Marc Moss: Welcome to the Tell Us Something podcast, I’m Marc Moss.
We are currently looking for storytellers for the next Tell Us Something storytelling event. The theme is “Didn’t See That Coming!” If you’d like to pitch your story for consideration, please call 406-203-4683. You have 3 minutes to leave your pitch.
The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Tell Us Something acknowledges that we are in the aboriginal territories of the Salish and Kalispel people. The land we walk on, recreate on, grow our food on and live on is sacred land.Being mindful is a practice. We may not always be mindful of the gift that the land gives us and the wisdom that it has.We take this moment to honor the land and its Native people and the stories that they share with us.
This week on the podcast…
Rachel Bemis: I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.
Darius Janczewski: when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country.
Katrina Farnum: I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot.
Jeff Ducklow: Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep.
Marc Moss:…four storytellers share their true personal story on the theme “Stone Soup”. Their stories were recorded live in-person in front of a sold-out crowd on March 30, 2022 at The Wilma in Missoula, MT.
We wouldn’t have been able to produce this event without the help of our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. We are so grateful to the team at Blackfoot for their support. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.
Our first story comes to us from Rachel Bemis. Rachel Bemis visits New York City with her Poppa, who sleeps through much of the trip. She sees her Top Chef favorite and yells out the tour bus window, “I’m not your b*tch, b*tch!” at him and no one reacts. Rachel calls her story Sleepy New York” or “An Adventure with Papa”. Thanks for listening.
Rachel Bemis: It was the summer of 2007. I was 27 years old living in Missoula. I worked as a real estate lender and also served on a nonprofit board and I had a dirty little secret. I loved reality shows and my standards were very low
of love. Rock of love, project runway. We’re getting up there top chef, little better.
But after a long day, I absolutely loved watching a good show and reality stars became the new celebrities of our time. I had an upcoming trip planned. I had a work conference in Washington, DC, and I had traveled, you know, before, but I had never spent any time on the east coast. And I decided if I was going to be there for work for a week, I might as well add New York to the list.
Why not spend a few days in New York city checking out all of the sites. But the number one thing that was on my list is I wanted to meet a celebrity. And when I say celebrity, I mean a reality star. So the trip was planned. The tickets were purchased. Of course, I was going to go see the Lincoln Memorial Lincoln Memorial Lincoln monument, big priority.
I was certainly going to see the things that my mom told me I needed to see purchase the tickets. But of course, I also wanted to see a reality star. So like many of my trips, one of my weekly phone calls was to my wonderful grandfather. Papa Papa was 77 years old. We were 50 years and four days apart, he lived in Sacramento, California.
He loved hearing about my adventures. So I gave him a call, let him know what my plans were. I’m going to go to Washington DC. I’m going to jump on the Greyhound bus. I’m going to spend three days in New York and this was my plan. Okay, great. Super supportive. I felt very confident traveling on my own. A couple of days after I got off the phone with Papa, Papa gave me a call and said, I just want to let you know that I spoke with Ruth.
Ruth was his wife of six years. Not my grandmother. They were having some marital problems. And he said, I just wanted to let you know that I told Ruth about your trip. And I let her know that your travel companion canceled and that you didn’t feel comfortable traveling alone.
that I’m going to fly to New York to be with you.
And again, he lives in Sacramento, California, and I live in Missoula, Montana. And I said, okay, well, you’re more than welcome Papa, but you do know that I never had a travel companion. I feel completely comfortable, confident traveling on my own. And he said, Rachel, I need a break.
I will meet you in New York city.
So the trip is
becoming very different. So first of all, I definitely checked some things off the bucket list spent the week in Washington, DC learned a lot. Did the work conferences did the sight? Seeing did all of the things my mom told me I should do. Then I went to art and soul, which has art Smith.
Oprah’s personal chef. I went to his new restaurant. I saw spike from season one or his restaurant top chef his burger joint, but I still had not seen a celebrity. So this is very much on my mind. And of course I knew I was going to New York, but a very different trip than I had planned as a 27 year old solo traveler.
Now my elderly grandfather is coming with me.
I get on the Greyhound bus on Friday afternoon from Washington DC to New York. Of course I had that trip planned as well. That’s who I am. I was going to be staying, or we were going to be staying at my cousin’s apartment in Harlem that my mom arranged. I’ve never met him and he wasn’t going to be staying there.
So I had the whole trip plan, very excited. So I get to New York city. My grandfather has been traveling all day. Of course, I’ve been in a conference all day and now I’m on the bus. And I arrived to see my 77 year old grandfather who loved every shade of green. And he wore them all at once. He was never too full for ice cream and he had beautiful salt and pepper hair.
We arrived and were exhausted. So we immediately went to the apartment in Harlem, which was great. It’s vibrant. We’re excited where these country bumpkins he’s from the suburbs. I’m in quiet, sleepy, Missoula. I’m in the big city and I’m going to see a celebrity I’m used to the magazines. You know, photographers are getting people walking out of restaurants with their dogs or, you know, something I’m going to, I’m definitely going to see somebody.
