Sat 5 May 07

05:50 Back on the road. Ugh. It’s never a good night’s sleep when you’re curled up in a ball shivering in the driver’s seat. For a while I slept on top of my surf board, with my feet near the windshield and my head scrunched up against the ceiling in the back. This was surprisingly comfortable, so I’m not sure why I moved to the driver’s seat in the middle of the night. I woke up with stiff knees and a sore back, tumbled out of the car, then jogged around the rest area briefly before brushing my teeth and heading out.

07:28 106 mph. Just for a second. And on a slight downhill. In hindsight I realize that this was probably not at all healthy for the longevity of my car given the cargo weight.

07:35 Fuel. Bismarck, ND 196 miles 7.34 gallons $22.75.

09:25 My memories of North Dakota will forever be of rain and fog.

09:35 Theodore Roosevelt National Park. From the map and the pictures I looked at online I thought this would be a pretty lame National Park (which seemed grossly unfair to Teddy), but even in the rain and while speeding past at eighty five mph it really was a pretty area. I would’ve even considered stopping for an hour or two if not for the downpour. No pictures, sorry.

09:52 Several tumbleweed blow across my path. I find this intensely amusing and bellow “Tumbleweed!” each time. Hey, how often while driving on I-96 does this happen? It’s a whole new world.

09:59 Montana! We’ll chalk up North Dakota as a loss. Nothing too exciting to see and really I couldn’t even see the lack of excitement due to inclement weather.

10:12 Fuel. Glendive, MT 191 miles 7.59 gallons $23.75. Man. My rear tires are looking bare.

11:00 “Well boys and girls, see you next time for new adventures will Ranger Will.” I spent about half an hour listening to one of those old time radio programs with voice actors playing roles in a story. This one was about a truck full of nitroglycerin that has its brakes go out as its cruising down a hill toward a small town below.

11:21 Police officer lurking in the median. This will end up being the only one I will see in all of Montana (10 miles east of Miles City for those of you keeping track at home).

13:28 Fuel. Billings, MT 219 miles 7.99 gallons $25.80.

15:23 Rumble strip streak over. I had a fairly spectacular no-rumblestrip streak going, spanning several cross-country trips and including very long periods of sleepy driving on winding roads. This was a deceptive stretch of rumblestrips though. On a set of switch backs heading downhill near Bozeman, MT the rumblestrips nudged over the white lane line and extended into the lane by about eight inches. Not entirely fair, but kind of a relief to be down with it though too. Those of you with slight OCD tendencies will understand what I’m talking about. Speaking of Bozeman, if this area were in a more convenient location it would undoubtedly be the next Boulder, CO or Bend, OR. Gorgeous area.

16:36 Fuel. Butte, MT 224 miles 7.55 gallons $24.17.

17:03 First Washington license plate that I’ve see. I’m happy to see that it’s a Jeep caked in mud.

17:35 I retract my exclamation point from 09:59. This state is endless. I’ve taken to frequently exclaming “Montany” followed by fits of laughter at random intervals. Lucidness seems to be slipping.

20:20 Idaho! Shortest state on this drive other than Indiana. In your face Montana!

20:46 Fuel. Coeur d’Alene, ID 281 miles 9.33 gallons $28.63.

21:00 Disaster strikes! Remember the tread wear from earlier in the trip? Well, in a bout of “If I ignore it it will go away” thinking I did ignore it until I realized that my car was shaking like crazy every time I drove between fifty and sixty-five mph. Checking my rear tires revealed multiple six inch swaths of exposed threads. Oh no! I’m so close. I thought about slowing driving the last couple hundred miles. I though about duct taping my tires. I thought about trying to rotate my tires front to back (painstakingly raising each insanely heavy corner of my car one at a time on a flimsy jack). In the end I decide that I don’t want to die when a tire blows on a mountian pass in Washington. Given that it’s late evening on a Saturday night my options are limited. To one option. A Walmart in Post Falls, ID. The guys in the tire center are genuinely impressed by the damage I’ve inflicted on my tires to the point of much head shaking and snapping of pictures.

21:50 Back on the road, driving like a old man. Time is no longer an issue as I’ve lost my shot at arriving in Yakima in two days, with my biggest concern now being how not to destroy my brand new tires. So I keep the speedometer right around fifty for the remainder of the night’s driving.

23:27 Rest area for the night. Sprague, WA.