The International Writers Magazine: (From our archives) Reading, PA- Ketchum, ID
ALL NAMES, BESIDES THE BLACK FURRY BEAST, HAVE BEEN CHANGED.
Volkswagen, Vagabond, Vistas
Lloyd Ryan Beere
This whole wild story started by chance and a Craigslist occurrence. What I may have originally thought a hoax or possibly a scam someone posted to the site, full of random-s to fool someone, turned out to be one of the greatest and most fulfilling things I have done alone (besides the mutt of course).
My mission was to drive a 2012 Diesel Volkswagen Taureg from Reading, Pennsylvania to a state I’d yet to visit, Idaho.
Pops would drive me the hour or so Northeast from home to the dealership in a nicely rainy day. My supplies were, to cross ¾ of the continent, my internal frame pack, purchased a year or two before at a flea market, my Wiggy’s-lifetime warranty-sleeping bag, foam pad, tarp, and my sister’s previous college day bag stuffed with an extra set of clothes, an empty plastic cat litter box filled with non-perishable food and a large bag of Taste of the Wild dog grub for my co-pilot Mato, a mutt with a long story himself.
It felt good to leave with little and know I didn't have to return with the metal and diesel mechanical burden; that it was only a one way chore and that I could get back however I pleased. A few days before, after the personal contract was signed and I and the car buyer were sure of each other’s physical existence after phone calls, I had my usual second thoughts and loneliness without even leaving yet. I was committed though and a man of my word. The night before departure I spent with a close friend, one of my only, smoking our pot and cracking our cans in goodbye. I really had second thoughts then; in the comfort of familiar faces and acquainted conversation. I would be gallivanting to an unfamiliar state to meet someone from Craigslist, alone; he would wake up and go to work. My decision was predetermined; I’d rather be lonely, cold, or tired and a bit scared than live in boredom.
Dad and I arose early, got Mato out to piss and we hopped in his newer Subaru and he drove me and the furry side kick and minimal supplies to the also unfamiliar PA town. Reading was a large-small town that sort of reminded me of Altoona, PA or Pottsville, PA; a town that is large but sometimes and in certain spots has a home town feel and lack of high buildings.
The dealership when we arrived on that cold wet day had a parking lot full of Mercedes and other “high class” vehicles. I was psyched when we pulled up, even in that cold drizzle, to see the car sitting under an overhang. I have no opinion on any kind of vehicle; they do nothing aesthetically for me. I think of dropping a year of income or more on a rolling piece of plastic and rubber quite unintelligent.
My dad and I walked inside in our simple clothes, me in my green rain jacket and searched for the salesmen who had been in contact with the man I was delivering the car to. But first! I snagged myself a free cup of complimentary fancy stancy Tom Clancy,machine coffee; the little K cup kind of course. We Americans are so damn lazy we don’t even have to really prepare our own coffee anymore and we can just throw the little plastic cup in a landfill after and not have it burden are so important lives anymore.
The salesman, Vish, was an alright guy and attitude less. He didn’t even look at my identification. But who could know the situation anyway or about it, to falsify anything? So I kind of understood that. We went out to the car and he showed me some things and gave me the paper mobile insurance and the double set of keyless electronic . . . keys.
In the back seat I put down an old sheet that we had used to harbor a whitetail fawn months before in the basement, of my now Mother’s house, for the mutt, then loaded my few belongings into the rear. I put my McDonalds coffee cup, in its absolute necessary spot, in the cup holder. It was used to acquire free coffee along the way crossing the country.
I will never forget the salesmen saying to me “I’ve always wanted to drive cross country but NEVER did it”. There I was 22, free, and have been west and back, by different modes of travel, more times than I could count on one foot. I said goodbye to my father. Cold as he can be, I know he’s thinking, as he has in the past seeing me off on some meander, damn that’s a journey ahead of him. I know he has some love for me, maybe its formal; the debt of being part in my producing, but I imagine he wants to see me safe. I still think he’d take a fucking bullet for me, but there’s only one way to find out. KABOOM!
