Stoke Factor: 7
Miserableness Factor: 2
Snot Rockets Blown: 0
Avg Speed: 9.2mph
It was an easy day today. I needed a rest- the next few days were expected to be full of nothingness. After spending some time with the locals in the bar, they essentially told me to pack up and pack heavy. From my point in Daniel, I intended to head southeast, and then northeast, and then east. The plan to get out of Wyoming by November 1st faded away. Truly, the worst was still to come. After such a tortuous day before, I needed to have full clarity, with no complaints.
I woke up early and wanted to get some breakfast. The flies in the hotel room woke up as I did. There were more than the night before, which said to me that A) either the flies were getting out of the cold or B) something rotten was in the room. The forecast said that this day was going to be short. And have the coldest night yet. I decided to push into a busier town to get some necessities and find a comfortable place to rest and recharge fully. The restaurant didn’t open until 11am, which was far too late for me. I stopped into the convenience store and had a breakfast burrito. The woman assured me that everything was made fresh daily, but the stack of burritos was unmoved from the refrigerator. Luckily its hard to mess up a ham egg and cheese burrito, so I got that one. It tasted like you would think it would. I was disappointed that it was rolled improperly. Each bite was either ham, or egg and cheese. I tried to bite the whole thing to get all of the flavors but I ended up partially choking and spat out what I had.
I showered again. Back in San Diego, I typically showered once every three weeks. On this trip, a shower has been a luxury. I find showers to be an incredible waste of water. I understand the thought that whether or not I use it, it neither benefits nor deficits anyone else, but even still I firmly believe that the fewer resources used by me the better. This time around, a chance to shower is more than just getting clean. Its a chance to completely let loose. As I stated before with an animal showing its stomach in safety, a shower is the ultimate safety check. Butt naked, away from your belongings, you are never more at risk- you would only shower if you felt truly safe. My safety has become a priority.
I left the tv on overnight for some background noise. I didn’t care about what channel was on, as I had no interest in watching. I did notice that the tv was left on Nickelodeon, and right around night time it changed to “Nick Splat.” The content of the channel was essentially introduced like Cartoon Network introduces Adult Swim. However, once the channel changed, they played an old Rocko’s Modern Life episode. I found it funny that they needed to announce Rocko’s Modern Life as “adult television.” When I was a kid, it was simply just another show. After that one, The Rugrats played. I could not understand what was so adult about either show. Waking up in the morning, I noticed the difference- a show about high school was on, and the content was wildly different. There was a fully diverse cast, and they touched on very contemporary issues in a playful and all-appeasing way. It made a show like Drake and Josh look like pornography. It had been so long since I watched tv that I never even thought about the fact that what is shown on these channels is exactly what the kids absorb. While theres certainly positives to introducing diversity and good morality, the entertainment aspect failed to meet any standard in lieu of being politically correct.
It interested me how a few days ago, Thiago told me I should think about having a family and children. I could never imagine bringing a child into the world or even adopting one to raise. The world lets their children absorb what these channels play to them and trust its good content without testing it themselves. Then, they put them in a public school and let the government tell them what they should know, and they return home to parents who spent the morning watching the news, the work day talking about it, and the evening listening to their news station’s opinions on it. Everyone is a product of what they take in, and when they put that responsibility into the government’s hands or even someone else’s hands, it is dangerous. TV is mind numbing. From Family Guy to an episode of whatever junk plays on Nick Jr., someone is trying to inject an opinion into you. Its even worse on social media. Not only are opinions easy to read, but easy to say. And with the speed of communication being instant in today’s world, nobody even thinks before they type. I just wish the world could see what I am seeing- infinite lands full of beauty and people removed from the voices of others. When I meet individuals, I don’t talk about removing war memorials or pussy grabbing presidents or what I think about transgender people in the military or mass shootings or whether a Halloween costume is politically correct. I talk about life and living.
Turning off the TV, I stepped out into the world once again. The air was warm. I hadn’t even bundled up. I knew it was only a few short miles into the next town and planned to enjoy it. I turned on my favorite Garth Brooks song on repeat.
“I’ve got friends in low places
Where the whiskey drowns
And the beer chases my blues away
And I’ll be okay
I’m not big on social graces
Think I’ll slip on down to the oasis”
Here in these moments, I have truly slipped into my oasis. Though I aim to stay connected and share my story, I am so far removed. I don’t read facebook updates and I dont scroll through Instagram. Its just easier this way.
The 10 mile push was beyond pleasant. The wind was stagnant and the lands were vast. In the distance were snowy mountain tops. It looked like the logo of a Coors can. The road was mostly flat and after a few miles a bike path opened up. I was overjoyed to skate on it. The pavement was perfect, and hopped over a few small creeks with cute wooden bridges. A dead deer was on the grass. It was clearly hit, then killed to put it out of misery. Whoever hit it didnt have a gun and instead sliced its throat with a machete. The blood still stained the grass.
I’ll never understand why most of the roadkill I see has missing eyes. Almost every deer I’ve passed in my travels has hanging parts from the eyes and empty sockets. Are coyotes eating them? Or is some sadistic fuck keeping them in a jar? Is Lance Armstrong finding an appropriately sized eyeball and doing an at-home surgery to replace his missing testicle? The feelings for seeing roadkill have left me. Deer are mostly just oversized rats out here in the west. It’s commonplace to shoot them when you hit them. Everybody owns a gun. Though there is nothing natural about hitting a deer with a car, there’s also nothing natural about running across the road at the last fucking second and getting hit. Humans and animals alike are to blame for the dead lying in the grass. Nature sends its coyotes to munch, the bones reduce to the grass once the bugs eat the remaining parts, and another deer is born in the distance. I have yet to see a moose in the road or a bear in the road or an antelope in the road. Just deer. Stupid, oversized rats.
