- Like I said before – Before I embarked on this journey I was imagining a dystopian world east of the Cascades, with rogue militias and confederates ruled the roads and rest areas, where the wrong look or bumper sticker could get you shot or your tires slashed. Where no one smiled until they knew who you were voting for (and that you were voting their way.) I am relieved to say, I didn’t find that. I had a perfectly pleasant trip – everyone I came in contact with either indifferent or cordial. Granted, I didn’t have any deep conversations and basically had very little contact with anyone once I left Idaho.
Of course, I know that I would be as tone deaf as “45” saying that COVID is no big deal, if I were to say that everyone should hit the road with nothing to worry about. I know that being an older, short, chubby, white lady makes me, non threatening and basically invisible and therefore safe. No one could see my love for my friends and family of color, my queerness, my voting history…
Left leaning, loved ones, both from “marginalized” groups who live in very right leaning areas expressed concern about me keeping my Black Lives Matter button on my purse. I took it off – reluctantly, and was still resistant to taking the one hanging from my rear view mirror down. I ended up compromising and when pulling into remote gas stations or rest areas I would turn it around so it faced in the car instead of out.
- I was surprised (should I have been?) that I did not see one Black person between Twin Falls and Rapid City and very few in those places. And very few POC in general. It has been a breath of fresh air to see a little more racial diversity in Kenosha – though I sure never would have thought that would be the case either.
- I did find that no one really got my humor on the road. If I had a nickel for every time I made a little joke and it was met with a sincere, “that’s fine ma’am” or “it’s all good” or some such reassurance, I’d have… about 25 cents.
- I must say, being invisible was quite liberating. Having no full length mirror and no one to meet up with or impress, meant I’d look in a truck stop mirror, notice my messy hair, my flabby arms, or a spot on my shirt and just finish washing my hands and walk out without a second thought.
- I’ll tell you – HipCamp is an excellent resource. It is very much like Air B&B but for campsites. I was able to book places as little as a day in advance, and it was so reassuring to have a destination each day and a real person expecting me. As it turned out, even in the places that had multiple sites, I was the only one there – besides owners of the property. I had very little contact with anyone until my second to the last night. I was at a farm outside of Souix City with a very friendly couple who shared tomatoes, peppers and squash from their garden and who were chatty, but knew when to leave me alone.
- I was pleased to see way fewer trump signs than I saw in 2016 when we were headed to Standing Rock. I saw very few Biden signs though – until I go to Minnasotta since then I have seen a lot more.
- I expected to experience people to looking at me askance for wearing a mask, but I never got any attitude even in truck stops or gas stations where no one else had a mask.
- There are findable NPR stations all across the country – but there are EVEN MORE religious stations.
Some lessons I learned
- It’s a good idea to check your oil, even if you have never really needed to before. In Twin Falls I humored a concerned Hector and found that I was a quart low. Thank you Hector!!
- Traveling when days are long and nights aren’t too cold is much preferable to the the opposite. As I moved east the nights got much cooler and the whole camping thing could have lost it’s charm if it had gotten much cooler or had been raining or snowing.
- Even though Chuckles was not crazy about car rides, I really appreciated having him as a companion. I don’t think I would have wanted to make that trip completely alone.
- I got really good at always putting things in the same place, so I spent very little time frustratedly digging for things.
- Head lamps are super handy!
- Cruise control is a wonderful invention!
- Because I often lost signal when I used navigation, I would take pix of the step by step directions while I still had signal. That helped immensely when looking for remote hipcamp sites.