A Misleading Map and Finding Love on the Oregon Trail
Stoke Factor: 5
Miserableness Factor: 10
Snot Rockets Blown: 1 never ending snot
Avg Speed: 4.5mph
I woke up late. An ongoing trend- there’s no doubt I have been overextending myself and the evidence is that even on a day off, I was unable to entirely recharge. I had snoozed my alarm that was set for 830am and didn’t get out of the provided bed until 930. CJ told me that she wanted to help with my ear. I truly hate asking for help, but I hope that as this journey continues I am able to learn to accept an extended hand.
CJ sat me down with a Tupperware bowl held to my ear and shot water into my ear canal to flush out the swollen wax. We tried and tried but it didnt want to budge. She reached in there with a set of tweezers and started grasping at chunks of wax. I ditched my Q-Tips quite a few days ago and the result was obvious. She took a flashlight and saw exactly how bad it was. On the regular, I stay quietly committed to saving water and respecting it by not showering too often or wasting it when I don’t have to. However, when you are pushing yourself this hard even the basics like bushing hair, teeth, using deodorant and cleaning ears goes untreated. I am without a doubt at my grimiest and even if it doesn’t appear so the particulars show it. Eventually my hearing was restored and the block was cleared- it was like a balloon slowly deflated in my head and pressure slowly left the ear. My headaches almost instantly stopped, though my ear felt quite violated. On a regular basis I am always cleaning my ears, which is likely why this is happening to me.
CJ left me some fresh eggs from her chickens with bread and I fixed myself a sandwich. Time was leaving me. It amuses me that even in my least attached state to society, time has a hold. Time is against me. The days are growing shorter and the mornings are cold. By the time it gets to reasonable temperature to face the outdoors, I’ve missed out on valuable movement time. I walked out the door at 1110am, intending to make it to Mountain Home by dark- a whole 56 miles.
Dean and I created an alternative route to skip the dangerous route 20 and the insane elevation in the way. However, the route we made from their home in Boise to the Bruneau Dunes State Park ended up being 101 miles so it was impossible to be able to achieve it. As time slips through my fingertips, its doubtful I’ll have any time to bang out a single 100 mile skate, which will drastically change my finish date, whenever that may be.
I turned off my Garmin Edge and used Google Maps to navigate a paved road path to Mountain Home. Mountain Home was the last hub to choose between taking the 20 or heading down to the dunes, so I figured it would be a great place to camp out and make some last decisions. The road from Boise was enjoyable. The Boise Greenbelt is very well kept and I blasted music as I waved to every person I passed. I was able to pump the entire distance of the Greenbelt.
I took a lot of breaks. Coming from such a welcoming home was exactly what I needed, but my motivation left me as I set out. I was leaving the comfort of a bed, food, family, and a power source to make the rest of the trek. I stopped at a gas station and caught up on Facebook and other social media- it’s all crap. Absolutely nothing important is happening relevant to me. I saw that two more people I know are pregnant. I think passing on life is important, but unexpectedly bearing children when you’re less than prepared is just irresponsible. Sure, myself and many other people I respect are children born out of wedlock and in less than ideal situations, but we are not the norm. There’s an even greater population of children unprovided for. I have no comment specifically on the women I see getting pregnant — I am stoked that everyone is able to achieve their goals. If your goal is to have a family and raise kids I am happy. My goals are a bit grandeur. Obviously I can’t and never will have children. I would love to one day have a mini-me and be the best mom in the world, but it is scientifically impossible. I must make up for my natal instincts by attempting to be a pillar of goodness for the children of my friends to look up to. Perhaps my thoughts on children are mostly based on jealousy. Coming full circle, even if I skateboard across the country or set the women’s ultraskate record or get the SRS (Sexual Reproductive Surgery) or breast implants- aren’t I just a fraud? I suppose it depends on what you think makes a woman a woman. Is it her ability to bear children? I know ovarian cancer patients who would disagree. Is it the ability to naturally and instinctively bleed once a month? I know women on birth control who would disagree. No matter what it is, it doesn’t make me feel any better. Nothing about this trip is relying on my feminine side to accomplish it. If anything, I am digressing from the woman I want to be. Out here in nowhere land I am sincerely falling apart mentally. Who the fuck am I?