That was my focus. Of course, I’m enjoying my time seeing the sites, but that was my focus spent the night in Harlem. Wake up the next morning. How did you sleep? Papa? Terrible. We both slept horrible. It was loud. We weren’t used to it. It was great. It was vibrant. It was the city, but we were tired. Well, we had to push through.
We only have three days, so of course we had everything or I had everything planned and uh, we went on a boat tour, exhausted, pushed through. We said, we have got to go see a show. We’re in New York city. It’s sweltering. It’s 95 degrees. It would be really nice to go see a show and just sit into the suit, the air conditioning for a few hours.
So he said, let’s see Phantom of the opera. Okay. So we walk in air conditioning, we sit down and we woke up three hours later.
We slept through the entire thing.
And I don’t mean that peaceful, you know, with our head down on each other’s shoulders. I mean, you know, waking up snorting, you know, did anybody hear me?
Did anybody see, you know, head-nodding uncontrollably embarrassed and I’m still like, okay, we slept through it. It’s fine. We laughed about it for years. It was the best snap we’ve ever had. It was, it was the most expensive nap we’ve ever had. And I was like, okay, maybe this is the time I’m going to see someone.
I’m going to see a celebrity. Someone’s going to come to a matinee in the summer, right? No, nothing. Okay, fine. Continue on with the trip. We are walking central park. Not that big, by the way, if you haven’t been there, thought it was huge. It’s not times square, not that big, super shocked, but it was great. We had a wonderful, wonderful time still looking for that reality star.
So through our marital conversations and Papa’s venting and me trying to give advice to my 77 year old grandfather about marriage, when I’m not married,
decided on our last day, we’re going to go on one of those touristy bus tours where you drive by all of the sites. We drive by serendipity with the hot chocolate. We go by where the Macy’s parade is Rockefeller center, all these great things. So first of all, we get onto the bus. Again, air conditioning was our best friend.
At this point, it was so hot and he’s 77. He needs a break. He needs to sit down. We enter the bus, the air conditioning just blows on us. I sit on the window and he sits to the right of me with an aisle. The bus was fairly empty, which was kind of nice. I could comment on the, oh my gosh, serendipity. We should go there for hot chocolate.
You know, all of the things without worrying about other people judging or listening to our stories. So as we’re going along, we’re enjoying our time pointing to different things and the bus is moving. And then I
walking the opposite direction of the bus. I see this platinum blonde hair. I knew immediately
who it was.
Okay. So pause.
So it’s season one of top chef. Okay. And there’s this feisty platinum blonde chef named Dave. And he is cooking with this fiery ginger red head named Tiffany. And she is assertive, not bossy. I don’t like that word because I relate to it very much. She is fierce and she is assertive. And he doesn’t like it.
Okay. And he says something to her, mind you, this is racing through my brain. As I see the platinum blonde. This is like two seconds of my life. Okay. I don’t really remember his name. I don’t really remember how I know him, but I remembered what he said to her
without a beat
I’m on the bus and I start panicking. Oh my God. Oh my God.
I’m not bitch. I’m not here. Batch batch. , I’m screaming this on the bus with my 77 year old grandfather next to me.
Why? I didn’t yell. Dave. Don’t know why I didn’t yell top chef don’t know big fan. I’ve no idea. I just start screaming. Luckily the window was up and I looked to my right to explain why I have this outburst. And my grandfather is asleep.
had my grandfather for 13 more years. We shared many trips together, road trips, many memories. And I lost him in 2020. And that is the trip. I’ll never forget. That was the time that I screamed at a reality star on a bus and my grandfather slept
through the whole thing.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Tess.
Tess Sneeringer grew up escaping the suits and the stress of Washington, DC by following her older brother down the current of the Potomac River every summer. She is now settled in Missoula and works for Parks and Recreation.
Our next storyteller is a Tell Us Something storyteller alumni. You can listen to all of the stories that she’s shared on the Tell Us Something website: tellussomething.org. Joyce Gibbs has some very special hunting bullets confiscated at TSA, she resolves to get them back. “Only in Missoula. Only on Christmas.” or “If You Don’t Ask, You Can’t Hear Yes.”
Thanks for listening.
Joyce Gibbs: On December 25th, 2019, I was at TSA in the Missoula international airport. It was very early in the morning. And so mark and I were the only people at TSA. We clocked in with the clerk at the front, and then we went to the conveyor belt where we put our, took off our shoes and put our jackets down and put our backpacks down and took out the computer and then walked through the tunnel and assume the position.
And I walk out of the tunnel and the TSA officer says, is this your backpack? And I say, yes, it’s mine. This is my lucky backpack. I had had it for several years and. The best part. So far of this backpack was the day that we had already gone through TSA and the backpack contained a smell, a smell that had been ruminating in our house for several weeks.
I couldn’t find it. And we were at the gate of our plane and I realized this smell is attached to me. So I’m digging through, I’m taking things out of the backpack and I take out a box knife. I have already been through TSA and I show it to mark. And he says, you should put that away. And I said, yes, I should.
And put my hand into three rotten oranges. So thankfully the rotten oranges went into the garbage and, uh, I continued on that trip with my box knife. I actually made it through TSA again, and I still use that box knife every day. So I tell the TSA officer, yes, that is my backpack. Do you think you might have some bullets in here?
