Travels Without Charley
I-94, MT. -- Buffalo Country rest stop
Thursday, right? I'm starting to lose track.
I pulled in here last night at about 10. I'm not far from the exit to the Custer Battlefield, which is about 50 miles south. John Steinbeck went there -- he said so in a letter to his wife -- but hardly talks about it in "Travels With Charley." I'll go there now.
It's been quiet all night. Just the sound of trains rumbling by somewhere in the dark. They sounded like tornados. That's a weather joke.
No one's on the road so no one stops here to use the bathroom. Another four or five RVs and cars were scattered around the parking lot last night but they've already cleared out.
The official signs only care about where you let your pet poop. And watch out for those rattlesnakes.
Sleeping here is not restricted, therefore it is permitted. What a concept. What if a whole country worked that way? That's a libertarian joke.
The lighting is subdued -- just enough to make you feel secure without making it seem like you're sleeping in a dentist's chair.
John Steinbeck moved so fast he made it from Beach, N.D., to Livingston, Mt., by Thursday night -- AGGGHHH.
It's Friday! My computer says it's Friday. This is 2010, right? Earth, right?
I fooled around in Beach too long yesterday morning. Or maybe it's the size of these states out here.
I don't know how Steinbeck made it from Beach to Livingston so quickly -- on old, skinny US 10 and through the middle of towns like Miles City and Billings -- and still did so much stuff in one day.
He stopped at the Custer memorial and told his wife he stopped at about six bars in towns along US 10 -- not to drink but to gather information.
He bought a stockman's hat in Billings. And he arrived at a motel or trailer court near Livingston in time to watch the third Nixon-Kennedy TV debate.
So I may not know what day it is, but I know where Steinbeck was on Thursday, Oct. 13, 1960 -- the day he probably heard Bill Mazeroski hit his historic home run to win the World Series.
The next morning -- Friday, right? -- Steinbeck dropped down to Yellowstone Park where Charley went nuts barking at the bears.
I'm not trying to race or pace Steinbeck, but I have a lot of driving to do. The sun's coming up.