get a hit. The sun was going down and I knew the diminishing light was in my favor.   As it got  darker and darker, I  became obsessed with the periwinkle fishing shirt..  Finally something took the fly and I reeled it in. It had to be the smallest trout in the world, two inches long. But it was a trout and it counted. I could get my shirt!


I was told the next morning I had missed the RV party.  Will people in expensive RVs with large cars in tow ever understand the heart of a fly fishing woman? I apologized and found another campsite with trees. I met some cross country bicyclers there. They were amazing. They traveled thousands of miles and then flew themselves and their bikes back to where they started. It made me realize that if I told people I was traveling cross country I needed to clearly explain that I was doing it by minivan. Big difference!




An Apology to My Readers


IMG_1482This Autonomous Traveler is behind in her blog posts because she traveled autonomously this week!

I went to Ottawa, Canada to see a special exhibit of impressionist artists at the Canadian National Art Gallery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As usual, I immersed myself in this travel experience. On one of the gallery walls was a quote from the French artist, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796-1875). “Reality is part of art, feeling completes it.” A woman I met this winter, Inez Bracy, a self proclaimed “audacious living coach” (inezbracy.com), told me to write from my trance. I didn’t know exactly what she meant until I saw Corot’s quote.   Our true power  is something beyond reality, science and reason. It is the unexplainable light that moves us outside ourselves and toward something higher and creative. I am so glad I believe.

Corot’s words sums up how I feel about traveling and what I want to convey in my blog postings. I write about the reality of the places I visit but I also want my readers to know what I learned, what I felt, and what I have become because of the journey.  I want to convey the essence of my experiences  with something more than just the five senses. I want to reach hearts and souls and encourage people to go on their own journeys of discovery and not only see the world but feel it.


70 days, 7000 Miles-Days 26, 27, 28

July 20, 21, 22, 2001

Big Sky, Montana and The Gallatin River.


Time to stay put for a few days and do some fishing on the beautiful Gallatin River.


This river is perfect for me, the inapt but earnest  fly fishing woman.  It’s shallow and calm. I can easily wade in it and cast without tangling in the trees. I did catch a small fish but in a very unconventional way.  I slipped on a rock, fell forward onto a very large boulder, and when I stood up I had a trout on my line. I reeled him in, set him free, and whispered a “thank you” to Mother Nature and a “go figure” to myself.


I read and ate some of my meals on the river.  One day when I was fishing a deeper section of the river, a small tour boat went by.  I was in my full fly fishing woman outfit; waders, boots, vest, and hat.  I could hear the tour guide directing the attention of the group toward me.  Remembering the words of my state’s often repeated tourism motto, I stood at attention, smiled and in my best attempt at a spokesperson voice, shouted, “I love New York but I really love Montana!” I sometimes scare myself.  Luckily, I will never see any of those people again.


I met a really nice couple, Tim and Mary, who were staying in the same campground.  They invited me to go fishing with them and taught me how to keep the leader floating in front of the line a little longer and stuff about drag and working the shore. Because of them I caught a few more trout and I didn’t have to fall on a rock to do it.

Good days on the Gallatin.