Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Road Babe Dispatch From Rock City

It's funny how time and space change. This is what I was thinking when Eddie told me it would only take two days to return home. “But it took us a month to get here.”

“Thank God it won't take that long to get back.”

We planned to camp at The City of Rocks in southern Idaho. The homeward road was a long one, especially since the theme had changed. Now, it was all about “making time” and stopping as little as possible. When we finally reached the turn off for the preserve, it was after sundown - way after. No color remained in the sky, leaving a black moonless blanket above. There was no light for miles.

We drove slowly down a dirt road with no sense of our epic surroundings. Maybe, if we'd known, we wouldn't have bickered so much. “In the words of Bugs Bunny, we should've turned left at Albuquerque,” Eddie said. Exhaustion seeping from every pore, I wanted to smack him, but that's when we saw the entrance.

“We're here.” It was well after 11. Out of 55 campsites, only one was open. We went to bed without dinner and I contemplated sleeping in the car.

It wasn't until morning that we realized what a cool wreck of eerie rocks we'd slept among. We crawled from the tent around 8 into a sea of groundcover and dust. Slanted sandstone formations rose from the earth at awkward angles. The air dried the sweat off my body. Only one thing to do: make breakfast while enjoying the scenery.

At Dinosaur National Monument, we snuck off the fast track to a scenic highway. Rain began to fall as we crossed a high mountain pass, cleaning and cooling the wind that swirled inside the car. Flecks of water peppered my face. I started marking the miles in my head: 1000 miles to Bozeman, Montana; 2000 miles to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho; 3000 miles to Portland, Oregon; 4000 miles to Roosevelt, Utah.

We were at the end of something. A Robert Pirsig quote came to mind. “I'm happy to be here but still sad to be here, too. Sometimes it's better to travel than to arrive.” Outside the window, a strong wind moved my wet hand like a wave. I glanced in the backseat at my dog Shakespeare, his exhausted little body lay over our packs sleeping soundly.

Mittie Babette Roger is from Louisiana but lives in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. She received an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Naropa University and authored the book It's Better to Visit the Shaman Without Questions to Ask. She travels the world volunteering to help disadvantaged children and promoting Blue Iguana Tequila to empower serious drinkers.


  1. Arriving in the dark is always a treat, because you get to wake up somewhere totally foreign and explore where you've just trusted your head to lay down for a night.

    What an amazing end to an epic journey, Mittie! Thanks for sharing the experience!! I'm going to miss this road trip series...

    “I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

  2. Thanks for the comment, Ian! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I guess it means i need to hit the road again soon.

  3. What a gorgeous spot! I'll have to go there someday!

    And Shakespeare looks like he's sleeping the sleep of the profoundly exhausted.