"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Thursday, July 10, 2008

7/10/08: A Tale of Two Idahos

Impatience & Indecisiveness: My Achilles Heels.

I got up at about 8:45, saw that the Hippie had moved on and began to contemplate the day. Should I get in touch with the SOS Staffing people? Should I hold out for a ride with a truck? Should I hitchhike out of there today? I remembered all the warnings about eastern Idaho, and knew that if I were to hitch out of there, I should be fussy and wait for the right ride. My indecisiveness did not last long, and it went the same as it did in La Grande; I really was not interested in putting the trip on pause to work.

I headed out toward the on-ramp after lingering inside for a bit. All of my success from Wednesday, and the fact that I had gotten nearly 200-miles made me a bit cocky; at least overconfident. When I got to the ramp, I had only just set up shop when I saw a truck dropping off another hitcher and coming back onto I-84. Sure enough, he stopped. Remember the plan: Pocatello or Bust? Well, this chap was only going 10 miles up the road and I got in. Like a damn fool.

He was in his late 40's with a straggly beard and a very
direct disposition, which of course I liked. The trip was quick, uneventful, and he dropped me at state highway 50, which goes toward Eden. “Eden my ass”, I thought. I would soon come to discover that there is no Eden in Eastern Idaho. Nevertheless, I did find an Oasis. The Travelers Oasis. A nice, if slightly cheesy, truck stop with all sorts of greenery hanging inside.

I grabbed some coffee, made up my very first sign, which said something like “Montana or Colorado” (indecisiveness) and cracked open a can of cheap Walmart salmon while sitting outside, again hoping to strike up a conversation with a driver to conveniently complete my odyssey to Pocatello. While I was sitting there a 20-something guy comes over and hands me a 6" Subway-type sandwich. Another example of a random act of kindness. That or I looked like a pathetic creature sitting on the steps eating canned food

I found a nice shade tree to escape the sun as the day got hotter, propped up my pack with the sign on it, and continued the massive update of the journal. A nice way to spend a couple of hours.

A couple hours was long enough. Back to the coffee machine
I went and then to the ramp. I was there quite a while, a sign of things to come. After a couple of hours, and many pictures of the thermometer across the road rising to 94, I finally got a ride sometime between 3 and 4:00.

Paul was another with a long straggly beard, his being snow
white, and looked to be in his early 60's. I wondered if this was what Moses had looked like. Another nice guy; another guy going 10-miles. He offered to take me toward the Rupert exit but by now, the feel had definitely changed from the western part of Idaho.

You can see the reactions people have to you when you are sitting by the side of the road. In Oregon and western Idaho people were just friendly. They would wave; give you the thumbs up or peace sign, or just smile. Here the looks began to change to something akin to terror! I heard several doors lock when they would have to slow down to get on the freeway. Most were afraid to make eye contact! Those are the best.

If I don’t acknowledge I see him then he’s not there!!!

The disdainful looks I understand. They are probably muttering beneath their breath: "Get a job, freeloader! Praise Jesus.

But the fear! Where does that COME from? I had A LOT of time to think on this!

I was reminded of the people I’d seen in Twin Falls who were riveted to Fox News and the ‘impending war with Iran!’. They had similar looks on their faces. Or “Easy Rider” when Nicholson’s character tells Fonda and Hopper that the Rednecks weren’t afraid of them but of what they represent: freedom. If you have not seen that movie in a while, and you can stomach the cheesy music, check it out again.

I can’t quite figure it out: Why are conservative areas also the most fearful?!? These big, tough, gun totin’, God fearin’ ‘publicans and their 1950's looking wives were literally scared of my scrawny butt sitting on an exit ramp! Why are liberals, or those in areas that are more liberal, more inclined to offer rides? Are conservatives just easier to control and manipulate with fear?

Fear da fags.
Fear da coloreds!
Fear da A-rabs...Mexicans...Muslims...WMD...Gay Marriage...Iran...Obama...

