Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An afternoon in Liberty Lake, WA

The Fat Kiwi decided to break in several important places: the electricity, the water pump, the grey water and the sewage (especially worrying!). So it became a van for a few days, which was very inconvenient for us. In a small town just out of the city of Spokane, called Liberty Lake, we were holed up for an afternoon on a hot sunny day while the RV mechanics worked on it. Another couple we met had been waiting for parts for three weeks for their RV to be fixed!

Liberty Lake was a sort of Everynewtown, USA. There weren't many people about, and the town itself consisted entirely of the traditional strip mall pattern with an Albertsons, a Walgreens, Pizza Hutt, Starbucks, about five fast food places and various other chain stores. Another store was being built. It looked like a toy made of plasterboard. The air was hot, and dusty. It was a long walk between the RV place and the mall area. While someone had at least made an attempt at a pavement in some places, this wasn't really a town made for walking.

The houses had that cookie-cutter look when an entire town is stamped into being by the same developers in a matter of months, which can't develop 'character' with simply a coat of paint and some different lawn ornaments.

Lacking anything to do, we got haircuts. The hairdresser who did Brendan's hair was large, cheerful and had blonde highlights pulled into two small buns near the top of her head. She chatted away amicably to him. The hairdresser who did my hair thought we were from England, despite repeated statements to the contrary. She stopped at one point to take a phone call from her pre-teen son, suggesting if he was bored that there was plenty of garden out back which needed weeding.

With the Fat Kiwi back in action, we drove through the northern part of Idaho. The Fat Kiwi really didn't like all the hills here. This part of Idaho used to be one of the main silver mining areas in the States, as well as metals such as gold and lead.

On into Montana, which is mostly rural. A town called Rock Creek Lodge had just finished holding its annual "Testicle Festival". One can only surmise what goes on there!

Here is a typical roadside sign. All along the freeways, at each town the signs look like this. They show which companies offering fuel, food or lodging are available, and have been a real lifesaver for us many times regarding fuel. Sometimes you can see the petrol stations from the freeway, but often you wouldn't know they were there and have to rely on the signs for guidance. This sign is from Montana.

The girl in the gas station we stopped at was blonde, and couldn't have been much older than 18. She was taking out frozen doughnuts to drop in the deep fryer, setting them in neat rows on a metal tray. She looked at me. We had a short conversation about the doughnuts which wasn't really about the doughnuts. It was underpinned by the unspoken feeling that she was incredibly bored. Having worked retail, I could certainly commiserate.

I sat in the car and tried to imagine spending a lifetime in a small, bland city like this, a lifetime spent making doughnuts in a service station just off the highway. I wondered whether she had much option. I hoped it was simply her summer job for college.

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