This is Andrew here:
So just this last week (Monday to Friday) I got to go to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico for some professional training on management. It is such a pretty place and it was some great training! It had been about six years since I had been there last and it was neat for me to go back and look around. In the summer of 2004 I was a staff Group Leader at the Philmont Training Center and it was a great experience. Each week I would get a different group of youth or kids and take them on day hikes, overnight camping or play group games as their parents attended Scouting training. In fact my first week there they put me in charge of a group of 26 six year olds and that was pretty wild. After that crazy week I requested to be with kids at least eight years old and up…the two dozen plus six year olds about did me in! Kind of an interesting story and probably the craziest thing I have ever done is the tale of how I made it to Philmont.
The day I caught my flight to Albuquerque it was Sunday and I believe even Father’s Day. I was set to get to the airport around 10 AM and then wait there till 7 PM for a bus bound for Raton. Since it was Sunday I packed some granola bars to chomp on while I was waiting, so I wouldn’t have to buy anything on the Sabbath. I figured I could just sit there eating snacks and reading the whole day…well that only lasted for about an hour before I realized that was a terrible plan…it was getting really boring! So I called the local LDS Church and told them I was at the airport and would like to attend Sacrament meeting. They were really nice and said that someone would be by to pick me up. So sure enough someone came and got me and took me to church. After church I noticed that I still had quite a bit of time before the bus was going to come so I decided I would just read at the church rather than sit in a small airport…the church was a much nicer place to be. To make a long story longer, a family invited me to eat dinner with them and I agreed. I then went on a walk with their family after dinner before they dropped me off at the airport so I could catch my bus. What a nice family… I had never even met them before! I had planned on handing out a Book of Mormon while I was on the four hour bus ride, but to my surprise I was just about the only person on the bus that spoke English, so my hope of striking up a great conversation on the way up there was foiled. Anywho, it was a long bus ride. Around midnight the bus made a stop at a gas station in the middle of nowhere. I got off the bus and decided since it was after midnight and officially Monday that I would buy something at the gas station.
As I was waiting in line to pay for my stuff something awful happened…I saw the headlights of the bus flash across the windows as it pulled away from the deserted gas station. I was flabbergasted! I didn’t know what to think or to say… Finally I said to the cashier, “I think the bus just left me here!” She said something like, “oh, that’s too bad.” Really sympathetic! Anyways, I said (out loud to myself), “I’ve got to make it to Raton somehow!” There where three guys behind me in line and one of them who spoke a little English said, “Raton!”
I turned around and repeated, “I need to get to Raton to get to the bus.” The same man pointed to a small pickup truck near the pumps and said, “Come!” Not really thinking I followed them out there and stood next to the truck. Since there were three men, there was not room in the cab of the small truck so one of them tossed me a sleeping bag. As I hopped in the back I told them, “I’ve got to make it to Raton fast!”
With that the truck jerkily sped away from the gas station and onto the dark and desolate highway. The truck quickly picked up speed as I tried to get inside the sleeping bag to take some of the chill off. I quickly found out that the bag was made for a person the size of Bilbo Baggins, so I had to wrap the bag around me instead. As I sat there in the back of the pickup, sleeping bag flapping in the wind listening to the high whining of the motor it hit me…“what the heck am I doing?!?!” My thoughts started going wild. “What if they don’t know where their going?! What if they take me some place and sell me into slavery?! What if they crash or we get pulled over or something?!” It was at this moment of panic that I remembered to pray. I said two prayers; first that I would be safe and that we would find the bus and second that I would be able to feel the calming influence of the Holy Ghost. Well, prayers are answered. I felt a peaceful feeling come over me and I looked up at the beautiful stars and thought of what a beautiful world we have to live in. Then I started singing my favorite church hymns which also helped calm me. Then we passed up the bus with a roar and whirl of wind. We really must have been making some good travel time on the road!
I tried to sleep, but it was impossible. After a while the truck began slowing down and I saw street lights whooshing above my head. The truck slowed down even more and came to a stop at a dark and vacant gas station. I jumped out of the back of the truck and looked around. Nothing! There were no lights on and it was all quiet. The driver got out and I said, “where are we?” Pointing to the ground we stood on he said, “Raton, Raton!” I looked around then said, “where’s the bus?” Motioning for me to get back in the truck he then looked at me and said, “Come!” I hopped into the back and the truck sped off in another direction. I leaned my head over the edge of the truck and saw another gas station in the near distance and a glorious sight…the bus!!! The little truck whipped up next to the bus and I hopped out. I was so happy to see the bus! I tried to offer the three guys money, but they refused! What a selfless act of kindness they performed! I was able to get my bags off the bus and then catch my final ride to Philmont Scout Ranch! What a crazy, but memorable trip. I will never forget it and I will never do it again! That has to be one of the craziest things I have ever done.
Here is a slideshow of Philmont Scout Ranch. The house in the pictures is called The Villa Philmonte and was built in 1926 by Waite Phillips, who later donated the home and over 100,000 acres of his property to the Boy Scouts.