‘As one door closes, another opens’, Alexander Graham Bell once sagely wrote. And so it was with time’s inexorable influence upon our trip, specifically the seamless transition from the closed door of week 1 to the endless possibility presented by week 2.
As blackbirds in the morning air, Finbar and I ushered in week 2 with a tuneful call of ‘so long, Canada; hello USA!’ For with re-entry to the US the trip could begin in earnest, our seven thousand-mile loop of the West set in motion.
And though visa technicalities nearly brought it all to an abrupt end at the Canadian border, sure enough the troublesome twosome had soon (metaphorically) hurdled this barrier and set off in the direction of the rising sun, charting a course for Yellowstone National Park.
A twenty-first-century Lewis and Clark, we began by tracing in reverse the famed nineteenth-century explorers’ Corps of Discovery Expedition, from Washington through Idaho to Montana. Unlike Lewis and Clark though, we’ve been tearing up the I-90, a velvet-smooth run of freeway that stretches from Seattle to Boston and is the longest interstate highway in the US (3,020 miles).
The occasional monotony of this form of travel is alleviated by the grandeur of the scenery. Towering mountain ranges, thick forests, wide open plains. Such immense openness the likes of which is hard to grasp from the passenger seat of the E-350 (my current position).
Small towns populate these big spaces, and this week has also been one of gun stores, cheap gas, lingering but well-maintained Trump/Pence placards, and grain silos imitating churches beside deserted main streets.
The freedom of blitzing across the continent in this manner continues to thrill, but the speed and directness of travel facilitated by the open freeway can leave little room for prolonged interactions with our surroundings (something the trip is v much all about). Now, with week 2 quickly becoming an ill-defined speck in our rear view mirror, it’s feeling increasingly important to make time for disruptions to ‘nature as drive thru’ – be they hikes, leg-stretchers, photo ops, contemplative roadside lunches, yard sales, whatever.
‘But’, as Kerouac rightly put it, ‘no matter, the road is life’. It giveth and it taketh away no doubt, but by this time next week the road’s twists and turns will have taken us through Yellowstone and out the other side.
Stay tuned for more on these exciting developments!