One of the Hazards of Travel
Bozeman didn’t disappoint us in the morning, yielding a coffee shop fresh out of Seattle, complete with a cherry-almond scone (although Essential Baking Company, it couldn’t really hold a candle to yours. Never fear, you are still my favorite.). The weather had turned, and we listened to Mozart’s Requiem as we sped through dark, rolling clouds and dull gold and slate gray hills. At the Idaho border, we were pleased to set the clocks back an hour. I, particularly, was pleased because it meant one more hour of daylight for horseback riding at our next stop: Jerome Creek. I do realize that changing time zones, that arbitrary spatial division designed, I’m assuming, to make commerce easier, does not actually change how much light there is. Still.
Northern Idaho, where I-90 runs through, is narrow, maybe around 80 miles across, and peppered with teeny towns. We stopped in historic Wallace for lunch, and had grilled cheese and coffee at the local bar/restaurant, a beautiful high-ceilinged place with a huge dark-oak-and-mirrored bar, some stuffed animal heads (that would be stuffed animal-heads, not stuffed-animal heads), and a canoe suspended over the seats. In all, a place right out of silver-mining history.
We then took the more-direct-but-narrower-road-route to Jerome Creek, passing through St Maries (where I reprised my rootbeer shake of earlier in the summer) and enjoying the sights of the White Pine Scenic Highway as they slid by, and in the two places where the sights stopped completely, then crawled by as we followed the “PILOT CAR FOLLOW ME” leading us through major road construction.
K&A were surprised to see us. Granted, our plans had changed about every 3 ½ hours for awhile and so they were right to be a little confused, but my last email had pointed out that we would be at their place on a night that they would, too, and then we would leave together for our respective destinations the next day. A reply stating their pleasure at not missing us was sent to me, and so I, in my defense, also had a right to be a little confused that they weren’t expecting us. Each blamed the other for the reply that neither remembered, but regardless were—typically—pleased to have guests.
Excuse me for waxing, well, if not poetic, at least long, over this next section. I can’t help it. Of course, the main reason I wanted to stop in Jerome Creek (in addition to free lodging and food), was to go riding, and to take Anne Carolyn riding (for the first time in 15 years!), in one of my all-time favorite places in the world. A joined us, K having preacher business to attend to, and we three ladies had a perfect ride. AC, not immune to the pleasures of good-natured horses, canters up long gentle slopes, and an afternoon spent in wilderness, frequently laughed out loud. In fact, cantering up the Long Gallop ahead of her, I was able to gauge her progress up the hill and comfort in the saddle by the fact that she giggled the entire time (A, behind her, gauged her comfort by watching to make sure her seat stayed mainly in the vertical. It did; riding horses seems to be like riding bikes—you never forget how—except that I hate bikes and I love horses.) For dinner, we three collaborated on a delectable vegan stew, enjoyed G&Ts that AC provided and taste-tested European chocolates. The next morning at 7:00, I even got to help K move some paddock fencing around, before taking a solo ride on Shadow--the perfect farm vacation in miniature.
For some reason I’ve forgotten to mention KD, our third travel companion, as if traveling with her is such second nature that it’s like she’s a second purse. While she’s a great deal cuter than any of my purses, she caused about as much trouble as one, and she’s not much bigger (come to think of it, she's probably less trouble than a second purse, as I would undoubtedly forget that I was carrying two since my habit is to carry just one, and leave the second behind. No way would KD let that happen to her.). Her diminutive size and little legs led A to worry that perhaps KD shouldn’t go with us on the ride; Kit is used to jogging several miles in the sunny afternoons in a place where all the water has dried up, but KD isn’t. AC and I knew, however, that small as she is, KD is one tough doggie. And, as predicted, once she accepted the fact that the horses were too tall for her to sniff their butts and decided she liked them anyway, she was in her element (and, when the element was a sere, late-summer field, she almost blended in physically as well). Even KD was invited back.
It was yesterday that something happened at home, while I was away. It wasn’t a fatal something, but it was likely a life-changing something, and that’s one of the major possible hazards of travel—the world moves on whether you will or no.
As we approached Spokane (which we were passing through on our way to visit AC’s grandparents in Colville), my cell phone regained coverage for the first time in about 24 hours. 5 NEW MESSAGES it said. Five? Five in 24 hours? In my experience, I’m just not that popular when I’m on vacation, and even though I probably should have, I hadn’t called that many people yet for my current story. It turned out that my one remaining grandparent, the 90-year-old, indomitable B, had fallen in her yard while clearing wisteria from her fence and broken her hip. This made her very angry—she’s an extraordinarily young 90 in many ways, and was enjoying the freedom of living alone. Her children (my father’s brother and sister) are both in Asia for different reasons, so my cousins have had a time getting everything worked out. I spent the day today at the hospital, and am pleased to report that she’s healing well . . . but still. It seems likely that her days of freedom are over.
And after three days on the open road . . . loss of freedom is a sobering thought.