And I think, and I say, well, yes. Yeah, I probably do have bullets. They’re probably in that little pocket on the belt that I didn’t think to look in. And he opens up the pocket and he pulls out three pieces of ammunition for a 3 38, 6, actually improved hunting rifle. If you don’t happen to know what a 3 38 up six actually improved is it’s okay.
Because my father built this gun. It is a beautiful gun. It’s my hunting rifle. It also is something that you can not buy in a store, which means he also built that ammunition, which is something you cannot buy in a store.
He looks at me, the TSA officer, and he says, I’m going to have to confiscate this. And I said, yes, yes, please do. Yes, take it. Do your job. That’s awesome. Thank you. Thank you. I’m going to put my shoes on. I’m going to put my coat on. I’m going to go upstairs. We go upstairs and there’s my sister. I know she would be there.
My sister has come in on an early flight from Portland and she is. There to meet us to say hi to surprise later, to drive out to my parents’ house and surprise them for Christmas visits. So we get together at the gates they’re upstairs and she gives me the things that Santa Claus left at her house for me.
And I give her the things that Santa claw have left my house for her. And we sit and have a little chat for awhile because, you know, we had gotten there two and a half hours early. And as she’s about to leave, I start thinking like, okay, mark, stay here with the baggage. I’m going to go with Nessa. And we walk out to TSA and we walked to the clerk and I say earlier today, I got some bullets confiscated.
I’m wondering if I could have those back. And the clerk says, I’m going to have to ask my, my manager. And I’m like, okay, that’s fine. And there’s a couple people in TSA. So it weighed about five minutes. And, and, it’s the same gentleman who confiscated my bullets. And I tell him those are very precious bullets.
Those are. Bullets for a gun that my father made. And, he has to make all these bullets. And I don’t know if you know, , about reloading ammunition, but it is a, a very long process. First, you have to fire a cartridge, you have to fire the ammunition so you can get the brass casing that the bullet comes in, and then you collect a whole bunch of those.
And then you take out the primer from the brass casing, and then you tumble them in a rock tumbler to clean the brass of any residue that might be on them. And then you use calipers and very specifically, , find the measurements of the bullet to make sure that it will still be safe to have the cartridge to make sure it will safe, be safe to once again, pack with powder and put a new bullet in.
And so then you can then again, fire it, hopefully on a day that’s not too hot or not too humid because it might misfire if it was an extreme heat process, all these things, all this that my father has studied that he has perfected as a science for the last 60 years. And the TSA officer looks at me and he says, well, those already went to the safety office and I say, oh, okay.
He says, well, you go down to baggage claim and you take a right and you go to a glass door and knock on the glass door. And so my sister and I go down to baggage claim and there’s a glass, I promise there’s a glass door. You’ve never seen it. And you knock on the door. And this young Jew, this young woman comes out in her brown and tan Sheriff’s uniform with her pistol on her hip.
And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she says, can I help you? And I say, this is my sister. And she’s leaving to go to my parents’ house. And you have some bullets that were confiscated from me that she might be able to take away to give to the person who actually made them today. And I’m going to go through TSA again and I’ll fly out of here if that’s all right.
If that’s okay. And she looks at me and she looks at my sister and she said,
She goes to, uh, the desk and she pulls out a number 10, 10 coffee can, and she kinda sticks her hands in it and does this swirl and, and there’s lots of clinking and it sounds like there’s like four box knives in there. And, and she pulls out three bullets for a 3 30, 8, 6 actually improved. And she says, are these them?
And I say, yeah, that looks like them. And I step away and she hands them to my sister and I say, thank you. And she says, Merry Christmas.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Rachel.
Rachel Bemis marks her 20th year in Montana! She is a 4th grade teacher in the Bitterroot Valley where 1/3 of her students tower over her. She shares her home with her best friend of 21 years and 5 year old St Bernard Lorelai. She spends her free time binging Gilmore Girls, The Great British baking show, 90 day fiancé or any trashy reality show she can stomach. You can find her getting Biga pizza takeout, walking with friends, at the library or at her favorite consignment shop. She loves Discussing any book except science fiction with her monthly book club.
Our next storyteller is Darius Janczewski (Yonchevsky) Darius reflects on defecting from Poland in the 1980’s and realizes that most things we remember are about departures. Darius calls his story “Departures”.
Thanks for listening.
Darius Janczewski: Hello, good evening. I want to apologize to is making her work harder.
Um, since we’re kids, children, we’re always told to finish what we started, but I’m here to tell you something else. Don’t worry about finishing what you started. Start something it’s about
starting. I love movies and you might be surprised. They’ll tell you I have many favorite movies, but I often don’t finish watching them.
Not because they’re bad movies, but, uh, and sometimes they have terrible endings, you know, but I just enjoy the departure, the beginning of the movies. That’s what I want. One of my favorites recently is Shackleton. It was Kenneth broth and BBC production. You might be familiar with the insurance story, but if you’re not, I will just summarize it quickly that it’s about British Explorer or in a shuttle who is attempting to cross Antarctic on food.
Jess was dogs. They supposed to get to Antarctic, cross, get to the south pole and then continue to the other side of the continent and then be picked up by another ship. And some of you might know that never happens. He is stranded near the Antarctic. After few months of drifting, his ship is crushed by the eyes and sings his cruise survives.
