Our Lecture Tour

Before I continue my narrative, I want to tell you something.

On the eve of my departure from Manhattan, after my last lecture, a group of young folks, with smiling faces, and bubbling over with young life, took me to task for what I had written last year in our paper about the weather in Manhattan and the Montana climate, and they dared me to write anything derogatory on that delicate subject this time. It is my experience that in many States people talk about their weather and climate as if they made it themselves. Well, the above mentioned young folks threatened that they would watch the Standard Bearer very closely on this point, and they left the impression on me that their wrath would surely find me out, if I did not write favorably this time about the weather in their State. And I very dutifully and humbly pledged myself to champion their cause.

Hence, before I should forget, I hereby solemnly testify of my own free will and choice, that during my five-day sojourn in Montana we enjoyed some very beautiful weather and, though I cannot with a good conscience assert that the “sky was not cloudy all day,” we saw a good deal of the clear and bright Montana sunshine.

However, even more than the sunshine in nature we enjoyed the warm and pleasant sunshine that radiated from our Manhattan people, and the way they made us feel at home among them.

This last statement, I feel sure, will be strongly and heartily supported by my son, whose presence the above mentioned young folks made the occasion to arrange for two parties, one of which was a welcome, the other a farewell party; and this plus the fact that in Manhattan he could roam through the country on a saddle-horse and that they provided many other ways and means of enjoyment for him, so turned,the young man’s head that for many days after we had left he could think and talk of nothing but Montana.

Well, how’s that?

I surely may expect now that I will receive several indulgences in the form of letters from my young Montana friends, in which it is plainly stated that I am fully and completely forgiven for my former offense, and that I am wholly restored in their favor.

But let me now pick up the thread of my story where I dropped it last time.

We departed from Sioux Center on the morning of Thursday, April 17. The usual way would have taken us over Sioux Falls through all of South Dakota to the Black Hills and thence through the State of Wyoming into Montana, and it did too,—ultimately, not right away. For we decided to take another road, ‘which would take us far into the north on route seventy five and then west on route ten into Manhattan. This road was marked as a good paved road on our road-map, and good it would have been had it not been that the road to the north was broken up by many frost-boils, which became so bad about fifty miles north of Firestone, Minn, that the road became almost impassable. We then turned around and took the orthodox way after all, but in the meantime most of the forenoon had been lost, and it was not until noon that we arrived in Sioux Falls, where we stopped to eat lunch. This meant that we were still about four hundred miles from Rapid City at the foot of the Black Hills, while the change to mountain time that afternoon caused us to gain an hour also. We reached Rapid City, however, at about eight thirty that evening, and there we stayed for the night.

It had turned cold, there was snow in the Black Hills; it felt as if there might be snow in the air. . . .

Our host in the cabin-camp predicted that we might see snow in Montana. And snow we did see the next day, plenty of it! We took our way through the beautiful Black Hills and thence through bleak and wild Wyoming. When we stopped for gasoline we heard people talk of snow ahead, the morning train had been an hour late through that region. In Sheridan we stopped for lunch. A strong, chilling wind blew from the north. We were told that heavy snow had fallen, between two and three feet between Sheridan and Billings and westward all the way to Livingston. And presently we ran into it. Still it was snowing in the mountains, and occasionally we passed through a blizzard. However, the snowplow had been through ahead of us and the roads were open, so that we had no trouble in driving. That night we put up for the night in Livingston just on the east side of what is known as “Bozeman-Hill.”

The next morning, Saturday, we crossed this “hill” into Bozeman, where we took our breakfast. There, at about nine o’clock in the morning, we saw hanging in the blazing sun a large thermometer registering nineteen above zero. And when we arrived in Manhattan or Church Hill a little later we discovered that the temperature had gone down to zero that morning! However, it was a beautifully bright morning, the sun was sparkling on the pure white snow on the fields and on the distant mountains many miles away, though they appeared so near that they seemed to invite one to take a leisurely stroll and to pay them a visit. And during the day the temperature rose considerably so that one could comfortably walk around in his shirtsleeves.

