Day 1, Sunday, September 24, 2000 -Like any Sunday, things started out slow. I had not managed to get any sleep. My bouts of insomnia seem to occur at the most opportune times. All night my mind was swimming in a hundred details that were not to be missed and haunted by the things I was already starting to miss.
The person that should have opened the Ryder Rental office at 8:30am was not there at 9:15am so we had breakfast at IHOP. I managed to get the chance to ride the truck with the empty full trailer back to my apartment. I then managed to hold my breakfast as the 24' truck bounced down Golf road on shocks prepared to handle a full load.
By 2pm we had loaded the contents of my apartment and had thrown out the nearly half of my furniture (either due to it being to heavy to move or just me wanting to 'start over') and we proceeded to have pizza at Giordano's. There we met up with my brother who took the keys to my car which I had decided to leave and eventually sell. I looked at my key ring to discover that it lacked any keys. I was 'starting over.'
The 2nd apartment was on a 2nd floor and he wasn't throwing out half his furniture. We finished at 10:30pm with few problems, like when I thought the cat had ran out and after searching for a good 30 minutes we found her under a lazy boy chair that I had not checked thoroughly.
After a nice Mexican dinner we thanked our friend, put the car on the trailer, and headed off. While getting back on to Foster we almost had our trip cut short until I had noticed the clearance sign that read 11' 9" for our 12' 6" truck. As I got out to direct traffic and get us out of the intersection a bored Chicago cop watched with mild interest. I do love Chicago cops, never will they hassle you for minor stuff.
We stayed at a Knight's Inn somewhere in Wisconsin. I still had some trouble relaxing, but I soon succumbed to exhastion and slept to the sound of trucks rolling down Interstate 94.
Day 2-3, Monday-Tuesday, September 25-26, 2000 -Tales about driving through Wisconsin and Minnesota are apt to put even the most caffeine enriched audience to sleep. So when we arrived in South Dakota, thus locking in I-90 as the road to take us to the coast, it was nice to know that monotonous fields of things growing or mooing were to be punctuated by billboards. Wall Drug must be on more billboards then anything on earth...at least in South Dakota. Even the Doll Museum or the Corn Palace could not compete. The first Wall Drug billboards start almost as soon as you enter the state and continue past it ("last exit to Wall Drug".) Signs for Wall Drug are in a London subway 5,160 miles away, in Paris at 5,961 miles, and another in Moscow. I'll admit to harboring a mind curiosity, but it did not make me stop.
In a state that plays Pat Buchanan campaign ads on the radio it was not surprising to see a billboard reading "Abortion ends a life" or "South Dakota rejects animal activists...[they are our economy]" Native American culture is used as a tourist revenue generator with racist overtones.
Day 4-5, Wednesday-Thursday, September 27-28, 2000 -Hindsight being less then 20/20 at this point I can at least point out that we made it to Montana Wednesday night. I remember Wednesday night since I was driving or I at least remember the drive. We took a short-cut through Wyoming via 212. This was a two lane highway through what I can only assume was mostly an expanse of nothing and a mountainous pass. This is where I discovered our truck did not fare very well under climbing conditions. The slow trek of about 20-30 mph up tight curving roads with a row of frustrated truckers on your tail was an interesting juxtaposition to the mad descent into darkness with tons of momentum and hard to judge turns. The adrenaline as least left my system by the time we had found a hotel in Bozeman and I slept.
The next morning we unhitched the car and set off to Yellowstone. The fires have made much of the place look like a battlefield of broken trees. New trees were already springing up, but it will be a long time before the charred land recovers. Some elk, some bison, and a coyote were all the wildlife I could spy. After touring a few cool locations we had dinner and then went out to take a peak at a sky removed from the city lights.
Day 6-7, Friday-Saturday, September 29-30, 2000 -Another long crawl through mountains brought us out of big sky Montana. After a brief pass through Idaho, Washington came and brought the distinct feeling of population density. We decided to take a break about mid-state in a town called Moses lake before we ended the journey in Seattle. Overall, I'm glad to be rid of the hassle of driving that truck and I have a new respect for those that regularly drive the big rigs.