Day 2. 1/12/2016. Starting Odometer: 142380. Final Odometer: 142690. Mileage: 310. Total Mileage 518.
I headed east on the I84 after waking up at a snowy rest area, not sure when I’d reached snow. It had been dark when I left Kennewick, and I had driven for a while, but the weather had never looked foul, so whatever snow I found myself in must have already been there when I arrived. The roads were desolate. With the exception of big-rig trucks and myself, I didn’t see another car for 200 miles. It hit me that the only people traveling this lonely stretch of road through potentially treacherous conditions were people who needed to do it.
For as long as the idea of having a road trip spanning the United States had presented itself as a possibility, I’ve been drawn irresistibly to it. It became a compulsion, the number one driving factor in my leaving my wife and family. I wanted to take this trip so badly I was willing to give up everything for the chance. And here I was, alone, in the middle of nowhere (more accurately, right on the border of nowhere), actually accomplishing at least a condensed version of my dream.
I passed strange facilities that seemed like things out of science fiction movies. Was this a quarry or power generator of some sort, or a Rebel Ion Cannon from The Empire Strikes Back? Had I found a secret American weapon against space-based assault troops?
I drove past, imagination fully engaged.
Time passed, the scenery became rugged, then it flattened out again and there ahead, I saw it. Something I’d never seen before as an adult. The Oregon/Idaho border. Immediately after that, the road trip went from liberating and freeing, to flat-out awesome. The state made an immediate impression, touting amazing benefits that people in Oregon can only dream about.
I mentioned them in today’s Roadcast.
After a stop at the Rocky Mountain Fireworks and Fur Trading Post (a store that sells fireworks, and buys and sells actual furs. Furs!), I proceeded to Boise to visit their state capitol. It was a beautiful building, and the setting sun garnished it in golden hues.
It took a while to find a park — something I hadn’t even considered, despite the debacle at San Diego Zoo in December — but once I did, I made my way inside, and discovered that contrary to the massive precautions that people take at our national government buildings, the state capitol buildings here in America are pretty danged open and informal.
I got to see wonderful displays about the state’s history, its educational priorities, the landmarks that it found important in its development. You got to see the Treasury’s original vault — and if you wanted, you could go into the Treasury room and see their current vault. I went in and visited the governor’s office. I saw their senate and house of representatives.
It made me feel proud to be an American. The hallmarks of our federal government, played out on a smaller stage at the state level, and everything was open for men, women, children — whoever — to come and learn about what makes America run, and how we learn from our mistakes even as we celebrate our successes.
I made my way back to Caravan One, and found Boise Riverside Park, where I’d scheduled to spend the night. They were friendly and accommodating, and the night passed quickly. It had been a good day.
In hindsight, I did need to be on that road. I needed to rediscover my passion for exploration, for learning, for being astonished by the world and people around me. My dreams were quiet, the voices in my head preoccupied with all I had seen; satisfied, for a change, with the world spinning rapidly beneath my feet and the sky twisting around it in an effort to keep up.