Fear of anyone who is NOT afraid? Perhaps they are just caged by this fear, and aren’t as free as they think. I know firsthand: Fear is its own prison. However, Nicholson’s character also said:

Don’t go telling these people they aint free, or they’ll get busy killin’ & maimin’ to show you just how free they are.

In case you self-righteous Libs are patting yourselves on the back, I have met Conservatives over the last couple of months that make more sense than ANY of you have. I have seen the same looks from the hybrids who drive by with the back window FILLED with the stupid “I’m a Hippie” bumper stickers usually highlighted by the now-ubiquitous “COEXIST”.

I am concerned about the Agenda Dogs who lap up whatever fear Rush, O’Reilly, or Hannity happen to put in their bowl. The left has their own Agenda Dogs; they tend to go into multisyllabic verbal seizures whenever you ask them to elaborate on or dissect the Noam Chomsky quote they just regurgitated and just love to throw around the term “World Citizen”, complete with the upward inflection on cit-uh-ZENNN. These people piss me off more than the Neocons.

Santa Fe, Hello!! You’re on the air!

I’ll save the rest for another day and digress, but sheep are sheep; regardless of the herd.

That may have merited a Rant Alert, no?

Paul dropped me at the top of the exit leading to Hwy. 30 toward Rupert. I continued down the interstate hoping to catch a quick ride from someone coming up the other side.


By 6:30 or so, the reality had set in that Todd screwed up. Todd should have held out for the ride to Pocatello and now Todd was going to pay! I wanted more coffee and a break from the frustration, so I made my way down toward the
Love’s truckstop at the head of the ramp. On the way I saw that there was an irrigator overshooting the fencerow, and was almost spraying the pavement.


I hadn’t had a shower since Saturday, was sticky from being in the sun all day (I hope?) and before I’d really thought it through I was setting the pack down, pulling stuff from my pockets and aligning myself to be doused.

And doused I got!

I severely underestimated how much water these things put out! It was like standing beneath a waterfall. By the time I realized how much water I was being hit with, and not
without great joy I might add, I realized that my boots were filling with water! I immediately thought about the beach in Santa Barbara, the creek in California, the blisters that had resulted from the wet boots/socks AND how long they took to dry! I was a bit concerned, and would be a bit more so after my little piece of irrigation-heaven finished. I even figured out that I could wash the nasty shirt I was wearing! I was now clean & fresh, and ready for Prom! Thanks Massengil!

It’s all relative, right?

I got to Love’s, and had long since realized that I was now spending more money on coffee than even cigarettes so I
bought a 32oz mug to replace the 16oz Pojoaque mug I’d been carrying since the beginning wayyy back in Colorado. With this, I could get more coffee for less because of the ‘refill’ prices. A good buy it turned out. I also scavenged for cardboard and made four signs that I figured I would rotate. One said “Wont Kill You” from the cinematic classic ‘Joe Dirt’. Another said “Freshly Showered in an Irrigator!!”, the next: “Passed ID Checks in SIX States”... yeah a slight stretch; it was only one state, but a little white lie never hurt anyone, right Forrest? The other sign was more straightforward: “Helena, Denver, I-70, I-80, OR I-40" If I could have written “OUT of Utadaho”, I would have.

It didn’t help. Apparently, they did not find my humor to be innovative. My spirits were still remarkably high; I had just simply accepted the fact that this was about to get more difficult than I had grown accustomed to. I knew this day would come, and besides it was not THAT bad. My negativity was more directed at the perceived authors of my newfound plight: the Mormons!

Another hour or so went by, and I had finally had enough of
this locale. I packed up my clever (to me) ‘Communication & Interaction Aides’ and started down the interstate toward...well, anywhere but there...with the defiant anger that has served me quite well in the past.

Once I tapped into that I had a remarkably good time, chatting with the dogs that frolicked along the fence with me, then the cows that followed as though I were their Messiah (Todd Joseph Smith? Brigham V?) staring at me strangely, even creepily, the whole time. I even got some excellent sunset pictures and scared the wildlife while singing along to “Friend of the Devil”. Enough to scare Satan himself.

