The day after Thanksgiving, 2001, found Brian and me camped out in his Suburban on a snowed under Wyoming highway sharing Thanksgiving leftovers with a Frenchman.
The snow came out of nowhere. One minute we were driving into endless flatness, arguing I think. The next minute was white. Then traffic stopped. We sat for hours as the snow drifted around us. We had plenty of fuel, yummy leftovers from our dinner in Colorado the day before, and even a VCR/TV with in the back seat loaded with Christmas movies. We were ready to spend the night.
As people tend to do when traffic stops, we hopped out and chatted with people around us. The guy in the Subaru behind us seemed nice, and interesting. We talked a while then got back in to keep warm. After two or three hours traffic moved again. We made it an exhilarating few hundred feet and stopped again. Brian and I noticed the Subaru shutting its engine off periodically. “He must be low on gas,” Brian said. We invited the driver to join us in the big warm SUV, and there we chatted while the snow continued to blanket the road and the cars. Our new friend Youenn shared stories of his past adventures and work as a fisherman, cowboy, sheepherder, beekeeper, roofer and craw fisherman that seemed too outlandish to be true, but were they ever entertaining.
Finally we began moving again and Youenn returned to his own car. We didn’t make it far, only to the next town, such as it was. It seems that out west, they quite literally shut the highways down when the storms are bad enough. Quick work on the cell got us one of the only motel rooms in town, and when we landed at the same convenient mart at Youenn once in town, we arranged a room for him too with our phone. Ever the web nerd, I looked him up straightaway when I connected on dial-up in our room, and sure enough, there he was, all the wildly improbable things he said he was.
As we were stranded for the night, we decided to dine together at the truck stop across the road from our motel. Youenn continued to enthrall us with his stories of hitchhiking from Canada to Argentina in the 70s. We parted ways after dinner, exchanging contact information.
Fast forward to the present. We’ve maybe heard from each other a couple times over the years — I knew vaguely he was in Paris now, heading up the Brown-in-France program there.
I emailed a far-flung group of friends yesterday to invite them to my new food blog, and briefly mentioned my upcoming trip to Paris. This morning I had a note from Youenn, who lives in the Marais just a few blocks from my apartment for the week. Our snowbound truckstop dinner will be followed, it seems, by drinks and dinner in Paris next month.
I just have to shake my head at the ways of the world sometimes and say who would have thought?