I had driven up and down the Boise streets last night looking for a place to bed down in. Everywhere I looked had parking restrictions. Chose a place around the back of a coffee bar The Flying M just around the corner from the capitol building I figured I would have coffee immediately next day.
I woke today to find myself surrounded by cars and I had slept through. Really chilly outside, I’d been snug inside. I have thanked Jean many times for the blanket, it would have been miserable without them.
The Flying M is a gay coffee bar super colourful and served by a closely cropped robot Queen. I’d sat in a daze watching ritual of queuing for the brown stuff. I queued too. Cold hands warm mug, really nice.
I’d stayed in there a little too long must have been going on 12 when I left feeling a little grumpy for some reason. I was shivering and the coffee jangling my nerves. I was filling up hummingbird when I noticed I a ticket on my window. $25 dollars. Damn !!
I had seen all the warnings and signs 2 hour parking on just about every wall down town, all I had to do was move her across the road, hotel bill I suppose. I will pay it.
Boise is a sparkling clean and well ordered, a beautiful classic American city, seemed to have kept its old early 19th century feel and style. I was on the move. Onto the I-84 Wide open views the land parched and thirsty looking forward to a deer green. I was already missing the sage of Oregon. We joined the trucks rolling and rumbling east. I was as I say a little bewildered. It must have been 2am when I finished last night. Some days just feel good to start with and others have a vein of foreboding.
I’d had an instinct all day to check the air on the tires so I pulled in at Mayfield Orchard the Boise stage stop and put that thought to rest. Marveling at the monster trucks all parked up there
I loving riding next to the semi’s on the freeways, like a dolphin riding the waves next to the great ships out on the ocean.
I still brush aside important intuition and sometimes simple common sense, skipping along with my butterfly net. It’ll all be ok etc . Well sometimes it isn’t and many of those instincts unheeded make me wince afterwards when another reality barges into the passenger door. Instinct in retrospect can be very cruel and unforgiving.
We dropped in at the dusty town of Shoshone found a great second hand shop, but I was muzzy and grumpy and itching to get a move on. I missed the opportunity to just be there and buy the figurehead for Pearl back in the UK. Instinct was stuck the boot in along highway 26
I was again a beautiful drive up there, with the jaw dropping ‘Pioneer mountains’ coated with deep snow growing closer and closer the higher we went.
I’m not sure what time we arrived up there at the “Craters of the Moon National Monument” but it didn’t matter it was closed. Not that that mattered either way because I nature doesn’t close and if you wanted you could still go for a walk out there. The only problem was that the place was covered in snow and all the trails were pretty inaccessible without a map also my camera ran out of battery so no photos and to top it all I couldn’t get a stamp and as I have explained previously that was deeply disappointing to me.
I went out there and walked in for a couple of hours anyway climbing up onto a great cinder cone crunching my way up near vertical packed snow. Kicking my toes and heels in for a hold. It was pretty easy really.
I love the way mountain high altitude air makes your blood flow and your lungs work harder. It cleared my head. So I just sat there on the sharp jagged black lava for a while looking out onto the beautiful wonderland. Again, the scale is staggering. There was nothing else to do once on top of an ancient volcanic cinder cone. Close my eyes breath in the thin pure invigorating air and open up.
I saw a road leading downwards. It was only a glimpse today, but I saw Canyon walls close up closing in, they were sandstone, we were moving downwards. We’ll see what that brings. We would be going down now into Idaho Falls, but I have a feeling it is something else
I pulled in at Arco famous though you wouldn’t belive it to see it. On July 17 1957 it was the first town in the freeworld to be run of Atomic power. I had wondered why the café I was sat in ‘Pickles Place’ charging my camera-phone had said home of the Atomic Burger on the sticky sign outside . I didn’t have a burger, didn’t appeal somehow.
Egg sandwich fries made by a huge back guy in the kitchen. The girl buzzed around me nervously. I think my English accent always sets people back a few feet when I first speak nobody is really expecting it.
