Missoula, Montana. Alive and well. Car still going strong. Or whatever you call it when a 1984 Subaru hatchback does its very best for five hundred miles.
I left Seattle this morning early-ish. Not as early as ideal, since the ideal never matches the real, but good enough. Let’s just say eleven or so. Let’s just say I had some shit to take care of in Seattle before I left. Important shit. Shit that mattered. To me. That kind of shit. And when that shit was done, and once I’d eaten breakfast, I left. And when I left I probably cried a little bit. But I didn’t necessarily.
The Subaru handled the Cascades like you would expect it to: lurchingly, reluctantly, slowly. Like an old man being led around a grocery store in a wheelchair. I figured if I could at least pass the semi trucks, I could count it as progress. I therefore ignored when they subsequently passed me. The thing is, when you’re driving with a busted axle, you don’t want to go around turns too fast, or hit bumps, or even really drive at all. Instead, what you want is to be magically and safely transported to your destination without having to put any wear and tear on your vehicle. But that doesn’t happen. And so you pass the semis in third gear at fifty-five miles an hour going up to a pass, and they pass you fifteen minutes later, when the downhill’s to their advantage, and you’re trying not to fly off a cliff into a ravine.
The stars in Montana are amazing. And the skies really are 20% bigger.
But so, yes. You have central Washington after the Cascades. And there’s this mother of a gorge created by ancient volcanoes, and this bridge that leads over a large body of water situated in a lifeless desert. Whose name I didn’t get. The body of water’s, that is. Nor the bridge’s. But that’s neither here nor there. What I’m trying to say is that there’s a cavernous, canyon of a gorge surrounding this stunning tributary/lake/river in the middle of a desert, and that if you cross that bridge and begin your ascent back up out of the canyon, I recommend you do not mistake a decidedly long incoming-traffic-lane for a bonafide third lane, lest the Bronco behind you decides to try to run you off the road when you realize your mistake.
Also, never drive in Montana. Or, rather: never drive in Montana in a shitty, out-dated automobile. You will feel bad about your automobile. You will feel penis-envy for other people’s automobiles. You will wish that your automobile was brand new, had a warranty, had a clutch that wasn’t 25 years old, did not rattle at speeds greater than 65 miles per hour, had an alternator that you could trust, and so on.
The worst part, I’d say, is Coure d’Alene, Idaho to Montana. It feels like six hundred miles of insanity. It’s not, of course, but that’s what it feels like. This is also what makes it the best part.
A good friend of mine told me that eastern Washington was a good place to scream to yourself, so in between singing songs at the top of my lungs, cursing at my car, and trying to eat a tuna fish sandwich, I did that to pass the time while I was there. Eastern Washington is boring; you’ve got to keep yourself entertained somehow. Therefore, another recommended action, via a friend: If you’re driving alone through Eastern Washington, sick of belting out your favorite tunes with the lead singer, you ought to take a break, have some water, turn the tunes down, look at the endless farmland, and decide to scream out loud to the wheat, the grass, and whatever the fuck else looks so goddamned dismal–because you can, because you’re alone, and because no one’s listening.
Scream about whatever you feel like screaming about.
Additionally, Montana has the pinkest sunset I ever did see.