I tried my best to listen to Vish’s directions to get out of town to head North to highway 80, but as with things like this, or talking numbers; my brain is foggy and usually can’t follow. So, with Dad following me out of town, to the road I needed to head North on and him eventually South, I made a wrong exit choice and ended up on the ramp to stop and consult. He got me figured out, we backed down the off ramp back to the highway and I made my rainy drive for over an hour North on 61 to highway 80 WEST.
We passed through small foggy mountain towns that I love in Pennsylvania and finally came out to a soggy highway that would be home for the next handful of days.
Highway 80 was windy in middle Pennsylvania. Into Western Pennsylvania the cold rain turned into snow and when I got onto the Ohio Turnpike it was coming down pretty good. I don’t remember much of the drive, snow, cold; low visibility, but I saw a sign for Motel 6 off the turnpike, North of Youngstown in between Richfield and Brecksville. I had driven nearly the whole length of PA and a bit into Ohio, in part of a day, and figured a nice motel would be a great first night. There was a decent snow dusting all around and it was in the 20’s in temperature. Low in the 50 dollar range and we got a room.
Life’s buzz buzzing steadily, I got into the room and unloaded some gear and ate some hot oatmeal with water I heated on my Pocket Rocket stove. A hot bath was a delicacy as well after the cold. Before really settling in for the night I walked over to a truck stop behind the motel with Mato and bought a 24 oz 211 and watched a travel show on a foreign country. PBS Rick Stevens, an odd character, said, “Travel is a way of gaining a bigger perspective.” That sat well. And before the evening wound down, I had to call the car owner Trent and tell him a code had come up, before Ohio, saying the motor was a quart low on oil. He settled it rather quickly by telling me to buy some diesel oil and add some in the morning. He asked if I knew how to check the oil and I told I’d tried but damn if I couldn’t find a dipstick anywhere. He said “Don’t sweat it”, like it wasn’t a big deal, which it wasn’t and to take care of it tomorrow.
I could not find a dip stick though. The whole engine was untraceable because of the thick plastic shroud that surrounded it. I had contacted the salesman as well and of course he said to go to a VW dealer immediately. I knew Trent was a cool dude if he wasn’t too worried about the code and the car being driven by a stranger. He said a diesel was quite tough and they could take worse. He said regular oil could even be put in and it wouldn’t affect anything. He also told me they can burn on gasoline and run but they burn hot, he said he had done it before, if I recall correctly.
We awoke to a very cold morning; everything frozen and the dusting of snow still around and crusty. I checked out early- I would have liked to have walked somewhere in the A.M. and then chilled in the room, but! we had a deadline for the car delivery.
I filled up at the truck stop where I had bought the malt beverage the night before. Don’t forget the diesel damn it! Luckily there was a tag on the interior of the gas door stating so. I didn’t find any diesel oil for the car, or forgot and I wasn’t able to get any till somewhere in Iowa I think it was.
I headed towards the re entrance of the Ohio Turnpike, got onto where I thought I needed to be, thought for a split second I was headed in the wrong direction (East), drove back down the road only to realize I was correct the first time and went back to the same entrance to the politician pocket filling pike and returned to my beloved WESTBOUND.
The Ohio Turnpike is rather boring most of the drive; till you get out of Chicago, where not long after it turns into free highway. That day was spent all driving and seeing nothing besides what zoomed by at 70 miles per hour from the windshield. That is the whole point of that long stretch anyway, to get money mongers to and fro and freight state to state. I usually stopped at a few of the rather nice rest/food areas along the pike to relax, take a small walk with Mato and catch a puff here and there. I never bought any food and the four days to get to Ketchum, ID I did not eat much but drank lots and lots and lots of coffee.
I got to visit the “World’s Biggest Truck Stop”. It had a few full size tractors and their trailers inside. There were enough aftermarket parts: lights, stacks, interiors, and biker patches to fill 20 trailers. There was the essential road fuel of 5 or 6 different fast food joints that make up a lot of the trucker’s and motorist diet. Any other time I would have partaken but by that time I was kind of over fast food. All I did was fill my water jug from their soda machine with truck stop tap.
There was a mini mall and a big gift shop with a fairly attractive pregnant gal my age who I had words with a few times and gave me directions to the different things throughout the giant truck stop. There was a dentist office, barber shop-operated by an older lady- and a large screen truckers lounge where I sat for a bit and watched Dual Survival with some of the truckers; all upstairs on the second story.
