With 7 of the 9 ½ hours of driving now behind us, I decided I would take a few minutes to do some creative meditation on the day’s eventlessness. Mostly, there were a lot of delays doing mindless things like buying snacks and dropping off the electric bass and guitar at a storage unit in Cheyenne, Wyoming. We also got sucked into the snack aisles for a lengthy reverie at Little America, a posh and over-marketed gas station that we fell into like tiny dim stars wandering too close to a big black hole.
Right now, some fluffy innocent clouds are lingering in the skies over the mountains to our south and some whispy evaporation is hanging over the Great Salt Lake ahead of us. We’ve passed so many giant windmills farms today, I can no longer number them. They are always either spinning off in the distance just over the hill or in the field right next to I-80, their arms vigorously outstretched eager to do their work with perpetuity. The landscape has changed fairly dramatically from one hour to the next (hills, mountains, plains) and yet the desolation has never betrayed the fact that it is still Wyoming.
Wyoming. Wyoming. And more…Wyoming.
This is the third time in 7 days that we’ve driven this route. Stopping at a rest area is a big event in a state (both mental and political) like this. John lamented earlier about the lack of diversity in his diet, “I think I’ve had enough snacks.” He told me bluntly on a walk into a rest area. I hadn’t really thought about it yet, but after 7 days of eating Fritos, raisins, and peanuts for lunch, his words have been ringing in my head and now, at the end of this long day of driving I feel utterly deprived.
Yesterday, when John picked up our mail, there was a travel magazine in the stash. I got in the car this morning with the
fresh new catalog of places to go and see, excited about the prospect of thumbing through the picture book without distraction. There were a few very decent articles, but mostly advertising and some photos with captions about packaged trips that make travel so easy it wouldn’t even be worth it.
As I looked contemptuously through the magazine judging harshly any poor soul who ventured out into the world on a packaged tour, I realized that my butt was sore. At that time, I had been sitting so long that my derriere was tired.
The trip to Alaska is not itself difficult. We were in a rather roomy, air conditioned vehicle eating snacks and looking out the window like fish in a tank. We’re fed, watered, and our climate is controlled. I’m tired from the monotony of driving, but other than that, we’re hardly roughing it. Our tent camper has running water and heated mattresses for Christ’s sake.
We’re not doing a package tour. That’s true. But we’re not taking bicycles or a covered wagon to Alaska either. The hardest foreseeable part of this trip is confronting an inevitable case of boredom and cabin fever from being locked together in a van for hours on end. But “foreseeable” is the operative word in this case. It’s the stuff we haven’t planned for and can’t anticipate that will make the trip worthwhile (or a disaster) in the end. Anyone who travels in a way that attempts to account for the unforeseeable misses out on the juiciest element of travel…The Unknown.
As we ready to pass into Utah, I’m pleased with today’s progress and grateful for the relative ease with which we made our
way from our small town in Nebraska to Salt Lake City. At the same time, I look forward to the stuff I didn’t expect (at least the positive stuff).
And some real food perhaps.