Chapter 18: Notes From The Road (WA to MT)

“I left Tacoma a short while ago. Um, I drove just by the outskirts of Seattle, disappointingly unable to spend any real amount of time there, considering my drive today is seven hours to Missoula, Montana. Um, but, I don’t envision this being the last time I’m in the Seattle area, for sure. I’ve been largely out of contact with folks since San Francisco, I suppose… I’m not sure. I haven’t spoken to family or any friends or anything. It’s a very surreal feeling heading East, almost depressing in a way. And considering I still have a lot of land left that, in my own personal travel history is uncharted, I cannot help but feel remorse that this is the trip home where nothing happens in all the movies and all the books. The character just ends up at home. No great situations befall him, no swashbuckling or gunfights or horror stories, I’ll simply arrive home in a matter of pages. I won’t even be chased through multiple states by a murderous maniac. I don’t want my story to end like that. I’m going to try my hardest to make sure that it doesn’t. I… uh, just drove under an aqueduct. The sky is cloudless and a pretty blue color. It’s a shade of sky blue, if you could imagine that, as opposed to…you know, gray or black, pink, yellow, orange, green…your typical sky colors. This is more of a sky blue. I’m in Ryegrass, Washington. I’m trying not to stop until I hit Idaho. I’m trying not to eat until I hit Chicago.”

[Gary Higgins “I Pick Notes From The Sky” MP3]

“From Tacoma through a place called Snoqualmie, I mean, the scenery was more green and beautiful and forest-y than anywhere I’ve seen yet. And then all of a sudden I came through this mountain chain and it’s like…desert. No cactus, but it’s like a desert. It’s very sparse with lots of dirt and brown…if you can imagine dirt being brown (laughs)…with little shrubs…I don’t know…what this next week holds…oh that was gross, some kind of super-bug splattered on my windshield and left a beautiful streak of orange and yellow innards behind. Disgusting. Anyway, I don’t know what this next week holds, but it had better be something of an epiphany because at this point I don’t really know what I’m going home for, or to. The west has won me over, especially the great state of California. And…I don’t know if that could be a place where I might end up someday. I’m talking about Los Angeles and San Francisco. Somewhere that on weekends I could take a drive up or down the coast if I so desired, and camp out by the ocean. You can’t do that shit in New Jersey. The Atlantic is no Pacific, I’ll tell you that much. I’m full of profound statements this morning. There’s a boat. Someone’s driving a boat from…I shouldn’t say driving a boat, I should say hauling a boat…from Washington to Montana. Montana being landlocked and all, I don’t know where he’s going to actually drive it. Maybe through the desert.”

[Decemberists – “Odalisque” MP3]

“I’m in the Idaho Panhandle National Forest. I’ve been in the car for roughly five or six hours now, having stopped a few times along the way. The majority of the landscape is dominated by pines, tall grass and barren hillsides. This stretch of maybe 70 miles across the state of Idaho before I hit Montana is profoundly beautiful. At this point I can’t imagine not having taken this route home. I would have been foolish to go to Reno from San Francisco. I just hope the car holds up for the remainder of the trip. I’m coming up on the Fourth of July Pass Recreation Area, I’m not entirely sure what that is. There are a lot of old people in this area. I haven’t passed a young driver in a while. I have been listening to Bob Dylan’s Chronicles, Volume 1 in sort of a haphazard fashion. I think the audio book chapters aren’t in order. Parts of it are intriguing. Parts are, in my opinion, mildly egotistical. It’s pretty good, overall. I need to find a weird little town to stop in to stretch my legs. I had two cookies, chocolate chip and icing covered. That’s all I’m allowing myself today. I’m on a new regiment. I’m calling it the cookie regiment. I’ll survive on a diet of cookies for now. My current elevation is 3,069 feet in the Panhandle National Forest. Should there be a drop in cabin pressure, overhead masks will fall from their compartments. Place the mask over your nose and mouth before helping the person next to you. Now I’m slowly coming down the other side. Roadway may be icy in shaded areas. I don’t think that’s going to be the case when the temperature is in the 90s. I’m about two hours from Missoula. I should be there by about 6:30, in plenty of time to find the Big Sky Brewery, plenty of time to explore a city in Montana. Plenty of time…”

“Is this a dream that I’m moving in? Is this a dream that I am moving in? Could it be art as scenery rolling by me so indelibly deep? Is this sleep taking over me? Are these eyelids lead weighing down on me? Is this a dream I’m moving in? West and North and East. And I constantly bear this beast riding along in the back seat watching over me, reminding me that the time to cease moving is rapidly approaching. We’re taking it one day at at time. This will all end in time.”

[Melvins “Going Blind” [Kiss] MP3]

“This is Missoula, Montana, where the locals at this Grill and Casino all want to talk about this weekend’s rodeo at the fairgrounds. Saturday is the PBR Challenge, when close to fifty riders and bulls from as far as South Dakota will come to town. With decent prize money, some “big names” are sure to show up in Missoula. Me? My hands are wrapped around a twenty-five ounce mug of Moose Drool and my head is lost in the big sky. The further East I drive, the more I feel those old anxieties and neuroses creeping back into my mind. I have seen beautiful days— perhaps the most serene to ever be created. I am always moving and counting off the miles that slip by alongside me. Markers draw me closer and further at once. I am caught between poles. Attracted and repelled at once with overloaded senses. The body shakes and longs to waste away days endlessly exploring. West or east, as long as I’m not stuck in between.”

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