There have been times in our almost forty-two years of marriage when Studly Doright and I have had less than two cents to rub together. I’m talking dead broke with no relief in sight. And still life went on. Somehow we worked through those bleakest days. Even in the worst of times there was fun. Studly could take rain and turn it into sunshine while I was still bemoaning the lack of an umbrella.

We were reminiscing this weekend about a trip we’d taken with our two kids to Texas for our niece, Christie’s graduation from high school. We were living in North Dakota at the time, so the journey was not one to be taken lightly. And while things had begun looking up for us money-wise, we were still a long way from having much in the way of disposable income.

The family celebrations in Texas were wonderful and we began our journey back to North Dakota feeling renewed by all of the love our kinfolk poured onto us during our all too brief visit. And while we’d carefully budgeted our travel money, when we reached the halfway point we realized we were down to $20. We could either buy food and sleep in the car or get a really cheap (crusty) hotel room. And, by the way, we still needed money for gas. Things looked a bit bleak.

This was in the days before ATM cards, and most establishments were leery about cashing checks drawn on out of state banks. Studly, though, decided to give it a go. He bypassed a row of hotels before pulling up in front of a La Quinta Inn in Omaha, Nebraska. I kept my fingers crossed while he went inside to test his luck. When he returned he had a bemused look on his face.

“What?” I asked. “Would they not accept a check?”

“Well,” Studly grinned. “The desk clerk looked at my check and said, ‘Are you related to Bob Noyes?’ I told him Bob was my uncle and the clerk told me that of course I could write a check. When I asked if I could write it for extra cash, he gave it a thumbs up.”

“What? Why?” I asked.

“Apparently Bob Noyes is a senior vice-president of La Quinta Inns.”

“But that’s not YOUR Uncle Bob!” I protested.

“He only asked if Bob Noyes was my uncle. Do I have an uncle named Bob Noyes?

I had to admit he did.

So thanks to an angel at La Quinta Inn in Omaha and a bit of serendipity we stayed in a nice, safe room for the night and had money for food and enough gas to return to our home in Linton, North Dakota. Travel mercies are a real thing, y’all.

Peace, people.