Tag Archives: Idaho

Montana Trip

The bus ride from New York in California is long. On the bus I met a teen guy and girl. We were on the bus together for a long time. The girl was cute. But she was young for me. Sometimes I still like to flirt. I had a practice of the bus. I’d put my bag on the seat. Then I would watch people getting on the bus. But not look at them. When I saw someone I wanted to sit next to, I’d move my bag. Then I would wave and smile to the person. It worked often. Most people will choose an empty seat. And on a bus full on strangers, people go towards someone friendly.

On a long bus ride, getting the right seat-mate is important. Late in the trip there was a child on the bus. It was early morning and most people were sleeping. Or trying to sleep. He was running up and down the isle. “Look it’s the salt flats,” the boy said. It wasn’t cool but I told him, “no kid, those are the cocaine flats.” The mother got upset. But she did make him sit down and be quiet. Which was all I wanted.

Waiting for my bus in Sacramento was interesting. I met a woman who used rubber checks to steal cars. She’d make a down payment with a check. Take the car. The check would bounce and she would be gone. Also I met several people who had just gotten out of jail. Sacramento is now a beautiful city. And downtown has gained life. But these were dark days for the town.

I was back in California. But not for long. I stayed with mother in Stockton. She lived in a dump. Really, it was a dump. As much as she tried to get repairs done. The landlord refused. Until one day she stopped paying rent. It went to court. Mother took pictures of the apartment to show the judge. Not only did mother not have to pay rent. The apartment was condemned.

In Stockton I connected with people going to the gathering. In 2000 it was in Montana. I met up with them in a house in Sacramento. It was a group, including a mother. And some young children. The means of transport was a big yellow bus.

The first leg of the trip was to a festival north of Sacramento. The plan was to spend the night, and move along. But problems started with the bus. Someone had put the wrong fuel in the tank. And it took some time to get things fixed. I’m not sure how they resolved the issue. But we were able to get moving again.

Over the mountains and into Nevada was our path. The next stop I remember was in Winnemucca. We stopped near a park there for a couple days. I believe there was another problem with the bus. Old school buses aren’t known for running without problems. While at the part we took showers. There was a pool in the park. Some of the guys on the bus started hanging out at the skate park. And selling drugs.

Most of the people on the bus felt this was a bad idea. And asking for trouble. Soon the bus was fixed. In fact not a moment too soon. The cops showed up to question the group. They did their thing, nothing serious. And we were back on the road.

Driving along the highway they kept the front door open. Maybe it was the heat. But it was also because of number of them were smokers. They could blow their smoke out the door. Which was important because the kids had allergies to smoke. And it wasn’t a problem, until it was one night. The cat got freaked, bolted right out the door. We stopped the bus, but never found the kitty.

During another stop going through the desert we found a car. It looked abandoned. But there were things inside. A tent and other gear. Things a few of us wanted to take. It did look like the owner had walked away for good. Like the car had been there for a while. But I argued against taking anything. Because we didn’t know the story. Whose things were in the car. Or were the owner was now. We did know it didn’t belong to us. Nothing was taken.

We made a short un-eventful stop in Idaho. The next long stop was Bozeman. The Montana town sits right next to a mountain. We parked at the disc golf course. At one point a man drove up. Then a woman drove up. They drove away in his car. An hour later they came back. And drove away alone.

Wow. Every time I looked up. Wow. All I could think was wow. The mountain was so close and so big. It was almost alarming. While in town I tried to connect with an old friend. But it didn’t work out. I developed a deep love for Bozeman. Besides some great scenery. It also has a good health food store. I always feel better about a town with a good source of food.

The next stop was the gathering. In the future I’ll be sharing a chapter about Rainbow Gatherings. Most of all because I have been to a couple. And they run together in some ways. I once promised a dear friend I would take her to a gathering. And if I ever see her again, she wants to go. Then I will keep my promise. But it is the ever seeing part which I doubt the most.

After the gathering I went to Boulder, Colo. I spent a couple weeks in Boulder, doing yoga and tarot card readings. After Boulder was a brief stop in Stockton. Then a return to Portland.

The Second Trip

Some moments are ripe for change. For me it was the time to leave. My work was closing. The restaurant was set for a remodel. They tore it down. And started from scratch.

My friend Sean wanted to take a trip. I had shared stories about my first trip. And he had done some traveling too. The plan was to go east for the Rainbow Gathering. It was in Pennsylvania.

