Stoke Factor: 8
Miserableness Factor: 1
Snot Rockets Blown: 8
Miles: 40.00 + 47
Avg Speed: 6.4mph
My sleep in the cabin was probably the first time I hadn’t woken up randomly in the middle of the night. I had no dreams. I had complete and total silence, with an electric fireplace rocking me into a deep REM. With the blinds down, it was all I could see. Part of me always thinks there’s some sort of crazy clown character looming over me in whatever direction my head isn’t staring, but I had gotten quite used to confidently turning at whatever I thought was there. The clown pictures at the motel in Glens Ferry only increased those feelings. Thinking back, I wondered how I ever fell asleep. I find the art people hang in their motel rooms to be fascinating- in the cabin at Aspen Grove Inn, the room was duck themed and next to the bathroom was a framed duck picture with a double mat. As someome who used to be an art framer, I noticed that the art was slightly off center and coming out of the mat. I checked to see if I could fix it, but without any tools I was useless. The bathroom also had a duck themed wallpaper- everything matched. I supposed that it’s the higher quality places that put care into matching things. The lower quality ones line the walls with pictures of clowns.
I woke up with my alarm. 6am was too early. By the time I was fully packed, the sun hadn’t even thought about rising yet. I made myself a cup of coffee in the Keureg machine, and made use of the sugar. It was organic. I wondered what made sugar organic or not? If its “pure cane sugar” and unprocessed, shouldn’t it have been organic? I considered those “sugar in the raw” packets as well. I truly had no idea what the difference was. I seemed to lose a can of my chewing tobacco. I lost two cans in two days. One at Jonathan’s house, and one there. Since I had already made the bed and completely left it exactly as I found it, I chose to just leave it.
The night before there was a rather large fly hanging around in the bathroom, so I whipped it with a hand towel and sent it straight to the floor tiles. It was motionless. When I went to pick it up in the morning, it had moved about three feet to the left and was wiggling its legs. I couldn’t believe that I let it lay there in pure paralytic agony for hours. I was impressed by how far it got. I smushed it between my fingers with a tissue over them and flushed it down the toilet. I supposed that was about as sadistic as my twisted mind would let me get- unknowingly torturing a fly that truly never bothered me. I just decided it was the fly’s time to die, and made it so.
Once the sky turned from black to a bluish hue from the sun peaking out over the distance, I started moving. Admittedly, that was the earliest I had ever started skating. It was about 7am. Layered completely, I neglected to wear my hat or gloves, but was lucky enough not to need them. I had to backtrack about 3 miles to get back on route 26. I dropped my trash in a barrel on the side of road, and was scared to see a baby dog-like animal behind it. We were both scared. It had no collar. I had no idea if it was a wolf or not. It didnt bark and just stared at me. I pushed forward, keeping an eye on it but it never approached me.
Back on route 26, the wind showed its face. Paired with a bitter cold morning, the headwind was insult to injury. I contemplated using my balaclava, but only wanted to push forward. The forecast didn’t say anything about wind so my suspicion was that it would pass. About 3 miles past the road to head into Heise, a quiet coyote caught my eye. It was tangled in some weeds and the wind was showing me what direction it was going by bouncing off of the fluffy coat. I couldn’t have been more than 5 feet away from it. If I stayed with my head glued to my phone, I could have breezed by without even seeing it.
I stopped and took my backpack off. Taking into consideration how docile it was being, I slowly removed the bread I was given from my pack and opened it up. The coyote perked up, but we were both cautious of each other. The morning traffic roared in the background. I grabbed a chunk of the bread and held it out in my hand. Without making sounds, I motioned it towards me and it stepped callously right next to me. I had to remember it wasn’t a dog, so I didn’t pet it, but I let it take the bread directly from my hand. It munched it down and I packed away the bread. “That’s all for now. Come find me in Wyoming and I’ll give you more.”
I backed away as it seemingly choked on the bread, and ate it off of the grass. Once I was in a safe distance, I put my bag back on and pushed on. The wind was a killer. The whole route to the border was expected to be uphill. I fought on- you don’t get a good night’s rest and then decide to walk the next day. I had to use that energy. Seven miles flew by as I interchanged walking with pushing. My pack was overencumbered with the added weight of the food.
I watched as a white pickup truck drove on the grass and looped around twice, eventually stopping next to me. I wasn’t ready, seven miles in, to give up. He asked if I wanted a ride but I said no thank you and he was upset. As I continued forward, he only drove up a little bit and watched me. “Come on, I’m going to Alpine, you’ll die on this road.” He was right. There was no shoulder and the wind battered me down. I jumped into the pickup.
He introduced himself as Thiago. Of course, he said it with his Mexican accent so it very well could have been Diego, but I repeated it back to him and he didn’t contest it. I told him my story, but as always I was more interested in his. He had an Arizona Cardinals hat on, and told me he came over the border illegally, lived in Arizona, but came to the north to do electrician work. Now he lays tile. He told me he never runs out of work, and he had God to thank for that. I personally had never been religious, and spent the majority of my teen years dumping insults on those who were. At that time, I was willing to listen and hear him out. He was one of the most genuine souls I met- he said he was not religious, but he talked to God often and God talked to him by giving him signs. He said God told him to pick me up. Together, we thanked God for connecting our paths.