I took Mato for a walk around the parking lot, up around the motel on the hill and the massive parking lot the truckers massed in. There were hundreds of trucks or more. I imagine the air quality around there is typically horrible. I walked up to a truck mechanic shop that was outside the complex and partook in some free trucker coffee and continued walking with Mato around the insanely enormous area that screamed AMERICA!!!!
Crisscrossing by ways,
As we please
What I feel
This is the life (Mudhoney ref.?)
That evening was amazing. The setting sun threw up the image that you were driving into a sky of wall. It was like a humongous mountain of GO NO FURTHER. And this was only Iowa. Listening to Dierks Bentley on terrestrial radio (his older music of course), free and in the beginnings of the West, I was tripping balls on life. Where we slept that evening I cannot recall to this day. I know though it was either a truck stop or rest area somewhere in either Eastern Nebraska or very Western Iowa. I slept in the back seat with the pooch in the passenger seat.
We awoke, where ever we had, and I found a really cheap motel coupon in the little booklets you get at rest stops, so aimed for a lesser drive and a relaxing day at a motel. I stopped at a small town Nebraska exit and visited a small grocery store for some motel grub. I always enjoy walking around stores alone miles and miles away from familiarity.
Grabbing my usual of wheat bread and peanut butter, I then spent most of the elapsed time pondering on either buying liquor or beer. I sided with a cheap pounder 6 pack of Keystone Ice. Blahck edack! The decision though, of what brand of beer, took dedicated time as well. I was a seasoned drinker even then but still had no favorite for preference alcohol.
We walked down by a deep ravine creek along the small road where I ate half a peanut butter sandwich. It was real cold and slightly windy; the plains! We followed the sidewalk along the small waterway a bit and headed back towards the car because I wanted to be going to the motel and it was still in the 20’s, yet now dry. Dry West. Wet East.
Blasting out of Omaha sprawl, I didn’t want a room in the city, we zoomed further West.
Lincoln, NE EXIT 399
A 35 dollar MOTEL-the essence of motel. Cheapest for miles and the epitome of sad T.V. view, run-down-ness; drooping window curtains, dirty ass floors, stained ceilings, tilted head board and generic dollar store paintings. The coupon I had cut out from the motel savings magazine was for the one I had paid for but not the one I had called and decided on. Somehow I ended up there though and it was still cheaper than the one I had called and spoken to the man about. This one had oil slick coffee and bread for breakfast to boot anyways!
If my notes are correct and I was in my mind state of correctness, there was an airport nearby. Had I ever stayed in a motel this dirty? MMMMM yes! Old Lyme Connecticut-roaches-guy beating his wife right outside the door, we happened to run into them at the grocery store the next day and she had a black eye and he claimed the cops were there because he hurt his foot, but that’s a whole different trip.
The American West
Random motels-Humble abodes
Drunken Indians looking into
The first people I met after checking in and going up the rickety wooden steps to head to my second story room was a wiggle eyed black guy. . .walking a dog! And not a pit but a little well mannered Pomeranian. Nice guy he was. He was going into a room with a few other rough looking ladies. Drugs? The one mean looking gal drilled me hard. The fact that I rolled up in a high dollar, fly ass car with out of state dealer plates could have been why. Yet I still started the conversation with them first.
I walked with Mato a good bit at this motel. The one time out behind it along railroad tracks where there was a deep gully in some hard woods with a homeless camp at the end of the tiny hollow. That’s where I got a little stoned once or twice.
I went to the office with Mato tied outside the front door one time and found the office lady on the phone with someone trying to get through to the scary looking Native American woman sitting inside. I would have sworn she was on meth, or something, she looked 3 planets away. She attempted to ask me how I got there. I replied with I had walked; to the office obviously, but she said “no you didn’t”. I would have given her a ride somewhere if it wasn’t for her horrible mental state. Later, I was in my room and saw her being led; arms cuffed behind her back, by a Lincoln Police Officer.
I snapped a quick photo through the window with my phone and still chuckle at it, though its really not that funny. . . Turns out she’d show up there a lot and annoy the office workers in her drunkenness with no cab fair to leave. Where did she come from? Where was she going? Was that her camp behind the motel in the trees at the edge of the field?
The American West baby, she’s wild.
