Saturday, November 5, 2011


Recently, I was hanging out in the hallway between the library and the lounge, I was chatting with some students. At the end of the hallway is a door, which one can exit out of but not come in. All of our exits are like this because our students are precious gold so they are locked in like the gold at Fort Knox. The students aren’t allowed to exit out this door. This is another way to keep tabs on the students. One of the students I was talking to happened to casually saunter over to the door, open it, and walk out. As I was about to say, “Hey, Buddy, you can’t go out that door,” the three other students’ eyes became as big as saucers, their chests filled with excitement and all three of them in unison yelled, “SHORTCUT,” and they bolted through that door and were gone.

I laughed. It reminded me of my brother-in-law, Caren’s husband, Darrell. Darrell is a Montana boy through and through, born-and-raised. He knows every highway, byway, farm road, dirt road, path and trail in Montana or so he thinks. We call him Shortcut. Every time Caren and I get ready to prepare our route to travel around Montana or across country Darrell will pipe up, “Hey, I know a shortcut.”

We grimace and mumble under our breaths, “Oh, no, not a shortcut.” Darrell has sent us on “shortcuts” that the digital voice on my phone’s GPS system robotically states throughout the trip, “You-must-turn a-round-make-a-u-turn-at-the-next-exit-turn-now-turn-now-turn-now!” I swear she mumbles under her robotic breath, “ Oh-no-not-a-Dar-rell-short-cut!”

Whenever Darrell sends us on a shortcut it always happens to go through the town of Moesha. Caren and I always start giggling when he starts to say, “I know a shortcut that goes through Moesha.”

Here is the worst part, well, for us, not for Darrell. We argue, squabble, giggle and shout our mantra, “Stop, I am going to pee,” but we take the shortcut and he is ALWAYS right. We bounce over washboard roads. We count and dodge cows as we drive through a farmer’s pasture and we still shave time off of our trip. Caren I could be lost for an hour and a half trying to find the wooded horse trail to Moesha and still shave two hours off our trip. And we raise our fists to God and shout, “Why does he always get to be right? Just once, God, just once!”

And then it happened. Unfortunately, I wasn’t there but here is the story as Caren told it:
Darrell and I were in Montana and I wanted to go for a hike. It is a hike that I have done before. It is two miles in and two miles out.  I generally hike about two miles per hour. I have done the hike many times. I like it because I know where I am going, it is a strenuous hike and it only takes two hours. Darrell decided was going to go with me. I believe the reason that Darrell always wants to take shortcuts is that he gets easily bored and doesn’t like looking at the same trees and bushes. So, I specifically said to him, “Darrell, if you go with Osa (the dog) and me on this hike, we will stay on the trail. There will be no bushwhacking. There will be no shortcut.” He sheepishly agreed.

Well, the three of us hike to the end of trail. It takes exactly one hour. I proceeded to turn around and start my one hour back and Darrell says, “You know, Babe, if we go this way, just over that ridge is a trail back to the car and we will get there much quicker.”

“No, Darrell.”

“Come on, just walk up to the ridge with me and I will show you.”

“No, Darrell. I have things I have to do at home. I told you we were going to stay on the trail. One hour in, one hour out, please.”

“But, Babe, this will be better. Have I ever steered you wrong?”

Darrell was absolutely positively sure that we would come to a road and we could take the road to our car that was parked about five miles south of our house near Flathead Lake. As any good obedient wife (which I AM NOT) and faithful dog would do, we followed Darrell. Two hours hours, and no water left in our bottles later, we came upon a road where Darrell proceeded to start jogging down the road with obedient wife and faithful dog lagging behind. As Osa and I stopped to catch our breath I shouted, “Darrell, I don’t think this is the right road. This doesn’t look right. I don’t recognize any of the trees.”

“This is the right road. How do you recognize a tree? They all have brown trunks and pine needles.”

“My Indian name happens to be She-Who-Recognizes-Trees!”

“Look. We can see the lake so we are not lost.”

Four miles and over two hours later, we end up at the exact same spot that She-Who-Recognizes-Trees (that would be me) told Darrell that it was the wrong road.

Our dog, Osa, sat down next to Darrell, she eyed the trees knowingly, got up, walked over to me, sat down, and looked at Darrel as if to say, “My Indian name is The-Faithful-Dog-of-She-Who-Recognizes-Trees. Where she leads, I will follow.” I led us through the bushes to the RIGHT road where I recognized the trees. If we stood just right and held our right arm in the air, we could get cell phone service. Darrell called his mom and told her to try and find us. I don’t know how she was going to do that, but Anne knows the huckleberry picking roads better than Darrell. I looked at Darrell and said, “Osa and I are flagging down the next truck that passes our way. I don’t care, if it is occupied by the next Montana serial killer, Osa and I are getting in the truck.” I flagged down the next truck, we jumped in the back of the truck and the driver dropped us off at the Ferndale Volunteer Fire House that happens to be eight miles northeast of our house. I called Darrell’s mom to come and pick us up. She had packed food and water for all of us. Good thing the sun doesn’t set in Montana in the summer until 11:00 p.m.

Anne dropped Osa and me off at he house and took Darrell to get the car. Darrell insisted we take the car to look for the trailhead we missed. We originally missed it by about thirty yards. Our four-mile, two hour hike turned into a fifteen-mile, eight hour hike.

If you ever happen to be hiking in the vicinity of Bigfork, Montana and you see She-Who-Recognizes-Trees and the-Faithful-Dog-of-She-Who-Recognizes-Trees followed by a obedient husband with thinning blonde hair shout, “Hey, He-Who-Thinks-He-Knows-A-Shortcut-Through-Moesha, how’s it going?”

Paco’s Perspective
Hey, I have been hiking with Darrell on one of his “shortcuts” and my Indian name was Short-One-with-Thistles-Stuck-to-His-Butt. Never again!

The Flip Side

My Indian name is Flip. Right?

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