From the moment I was informed by the nice gas station character that filled the trailer tires that 38 tornadoes just had their way with my eastern destination states, the hostile spring weather has tried to run me off the road: torrential rain in Washington; fat wet snow flurries in Oregon (is the west not aware that it’s nearly Memorial Day?); fierce winds in Idaho that actually BLEW A PART OFF the Airstream (hopefully they’ll reattach it at The Mothership); and fog so dense in Wyoming that semi drivers on the I-80 formed a 30mph protective convoy, hazards flashing.
I didn’t see another Airstream on the road until two days into the journey to Alumapalooza—they waved to me from the other side of the freeway in Utah where I was shipwrecked with a blowout. (“What’s next?” asked Ralph on the phone. “Locusts? Raining frogs?”)
Having fun anyway. Portland humorist Joe Spooner suggested I stay alert for Little America, which he remembered from crosscountry road trips with his family. Billboards for it appeared up 60 miles in advance but offered no compelling reason to stop: “17 marble showers”, “clean restrooms”, “mechanic on duty”. (At least Wall Drug offers free ice water.) I pulled in anyway, as commanded, and found a long row of Colonial-style buildings with a Sinclair dinosaur on the lawn and absolutely nothing inside: hotel rooms, a tragic gift shop, and a restaurant with the bleak ambiance and fusty smell of a nursing home. That it’s a destination at all is a testament to how empty and devoid of attractions southcentral Wyoming is.
Hungry for kitsch, I followed signs at the Nebraska border to the “shrine” hoping to find a local Lourdes-like grotto but it’s just a collosal concrete statue (the largest in Wyoming!) of the Virgin Mary that I could have just as easily seen from the interstate.
Road Trip Thumbs Up
☺Free campground WiFi
☺O’Jays on the iPod
☺The Dennis Miller AM radio show. (For a comedian famous for his “rants” he’s the most subdued national pundit. Please, everyone on Fox Talk, CTFD.)
☺Pilot stations. (Wide, accommodating lanes between the pumps; unnaturally bubbly ladies at the counter; Cinnabon.)
☺States that post the number of miles to the next gas station.
☺New puppy Raven—at only three months, already Airstreaming like a champ.