At first he was asking his girlfriend to come on the trip. And she refused. But then we all watched The Matrix. Then she agreed to go along. But my friend changed his tune. I’m not sure why, but he got upset. She did not join us on the trip. I wonder how things would have been different if she had gone.

We hitched out of Portland on I-84. Eastward we went through Eastern Washington. I’m not sure why, but we traveled through Spokane. If you forget how to pronounce the city name, remember it does rhyme with cocaine.

In Spokane we were spanging at a store. A man came out and talked to us for a while. Said we were doing it all wrong. If we wanted to learn about the world. Get a job he suggest – but not in a mean tone. He said we would learn more working, than traveling. Sean later pointed out we would never had heard his ideas. If we had never traveled to Spokane.

After Spokane our next stop was Missoula. We met some younger people. And they let us spend the night at their apartment. One of the girls I had a crush on. And I was flirting with her, maybe not aggressively. But the next thing I know she is making out with Sean. It upset me. There were and are few women I am attracted to on a real level. She was one of them. Sean later told me he didn’t know I was flirting with her. And I believe he wouldn’t have done something to hurt me. Just our ideas of things were different.

Heading east we got a ride with a crazy couple. I recall stopping in Buffalo, Wyoming. We would all take a walk for a while. She would call a hotline and say she was an abused woman. Then someone would come out and give her gas and money. I didn’t like her taking advantage of services meant to help people. Though she claimed there was a small kernel of truth to her story.

The plan with me and Sean was for us to go to Boulder. I loved Boulder during my last visit. And I wanted to stop again. Also as we got closer I was looking forward to being away from the couple. But then the three of them came to me. They had made plans for us to go all the way to Pennsylvania together. Great, I thought.

At one point the heat was getting to all of us. We pulled off the interstate to go to a lake. But there was a usage fee and none of us had the money. Driving back we crossed through Glendo, Wyoming. They were having a town fair. I pointed out we would be missing a rare event if we didn’t stop. So we stopped.

I ended up singing karaoke with some local teen girls. The only song I recall is, “I’m a bitch, I’m a lover, I’m a child, I’m a mother…” And Sean won the Watermelon Eating Competition. The guy in the couple said at one point some local boys were giving me the eye. Because I was singing with their girls. But he took off his shirt, showing some mean tattoos I guess. He made it clear he was with me, and they tamed down.

In North Platte, Nebraska, she went to the hospital. Me and Sean walked downtown. Found a pizza place. Got some out of the trash and started back. There was a house with a trampoline in front. I asked if we could jump on it, as a joke. They said we could. But it didn’t feel comfortable, or fun.

From Nebraska we went south. They had to do something in Kansas. While I don’t think brake repair was what they planned. It became unavoidable. The whole van should shake and the brakes made a loud grinding noise. My guess is they had to replace more than brakes. This is where we finally parted ways.

We had to walk through town to find a place to hitch a ride. Doing so we passed some cops at a convenient store. They stopped us a couple blocks later. They asked if we had any weed. No, we told them the truth.

“Then why did we smell weed when you walked by,” they asked.

We explained we hadn’t bathed in a while. Sometimes body odor can smell like weed.

“Nope, we know what weed smells like,” they insisted.

We suggest it was the sage we had burned in the van. Again they insisted they knew the smell of weed. They had to let us go. We asked for directions to Missouri. They informed us they didn’t know how to get to Missouri. So we headed off down the road. They also told us not to hitch-hike. We got lucky and found a ride from a woman at a gas station.

In Saint Louis, Missouri we got a ride with a airport shuttle. The man drove like he was crazy. But it was kind of fun. We made a stop at the Gateway Arch. You can pay to take a ride up into the arch. But neither one of us wanted to spend the money. So we got back on the road. We were hitch-hiking in East Saint Louis, and the sun was going down.

“I think we need to get out of here before dark,” I told Sean. It was a place about which I had not heard good things.

We got lucky on two counts. We got a ride before dark. And our ride took us all the way to Chicago. Then took us on a tour of the city. Finally we got dropped off in Indiana. From there to the gathering was a short trip.

At the gathering I lost Sean right away. And didn’t see him until almost the last day. He was in a rush to go. I said just wait. I wanted to dig a spring. Then I wanted to eat. I had shared our plans with a few people. One of which came up to me. We wanted to go to Niagara Falls. And he had found someone who could give us a ride. The amazing Pam.

