Just before our move I dreamt about a baby elephant. I usually don’t remember my dreams, but this one was vivid and occurred just before I woke up. Some people consider elephants to symbolize good luck. And good luck we received.
Our trip began on Sunday, June 13th. Sim drove the van with the little blue trailer, bless it’s heart, in tow. And I drove the Jeep with the snowmobile trailer in tow. Did I mention that we brought Sim’s snowmobile? It is a Ski Doo 800 longtrack. It has frequented the Cascade mountains, the top of Stevens pass, and the top of Mount Baker – crevasses and all. I love the mountains but was very excited about the prospect of flat land. To my surprise, “flat” isn’t really an adequate description. In fact, anyone who tells you that the Midwest is flat is a big fat liar.
With the rising heat, the Jeep overheated on lookout pass in western Montana. Despite having the heater blasting to clear out the engine, the pass was terribly steep and long. With the hot air and a heavy load there was simply nothing I could do. She, who we have dubbed Penelope, has 236,000 miles on her (thanks to Sim’s fine tuned automotive skills), and we’d like to have her around for the winters here. So I had to pull over on the shoulder of the mountain on a corner. There was nothing but corners and curves, so I didn’t have a choice. What a rotten area to overheat. I was only .7 miles from the top, but the temperature shot up so quickly and I was moving so slowly that there was no chance of safely reaching the summit. Sim parked the van at the top of the pass and jogged down the shoulder to find me. By then, the engine had cooled and we were able to put it in 4-low and creep up the mountain on the shoulder. This was exactly what I was afraid of.
Montana *was* beautiful but the Rocky Mountains took FOREVER to drive through. There were non-stop mountain passes. So through aversion therapy, I was rid of my addiction to mountains. Fuck you, mountains. You made my trip a living hell.
We blew through Wyoming and expected to reach “the plains” any minute. Just over the next hill we should see the plains, the flat land, the heart land. Any minute now. Okay, enough hills. Enough! WHERE IN THE HELL IS THE FLAT LAND!!!??? We kept driving and driving that night. I began to feel a bit delirious, like a leprechaun looking for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. “Where is me heartland!?”
The next morning we awoke at a rest area on the prairie. As it started to get light the land began to hum with the sounds of summer. Crickets were singing and birds were chirping. The air was cold and smelled fresh from the light rain. We pressed on through South Dakota in search of the flat land. Meanwhile, we started to wonder why everything was green and full of trees. What is going on here? South Dakota, along with all Midwestern states, is considered desolate and inhabitable by all of the west coast. But low and behold, it is beautiful and full of life.
We reached Iowa that afternoon and officially concluded that South Dakota is beautiful. Like the whole state – gorgeous. We assured ourselves that it must get flat in IOWA, not South Dakota.
Up and down, up and down, we went. Our old vehicles growled as they pulled the trailers up a steep hill every five minutes. I expected the van to blow up in front of me at any second. And Sim remarked at his surprise to repeatedly see the Jeep behind him. As the heat rose we began to see cornfields and get excited. We were in IOWA!!! This was the first time either of us had seen anything like this. Like South Dakota, everything was lush and green along the rolling hills. Again, where is the flat land!? We know flat, people. We’ve driven through the cornfields and potato fields of Eastern Washington, which is technically classified as a desert due to the miniscule amount of annual rainfall. THAT is flat. THIS!? This was definitely NOT flat.
We arrived to Iowa City that evening. Because of the rolling hills and thick tall trees, we couldn’t see the city itself, however. We continued 5 miles north and turned on Newport Road. After turning into our new driveway and parking we both looked at each other in disbelief. We had made it. 2,000 miles, in 3 days, with 6 dogs.