I woke up at 7:30, having slept really hard in my little cubicle of a room. I drove around Kalispell, and stopped at a cute bread shop for coffee and a bagel. I would have shopped in town, but it was 8am and nothing was open (a trend I noticed along the way: the further west you go, the later people seem to get going in the morning). I got back on the road, heading towards Idaho. Western Montana is beautiful: hills, rivers, and pine forests. Except where they’re being chopped down, that is. I pulled off at a poorly-marked rest area that Road Trip USA said was a worthwile stop, and set off on the half-mile hike to the Kootenai River. (I’m aware of the stupidity of hiking alone in the middle of nowhere, by the way. It was a conscious decision.)
I walked up to the falls first, laid down on a huge, flat rock, and enjoyed the sun and the complete silence. Then I hiked the other direction, to the swinging bridge. On the way there, I started to feel a little bit fuzzy, and had to walk slower. By the time I got to the bridge, I was feeling like crap. My blood sugar had dropped, and I was tired, dizzy, and sick to my stomach. So I did the most logical thing, which was to cross the bridge. It bounced and swayed in the wind, which was fun for about 15 seconds, and then just made me sicker. I clung to the rope and took pictures to distract myself.
Then I wobbled back to the platform and sat down with my head against the railing. Part of me wished that someone would come along and reassure me that I was not going to die alone in the wilderness, but the other part of me realized that wasn’t a great idea, in case they decided I was in really bad shape and called for an ambulance. No insurance. I sat for about twenty minutes and convinced myself I was starting to feel better. I got up and started hiking back up the hill. I was shaky and having trouble seeing, but I pushed as hard as I could, knowing that adrenaline would help get me back to normal. By the time I got back to my car, I felt a little better, and resolved not to tell Heather, since she would yell at me for getting sick in the middle of nowhere.
I crossed into Idaho mid-morning, and the speed limit on Highway 2 dropped to 60mph. Everyone in Idaho drives a pickup truck and wears big mirrored sunglasses. Their license plates read, ‘Famous Potatoes’. Ha. I stopped in Sandpoint for lunch. It’s a cute little resort town that seems to be centered around a big Coldwater Creek store. I parked on the main street and wandered around, looking for lunch. I expected to have no trouble finding decent vegetarian food in that kind of town, but was quickly proven wrong. Half the restaurants were already closed for the 4th of July (does it make sense to shut down a resort town over a national holiday?), and the other half seemed to value meat pretty highly. I finally found a really cute Italian restaurant with good veggie lasagna and better espresso, and sat out on the patio and wrote postcards from Idaho.
At some point after lunch, I got to Washington. I had expected to go through Coeur d’Alene and join up with I-90, but I was wrong. I was on the outskirts of Spokane at a gas station before I realized that I had left Idaho, and was probably in the Pacific time zone. I drove into Spokane and called Heather. It was 3pm, and I had made better time than I had expected, so I figured if she could find me a cheap hotel in Seattle, I’d drive the rest of the way there and have an extra day in town. She called back with the address of the Hyatt Regency in Bellevue, a whole $35 a night on Priceline. (Have I mentioned yet that I love Priceline? I do. Despite Shatner, even.) I was thrilled.
I stopped to see Riverfront Park, mainly because Road Trip USA told me they had a giant Radio Flyer. It was indeed giant, and I was a little jealous of the kids climbing on it. Riverfront Park was nice, the kind of place I’d spend a lot of time walking around if I lived there, but Spokane in general was just kind of… um… exactly like you’d expect Spokane, Washington to be like, I guess. Lots of strip malls, kind of industrial. I was in a hurry to get to Seattle. Before I left Spokane, though, I took this very patriotic picture out my sunroof. It’s at a Perkins. Doesn’t it make you proud to be an American? Yeah. Me too.
I got on I-90 and set the cruise for a speed somewhere between legal and breaking the sound barrier. Then I got on the phone to kill time, as I still had 300 miles to go. (I know there are many, many of you who hate people like me for just that reason, but I’m not apologizing. I’m just as reckless off the phone as on it. In my defense, however: I’ve been driving for 15 years, and never been in an accident, or gotten a single speeding ticket. So shut up.) I was surprised at the terrain in Washington; I had expected all hills and pine trees, but the central part of the state is pretty flat and arid (Colorado with a splash of Oklahoma). I crossed the Columbia River, and stopped briefly at the overlook.
After crossing the river, it was pretty much all mountain pass the rest of the way. I had to turn off the air conditioning. I was sick to death of listening to the same dance CD over and over, but driving through mountains at 85mph takes full concentration, so I couldn’t change it. The mountains (Cascade? I should use the internet to verify this, but I’m lazy.) end about 20 miles outside Seattle. I switched to the radio and laughed really hard because the first song I heard on the rock station was by Alice in Chains. I found my hotel easily, parked underground, and hauled out my giant duffel bag. This was a novelty, as I’d been digging clothes out of it so far. The hotel was super nice, and I was on the 21st floor, one of the extra-swank rooms. I’m pretty sure I was the only non-Japanese tourist in the place. I set up my laptop and got my email, which was not as big a thrill as I expected; I’m pretty good with traveling sans internet. I was too tired to even think about going to find dinner, so I opted for room service: red lentil chili and tortilla chips (280 calories, the menu proudly informed me) and a Starbucks latte (more exciting than it probably should have been, but, you know. It’s Seattle. Starbucks from room service! It’s the right thing to do!)
While I was waiting for my food, I called Heather. She had moved into Daniel’s place, as far as I could tell, which made me feel better about leaving her at home alone. I called my mom to tell her I was alive, and both her and my dad got on the phone for the update. The parents are so cute. I called Ryan and made plans to meet for breakfast the next morning. I decided to see Seattle on the 3rd and then drive to Vancouver on the 4th because:
- Canadians don’t care about our holidays, so stuff would be open
- I could also go see Mount Rainier, which would probably also be open on the 4th
- Going to Canada to celebrate the 4th just seemed like the right thing to do.
I’m a planner. Also, I was really excited to see Seattle. I grimaced at myself in the mirror, realizing I looked like crap, took a shower, made a nest of the four pillows in my giant bed, and passed out.
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random notes from my travel journal:
montana is all about cool road signs: ‘range cattle’, ‘rough break’ (what does that even mean?), ‘chain-up area’.
stopped at a dumb gift shop in troy (mt) and the woman behind the counter told me she had moved there from minneapolis 6 years ago. she said it was like stepping back in time. she couldn’t even get a cell phone, there’s no coverage there. she was so excited to talk to someone from home, i felt bad leaving after 20 minutes.
i fucking hate logging trucks. if i die on this trip, it’s going to be because of them.
idaho: i’m so glad to be back in the land of coffee. there’s even a starbucks here!
what time zone am i in???
my back and neck are killing me from my white-knuckle grip on the steering wheel driving through the mountains.
jesus, i look terrible. dark circles under my eyes. messy hair. sunburnt nose. zits from putting suntan lotion on my face. i look really tired. and i smell. i am hardcore.
photos: my passenger seat. bug holocaust (montana).
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