I’m off driving around the west for a few weeks, and Guillermo and I discussed what to call this adventure. I’ve been referring to it as my “Western States Road Trip.” This, admittedly, has little dramatic impact. He suggested “Aiko’s Amazing Adventure.” This, in my opinion, sets the bar too high. Maybe we’ll compromise.
One of the best things about camping by myself is that I can pretty much eat how I secretly would like to always eat at home–rice and beans straight from the pan with a side of a buttered bagel and some dried apricots– and no one is going to judge me for it. I also get to play a game called “How few dishes can I dirty to make this,” which is closely related to the game, “Which of these can I just wipe down with a pack towel rather than actually washing.” It’s you against the bacteria, and losing isn’t fun.
As you can see, there’s a reason I wanted to do this by myself.
What “this” is is a loosely planned road trip through the Western US, starting from my hometown of Seattle and ending in the San Francisco Bay Area for my best friend’s wedding, with definite plans to make it to Glacier National Park in Montana and vague plans to make it through other parts of Montana and Wyoming. I want to do some trail running. At some point taxidermy may be involved. And I need to hit Berkeley in time for a bachelorette party on Thursday, July 8. Beyond that, I’ve been playing things by ear.
My first stop, I knew, would be to see Two Gallants play in the Tri-Cities in Southeastern Washington, home to the superfund site of Hanford Nuclear Reservation and a place, supposedly, overlooked by the Great Recession. This is true; when I attempted to find a place to stay I found that every single campground and motel was packed. I finally found a smoking room in Richland–literally their last one–some ten miles from the venue. Whatever, sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do for rock and roll.
The show itself was excellent; Two Gallants is two guys who are The Most San Francisco (the singer wore an ill-fitting Giants shirt, a cardigan, and board shorts; the drummer looked like hipster Jesus) and who play with what appears to be all the intensity in their souls. Apparently, they have a decent-sized and extremely enthusiastic bro fanbase in the Tri-Cities. There was much calling out of requests, woo-ing, and good-natured heckling. One guy rocked out so hard that his sunglasses flew off the back of his head.
After an uneventful night in my motel, I continued East, up through Spokane, where I pulled off for lunch into their downtown, which had been mostly closed down to allow thousands of people to play basketball in the streets, an event called “Hoopfest.” After lunch, I got some gear at REI and groceries and, despite thinking really, really hard how I shouldn’t do this, I locked my keys in my car. On day two. Auspicious.
Forty dollars lighter, I continued on my way. I decided not to take I-90 across Montana, but to wind north first. So I picked a place out of my camping book and headed to Farragut State Park, off the southern tip of Lake Pend Orielle, north of Cour d’Alene (Janos, since I just did a drive-through, I didn’t find that guy there who owes you $200, I’m sorry).
Farragut strikes me as the sort of place that a lot of kids in Northern Idaho go for summer camp. It’s well-maintained with safe swimming holes, boat launches, and lots of trails good for bike-riding. It was full but not overcrowded, and the campsite was bustling with families.
I set up camp for the night, explored the lovely lake front for a little bit, and decided it looked like the perfect terrain for trail-running, which I will tell you all about in my next post.