Essential Point

In Missoula, Rosa and I connected with Rosa’s sister, Leila, and her friend Bill.

Rosa and Leila practicing in Bonner Park to an attentive listener:

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We all played together at the Break downtown.  Bill and Leila of Quaggaland:

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Rosa and Leila:

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Rosa connected with old friends—Jess, Jeff, and Jill—who invited us over for a couple meals in their house on the river. Over breakfast we all decided to collectively plan a treasure hunt for Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure in New Mexico.  If you haven’t heard the story, this is the eccentric art dealer who hid a million dollar treasure somewhere in the wilderness and wrote a poem that supposedly leads people to it.  If his purpose was indeed to get couch potatoes off the couch, we all know that the longer that treasure goes unfound the more couch potatoes might turn treasure hunters.  And we also know that the treasure that goes unfound the longest is the treasure that does not exist.  But who cares?

Besides, let’s admit that treasure probably doesn’t get couch potatoes off the couch—it attracts the whimsical and already-adventurous.  This may be a flaw in Fenn’s plan to activate the lazy, but good ideas don’t need to work to be good ideas.  The last line of Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo—one of the great treasure novels—goes like this: “All human knowledge can be contained in these two words: Wait and Hope.”  That may be the couch potato philosophy.

And even though, only a few lines earlier, Dumas writes, “There is neither happiness nor unhappiness in this world; there is only the comparison of one state with another,” we have still plastered this country with happiness letters along our route.  Like breadcrumbs, a trail of envelopes, bookmarks, and questionnaires remain behind us with a lot of promises, interest, and good intentions.  We have spread letters among friends, new acquaintances, strangers, and who-knows-whos.  Now we wait and hope.

In Three Forks, we played at the historical Sacajawea Hotel, near the point where Meriwether Lewis called the meeting of the rivers an “Essential Point.”  We played to guests and friends and even an unexpected father, and the staff took great care of us and put us up in their posh hotel, built in 1910.

The Sacajawea Hotel:

 north side in 20's

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I admire Rosa more every time I watch her perform.  How does she do this?  How did she get this good?  When did this all happen exactly?  How can she be so cool up there under so much scrutiny?

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Together, Rosa and Leila perform beautifully, with voices that swirl around together like two rising lines of smoke.  And as Rosa strums and strums, Leila belts out an occasional trumpet solo that clangs off the walls and seeps through the cracks of open windows.

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