Tucked away in the corner of a small town in Idaho, a cemetery rests next to a highway filled with cars zooming by one another under the ever-vigilant gaze of mountains. It is in this cemetery you’ll find the grave of one of the world’s greatest writers.
Jim Headley and I set out on our journey Tuesday morning, continuing to make our way toward Cottage Grove, Oregon. After quickly packing and leaving a shady motel in Ogden, Utah, we began our morning by crossing into Idaho, going for a slow ride, compared to the two states we covered Monday.
The rolling hills and mountains remained veiled with the haze of smoke from wildfires in recent weeks. We journeyed through a desolate span of interstate with golden fields and blackened lands stretching for miles, illuminated by the sunrise. After passing through miles and miles of construction, we passed over Snake River Canyon, where I saw the Shoshone Waterfalls.
However, the pinnacle of our day remained ahead of us in Ketchum, Idaho, where I was able to visit the grave of my favorite writer—the man who inspired me to pursue writing—Ernest Hemingway. Throughout my, albeit short, life I’ve read many of Hemingway’s works, ranging from his shortest story (which is only six words: “For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.”) to some of his deepest novels where he explores the nature of love, courage and the hope for humanity. Even in college, I presented a paper at a conference that I wrote analyzing the existential and nihilistic themes found in his story “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”
On the morning of July 2, 1961, after years of battling depression, Hemingway took his father’s shotgun off of the wall and ended his life in his house near Ketchum—a tragedy that came as a result of poor therapies for depression at the time, much like Sylvia Plath’s suicide.
To say that seeing Hemingway’s grave, that final confirmation of death, was a surreal experience is an understatement. It’s a visit years in the making. This is a man who, even though we never met, inspired a major portion of my development, making me the person I am today. Like many writers past, the only way to know them is by picking up their works. Getting from that point, reading Hemingway’s stories on some of my darkest nights while sitting alone in my bedroom, finding inspiration in his words and his style, to visiting his final resting place in-between trees planted around his grave, is something that means the world to me—something I cannot even begin to put into words.
After leaving Ketchum, we traveled to Boise, Idaho, where I am currently writing this. I will give another update when I reach WiFi. Here are some photos we took on the second day of our journey across the United States: