Stoke Factor: 2
Miserableness Factor: 5
Snot Rockets Blown: 4
Miles: 30 + 16
Avg Speed: 6.8mph
Once I left Jesse, I was due South to continue the same route I started the day prior before being rudely interrupted by unpaved roads. After our nap, I was feeling much better. My legs were fine and my blisters didn’t feel like anything. My backpack felt lighter despite loading up almost 2 gallons of water into it (13lbs of water, actually). After doing a 16 mile walk with all of my gear, water, and 12lb skateboard, I was ready for anything.
I took it slow. It was a mere 42 miles to the Bruneau Dunes State Park, and leaving at noon meant even if I went slow I would get there before dusk. I walked every slight incline, taking advantage of the 4g LTE data while I had it. I popped on some music, but at this point I had heard every song I downloaded already, some even twice. I was carefree. I figured if we added up the prior day and that one, it would count as one solid 60 mile day.
The pavement was tolerable, definitely a change of pace from the horrors of route 20 in Oregon. Basically every road in Idaho had one smooth area on the roads. In most cases I get no use of it because cars are usually in the roads, but I was along a frontage road beside the 84 interstate and nobody was going my direction. I crossed a bridge that passed over the freeway and hung out. I was already ¼ of the way there and feeling fine.
I continued forward and saw a young girl walking. As far as I could see there was nothing to walk to. I asked her if she was okay and she said, “Yeup! I’m going to Burger King!” I said, “thats quite a walk,” and she insisted it wasn’t. It was very easily 10 miles, just before Mountain Home. I wasn’t so much impressed as I was just curious about why you would put in so much effort for fast food. You simply can’t help everyone. I have spent thousands of dollars in my life on fast food- and I had the gut to prove it. It took a while for me to learn what I liked and what was good for me, I hope it happens for her sooner rather than later. Hypocritically I DID just eat Arby’s 2 days before that, but I didn’t eat a lot. After a 10 mile walk she probably regained almost every calorie she burned. I personally have been burning over a few Whopper’s worth of calories on the daily. I have the sagging pants to prove it. Why doesn’t she have a bicycle?
Further down the road Google Maps told me to take a road that didn’t exist, and was in fact a railroad. I remember when I started Adrian Oh asked me why I spent so much time planning my route and carried all the tech to follow it: based on the day before and this one, that was why. Two times Google Maps let me down. Two times too many. I strayed off course by about 2 miles and turned around. I could literally see the right road (and the Burger King) in front of me, off my course.
I passed Burger King and ended up on a main road to Mountain Home. There was construction going on on the road. Beautiful black tar pavement was laid down. I asked if I could skate on it and the workers laughed at me. I strapped my board up and walked 3 miles beyond the construction. I started skating, and lo and behold, a police officer approached me from the safety of his wildly unnecessary unmarked car.
“It’s illegal to skate on the road,” he said.
“No it isn’t.”
“Get off the board and walk. It’s illegal to skateboard in the road in Idaho.”
“No it isn’t.” To be honest I had no idea if it was or wasn’t illegal. But I wasn’t going to get off my board just because he told me to. “What law can you cite that says it’s illegal to skate on the road?” I was testing my luck. I should have just shut up and walked like a good little citizen but I am far too stubborn as a human being.
“I don’t have to cite a law. You can’t skate on the road. Get off,” he said to me, very serious and whispering into his walkie-talkie like a jackass.
“If you can’t prove it’s a law, and I have to prove myself innocent in court, where does the responsibility lie? I’d like you to get your supervisor down here.” I probably said it a lot more whiny and less thought out than that, but for all intents and purposes imagine I said it like that.
“Okay, tough GUY, can you cite a law saying you CAN ride on the road?” Now I had him. He essentially admitted to me that he had no fucking idea whether it was illegal or not. So I lied.
“I’m currently skateboarding across the country and did my research into the laws of each state about riding on the road. Specifically, subsection 332 DASH 11 in Idaho states that a law was ammended to allow skateboarding on roadways if being used for travel.” I completely made that up. He goaded himself right into my hands. I felt like some kind of maniacal genius who passed a Fallout 3 speech check. The officer was very clearly distraught and put his lights on. I thought he was coming to arrest me, but he sped off.
Right ahead of me the shoulder ended and I walked anyways. I took a few turns and did some sidewalk riding for the preferred pavement, until Google once again led me to an unpaved road, right through a trailer park. I was listening to “I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston and it felt like that opening scene of Beauty in the Beast where the whole town sings a song together. People were poking their heads out of the doors to see what the hub bub was. Dogs chased me, but seemingly everyone in that particular trailer park had a chihuahua. I just laughed as they tripped over themselves chasing me.
All good things had to come to an end and my disrespect for the law karmaically landed me on route 51- a horribly dangerous highway created for no purpose but to speed trap fools who go beyond a posted 65mph speed limit. It was about 430pm as I skated it. There was no shoulder to skate on. I attempted to switch between the oncoming lane and the right lane as cars passed, but traffic only got worse. I truly feared for my life as there was a 3ft distance between the fences and the shoulderless road. I eventually hopped the fence and walked, but knowing it was 13 miles to the 78 highway, I had to toss in the towel.
