Forever and Further West
It’d taken me time to relax into the world of little responsibility, but now, a week or so into the drift we were in full swing.
After a few days with our tent in the one place, grassland and a little mountain range as our backyard, as we rolled tarps, tents and packed everything back in the car it felt like we were leaving home again. Leaving the coyote howls and ornery wasps of the Badlands behind and continuing along back roads south past 1056th street and then west again past ‘Scenic’, South Dakota. Deserted, empty, I don’t think anyone lived there. Here I should mention Mount Rushmore but that’s all I’ll do. What a waste of time, money and resources to build such a thing. It was crazy how many people were there even in the fall. Summer must be wild with tourist persons.
After the few days we’d had camping and before we left South Dakota, we spoiled ourselves with a one star hotel in Spearfish, complete with leaf filled pool, a coke machine that’ll roll out a can for three quarter dollars and a street littered with good coffee shops that actually open before 6am. I don’t drink Coke but I’ve always wanted to be the guy with the key to the vending machine. Maybe I still want to be. I liked Spearfish, it had a pulse. Elena liked it too, enough to leave her wallet there.
En route to Montana we literally spent half an hour in Wyoming, just shaved the corner off it. Montana may harbour my favourite state line sign to date. Taking 212 further west we passed through reservation upon reservation before we came upon the battle of Little Bighorn; a commemoration of genocide, broken treaties and a clear marker of the decline of what I think to be an incredible race of people. The beliefs of the Native American people still make sense to me now.
I was happy to be camping again, that feeling of autonomy and freedom. Along the river near Greycliff, Montana we pitched the tent alongside the Yellowstone. Another cold and clear afternoon, swims and putting warm food in the stomach before darkness fell and temperatures too.
The scenery didn’t really change until we hit the hills hiding the Clark Fork, but the seasons themselves threatened to; clear skies but cold through the night, ice on the tent and talk of snow on the way a couple of days behind us. We camped nestled in a steep pine tree-lined valley a ways off I-90 along the Clark Fork, somewhere between Alberton and Superior, the river running clear and cold, no one else around; a sweet little stop within striking distance of the panhandle of Idaho in the coming days. Bear country. I’ve never been scared of an animal but I think I’m unreasonably terrified of bears. After dinner and before checking the zip on the tent three times, I must’ve cleaned everything (twice) and picked up every scrap of food and rubbish. Lucid dreams of heavy breathing only a zipper pull away. I swam the evening before, but left my shorts out overnight and they froze to the picnic table.
Ha. This is about where I had a film jam in the camera and spent a week clicking what would only be well framed memories all the way to Spokane, Washington.