Road Trip West: Lost

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Room with a view on Whidbey Island, WA

Klamath Falls, OR to Mount Vernon, WA to Pomeroy, WA – The drive through Oregon to Washington smelled like home so there was little to inspire my writing. I didn’t even realize I was in Washington until I saw a sign for Kelso. Hours later, I was home in a friend’s cabin, telling stories on her porch, listening to hers. I didn’t know how long I would have there. I was on-call, waiting for a promised interview in Wyoming. I packed in friends, family and a wedding into five days but the call for the interview hadn’t happened. If I stayed, I might have to rush back to Cheyenne. If I left, I would miss the Subdued Stringband Jamboree in Deming, WA — started by friends and an event I’d missed for years. I fixed my friend’s cabin sink and felt torn, clogged with indecision. Finally, I picked up a piece of smoked salmon I’d left at a friend’s house and drove south, landing in Seattle traffic.

Three hours laters and just barely to North Bend, WA, I heard from a friend who’d been tracking the progress of things in Wyoming. She said there’d been some “complications” with the job. Like what? She didn’t know, just “complications”. Just stay and enjoy your family, she said. But I’d already said goodbye. I didn’t want to turn around. What would I do besides wait some more, on-call to make a sudden leap back to Colorado and Wyoming? I called my dad, my trusty emergency contact.

“The door’s always open,” he said. But I left.

“It will all work out.” But I’d told everyone…

I called the Blue Mountain KOA in Pomeroy, WA. The woman didn’t know where Ellensburg was – where I was calling from – but no matter, there were tent sites open. Just show up.

Maybe the phone cut out but I thought she said they were close to the Lyons Ferry KOA. Close as “in a mile away”.  It was getting dark. She’d told me to watch for deer, wild turkeys and quail. Quail?  I pulled over to let a California-plated vehicle pass. A deer jumped across the road in front of me. Forty miles past the Lyons Ferry KOA, I finally pulled into the Pomeroy’s facilities and blinded some campers with my headlights still on high-beams. I didn’t know where I was supposed to be, for my campsite or in life.

Something happens, I thought by the light of a headlamp, when you see people you love and tell them your maybe-plans. You hope. Now I was in the not-metropolis of Pomeroy wondering if I should turn back to the people who love me. But I was still attached to the plan – heading to Colorado in hopes of an interview in Wyoming. Ditching my plans for another epic road trip (I’d hoped to drive to Alaska), I didn’t know where I would go tomorrow.  I was lost and thought of the survival classes I’d taught in the past.  When you’re lost, the best thing to do is sit down.  Just stop and think.  Really, it was the smart thing to do.  I had everything to survive this journey — people who loved me, a fancy degree, a few smarts and my health.

For now, you’re here, I thought.  That doesn’t help. My thoughts echoed inside as deer darted around the campground. I heard a car on the road hit one. Tomorrow I would drive, aimless but reconciled, one questioning woman on the road, trying to be okay with the uncomfortable in-between-ness of neither here nor there.

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