My insect spattered windshield perfectly framed the many sights, scenes, reveals and revelations contained within the large heartland loop I just navigated.
Accidental compositions of horizon, tree, outbuilding or land formation slowly morphed and transitioned along to the incidental soundtracks supplied by my iPhone on shuffle as the miles slowly rolled up on my odometer.
Umatilla never looked more melancholy as it did with Nico providing the score.
Phillip Glass’s driving, staccato compositions punctuated the dreamlike speed my Toyota would reach under the truly big skies of Montana.
As day slipped to dusk and then tumbled into night, I watched this shifting landscape warm to the colors of sunset and then cool to the monochrome of night. The oncoming lights of a semi briefly cloaking the natural constellations to reveal those crafted on my windshield from the sacrificed bodies of so many insects. The real danger of an errant elk or deer being mesmerized by my headlights had me seeing phantom creatures on the periphery of vision, poised and ready to dart into my path.
My overly hydrated body could easily recognize the blue of a rest area sign ten miles out and these off road exits provided the chance to stretch, breath, relieve and periodically tap into the free WIFI some stops provided.
My digital leash and lifeline was apparently boundless.
The over sized analog Atlas I bought for the trip provided only a convenient, flat serving surface for my many assorted snacks because my iPhone (the digital Thelma to my Louise) guided me to each site and necessary off ramp.
“Social” apps teased and tempted with the promise of small time affairs, sordid liaisons and the enactment of so many fantasy road trip tropes but remained as fictional and false as a Bierstadt rendering of a boundless, western vista.
Although there was this one man in Rapid City, South Dakota…
My truck quickly became a living extension of myself with the cab filling with snack remnants, water jugs, tourist guides and kicked off shoes as I enjoyed the pleasure of long distance, bare foot driving.
I had converted the capped end of my truck into a rather generous camping cabin with a full sized futon bed, light dappling linen curtains and a generous area for plastic binned storage under the bed frame. If I remembered not to bolt upright at a mysterious sound or panning light, I slept as comfortably as I do at home.
Unfortunately record heat and my delicate hot house orchid constitution (ahem) had me occupying my camping chrysalis only half of the time with the other nights in charming mom and pop hotels, motels and roadside inns.
Bike rides into the Badland terrain and down the winding paths of Rapid City committed my body to the experience and knocked out the kinks and knots a prolonged driving gesture can produce. The secure, bounding, screen like parameters of my windshield disappeared as gravel crunched under wheel and the hot wind buffeted my face.
Multiple states, many miles and magnificent early morning biscuits and gravy.
I hesitate in detailing the specific things I saw because I want to believe they were intended just for me. A gleefully selfish, solo excursion into the landscape of the US.
The various sights seen and roadside attractions explored were simply the composite chapters of an adventure that brought me to deep levels of introspection, surprising bits of wonder and the satisfaction of allowing the road to slowly reveal itself to me.
There is a great reassurance in remembering how malleable, limitless and dimensional one’s own compass rose’s orienting points can and should be.
I must keep a traveler’s bag and wandering spirit always at the ready….