The day did not start off well. First stop, Shoshone Falls, was easy to find. It just a ten minute drive from where I was at. It was a beautiful park with an overlook to the falls and a lake. The falls, though you cannot tell, are called the Niagara Falls of the West. It’s bigger than Niagara but you can’t tell at this time of the year. In the spring, with the winter runoff, it’s thunderous. By the fall, it is really just a trickle.
I was just impressed by the area. Like so many other places I’ve been, it’s nothing like I imagined. The Snake River creates canyons, valleys, and a fertile crescent along the Oregon Trail where you can just imagine why early settlers found the place so appealing. About an hour north is City of Rocks, which I skipped to find Blue Heart Springs. I was only a couple miles away. How hard could it be?
I was a mile away from the spring a half dozen times, driving about 40 miles in circles with my GPS bringing me back to private roads. Do people in Idaho shoot trespassers? I wasn’t sure, so I kept driving. Finally, I stopped (at the same private road I had been to a couple times) and googled it. It turned out I was never going to get to it. It is accessible only by water. But look at this great shot I stole from the internet.
It was just fun driving through the area, somewhere to put a pin in a map to return to in the spring or summer. I found myself parking my car and walking across and under bridges just to get pictures. I decided to head south, though, but not before passing a big sign that said “Box Canyon.” A two minute drive down a dirt road had me at yet another incredible view of hot springs. I need a kayak. And more time.
But then it was all about the drive.
I don’t like Nevada. I love driving through it, but the first place you hit driving south from Twin Falls is Jackpot, Arizona. It’s like that everywhere and all roads seem to rush you to Las Vegas. A lot of this trip was inspired by a conference I attended in Las Vegas back in January. The desperation in Las Vegas is palatable. You can taste it and smell it everywhere you go along with the stale cigarette smell. While I was there, though, spending $50 for a cup of coffee as I sat in front of a slot machine drinking it, I rented a car. I’ll make that a side bar somewhere or another. From Vegas, I made a bunch of side trips and the Southwest hooked me. Death Valley, Hoover Dam, Red Rocks and The Grand Canyon. A landscape and driving experience unlike any other place I had been to in the world.
I have a deal with adopted brother Mike that I will not stop in Vegas–even though I am only 150 miles from it now. My first drive through Nevada, I made it a point to take the long way around, bypassing Las Vegas by hundreds of miles–with every sign I passed urging me there. A joke, that might get my ass kicked eventually, is that I would put everything on black at the roulette wheel. Double or nothing.
But that is really part of what this trip is about. My money is on black. Or red. I put it there the day I started out on July 9th and the sound of the ball rolling around the wheel has been in my head ever since. It was a hell of a spin, but I know that once I truly start heading back east the ball will begin to slow. Will I hit? Or will I lose everything? Either or doesn’t really matter. It’s also like I explained to Mike and others. I’m the guy who got the huge bonus check from work. I put that down. If I hit, I retire. If I don’t, I go back to work on Monday. No harm, no foul.
But the drive is epic. I bypassed the fast way, the highway, Route 5 that would have taken me down through Salt Lake City and instead took scenic route 9, a double lane highway running through the desert and over mountains. I know there are a lot of people who hate to drive, but I love it. You have to do some high speed passing to get beyond the trucks and then you can go for miles and miles without seeing another car in any direction. Small towns pop up here and there with signs saying “no service for 100+ miles.”
My destination, after changing my mind a couple times, was Cedar Springs in Utah. I began making the final push just as the sun began to set. The moon was rising in the east and the mountains in front of me under the moon were turning purple. Pictures just don’t do it justice.
I like Utah. And the driving. I’ve been moving hard and fast since leaving Seattle. Even though the decision to head south instead of east felt right, I feel a pull of time and direction. A book will come out of all of this–Travels with Coffee is the working title. Shoshone Falls is a good example. It’s the fall and the thunderous waterfall is a trickle of what it typically is. America has been the same way, with all of the desolate towns and cities due to Covid.
Another book I am working on is dealing with depression. It’s been on my mind a lot. I started it back in Chadds Ford but had to put it on hold. It was too close to me and a friend, a psychiatrist, said I needed to step away for a while. I took his advice. Is there a cure for clinical depression? No. I researched it and talked to a lot of people about it. The best thing we can do is learn healthier coping strategies. I was able to bury it for a long, long time, thinking I was free, but then everything got sucked out of me.
“Next” awaits me back east. Whether I hit or not on the roulette wheel, I need the tools to face it. I need the tools to figure out what it is instead of allowing the depression to force me down the path of least resistance, the clogged major highway as opposed to the scenic route that is my love and passion. I’m on a few journeys here, and the long drives help with all of them.
Aloha from, once again, Utah.