Friday, September 23, 2005

Almost Home

Almost Home
September 22, 2005

It’s Thursday night and I’ve made it to within three hours of Spokane. The pull toward home is great, but I opted for one more night in a motel rather than getting home in the dark.

We are in scenic Creston, British Columbia, north of Bonners Ferry and Sandpoint, Idaho, staying in a cabin unit at the Valley View Motel. This is a sweet little family-owned place with only 15 units, all in separate one- or two-unit cabins done up in a vaguely Bavarian theme. We have a fridge, a TV, a coffee maker and even an electric kettle – but no Internet access. Alas, my string has ended. Oh, I could probably work out something with dial-up, but I figure, what the hell, I’ll be home tomorrow – I can upload then.

Today’s route carried us from the prairies to the mountains and into the pine-covered slopes of our own backyard. Along the way we saw plenty of autumn color – just in time for the equinox – and some spectacular alpine views.

Although I didn’t drive nearly as far today as yesterday, I feel just as weary. Mountain driving is more tiring, I find, and when the scenery is as grand as we saw today, I spend much of my time admiring the views – or looking for places to pull over so I can do so safely.

The pleasant surprise of the day came late this afternoon, just a few miles up the road from Creston in the tiny hamlet of Yahk, BC, where we stumbled upon Two Scoop Steve’s Ice Cream and the Goat Mountain Soap Company. Nestled in the trees along the banks of the Moyie River, these businesses are run by the same family. We pulled in as the owner happened to be outside talking to visitors, so she invited us in even though they’re in the midst of closing down the ice cream shop for the season. She still had about 8 or 10 flavors available; the blueberry was a knockout. As we ate, we walked along a trail through the woods a short distance to the river then wandered back to visit the goats and the soap shop. The goats – Minnie, Martha, Annabelle, Antonio and Penelope (hope I’m not forgetting anyone) – scrambled up a gangplank to the roof of the porch to greet us. They all seemed curious, but Minnie was the most vocal.

Tomorrow I plan to drive just a bit further west to the border crossing at Nelway and aim straight south for Spokane via Metaline Falls. We should be home by early afternoon.

So this is the last evening that I’ll sit in a motel room (or a relative’s house) and try to recall the experiences of the day – at least for this trip. Seems like I should have some profound thoughts tonight summing up the trip, but I’m too focused on getting back across the border and safely home to think of much else. From the vantage point of my office at home, I’ll go back over the goals I set at the outset and see if the reality of the trip in any way reflected what I thought might unfold.

As I drove today, I found myself thinking about my life at home and what I might like to change about that life – now that I’ve been away from it for almost a month. Mostly, it’s little stuff, things that need nothing more than either self-discipline or giving myself permission. Now that I’ve reconnected with so many of my east coast relatives, I want to maintain those relationships – and I know it will require effort, as all relationships do. And yet I recognize a need for more quiet time, too, more down time – something that is the first to go when my time gets crunched. It’s the dance of balance faced by so many women I know: meeting the needs of others, like the demands of job, home, and family, while taking care of oneself.

In a way, I’m relieved to not have Internet access tonight. I’ll write my entry here and download the photos of the day, but then I can just crawl into bed and read. There’s no radio to distract me and we turned off the TV after dinner, so there’s nothing else to do. To put it another way, I have no choice but to give myself permission to relax. It’s a good way to spend the final evening of this grand adventure.


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