So, if one is going to visit their parents during a pandemic, and those parents live at a long way away (i.e. multiple plane flights, multiple transfers, and no way to test once you get there) what is the best way to ensure you don’t become a vector and still get to see them? A Seattle drive through Covid test, and a very long, self-isolated road trip.
The fastest and shortest drive to L’Ance, Michigan is 1,998 miles, roughly 29 hours of driving time. It covers Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and then lands me in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. My job on the way there, drive. Drive as far as I could each day and camp when I could drive no farther. Stopping only for occasional rest stops for the necessary exercise of me and the dog and pushing forward to the designated overnight location.
Having been cooped up since March, having nothing to do but work on my law office, my physical therapy and read/watch netflix – I was really rarin’ to go for an adventure. And the long days of driving ahead gave me a sense of freedom, manifest destiny, and the ability to overcome what initially appeared like an impenetrable challenge.
I packed my little car with camping gear, groceries, gifts, a road bag, a suitcase (for my trip to Colorado I would take after seeing the parents), books and law office supplies (as I couldn’t take the entire month off), and all the gear my dog could possibly need and the dog, and my new cooler stuffed with oat milk and kombucha – and we were on our way. I over-packed, but I learned some lessons for my next road trip.
First day, driving across Washington, Idaho, and little bit of Montana to stop just outside of Missoula.
I camped at Primrose Meadow, a lovely private campground I found on HipCamp. HipCamp is like the Airbnb of campsites, where you can find everything from glamping experiences, to literally a patch of grass in some wilderness, or a spot on someone’s farm. Primrose Meadow provided a patch of curated grass, a cauldron like fire pit, and a composting toilet down the way. Charlotte and I were treated to a wonderful Montana sunset, and a little bit of mountain cool air during the night. But we got to sit out under the stars, use my camp stove, and attempt a campfire with the firewood I purchased from my host.
The next day’s drive brought rain, curvy mountain roads, and 80 mile an hour Montana highways. My audiobooks and my music couldn’t keep my heart rate down or my knuckles from gripping my steering wheel, but I eventually made it out of the mountains an broke into Eastern Montana to see the brightest and biggest rainbow of my life.
Miles City to Fargo was windy, hot, and straight. There was nothing to look at for miles and miles and miles (after Painted Hills National Park),
and this is where I started listening to the Chronicles of Narnia to keep me sane. I also began to hate my now sticky slimy hand sweat covered steering wheel cover. I was looking forward to camping in Fargo, but when I finally arrived in the evening light I found that my “campground” was really a busy city park under the freeway.
It was an RV park really, not a place for a tent. I ate a peanut butter sandwich as I googled motels so I could find a place to get some sleep. I found myself a room at the Buffalo Lodge Inn, a former Motel 8, that now had a curious decorating scheme, but was empty and pet friendly.
The next day I drove across Minnesota to spend the night in Duluth. This would be the shortest drive yet, and left a little time to see something before my Duluth hosts got home from work to let me the house. So I took pictures of my friend Jeremy’s Dad’s childhood home in Perham, had a burger on the patio at Perham’s local “gastropub” with Charlotte.
After lunch I still had time to visit Paul Bunyan Land to say hello to Babe the Blue Ox and the giant Mechanical Paul Bunyan. Because this what you do on road trips.
Also, sometimes you witness things you just can’t help but need to take a picture of, and share, because that is how you cope with the vision.
Somewhere, in there on this day, I also stopped to photograph the World’s largest statue of a Turkey.
When I arrived in Duluth, I was treated to a lovely dinner at Jeremy’s and a night’s sleep adjusting to the time zone shifts. The next morning, I got into my car one last time for the 4 hour-ish journey from Duluth to L’Ance the next day.
This took me through part of Wisconsin and then Michigan – mostly wooded areas, and a lot less services than prior drives as Wisconsin hasn’t been the best at social distancing (I watched unmasked people coming out shoulder to shoulder from bars and lounges in Superior, WI). So I kept to myself as best I could, took one rest stop once I crossed the border and got to my parents house in the mid-afternoon with the switch to the Eastern time zone. n
It was July 1st, and I ended the day on the beach surrounded by family and friends.