The day before Charlotte and I stood in horror as a deer lay gasping for breath, completely immobilized. I sat next to it and rubbed its head. A worker had a .38 in his truck and took 5 shots to kill it. I just sat there. It didn’t bring out any feelings in me. Life is strange. The idea thst we as humans have this power of conscious thought and apposable thumbs to hold a gun doesn’t feel in the least like we’re at the top of the food chain. It simply just shows that we are clever beings, and deer are not.
The town of Pinedale, Wyoming was merely just a string of motels and corporate injections for those who passed through. I had a full choice of motels. My initial thought was to find the dinkiest place I could and try to swoon whoever was working into a discount. Paying for motels feels like I lose a finger every time. However, this night in particular was expected to be in the low teens for temperatures and I was completely unprepared for another night with no supplies. Instead of being some kind of sociopathic slob using my adventure to steal a deal, I went to the Best Western. You sort of always know what you’re going to get with a Best Western.
The counter woman said I was the only person staying there. Business was slow. She told me that every other motel I passed was actually closed, despite the signs. Though the town looked ripe with life, the 2,000 citizens of the town had a VFW, a Subway, and a Best Western to choose from for open businesses. She gave me every discount in the book. Older and apathetic to the business’ doings, she was hooking me up with a favor I didnt even have to ask for. It is simply a season in Wyoming where nothing is open. After this town, other than gas stations, she told me I would be lucky to find a single open business until I reached the east side of the state.
The shower called my name as I settled into my 2-queen bed room. I jumped in and felt the effects of my travels. I hadn’t brushed my hair since Glens Ferry. I completely avoided touching it in most cases- it was matted and hurt to tug on. I could have just cut all off right then and there. I wanted to. Long hair, though it gives an obvious feminine appearance, is simply more hassle than it is worth. It get wet with sweat and freezes to my head when I camp. The mats hurt when I look in certain directions.
I walked over to the Family Dollar and it was packed with employees. They were moving product into the back and preparing to close for the season. I weaved through them and bought a hairbrush, some conditioner, Q-tips, contact lens solution, and toothpaste. At this point in my travels I have grown accustom to the weight I carried and knew how much or how little I could maintain. I threw out a few unessential items, like a hair comb, extra motel soap, and laundry soap. I figured if I was going to use those products, it would only be in a motel and if I was in a motel, those products would be available to me anyways.
I only had one set of contact lenses left. My last two pairs ripped after keeping them in my eyes for a week straight each pair. I decided that I had to start taking care of my contacts or I would truly be out of luck. I ditched about 5 sets back in Oregon to shave weight and I wished I hadn’t. This last set had to last however long the trip would be from then on. My eyes were tired and mostly bloodshot from keeping the lenses in for so long. I spent the rest of the day in my glasses. They don’t fit my head very well, and would be unreliable should my lenses fail.
I got back in the shower to try and de-mat my head. It took 2 hours and a whole bottle of shampoo, lots of pain, and a handful of ripped out hair to fix. I shaved the side of my head that was shaved before I started the trip. Less hair, less to worry about. I decided that from that day on I woulr braid my hair to avoid it tangling. It was truly cruel torture to stand in the shower for so long ripping at my head. The agony of breaking off the ends and pulling the knots out in chunks hurt beyond belief. Not only physically, but knowing that I had such poor care for it offended me. It was gross how easily it ripped.
After brushing it out and shaving my head to the skin, I was a whole new woman. I felt feminine and sexy again. My legs were shaved and I was feeling like rainbows and butterflies, not compromise. I had my laundry washing downstairs ($2.25 a wash and $2.25 a dry!) And had all of my devices charging. Since all of my clothes except shorts and my sweatshirt were washing, I had to go out and get dinner in only those.
I decided on Subway. It was the only place I could trust to have vegetables on the menu. I neglected to consider the fact tbst I had looked so ambiguously gendered. My legs were visibly pale and shaved, my head had a very feminine cut, and I walked like I had a horrible wreck in a forklift incident. My limp is mostly from having way more muscle in my stationary leg compared to my pushing leg. Covering x amount of miles to get to that point in Wyoming with a heavy pack surely built up muscle in the leg that held me up. I rarely notice it, but at that point it was obvious to me. The whole restaurant and attached gas station was filled with hunters, and I got side eyed like crazy. I wondered how I would defend myself if someone asked about my shaved legs. Would I lie and say I was on the Bondurant elementary swim team? Or would I just retort with a “none of your fucking business.”
I think I learned that people from Wyoming just avoid conflict entirely. They don’t grab hitch hikers, and they dont start conversations. I imagined that if someone did ask, I would have to explain to the entire store whatever I was going to say. It never happened. Though I was nervous but still feeling fly as fuck, I ignored the stares. I’ve lived all of my life as a trans woman getting stared at. I was just glad I didn’t have bright pink hair like I did when I worked at the grocery store.
I got a chicken bacon ranch sub with spinach, lettuce, green peppers, onions and black olives. It didnt feel like a sandwich I would order, but it was all the veggies they had so I piled them on. It was a breath of fresh air to be back in my room, eating alone and not being stared at. I decided I wouldn’t go in the motel pool out of fear of anyone seeing me in my bra. It just seemed like the world already decided I was a boy so I wasnt going to change their minds. However, I do know that Wyoming people are kind once you break that initial conversation. I just preferred to be alone.
I spent the rest of my day filling out interviews and chatting on the phone. What a strange world it is where I can be the brave, stoic trans woman tackling the world by skateboard on the internet, and then an introverted, societally estranged androgynous fuck face in the real world. I was looking forward to the next days of survival mode. Life is simply better away from both people and internet.