Day 3. 1/13/2016. Starting Odometer: 142690. Final Odometer: 143042. Mileage: 352. Total Mileage 870.
I woke up to news reports that a huge winter storm was headed straight for Boise. The first flakes had started to fall, and so I made it my mission to get the heck out of town before it got there. The folks at Boise Riverside Park were friendly and courteous. It was a very nice park, and I recommend it to anyone travelling through the Potato State (is that Idaho’s nickname? I should have looked that up).
A ways past Boise, the wind picked up, and in the distance, I saw Clarys. Big ones, too. I found a rest stop so I could get some video of them.
See, Clary is a type of sage, and when I think of sage, I think of sage brush. When I think of sage brush, I think of tumbleweeds, And when I see tumbleweeds rolling across an open prairie, free, fettered only by the wind, I think, “Clary.”
My dad has gypsy blood. I know this because I lived in the equivalent of a different house every year for the first 15 years of my life. I have gypsy blood: it’s what compelled me to take this road trip. It’s an essential part to my family’s makeup: they were all Arkansas sharecroppers who came to California during the Dust Bowl. But unlike Tom Joad, they never stopped moving. After a few years many of them moved back to Arkansas. Then the ones in Fresno would move back to Arkansas and the ones in Arkansas would move to Fresno. It was a cycle inspired and powered by the gypsy (some might say Cherokee) blood in our veins.
If calling wanderlust “gypsy blood” is offensive to you, then just grit your teeth and pretend I said “Sorry.” The part about tumbleweeds is over now. Long story short: I call tumbleweeds “Clarys” because they’re similar botanically, and we both like wandering wherever the road takes us.
I made it to within 15 miles of the Utah border when I head an explosion. Like BAM! It didn’t seem like a blowout, because Caravan One was handling fine. But I slowed down, got off at the nearest exit — approximately 30 miles from nowhere — and called Good Sam, grateful that at the very least, I had cell reception.
Almost two hours later, the tow truck guy confirmed. Massive blowout.
I lost most of the afternoon sitting in the RV, admiring the desolate beauty of the snow-frosted rugged landscape around me. I fretted a little because I was on day three, and already a wrench had been thrown into my schedule, even if just a little one. It was clear I would not get to Salt Lake City before the capitol building closed. I decided I would call the day a wash, and just see it in the morning before heading to Nevada.
The only problem was that the storm I’d outraced to get out of Idaho?
It was heading to Utah, too.
It was dark by the time I got to town. Only thing left to do was get to the park, get some rest, and hope for the best. I found the Pony Express RV Park easy enough: it was just behind the largest oil refinery I’ve ever seen. If you looked to the west, it was pretty enough. If you looked to the east, the entire skyline was factory towers and smoke.
Today was an adventure. I heard once “If you’re not having a good time, you’re gaining good experience.” I was reminded of that while sitting in the cab, waiting for the tow truck guy. I was reminded of Evel Knievel, who had tried to cross the Snake River once, with disastrous results. I had crossed the Snake a couple times as I headed to the Utah border. Jim Rome had asked Evel once, “Knowing what you did, why did you even try that?”
Evel’s answer was blunt. “Do you have any idea who the hell I am?”
I turned out the lights to the RV and settled into bed. Sleep evaded, though. Tumbleweeds blew in and out of my mind, stopping to ask as they passed, “Do you have any idea who the hell you are?”
I had no answer.
They blew on by.