Elevation: 3022 ft

Welcome to Idaho! Behind the state sign, stunning mountains covered with blue and green fir trees criss-cross the sky. Our stopping place for the night, Coeur d’Alene, turns out to be a resort town punctuated by a large lake.

Pulling into Discount Hotel, two girls block our way, bicycling in one of the few available parking spots. What a place to bring up kids! I think. The elder girl grudgingly gives in to our car and declares, “My mom owns this place.” Indeed. Their front door on the first floor stands ajar, and the run-down contents spill into view.

The father of the family, ear-pierced and tattooed, operates the front desk. $86 for a room, high by Muncie standards, plus a $50 deposit that might not be refundable. I object. The man asserts that people drive all over town, but cannot find a better price.

An hour later, we amble back—head tucked between our tails. Every recognizable hotel chain in town has booked up early for the weekend. We lumber up the stairs, where a bunch of rough looking guys hang out on the balcony to smoke. Later, to dislodge the discomfort I feel, I speak to them. Turns out they are part of a bachelor party. To provoke kinship, I tell them we too are on our way to a wedding. Apparently, their groom is well on the way to being inebriated. Great! I think, We’ll be up all night.  Emily’s thoughtful fiancé, James,  would never endeavor to become stinking drunk before his wedding; it seems to be about regret in this case.

To my surprise, a large, clean room greets us cheerfully, boasting large beds and fresh scented sheets, a microwave, refrigerator and extra sink. We sleep extraordinarily well. Don’t hear a peep of bachelor party shenanigans. In the morning, a modest, but tasty breakfast bar awaits us in the lobby: bagels, English muffins, cream cheese, cereal and fresh coffee. Our hefty hostess, who reminds me of the many persons I have worked with in poverty situations, possesses a pleasant demeanor. I express my appreciation for the room and later also speak with the husband and tell him how wrong I had been. The place offered a superior experience to Motel 6 or Super 8 and supports a family.

Our trip underscores a few lessons for me. Among them, my own prejudice. My ability to continue to grow and take risks. A discovery of deep anxiety and phobias—claustrophobia in the tent, my fear of heights that completely defeat one ride up a mountain. My ability to depend on Molly. My ability to depend on myself. My ability to take a great tumble and walk away with minor abrasions. My ability to invent quick fixes or make substitutions: a towel sun shade, shampoo for laundry detergent, bean dip for sandwich spread. In other words, besides the scenery and the chance to be Northern-bound one last time in a rattling car over great swathes of the country with my dear daughter, the road trip affords me the chance to pay attention. Great job!

The last five or so hours roll away quickly. Clouds, blue sky and mountains adorn our way, and we eagerly anticipated the treasure at the end of the road–Emily and James. And a good shower.


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