They take three boats, safety, boats, then get to safety. It’s one of the best survival story ever. And some of you might know that they just found the ship recently after a hundred, six years of searching for it.
How many of you are runners? I can see you anyway. I used to be a very, very, very good runner. I used to run sub formula. And I are presented my country.
Thank you. Um,
but what I remember from my best races is the beginning, the start, not the finish or the metal ceremonies and stuff. I remember starting, I remember the first starter gone, taking off, seeing the muscular bodies of my friends in front of me.
I was not that good.
sweaty backs their hair, where I was working. That’s what I remember most from my best races. Not the finish.
because it’s all about the purchase, not about destinations.
So one of my best stories about the parties is my defection. I was a, deserter the difference between desertion and defection is slide the different, the dessert, or if he comes back or she comes back, he’s gonna go to long-term jail or even under the oil and be executed. That’s the difference. And the factors usually leave because of politics or religion or hardship.
So when I defect in 1984 in Italy, I don’t remember worrying about consequences of my, uh, of my defection. No desertion. I don’t worry about, don’t remember worrying about my family and my friends or seeing my country. I don’t remember saying goodbye to my mother, but she didn’t know I was leaving anyway for good.
She knew I was just leaving to another competition, but what I remember the most from my defection is that is in Italy. When I was in Italy. I remember leaving, I remember taking my bag, my shoes, four o’clock in the morning, making sure everybody’s asleep coaches and my teammates and tiptoeing from their room down there, tow and leaving the hotel.
And I scouted where the train station was the day before. So I knew where it was. I had my pocket money enough to guide, get the tickets to the city that I heard refugee camp was in. And so I got on the train, had about 10 minutes to go and I was thinking, hopefully nobody woke up and find out I’m not there, but no, I was fine.
The train took off. I remember opening the windows, seeing the countryside, Mediterranean, Italy, beautiful Italy, uh, smelling the sea, the Italians laughing. Um, they’re a friendly, long story. Short. Got to the refugee come. And then I forgot to tell you one important reason why I defected.
I defected because I fell in love in Samba with somebody who left for America, and I decided to follow her,
it’s not the end of the story of it. So long story short, I went to refugee comes. Then I came to America and I found out that the love was not there anymore. There was no love
And so, you know, it’s all about the purchase.
Well, let’s get back to the current issues. Um,
and thinking about Ukraine, of course, in the soldiers who are sitting around the campfire, having a very small meal and thinking and hearing the explosions and, and I’m thinking the world will be over one day. I’m sure they will be overweight. They all the wars and one day, and I’m wondering. What will this soldiers remember from this war?
Will they remember the explosions, the killing, the violence? Um, no, I don’t think so. I think they were a member saying goodbye that departure.
And I also think this never for me is what I remember it too. Uh, and I’m going to quit it here and say, please remember it’s about the partners who care, not about destinations. Thank you.
Marc Moss: Thanks, Darius.
Darius Janczewski is an author, graphic designer, runner, and a refugee who arrived in the United States in 1984 and in Missoula in 1999. Darius deserted from the Polish communist army in 1984 when he represented his country as a runner in Italy. He was preparing for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics when he decided to defect, not knowing that the Olympiad would be boycotted by most of the communist countries, including Poland. Darius is a published author and is currently working on his collection of short stories titled Minotaur or the Art of Running. Learn more about Darius and see examples of his work at dariuszjanczewski.com That’s d a r i u s z j a n c z e w s k i.com
In our next story, Katrina Farnum runs out of gas in front of Costco on a busy Missoula street and is helped by strangers. She pays it forward when she sees a fellow human in need. Katrina calls her story “When Push Comes To Shove”. Thanks for listening.
Katrina Farnum: Joyce said you don’t like it if people hold the microphone. So I won’t do it. She said that people pace, but I love pacing when I talk. That’s the thing. So if there are two kinds of people, when it comes to roadkill, there are definitely two kinds of people. When it comes to filling up your car with gasoline, there are some of us that, or you that let it get halfway down and you pull into the gas station and you fill your car.
And there are other of us that let it run all the way out. Thank you. Glad we have a group and then we fill it back up. So yes, this is a story of me running out of gas in my car. And, I am going to just avoid telling you how many times in my life that I have run out of gas in my car, , in there probably some psychologists in the room they’re evaluating me right now.
And you probably have good reason because I’ve actually never run out of gas in winter, not one time. And, , Mr. Nichols, if you are by chance in the audience tonight, this is not the time that I ran out of gas on Brook street, but I did make it to the title company in time to sign papers. Thank you very much for that to get me a ride.
Now, this is the time that I ran out of gas on reserved street, the other awesome street in Missoula to run out of gas on, and I was southbound, , heading down reserved street. So Costco is approaching on my left and I don’t know, sorry for not giving you the shout out, whatever the Boxster is on the other side. Like to be fair here, the car that I was driving at the time had a faulty tire, like get age, , gauge sensor for the air theme, whatever the, you go head mechanics. And, , it would do this like, and like any good parent, you just learn how to block out certain sounds, which I did. And it’s the same sound for the gas.
