Saturday, November 28, 2015

On the Road Again: Cross Country Drive

I left at a relatively early hour to begin my journey eastward. I had a fair amount of ground I wanted to travel. All of Washington, a bit of Idaho and then on into Montana for my first day of driving. I'd never really gone to the eastern side of Washington, and was surprised how the landscape changed once the Cascades were behind me. All these very round mogul-like hills. Sort of like oversized golf balls cut in half and then placed right on top of each other over and over again. This is a thing I saw outside of Pullman, Washington.
I'm  fairly certain this is Idaho.
This, too, is Idaho. I do believe. I would have loved to see a number of these things in the spring or summer when it was green instead of brown. I also drove past a number of fields that had the remnants of sunflowers decaying and dried up, which I imagine would have been fairly spectacular to see when the flowers were actually in bloom.
I took major highways for a bit, but eventually dropped down onto smaller roads and eventually got on Route 12, which went through the Lolo National Forest and along the Lochsa River.

My final destination was Lochsa Lodge. Its website says it's in Idaho, but Googlemaps says it's in Montana, so I'm a little confused about the whole thing. I stayed in this little cabin, which came complete with a nice little stack of wood on its porch, which I totally dipped into in order to enjoy the wood burning stove within the cabin. The lodge had a little restaurant where I had dinner. A nice funny spot for an evening. I wish I had more time to explore, but, alas, I had to get up early the next day to continue the drive.
This is terribly blurry, but after a couple of hours I finally was definitely in Montana and stopped at a gas station to refuel and get a cup of coffee. And just hanging out near the pumps? One million turkeys. Also referred to as a rafter of turkeys.

I drove across Montana all that day. Wishing that I had the time to stop and actually get a bit of a better sense of what was off the highway. Alas, alas, alas.
This is either Montana or South Dakota. Not clear which.
I tried to get a better photo of this truck, because it had some weird shit going on. A blow up doll of the female variety, with hand cuffs, peaked out of a set of bars at the back...and then there was a lot of writing that I couldn't quite see. Weirded me out, that truck. Not funny.
This might be in Crow Agency, Montana. I took some smaller roads to make my way to my next destination, and boy did I see a lot of poverty. Not to mention horses totally unfenced in, grazing in the parking lot of a restaurant/casino. My destination on this day was Deadwood, SD. I stayed in a historic hotel in the center of the town. The room was dated but in a kind of neat way. The old lobby was just a warren of slot machines. I had some food at a nearby restaurant, but it wasn't particularly good or worth discussing.
And then I woke up super early to start off on another long day of driving. I made a few detours. First to Lead, SD to see a pit.

A mining pit. The morning started out looking quite beautiful. Sun in the air, not too cold. I had polled my Facebook network on whether I should bother seeing Mt. Rushmore, and the consensus was that I after Lead, I began driving to Mt. Rushmore.
It was a pretty drive, but the clear skies disappeared and a fine drizzle and foggy low hanging clouds became the norm.
So much fog/cloudiness that the below photograph is my Mt. Rushmore experience. Couldn't see it at all. Zero percent visibility. I was a little annoyed that the Mt. Rushmore folks wouldn't warn us before we paid that we wouldn't be able to see anything. Just seems a little rude. Yes, we will take your $11 but what we won't tell you is that you won't be able to see a thing. I didn't even bother with any of the museums or gift shops. Just laughed at the ridiculousness of it and then made the even more questionable decision to see if Crazy Horse would be any more visible.
The upshot of going to Rushmore was that as I drove away, I got to see mama and baby mountain goats doing their thing along the road.
So fuzzy!
Crazy Horse was, of course, equally invisible. But the dude at the pay station let me turn around instead of charging me to see his fog.
Then I stopped at Wall Drug. A thing I guess I'm glad I did...but a thing I don't think I'll really ever do again.
And then I stopped to see a corn palace, which was unbelievably not worth my time. Seriously.
There was going to be a rodeo in the palace later that evening.
My thoughts on the palace.
I meant to get farther down the road than I did on this South Dakota day. I meant to get to Des Moines Iowa, but with the Mt. Rushmore/Crazy Horse side track, and then kind of crappy weather, I just didn't have it in me. So I stopped in Sioux City Iowa for the evening. I had some okay Thai food and then befriended a German couple at my hotel's very small bar. And then I went to bed and woke up super early and began driving again. This is the sunrise in Iowa.
I enjoyed driving through Iowa except for the copious anti-abortion signs in all the yards. My destination for that evening was Chicago.
And to Chicago I did go. I went and looked at the building I last lived in during my Chicago era. It was for sale and I could see that there were new windows and other updated/repaired features to the place. I lived on the second floor. Such a great apartment.
Then I made my way to Lake Michigan.
And after Lake Michigan I met up with a few grad school folks for dinner and conversation. Oh Chicago.
And then the next morning I woke up a bit later and made my way to Columbus, Ohio to see Cuz K. and family.
No trip to Columbus would be complete without a trip to the Book Loft. Basically my favorite bookstore ever. I had a really lovely lunch at Lindey's after buying a few books.
After hauling ass for five days, I stayed put in Ohio for an extra night or two to spend time with the family and the pups, and to just take a break from hours spent sitting in a car.
We celebrated my uncle's birthday one evening.
Cuz K. was more pregnant than when she and A. came out to Whidbey in the summer, and I'm fairly certain she's even more pregnant now. A. also has a bun in the oven...but it may be a literal bun;) Cuz K. is due to have her baby girl in the next two weeks and I am super excited about this.
And then I was on the road once more. I wanted to stop at a Zanesville pottery store that my mother and I always stopped at when driving to Ohio, but I left too early and it wasn't open yet. This is an antique/junk store just down the road from the pottery place.

And this is me somewhere in Pennsylvania. This was my last day of cross country driving. I managed to get myself to Brooklyn in a relatively good time frame.
I've said it to countless people, and probably written it too, but I really am doing this whole 'cross country' drive thing wrong. I had a hard deadline for getting to New York (a wedding to be featured later) so I really couldn't take my time and explore or see much. I feel pretty hardcore about the ground I covered, but I do wish I could have been a little more spontaneous. Maybe hiked something. Or camped somewhere. Or driven only 5 hours a day instead of 8-12. I'd also like to do the drive with a friend at some point, which I am fairly certain would make it a bit more entertaining. All that grumping done, I do enjoy spending time driving up to a point. I had plenty of podcasts and books to listen to, so my mind was engaged. But for every photograph I did take, there were a few that I would have liked to take, but didn't stop to do so. America is a pretty big country.

I will also gripe about how my fitness level has steadily declined since leaving the farm. I knew this would happen, as it happened last year too, but it's amazing how getting a little softer/gaining weight while losing muscle impacts my overall sense of self. One could argue that I could still keep in shape even off the farm, and that is a solid argument...except that I hate having to try to be fit. I like just having to work and the repercussions of the work being relatively toned arms and less of a gut. Wah wah wah. It's true though.