Thursday, June 24, 2004

While the hour is late, it’s also that quiet time when writing comes easiest for me, perhaps because both the guard and the self-critic have nod off. So, I’ll take a stab at bringing closure to the trip. (Obviously, if there is another entry above this one, I didn’t quite finish!) I've now been home for ten days.

Final statistics:

Total miles: 8969 miles
Gas consumed: 364.61 gallons (avg: 24.6 mpg - not bad since it's 19mpg city/26mpg hwy)
Gas cost: $822.75 (avrg: $2.25/gallon, premium all the way - "Baby" requires it...)
Road-kills: none
Road-kill close calls: 2 deer (OR), 1 box-turtle (TX), 1 bunny (MT)
Insects killed: thousands
Insect bites: none (!)
Speeding tickets: none
Warnings by State Troopers: 1 (Ohio and it was SO bogus: 71 in a 65 zone!)
Flat tires: none
Highest speed: 110 mph (CA, NM, AZ)...and still slower than the girls in the VW Jetta with Manitoba plates
Items lost: driving glove (right), French Open hat - obviously, I don't know where or else they wouldn't be bloody LOST!
Items left behind and recovered: journal (NV), blue shirt (MT), white shirt (OR), and back-pack (IA)

First, I want to thank all the old friends -- and former strangers from -- who offered to and/or hosted me at various stops. It was great seeing you, however briefly. There is a Chinese saying that "fish and guests stink after three days", so I'm sure that we are both glad it didn't get tested. There is also a Latino saying that "my house is your house". Invoking the Brazilian part of me, I offer my hospitality to you in Philadelphia.

If you are here for the first time, this narrative is linear and so it should really be read starting at the beginning, which is, by date, the entry of May 7th. (There is another reason, which you'll see there.) I can’t promise that this approach will increase your enjoyment, but it will, at least, explain things better. It won’t offend me if you don’t: there is no Big Brother watching, no electronic “Kilroy was here” to show your tracks.

My intention was to have each entry be able to stand alone, short stories within a collection on the same theme, but, as I have stated more than once, my best writing is neither prose nor done under deadline. I also had envisioned writing a post every night. That didn’t happen either. I wish that I could say that my night-time hours were a choice between “experiencing” and writing about "experiencing”, but that’s not true. Some nights I was just physically and psychically tired and wanting nothing more than the mindless distraction of a bad movie. (Aside: one night I found a Canadian show on Iowa public TV called "The Red Green Show" that was absolutely hilarious. The best bit was a Men Anonymous club (like AA) whose members started every meeting by saying in unison: "I'm a man. (pause) But I can change. (medium pause) If I have to. (long pause) I guess.")

So, aside from a few exceptions, the original intent failed miserably: the entries are a hodge-podge of the pedestrian speckled with occasional glimpses of the marvelous, to which I rarely did justice. (If the goal of good writing is to have the reader “see” what the writer saw, these entries are like a pair of smeared prismatic lenses: you get an idea of what you should be seeing, but it’s not quite what you see.) Ironically, the imperfections result in a more honest reflection of the trip (and life) as being beyond best intentions and plans. Or at least MY life and MY plans.

There was also the issue of “the voice”. (Don’t you have something better to do than read this?) The one in these postings wanders all over, trying to be amusing, entertaining, and insightful at the same time. Considering that I rarely achieve any of them by themselves, Heaven knows why I thought I could achieve all three at once. And in a quasi-public forum at that!

I also didn’t figure out how to upload photo files properly until late in the trip, so they are crammed into those few days when I had access to a high-speed internet connection. If you think watching golf or shopping for clothes with a daughter feels like an eternity, try uploading photos over a motel dial-up… (Actually, I enjoy going shopping with mine. Weird, no?) The photos themselves won’t appeal to everyone (and shouldn’t), and there are probably too many of some places and not enough of others. I avoided most of the real tourist/obligatory shots, since you’ve all seen those in postcards. However, had I thought about it earlier and planned better, I would have photographed all the one-room post-offices and state border “Welcome” signs I encountered. The former reminded me that there is still a human-scale America between the Coasts; the latter would have been a nice memento/reminder of the 23 states I passed through. Fortunately, they are in my head, as are mental snapshots of scenes and places that went by too fast and to which I could not U-turn quickly enough (or at all).

