Getting there was a piece of…

posted in: Travel | 0

For about a year and a half now I’ve been talking about building a tiny house. Back then I was in school. Now school is over; I have no more excuses.

It took me two days to build a 4 X 8 foot trailer (it was assembled, I just had to put a box on it) and pack my things inside it. It took another 4 days to drive from Pennsylvania to Idaho towing this trailer behind my silver Corolla. The road through Illinois and Iowa was smooth. I took old highways that go through small flat towns just to avoid Chicago, and I was still unable to do that. I was passing wide expanses of crop fields being readied for another growing season, Amish farmers standing up on their tilling equipment pulled by horses, standard American houses lined up against Main Street, used car lots, antique shops, junk yards… and avoiding the exorbitant tolls placed on I-80 through Illinois. The South side of Chicago still looks like the meanest part of town, or at least that’s where the economy showed its biggest teeth when it ate up so many people’s livelihood. It was a slow, painful, ride, and I only had to spend a few minutes there. South Dakota was pretty rough too. It was the beginning of May, but the skies closed in, the temperature dropped from the 60s in the morning to 33 F at noon, then it started sleeting and snowing. I had just crossed the Missouri river and was heading into the Badlands when a dusting of white appeared on the undulating landscape. Soon after a slight rain started that turned into heavy sleet and then into snow as the light was fading. South Dakota was all uphill and all cold and unpleasant. That night I saw the jet-steam dip into New Mexico on the weather channel, which explained the May snow storm I had just outrun. The second day it was supposed to have dropped two feet of powder while I was cruising through Montana in the sunshine, this close to my destination. Montana was a dream. All jagged white peaks in the distance with wide curving plateaus and steep foothills. All green and soft, with dark hard edges growing out and up, cattle, log houses, pine forests, and a big sky with a generous helping of frothy white and grey clouds gathered at the rims. Montana was so good that it even offered up a welcomed respite at a hot springs resort, just a few hundred yards from the highway. I pulled off and parked, changed into my swimming robes (not a suit, because they don’t match), slapped on some sunscreen, and for $8 I enjoyed just soaking in the outdoor hot tub and splashing in the warm pool. Of course I was surrounded by children and their grown-ups, the water had a greasy sheen on the surface, and it was not exactly peaceful, but I couldn’t have asked for more. It was heavenly. I even took a ride down the spirally, swirly slide. It was just another few hours to reach Idaho.

The border into Idaho is only marked by a change in the time. The landscape doesn’t change much, it just slowly flattens out into Coeur d’Alene just before Washington state comes along. Sandpoint is just north of Coeur d’Alene on I-95, on the way to Canada. It sits on the shoulder of a branching lake called Pend Oreille, and at the bottom of a popular mountain with a ski resort, called Schweitzer. A river runs through it, Priest river I think. It’s a small town with a big footprint, populated by a large number of people who reside elsewhere but either summer or winter here. It used to be home to the famed Cold Water Creek catalog company until they ran out of business and moved. It seems the town is suffering from this recent loss. I can’t really tell, so I have to believe the locals.

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