Heading out of Boise, Google Maps funneled me into the Oregon Trail. The road ended in a new development out on Technology Way. Instead of turning around, I strapped my board to my bag and began my hike. If anything I was excited. There are few things better than hiking alone- nobody can rush you or slow you down. It’s your pace and your style. The road was created by what I assume was state vehicles who man the power lines out there. It deviated and forked many many times. My GPS coordinates got lost by satellite the further I strayed, and I had to choose my own path based on a compass. I felt like a true adventurer. No technology could help me. I listened for the freeway in the distance and turned my music down to listen for wildlife. I knew the direction I wanted to be in, yet being so far from anything I’ve known, it was all really a guessing game.
I was terrified of rattlesnakes. I could see myself ending such an epic adventure at the hand of a venomous (poisonous?) snake. I carefully stepped each step. By the time I was 16 miles of skating and 2 miles of walking, I already climbed 1200ft, breaking every elevation record I had set since day 1. I knew that rattlesnakes don’t like high elevation, but I didn’t think I was ever high enough to leave their area. Caution was necessary. I ran into a few casual runners and walkers out on the trail and stopped at a small rest area. It was completely taken over by yellow jackets. I had 5 or 6 inspecting me and getting close. I don’t hate bees, but I wish wildlife would leave me alone or understand a universal gesture for “fuck off.” I got stung on my back once and took another bee for a ride until I noticed he was on my shoulder. I freaked out and swatted at it with my hand- I got stung in between the fingers and boy, was I pissed. Not only did I run out of road at the hand of Google, but I also got stung by bees because of the corporation. I screamed only a little bit (I cried). I scraped out the stingers with a penny and rubbed a little soap on them. Not much else I could have done.
My walk eventually lead me to a random access road. I hopped a barbed wire fence and jumped onto it. Google said I was to follow it all the way- the only thing it ignored to tell me was the pavement ended after a horrible 5 mile rolling hill. I blasted down an 11% grade hill on accident and truly honestly shouldn’t have. The chundery pavement makes my wheels slide around. It felt closer to snowboarding. After scaring myself, the hill ended on a cattle guard and I footbraked for dear life to a 1 inch stop and jumped over the guard. Had anyone been there to film it, I would be the next viral hit.
The pavement ended. An old woman passed me, then turned around to ask me where I was going. Mid sentence she just drove away. I didn’t and will never know why. I never saw her again. I had a long walk ahead of me and was already running low on water. I hiked and hiked to no release at the end. At 4pm I officially ran out of water and still had miles to go. The sun eventually started setting, so I broke out my knife and clung to it for dear life. I was scared, I’ll admit it. I was out in the middle of nowhere. I could hear the horses being called home and knew I needed to keep moving. The land had been recovering from a fire and was heavily protected. There was not one single area I could have set up camp. I had to convince myself to hoof it forward and walk through the night. I was still 28 miles from my goal.
I didn’t see a single car all day. I walked and walked as the sun winked and cynically waved goodbye to me. I checked Google Maps and saw that there was a more populated road off in the distance. At that point I had already hiked 12 miles, and it was 4 more to the road. That road turned out to be the highway.
I was faced with a decision: walk over the frontage road to the rest stop I saw, but couldn’t know anything about because of a lack of cell service, or continue skating forth to Mountain Home. Feeling the blisters on my feet and knowing I had no water, I took a chance and crossed the frontage road. There it was: The Boise Stage Stop.
It was hurtful to know that after such an adventure I had only been 32 miles away from CJ’s house. Part of me wanted to call and ask if I could get picked up, but I had been enough of a burden. People are out there living lives and I couldn’t justify being a nuisance. The Stage Stop was alive and booming- besides, it was only 8pm. They had a full convenience store and restaurant open til midnight. That was the first place since Bend that I saw was open beyond 9pm. I took the opportunity to eat. I had 6 slices of French toast, and a Monte Cristo sandwich. It was a lot of food.
