Recently, my husband and I did a fourteen hour drive in a single day. Two of the states included on this drive were Wyoming and North Dakota. For this trip, my husband selected one of his typical outfits, flip flops, faded pink shorts, a green T-shirt and a bright orange (new at the time) ball cap.
This outfit, while fine when we left, quickly outed us as non-locals. We walked into a diner in the middle of Wyoming, and a man with a walrus mustache, a camo shirt, stars and stripes suspenders, and obvious congestive heart failure glared at us so hard he almost fell off his stool.
Really, the entire restaurant turned to watch my husband and I walk to a table, although no one with as much venom as the old guy at the front. I struggle to call it a restaurant though. Any time your walls are unpainted OSB and you stretch your fry grease life span to three or four times the recommended limit, I can't in good faith bestow you that moniker.
And, about forty minutes after we left, I had severe gastro-intestinal distress, making the next hour and twenty minutes, how long it took us to reach another gas station, a blur of complete pain.
But, the drive wasn't all fire turds and people angry about my husband's lack of boots, acceptable leg cover color, and his too-new hunting cap. We did pass Independence Rock, which back in the day, the Oregon Trail day to be exact, you wanted to be at by Forth of July, so you could get to the West Coast before the snow fell.
And while my husband loves to talk about the Oregon Trail, one thing that really gets him angry is the apparent controversy (our newsfeeds are very different) where the Mormons are trying to re-name the Oregon Trail the Mormon Handcart Trail.
"Does that seem right to you? What about the non-Mormons on that trail?" He waved his hands, letting go of the steering wheel.
"What the hell's a hand cart?" I asked.
"If I were running for president, it would be part of my platform. Keeping the Oregon Trail the Oregon Trail."
I told him I'd vote for him and that seemed to reduce the yelling.
At one point we got on I-90, and my husband said, "We have driven on I-70, I-80, and I-90, all in one day. That's pretty cool. How do you feel about that?"
I had no thoughts about it.
We drove past Moorcroft, Wyoming. My husband said, "I do love the Moorcroft gas station."
I also had no thoughts about that, well, actually, I wondered just what made the Moorcroft gas station so great.
In the distance, we saw Devil's Tower. My husband pointed it out. I squinted at it. He watched me and said, "So Teddy Roosevelt was impressed by it, but not you?"
A little while later we drove by a small lake somewhere on the South Dakota/Wyoming line. My husband said, "This lake is always covered in coots."
And finally, about an hour away from our destination, it began to rain. To the East, low purple clouds hung over the prairie, and to the West, the sun blazed toward the horizon line, and between all that, two complete double rainbows appeared, brighter than any rainbow I have ever seen in my life. I watched them, and then a rooster pheasant appeared at the edge of a corn field, the double rainbows above him. He stared straight into the sun, his chest thrust out, his white feathered eye making him look particularly unhinged, like in staring into the sun, he saw through time, and was ready to be beamed up to the mothership.
I watched the double rainbows until the sun set, causing the light, and hence the rainbows, to leave with it.
"Do you think," I asked my husband, "there is an animal that looks more ridiculous than a male pheasant?"
"Are we counting the humans who wear pink shorts and flip flops into a mining town diner?" He said.
And I realized he was right. Pheasants are not the most ridiculous looking animals. I dyed half my hair pink with Kool-aid in high school, creating a smelly jagged line that traveled around my head roughly along the same plane as my ears.
"I would vote for you," I told him. But not because I cared at all about the Oregon Trail/Mormon Handcart controversy. Not that at all.