We got a ride from the gathering from Pam to the falls. Then she said we should meet her friend Laura. Pam took us to Syracuse, New York. There we met Laura, who is also amazing. Hanging out with Laura and Pam they suggested we meet Shaylyn. She lived in Ogdensburg, New York. Right across the river from Canada. So, up to the far north we went. This is real Upstate New York.

We spent three days in Ogdensburg. And a day in Potsdam, New York. There was a festival in Potsdam. Before going I was singing a line from Into the Woods, over and over. “We’re going to go to the festival, and dance with the prince.”

Laura’s uncle lived in Potsdam. We went to his house. He was building it himself with trees from his land. When the time came to go to the festival Sean stayed behind. It was just me and the girls. There was music, and the street was closed. We were dancing. They said I must be the prince.

I am still friends with Shaylyn, Laura and Pam. In fact they are more like sisters.

Pam gave us a ride to the ferry for Burlington. We crossed the river and spent a couple days. One night we met some girls at a park. We chatted for a while. Then they wanted to buy us some food. We went to the store, and we were walking around. I picked an olive out of the bulk bin and ate it.

“You can’t do that, it’s stealing,” one of the girls freaked. “Here we can buy some.”

I did it again with something else. And she reacted the same. I’ve always viewed it as a sample. As long as you don’t press your luck.

The other thing I recall about Burlington was the pizza. Some people let us spend the night at their place. There was a flier for $1 pizza. It was too good to be true, right? But it wasn’t. We called and ordered a few. They weren’t great pizza. The quality was comparable to Little Caesar’s. Their story was they had an oven and liked to make pizza.

It was in Burlington I parted ways with Sean. There had been problems. He sat on my bag at one point and drenched my socks in a waterproofing chemical. Which made my feet break out in a rash. He would drink all his water, and then want to drink mine. And the girl issue from Missoula. It was better we part ways.

I went to Cambridge for a couple weeks. Another place I loved from my first trip. And I loved it the second time too. I even camped in the same park. For money I did Tarot card readings on the street. I made a friend, and we chatted about philosophy. He remarked how well read I was for my age. I love the Harvard Square area.

But the time came to go home. In the fastest time ever I made it back in about three days. The only problem I had was in Ohio. We were on the interstate and it was getting dark. I told him to drop me off on I-80. But I dozed off. And woke up on a freeway. When I asked he said we weren’t on I-80 anymore. So I told him to drop me off at the next exit.

Getting out I started walking through Shaker Heights. I found a pizza place and got a free pizza. A young man on a bike asked for some. I told him sure, but he didn’t eat pork. It was a pepperoni pizza, but I was picking the meat off. Me neither I explained and told him what I was doing. He did help me with directions and gave me some money for the bus.

At the bus stop another man wanted some pizza. I was getting sick of it already and was ready for someone to eat it. He ate it, and then called me away from my bag a little. He thanked me and said he was homeless. I told him I understood. He asked for money and I told him all I had was $1 for the bus. When the bus came he grabbed my bag and wouldn’t let it go. The bus almost left without me. I banged on the door and told her the story. I gave him the $1 and rode the bus for free.

From Ohio to Chicago, then Minneapolis where my friend from college James lived. I got there at night, and connected with him the next day. When I said I crossed the country in three days, I didn’t count the time with James. He also gave he a hair cut. Then he dropped me off headed west.

In North Dakota the mosquitoes were so bad I had to sleep inside. There was a truck stop with a movie theater. So I slept in one of the chairs. No one noticed me in there, or said anything. The movies were Little Big Foot and a psycho movie about a woman with an unknown stalker.

From there I got a ride with a guy in a U-Haul. He took me all the way into Montana. Even staid the night in a hotel with him. And he took me out to dinner. From Montana I went south through Idaho. Then across Eastern Oregon. From Hermiston, I got a ride all the way to Portland. I was home.

Back in Portland I got a letter from the girls in New York. They had plans, and invited me to join.

I remember…

I remember.

The day I knew it was time to move. It was in Roswell, New Mexico. I sat on the park bench as the sun went down. A couple hundred miles away in Lubbock, Texas was my home. I had lived in Lubbock for almost a year.