So I’m driving it being, I’m not listening. I’m like busy. Right. I got stuff to do. I got places to be. And all of a sudden, like, that’s it, there’s no more fuel and I’m coming to a stop, like at the worst spot. And if I had just been like 15 or 20 feet further, I could have just scooted into the turn lane.
And I would have been far enough back in it that people could have still gotten around me. And I would have been out of the way of traffic, but that’s not happening. And it was a shoulder season like it is right now. So you’ve got like chunks of snow and it’s gritty and it’s starting to melt and kind of run down these old puddles.
And I just spring too. I’m like, holy shit. I need to get a gas can like right now. And as I’m getting out of the car to do this are literally people who are basically doing the like Gudo room, but whatever the equivalent of car running out of gas that you say to people. And so I like run into Costco because it’s the closest place.
And I like do this thing and I run to the service counter. I’m like, Hey, do you guys sell gas cans here? And she’s like, no, we do not sell gas cans here. And then I’m like, okay. And so I run across the street right in Lowe’s and I get into Lowe’s and have all the dumb luck. I know they sell gas cans there, but not this day.
They’re out of gas. I’m like, oh my God, how long has my car sitting in traffic? And I like run. I’m thinking like Costco has a service center, right. They have to have a gas can in there and it run as fast as I can. And I bust through the door of the service center and there’s a couple of guys working.
There’s a guy at the little Kiosky whatever. And I say, okay. So my car is really like right out there. It’s not very far and stranded and really need a gas can. And it, whatever you guys have, you have empty one. I can just fill it up and, you know, have you, I had that thing happen when you are in a hurry or a really big hurry.
And then the person or the people you’re dealing with are definitely not in a hurry. And so the guy like takes a sip of his coffee and then like, thinks about it and he sets it down and I could like feel myself coming out of my skin, like a little bit. And he like saunters over to this cabinet and it’s big and it’s kind of rusty.
And he like opens the drawers and inside is this weird smattering of gas cans. And like, whatever else is in there. And he might be saying something, but it’s like, the adrenaline maybe has tuned him out and it’s become this, like the Charlie brown teacher. And so he’s like, mom, mom, mom, mom. And I’m like, yes, Ken’s yes.
We’re talking to language. I don’t know what you’re saying, but there give me a gas can and the guy’s reluctant and he pulls out one that’s. All the good style, right? The kind we like, and he kind of shakes it and it’s like half full fuel and he’s like, all right, I think it’s probably good fuel. And he hands it to me.
And I run back to my car as fast as I can. Now, normally when you run out of gas, you would hopefully be on the shoulder, but I’m not. So I’m in traffic, right? My body and my trying to suck it up against my car as much as I can. And I realized that the spout for this old gas can, is really short. So it doesn’t quite get far enough down there that it’s pushing the little tab aside.
And there’s like fuel Gooding kind of in, but mostly out. And it’s running down the car and splashing on my feet and it is mixing with the gross stuff on the road. And I’m feeling like just happy if I get enough in there. And then I had like a little hoodie on it. And in my pocket I had this little leather pouch that was my wallet, and it’s got all the cards and it drops out of my pocket and it lands in the puddle with the gasoline and all the awesome.
So I Huck it inside my car and I’m like, all right, I think there’s enough fuel in here. So I just jump in my car, throw the gas can in there and I try to start it and try to start it and the definitely bad fuel. So. I’m like, all right. Uh, what am I going to do? And I, and I go to get out of my car. I’m going to bring the gas can back in, figure out it probably dump it out or whatnot.
And this guy pulls up. He had like parked his truck off the way. And he said, how can I help you? And I’m like, well, yeah, let’s push it. We’ll just, and my thought is, we’re just going to push it far enough into that turn lane where I had wanted to be in the first place where people can still get around me so they can turn.
And as we’re going, I can see we have two different ideas and we’re pushing and it’s a little bit of a hill. So we’re picking up speed and we’re approaching the intersection and the guy yells at me, go, go, go. And I look, and I mean, there’s four lanes of traffic in coming at us is a semi-truck. And you know, I’m not a professional gap reader, but I have done a lot of mountain biking and boating and snowmobiling and snowboarding that I think I have a decent perception when it comes to like speed and timing and distance.
And I know we are not making that. And I yelled back to him and I jumped inside the car and I have to Jack my foot on the brake and we are in the dead middle of the intersection. Now there’s definitely not any part of me that is having that because I’ve already just been over there behind this space that was inconvenient.
This one is way less convenient. And I can see like this moment happening, where I can see, okay, semis going to pass. There are three cars, there’s a gap. It’s not huge. We can make it. I don’t know this guy, but we’re about to build a trusting relationship together. And I say to him, okay, bud, are you ready?
We’re going to push and go. And we’re pushing, pushing, pushing. And we get through this intersection and you don’t actually know if a road has any sort of incline at all until you’re pushing a dead car. And then like an inch is more, it’s like measured in feet. So there, you don’t know if you’ve ever turned, you’re going to check next time.
But when you go into Costco, like there’s a slight incline right there. And so we just came to a peaceful stop and the guy’s like, what else can I do? And I’m like, nothing, dude, thank you so much. This is great. You’ve been huge help. And I like grabbed the yucky gas. Can, uh, run it back over to Costco. And I’m like saying like, I’m like, do you have any, can I just dump the fuel out of this can somewhere.
