A Road Trip—Part Two

Arian Knops

A Road Trip—Part Two

3 mins
May 18, 2021

With the departure of Troop 58, now, fifty some years later, more than likely all of them women’s right’s activists, we decided it would be good if we departed before the arrival of some sort of law enforcement.

Driving down the road with three other freaks holding their freshly laundered and sopping wet clothes out of the windows can be distracting to the driver which just happened to be me.  “Where are we staying tonight?” I asked.

“The Sawtooth National Recreation Area, it’s along here somewhere, I think,” was the reply of the man who had planned the trip.  “I was there when I was six or seven and there is a great campground there with flush toilets.”

“Anybody have a map?”  I asked.  I was handed two pages covering the entire lower forty-eight states that had been ripped out of an old atlas.  I just kept driving on the belief that all roads led somewhere.

By the grace of God, or only plain dumb luck, we were on the right road.  The campsite was three bucks for the night, and we were going to sleep under the stars and enjoy nature I was informed. 

 Just on the northern fringes of the Recreation Area, in the town of Clayton, Idaho, if you can call a place where two dozen people live a town, we stopped at the local catch all business.   It housed the Post Office, the grocery store, the restaurant, the hardware store and the gas station.  We picked up a few supplies. Home-made cookies were a quarter each and I bought four oatmeal raisin cookies that were all bigger than a dinner plate.

Once inside the rec area we easily found our campsite.  We had neglected to bring a tent, but all had remembered a bedroll or a sleeping bag.  While the nature boys I was with opted for sleeping on the ground I chose the roof of the Packard.  I was not real fond of snakes as bed mates, and I had noted the sign at the entrance that warned of rattle snakes that my marijuana whacked up pals had not seen.  Fortunately, I really prefer alcohol over illegal drugs for my buzz.

Have you ever heard thunder ricocheting off mountainsides?  It arrives about three seconds before the rain.  Pouring, pelting, driving rain.  By the time I tumbled off of the roof and made it to the car the deluge had stopped.  My friends were just waking from their slumber at that time and all started bitching about the angels taking a leak on them.  We passed the rest of the night smudging up the windows from the inside of the car.  In the morning we hung our wet gear from a few convenient tree branches, and all was good with the world.  Our breakfast feast consisted of three of my cookies, some semi warm beer and several cans of Vienna Sausages.  I have not eaten or drank any of those things for breakfast since.

At ten or so in the morning we were packed up for the next leg of our journey.  We picked up a map of the western United States at a gas station and set our sites for San Francisco, home to people much freakier than us.  A distinction it retains even after more than fifty years.

I had an aunt and uncle who lived in Brisbane just south of San Fran and I thought we might be able to stay there for a day or two.  I was wrong.  On arrival at their house, a busy body neighbor named Gladys told us my aunt and uncle were in Minnesota.  Gladys gave me her condolences on being related to my aunt and said she wouldn’t tell anyone that we had been there.  She said that if my Aunt Marie found out she had missed a visitor, Dutch (my Uncle) would never be able to go on vacation again.  “He needs his time to go fishing and drinking.” 

I understood that. 

A trip by the four of us to the haunts of the Hippies of California convinced us we weren’t all that weird and that California was way too crowded, so we turned east.

The return trip lasted four days and the old Packard caused no problems.  We took backroads once I found out that I was the only one with an unrevoked driver’s license.

We stopped late one afternoon in Grand Teton National Park and stayed to watch the sun disappear behind the deep purple of the mountains.  It was exhilarating, it was peaceful, and it was the first time that I think God gave me the ability to start to believe in, and love, myself.  The Tetons, some of the most beautiful mountains on Earth can do that to a person.

This article was orginally reported by
Arian Knops

Arian is a short story contributor to the Sentinel & Rural News. Arian has written two full-length thrillers which have received critical and popular acclaim. Arian lives in Bruce, WI, with his charming wife, Arlene.