State by State

Apparently there is an entire country between Boston and San Francisco.

summer

by Damian

It looked for a moment as if the long winter of our discontent ended in May with the last fresh tracks we left in Arapahoe Basin skiing area. We drove south and spent some time in New Mexico and Arizona getting progressively warmer.

It quickly got too hot for pretty much anything unless we stayed at high altitudes. Also we ran out of states to visit to the point we had to cross the border. When we got to South California endless summer was in full swing and we trashed our carefully prepared packing system fishing for shorts and flip-flops. After a while we decided it’s time to move back to temperate climes and started driving north.

And this is where winter got its big karmic revenge. Many scenic roads are still closed due to snow. Tioga pass is usually open on Memorial Day. Not this year. We were hiking in Sequoia National Forest and in many places there were heaps of snow 3 feet high. Old snow on the trail is treacherous. More than once I found myself falling and sinking ugly, knees deep into the snow. Not a feeling I recommend.

USFS lady ranger in Sun Valley, Idaho practically ROTFLed when we asked about hiking trails. Only if you have snowshoes or want to wade in the mud was her response.

As a result we are confined to valleys and lowlands for now. We changed our plans of going to see Glacier National Park since glaciers (which by the ways are due to disappear in 2020 on account of global warming) seem to have taken over the road. No melting in the foreseeable future.

We decided to drive back to the Pacific in the meantime. But driving West does not seem to be much better. Crater Lake NP and Mount St. Helen websites still report road closures which means limited hiking. Skiing might be an option if one is qualified to deal with avalanches.

First day od summer did not bring any relief. We tried to drive through a scenic road in Oregon and ended up at a place where road disappears under a thick blanket of unplowed snow. They did not even have a gate with the usual Road Closed sign. It was that obvious. I was relieved we had left our skiing gear at our friends' place in California since Natalia was on the verge of ditching her sandals and attempting some June snowboarding. In the meantime Arapahoe Basin reported fresh six inches and extended the season to July 4th. Yup - you can celebrate the independence from summer this year.

I’d gladly suffer overabundance of snow and trails and road closures if it meant that the next winter is going to be as good snow-wise as the last one. But thankless New England weather taught me that there are no guarantees in life. Sun of York better makes a glorious summer really soon.

potatoes

As far as licence plate slogans go most states don't strive for modesty. Oregon is Pacific Wonderland, New Mexico - Land of Enchantment, Massachusetts claims - inexplicably to the rest of the country - The Spirit of America. Put on this background Idaho's Famous Potatoes seems very down to earth. It sounds like a no nonsense state. So we do not expect much. Apart from potatoes in every shape, form and color.

polygamy

We stop to stock on groceries and, as a bonus, we are treated to a scene from HBO's Big Love. They walk down the aisle of your typical Walmart store. Three women behind a cart: one 40, one 30 and one 20 (or maybe just 16) year old, dressed in prim long dresses and sporting elaborate hairdos. They must be sister wives. Heeding the guidebook's advice I tried to gawk respectfully. I have nothing against polygamy per se. Obviously I oppose brainwashing women and forcing teenage girls to have sexual relations with older men. And most definitely I condemn religious motivation behind any kind of liaison: catholic monogamous marriage as license to have sex is just as artificial. I do think that separation of church and state means that state should either sanction all types of civil unions or none, instead of enforcing judeo-christian version filtered through Napoleonic divorce laws.