I’m up before the alarm even though somewhere along the way yesterday I lost an hour. Or gained one, depending on how you look at it. Either way, it’s an hour later here than it is “at home.” I haven’t adjusted my relationship to where home is, what state it’s in, much less which time zone, which I guess makes sense because I am in traveling limbo.
This definitely feels like Hump Day. Having trouble accessing the internet here in the It’ll Do Motel, so I can’t get my mail or see what the weather forecast is, nor can I listen to Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure on Sirius, my usual shower accompaniment. Outside my window, the freeway flows and mountains loom in the not so far distance. It’s overcast, though there is brightness showing through the gray sky.
Geography never being my strong suit, I am embarrassingly clueless about the various mountains I have been climbing over and through, and wonder how many more there are to come. If anyone reading this can fill me in on where the Rockies are in relation to my route, I would appreciate it. I was so engaged in packing and planning and letting go that, other than a visit to the Auto Club for a Triptik, I did no research into where I was going. Though it does add an element of surprise, so it’s not all bad.
I left Bozeman a little after ten this morning. My body thought it was really nine, which is not its favorite hour for going anywhere. The first stretch was through low-hanging clouds again, thicker here than in the Cascades.
At about 11:30, I hit the first rest stop. Just a little over an hour but an hour at 80+ MPH (cracked the big 8-0) feels like a long time. Played leapfrog for a few miles with a long semi. Not on purpose. Then a red pickup and I couldn’t decide who should go first. It turned out to be me. We both stopped at the rest stop, though no acknowledgment was made of the miles we had shared.
Beneath a lightening sky, the landscape kept changing, while, at the same time, it seemed to go on forever. Much of what I drove through reminded me of Southern California, only on a much larger scale: browns and dark greens, low scrubby plants, with the occasional oasis of clumps of gold-leafed trees. They were like islands in the middle of the desert.
At a certain point, the land changed again. It seemed to become softer somehow, more rolling. A few miles later, I crossed into Wyoming. It’s clearly a different state.
Tonight, in the elevator of my hotel here in Gillette (much better than last night’s), I chatted with a bearded and heavily tattooed young man. I commented on the friendly ring his phone made. “They’ve got to keep tabs on me,” he explained after responding to a text. “I got into a little trouble with too much drinking and driving. But,” he went on, “I haven’t had a drink in ten months. Now I can pay attention to the baby the right way.” He’s here from Montana, climbing cell poles. “Never climbed one as high as what they’re having me doing here,” he said with a shake of his head. “Over four hundred feet.” There was a sweetness about him that no amount of body painting and lip piercings could eradicate. “Wow,” I said. “Good for you.”
As I drove this afternoon, I thought, I will still be me when I reach the end of this drive, but I’ll be me having done it. I wonder what that will mean.
There is so much more I want to write but it is nearly 11 p.m. and tomorrow’s drive is 415 miles, longer than today’s 373. So I’ll just share a rest stop sign that kept me off the grass and away from the picnic tables, and the ladies room that looked like a jail cell, and a taste of the Western clothing store that was as large as the land I’ve been driving through (I got myself a decidedly Western style flannel shirt) and put this blog post, and myself, to bed. Thank you for keeping me company.