I have never actually read the book. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read a single line by Kerouac. It only dawned on me just now that “On the Road” is by far the most appropriate title for any kind of road trip story which leads me to believe that Kerouac may have been a little lazy when it came time to give his work a title. Or….perhaps it was just too apt not to use it? Maybe I should read the book before criticizing a revered author and his nearly ubiquitous novel? Probably.
That is really not the point here. The point is that I was going to try to keep things in chronological order, as far as my travels over the past 2-3 months, however, it appears that I travel faster than I write. So in the interest of keeping things fresh and in the ‘here and now’…. I am currently (as of 8:47pm, local time, Aug 11, 2013) in Moab, Utah. I will elaborate on Moab in due time.
I have been on the road (there it is again) for just under 2 weeks now. Seems like just a few days but when I count backwards, it all makes sense. Please bear in mind that a good number of days have been travel days and getting lost days and portions of days lost to indecision.
Despite the time spent on nonsense, it has been incredible so far, so here is the first little bit:
First stop from Vancouver: Coeur D’Alene (Idaho?). Such a beautiful town. Just outside of Spokane, Washington (to give you a reference point?). Not knowing what to expect, I booked a hotel before leaving. By the time I arrived, it had only been 8 hours, give or take, since I had discovered that my bike had been stolen. Right off the front porch of my house in Vancouver!!!!!
There is a special place in the afterlife for thieves, where I would like to someday (no time soon if I can help it) be waiting to welcome them. As they all queue up to enter wherever that place is (Insert denominational reference here ________ ) , I will be there to smash their thumbs with a hammer. One by one.
“Welcome, may I see your hand please?” SMASH!!!! “That’s for being a shit sipping turd of a thief while you were alive!!!!!. Peace be with you! Namaste! You suck!!!”
Needless to say, I was and still am very upset about it. A fair bit less now but I was furious for quite some time and would only briefly get distracted from my daydreaming rage and fantasies of revenge by the incredible scenery as I made my way through previously uncharted territory.
I ended up staying an extra day in Coeur D’Alene for a few reasons. One, I needed to stock up on food and various other supplies. Two, the hotel was a big, beautiful, old converted house with two grande fireplaces in the main foyer, local artists had their work hung all over, the rooms were all individually detailed and the kitchen, that was essentially free to use for all guests, had everything you could ask for including breakfast all laid out in morning for guests and staff to meet and mingle. I did so in my jammys and it was great.
It was just such a lovely place that I figured it was a great way to set the tempo for the rest of the trip and acclimatize myself to being….. ugh… On The Road. I just can’t get away from it! You win Kerouac! I get it now! I need to read that damned book.
If you get a chance, check it out. Coeur D’Alene that is. If you live in Alberta, it’s pretty much a straight shot south.
Anyway, my bike theft rage had subsided substantially after a couple of days and it was time to hit my first target: Yellowstone National Park.
It took a fair bit longer to get there than I had anticipated (travel day) but I was rewarded with herds of dear and elk and a bison all within the first 30 minutes of driving through the park on my way to my campsite. I arrived at my pre-booked campsite just in time to set up my tent in the dark and then rummage around in the woods looking for firewood and finding, not wood, but a swamp. I should say my feet found it first but we’re all on the same team so yes, I stumbled into a swamp.
Turns out, when I asked my neighbouring campers where they got their firewood they informed me that “naw buddy, it’s all been picked clean around here. You need to go find an area that’s been cleared by forest fire, plenty of good wood there”. Contrary to what I was told by the campsite registration lady: “Oh there’s plenty of wood all around, just walk into the woods a little and you’ll find some”. There was no mention of swamp.
At this point it was probably close to 10:30pm in a park that has literally millions of acres of available firewood (and the odd swamp). Lesson learned and not to be repeated. Be prepared!
Second side note:
I made the mistake of bringing only my iPad with me, which I said I would never do again after nearly tossing it out the window while In France out of frustration. It is not a good “tool” as far as computers go. I am currently trying to figure out how to add photos in a set (i.e. Yellowstone) but you have to be able to drag and drop items from one side of the screen to the other which is difficult with an iPad when the screen moves whenever you touch it. Like trying to pick a speck out of your drink. It keeps moving away from you. Very frustrating. I will figure it out but please be patient.
Ultimately, Yellowstone is an amazing place with far too many tourists. That is my only complaint really. Almost every photo I took, was strategically framed to cut out the tops of peoples heads or I had to wait for a family to clear out before I could take a decent picture.
I spent 3 nights, each in a different camp ground and saw just about all a person can see without having to do some serious hiking. The other sort of bonus is that Yellowstone is not a particularly bike friendly park so it didn’t sting as much as I thought it would not having my bike.
They even have T-shirts you can buy in West Yellowstone (the nearest town to the parks west entrance) that mock people who ride their bikes around the park as being bear bait. So, one point for me. Bike thieves…. you still suck!!!
Third side note:
An unfortunate side effect of the new meds is that I get these spontaneous and quite painful callouses on my feet that make it extremely painful to walk. Unfortunately, that particular side effect was in full swing while in Yellowstone so I did miss out on some things due to the required hike. However, the park is designed to accommodate back seat tourism. As in, you don’t really have to leave your car to see some really amazing stuff. This is ultimately, antithetical to my purpose on this trip but when it’s an option and my feet are in a bad state it is most welcome.
Ultimately, my time in Yellowstone is best described by the photos I did manage to get which will be up shortly, I hope.
What has been a common thread throughout this whole trip is that I have had time to be alone with my thoughts in some of the most beautiful, natural surroundings I have ever seen and I can’t even begin to explain the benefits I have felt.
The night before last, for example, I spent a good 4-5 hours sitting in my fold out chair on the bank of the Colorado river, staring at the crystal clear Milky Way and the innumerable shooting stars in complete silence. I couldn’t have been happier. Just staring at the sky and letting my mind wander every which way. I found myself spontaneously crying then laughing, pondering the meaning of life, the afterlife, where I’m going, what I’m doing, all the people I love and how much I love them and why…. on and on and it was…. priceless.
That’s all for this one!
Please remember, my dear friends, that every day is a gift and it is critical that you find at least one reason, EVERY day, to say that TODAY IS A GREAT DAY TO BE ALIVE!!!!!!!