September 4th – Coffee, Shopping, and a Family of Flies

     I drove a lot yesterday. I guess I made it across Washington in one day – from the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula all the way to the tip of Idaho. Then I drive some more trying to figure out if I was at the right campsite.

     By the time I parked and calmed down and got into bed it was almost 2 A.M, so I decided not to worry about waking up early this morning. I slept in until 10 A.M. and then took my time getting going. I did find out that I had indeed wasted time driving in circles last night – this was (in the daylight) obviously the campsite I found online.

     Once I was awake and mostly functional, I decided to find a Starbucks in Couer d’Alene and spend the morning reorienting myself. Last week was full of busyness and fun, but I didn’t make much time to update my blog or plan for this week.

     I started out by reviewing my week in Washington. I finished up my blog entries and tried to upload them. I ended up spending several hours trying. At this Starbucks the coffee was good but the Internet was unbelievably slow. Updating my website felt like trying to drink a Java Chip Frappuccino with a stir straw.

     In frustration, I moved onto my next problem. How would I get to Yellowstone? I had planned to drive straight east, through Montana, then turn south and drop into the north entrance of the park. The forty-two fires currently burning in Montana made me hesitant to continue that way. Already, in the tip of Idaho, I could see, smell, and feel the smoke. I didn’t want to drive into more, and I didn’t look forward to getting stuck on a highway waiting for a fire to be put out.

     I called home and conferred with my dad. He advised me to take the much longer route, south on several Idaho state highways, to arrive at Yellowstone’s west entrance. I decided that was the way I would go.

     I had to backtrack about sixty miles, across the state border again to Spokane, Washington. That gave me a chance to look for a sporting goods store where I could purchase a new cooler. I had brought a cooler with me – or at least I thought I had. It turned out to be rather bad at keeping things cool (which is, I believe, the primary task of a cooler). Since I planned to spend a few days away from civilization while in Yellowstone, I knew I’d need to make an upgrade to keep my food fresh.

     I found a Sportsman’s Warehouse in Spokane. After shopping around, I found a good cooler – an electric Coleman that I read good things about online. Amazon sold the same item a bit cheaper, but since I don’t have a real home address at the moment, buying things on Amazon wasn’t an available option.

     Because of all my scrabbling around in the city, I got a late start on my drive for the day. It was about 4 P.M. when I was finally ready to leave. Since I did start out so late, I picked out a campsite not far from Washington’s southeast border. If I could just drive through Washington and a little bit of Idaho, I’d call it a day.

     On the first part of my drive, I saw a cool bridge and waterfront. But all the way through both Washington and Idaho, the smoke stuck with me and turned the sun into a fiery ball of diffuse orange and red.








     Today was another good driving day – like most of yesterday had been. It was nice to be getting somewhere. Not messing with slow internet or trying to figure anything out. Just going forward. In no time at all, I arrived at my campsite. I had been following the Clearwater River for quite awhile, and this spot was right in between the river and the highway I was driving on.

     Without the sun, it was difficult to see the campsite clearly. Now it’s two nights in a row that I’ve come into camp after dark. The headlights of my car showed me what was right in front of me and dimly outlined the rest of my surroundings. To my right, I could distinguish a dense thicket of shrubbery and a picnic table underneath a wooden trellis . There was a circular iron fire pit by the river, a pile of driftwood, and a piece of trash blowing around on the ground.

     The lake that I had seen beside me as I drove looked like it would be quite beautiful in the day. A large dark shadow on the far bank appeared to be a mountain.

     I opened my door to get out and then left it open to transfer some things from one of my car to the other. I made a tiny fire with some trash that I had collected, then sat back down in my car to write about the day. That’s when I started to hear a quiet buzzing sound. It was very high pitched – like the old TV in my parents’ room. Whenever my dad would turn it on, I could hear the buzz even though he couldn’t. That’s what this was like and I couldn’t figure out what was making the sound. Then I turned the inside lights on.

     My ceiling was speckled with flies. There were at least thirty of them sitting on and around the lights. They were the small type of flies – the ones that seem too little to do any real harm, but are extremely annoying – and gross and disgusting and revolting.

     I didn’t want to stay at a fly-infested campsite. I put the keys back in the ignition, started up the car, and drove away as fast as I could. As soon as I was away, I opened my windows. I hoped that the flies could take a hint. “Not wanted here, please leave now. Or die.”

     Most of them figured it out. I pulled over ten miles down the road to take care of the rest. They weren’t incredibly smart and I easily disposed of all but one of them. The last fly seemed to have a charmed life. I tried to pin him down several dozen times before he tired of showing off his evasive maneuvers and hid in a corner I couldn’t reach into. I drove on until I found a larger highway pull-off where I could wait him out. I parked and pulled out my computer to write all this down. Every few minutes, he buzzes briefly before quieting down again. Oh well, I’ll just keep driving and forget about him for the moment.

     And I did keep driving, even though I wasn’t sure where I would stop. I knew where I was and where I wanted to go, so I just kept following the route I had planned. About eighty miles from where I stopped to write I found a rest stop, just as I started to get desperate for a place to sleep. There is a sign that says visitors are welcome to stay for fifteen hours. I won’t be here that long… just need to sleep through the night. And off to sleep I go, goodnight!

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