It was almost completely dark when I came to an overpass, completely exhausted. I hadn’t been paying attention to how far I’d gone, or to eating. When I
finally sat down, I discovered that I had lost some coordination. I was dropping things, stumbling, forgetting to do simple things, like unbutton my shirt before removing it. I had been here before. On my bike trip. This is affectionately known as ‘bonking’; when your body REALLY needs fuel, and lets you know. I ate a can of something--the ‘beef’ byproduct stew I believe--and immediately felt better. I began looking for places around the overpass to sleep, but finding none, feeling much better, AND urged on by the fact that it was so much cooler and easier to walk at night, especially with the moon, I kept going.

Just ½ mile up the road, over a little hill, I spied lights!
Another telltale sign of a truckstop! I had visions of the by now utopian-in-my-mind Flying J back in Jerome. I resolved to try my best to get there. I had no idea how far off the lights were and, remembering Fruitland, prepared for a haul. It was quite a ways up there, no doubt, but since my food and rest, I was feeling great except for the foot and middle back pain that’s a sure sign of poor packing. Probably from carrying the canned food. So I walked, passing a “Last Services” sign that read something like 29 and 42 miles, depending on which way you went on the upcoming I-84/ I-86 split. Now my truckstop had new significance.

I had no idea how far I had gone when I again came to the Snake River. Large river, that Snake. All along I-84, the shoulder had been at least 12 ft wide. When it came to bridges however, Idaho reclaimed its shoulder space. Maybe 3-ft. now, and it was dark. Not a good combination. The good news was the traffic was light since it was approaching midnight, so I dug the headlamp out of my pack, turned on the red night vision beam and waited for the traffic to break long enough to get across...at least a significant distance. The light must have worked. No one hit me. No one even blew their horn. The other good news at getting across The Snake was that now I was essentially at my destination. The flamboyantly gaudy sign advertising an RV park with "GRASS!" and a "STORE!" along with other precious goodies; I began to wonder if I had indeed found Eden in Idaho!

I bypassed the closer Shell station, which looked closed anyhow, for the surefire supplier of ALL my vagabond needs. And "GRASS!" With glee, I approached my second Oasis of the day to find...

It was closed.


Why...in...the..HELL...would you have a sign that would attract people, or a bug the size of MOTHRA, to a place that was CLOSED!


I wanted to defecate on their steps. But, finding that beneath me, I instead sat down, took my boots off, and relaxed. A car soon pulled in with Montana plates...also lured like bugs by the misleading Interstate Light Show. They were a nice couple, I chatted with the guy for a couple of minutes while his girl took care of business. They were headed west though, to JEROME. In my fatigue, I confused Rupert and Jerome or you can bet your butt I would have gone BACK there and taken my a day mulligan.

In addition, to make my night perfectly complete, the local Fifeian sheriff showed up. He rolled his window down, and with an obnoxiously stern look and an overly-dramatic tone meant to let us know he was on the ball said: “Ev’ry thing Awlraht?”

I wanted to defecate on him.

I just nodded; refusing to look over for fear that my frustration and annoyance with him would get the best of me. My new Montana-friend handled the verbal interaction quite nicely, however, and Sgt. Fife left to polish his metaphorical ‘Lone Bullet’. At least in my mind he did.

After the Montanans’ left for the true hospitality, and open stores, that is Jerome, I yet had to deal with one more piece of drama. Teenagers. A couple of carloads pulled in while I was sitting there, alone, and I believe they were quite curious about me. I was quite ornery, if you haven’t noticed, and was in no mood for any Redneck Juvenile Fun. I did everything I could to look menacing, even eyeballing them periodically while they sat there. That was probably stupid, but it worked. They left without bothering me, therefore, I must be ONE menacing mutha. That, or I was just playing the role of Paranoid Bitch again. Perhaps a new topic to vote on? You Read, YOU Decide! I am frightened of that, actually...

I left on a hunt for the night’s nest and settled on the space
Rich and I had used in La Grande: between the highway and the ramp. It was down in a depression, had some smallish bushes to conceal me, and best of all, it was close to the Shell station and coffee when I woke up. I lay there for a while contemplating the day before dozing into an exhausted, deep sleep.