After our wedding, my husband and I set out on our honeymoon — a month of driving across the country.
To say that we had a great time on our cross-country trip is an understatement. To spend so much time together, away from cell phone reception and email, talking for hours and hours as we drove through some of the most beautiful and overwhelming landscapes either of us had ever seen, was simply amazing — especially for a bookish pair of New York City residents driving a borrowed car, my mother's Subaru.
We enjoyed the spaces between official sights as much as, if not more than, the sights themselves. I don't think either of us will ever forget our long drive through a so-called National Grassland called Thunder Basin, in Wyoming, near the South Dakota border. The designation "National Grassland" is more than a little bit misleading since tucked within the vast expanse sits the country's second-most productive coal mine, a mind-bogglingly huge surface-mining operation that supplies eight percent of the nation's coal. It kind of makes you wonder what level of industry would have to be in place before the federal government would call something "industrial land."
But we wanted to see the country, and that's what we did. We visited depressed industrial towns, thriving agricultural ones, university and resort towns, and towns that were nearly abandoned, as well as one actual ghost town, near Philipsburg, Montana. We stopped for a drink in a town that was, literally, for sale for just over a million dollars (town may be stretching it, as the place consisted of only a general store, with a post-office stall, and a bar-restaurant). We camped sometimes and we stayed some nights in dingy motels. Here's a picture of our campsite in Moab, Utah:
When we got to Portland, we splurged on a hip motel/hotel called The Jupiter — after weeks of driving through rural areas, we wanted to soak in Portland's urban-ness. We were also pleasantly surprised to find that we could stay at a hotel full of fashionably dressed people, in what seemed to be a central location — and also be located only two blocks from a garage where we could drop off our Subaru for a much-needed tune-up. Am I correct in concluding that Subarus, and thus Subaru repair shops, are very popular in Portland?
After we dropped off our car, we got a drink at the hotel's Doug Fir Lounge (which was kind of a fun play on the type of old-school lodge we'd stayed at in the Black Hills of South Dakota). We walked across the bridge for dinner at an Asian fusion restaurant and then met a couple writer friends for drinks at Noble Rot. In the morning, we went for a run along the river and then ate waffles from a food truck. We picked up the Subaru from the garage and drove to Powell's, where we loaded up with books for the ride home. (I'd forgotten my copy of Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell at a motel in Nebraska and was especially glad to find another copy.) We drove up to Pittock Mansion and looked out at the city.
Then we kept on driving west. Our 18-hour visit had been terrific, but we needed to make time. We headed to the coast, where we'd make a left turn and drive south for a while. Here's a pic from that day:
A few days later, we had to make another left turn, a sad one. The turn off Highway One, the turn east, back. It was time to return to New York, to our lives. We'd lingered too long. We'd splurged on too many hotels, too many meals. We'd ran through our honeymoon budget. We were also behind schedule. I had to make it back to New York in time for the beginning of the academic year. My students were waiting for me. So was my novel.
Read Parts One, Two, Four, and Five of "A Trip to Portland; or, The Long and Convoluted Story of How My Novel Came to Be" by Adelle Waldman