I interviewed a former senator yesterday. He was delightful, and amazing, and utterly certain that things are broken and there’s no fixing them.

Even when I pushed – “Okay, but what if you had unlimited energy and could do anything? What if you could magically change something – what would you change to make us a united people again?”

“There’s no magic wand,” he answered.

On the upside, he also didn’t think this was a new thing – America’s been broken a while, and we still keep stumbling on somehow.

statue in the middle of a field
will Bob’s Big Boy save us? maybe

(no context for that picture, except that it’s from the senator’s state and I needed a smile.)

I’ve had a bit of a rough start to this trip — I’m not going to lie, my mood is not exactly up. In four days, I have:

  • been mired down & towed,
  • blown a deadline at the day job,
  • skipped 3 sites due to time crunch,
  • found the limits of my cell service,
  • suffered from truly frightening diarrhea,
  • and even peed on myself a good bit.

(Yeah, so, the biggest change between the trip twelve years ago and this one? My bladder has aged. Just saying. Sleeping without easy access to a bathroom is not recommended for almost-40-year-olds.)

My poor mindset is making it harder to connect with strangers on the road. I’m extremely glad I set up a good few interviews in advance, because those are concrete, certain, with clear expectations. I’ve not been able to broach the politics line with others — the sweetheart I interviewed at the Idaho Potato Museum was too focused on being a strong spokesperson for the museum itself.

small pink stuffed animal, in front of a giant baked potato

She didn’t need to be. The museum spoke for itself. It was awesome. And apparently has been around since 1912! You wouldn’t guess it — the displays are modern, encouraging of interaction, and adorable.

cutout of marilyn monroe in potato sack
Marilyn greets you first thing when you walk in

She was also in the middle of what she referred to as a “museum crisis,” so I didn’t want to push. From what I gathered, they’d run out of potatoes at the attached cafe. A group of tourists were angry that they had to go elsewhere (even though the elsewhere recommended still served Idaho potatoes), and may have started handing out the free spuds willy-nilly, spuds that are reserved for museum attendees.

museum display "POTATO GOD, Nazca culture, c. 400 A.D. This enamelled silver pin represents the "potato god" venerated by Andean cultures. Note that he holds a potato plant in each hand, complete with blossoms, vine, and tubers."
I love the idea of a Potato God

I got a few bright and shiny comments from her, and moved on.

The rest of the last two days has been filled with strange nature — beautiful and odd, but not really on theme. From Yellowstone to Craters of the Moon, there’s some crazy stuff out there. It just doesn’t interest me as much (on this trip) if a man or woman hasn’t had a hand in the work.

pink stuffed animal in a car window, a yellowstone steam vent featured in the background
ain’t gonna lie, we didn’t even get out of the car in Yellowstone

I’m now in a motel room outside Twin Falls, waiting for my IT guy to get back to me so I can get my day job back on track. As soon as that happens, I’ll hit the road again, hopefully with enough time to make it to the Ice Cave in Shoshone, but the way things are going… We’ll see.

Until next time, dear readers.


4 thoughts on “Broken

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  1. I’m enjoying the updates but also man being walloped by travel mishaps and troubles from afar is so hard. I’m glad the folks you’ve talked to have been good landing strips in between the crazy–it’s funny how adventure can be amplified by planning. Best of luck with the next round of states!

  2. Stop in Fargo for a while! We’ve got a Viking ship (well, Moorhead does), a famous woodchipper (and the woodchipper’s stunt double), a tiny museum dedicated to Roger Maris, and the best downtown! Even if you can’t stop, I hope the trip self-corrects and turns sunny very soon!

    1. Fargo! Man, I loved Fargo my first time around. I was there for a special anniversary of the movie, and they had the woodchipper, plus they unveiled a chainsaw carving of Marge. Maybe I can still sneak out there!

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