The sun set right outside my door that night. But before that my odd neighbors who I had befriended earlier on, knocked on my door to get me outside to watch a bunch of mule deer feeding on some prairie, right where I had walked with Mato just hours before. Before that, an hour or two before dusk I sat in my room and listened to the lady I had met, being locked out of her room by her barely older than 5 or 6 year old son and him yelling wild obscenities at her through the door and laughing in a sadistically sardonic way. Every swear word most adults could think of was used a few times. I felt like going over there and beating that little fucker’s ass. What he’ll turn out like I cannot say.
That night again cops showed up and I was filled in on, by my neighbors, the fact that some dude was wandering around the motel parking lot weirdly I guess, I can’t recall what exactly they said he was doing. I took Mato out later, now 4 Keystone Ices less and a nearly empty number 5 in my hand, and walked around the prairie out near where the mule deer were near the power company building surrounded by electric fence. A cop drove right by us but I tucked the can in my rear pocket before he may have spotted it. He just might have but maybe had better things to worry about, because I remember thinking how I just scraped by on that one.
Up with the Western frost, the next morning- up relatively early as I was most every morning of this trip, plus I had an agenda, I drank some of the cheap caffeine and ate some toast. Before I left I gave the large lady neighbor and her dude, who smoked cigarettes like I used to smoke pot when I was a real stoner, a can of applesauce and some food I wasn’t going to eat.
We got back on the highway in the car that I only had up to 90 MPH one time in a short race with some black dude driving a Charger somewhere in the Midwest. He just smiled, I howled in glee in the interior of the Volkswagen.
I only ever saw a couple foot tramps; one was a brown guy with a shaved head and a woven scarf around his neck wearing a day pack. I had thought about picking him up, but then thought, despite the fact I have hitched a lot and still do, I wasn't going to pick him up. Say he did do something and then I'd be responsible for a stolen car or something. Big reason too was because I was really enjoying the solitude of just me and my dog. I saw two kids hitching an exit I barreled by as well, but that was about it.
I ended up making it to Wyoming that next day, with a nice stop in Cheyenne, where me and a buddy and Mato had hopped a train out of the year before, and filled up the tank and stopped at a different gas station I knew. I think it was called Little America? It sits right beside, with conjoined entrance, a “Western Experience” hotel and golf resort. They sell some banging breakfast burritos inside and of course, as I did the year before on foot, I partook in slamming two of them tasty things and walked Mato, then relaxed on the curb with a hand rolled.
It was really neat to drive 80 West, which the train we hopped rode the same line, Cheyenne to Evanston. We had spent nearly a week in Rawlins, sleeping in a shed and a cheap motel. I didn’t stop in Rawlins though. It is a real small town covered in commercialism. I liked it but it got boring. I did stop for the night though in Evanston. We had spent a couple nights there, sleeping in the Motel 6 and a mattress stores delivery box truck, which had an overhead light inside. Here we were again.
I parked that night in the Wal-Mart parking lot and drank the last of the Keystone cans and took a couple stinky hits in the weeds by the park lake where the year previous we had visited a rainy fair that had live music, good people and good beer. I went inside and bought a gallon of water and probably another loaf of bread and killed some time walking around again. It’s neat to travel and come across towns you’ve been to. You know you’re getting around a affair amount when you hit a town half way across the country that you recognize easily.
I slept in the front seat that night, trying to keep from giving us away by not hitting the brake pedal with my feet and setting off the red tail lights, with Mato sprawled out in the rear seat. Our breath frosted to the windshield in the A.M. again. Usually every time I awake in a Wal-Mart parking lot or a Rest Area there is someone parked beside us or in their vehicle sitting beside us; it’s something I've gotten used to over the years but detest more and more lately.
The day before I had stopped for a mid day break at one of Wyoming’s many awesome rest areas and set up my camp stove in a little cement lean-to, wind cutting nook and made instant coffee. It’s just amazing a desolate lowly populated state has such accommodating rest area for travelers.
But, yet again in the A.M. I took a walk up stream to head towards a bridge along the tracks where me and my friend had pounded whiskey from the bottle and stowed gear and shot slingshot. Mato gallivanted around in the willows and Western grass while I walked the tracks and ballast in the cool morn. Under the bridge I had left a small piece of blanket Mato used to carry in his pack and a sweater I had ditched.