And I got this big talking to about the EPA and you can’t just dump gas out and I’m like, you definitely did not just see what happened on the side of the road, but I, okay. So here’s your can back. I shouldn’t have asked. The guy working there says, Hey, I drove my daughter’s car to work today. And in the back seat, she has a gas can.
So he walks me out across the parking lot, probably again, slower than I would have normally walked by myself and we get the gas can, and he, and I’m like, thanks. And it’s like empty, but I unscrew it. And I look inside the gas can, and there’s like just this little, teeny, NC bit of fuel in there, but like lots of dead flies.
And I cannot confirm nor deny what happened to said fuel or flies, but it was empty when I got to the pumps. So I walk up there and I realized like my yucky wallet I had thrown in the back seat is still in the back seat. And I’m standing at the gas pump and this guy is just finishing fuel and he’s like, Hey, put your gas can over here.
And I’ll just, I’ll fill it up for you. He doesn’t know, I don’t even have a wallet. He’s just being a nice guy. And so he fills it up and I go over and I put gas in my car. I’m feeling pretty good. Cause now I’m in home stretch. But you know, I had to deal with that shitty new gas can, which even though it’s long enough to reach it, the little push tab.
And so half the time you’re fighting with that thing, but it works out and I pull in and uh, fill my car up with gas. And I’m like at that moment where I’m like, all right, I have no idea what I was probably doing something important before this huge saga. Right. As I’m in, like done, you know, I’m wrapping up, I’m ready to leave.
And I see the guys who had pulled in behind me and he’s at the pumps and he’s doing the pat down. And then he gets inside of his rig and his little legs are kind of outweighs reaching across the seat and he gets back out and I see the pat down and I’m like, ha, you don’t have a wall lit. And it’s rare that you get to pay it forward so quickly.
Like a lot of times you do a good deed or someone does a good deed. And it just, you know, it’s like into the ether for awhile. And I just said, Hey man, pull your car up here. I’m going to throw fuel in it for you. And he’s missed like the whole awesome thing that just happened. He just thinks I’m being nice for all.
I know the guy who did that for me with the gas can just went through what I did. So there I am. I’m able to fill them up and I’m off
Marc Moss: Thanks, Katrina.
Katrina Farnum is a local dirt-loving herbalist, mother, and educator. She is the developer and owner of Garden Mother, a holistic herb shop and dispensary with locations in Missoula and Kalispell.
Katrina is passionate about healthy food, community, continual self improvement. She spends much of her time creating and engineering things to help others live better lives.
Her spirit animal is the Incredible Hulk and her alter ego is a mixture of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Butch Cassidy (played by Paul Newman). Katrina leads the team of herbalists and educators with an emphasis on nutrition over at Garden M+*other Herbs. Learn more about her work at gardenmotherherbs.com
Bringing us home in this episode of the Tell Us Something podcast, Jeff Ducklow finds himself with a dying cell phone, no water and only a thin poncho, He is charged by a wild boar and more before his dramatic rescue.- Jeff calls his story “Lost in Kauai”
Thanks for listening.
Jeff Ducklow: Whew. It’s times like this, when I wish I had prepared. Even though I believe that the only thing worse than public humiliation is voluntarily doing it to yourself. I feel compelled to tell you my story for years, I thought my inner compass was damaged until I finally realized I didn’t have one.
What possessed me to become a adventure guide is still confusing. It’s sorta like a teacher of a second language teaching without actually knowing a second language I’ve been lost in the Andes. I have been lost in the Sierra Nevadas. I have been lost in the Alaskan wilderness. I’ve been displaced in the bitter roots and I’ve been completely lost in many, a malls parking
lot. So I don’t know why I thought a jungle on an island in the middle of Pacific would be any different. It was supposed to be a simple journey from point a to point B, but I got deep into the alphabet this day. My friends. so a few years back, I went to the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai with my then girlfriend who incidentally I lost.
I mean, she, she knows where she is. Uh, we had a, w we’d gone to a wedding of, one of her friend’s wedding was over and she went back home. She had to work. I was in between seasons and stayed a few extra days. And so I did the typical touristy things I laid on the beach, played into serve, had a few mojitos.
And then I decided I need to kick the adventure level up a few notches. So I, I found a Hawaiian guy on the beach and I said, Hey, if you only had three days left and on this beautiful island, what would you do? And without hesitation, he said, lost trail, man, lost that. That sounds really hard to find. He said, no problem.
I’m going to draw you a map. And he sketched out a little map of dirt roads with no names and said, you’ll see a small break in the jungle.
And if you, if you walk down the trail and you find a little footbridge, that’s
not it go back and find another break in the. And that’s exactly what happened. So, uh, I got going the next day in the morning, actually it was the afternoon about three o’clock and I got in my rental car and started going down the roads and it was about an hour and a half drive down these unnamed roads.
And sure enough, I, I found a small break in the jungle and I thought this has to be it because I don’t see anything else. So I got out, sun’s getting a little lower and I packed a few essentials in my backpack and I took off and it’s supposed to be a loop, just a, this little journey, a couple of miles in, I got to an amazing place along.