I think I am more English out here than at home and I’m enjoying it. I can be all the good things the English are supposedly known for, I am a very well mannered chap out here and genuinely so, it’s just here I can hear what it sounds like here and I like it.
As we sped along the 28 towards Idaho Falls a snowy storm blew right across those high plains, directly ahead two ancient volcanoes shrouded misty and dreamy and behind us in the rear view the horizon was on fire. A vertical line right across the horizon, bands of yellow orange and deep crimson red blending perfectly into one another resting on a shining white line between earth and sky incredibly beautiful, then grey sweeping curtains of snow blowing in as if pulled across the whole scene at the end of the day and to finish it off the setting sun punching dazzling perfect round holes in the fabric of it. It was dream like.
Idaho Falls is a really nice town, but so far I have not been to a place in the US where people are so forward open and hospitable. I’d made my way as usual right into the down town area. I love the turn of the century American architecture. We crisscrossed the town checked out the Mormon temple that stood towering high above the town. Noted the flat glassy river, somewhere in the back of my mind I recognized the river and connected the waterfall but the penny hadn’t dropped yet. I’d already made up my mind what that seeing meant.
I had planned to go and write in a snooker bar because it had the brightest and most retro lights but as I came round the corner I noticed bar called “Blacks Bar” It was busy with St Patrick’s night. I am always a little nervous on St Patrick’s night in the US as in the past some have been more than a little zealous about the wrongs of the past. I had put my green top on this morning but it just hadn’t crossed my mind, why would it.
Somebody mentioned they liked the color and I just laughed out loud. My friend Gary Fahy would have been proud of me I fitted right in, a total fluke. But there was a bloody awful band playing. Oh it was painful I wont go into it but by comparison Tyler and The Train Robbers last night in Boise who had obviously been on the road but also had an ear for a tune and a story were in a completely different league, I have found myself wishing them well all day. They were great
A girl sat down next to me and without a blink introduced herself as ‘Hi I’m Jennifer keene’ She introduced me to her friends she’d sat own with and then introduced me to just about everybody in that passed by. She told me about a boy she had loved a long time ago over in Forsyth Montana, a town I knew very well. She incidentally was the only person dressed in red and I couldn’t help thinking about Christmas whilst I sat next to her. They were a good bunch and just having a good time and I was just trying to get some work done.
I politely moved myself to a quiet booth to carry on writing. I thought back last night to times in my past where I had been very lonely and really could have done with some company and there was none to be had. Have you ever noticed that when you need something it tends to shy away. At that moment I was quiet happy in my own space and all I had all night was offers of company and introductions.
Don’t get me wrong they were so sweet and curios and openhearted but even in a quiet booth people came up introduced themselves. I wondered if it was the magic of sage as I had continued rubbing on my hands all day, perhaps I smelled like the prairie and the winds. It wasn’t my accent as I was just sat quietly tapping away.
I explained that I was traveling across the US and just writing living in the car. One lady with a delightfully happy face I heard go back to her friends and say he’s from England and he’s a writer, anyway, the long and the short of it was that she came back over a little later and said in wonderful warm charming mid western voice
“Now we don’t know you but we think your ok and my friend here has a big house and a spare room and would like to invite you, better than out there in that car. It’ll be cold tonight”
I had to admit that last night had been tough and I thought warm bed, some conversation and a shower in the morning.
So I said “thank you that will be wonderful”
Then she said added “You won’t kill her or nothing will you, that would make me feel really bad”
In between laughing I said “No I assure you I’m absolutely safe”
So that was that I finished up what I was doing had a drink with them and by that time thankfully the band had finished and a Moroccan guy was jamming with his guys, which was a little better, the place had emptied and it was now very late.
I forget the ladies names but I drove her friend home, she was a little worse for wear, we sat at her kitchen bar, she was in a real conundrum because I was a vegetarian and couldn’t eat her chilly.