Both were still there! Both were covered in bridge, overhead highway and passing train dust. I shook out the sweater and put it on; over a year under a dirty hobo bridge and still comfortable. Mato’s sleeping pad is probably still there, if you want it.
We didn’t get far out of Evanston when a majestic vista/ rest area presented itself to my hungry eyes. The red rock cliffs West of Wyoming, in Eastern Utah were just epic. The high I got from them and the trip itself, besides the caffeine, no drug could match. It was simply a Utah Welcome and rest center; a little piece of civilization in the middle of the Northern-Western-Desert. There were little trails that went up to hills surrounded by sage and whistling prairie dogs. You could see all around and down the desert mountain that the rest area sat upon; right off the edge of highway 80.
There was a stellar view of the blatant red Utahan sandstone cliffs and a creek down below with an old road that ran beside it. Also, a rail line ran right beside it making a triplet of manmade and nature made lines.
I could see people biking on the road way down there; they looked like little rolling bugs. The train moving looked like a metallic snake curving through the desert. I met a young bearded trucker wearing an earthy knit cap carrying a huge stack of books, one being a large Bible, walking up the cement path that I was coming down. We had words about the glorious country we were blessed to be able to see and I told him I was from Pennsylvania. He said he loved PA’s country but didn’t care for New Jersey. I concurred.
I, and the mutt, spent a long hour or two, walking up the random hill trails and just inhaling in all the view and air we could of the high desert. I went inside and spent 20 minutes or so chatting with the attractive cougar like lady behind the museum center desk. She was kind and I signed the visitor registry. Free coffee inside. I can find free coffee anywhere with my eyes closed. The bowels were a neat Mormon museum with plenty of pamphlets on the religion I suppose.
I spent a little time taking some handfuls of sage from the huge plants outside and bagging it in a recycled gallon bag. I always like burning sage from the West back East and having that primitive scent around me.
The drive out of Evanston, past the Rest Area to Ogden and into Idaho is just utterly amazing. My head is back and forth the whole time. No accidents though! The whole time you are encased by high rocky cliffs and shadowed by distant snow covered mountains. There were not many houses until we rolled near SLC and caught 84 North.
Despite its perils, it’s never hard for me to understand why the mountain men loved the West and its freedom and beauty and why most didn’t return to the sickly East.
In Ogden, passing through, I saw someone walking a goat down near the thickly willowed river. Also, in route, I saw some young gal driving a car full of her stuff, with a Pennsylvania license plate. Welcome Home.
84, from North bound turns West through Idaho, from Ogden there are still mountains but then there are miles of grass land prairie; high barren hills covered in green and yellow organic sprawl. Then, it all turns into farm land headed towards Twin Falls. I saw little of Idaho personally, but from the views I got to witness, it is ONE of my favorite states so far.
In Twin Falls I stopped at a gas station/ truck stop and tried to find one fucking outlet to charge my deceased cell phone battery. A guy with a touring motorcycle, who had put a lot of states and thousands of miles under his belt, chilled with Mato outside for a bit while I tried to find a charge inside. No go, after every wall, eye scanned. I finally found an outlet that protruded from the gas station main entrance sign steel support.
I sat there a while bored of having to charge this stupid piece of machinery. Finally, I said fuck it, “I am no slave to a damn phone”, and decided I’d find Trent’s place, North of Twin Falls, in Ketchum, on my own. Out of Twin falls, headed North now, I drove through little Idahoan towns and the land of Jurassic era landscape. Volcanic rock surrounded the vehicle along the little two lane road. There were high statured mountain miles out ahead; my destination roughly.
After leaving the volcanic rubble and low land we headed into slight desert, then made it to the small yuppie (just a word) town of Hailey, ID. Now we were into tree country with the high forested hills all around; a beautiful scene. Hailey looked neat though and somewhat hospitable and I figured to start heading back down to here that night by thumb after dropping of the VW.
Ketchum, home to Hemingway’s town of suicide, isn’t too much further North of Hailey, but is a bigger town. It is predominantly a ski town. I knew from previous research on Google Maps that Trent was outside of town near the still snow covered ski slopes. For what remained of battery, I followed the hand robot’s GPS directions into a plush skier housing development; their back yards were high hills, one bald and one wooded and slobbered in still usable ski snow.
