I Wish I Had a Picture


Fifteen hundred miles have rolled away beneath and behind me over the past two days. A lot of scenery has passed – Idaho, Montana, Alberta and British Columbia countryside, all beautiful, all different. The day before we set out, the conversation centered around rattlesnakes alongside the irrigation ditches, and whose job it is to winch a dead elk or cow out of the water. As the Montana countryside slid past, would that we could have captured the wheat, the rocky canyons, and the wildflowers at a rest stop that perfumed the air. This morning, the sunrise was spectacular, worthy of a painting – nothing but horizon and sky and the pinks, mauves, magentas and lavenders of what births the day above a prairie. What had been flat land and fields quickly gave way to hills, then mountains and evergreens, rivers and much wonderment about those who’d gone before and what they might have expected around each bend.

Tonight we sleep in Fort St. John, the end of a day that saw a good number of miles ticked off the map. I noted a travel blog that fell short in its attempt to humorously insult the Canadians and their signage. Not unexpected; they’re Canadians, not Americans, and they make their signs the way they like them. Twice I’ve encountered construction at both ends of Edmonton, Alberta Canada, and each time the lack of signage has left me lost, but the locals don’t seem to have a problem finding their way. I’d guess they figure we could use a few lessons in that fashion when they visit us. I can vouch that Alaska has taken up their example and now place flags at roadside for potholes, frostheaves, and other flaws that could cause serious mishap; I like that bit of copy-cat improvement. Eventually, we’ll have it figured out or maybe we won’t, but I made it to where I was going both times and the inconvenience is hardly worth mentioning.

I had to think about the observation folks make about the glass being half empty or half full. Today I realized my glass is half full if I’m looking ahead, half empty if I reminisce. I’ve used up all that was available to me until the present, and so that portion of my glass is empty. What lies ahead fills it up, and usually it’s more full looking to the future than it is empty considering the past. Who knows what lays ahead, but the unknown has got to fill my container to overflowing. Full or empty, no complaints either way. When you stop to think about it, I guess it would have to always be full, future unknowns constantly refilling what I’m using up.

It’s been a busy month, and now I’m heading home with my husband’s mother. Two days of driving, simple conversation, plenty of time to empty the mind. I had a brain fart which I’m attributing to a change in elements – location, responsibilities, and routine. I was looking forward to my usual halfway point, staying the night in the one hotel on the planet that I actually LIKE and spending a long evening resting. I pulled into town and found nothing familiar. The main drag went on forever, the hotels and gas stations and fast food joints were in the wrong places and the landmarks I was used to seeing had disappeared. We turned the corner and suddenly the town was hugely bigger than I’d imagined. I never drive through here in the daytime, but know my way by the night lights of the city. Nothing was familiar in the daylight and I half joked about it to the hotel clerk, then grew seriously concerned back in the car over not recognizing anything at all about the town. Surely this was how people felt when struck with amnesia or Alzheimer disease, the realization that you don’t know where you are even though you know what you’re looking for. The simple explanation for this phenomenon is called Fort St. John. What I was expecting was Fort Nelson, several hundred miles ahead. Too late. I booked Super 8’s second best suite and ordered rib-eye from the dinner house next door. If it’s not Fort Nelson, it’s gonna be steak night. Tomorrow, we’re gonna play it by ear, and reconsider the weight of “miles to go before I sleep.”

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4 thoughts on “I Wish I Had a Picture

  1. Holy Cats girl, you’ve got some miles under your belt. Jan and I are going to fly into Boise at the end of the month and drive across country to see my mom in Ohio. It may be the last opportunity we have to do a road trip, so we’re going to bite the bullet and do it. Any suggestions as far as size of car to rent, where to stay ect? Hope the rest of the trip is great for you.

    • Haven’t driven to Ohio from anywhere, or from Ohio to somewhere, so my best advice when choosing a rental, especially for the distance, is to consider comfort over economy and then pare it down to the mileage. Power seats, cruise control top my list of amenities. Sounds like fun, especially Jan getting outta Dodge for a few days. Fun times ahead!

  2. Funny but I also liked to stay in Ft. Nelson. I drove the Alaska to US run 8 times while participating in outdoor shows and hauling horses..and always stayed in Ft. Nelson

    • This particular trip is undertaken at a more sedate pace than is my usual custom, which is to drive straight through with a single overnight in Fort Nelson. There’s a sense of betrayal, almost, for staying elsewhere; a twinge of anxiety if I tended toward the neurotic, which I don’t (she says with a chuckle). I’ll have to open my eyes and pay attention so I don’t miss some new highlight of an otherwise routine trip between the borders.

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