Once, I took a cross-country journey that found me in the empty highway lands of Idaho. On Interstate 84, between Ogden and Twin Falls, a storm amassed in shades of grey and green. Stretched across that open canvas, without buildings, past mountains, the storm loomed larger than anything I’d seen in the tameness of my Midwest-suburban rearing. I had the benefit of a partner with good cell phone service, and she received alerts that warned us not to go further. We obliged, and stopped at a “gas station” that indeed offered gas, but also served as a port of call in the emptiness. There was a two-llama petting zoo, one pen conspicuously empty. Upon entering, visitors were greeted with a warning sign: Baby Rattlers! Investigating further, one would discover a barrel filled with rattle toys for babies, surely a farce cribbed from Jonathan Swift’s own notebook. It seemed to entertain the family of four that stood ahead of me in line, at least.
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