Location: Garland, TX
States visited: Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas
First, a couple quick notes about the U-dub game that warrant mentioning. The lead story in Thursday’s Seattle Post Intelligencer discussed the declining state of Husky Stadium. There are older buildings in use around the country, but it’s certainly an old gray mare of an arena. Perhaps the weather has taken a toll, or maybe it just wasn’t built well enough in the beginning. In a word, it’s crumbly. The other issue is that there is a track going all the way around the field. Since I had a press pass, that made it great for me in terms of roaming space. But it also means the fans are eight lanes away from the field. The crowd was very loud, particularly in the student section. I have to think they’d be far more intimidating if they were moved to lane three. The visitors had to sit in the east endzone which are positively rotten seats. The Trojan fans barely moved throughout the game because they were cold and unhappy. This was not USC weather. The band and song girls wore rain gear, even though most of the game it was barely misting. So we hit the road with an even bigger drive ahead of us. The hills west of Seattle look like they were plucked out of an elementary school diorama. Tree-covered rises support curving roads that later plunge into valleys formed by rivers centuries ago. In many cases, the rivers are long gone, replaced by roads, railways, and underbrush.
In what I believe is my first trip to Oregon, I found the state a bit backasswards in that people are very quick to give you the finger and you can’t pump your own gas. I see no remotely possible connection between those two issues, but they coexist somehow. I was flipped the bird on three occasions, each of which was based on some completely innocuous lane change. Maybe everyone in the state is peeved that they don’t get to pump gas and they take it out on unsuspecting drivers sporting Illinois plates. Each time I feel I’ve seen all the landscape American has to offer, a new state gives me something else to appreciate. In Oregon and Idaho, it’s a largely vacant area where the hills resemble a tawny, frothy ocean. There are no people, homes, or livestock. Just tumbling knolls as far as the eye can see. From Utah on into Wyoming ridges separate expansive valleys until finally in Colorado, it becomes one giant valley that presumably stretches all the way to Clemson.
I had no idea quite how cheap Motel 6 is. I knew there wouldn’t be any breakfast or internet access, but the lack of shampoo shocked me. They don’t even have a map of the state anywhere on the premises. Our shower looked like it was something out of the future, though not a particularly swanky one. It could have been a really crappy time machine for all we knew.
West of Boise, Idaho is loaded with cattle. When you are flying by at 75 miles per hour, the animals appear petrified. Cows don’t move that quickly to being with, and I’m sure they’re not spooked by the traffic, but they could have been made of stone and we wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. Yet they smelled oh so alive. I would call eastern Idaho the armpit of America, but that would only be apt if I knew someone who smeared feces in his armpit. We couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Kansas was mostly traversed at night, which is really the way to do it. Riding shotgun, the moon and stars mesmerized me. Even when I drove, I stole glances skyward whenever the road straightened, which, in Kansas, was often. A sunny drive south through Oklahoma featured lonely oil drills scattered in farms on either side of the road. They faithfully pumped away, seemingly oblivious to the world around them. Butterflies incessantly crossed the road, though many of them met with my windshield and were instantly relegated to butter. We overtook the ESPN Gameday caravan on its way from Eugene to Baton Rouge. It consisted of roughly six gigantic semis with the orange Home Depot bus bringing up the rear. I've been joking that they are following me around, and when we saw them on the road, I was sure they were heading to Dallas. But suprisingly, they're doing a CBS game this year. Woooo integrity! Dallas nightlife is not best experienced on a Wednesday, but after all that driving, we had earned our TexMex and beers, dammit. The bars were relatively dead, though we met some cool people and witnessed a few true Texans. This morning I dropped my brother off at the airport where they charge a one dollar fee to do so. No, I didn't park - just pulled up and let him out. They do that if you're picking someone up, too. I was amazed. I bid my bro farewell and he went back to leading his own life and handling his own affairs after pitching in on mine for the last ten days. I will miss him dearly. Tomorrow is the Red River Whatchamacallit at the State Fair of Texas, and I can’t wait. Boomfight Texers!