August 14, 2005




Start: Sioux Falls, South Dakota
End:
Des Moines, Iowa
Mileage: 284 miles
Route taken: Interstate 90 to Interstate 29 to Interstate 80 exit at
Des Moines.

 

        My route turned southward because of a rain storm in the area in the hopes of dodging the thunderstorms and I am the first to admit my displeasure of precipitation.

        Living at a Southern California beach softens you up with the near perfect weather and when the elements get a little tough, I tend to look for shelter.

        The rain gear was put on and off I went down Interstate 29, hugging the Iowa border before I crossed into Sioux City.       

        After Sioux City I went through Elk Horn that had a statuary store with a miniature Statue of Liberty alongside the road. It was odd looking considering there wasn’t any water around.

 

        The second scene was a group of horses grazing in a field about 30 minutes down the highway.

        The sight of horses is not uncoming and in Sturgis I had bought carrots to feed them if I came across a group of the animals. They were near the road and I pulled the bike over. I walked through some tall weeds and grass to get closer and the horses started to walk away from me.

        Slowly they came back, though more interested in what I was holding than me. After sniffing the carrots, but declining to eat them, they allowed me to pet them. One horse didn’t want me to leave. She kept thrusting her head towards me every time I spent time with the other horses.

        The soft dark brown eyes of this chestnut filly with the white striped nose seemed to notice any movement I made and her eyes followed me all the way to the bike.

                                                                                            

        I was getting low on gas and the clouds were moving to the east. Since I had the rain suit on, there was no chance of rain, at least that is the way it seems. If I don’t prepare for the rain I get soaked, but the minute I put the rain suit on and weatherproof the bags the skies clear up.

        With the storm moving east, so did I, careful to move slowly so I didn’t catch up to the rain. About 81 miles from Des Moines, there was an off ramp for a small town and I considered stopping.

A lot of times a small town will say they have a gas station, but it isn’t right off the highway, but several miles down the road. It doesn’t make for efficient travel and I had enough to get to the next exit, so I was contemplating continuing.

        But I pulled off and had no real reason to do so, just hoping the gas station wasn’t too far down the road.

        As I exited the interstate I saw a man hitchhiking on the other side of the road. That he was bumming a ride was not unusual, that he was wearing a shirt a tie was definitely different.

        Thomas Currier had been in town for the last three days, trying to get a ride to South Dakota and not having much luck.

        Part of the problem was he had about 10 pieces of luggage with him. In it carried his life. Clothes, books, writings, mementoes, all were luggage and plastic bags resting by his side.  

        Currier is a Pentecostal reverend and has been divorced for the last six years. Since he left his wife and stepchildren in the San Francisco area, he has been traveling around the country, plying his trade, grant writing.

        He works exclusively for Christian churches, but they don’t solicit for his services, he just shows up, looking for work.

        “The Lord directs me where to go,” Currier said. “The churches have the need, but not the resources. I try and help them and in turn they help me.”

        Currier has received food, money, clothing and shelter for his services. Sometimes he stays for a week, sometimes a month, sometimes longer.

                                                

 

        Then there are days like this one where he can’t leave town fast enough. No church required his service and the trip seemed to be a waste.

        The faith of the 55-year-old minister with the baby face, is being tested. Currier’s black pants are tight around his rolly polly belly and the zipper is not fully up. His blue short sleeve shirt has a stain on it and his dark blue tie is loose. Currier has been on this road off and on for the last two days and hasn’t been able to get a ride.

        He didn’t get any work in the town of Atlantic, but wasn’t deterred in his mission. He was however, getting increasingly frustrated with his plight.

        One of the workers behind the counter at the gas station said she gave him some food and the motel gave him a room for the night.

        “He seems like a nice enough man,” the woman at the counter of the gas station said. “But there is only so much you can do to help someone out.”

        Currier’s time had come to leave and the state police were making certain it occurred. They visited Currier on the side of road and told him he had to leave. Currier was in the process of moving his stuff, 30 yards at a time, up the street to get closer to the highway in the hopes of improving his chances.

        “I told the officer to pull out his gun and shoot me because I am about ready to step in front of a truck,” Currier said. “I am really frustrated.”

        A semi did get one of Currier’s suitcases, backing over it earlier in the week. The other pieces look like they have been worn as well.

        In one of the bags is Currier’s writings about the end of the world. Currier believes in Revelations and has written a book about it.

        In the bag is 12 yellow legal pads filled with his writing and he said it was almost completed.

        “The end of the world could come today, tomorrow, whenever,” Currier said. “It will be fiery, not as moderate as some people think.”

        I mentioned that would be the ultimate case of giving the ending away to a book before it was done. Currier didn’t get the humor and continued to sift through another bag to show me his Bible.

        “This is what keeps me going,” Currier said, pointing to a passage in Proverbs. “It says ‘in all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path.’”

        It is a faith, that though tested, remains strong.

        “The Lord has always come through for me,” Currier said. “You have to live in Hell before the blessing comes.”

        Currier doesn’t preach unless asked. He was at a truck stop once and had a conversation with a trucker and had the burly truck driver tearing up after the end of the talk, promising to get born again in the next town.

        “From day to day to be able to witness people experience the gift of the Lord is pretty special,” Currier said. “He was so grateful to have met me.”

        So was I, though I didn’t bring up the fact I am a practicing Buddhist. Currier had enough troubles as it was, without him expending the energy to tell me I was going to Hell.

        Before I left, I gave him $25 and wished him well and hoped he got a ride.

        “I can’t see why I am having so much trouble,” Currier said. “I look nice and I am not bothering anyone.”

        As he was moving bags down the road, creeping closer towards the west bound on ramp of Interstate 80, a man in a yellow truck pulled up to offer a ride.

        “The day is getting better,” Currier said. “God Bless you.”