Why may a canyon, which is spectacular. It’s 10 miles long, 3000 feet, deep waterfalls everywhere. The lava has turned red over time. Spectacular. I walked out on this little strip of land. It went out into the canyon, sheer drops in each side, spectacular, amazing. I took some pictures and that should have been enough, but I wanted more with the sun hang, hanging, even lower.
I took off down the trail and it was maybe a mile and I thought I can do this. And then I came to a branch in the trail and I took out my map and I’m looking at it there, no branch. And I start rotating it. And you know, when you start doing that with a map.
But I stood and I looked down one path and then another, and I thought of Robert Frost
who wants, stood in the yellow wood and could not travel both. And he took the one less traveled by night and made all the difference. I’m here to tell you it really does make a big difference.
so I choose a path that looks actually a little more traveled and it quickly becomes the trail that has probably never been taken. And I end up on a rock shoot, probably 1500 feet down, really lose boulders. And I’m, I know it’s a bad idea, but I, I see that the trail looks like it continues over there. So I really carefully get to the start going across and I get to the middle and I think this is stupid.
That doesn’t always stop me, but I had the thought I should go back. And then I looked at what had just traversed said no way. I am not doing that again. And I’m not going that way either. So I decided to go up clinging to the mountain, like Velcro, hands, and I got to the top. And then I see the jungle again and there’s little yellow ribbon hanging frames and trees.
And I thought Eureka trail markers. So I entered the jungle, which is quite a bit darker and I’m looking around and I, I see the. Little yellow markers are everywhere. I don’t know what the hell is going on. And I see maybe a thousand feet away what could be a trail, but it’s super steep embankment. And I start going down and it’s ridiculously steep. And I said no way. And so that, by the time I got to the top, it was dark. I was screwed.
I was spending the night in the jungle. So I took a quick inventory of what I had. I reached into the bag. And I had an empty Nalgene bottle, which I quickly began to fill with my urine. I had read this somewhere. You can, you can recycle and reuse. So I did what I kid with a bottle. And then I also saw I had a nine or a 2012 flip phone who had an touristy short battery life.
So in the dark I started crawling around because of course there’s cell coverage in the jungle. There didn’t seem to be any, but miraculously I found a one inch by one inch parcel that had one bar. So of course I called my girlfriend and not 9 1 1. And I said, I got on this trail called lost trail. I’m not sure how to tell you how I got there.
I’m not sure how to get back. I believe on spending the night in the jungle. And then she said, if you’re happy with this message, please press one.
So hung up the phone, brace myself for a rough night. The thing is, I’d heard plenty of stories of the Hawaiian jungle that it ran feral with wild boar. That’s what was on my mind. They had tests so sharp. They could tear Amanda to in seconds. So I sat there on the ground pretty. And I don’t know how long it was, maybe two hours.
I S I H I heard branches starting to snap from the hill above me, and it was getting closer and louder. And I sprung up with a burst of adrenaline. And by the beard of Zeus, I got about 10 feet up into the tree for about 10 seconds until the bank, the branch broke. I ended up on the canopy floor again, and now with only half as much adrenaline, I got about four feet off the.
And I sat on this branch for hours, not one wanting any bore contact, but my ass got so sore. I didn’t care about getting bored. I got back down on the ground fearing. Also what I were told were Sandy paeds, as long as the man’s boot shoe laces. So I was sitting there thinking this is pretty bad, but then it got worse.
Uh, cold, cold fog started creeping up the hill. I was on the mountain and also remember, this is actually the wettest place on earth, where may a canyon, so it could be worse, but a cold, cold fog. And then I remembered I had the emergency poncho. I took that out. It’s thickness could be measured in terms of Adams.
It was actually in my wallet, filed with the credit cards. And I put it on and I sheltered in the cold. I started shivering. I realized it’s not wild boar. That’s going to get me it’s hypothermia. And somehow I made it through the night alive and the sunset, it was the most beautiful sunset I’d ever seen, just gorgeous.
And so this time, a little wiser, I called 9 1 1, they picked up, but then I got put on hold and I see my battery icon. And a couple of minutes later, it was the fire captain. He said, where are you? And I was thinking if I knew that I probably would not be calling you, I said, lost trail. And he said, I’ve never heard of that.
I said, well, it’s in the canyon somewhere. He goes, okay, we’re going to get a GPS signal on you. He goes, and I told him, you know, the phone’s dying. He said, well, turn it off. We’re going to GPS signal. It doesn’t matter if your phone’s on or off. So he’s doing that and I’m thinking, oh no, this is going to be really expensive.
So, and told me once to be rescued cost $10,000. And that had been about a decade earlier. So adjusting for inflation, that can be around 13 grand and you have to know something. I grew up with a mother who equated personal injury with the cost of medical. If your injury was going to be really, really expensive, then you weren’t really hurt.
I remember coming in once after a bad bicycle accident, I was bleeding. I said, mom, look, and in compassion. She said, oh, she yet she always added an extra valve. So it wasn’t swearing.
