Peace on the Road
Drove many hours today - about 11. I left my friends in Bend, Oregon at about 9am PST. Drove east through the high desert on Rt. 20, mostly through flatlands (even hit a little snow - probably about 6,000 feet up!), and said goodbye to Oregon.
Then I headed south and down to lower altituteds into Idaho farmlands on I-84.
I was thinking I'd camp in Idaho, but the sky looked foreboding. I got a wild hair and decided to push on through to Utah. Later, however, when I checked the weather there, I read about severe thunderstorms in Utah (around the time that my odometer hit 66666, which made me a little nervous).
So I briefly considered a motel (see story below), but - as is usual in these parts - the storm passed quickly, and things cleared. Around the same time, I passed a truck with the words "Go Haney" on the back. That was all the encouragement I needed (they call that "road magic") - onto UTAH!
The gorgeous sunset over the mountains put me and Winni in a hopeful mood, too.
By 10pm, I made it to just past Park City, Utah. I avoided Salt Lake City - took I-80 SE around it - and set up camp at Jordanelle State Park next to the reservoir. Had to set up in the dark. And here's why I did it:
I was on the phone, while driving south on I-84 through Idaho, worried about major thunderstorms in the upcoming Salt Lake City area. I figured I wouldn't be able to camp, so I called the Motel 6 "800" number to find one of their accommodations near SLC (yes, they are cheap, but - more importantly - dogs stay free - ruff!). I was on hold listening to some completely unfunny, recorded comedian for about 5 minutes. Finally, a nice-sounding woman gets on the phone and helps me find a spot. Well, the Motel 6 she mentioned was in a small town just south of SLC proper which I couldn't immediately find on the map (this is the map I had laying on the steering wheel in front of me, as I drove 70 mph on a major interstate (kids, don't try this at home). Well, I "um-ed" and "ah-d" once or twice, and that was all she could take.
"Why don't you call us back when you find it if you decide that's where you'd like to stay?"
Hmmm. That was interesting. I laughed and said, "Really? What's the big hurry? I'm just looking for the town to see if it's on my route. Can I have a minute?" I didn't mention that I was also doing 70 on a major interstate.
She responded in the most courteous of customer service voices, "Well, it's just that we're spending valuable time on this."
What? I said, "Who's valuable time? Yours or mine? What about being the 'valued' customer?"
She stalled a bit but didn't give in. "Well, it's just that you can take your time that way and..."
Okay. Decision made. I would avoid the motel and camp - no matter what the weather.
Campgrounds are cheaper, anyway, and there's pretty much never any hassle. Usually there's just a nice, old Camp Host that tells you who to make out your $10 check to and asks if you need any wood. And - you can take as much time as you WANT choosing a campsite and setting up your darned tent - as long as you don't drive over 5mph through the grounds.
After getting over it, I felt bad for the woman. She was probably on some quota for booking the most reservations in the shortest amount of time - even at the sacrifice of good customer service and of going against her human nature to be kind and patient. It's so weird what these corporations put their people up to and how misshapen folks become because of it. I am sad when humans show such impatience. It is just a sign of frustration in a world that often demands too much of us and makes us feel undervalued, pushed, pulled and rushed, rushed, rushed. I'm guilty of such impatience, too. I'm no angel here. But I do try to notice what impatience feels like. It sucks. I get anxious and frustrated and I'm not peaceful at all. So - I do my best to avoid it.
Anyway, I'm so glad I camped tonight. Even though I had to set up in the dark, my tent was up in no time. I spent about $4 on dinner and cooked it up quickly - mac n' cheese mixed with tuna (shared, of course, with canine companion) - and as I ate, the clouds broke and the full moon shone like the bright round head of a customer service representative spending her valuable time hovering over the lake beside my campsite. Isn't that better, my dear? Let's not be in such a rush, folks! There is so much to see when we take the time to choose where we rest our weary souls and avoid the pressure and hurry of all things UNIMPORTANT. Know what matters.
I woke up refreshed at 6am on Saturday morning - SO happy I camped! The sun was just climbing over the Wasatch Front and it shone on the reservoir and on my tent, gently waking me and Winni from slumber.
No need for an alarm clock out here! I had some cereal, coffee, and fed Winni.
At 8am, I gave a thumbs-up under the snow-capped mountains, removed the tumbleweed from my front bumper, and we headed east on State Road 40, which would take us through the rest of Utah and on to Colorado, where my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew awaited! The ride was beautiful!
Life is good.