I also didn’t master handling a camera with one hand while driving, but I don’t think I’ll find a course that teaches that. The results would have been better if the image on the little display didn’t wash-out in daylight and force me to either to put the camera to my eye to use the view-finder or guess the composition/framing. I usually chose the latter, unless the road was REALLY clear and straight, which it was in the Southwest.... but not on the Pacific Coast Highway. And, while a small digital camera had distinct advantages, I wish that I had brought along my 35 mm Nikon and the 2 ¼ inch format Rolleicord. (Photography is an early and oft-neglected love.) Next time.

One last thing, and it's about typos, omissions, syntax, tense consistency, etc. Numerous times since returning, I have been within one mouse-click from editing/polishing the entire blog. However, despite the mortification of allowing a less-than-perfect "product" to make it past my inspection, I've decided, for the sake of preserving "historical" accuracy, to let it be. Please treat it with the kindness reserved for first-drafts. (Also remember that English is my third language and learned from "scratch" as a teenager.  Thus, while I am here long distance and speak well Engrish, I times some write not so good...)

Well, that's it for the apologies/explanations.

The questions/objectives I posed to myself at the beginning of this blog were about the transforming power(s) – if any – of such a journey at this point in time in my life. I saw sights that were profoundly affecting in their moment, but I am not naïve enough to take for granted that their effect is permanent. I also met people whom I'd like to know much better and, thus, rue the current/temporary(?) physical distance. In recent times, I’ve leaned towards a less conscious/active approach, not force-marching things toward a particular outcome, but, instead, letting all the influences on the subject percolate until a consensus, decision, or direction rises to the top. (There is, I am sure, an Eastern philosophy or term for this approach or I can make one up: “Divining The Essential Through Minding Unmindfulness”. Hey, "Guru" or "Buddha"! that's job with great perks and a cheap wardrobe..)

The presence (or absence) of transformation applies, principally, to the experience of meeting Kevin Gray, the young Navaho in Arizona, and its impact on the choices I make next. While it was not a “sign” on a par with Emperor Constantine seeing a cross in the sky and converting himself (and Rome) to Christianity, it did put a human face to the statistics, and a very affecting one at that, especially his son’s. It’s still early in that “bubbling up” process, but I already know that my path will include activities directed at Native Americans and further involvement with Kevin and his family, both of which I have initiated.

For all of my cynicism -- real and pretend --, to paraphrase Justice Steward about pornography, I may not be able to define “dignity”, but I know it when I experience it. For all of his age and circumstances – not despite – Kevin had it, with the natural unawareness that helps define it. Help offered to a man with dignity is not charity: it’s friendship and a recognition of brotherhood and sharing. Help offered to a people with dignity is not “charity”: it’s responsibility and, in the case of Native Americans, also redemption. Enough said.

Thus, “How was your trip?”, which I’ve been asked often, is like “How are you?”, a question where the answer can be brief and superficial ("Fine, thank you.”) or lengthier and deeper than the questioner really wanted ("I just got laid off, the tumor is inoperable, and I can't program my Tivo"). A better question would be “Are you glad you did it?”, to which the answer would be an unqualified “Yes”.

What I learned most is about how little I know about the physical world – not that the world of ideas is my oyster. I can’t contrast and compare the various geologic terrain seen because I barely know the difference between a rock and a hard place. (It doesn't stop me from collecting rocks from places visited, but I can’t tell you what they are.) I can’t describe, with a name, the grove of trees in Oregon that astonished me because of their uniformity in stature and spread: I don’t know an oak from a maple from a chestnut from a locust (the tree, not the insect). I saw cultivated fields that could have been barley, wheat, soybean, or even VERY young corn -- I do recognize a corn-stalk when it’s as high as an elephant’s eye – and easily misidentify them. It’s very humbling. It also reminds of how much I once knew about those things growing up in a rural area of Brazil and hunting/fishing/playing in the woods. But it would useless, even if I remembered, since the flora and geology are different. And, of course, it was in Portuguese.

I saw man-made structures that were grotesque yet mesmerizing (Las Vegas strip – the casinos, not a floor-show), inspiring (pioneer cabins), absurd (world’s tallest thermometer, 134 ft. in Baker, CA, next to a Big Boy's restaurant off I-15), astounding (Hoover Dam), mysterious (any of the Ancestral Puebloan ruins), pathetic (highway memorial crosses – in the original sense of evoking pathos), self-aggrandizing (Biltmore House), self-aggrandizing AND ostentatious (Hearst Castle), tacky (too numerous to name!)…the list could go on and on. We are certainly a species that likes to make its mark everywhere and in every way.

