image
45
winter
2013
arches
by Kittredge to grab the last of my art supplies,
I descended upon my room and crammed my
queen-size futon into the back seat. From there
I retrieved my tapestries from around the house,
packed my paintings, various camping equip-
ment, and my wardrobe. I had also chosen a
companion for the drive, my boyfriend, Will
Patterson.
With a whole lot of Donna Summer and
“Jungle Boogie,” rattling but thankfully rolling,
my car headed south on I-5. Three hours down
the road we turned east, frighteningly in the
direction of Mount Hood and altitude, a notori-
ous issue for the turbo diesel. The car began to
make a croaking, clicking sound that seemed
associated with wheel rotation. We worried
about how much farther I would have to floor
the accelerator in order to maintain a mere 35
m.p.h. An hour later, we gratefully crested the
pass and descended into an Indian reservation,
found diesel fuel, and proceeded to Smith Rock.
Pulling into camp on a Friday, my morale was
low, but I realized I wouldn’t be able to speak
with a mechanic until Monday morning. Our
Smith Rock climbs were stunning, the sage
endless, the Oxbow just my style. On Sunday,
in Bend, we set to work, mapping out which
mountains to specifically avoid.
We departed Bend with a plugged tire, and
new windshield wipers and CV joints, and
we approached the mountains with care, tak-
ing a southwestern route through Medford.
In California I was stunned. I never thought I
would really leave the Pacific Northwest, but San
Francisco was up and coming. My last shower
on the road was at Stanford. From that point on
we cruised the 101 through fertilizerville. We
hit the Memorial Day masses of RVs, but man-
aged to find a small plot of sand where we could
camp. Once I found the 10 it was eastward-ho
from there. The next night we barely hit the
Arizona border, setting up camp 18 miles off the
interstate in the dark. When I woke up we were
in a forest of saguaros—I had officially left the
flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. From
the perspective of my friends from Chicago and
Eugene, these are the
real
cacti.
I was feeling dried out. Cloud cover was long
gone. For sustenance we drove to Quartzsite,
Rock Capital of the World. I ordered a Coke for
breakfast. My car was in Arizona! New Mexico!
El Paso! Marfa?!
As I navigated the fine line between the
United States and Mexico, I swapped my boy-
friend for my mom, who completed my journey
with me. About two hours into our cross-Texas
drive, the border patrol was on my tail. A white
SUV sped up beside me; the officer craned his
neck and found his target: a 2009 inspection
sticker. Well aware of my outdated paperwork, I
got out of the car and proceeded to explain the
situation. He was baffled.
“Tacoma? You drove here from Tacoma to-
day? In four years you never came back to Texas?
What are you doing on Highway 10? How long
have you been in Texas?”
I calmly told him that I had been in the state
for two hours and had every intention of getting
a new inspection sticker. I also mentioned that
Washington only checks vehicle emissions, not
mechanical condition. We got a warning, but he
was highly doubtful of our safety and our ability
to pass through 17 counties without receiving
a real ticket. I proved him wrong. (And my car
passed inspection in 10 minutes.)
On down the road, everything was fine. My
mother adapted to the only source of air circula-
tion: her window. As I drove the last nine hours,
with Dallas on the horizon, I mentally reorga-
nized my next destinations. I know I can never
really be satisfied in one place, but I think the
268,820 square miles of Texas should occupy me
for a while, or at least finish off the turbo diesel.
Hattie Lindsley, a history major, finally had to
give up the tan car and says she’s been driving a
truck lately. She is working in Austin as a design
assistant for the Bunkhouse Group, a hotel man-
agement company, designing shopping websites
and helping to organize special events.
Hays Lindsley