Finally, my phone shut off and I had to ask a few people if they knew Trent. I was pointed in the direction of the road name I had somehow memorized, a miracle! Without driving in circles, believe it or not, I was able to find the correct address of Trent’s 3 story condo that sat in the middle of the big ski season homes and apartments.
I parked his newly delivered and unscathed car next to a dumpster and went to the door. I knocked and received no answer. I called Trent and got no answer as well. I sent him a text and started to red up the car. I had met some guy that was walking and asked him if he knew Trent and he said he was his “uncle”-“cousin”-“friend”, I can’t remember the relation, but he told me Trent was at a party for the end of the ski season. The guy told me he lived in Hailey and after hearing I planned to walk there offered me and the pooch a ride. He also told me the loud music I was hearing was a big end of season bash and I should go; there were lots of girls and I resembled a ski dude in my sweater and with my dog: the sweater from under the bridge. Ha.
Trent got a hold of me finally. He told me the downstairs spare room and mattress on the floor were all Mato and I’s. I took my pack and food box into the large room. My bunk mates were a nice couch and two highly expensive and lowly weighted bicycles.
I heard someone upstairs. “What the fuck?”
“Kent are you home?” a ladies voice.
I answered and said “It’s me Floyd with the car.”
I went back out and decided to say screw it and go check out the party. It was loud even from where we were and sounded wild. While I had first met the dude who lived in Hailey, a couple of fresh looking jockey kids walked up to us, blurry eyed. And the one, reminding me of a compadre’ back home, was belligerently drunk. He asked what my dog was, breed wise, not species (mer her), and I gave the usual I DON’T REALLY KNOW. The one kid who was more coherent and mannered I saw and recognized a few times, he was pretty decent. They walked towards the sound of the loud music at the bottom of the slopes luckily before lingering too long near my sober lack of patience.
I leashed Mato and headed myself to the tunes. There were expensively dressed people all about. Here I was in my camouflage boonie cap, community aid train sweater and Dickey’s pants. I didn’t really run into one stuck up or butt headed person, they were all mostly drunk though too. The first thing I saw was a enormous Husky, two times the size of my 70 pound dog, walking freely through the street, just being a dog; Good Thing #1.
I talked to him a bit and snapped a photo of him near his owner’s car. Mato was alright this instance with him and we headed towards the indoor bar. I tied Mato to a wooden carving behind the open door and went in and bought myself a starter of a 5 dollar 24 ounce Tecate. Great Thing #2. Another great thing is people were walking around the sidewalks and streets of this little private community with beers in hand! My kind of fun.
I took my beer and went around back to watch the band on the roll away trailer stage. They were playing originals and sounded awesome sitting 10 feet away. I pounded the Tecate and quickly caught a buzz. The music was blaring, people older and younger were shouting, singing, dancing, just enjoying the beer and awesome weather and music. The back drop: the high mountain ski slope surrounded by needle bearing trees. I was fucking high.
It gets a little mixed up here. . . I have video recordings of the live band and of an unintentional sneaked conversation a guy was having with a lady about his daughter trying acid, and they were laughing. Fuck yeah! I talked to a few people, kind of asking around if they knew Trent and then giving my reasoning for being there. Most everyone was cool and nearly lit or completely lit. I walked through the crowd with Mato, seeing a few other leash-less dogs. We ran into the Hulk Husky again and Mato did his typical human pressured snarl and the husky gave a good one back and we continued through the crowd. I have a vision of a sexy MILF in my head and me and her having words but there was so many people and confusion.
I bought another beer, they had run out of the great deal on Tecates, a 16oz PBR-hipster beer (so they say), and hung around out front. It didn’t take me long to realize that there were lots of people leaving half full or nearly full beers just sitting around. The opportunist I really was at the time, I started getting drunker for free. While talking to my dad on the phone a little ways away from the party in front of someone’s seasonal home I drank someone’s Bud Light and whatever else I had found at the time.
