Plains, Montana

On October 7th, en route to Glacier National Park, I was in a terrifying car accident, and totaled my car. For some reason, the universe decided that I should walk out of this wreck with almost no injuries, in a small town full of amazing and helpful people, and have almost all of my possessions returned to me.

Here’s what happened.

I was driving down country route 384 in Montana at 7pm, going 55mph in a 70mph zone and no one other cars were around. I was awake, fed, not on the phone or anything, but had been driving for 8 hours. I had stopped to photograph the sunset, and once I was driving again, looked left again, and when I looked through the front windshield a moment later, I saw that my wheels were too far right. I tried to quickly go left, but people have explained to me that I overcorrected. I believe what happened next was the back tires slid out (there was a loud screech) and the trunk went into the rocky ditch first. The car rolled over two or three times, and it landed with the passenger side door facing down in the ditch and my side facing the sky.

The right window was smashed so I jumped down through that, and tried to call 911. There was no service so I flagged down the next car passing, who happened to be an EMT named Dusty. Dusty had someone call for help, and was incredibly caring, helpful, and on top of things while I lied down and waited for the ambulance. Within about 30 minutes I was at Clark Fork Valley Hospital.

The blanket they covered me with at the scene. New most treasured belonging:

I had my neck, shoulders, and legs x-rayed, and was ok. Blood tests were fine, meaning no internal damages. My mom got me a motel and a nurse from the hospital, Joy, drove me to the motel.

While in Plains, I was met with overwhelming kindness from people I had just met. The motel owner, Charlotte, gave me cash until I retrieved my wallet from the car. The owner of the restaurant across the street bought my breakfast for me. A waitress there, Judy, drove me to and from Valley Towing to gather my things, as the town has no cabs or drivers for hire. Charlotte also let me use her car to drive to the post office to ship my camping gear to my Mom’s house in Virginia.

The next day, I retrieved my things from the car, and incredibly, they are almost ALL okay. Some of my camera gear is broken but it was insured and backed-up.

Plains, Montana is full of amazing, giving people.

Here’s the restaurant across the street. Lots of kindness and good country cooking.

Current status:

I have some neck and back pain, but not a lot, and a seatbelt burn on my left collarbone. My knees are bruised. I’m a little slow with short-term memory. But I’m incredibly happy, and grateful, and feel loved and taken care of.

I am in Missoula, Montana, courtesy of an amazing individual, Chris Benz, who borrowed a friend’s car, skipped college classes, and drove out to get me in Plains without ever having met me. I’m staying at his house until my Mom flies into town Sunday.

The Plan:

My insurance (which is amazing. State Farm has been prompt and kind at every turn) will take a few days to figure things out. I am covered for $50,000 of medical. After I stay here for a week with my mom, I am flying to NY to stay with my amazing friend-family until Dec 15th, to rest, heal, and recoup some funds to continue the trip. I am not going to Glacier Park, Chicago, Ohio, or Pennsylvania as planned. In November, I’ll decide how to proceed with whatever money I get for the car, and start up the journey again after Christmas. At that time, I think I’ll feel more comfortable beginning to travel, though I can’t see myself ever wanting to drive more than 4 hours in a row again.

It’s hard to find the words to describe the intensity of how I feel now. I am fortunate, grateful, blessed, overjoyed and hopeful.

I’m still here.