And then she asked, I’m not sure if this is a rhetorical. Do you know how much that’s going to cost? I don’t know a mom I’m eight years old. I’m I’m bleeding profusely. I don’t know if I can make that calculation right now. All right. Get me my sewing kit, please. Ma no, I can see my femur. All right. Get in the car, but there goes your allowance.
So this is all my. So I get back on the phone with the, with the police or the fire captain, he says, we’re going to send you a helicopter. I said, oh no, that’s okay. That’s okay. Do you have mules or something like that? I said, I think I can walk out. There’s plenty of light. I have all day. He went, no, no, no, no.
Stay where you are. The jungle. It all looks the same. You’ll get turned around. We’re coming for you. So I said, okay. So I turned the phone off again and I’m waiting. And about half hour later, I hear, I hear the chopper. It was coming up the canyon, but it’s on the wrong side. So I get back on the phone. I said, I hear you, but it’s the wrong side.
He said, okay, we’re coming over. And then he said, he asked, is there a break in the canopy? And I said, no, it’s just like a roof up there. I can’t see the sky. He said, okay, just don’t go anywhere. Helicopter came over. The phone dies it’s over. And then the helicopter leaves just, just goes away. I was in shock.
I remember saying, ah, she yet,
and I sat there. I didn’t know what to do, but I, I did. And then sure enough, the chopper comes back and this time it’s right over the canopy. And I remember the old now tattered yellow poncho, and I took it out and just started swinging it around. And the next thing I know, there’s a paratrooper breaking through the canopy.
It’s it’s incredible sound. It’s like there’s centipedes and scorpions and wild boar flying all over the place. This I comes down, he hooks me into harness. Our phases are like this. Had it been COVID time. This wouldn’t have been good. And I got hooked in, he put a helmet on me and we went break into the canopy breaking branches, and then we were suspended by the, from the helicopter.
And I thought we were going to be retracted inside, but we just dangle there. And then we start going and I’m looking at the cable thinking is this half inch five eight is, uh, is this galvanized it’s pretty.
And then I looked down and it is spectacular. The Kanye’s it’s incredible view. And I’m thinking if this is $10,000 or 13, it’s worth every penny.
So I get the right of my life until we get to a clearing where the other rescue workers, there’s a fire. And then came the descent of shame from the heavens I was lowered.
And when I landed there, wasn’t a lot sad. I, I apologized, we got in the truck and started down the dirt road and they said, they’re going to take me to my car. And I thought, thank God, because I have no idea what that thing is. And then what I feared the question I feared it came, it came from the captain himself who was driving.
He looked over his shoulder. I was in the back and he said, by the way, what do you do for a living?
there was a long pause, just like this one. And I knew there are two answers. I could, I could tell them I’m a massage therapist, which is. But the other half of the year, I’m an adventure guide. And I thought they’d done so much for me. I owe them something. So I said, I’m a venture guide. He said, what?
The whole crew started laughing. He goes, you’re kidding me. Right. I said, I wish I was. Then he got on the radio.
he said, get this guys, the guy, the guy we rescued, he’s an adventure guide. And so I was thank you.
Jeff Duck-low is no stranger to adventure. With Portuguese blood coursing through his veins, he inherited all of the wanderlust of his Mediterranean forebears, however, unfortunately, without the accompanying and essential navigational acumen. Simply put, Jeff was born without a sense of direction, so naturally he chose to become a professional Adventure Guide, guiding men, women and children oblivious to his affliction, on hikes over mountain passes, rafting down raging rivers, and leading sea kayaking adventures in Alaska in whale infested waters, at times in heavy fog. He is often quoted as saying, “Is it really an adventure if getting back is a certainty?”Having almost died unnecessarily on numerous occasions, Jeff is now a full-time massage therapist in Missoula who rides his unicycle to work in order to keep an element of danger in his day. He still loves the outdoors and enjoys recounting his exploits to anyone willing to listen.
I am so glad to be back in-person sharing stories with you all. I’ll bet you have a story to share, right. I’ll bet you do! We’ve all got a “Didn’t See That Coming!” story, right? The next Tell Us Something live event is scheduled for June 27. It is an outdoor show and is guaranteed to be a lot of fun. You know what would make it really fun? Your participation. Pitch your story on the theme “Didn’t See That Coming” by calling 406-203-4683. The pitch deadline is May 27. I look forward to hearing from you soon. I’ll call you as soon as I get your pitch.
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Thanks again to our title sponsor, Blackfoot Communications. Learn more about Blackfoot over at blackfoot.com.
Thanks to our in-kind sponsors:
Joyce Gibbs: Hi, it’s Joyce from Joyce of Tile. If you need tile work done, give me a shout. I specialize in custom tile installations. Learn more and see some examples of my work at joyceoftile.com.
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Next week I catch up with Neil McMahon…
Neil McMahon: Go into some kind of line of work. That’s would give you much more material, you know, whether it’s, uh, like Michael Connolly was a journalist, obviously physicians, lawyers, whatever, , something besides swinging a hammer.
Marc Moss: Tune in for his story, and our conversation, on the next Tell Us Something podcast.
Thanks to Cash for Junkers, who provided the music for the podcast. If you’re in Missoula, you can catch them playing live at The Union Club on May 14. Find them at cashforjunkersband.com
To learn more about Tell Us Something, please visit tellussomething.org.