I’ve discovered that I love rest stops. Some RVers and nomads hate rest stops and truck stops because of the noise. There’s generally a battalion of semitrucks idling at these places, because truckers also use them to sleep, but I personally find the noise soothing.
I had a decent rest at a rest stop near Moses Lake, WA, and then set off east. My goal was to reach Pullman, WA, then cross into Idaho and set up in the Knife Edge Campground on Idaho’s Hwy 12. If only I knew the day I was about to have.
The first leg was great. I got to Pullman, went to the gym, worked out hard, got some lunch. Planet Fitness has massage chairs for Black Card Members, so I sat in a chair and vibrated myself into a higher state of consciousness. I was feeling awesome by the time I got back in the van and set off for Idaho, anticipating a relaxing 2-hour drive through beautiful forest. Early on in my foray onto Hwy 12, I found an awesome rest stop with a 16-hour stay limit and almost no one there, and considered staying there for the day to get some work done… but then uttered the famous last words of every Australian who has ever done something dumb as hell – “Ahh, she’ll be right, mate.” – and decided to continue on to what I hoped would be a 7-10 day camp.
Well, my campsite was closed. And the one after that. And the one after that was $14 a night, cash only, and I wasn’t carrying any cash because I’m a moron. By that point, I was too far from the rest stop to go back, so I pressed on forward. I ended up stubbornly driving across most of northern Idaho, getting increasingly anxious about finding a place to set up camp. The cats were getting whiny and anxious because I was nervous. The deer were stupid and scrambled up onto the road every ten miles or so. It was not the lovely forest drive I’d hoped
The mistakes were mine. I should definitely keep some cash on hand, for one thing, and plot my routes according to stay locations, not what I think I want to see. As it turns out, the Clearwater Nat Forest is lovely, but monotonous when driving through it for 5 hours. Especially while tired.
Eventually, I made it to the wonderful rest stop at Lolo Pass: 5500-ish feet above sea level, barely spitting distance from the border of Montana. There are no rules posted here, but I knew from the last rest stop that Idaho generally lets you stay overnight in your car if you need, so I slept here. It turned out to be one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had in my life. Quiet, peaceful, clean. The rest stop is basically a resort stop for truckers and van lifers compared to the ones in WA.
If you road trip, it’s important not to abuse these rest stops – always respect the time limits, leave no trace, don’t dump trash outside of the bins, etc. But they’re a blessing for anyone who is traveling. Idaho really lays out the red carpet for us, too.
Now I’m off to Montana, briefly, to get some work done before swinging back down into Idaho again and heading south. I still need to find somewhere to stay for at least a week to get some more writing done on Crowned in Black… the driving all day + overnight stay routine is not great for getting words on the page.
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