Some of my takeaways from my travels

  1. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.  
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.  
  6. 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.
  7. There are findable NPR stations all across the country – but there are EVEN MORE religious stations.

Some lessons I learned

  1. 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!!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I got really good at always putting things in the same place, so I spent very little time frustratedly digging for things.
  5. Head lamps are super handy!
  6. Cruise control is a wonderful invention!
  7. 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.

October 4th

I woke up a couple hours east of Jackson Hole Wyoming just off of 287. I arrived after dark (on the 3rd) so really had no idea where I was, but the stars were bright until the moon came up which was even brighter. Chuckles and I wandered a bit and saw the little creek on the other side of the berm, then I put up my curtains for the first time – since I wasn’t quite sure if there would be people around, and cozied into the car and crashed.

Woke up to beauty! There was no one else camping and we were a ways from the owners’ house. We took a stroll to find the bathroom and I was relieved that no one else was there! I have a recurring nightmare about having to poop and the only place to go is super public (the most extreme was a toilet on top of a lifeguard tower) . So as you can imagine this could have been quite stressful – BUT there was no one there – so as it turned out I had one of the most pleasant morning constitutionals I’ve ever had.

The next night I had a place to camp outside of Cody and could have gotten there in 2 hours by going North on a bigger highway. I decided instead to backtrack and go through Teton and Yellowstone National parks – since I was in the neighborhood. It was a long day of driving but I was happy to get to see it all. I’ve made a few little videos of the day – starting with a little tour of my car set-up and then the views as a drove with the music that was on.

Who knew that there was a great big sea (practically) at the top of the Rockies!!

Some other random images from my day.

Once again, I got to my campsite after dark – it was basically just a space in a retired couple’s yard – they had wireless so I caught up on the news (all snuggled in my car) and went to sleep.


Tuesday September 29

I set out driving east and stopped in Boise where I wandered around the Hyde Park neighborhood. I saw a lot of queer flags and Black Lives Matter signs, but didn’t take pix.

September 29 – October

I spent 4 lovely days with my dear friend, Hector. He was actually my first real boyfriend way back in the day and it is lovely to be back in touch. Over the days we dealt with my bank stuff (because of the scam) and wandered around the Twin Falls area which is deceptively beautiful. It seems to be a red/Trump enclave but Hector and his family do a lovely job of staying true to their beliefs and having lovely relationships with those around them. Another super sweet thing was: after I lost his Starbucks card with $40 on it, he smiled and said that he was due to pay it forward so hopefully someone will enjoy it. ❤

I love how the city built these fences to accommodate these groovy old trees.