Saturday. Must try and keep track of the days. Pulling out the gigantic map of America I’m sad as it becomes apparent we just won’t be able to squeeze in the drive to see my Canadian chum Charlie. It’s seven hours drive North West to Victoria, we can’t afford to fly it. Our ultimate destination is Chicago, several hundred miles East for the comedysportz tournament. We have planned rest stops, so we could take those out, but that would mean driving straight though three states, which isn’t practical or I suppose healthy on Bron who is doing the driving. We delibrately didn’t plan a lot of our road trip, so it’s doubley frustrating as it was the one thing I did plan and was looking forward to. If you’re reading this Charlie, again I’m sorry pal, next time x
Onwards East and we visit Mount St Helens, an enormous volcano that erupted sideways in 1980 and took a few small towns and a forest with it. It’s a massive crater in the ground and at the visitors centre we listen to the ranger’s talk. It’s a talk she’s probably done a million times when she names and describes the last moments of the surveyor who was up on the thing when it went off and only had a few moments to radio the authorities and say “This is it” before, as she describes it “The mountain took him”. Grim stuff for family listening. I’m not a dweller on dark stuff, but it does make me wonder which part of a volcano exploding under your feet would kill you first. The rocks? The fire? Being blasted into the air? Probably all of it. On the way back we stop off at the Bigfoot gift shop and Bron buys a spare wedding ring for one dollar.
We cross Oregon and the hours pass to some tremendous views of dams, rivers and cliffs. At Hill Fort indian reservation a quick casino visit to break up the journey, I observe some indians dressed as cowboys and there’s a ‘Pow Wow’ which looks like a car boot sale in the middle of a campsite, but I think we’ve probably missed the good stuff. Then up slowly into rolling hills and before the sun sets theres a ‘vista point’, a roadside stop where we can see across the whole reservation. The sun is low and all the buildings, plains and ourselves are bathed in warm a yellow light and we cast shadows that go on forever. We’ve covered a lot of ground and we’re tired, but it’s all so beautiful. I’m not done yet.
We stop at another ‘America’s Best Value Inn’ and I’m starving. Even at night it’s uncomfortably hot and There’s only a 24 McDonalds drive through in sight. If you don’t know America, It’s not like the UK in how it’s laid out. Outside the big cities shops and food places aren’t all terraced together like our high streets or town centres. it’s all small drive in retail park type places, or outlets are stood on their own. I cross an almost deserted street and try the door but it’s locked and no one is visable inside. I stand at the drive through ordering post which is set a distance from the building. I speak into the microphone but no one is there. The lights are on. I try again. Nothing. A read a notice on the big illuminated menu. I am not a car, so I’m not heavy enough to trigger the bell that tells Ronald McDonald I want to be fed. Probably a good thing. I give up and leave.