A year of hot and cold. There were few good moments in my year in Lubbock. But I remember Roswell. Something in me told me it was time to move. I didn’t want to return to Lubbock.

As soon as I got back to town I called my landlord. It felt optimistic. And I remember feeling like my life would be better. I would move. I would get a better job. I would write. Make money. Be happy.

I remember packing up a trailer. And the pain in the ass it was to back up. Almost a two weeks before it was time to go I packed my things. I remember wanting to leave. The heat and the cold. And my crazy roommate.

Do you want to have sex with me? She came in one night and asked me. I did not. And she didn’t seem to want to just accept my answer. Why not she asked.

But as I pulled out of town it was all in the dust. Me, my blue car, my kitty and all my things in a trailer. The drive ahead of me. I remember feeling excited for something new. Something different. Even though I was going back to a place I had been before.

It is a small town in Colorado I remember the most. Salida is an art town in the mountains. And it was an art night when I drove through. A beautiful little town. It made me want to stay. But I recalled the cold winters and snow of Colorado. Besides where I was going would be home. I remember thinking it would be home.

After stopping to visit a friend. And taking time to discover another mountain town I remember driving into Wyoming. The next stop on my agenda was Yellowstone. One of the scenic wonders I had yet to visit.

I remember Yellowstone. It was a special place. And the Grand Tetons. Someone once told me tetons comes from a word which means breasts. The French named them.

After a couple hours in Yellowstone I was ready to continue. I remember wanting to stop in Bozeman and Missoula Montana. For the whole trip I slept in my car. I remember waking up to the beauty of nature outside my window. It wasn’t hot and it wasn’t cold. The road is so free. In my heart I sometime wonder if the road it my only home.

Bozeman is where I did laundry. And I shopped at a small co-op in Missoula. How did you find us, the clerk asked me. Google Maps. Small towns like Missoula and Bozeman make me miss the days I remember in a small town growing up. I feel so alone in the city. But I have lived in small towns recently and I remember feeling alone in them too.

All I remember of the last couple years is feeling alone. Through the hot and cold.

I remember driving through Idaho. There was a dead deer in the road. I had to drive so it would pass under my car. But it hit my exhaust and broke it. The next morning in a Walmart parking lot I discovered the damage.

Sometimes the universe looks kindly on me. This was one of those moments. In the parking lot was someone who knew how to weld. All he needed was some equipment. They called around and found a shop. We drove over to the shop and he was able to fix my exhaust. I paid him, but the shop owner took no money from me or my handyman savior. The whole ordeal cost me less than $100.

I remember getting back on the road. I knew it wasn’t far. My plan was to drive along the north side of the Columbia. Interstate 84 runs along the southside, it is faster. But I wanted to see the river. To be able to stop and take pictures. I remember some bikers I met along the way.

They were hitch-hiking and I stopped to offer what help I could. They wanted a ride, with their bikes. They said the wind was too much for them to ride through. Not having the space I had t refuse. But I suggested riding at night would be easier.

You see I told them, the land heats the air and it rises. Then air from the ocean, which is cooler, comes rushing to fill the vacuum. But at night, the air above the land will be cooler.

The sun was beating down. The river was full of wind boarders. I remember driving along the curves of the road. My camera battery was dead so I didn’t stop much. And every mile I got closer to Vancouver I remember feeling excited about the life to come.

In Vancouver I would reconnect with old friends. I would make new friends. I would get a good job. I would make money. I would be happy. I remember being so hopeful. So eager for it all to begin.

I remember sending text messages to a friend. I am on my way. I remember thinking I would see her soon. It would be the next day, or maybe the same day. After all the miles. She didn’t live so much further for me to go see her.

I remember driving through Washougal for the first time. Turning onto Interstate 205, and then Route 500. And I must have done something wrong because I ended up at the mall.

When I got to my new home, my friend opened the door with a smile. She has the same stunning beauty of the actress from Portlandia. “Put a bird on it,” I told her.

At last I was here. I remember feeling relived. Almost feeling happy. Her children and some neighbor kids helped me unload and move my things into the room. And then I settled into life in Vancouver.

 

(Post Script: This was written as part of an exercise from a new writing book I bought: Room to Write, Ronni Goldberg. I will post more as I work through the book. The exercise was to write something based on memory. I know I have already been posting a lot of memory stuff. I wanted this to be different, so I choose something recent.)