I asked the waitress if I could set up my tent outside. She ended up drawing me a full map: Go beyond the parked trucks, over the corral, and set up after the shed. I took an additional hour to sit down and bask in the warmth while I could. I even tried to tip well so nobody would kick me out. Eventually I walked over to the convenience store to get some water. I told the cashier about my journey and she told me that upstairs was a “theater room” and I could sleep in there. I was like, “really?” but also ecstatic to witness yet another person trying to help me. I was convinced once again that people are inherently good.
I walked upstairs and asked the girl wearing purple gloves doing laundry if it was okay to sleep in there. I didn’t want to get anybody in trouble. When she answered me, I could tell that normally they don’t let people sleep in there, but she said, “I’m here til 2am, that’s fine.” Jack Reacher was on in the theater. I was disinterested. All I wanted was to sit down.
I ended up plugging into the wall and laid out my sleeping bag to sleep on the floor. I tried to write a blog post but kept falling asleep. I was more tired than I was any other day. At one point the girl in the purple gloves came and brought me a 1.5 liter Smart Water. I was grateful. I could feel that the people in the Stage Stop were talking about me, but more than that I knew that the girl in the gloves and I had a connection. Her hair was short and she was ambiguously gendered. Like myself, if not for her voice she could have been viewed as any gender. We shared a moment.
I passed out. It was late. I woke up at 4am to the sound of Sweeny Todd replaying. In my head I was like, “NOOOOO” but at the same time it was better than the DVD title screen looping. By my head was a piece of receipt paper I knew wasn’t there when I fell asleep. I thought it might have been a bill or some kind of “If you want your debit card back come suck my dick in my truck” message, but it was quite the opposite. It was Jesse, the glove girl, who left me her phone number and a sweet message about my journey. I immediately texted her, and then realized that she was on the other side of the theater. Her shift ended at 2, meaning she stayed with me. She didn’t seem phased- she genuinely wanted to meet me and help me.
Her and I talked for about an hour as I popped my blisters and prepared for my day. The connection was immediate. She told me about her relationships and we compared pictures of the last girls we dated. We talked about life and drugs and work and anything or everything. Eventually she told me she lived 5 minutes down the road and invited me to come to a warm bed. I was obliged.
She drove me back to her house. We peeked through the front door at 5am and the family was getting the kids ready for school. Through the house and into the backyard, we stepped into Jesse’s camper. It was unkempt entirely, but I was ecstatic for a few reasons: first of all there was a beautiful person going out of her way for me as we exchanged conversation, and second, a bed is always welcome. Her and I continued chatting as we sparked up some bowls of weed and enjoyed our vices. We watched YouTube videos and eventually I passed out on her shoulder. I was probably in my most brittle condition yet- my left ass cheek was numb, it hurt to walk, and my thighs were on fire. I don’t think in the history of my entire life I ever walked 16 miles before.
Jesse and I spooned together and fell asleep. We swapped between big and little spoon. Even though I am the larger, aggressive person, in almost every spooning situation I’ve ever been in I always prefer to be the little spoon. I set my alarm for 945am. That was late, but I knew I was already halfway to Mountain Home, so the next day wouldn’t be too tough.
We left her camper and headed back to the Stage Stop. I felt obligated to get her breakfast so we sat down together. I had the Ham Steak and Eggs, she had the short stack. The waitress asked me how I wanted my steak- I was like, “what?”
Time escaped me as it grew to nearly noon. We took a few pictures and exchanged hugs. Jesse is one person I know I will have to run into again. You dont meet a soul like hers and walk away easily. A certain part of me wished my rest day could have been that day, so I could spend a little more time with her. My best hope is that it doesn’t turn out to be a missed connection.
I’ll be back.
This story is part of a series of entirely true accounts of Calleigh Little skateboarding across the country solo in October of 2017, starting in Oregon. You can read them in their original state at Skate Cross Country and purchase the photobook and journal anthology on Kickstarter.