Up and out early, back to Boise from McCall, the Snake River snaking around us until we reach North End for lunch at the 13th Street Bar & Grill.
Final evening, I'm sitting at the bar in Chandler's, a burley gray-haired guy two stools away wants to know what I'm drinking.
I tell him, 20 year-old Tawny port. He orders one for himself, likes it. His name is Randy.
Randy and I talk, about a range of things, from Sun Valley and Hemingway to grandkids. He has two, a boy and girl, 11 and 9, rarely sees them due to “issues” with his son.
A few days earlier, Randy’s grandson had called him out of the blue, invited him to his school for a Veteran’s Day event, knowing his grandpa was a vet. Randy went, got stoked by it.
“He’s calling out to you,” I say. “Inviting you in. Whatever crap happened with your son, move around it. Get to know your grandkids. It’s tough out there these days, at their age. They could use your wisdom.”
“Yeah?” Randy orders another port for both of us.
We kick it around a little more and sip our drinks.
“I mean it,” I say, by way of goodbye. “Your grandson called out, wants you in his life. Be there.”
The family regroups early to check out.
“Look, it’s snowing!” The cheerful concierge points out the glass door.
It is truly a joyful is a sight—unless you’re headed for an airport, which we are.
I’m thinking delays in Boise, maybe a missed connection to Santa Barbara.
The check-in clerk at United sets me straight. “The problem,” he says, “is in San Francisco.”
This is a grumpy man, and by now I know the look: high end of middle age, mostly bald with a short fringe and a mousy moustache, still clerking.
No matter how polite I am, cutting quips, it is impossible to make this type of person smile, and it makes me wonder if actual looks are responsible for disposition.
But never mind him. The problem is not snow in Boise, but San Francisco.
He clacks his computer, ignores me, angry (this day and most, I gather) for having to do the job he does, or maybe other components of his disappointing life.
I’ve got my laptop and I find a good book to read, so I’m ready for whatever happens next, including the acquisition of an appropriate talisman, which has eluded me this trip.
Inside a cooperative selling the wares of local Idaho artists I find a small silver pendant, a cube with minimal bar-relief design dubbed introspection by the artist.
It symbolizes the very essence of Idaho: Hermits, solitaries, individualists, and loners. This is The Introspection State, where people go to get away—mostly from other people, or maybe their own sorry pasts.
But back to our predicament: With my background, I'm always thinking contingencies. In this case, what if our flight is cancelled?
Within a minute, I have one: We re-rent the Suburban and drive seven hours to Portland, spend the night, whoop it up, and catch a nonstop next day to Santa Barbara.
Truth is, when our flight gets called only fifteen minutes after its scheduled departure time, I’m disappointed, so married I am to the idea of remaining in motion (pardon the oxymoron).
My next hope is that we’ll miss our connection in San Francisco and have time to sit down for teriyaki salmon at Ebisu in the airport terminal, even better, if no other connection exists, spend the night in San Fran, whoop it up, fly home the next day.
So much for that idea: our jet from Boise is the incoming aircraft for onward travel to SB...
My first novel about a road trip has been acquired by Skyhorse Publishing in New York City.
It will be published in Fall 2016