Some Roads Traveled
John McCurdy - January 13, 2012
We were 4 weeks away from West Virginia and
getting homesick; homesick and we’d spent too much money and time
away from our home. We were still almost three thousand miles west
of Alderson. Scared to death on a narrow, one lane, rutted and
eroded dirt road without guard rails, In second gear and low four
wheel drive going down into a canyon to a town almost directly below
us. We were in the middle of a curve where the road had been washed
away and was replaced with car and truck tires as a substitute for
the dirt surface. The only good thing I could think of was the
loaded cattle truck on our back bumper. The good thing was, they
could report our death that we were positive was eminent!
It was 1987 and a month and a week before we had left The Holy Land,
(West Virginia), in our little Dodge D-50 truck with a camper top
that we intended to sleep under when the weather was good. When we
left home going south it was not nice! It was snowing until we were
We had followed Interstate 80 west to the Grand Canyon and Las
Vegas, then down to Phoenix and west to San Diego. We followed the
Coast highway up along the Pacific all the way up to Eureka,
California to see the old Victorian homes and then turned easterly.
We’d visited Los Angeles, Yosemite, San Francisco and Chinatown and
the Golden Gate, the wines of NAPA valley and the Redwoods of the
Valley of the Giants. Things we never had dreamed of doing, places
we never thought we’d actually visit.
The beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, the grandeur of the scenery
of Yellowstone, and the inspiration of Rushmore, roused us from the
overload of our senses we were beginning to notice, but more and
more we felt the urge to come home.
In Idaho, near the Nez Pierce Indian Reservation Headquarters I made
bad boo-boo and took the wrong US 90, instead of the Northern 90! I
was on the Southern 90 and every mile took us further and further
from the route we wanted. The map disclosed that about 30 miles
further on was a road that connected the two highways. Fortunately a
highway maintenance truck driver assured us that the Town we needed,
“Kamiah”, on the Clearwater River was indeed reachable at the end of
the connecting road. There were some other things I wish he had told
us! Just minor amusing details!
The road we were now on was a nice road with a center line and it
even had white lines down each side. In a mile or so the lines all
disappeared! No Problem, until far in the distance a huge dust cloud
arose , we could see it was a large cattle truck and that the road
had turned to a fine powder. I did not like the idea of having to
follow a dust cloud, I very foolishly passed him and gloated to
myself. Suddenly a sign informed us that we had a choice of roads,
one way was Kamiah 7 miles ahead and the other informed us that
Kamiah was 22 miles ahead. Not being a complete idiot, I of course,
took the shorter way.
So did the cattle truck on my bumper! The road got worse! Suddenly
we could see Kamiah, almost 4 miles straight down, it looked to us!
I heard praying and realized it was me, Pearl mouth was working and
her eyes were shut because the drop-off on the road was on her side
of the truck. That’s when I saw the tires. The curve just ahead had
washed out and someone had filled the resulting gulley with old car
and truck tires, I shifted into an even lower gear than the truck
was in and planted my left wheels in the ditch and renewed my
praying even more fervently. Ahead I could actually see a
hard-surfaced road and a wide place to stop and you can bet I did
so. The cattle truck drove on at a high rate of speed for the road,
probably 4-5 miles per hour! I tried to get a photo of the road we
had just came down, Unfortunately the sun was directly in the camera
lens so it is not much of a photo.
It was a mile or so on to Kamiah, we looked for a saloon, none was
open so we settled for coffee and slowly go back on the road we
In a few short hours we were east of the Rockies and only had many
hours of driving through the Badlands of North Dakota.
We have made several more driving trips almost the same routes, but
for some reason we just have not enjoyed them nearly as much, guess
one never does!
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