I wandered back to Trent’s drunkenly taking the roundabout way, weaving through houses and stopping once to smoke a hand rolled on top of a wooden fence and wave at people as they walked by. I got back to Trent’s empty condo and did whatever. Then after dark I had considered walking towards town, quite drunk. I met some dude on the main road that went into town and he told me about the free bus system. I have video of me slobbering around in the lamplight.
Trent told me there was liquor from the previous renter in the kitchen; that I was allowed to any and that he didn’t really drink; I half filled a cup with vodka and started drinking some of that. Before long I was out and our first in person meeting was Trent waking me up while I was drunkenly drowsy that late night. We talked a minute, he said the car was “fuckin’ awesome” then he went up the two stories to bed and I back to my inebriated sleep.
Trent had also told me that I could eat whatever I wanted out of the fridge. So, I went up the steps and discovered his all organic and health food grub. I grabbed two hard boiled brown eggs and put some of his boiled rice in a zip lock baggy. Being at Trent’s was where I started really being a little healthier with food, or here was where I started thinking about it more; no soda and avoiding fast food.
I took my clothes from the little gym bag and stuffed in the food, a water jug with Mato's gallon bottom water dish, saddled him into his red pack and started towards the hills. There were a few trees on the first 200 yards up and at a little knoll of clearing I sat and peeled an egg and sprinkled it with some fast food salt and pepper packets. I saw movement in the scrub brush and trees and got my first glimpse of a Western grouse. I tried to film the guy with my cell phone but to no avail; for these eyes only is what that meant.
The hike up was gnarly; steep incline and thin Western air. I stopped frequently. Plus it was nice to stop and just take in the opening of the world once you got high enough, no rush, no deadline. Half way up I was looking down the trail and I saw a guy basically sprinting up. When I got to the top here he came nearly jogging, said “Hi” and turned back down. Damn.
Mato dug in the snow at the top; I got high on two quickly downed cups of instant coffee, made on my rocket stove and smoked a tiny joint to the Sawtooth Mountain Range Gods. Mountain Man country by gor! Every direction I looked was mountains. Out in the far distance was another huge snow capped mountain range and further out the ridge we sat upon was more bare mountains with tree coverings here and there. I remember telling myself if I’d had a goat at the time I would have loaded it up and me and Mato and the hoofed one would have disappeared into them hills for awhile.
I spent 3 or 4 nights at Kent’s.
I walked into Ketchum one day; smoked someone's pot out of an apple pipe that was left under a bridge that the creek ran under. I hit it and for a second thought it wasn't pot again and a relative to a substance I had smoked the summer before and had taken a mental ride I don't want to do again. I bought Olympia beer and had one under the same bridge. Also, one day Kent went to a yoga class in town and I rode with and walked to a very fancy grocery store and bought a delectable sandwich. I went to an awesome book store where I bought a book about a kid hitch hiking and he meets an eccentric lady and the rest of the book rolls along like a wild acid trip.
When I walked from that spot, through the woods, to meander down the dirt road, I stumbled, accidentally, upon some ones camp. They had a nylon tarp strung up between some trees and their gear stowed underneath. It was a neat set-up, but I didn't hang. I still wonder if they hadn't heard me and hid somewhere. That’s what I probably would have done. I had wanted to camp somewhere around there while I stayed with Kent but couldn't seem to stray away from that comfortable mattress.
The night before I left, to rent a car in Hailey, it poured cold rain, and I bought another pounder 6 pack of Olympia beer, on my walk back to the condo, for the road back East. In the morning Trent took me to the air port where there was an Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I had called ahead, to save some money, and reserved a one way vehicle back to Pennsylvania. This isn't an easy thing to find but somehow the small town of Hailey was available for this. I had gone over this in my head a lot. I either could spend the 600 bucks on a rental car or a month’s worth of rent; I went with the choice of a handful of days slamming back across the country, drinking beer and sleeping on the road in the vehicle.
The girl that did all the registration was downright cute and authentically kind. I bought some machine coffee, filled up my cup and loaded our shit into the Hyundai four door; less than 60,000 miles on the vehicle and we were off again to smash another ¾ of the country.
