A bit of home anywhere
Some months ago, Eureka-based St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore made plans for an epic trip to bookstore events in Rock Island, IL, Brooklyn, NY, and Missoula, MT. It would be quite the journey, and owner Rita Collins realized she would need help making this adventure happen.
So, last spring she began talking with people in the Tobacco Valley about her plans and eventually came up with all sorts of great ideas and connections. Karin Lamb's sister-in-law happened to know a couple in New York willing to provide housing and a safe parking space. Jan Jarrell, who is a member of the Eureka book club, mentioned people she knew in Rock Island who could offer a place to stay. She also knew some folks interested in interviewing Rita for public radio. John Brus, who retired to the Tobacco Valley some years ago, has a niece in New York willing to help out in any way. Former Eureka resident Sarah Anderson said to stop by Bozeman for home-cooked meals on the way. Eureka Auto Repair got the bookstore primed for the journey, which involved more than 5,000 miles. Rejuvenate Massage prepared Rita for driving the packed-to-the-gills bookstore cross country.
Finally, with a quick stop at Latte'Da, the Amazing Traveling Bookstore took off. And yes, it was quite the adventure. Housing, meals, driving and parking all worked out exceptionally well. The interview in Rock Island went smoothly and can be heard here. And bookstore owner Rita Collins felt she had a piece of the beautiful Tobacco Valley traveling with her when she visited the friends of friends or accepted hospitality made possible through individuals in Eureka.
As if this needed to be emphasized, there was a special moment at the Brooklyn Book Festival. A middle-aged man with his young son stopped by the traveling bookstore to ask, "I see you have 56 plates. What part of Lincoln County are you from?" It turned out this family was spending a sabbatical year in New York but normally live in Billings and was missing home. There was a great Montana conversation there in the middle of Brooklyn surrounded by tall buildings and thousands of festival participants.
About the Author: Rita Collins. I am a believer in the power of community and for now I call the Tobacco Valley home. I have lived in nine states and three counties and this community here amazes me - how people reach out to neighbors and even travelers. I've never lived in a place that demonstrates people caring for each other so well. And I've never lived in a place that has such a high percentage of talented musicians and artists. I work with the the Sunburst Community Service Foundation, a nonprofit that began in Eureka twenty years ago and now serves numerous communities in western Montana. And I just started a new business, St. Rita's Amazing Traveling Bookstore and Textual Apothecary. I never could have imagined life being this exciting in my sixth decade.
Tags: Rita Collins