Of the natural world seen, I wouldn’t know what to start including. It’s truly an immense and diverse country. Some of the roads I traveled followed Lewis and Clark’s voyage of exploration from St. Louis to the Pacific, which started in May 1804, so there were many places celebrating that bicentennial. Reading journal entries matching my days on the road gave me an appreciation for their accomplishments that I hadn’t had before. It was also an experience to be in certain places and see what they saw. Or how it’s changed. I have been an urbanite for so long that it took time to adjust to some of the sights, particularly the open spaces in the Southwest and across the Dakota plains. Before this trip, when my mind needed a refuge from urban sensory overload, it would conjure up Scottish Highland scenery from my frequent visits there. I have already felt the addition of images from this country to that stock.

All in all, the best question might question at all. I’d like to not make a judgement or measure the trip as a whole. At the risk of sounding “New Age” (which makes me gag), I experienced it as a series of moments, some terribly lonely, others as exhilarating as anything I have ever felt. That’s a lesson for me, accustomed to evaluating everything with an eye towards drawing a conclusion or attaching a label. (It doesn’t mean that I’ll be less judgmental, just a little better acquainted with non-judgement!)

Lastly, the trip was a “survey course”, a way of covering a lot of territory with the intent of returning to some. But, as it occurred to me on a particularly scenic section of road in Idaho along the Lochsa River, I'd like to be in one of the slow cars next time...and in the passenger seat from time to time. Happy trails!

Below are the last photos from the trip. (NOTE: "clicking" anywhere on a photo will enlarge it for a better view.)

A belated photo just received from Janet and Gary's wedding (other photos in the May 30 entry), where I am : a) officiating, b) reading them a contract about chores and control of the TV remote control, or c) giving them marital advice (!). I know a lot of you reading can accept me doing "A" or "B", but not "C" (the correct answer).

I was very fortunate to find a poem that was short, fitting, and by a Chinese woman poet in a little anthology called “Women Poets of China”, co-edited by Kenneth Rexroth. I read it and then added my remarks.

The author of the poem, poetess Kuan Tao-Sheng (1262 - 1319 C.E.) was married to Chao Meng-Fu, a leading calligrapher and painter of Chinese history. (She herself was known as a calligrapher and painter of bamboos, orchids and plum blossoms.) She wrote the poem to her husband when she found out that he was intending to take a concubine. It is said that he was so moved by it that he did not.)

Here it is:

Married Love

You and I
Have so much love,
That it
Burns like a fire,
In which we bake a lump of clay
Molded into a figure of you
And a figure of me.
Then we take both of them,
And break them into pieces,
And mix the pieces with water,
And mold a figure again of you,
And a figure of me.
I am in your clay.
You are in my clay.
In life we share a single quilt.
In death we will share one bed.


"I felt both honored and humbled when Janet and Gary asked me to share their special day by imparting some words of advice for their life together. 

In fact, I felt twice humbled: first, by having been perceived as having something valuable to impart and second, by the task of trying to live up to that perception.

The truth is that there are probably as many guides for a happy marriage as there are diets for losing weight. Yet, most of the advice for achieving either goal is familiar and comes from common sense.

Just listen again to the “action verbs” in the “Charge to the Couple” and their declaration to each other: CONFIDE, LAUGH, ENJOY, SHARE, LOVE, CHERISH, RESPECT, PROVIDE, PROTECT, COMFORT, TRUST.

If the advice is so obvious – and all marriage vows contain some or most of those verbs – what makes it so hard for them to be followed?

Well, just like in the work Janet and I share within Human Resources, the key in having a great hire (or a great spouse, in this case), is in selecting the right person in the first place, the person who is made of the right "clay".

Therefore, you have each already done the most difficult part. You have chosen each other as being made of the right clay to be your life partner. 