I took all side roads, through desert, through miles and miles of volcanic rock; Craters of the Moon National Park. Out of Hailey we bounced of 76 in Bellevue to Gannet road and then I got on 20 East for awhile, then to 33 outside of Arco. After 33 we drove onto 22 which took me to highway 15 North eventually. While driving through some downright remote desert I saw a man riding a horse through the sage. No vehicle around; no other roads. Where did he come from? Was that myself in ten years or twenty? (Thinking on this, listening to Townes Van Zandt gets my brain to churning.)
Out to Highway 15 North now, I stopped, fueled up my blood with a tall coffee and dropped onto the highway Northbound for highway 90 through Montana. This trip gained me more states that I had never been to or really even near on other trips. I cut off 15 out of Dillon to another side route, 41 to 55, to avoid going out of the way a bit into Butte, to West Legion Ave. to Whitehall St. North. I had got a bit turned around in town but finally straightened out. The landscape, good god, was marvelous.
I think of myself as a writer I reckon, but the creator of this all, Nature, knows no words, so we’ll suffice by saying- see it yourself. On 90 now I drove straight through Montana, stopping once to fill up, with the back drop behind the gas station a godlike snow covered mountain range. I let Mato out to eat and watered him and sat on the curb looking at those distant Shinin’ Mountains and ate a peanut butter and honey sandwich.
All of Montana, till into the Eastern part, is all mountains. And I think it was near the middle of the state when a tractor-trailer passed me and sent a rock into the windshield with the sound of a 30.06 exploding and left a quarter sized hunk out of the windshield and spider cracks that reached out half a foot. Damn it, I hoped it didn't further, but was stoked that it hadn’t shattered while going 70 down the fucking highway.
My next trip out there, which is coming close, I am Montana bound; a state to disappear in. Out of Crow Agency, south of where 90 heads South a bit and 94 turns up to North Dakota, I caught 212 East. It got wild here; I poured one of my pounders in my cup to calm some of the anxiety of the possibility of breaking down way out in Indian country.
It was a couple hundred miles on this tiny side road that wove through rolling hills of grass and pine trees and rim rock. There were Indian settlements all around and I crossed through a few tiny towns out in the middle of absolute nowhere. I stayed on this road, there was no other, till coming out to Bella Fourche, South Dakota. The town sat wrong, people were a little stand offish at the gas station and in my dazed mind of hundreds of miles of rolling country, nonstop mixed with caffeine and beer, I saw “something” scurry inside the gas station floor. It was not real I was just tripping on going from constant movement all day, to stopping, and the interior of my mind rolled still but physically we were stopped.
I found a sandwich in the dumpster and took a few bites but it was warm out so we peaced. I didn't stop again till 1 or 2 A.M. at a Rest Area back along 90. The wind was so bad here that I could nearly stand against it and not fall. While in the car that night, asleep in the back seat and giddy, I could feel the car rock back and forth. The wind was so bad almost the whole trip back to Pennsylvania that the anti skid light would flash sometimes on the dash because the wind was moving the car back and forth while going 70 down the highway.
I drove the next day all day again till late at night. When I had stopped during the day for gas and coffee again it was below freezing and windy in Minnesota, another state I’d never been to. I dropped down 90 and spent that night at another Rest Area right outside of Chicago city limits. I can’t recall how many times I have passed through Chicago, my first times right out of high school, twice, on my way out and back from Yellowstone.
It was mostly drive, drive and then usually I’d drive more. Into Ohio, and at the near end of the Eastern state I caught 422, bought a case of PBR pounders at a rink-dink beer distributor and drove that the whole way to Ebensburg, PA, through our beautiful Pennsylvania countryside, and slept at a Wal-Mart, still on a road high. In the A.M. I dumpstered some produce, loaded up and finished the trip in Altoona where I dropped the car and was refunded some money for an early arrival. It would have been even earlier and more money refunded the day before, but I had a great night anyhow.
I stayed a few nights with my Aunt and Uncle and then my dad in route back to Enola from his off grid cabin in the North Central Pennsylvania mountains picked me up and we hoped on the turn pike back to home. A trip of two weeks, that spanned nearly a life time; leaving me with hardened memories and furthering my know how of doing things alone and the ideal of life on the road.
There is joy to be found in solitude. It makes it even nicer to be around friends and family after a time spent alone, or with just a dog and you’re only friends with strangers, danger and the rolling tires under your seated ass.
© Lloyd Ryan Beere Jan 2016
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