The creek is dry, but the campground is still remarkably beautiful.

I had a fairly typical driving day on Tuesday: I left Seattle by 9:30 and took a break about two hours later, wondering why I hadn’t managed to get farther along my path. I ran the generator to use the InstantPot, and made myself a delicious quinoa bowl, with fresh greens, avocado, pickled onion, shredded carrots and a lime-yogurt dressing. Walked Zelda, washed dishes, checked my email, read the news, and then realized that it was almost 1 and I’d been sitting at the rest stop for over an hour. Sigh.

Back on the road again, but I stopped an hour later to get gas. Back on the road again, and Z was awake and wandering the van restlessly, so it was time for the next rest stop and a quick dog walk. Back on the road again and traffic was picking up. Road construction around Spokane, an early rush hour…

I spent my day thinking about nothing. Watching scenery; listening to music; wishing I wasn’t driving; trying to promptly clean splatted bugs off the windshield; remembering details from the weekend; considering billboards and lottery winners and the weather. Developing strategies for measuring time as it passes, counting down the minutes on Apple maps.

Debating places to visit. Glacier National Park? But the Sun road is still closed, and I’d so much rather go there when I have time to be there, not just a quick glance into the visitors center followed by more long driving days. The sapphire mine in Phillipsburg? A reader in Montana (who I should really have emailed days ago if I planned to stop by)? Yellowstone?!?

Arguing with myself over whether to drive long days then take rest days vs trying to drive 100 miles every day or drive 250 miles every other day. I finally told myself that I’d just finish every driving day by filling the gas tank. When I’d driven to the point where I needed gas, I’d give myself permission to stop.

But I wanted to spend the night in northern Idaho, because my Progressive insurance adjustor promised me I’d like it. I was aiming for Beauty Creek campground in Coeur d’Alene. It’s first come, first served, and according to the reviews, sometimes crowded. Given that it’s now post Memorial Day, I was prepared to be disappointed, but I persisted anyway. And it is so, so beautiful. My insurance adjustor was not wrong.

My gorgeous view wasn’t cheap: $23 for dry camping, with no hookups, no showers, just vault toilets and picnic tables. The trees were alive with bees, too — I could hear the hum of a happy (and probably big!) hive in the grove of trees next to the van. A few visited and explored my screens, but none made it inside.

I’d hoped to fill up my fresh water tank here — although there were no hook-ups, they did say they had water. But the water was a pump. And not an electric pump, the kind of pump where you move the handle up and down to get the water to run. It’s a multi-handed operation — one person to pump, one person to hold the water jug and the spigot open. Zelda was not much help. In fact, Z was sort of actively unhelpful, because she didn’t understand why I wasn’t walking when as far as she was concerned, we were taking our evening stroll. Oh, well. I filled one jug, enjoyed the experience, and moved “water” higher up my list for a future campground.

And sadly, my neighbors found it important to run their generator all evening long. I was so tempted to go knock on their door and ask why they were ruining the camping for the rest of us, but a) the rest of us was just me, the only person in hearing distance, and b) ha. I never would. I might think about it, but that kind of conflict is not in my nature. Instead, I eventually closed my windows and appreciated the stillness and coziness of my quiet house, minus the fresh air.