In Manhattan we made our home, as last year, with Mrs. J. R. Kim. This lady, who is already advanced in years but still young in nature, has the knack of making you feel that the pleasure of staying at her home, while it is yours, of course, is all hers. And that is what I would call real hospitality. There are also people, though happily we did not meet them on our trip, who open their homes to you and provide every possible comfort for you, but make you realize how much they put themselves out for you and how thankful you ought to be. Not so Mrs. Kim. It is she who enjoys your stay, and the pleasure is all hers, to the very last. And many a pleasant evening we had, when after lectures, she would invite as many as would come of the congregation for a social chat.

Let me say here, that it was not because Manhattan had no minister, or because the minister did not have a decent parsonage to receive us, that we stayed at the home of Mrs. Kim. Nor was it because we would not have been welcome at the home of Rev. De Wolf. On the contrary, he would have been glad to entertain us for a few days, and so would his wife. But just a day or two before we came, someone else had arrived at the home of the dominie of Manhattan, someone that insisted that he had come to stay, and whose arrival, moreover, had been the cause that the juffrouw had to stay in bed for a few days.

The Reverend appeared to be thoroughly domesticated in Manhattan. He and his family enjoyed it there and showed no signs of homesickness for the east whatever. Then, too, the brother enjoys his work. There is something exhilarating and refreshing in the lively interest in our truth as evinced by a newly organized congregation, which is not always so evident in an older congregation. The congregation is glad to have Rev. De Wolf in Manhattan, and they appreciate his work very much. And a nice home they built for him.

We spoke five times in all in our church there before good audiences. About one of these speeches I will have something to say in a later connection.

Yes, Montana has its beauty and grandeur. This one realizes when he takes a trip to Yellowstone Park, as we did one day with a group of picnickers from the congregation. Never, I believe, would I grow weary of gazing at the majestic beauty of Galatin Canyon, through which one passes as he takes his way from Manhattan to the Park. The road follows a mountain stream, the Galatin River, and, alongside of it, all the while meanders through high and rocky mountains, steeply rising on both sides, partly covered with mountain forests, and instilling in one a feeling of awe. Always the scene changes as one takes his way up the stream, and never can one surmise what new surprises of beauty await him at the next curve in the road. And the play of the sunlight upon the richly colored rock, pink and red and yellow and light green, creates an ever varying combination of shades and hues that is delightful to the eye.

Of course, in “Karst’s Place” we stopped for coffee.

The Park itself was still largely closed because it was too early in the season. However, we received a taste of its beauty and wonder, as we went into it as far as Old Faithful.

Old Faithful is the famous geyser from which every hour a tremendous waterspout issues forth, a hundred feet straight into the air, accompanied by clouds of steam. It is caused by surface water trickling and flowing into a basin deep under the surface of the earth and with a hot lava bottom. From this basin a shaft leads to the surface, and as the water in the basin is heated the pressure increases, until the geyser “goes off” with a roar. As we arrived this had just occurred, so that we had to wait an hour for the next spout.

And the time of waiting we utilized by eating our picnic lunch.

And it was worth while waiting for.

All the time, even between eruptions, steam issues from the geyser’s mouth. As the time approaches for its eruption, its activity increases. It begins to sigh and rumble like a steam engine that is about to start; it lets out a few “woofs”; it begins to labor under the tremendous pressure from within; water is thrown up from its mouth; it toils and sighs and groans and roars, angrily trying to shake its fetters; higher and higher the steaming hot water is thrown up into the air, five, ten, twenty feet; until finally with a roar of victory the main spout leaps high into the air, sustains itself there for a few minutes to be sure that all the world is witness of its victorious power; then gradually subsides, receding back into its crater, to prepare for a new attack an hour later.

Yes, a wonderful work of God is Old Faithful.

And all around are other wonders, smaller geysers laboring and steaming, pools, some quiet and placid, others busily boiling, beautifully colored: emerald, pink, red, deep blue; all clear as crystal, so that you can gaze far into the mysterious depths of these apparently bottomless craters.

On the way and in the park we saw dear and moose, grazing on the hillsides or coming to the river to drink. Bears we did not see. They had not yet aroused themselves from their long winter-slumber.

Yes, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit in Montana from every aspect.

But the time came for us to leave. And on the morning of April 24 we began our trip to sunny California.