We left Portland on Friday morning, heading to Louisiana. We drove east on I-84, through Oregon and into Idaho, and then I-80 through the rest of Idaho and into Wyoming. I’m writing these words at the end of a second 12-hour day in the car. This is the first really long road trip I’ve taken since I was 14. It’s feeling a bit revelatory.
The most striking thing about the miles we’ve covered so far is how empty of humans and the detritus of our civilizations they are. Miles and miles of nothing but open land. The highlight for me was a small group of horses living their best life somewhere in western Wyoming, running free, eating grass, no fences in sight.
The low point was a small town that used to be the home of a state penitentiary, which was operational until 1981. The main drag of the town was pocked with shuttered motels and empty restaurants. There was a neighborhood of what might have been charming homes. We’d hoped to eat there, but we couldn’t find any place we wanted to enter, and, honestly, the whole town felt creepy AF (even before we stumbled upon the penitentiary, which is two blocks off the main street) and we got the hell out of Dodge right after filling up our tank. (Later, I googled the penitentiary, and it IS creepy AF. Operational until 1981, with a grisly history. Now it’s a tourist attraction? And apparently haunted?) It was clear that the town was once thriving, but whatever it had was probably built on the misery of that prison. The whole thing left me feeling sad and icky and unsettled.
Driving through miles and miles (and miles) of land so different from what I know, I had a lot of thoughts about our country and its divisions. I won’t share them, as I know I don’t really know anything about what life is like in the places we’ve driven past, and they are all just speculation. I can say that I found myself having an easier time understanding why so many of us have such different world views; we are living vastly different lives. I knew that before Friday, but in a more abstract way. Something about driving through all these places makes it more concrete.
I can also say that this drive has increased my appreciation for where I live. For evergreen forests, big salt water, glacier-carved rivers, marine air. It was hard for me to drive away from home, knowing that I will be gone for most of the summer. The raspberries in the backyard were just ripening, and the blueberries hadn’t begun to yet. I will miss them this year.
It’s nice to have reminders of how much I love what I have.
And on that note, I’ll share a poem that crossed my feed on Saturday:
And my last breakfast at home. It was so good, and I’m so thankful to have had it.
We still have three more days to go, hitting a lot of Colorado and Texas before getting to Louisiana. Would love to hear about any of your adventures.