And that’s my advice to you: that if you remember always what made you choose each other, keeping those verbs active will become second-nature."
I went to Little Big Horn, site of the 7th Cavalry's defeat, because I grew up with the popular "white" view of the event -- a terrible tragedy, a massacre -- and I wanted to see whether there was a balanced presentation that reflected not just the "how" but the "why", the provocations and betrayals by the government. While there is now a memorial -- off to the side -- to "explain" the Indian side, I was disheartened by two things: the tone of the Ranger's talk NOT being balanced and still conveying the soldiers-as-heros without taking the "teachable moment" to educate about treaty-breaking and outright theft of land by our government AND the fact that the audience/visitors I saw were disinterested in that part, as evidenced by how few went over to the Indian memorial.
On the path to the memorial tot he 7th Cavalry, a warning about rattlesnakes. Kind of took away my enthusiasm to walk around....
The 7th Cavalry soldiers killed at Little Big Horn are buried in a mass grave just behind where I stood to take this photo at Custer Battlefield
Last Stand Hill: the markers are where the cavalrymen fell. It's so peaceful there now that it's hard to imagine how it must have that day in late June with the smoke and shouts from both sides....
Another view from the highest point of Last Stand Hill toward the markers where the soldiers fell.
Lining the inside wall surface of the carved-out mound that is the memorial to the Indian side of the story of Custer's "massacre" (you can tell whose side I'm on...), are panels with quotes by both participants and their descendants. The memorial is fairly recent -- I think from the mid-1990s -- and a reminder for balance and away from the heroic-white-soldiers-massacred-by-Injuns story that is part of the popular image. (Click photo to enlarge and read.) Sitting Bull was already old at the time of this event.
Inside the round, earth-mounded enclosure is this metal sculpture showing warriors in silhouette galloping. The open metal-work is very effective against the background and sky-line.
Another view of the Native American memorial sculpture.
Detail of the memorial sculpture. The colored objects are ribbons and such that visitors have tied to the metal.
Devil's Tower, WY. It does just stick out the ground like that! It's sacred to Native Americans and played a non-speaking part in "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".
Another view, but it's tough to show the scale of the thing.

And, finally, the last photo taken during the trip.

Those driving I-95 south into the Carolinas know about "South of the Border", a road-site stop where every trinket ever made in the Far East is available. "Wall Drug" in South Dakota is its western-themed counterpart, though it defies me how a 15 ft tall growling animatronic T-Rex dinosaur from the movie "Jurassic Park" fits in. It's a huge place that extends for a city-block of connecting store-fronts hiding a warren of shops selling T-shirts to tomahawks to taffy. If it's cheap, cheaply-made, tacky, and could be a souvenier, they have it by the dozen, in all sizes, and in both your least (and most) favorite colors.

The strangest thing I encountered there was actually in a Mexican-food restaurant. I make a distinction from "Mexican" restaurant because ALL of the wait-staff, with the exception of one stereotypical hard-boiled waitress, was Eastern European girls in their late teens or early twenties whose English was, surprisingly, poor. The hard-boiled waitress informed me that the girls were from Moldavia (!), Germany, and Rumania. (I had to ask her to take my order after I had trouble being understood by both the hostess and a waitress she called over to help. They had trouble with "Taco salad to go".) I left there wondering how a half-dozen young women from those countries ended up in the middle of South Dakota. Are wait-staff jobs so undesirable to locals? Did the young people from the area get out as soon as they turned eighteen and could buy a bus ticket to the Big Apple? I'll never know because one stop at Wall Drug is enough for this lifetime.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

This is a view of the back entrance to the Historic Bullock Hotel where I stayed in Deadwood a couple of weeks ago. (In the HBO series, the closest-to-heroic character is Seth Bullock, a real merchant of that wild early period.) It was more interesting to me than the front on Main Street, where every other building houses a bar/casino. I'd rather imagine that street as it was in the 1870s and in series: unpaved, rutted, muddy (or dusty). In other words, not prettified for the bus-trade tourists (mostly Canadians, I was told). Being so close to Sturgis,SD, where tens of thousands of bikers congregate for 2 weeks in July to party-hardy, Deadwood gets some of the over-flow and, thus, also has shops catering to that trade. Aside from leather wear of all sorts, particularly the unmentionable kind, there are also T-shirts with tasteful slogans like: "I'm His Bitch" and "Hog-Tie and Ride Me".)

