There was something different about Dan. People thought he was a bit eccentric. He was not one to keep up with the latest fad, read the current best sellers, or appreciate the latest music. Dan was on a different path than the rest of society.
Dan was what you would call a back roads kind of person. He preferred to travel the back roads on his motorcycle when traveling between communities. When he had to travel he preferred to avoid the expressways or major highways. He would take the old roads that wound through hills and small towns. It was a slower way to travel but Dan was never in a hurry anyway. He enjoyed the journey more than the destination. He found beauty in such things as the shape of a lonely tree or the sight of an old windmill. Dan was emotionally moved when he spotted a hawk soaring overhead. He was delighted by the sight of a valley from the crest of the hill. He loved it when he saw a herd of cows or a flock of sheep.
Dan hated to travel on the major highways where he felt pressured to keep up with the flow of traffic. This back roads mentality was typical in all of Dan's life. His wife had wished that he was more ambitious. But Dan never did like the competition on the job that often resulted in lying, backbiting, exaggeration, and kissing up to the bosses. He also disliked the subtle pressure to blend in with the fashions of others, whether it was at work or church. Dan was his own self and he felt very comfortable just being himself. He just wanted to be accepted for what he was, not some false image created by the kind of car that he drove, the neighborhood in which he lived, his position at work, or the clothes that he wore.
It was the pressure to conform that eventually forced Dan to quit his city job and move to the mountains. He went from an office job in the city to a security job at a lumber mill in the mountains. His wife and two teenage daughters never did understand Dan or his lifestyle. They missed the shopping malls and the social life that the city offered. They constantly reminded Dan that it was his fault that they were living in this awful, backward place. Dan, however loved the mountains and their rugged scenery. He especially loved the solitude and the freedom from the pressure to conform.
Dan's wife and daughters moved back to the city. His wife took the car and furniture, leaving Dan with the motorcycle as his only means of transportation. She got her old job back, eventually divorced Dan and married her boss.
Dan missed his family, although he did appreciate the absence of their constant nagging about the big mistake he had made when he moved to the mountains. He often wondered if it was a mistake to quit his job and move his family to the mountains. Sometime he thought that he had waited too long to make the move. Possibly if he had moved to the mountains when his daughters were much younger they would not have been tainted by city values. Then they may have appreciated the beauty of the mountains.
Dan attended a small mountain church. He found that the friendship of other believers helped fill the void left when his family moved back to the city. However, he still missed the intimacy of a wife and there were no eligible young women attending this small church to fill that void.
It was during this need that Dan discovered Hidden Valley and Ann. He warmed up to her immediately. She was young, attractive, available and had similar tastes to his own. He guessed that she was about five years younger than himself. She obviously loved the mountains and solitude. She was a rare jewel. She was "natural" like her surroundings. Her appearance was free of makeup, her hair hung down to her shoulders, she was wearing a plaid blouse with a levi skirt. She had a pair of simple sandals that she slipped on when walking some distance. Dan found Ann to be a refreshing change from most of the other women he had met.
He thought often of Ann during the following week. He worried about her living alone out in Hidden Valley. She had no phone to use in case of an emergency or illness. He yearned to go back for another visit. She had invited him back but they had not established a date or time. Dan planned to return on the weekend but he had to replace a tire on his motorcycle before attempting to navigate the old trail to Hidden Valley again.
He had to spend Saturday driving down to the city where he could purchase a tire and have it mounted. By the time he got back to his mountain cabin it was getting too dark to make the trip.
It was Dan's turn to give the message at his little mountain church on Sunday. The church was so small they could not afford a regular preacher so some of the men took turn speaking. Possibly he could visit Hidden Valley after church. But that just happened to be the Sunday the church was having their monthly potluck dinner after church. Dan's inability see Ann for another week only intensified his desire.