Let’s Take a Road Trip

Between Walla Walla (my current town) and Lewiston (my former town), you pass through the bottom of the Palouse, with miles of undulating wheatfields that gradually turn from vivid green to gold, move into the foothills of the Blue Mountains, and climb to the top of Alpowa Pass, where, in summertime, the spiraled hay stacks spread out for miles. It’s not a scenic byway, and no traveling retirees divert to Highway 12 on their North American trek, but it’s the most exquisite landscape I know — in no small part because I’ve driven it more than 300 times. Like so many of the old highways, it was originally a wagon route, and there’s a town (or, more precisely, a settlement) every 10–12 miles, corresponding with the distance a wagon could travel in a day.

If you’ve not yet read Anne Helen Petersen’s beautiful Pacific Standard piece on two-lane highways, perhaps you should just skip it, because you will be filled with the instant desire to drive for hours and hours and hours and that’s just not safe what with this Polar Vortex 4: Put Me Under General Anesthesia I Can’t Take Any More business.

More ...