13 miles of walking would have taken 4.5-5 hours. Humans walk at an average of 3mph, but typically less. I average about 2.9mph walking, which puts me on the faster side of things. But knowing that I was walking on private property from the other side of the fence, I could only expect less than ideal fence hopping, uneven surfaces, and a generally bad time. If I continued, it would have been beyond 10pm by the time I made it to the 78, and even then I had no idea what to expect for that highway.
I called Mountain Home’s only taxi service, Ron and Sharon’s Taxi. I explained my situation and they were happy to help me out. I told them I only had a debit card and they said at no charge they would swing me to an ATM. I was expecting the ride to exceed $100. The only other time I took a taxi (Uber excluded) was in Boston, and I went hardly a few blocks up and had to pay $40. However, no matter the cost I was out of options. The sun was setting and my luck ran out- I used it all being a smartass to the police officer.
The taxi showed up in record time. A kind man named Ron was in the driver’s seat and I asked to sit in the front seat. I think it’s important to talk to everyone and anyone. I can bounce my ideas off of them and hear unique voices from a part of the country I’ve never visited before. Ron took me to the ATM, about 2 miles back from where I came, and told me he was dicounting the ride to only $40. I was thankful. Ron and I had a great drive to the Bruneau Sand Dunes State Park. He gave me his history of the area and was helpful (and in agreement) on my newly constructed route through Idaho.
Did you know that the Bruneau Sand Dunes are the tallest in North America? I didn’t. In fact, with all of the wind, I had to question if that title could ever be contested. Congratulations to Idaho for having the biggest pile of sand.
The state park was about 2 or 3 miles off of the 78 highway, meaning that in the morning I would have to back track. We buzzed by the visitor’s center and through every pay station straight to the first campground. Ron and I said our goodbyes, and then it hit me- I hadn’t eaten all day. All I had was water. Nothing to cook even though fire pits were strewn across the camp. I tried to engage in conversation with a few other campers but most of them were packing up. One other tent camper was there, but he very shyly ignored me.
I found a spot with an electric hookup and set up my tent for the first time in 4 days. Though I ended up way off my intended route with no supplies, I had confidence I could power through the night and the next day’s skate to Hammet. High hopes for Hammet were small. It’s a tiny farm town and based on the Idaho culture I will not be expecting much. Although, should a motel be in my sights I will gladly take it.
There are lots of pros to camping, but an equal amount of cons. I can fart in my sleeping bag and nobody lets out a forced chuckle or some kind of wincing face. That’s why I like camping the most. I also enjoy the outdoors. I love the feeling of being small. My ego grows like salmonella on raw chicken, so it’s nice to be put in check when I am completely dependent on myself. I almost always fail to prepare properly and staring at the stars helps me understand that I truly am on my own. Even before this trip, as I lay myself to waste in San Diego, I was alone. I fleetingly dated (two unrelated girls with the same last name and one guy) and never felt any better. As I grow into my late twenties the feeling that everyone knows what they are looking for, and I’m not it, boils inside of me. This skate will not change that.
I haven’t been in a real relationship in almost 8 years, back when I was a freshman in college. I’ve fucked around, had flings, and spent too many nights at people’s houses, but nothing stuck. Half of my ex dates are married and the other half has children. I have no idea what it feels like to want to be kissed. Camping gives me time to reflect on that and feel bad for myself. But most of these reflections are coming because I spent better part of my day snuggled up and feeling the warmth of someone else. At some point I have to admit how desperately I wish that it was someone else’s hands keeping warm in mine at night. How great would it be to not feel bad for myself and have someone to join me on these adventures? I suppose I’ll never know.
At least in San Diego I had the ease of a liquor store and an eight ball to distract me, topped with a heaping of self loathing. The sober nights of reflection are driving me to sanity. It’s hard to feel sane mentally while skateboarding across the country in the middle of winter. All I can do is remind myself that this isn’t it. Perhaps after all is said and done I will ditch my Datsun and trek to Alaska, where I can live in an abandoned bus and eat some of the nice berries in the wild.
I had a lot of time to spare before the sun set. I set up my tent, and just got in. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I tried to stay awake to switch over my phone batteries to charge each of them, and to also charge my speaker, watch, gps, and external battery. I only had one cable- I accidentally left the other two back in Bend. I had to continuously check on the charging status each few minutes so I could be prompt and efficient. To pass the time between charges I tried to smoke some weed. Karma once again spit in my face- my lighter, and the one Jesse gave me, were both out of fuel. Staring at the innards of my tent was obviously exciting – I fell asleep shortly after.
I awoke at midnight. My mouth was dry, the air was cold, and my phone hit 100%. I swapped the batteries and fell asleep again. At 4am, I felt soggy. Everything was soaked. I looked outside but it didn’t rain. It wasn’t cold enough for ice like back in Hampton- the obvious answer was that the drastic difference in temperature between the inside of my tent and the great outdoors created condensation. I was perplexed because my sleeping bag was mostly soaked. Everything else was untouched. In fact, the inside of my sleeping bag was dry as well. I was confused, but with it being so early and getting a great amount of sleep, all I wanted was to revisit my dream land. Nothing can bother you when you’re toasty warm in the middle of nowhere. Nobody knows what you’re thinking and nobody asks. Hell, nobody is wondering.
The whole day in general wasn’t terrible on the body. I only skated 30 miles before I couldn’t continue from other factors. Though I was painfully tired and sequentially well rested, my mind stayed elsewhere. The utter loneliness of everything eventually catches up- but it has been up to me to enjoy it or dwell on it.