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Wild Bill Hickock's tombstone. While the saloon where he was shot and died burned down (with much of Deadwood) a few years after his death, there is a reconstruction of that section of the building inside the current building -- which is (surprise!) a bar with slot machines. There is even an "X" marking the spot where he fell mortally wounded. (He was shot from behind while playing poker.)
Checking out of the hotel on Sunday morning, I ran into Calamity Jane on her morning constitutional. Considering the hour, she was pretty sober... I asked her chose any pose she liked. I had seen Wild Bill on Saturday night on Main street being ignored by the blue-haired ladies on their way to the slot machines . It's tough to compete with one-armed bandits...
She actually looks a bit like the Calamity in the photos in the local museum. It was touching to read letters about how proprietary and understanding the townspeople were about her in later life, a drunken has-been often found sleeping on the wooden sidewalks.
Calamity outlived Hickock by decades and was buried in a grave next to his in the cemetery high above the town. (They weren't lovers, just friends.) The cemetery has a host of colorful characters in residence in addition to Bill and Calamity. In design, it reminded me of Pere Lachaise in Paris - which has Jim Morrison, Chopin's heart, Abelard and Heloise, and every French literary figure you could name.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Below are the next-to-last batch of photos I will be uploading. The first group is from the trip on the Snake River to the site(s) of the killings of a group of Chinese gold miners in 1887. Writing a fictional piece about the event has been on my plate for some time, so visiting the site was a significant part of the background research. (I was also fortunate to be able to meet with a journalist in Oregon who just finished a non-fiction manuscript about the massacre and cover-up.)

I hope to finish writing the wrap-up piece in the next couple of days and also upload the last photos.

Our jetboat -- speeds up to 40 mph, with a draft of two and half-feet to work around the rapids on the river. It's also the US Mail boat since the ranches along the Snake are not accessible by land.
Petroglyphs on the rocks about 10 miles upriver from Lewiston. (It's the dark rock just right of center. They look like lizard-men....or aliens? "Click" on the photo to enlarge it.
The "Queen of the West", an excursion ship coming from Portland to Lewiston on her weekly trip.
Morning haze on the river as we headed away from Lewiston.
The brochure didn't deliver on mountain lions, but mountain goats and elk-horn were sometimes visible grazing on the hills. Can you spot three? (Enlarging the photo by clicking on it might help.)
Tied up at a refueling stop for food and diesel on the Snake.
Approaching the section where the miners worked the river for "flour" gold. It was so-called because of its fineness and amount of work to find. The Chinese were working claims where the easy-pickins' were gone and the white miners were too lazy to continue. (This is not racism on my part but what everyone acknowledged.
Panoramic view getting closer to the massacre site.
Terrain just before Dug Bar Ranch, where the murderers are conjectured to have plotted.
Another view of Robinson's Gulch, the secondary killing site.
Approaching Robinson's Gulch, where another group of miners were working and killed.
Approaching Dug Bar Ranch (see caption for next photo).
Dug Bar Ranch, where the murderers likely stayed plotting the killings. It's just a few miles south of Robinson's Gulch, the secondary murder-site.
Approaching Deep Creek (left edge), this is part of the killing ground of those Chinese miners.
Approaching Deep Creek on the Idaho side.
This is Deep Creek, the site where the majority of the killings took place. None of the terrain was as I had imagined. The captain of the jetboat let me off to look around and have a minute of silence.
The Kirkwood Ranch, some 90 miles upriver from Lewiston, was the turn-around point of the trip. During the Great Depression, a future governor of Idaho and his family (wife, three kids) lived there for more than a decade. The ranch was only accessible via the river.
The log cabin houses a museum of items from the period when the family lived there in the 1930s.
Blacksmith building. (Note the natural air-conditioning.)
Kirkwood Ranch looking north.
The historic ranch has a collection of farming equipment.
Looking upriver (south) from the Kirkwood ranch.
Leaving Dan and Sally's cabin outside of Lolo, MT, these two bunnies, each the size of a large cat, took their sweet time crossing the road. Even after I lowered the window and shouted "Rabbit stew!!"
Blue skies, white clouds, green fields, sunshine....Oregon in the Spring north of Ashland on the way to Eugene. br />
It's my blog and if I want a photo of a grain elevator, by golly I'll have it! (But look at the clouds and the colors!)
Yeah, nothing going on here: I just liked the clouds and the perspective of the road. It's my view for most of every day.
Outside Portland after meeting with Greg Noyes, the journalist who has done extensive research on the Chinese miners massacre, I came across a sight not likely in Philadelphia. The scene: a heavy downpour, 3 lanes of Interstate slowed to a crawl as both the merging lane (where I was) and the right lane squeeze left, and two Tualatin Police Department cruisers creeping along, one in the middle lane and one 50 feet behind on the highway shoulder. As I finally merged, I saw what they were escorting: an extended family of geese comprised of 10 or so "teenagers" plus their parents, all taking a VERY leisure-paced Sunday morning constitutional. When I tried to visualize the Philly police and Schuykill drivers faced with the same situation, every image carnage and a cloud of flying feathers...
Another view of the geese on I-5. br />
Walking to my car in Eugene, OR after lunch at an anarchist vegetarian cafe -- where the metal on/in the wait-staff outweighed the flatware on the table -- I heard the familiar sounds of a Brazilian percussion band: the deep "Surdo" (Portuguese for "deaf") bass drums that anchor the rhythm, the snares and cow-bells, triangles and tambourines, and the whistle of the master signalling the changes. (The "Surdo" is my favorite to play in the Brazilian percussion workshop in Phila that I attend occasionally.) I ran around the corner and there they were, a local group of Eugenians? Eugenores? Eugeniacs? bringing a tropical sound to complement the tropical-like precipitation (but not temperatures) of the area. I stayed there grinning and swaying for long minutes.
One section of the percussion group. The plumage doesn't quite match the Mummers' in Philadelphia, but the music was, well, music to my home-sick ears.
The group had two dancers, who made a valiant effort at the Samba. However, truth be told and PC-ness be damned, if white men can't jump -- and I'll add that Chinese men can't dance, unless intoxicated-- a ten year-old Brazilian would have made these two look like they were standing still (which they almost were...). Oh heck, as long as I am being critical: they were also over-dressed and under-rhythmed for "Sambanistas"!