She said “I had every intention of feeding you up, but now I don’t know how to act”
I said “I don’t need anything, but if you must a cheese sandwich would be nice”
She didn’t have bread as it ‘tends to stay on the figure’ so I ended up nibbling cheese and biscuits sat on a stool. Every time I asked her about her life, she just closed up so I thought ok, pictures of her 3 kid on the walls, but none I could see of the father. I sensed sadness and it was private and that was fine.
It got to 3.30am I’d chatted about Orsi our plans, London and the Europe but I was shattered. She showed me my room, her granddaughters toys scattered across the floor, and off she went. Trouble was there was only a thin blanket and I was colder in there than id been in the car. So I went to get Jeans quilt and got into bed, I don’t know if it was the cheese but I woke up at 5.00am with a jolt.
I suddenly felt trapped. My heart was racing. I couldn’t understand it I wanted to escape. I lay there for a few minutes and in the end thought I’d get a better nights sleep in the car. So I left a note and crept out to Hummingbird who was covered in frost.
“Thanks for your hospitality, but my road is being out there right now. Thanks. Take care. Mick.
I took off and drove quickly through the blackness back into town, it was absolutely freezing. I thought I must be mental. Nobody said anything but as I drove away I began to calm down. I had felt confined, that was the feeling, I didn’t think I’d be able to just be in my own space the following day. Nothing to do with them, they didn’t know me, they were just being kind. I am writing this as I go,the journey that is, I have no idea of what it should be, I am just going on how I feel.
They were powerful feelings too and I followed them to a pancake house called Smittys right next to the Snake River in town.
I was virtually the only one in there at that point till a news crew who were in town to cover Bernie Sanders visit to town sat next to me. He’s a presidential hopeful, a liberal and would be talking at Skyline High School today.
One of the women who again introduced herself without needing too and then just began talking as if she were an old friend, she reminded me of Dan from Time Out, she had that insiders confidence that this is THE redest state in the country and it should be an interesting morning they all thought I should go.
I asked her what she meant by redest. She quickly said the most hardcore republican.
Apparently we’d have to queue from 8.30am and he would be on at 11.30 so I mentally thought No. I was in need of a cozy place to curl up, somewhere by the river, maybe over by the Temple.
Everyone has told me that if I want to go up to the Yellowstone better take snowshoes or rent a jet ski. Hm.
It may be south from here. I had been thinking yesterday at the craters of the moon. that it reminded me of the end of the world in the Greek Myths and maybe that’s as far as i’m going. I would like to be out there for a few days walking and the southern mid west is looking like the better option. I don’t want to be just sat in Hummingbird for two months.
I had gone back to hummingbird and parked up under the safety of the saint only to find that I’d left one of the quilts at the ladies house and no way could I find my way back nor could I really go back. I was incandescent with rage and fury and anger. I could see the river and the falls from where I had parked, I raged on for some time, but a thought did make it through to me, that is what I saw, the sheet of glassy water, the river, the falls. The clouds and spray were my anger. “A lot of power beyond the falls” That was for sure, I think the frost melted within a ten foot circle around Hummingbird.
I did manage to get some sleep and woke at 10.30 I am going to have to tone down my own openness because people are engaging me at every turn, it felt like I was being constantly held up, it isn’t a criticism they are sweet and open curios and bright. But for instance, I was walking across a street today just going to get a coffee. A second hand store was piping Fleetwood mac out onto the street, it sounded so good in the sparkling air i was just enjoying the moment. Then a guy called across the road
“Hi there, are you a musician?” I called back “yeah” I should have said no.
He stopped in his tracks and came diagonally and confidently right across the road and said
“Hi i’m Robert, I’m a musician too, I can sing like Queen and Muse and all those guys, where you going? Shall we go and have a coffee”
I politely declined. I ducked into the Emporium Bakery and coffee shop. The girls in here are bright cheerful and sassy. Cheeky with everyone who has come in.
“Cheers” I had said when she gave me my coffee
“Cheers to you too, your making me wanna drink beer already”
I’ve checked the map and its South into Utah from here. There is so much to see down there and I am sure I can get the space I am looking for. I will drive down the I-15 with a detour onto the Fort Hall Indian reservation. Maybe Salt Lake city tonight