We went over my story and how everyone I met was nice. He said I should take it as a sign from God. I didn’t denounce that thought. Of course, I just believe that people are inherently good, but if claiming that God laid them out for me to meet was easier to believe, I was with it. Thiago was such a kind man who only wanted the best for everyone. He hadn’t seen his mother in 12 years because if he went back over the border he wouldn’t be allowed back. Such an unfortunate situation to have these false borders separating humans of the same species keeping families apart. I knew that his story was not unique- hundreds of thousands of immigrants live their lives that way every day. I could only sympathize. I chose to be away from my family.
I made Thiago drop me at the Wyoming border. I told him he was a part of my story and had to be in my picture. I wouldn’t have made it without him. He was excited to be in it and I was happy to have him. All across Idaho I thought about what I would do for that picture, whether I wanted it to be funny or exasperated, sad or confident. None of it happened, because a picture with Thiago was infinitely better.
He took me to the gas station and told me he would buy me anything I wanted. He truly wanted to pay it forward. Since I was loaded up with the offerings of the day before, I didn’t need much. He got me a water and two breakfast sandwiches. I was grateful. Thiago and I said goodbye, and I sat on the curb to eat my food. I wasn’t sure what to with myself- an entire day of skating was erased in an hour of driving. I just enjoyed the morning busyness that was going on around me.
Thiago drove back and said I left my Clean Bottle in his truck. I would have been devastated if I didn’t have that. It was what I used for my endurance drinks. I said thank you, and he disappeared into the store, then came out with three power bars and a $20 bill. Thiago truly went above and beyond for me. Another soul who had his own struggles went way out of his way to help me. Every day I had a reminder that the world was good.
I eventually decided to try to make it to the next town. I skated forward, truly feeling the pain of the weight all of the gifts I was given amounted to. I ignored it, because the road I was on had some of the most perfect pavement, extremely wide shoulders, and no wind. It was 70 degrees. I was feeling like everything aligned just for me. Every mile or so I would stop to admire the beauty of Wyoming. It was truly breathtaking.
The road I was on followed the Snake River. My mouth frothed at the thought of having a cold glass of the freshwater. I was 6500ft up and taking in the most beautiful sights I ever saw. I had to snap a million pictures. I was truly in awe. It was a beautiful world with beautiful people. I pushed for 30 miles without a care in the world- I was further than I should have been and living my dream. People in their cars waved at me because I had the brightest, cheesiest smile my face could afford.
I thought about deviating and going for a hike. I decided not to because the food in my pack would have attracted bears. The threat of bears was very real. Signs were literally everywhere. I stopped by a small creek and dipped my hands in the water and splashed it on my face. It was wildly refreshing. Back on the road, my smile only got bigger. In the distance were snow covered mountain tops and beautiful trees. I was the luckiest girl on the planet.
As I neared my target I saw the aftermath of a horrible accident. Blood stained the road- it was literally everywhere. Shattered glass was swept to the shoulder as I rode over it and you could pinpoint the moment of collision. I took a few pictures. Nearby I saw a big pile of animal shit. I wondered if a driver had hit a bear or moose and launched through the window, or if a deer had caught the wrong end of a deal. Either way, I saw no bodies. It had to have happened that very morning.
I rolled into Hoback Junction and my fears were realized: there was no campground, no motel, and the RV Park wouldn’t accept nightly stays. I had my first interaction with a resident of the state- he was a guy wearing a plaid shirt and a cowboy hat. Gross. I told him of my story and he wasn’t interested. I bought lunch and tried to plan my next move. There were no options for me available. An older guy came up and asked me for a lighter. He had a horrible shake in his hands and couldn’t get it to light. I lit his cigarette for him and asked for advice. He had nothing to say. I said, “I’m skateboarding across the country!” and he didn’t care. “Good luck.”
Tired as all hell, I had two hours to sundown and no plan. I decided to push until the sun went down and camp wherever I could. I forgot to buy more water. I just wanted to be off my feet. It was a long day. My GPS told me a closed campground was 7 miles up along the river, so I aimed for that. I passed by an inn, but it too was closed. Wyoming was winter ready while I was wearing a t shirt and holding a skateboard. I passed by some antelope who didn’t seem to want their picture taken. I remembered the saying that Wyoming had more antelope than people. I sure hoped so, because every interaction I had with Wyoming people genuinely sucked.
The road turned around a bend in the river and I was encapsulated by the darkness of the looming mountain next to me. It was cold in its shadow, and coming out of a 75 degree day, I didn’t hate it. The darkness continued when I saw the sign for the campground. It was covered in a trash bag like the others, saying it was closed. Carelessly, I hopped the fence and picked a spot. I dropped my toiletries and food in the unlocked bear storage units, and set my tent up. It was a wildly successful day.
The night was predicted to drop below 20 degrees. I had no water. I had sweaty clothes. I had no options. I tucked myself in at 6pm, listened as the cars went by, soothed my ears to the sounds of the Hoback River, and watched the stars.