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Rare is the homecoming that meets expectations, and mine, a few hours ago, was no exception. The gray and heavy air, typical of a Philadelphia Summer, started while still some three hundred (!) miles away, just east of Pittsburgh. (By the last fifty miles, the local weather report was predicting heavy thunderstorms. They were accurate.) Life sometimes being in the timing, I also approached the last portion, the infamous Schuykill Expressway, at rush hour, and the combination added an extra hour of driving, despite my preemptive detour to sit out the worse of it at the Apple Computer store in the (also infamous) King of Prussia Mall.

It's a strange feeling being back. After 8,969 miles and 33 nights spent in 25 different beds, I will be sleeping in my own in a few minutes, as I am tired and have much to do to establish a new routine. While the familiar is a safe-harbor and a welcome sight, the voices greeting me as I opened the door were: "Read me! Pay me!" (mail), "Dust me! Wipe me!" (shelves, surfaces), "Wash me!" ( a little muffled, being the clothes in my bags), and "Vacuum me!" (floors, rugs). Not quite the same as toddler-Julia shouting "Daddy!!" and running toward me with open arms and a wide smile…twenty years ago.

The rest of the photos and narrative – I’ve been "processing" the trip these last 1600+ miles from Deadwood, SD to Philadelphia -- will be posted when I get through the voices, so check again. It is good to have Home around me after having to carry it inside. I am looking forward to the many new beginnings.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

I'm leaving Deadwood, SD shortly, a little disappointed by the sights. I've uploaded some photos (see below) from the last few days despite the slow internet connection. I had intended to put up the entire group from the day on the Snake River going to the massacre site, partly to contrast that terrain with the one of the drive that evening to Lolo, MT, but, I ran out of patience with the slow connection AND I have a full day of driving today: hoping to cross all of South Dakota.

I'm also adjusting to this being the beginning of the trip's end and
the feelings that engenders. Given the amount of driving over the next few days - my intention is to be in Philadelphia on Tuesday and I am still on the western border of South Dakota - the next postings might be very brief until I get home. (The weather reports for the Midwest states through which I'll be going through the next 3 days are chockful of thunderstorms and tornado warnings, so that may affect my plans.
please have patience!
If Route 12 East from Lewiston, ID to Lolo, MT is not listed as one of the great scenic drives in the Northwest, it should be. Like Ginger to Fred, the road follows the Lochsa River's lead through almost 200 of miles of turns and dips through pine forests that come down to the waters' edge.  Like any good dance partner, it detaches sometimes, to curve and climb a hill, but always returns to flow in unison with the river. Having it to myself -- there was no other traffic east-bound for over an hour, partly because I outsped the few -- was the perfect antidote to the day on the Snake going to the massacre site. The contrast between the two landscapes couldn't have been more striking. Whereas the vegetation along the Snake was sparse and ground-hugging in a palette of browns, the Lochsa ran a gauntlet of deep greens and towering pines covering every hill along it. It exuded strength, vitality, and life-force that was comforting.