Exhausted from the day before, we got to a slowish start this morning. E had grabbed us a pastry to go, which he refused to feed me as we were navigating our way out of Salt Lake City. When I asked for a bite, he said he’d give me some once we were out of the maze of freeways. Always a little grumpy when hungry, I pointed out that the junction “didn’t have shit” on the MacArthur Maze. It would be the first of many ridiculous comments on the road.
We passed into Wyoming sooner than expected. Brokeback Mountain pretty much sums up the Wyoming scenery – beautiful, desolate, isolated. As we drove I noticed random, sturdy-looking fences placed sporadically at strange angles throughout the fields. I pointed them out to E and he said that they were to prevent snow from piling up on the freeway, or to help break the wind as it gusted over the plains. I had never even considered either of these problems and was impressed, both by the solution and by E’s knowledge of it.
In Wyoming, E insisted that we stop at a Taco John’s. It’s like Taco Bell, but with potatoes on the menu. In fact, the whole reason E insisted we stop there was because of something called “Potato Oles.” Potato Oles are tater tots with nacho cheese, beans, guacamole, sour cream, etc. on them. They’re basically tater tot nachos, which I’m not sure I can abide by on a moral level. Moral or not, though, I ate them and kind of hated myself for loving them.
Several hundred miles later, we crossed into Nebraska, which I complained wasn’t as flat as I was led to believe. E said that none of the plain states are, but that Kansas had some impressively flat areas. As he drove, he kept letting the car drift to the right. I teased him about it and he said that it was his internal compass pulling us toward Kansas (which, as it turns out, means “people of the South wind.” I asked what Arkansas meant and he said “people of the South wind who sleep with their siblings.” Horrifyingly inappropriate, but we still had a good laugh).
A little after Ogallala, we lost another hour and stopped for dinner at Denny’s. You know it’s bad when you’re relieved to be eating at a Denny’s. After dinner, we continued driving and occasionally I would try to hold E’s hand. He would hold mine for a little while and then pull it away, explaining, “I really want to hold your hand, but I’m perpetually afraid of deer!” He then told the story of how his dad hit a deer in a rented Lincoln Town Car. Then, with all seriousness, he said, “Here, let me give you a good deer avoidance tip.” I was convinced he was going to tell me to turn off the headlights or something equally ridiculous, so I started laughing hysterically before he even told me the tip (which was, it turned out, to swerve in the direction that the deer came from, because the deer will most likely continue to move in the same direction – i.e. away from the direction you swerve). Perhaps due to his vigilance, we arrived in North Platte safely and spent the night in a shockingly full Super 8.