I kept a trip dairy but am going from memory. I always blow the punchline, well laid plans are laid waste. I don't even know where the dairy is and forgot to write down the final mileage. It was, like, 1800 miles I guess.
LAST WEEK, FRIDAY NIGHT. We packed, couldn't sleep, alarmed up at 4:21am and were on the road by 4:40am. First had to return some Soprano videos and mail bills which makes for sharking through parking-lots in eerie ways at the wrong sort of hours on meth heavy thorough-fare roads. It is dark and silent and busy and nothing you are doing feels right.
I admit it. I live very close to THE UGLIEST STREET IN THE WORLD. *sigh*
THEN WE'RE ON THE TRAVEL-ROAD We drove through swarms of bugs and gradual light. The Gorge is windylumpygreen and not as pretty as you know it should be when you are hungry for food and adventure and you want to feel openroad-good but really you just want to wake up on your smelly pillow to your oily coffee pot in five more hours.
The truck stop in Biggs is cold and the mushrooms are canned. The tomatoes are cooked into the omelet with their browngreen stem. Nature omelet. The waitress bring you untippable change and you have to walk through the dining room, and into the convenience store/gas station counter just to get a few lousy one dollar bills so you can walk back to leave her a resentful 17%.
But they still have phones in the booths!
I'VE EATEN The sunrise is much prettier now and I chit-chatter all the way to Idaho in a really endearing manner. At least this is how I remember it. I am the perfect co-pilot. We veer in and out of bi-roads and county lanes, from freeways to highways, onramps and junctions. I know the roads like a shaman. I know where camp-fires are restricted, and when to pull over. I sense blood-sugar levels and cooler/ice ratios on a scale undetectable to the mortal man. My timing is divine. I bring us home to Priest Lake, the last campsite at the last minute. I start the fire with a dirty word. God I am good.
The dawntime and daylong splooshing of bugs on the windshield has another, more sinister effect. The bigger, hardier bugs catch the jetstream over the windshield into the top of the upturned canoe and fall stunned into the bed of the truck. Weary blissninnys, we unpack our gear. At the same moment I find a live butterfly in the truck bed, in repose and shock-calm, He gets stung by an inreposeandshock-calm wasp. I pick up the butterfly, thinking it is dead. It slowly opens and closes its wings and rights itself in the grooves of my fingertips. OHMYGOD, HEY BOYFRIEND, COME LOOK AT THIS.
(as it happens reliving...am enamored with one of my earliest childhood memories of a huge butterfly landing in my open palm... not the earliest memory in which I find the huge West Virginian moth that everyone said was dead and I said it was sleeping and made a bed for it out of tissue paper till its wings fell apart., dusted away...)
He yells OUCH and drops his bag and I yell louder I SAID COME LOOK AT THIS, COME HERE. And he yells OKAY BABY I WILL BUT... and I yell GETYERASSOVERHERE and feel like a jerk and say, ARE YOU OKAY, OH BABY, LET ME SEE, HERE QUICK LOOK AT MY BUTTERFLY and then I lift my hands to the heavens as the butterfly slowly regains life and drifts off my hand. God I am a jerk. The back of the truck is littered with half-dead wasps who lay landmine-like till you are exploded.
I got mine a couple days later in Montana. Late afternoon gold, pontificating at a slight angle, 80 canoe-laden-miles-per-hour and the split second after I feel the feet-tickle on my neck I feel the sting In my neck right where the god-given breeze has been whooshing me through the window.
But, we canoed there. Slept well. Ended up at Thompson Lakes the next night where the waters were so calm and beautiful. I paddled but really I just took four pictures of my paddle every time it came out of the water. He paddled cause he likes me and the turtles and the reeds and the still stillness. We made dinner and roasted peppers.
More then I did...
The next morning I saved another stunned butterfly from the bed of the truck, set it on a stone by the lake. It was early and so cold the water was warmer then the air and the lake was wispy with mist. I tried to photograph it and the minute I went to get batteries a little chipmunk ran up and chewed it to unsentamental bits. Didn't care for the wings. Left those.
But the real money is in the art, not the labor... right?!
ANYWAY, ITS GETTING LATE. I HAVE TO PICK BERRIES TOMORROW. ...on.and.on...We went to Glacier. We were pissy and starting to smell. Early morning, I saw a bear in camp. My brother and his wife came up from Missoula. We paddled around turquoise glacial lakes and told Mom stories. I got killed by a bear that next night, in the dark, had to pee, knew they were there. Died and got back into the tent pounding and dreaming of grizzlies all night.
Hiked, fished, narrowly escaped, paddled, cursed, sunsetted, drove long hours,got secretsecrets.
It is way past my bedtime.
So I learn to be humble
And put the head of my enemY on a stick FORSOOTH...
THOU SHALT LAY SLAIN!
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