Just before I left Florida, my friend Ricci gave me a dragonfly, with this message written on the wings:
“All that glitters is not gold. All who wander are not lost.”
I’m sleepy now as I write this. Uninspired for the most part, sneezing in an auto repair shop, where I’m getting the oil changed in Joe’s car. It’s 9 a.m. on a Wednesday and I’m drinking Timmy Ho’s out of a plastic travel mug. Mechanic’s coffee is always too black and too dank for my taste buds, so I usually bring my own.
I’m listening to Ani as usual, and to the woosh of power tools ripping lug nuts off tires in the shop. It’s sunny out and what I really want to do right now is curl up like a cat in the light cast by the vertical blinds hanging in the front window.
I brought a book and my laptop – the laptop so I could write an intro to this last installment of tent diaries and a book so I wouldn’t have to write.
Life is banal and beautiful no matter where you are. That’s what the road taught me; what staying with strangers and friends taught me. People’s lives are no more or no less glamorous than your own, whether you live in Athens, Ill. or Sisters, Ore.
I was flagged down on a highway somewhere between Wyoming and Utah by a 40-something couple, whom I lent my cell phone to and pathetically my tire iron, which of course was too small to help change the flat on their empty horse trailer.
Before I even opened my mouth they told me they were from Sarasota, Fla., heading to Oregon to pick up a horse, which of course was laughably surreal given that I was coming from Sarasota and heading to Oregon too.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Bear Lake, Utah
Knocked my socks off.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Twin Falls, Idaho
There was a three and half hour traffic backup on I-84 outside of Twin Falls, Idaho. People were moseying about their parked vehicles, truckers kept getting out of their cabs pounding the sides of their tires with hammers to make sure they were what — not leaking (I don’t know.) It was 6 pm. The sky was starting to fade from baby blue to watery pink. The clouds looked like taffy. The moon cocked curiously to my left as the sun did that thing it sometimes does in the summer— it gave an encore performance. The night wouldn’t settle on Idaho and I wondered if it was because I was so close to (but not in) the Pacific Time Zone. Sprinklers lined the fields in straight ghostly patterns, water arching like colorless rainbows across the green. I rolled down my windows to a cool, sweatshirt-y night. The couple in the Toyota Tundra in front of me said it was a major accident two miles ahead. We’d be stuck for several hours. Jesus. We’d been at a standstill for over an hour already. I was about to ask if they knew any other way to get to my campsite but I looked at their plates and saw they were from Montana.
Friday, July 06, 2007
Klamath Falls, Oregon
This is a story of expectations, highways and disappointments:
“Can you please tell me the best way to get to Bend?”
“How about to Crater Lake. How far am I from Crater Lake?”
“Sorry. Can’t help ya.”
“Are you familiar with Oregon?”
“Yeah. Born and raised in Klamath Falls.”
“But Crater Lake is supposed to be close to Klamath Falls.”
“Yeah, beats me.”
I was 45 minutes from Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. I found it easily using my maps, my books, my compass, and the northern star. I exhausted every navigational tool I had in the state of Oregon.
In Klamath Falls I checked into my campsite. I was still wearing that goddamn dress. Cubbie was restless, buckled into the passenger seat. The Klamath Falls campground was also the Klamath Falls gas station and liquor store. I was cut in line by a man and a woman buying two 40 oz Budwesiers. They reeked like smoke and booze. They had six teeth between the two of them and I wanted to say, excuse me I’m waiting in line here. I’ve been driving all day to get here. I have a date with Oregon. Can’t you see? But I didn’t speak up, just backed up, gave them their space and let them cash out. When their credit card was declined I didn’t roll my eyes. I was patient. I picked through the Oregon postcards on the wall.
“Just run one through,” the woman slurred.
The clerk ran one bottle through. The card was accepted. The drunkards rejoiced, walked away with one brown bag, six teeth and in the case of the woman — no shoes.
I asked for a tent site for one night please. One night in Klamath Falls and then I’d be off in the morning.
“How close am I to the Oregon coast?”
Friday, July 06, 2007
Bubble Burst, Oregon
The things I did not photograph are the things I cherished the most.
“I think you should drive to the coast.”
He told me to calm down. (He’s good at that.) I calmed down. He’d mapquest the coast for me. I was only six hours from the Pacific. I should get some sleep, go see Crater Lake and keep going west. I should pick out a place on the ocean and just calm down. I should relax because it would all work out. These things always do. And then, he said … I should just come home. He missed me.