I left my home near Seattle to move to the tiny town of Branch in the far southwest of Colorado at the end of June. I gave two weeks notice at my job, informed my friends and family, obtained a canopy for my truck* and packed up my stuff. At first I was unsure what to do with my three-legged kitty – my truck has no air conditioning and she’s never loved car rides – but I decided that I couldn’t very well leave her behind. So I packed her crate with some blue ice and said a prayer to St. Gertrude, patron saint of cats. Although some light yowling ensued, she did remarkably well.
The first leg of the journey took me by ferry across the Puget Sound, on the sort of clear, ephemerally gorgeous (and achingly rare) summer day that is the Pacific Northwest’s crowning glory. I said an emotional goodbye to the mountains of western Washington and the city of Seattle as I walked around the upper deck, eating my cheese and mustard-green sandwich.** The driving wasn’t as onerous as I thought. As the dense evergreen forests of the Snoqualmie pass gave way to the undulating brown hills of the Columbia valley, I debated weather or not to stop at one of the numerous wineries that lined the highway. The winery I’d worked for had gotten its grapes from this region, and I was tempted to try some wine right from the vineyards. I decided that it was best to press on, however; I had left later than I’d intended, squeezing in a final yoga class, and it doesn’t take much for me to get a driving inhibiting buzz, especially in the heat. I continued along my way.
The mountains of eastern Oregon saw me running out of gas. I’d stupidly decided to press on when my tank was a quarter full, thinking that there was bound to be a town where I could fill up. No such luck; when my gauge light went on, it was still 34 miles til La Grande. I urged my Ranger gently up hills and coasted down, saying a prayer of thanks as I rolled into La Grande on fumes. It was 8pm by this time; I called my couchsurfing host in Boise, where I planned to spend the night, and told her I’d be there later than expected, at around 10. After eating a burrito at a generic Mexican joint (it was the very soul of mediocrity), I was again on my way. I made it to Boise at almost 1am.
My kind host had waited up for me, leaving three red candles aglow in her window so I’d find the right house. She greeted me at the door; lovely, slender, with blue eyes and dark hair and a calmly intense enthusiasm in her manner. She showed me the room where I was to sleep, which doubled as her treatment room (she’s a massage therapist), her room (where her young son lay sleeping), her beautiful bathroom with a massive tub and stone shower, and her roommate’s bathroom; she fretted over its messiness, telling me anxiously “it’s a boy bathroom” (it wasn’t that bad). She showed me her fridge, which was charmingly divided into her side and her roommate’s side. Hers was an orderly display of tempeh, organic bread and attractively arranged vegetables. His was a haphazard collection of hastily wadded packages.
The next morning, I met her son (hilarious, adorable), her roommate/brother-in-law (drumming, doing his daily tai chi practice) and her landlord (over-eager). She made me a delicious sandwich and the five of us went for coffee at the cavernous and oddly named Salt Tears gallery and cafe. I ordered an obscene sweetened iced coffee drink, drew an inept self-portrait on the wall in sharpie, bid my farewells, and set out for Salt Lake City, Holy See of the Latter Day Saints.
*I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention here that my super generous father pressure-washed and painted it for me!
**I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention here that my super generous mother made me that sandwich!