Vancouver to Missoula

“STARBUCKS HAS HUMAN EXCREMENT IN THEIR COFFEE.” Red faced and puffy eyed twenty something driving past in a truck, screaming out the window. The veins in his neck pulsing. “I KNOW BECAUSE I DID ITTTTTTTTTTTT.” He flies off into the Washington sunset, never to be seen again. Let’s just say I’m glad I got a tea at the Starbucks tonight.

Let’s get the fuck out of Washington.

This morning, my brother and I began discussing collaboration for a zine of our trip. It would be a reflection piece, taking choice stories from the stream of consciousness blog and pasting them on paper. Organic pictures and do it yourself design. We’d make cheap black and white copies and hand them out like candy, our first published pieces. I told my brother about my friend Colin, pulling out the travel zine he made last year.

I text Colin later to see what’s going on. I haven’t talked to him in weeks, and reading his zine makes me realize that I miss him. He texts me back telling me he’s in Sacramento again after weeks of being on the road in Washington and Oregon. And he’s actually flying out tonight, back home.

One of the first times I met Colin he told me stories about seeing aliens in the sky on lonely, empty nights in the country. I never got it.

“Do you believe in aliens?” My brother asks me later in the day, a non sequitur.

“As much as I believe in anything, man.”

“I like the way they say it. ‘Spo-can’ as opposed to the way it’s spelled, ‘spo-kane.’ Deliberately trying to make it sound as little like cocaine as they can.”

Spokane is a big brick city, much bigger than we were anticipating after the hours and hours of desolate and empty prairie that seemed to eat our sense of self away.

At the campsite outside of Spokane, the fire danger sign is flipped all the way to “extreme,” and the campsite states that it is full. Driving past baby deer to the tent grounds, we realize that the park is the opposite of full, and is in fact completely empty.

We beat it out of there, because Washington is giving us bad vibes. It’s getting dark and there’s lightning in the sky. The first storm we’ve seen on our trip.

Welcome to IDAHO! The roadside sign announces a few miles down the road.

“Well, that was unexpected…” we both comment.

We stop at an Idaho gas station, and I brush my teeth. I look at the trashcan that you use for the windshield cleaning process that I was planning on spitting my toothpaste into.

I question my life choices, and I decide to go use the bathroom for a full rinse and human decency.

Making my way to the door, I am intercepted by a sweet old man who I should be opening the door for. But instead he holds it for me saying, “please, you first.” I’m foaming at the mouth from the toothpaste, and as I smile it gets even worse. I hold up my toothbrush in solidarity and a late night cheers to him, and continue on to the bathroom.

We leave the gas station, and within five minutes our lives are changed.

A bright, arresting, circular pinprick of astounding neon green light takes place high in the sky, and grows slightly larger for a second, blinding us momentarily, then disappears. An isolated circular burst, no other light around it, pitch darkness as a backdrop, the green appearing like a headache inducing highway exit sign high in the sky.

We both continue to stare ahead for seconds after the event.

“Did we just see an alien?”

The light was too concentrated and symmetrical for nature. But too violent for something man made in Idaho.

Five minutes later, mind racing, I’ve realized what that universal blip was.

Colin.

Colin had just left the galaxy, and was telling the Milky Way he’ll see it again soon. He had flown home.

We have one hell of a night. A night full of little men in finely trimmed beards driving go carts around KOAs and Jellystone parks sending the fear of god into our hearts. Telling us to please get the fuck out.

All of the campsites/hotels in Missoula were booked last night when we got in around one in the morning.

Regardless, here we are in Missoula today. We made it through the night, and we even got some sleep.

Valerie is lovely, and has invited us into her home. We sat outside and drank green tea with her while the yellow jackets buzzed around the fresh cantaloupe. She also made us smoothies, and gave us each our own room and space to relax.

Noah is at work, and we’ll be hanging out with him in an hour or so.

I woke up to a text this morning, “Beer. Downtown Missoula. You me and Ben tonight?”

This is hilarious, because the last time we saw one another, we were nowhere near old enough to have a drink. 

I went for a jog in the mountains shortly after getting here. I knew I shouldn’t have, because I was already dehydrated, and then proceeded to dehydrate myself even more.Drinking water, water, water right now.

There’s a hummingbird right above me as I write. I saw big white tail deer and little chipmunks and masses of butterflies on my jog. This place is really alive. And it smells so good.

The pines.

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