The back roads of Northern Idaho were quiet, cold and serene. The road Daryl was traveling was narrow and still in decent condition, covered at the sides by dead pine needles and the occasional cluster of oak leaves. It was surrounded on all sides by old pine trees and untouched nature, the road being the only mark on the landscape for miles. The area had seen some rain very recently; the asphalt was black and clean, like it had been laid only a few years ago. It was the kind of place that people would've liked to go camping, before Z-day. Now, a piece of unscarred landscape like this was even rarer, with most of the rest of the world ravaged by survivors before they were picked off, one by one. Daryl was enjoying the quiet. The peaceful calm was such a nice change from the ravaged city-scapes he'd driven through to get this far north that he'd turned off his radio and rolled down his windows, trying to capture the peace while it lasted, because it certainly wouldn't last long.
The road cut a loopy path around the southeast side of a lake. A map Daryl had picked up from a gas station several miles back told him it was called Lake Pend Orielle. High school had taught him that this name was probably French, named while the Canadians had owned this part of the world. It was about as out-of-the-way as you could get in America, one of those places that you'd never know existed unless you'd been there. Kind of like North Dakota, before the Bismark haven had been built there. Although the map told him there were a few more towns to pass through before he got into Washington, he hadn't seen anything other than the occasional shack for miles. He was glad he'd learned to think ahead with his gasoline, because he was fairly sure his tanks would run dry before he found another station on the windy little farm road he was driving now, and the five jerrycans strapped down in the flatbed would prove invaluable.
Daryl was on his way to Evergreen State, having departed Cheyenne a full week ago. He'd long heard rumors of a haven in that area, and Cheyenne wanted him to investigate. Daryl was pretty sure they were actually sending him off just to be rid of him, and he was equally ready to be rid of them. He'd gotten over most of the shock of Chavez's death, but the haven hadn't been happy to hear that their best salvager had been eaten alive. To make matters worse, Chavez had a wife. No kids, she was still pretty young, but the crying had still been awful. Daryl had given her the necklace he'd found and said Chavez had found it for her. It was a lie, but it had made her feel a little better, and by extension, Daryl had felt better. The fact that it was a lie had bothered him for a few days, but he'd come to terms with it. Sometimes, the lie is just necessary.
Washington, as it turned out, was rumored to have some sort of military presence. Some remnant that hadn't quite disappeared. That was the reason why Cheyenne was so interested. Daryl was interested because he was ready to be on the road again. He'd taken a longer, more roundabout route to avoid cities, but he was actually doing it because he needed the time off. He was where he belonged; behind the wheel of his Ford, with his music and thoughts for company. And if he occasionally woke up to find a zed banging on the windows of his campershell, he figured that it was all well worth it.
Before long, the road cut its way down into a small valley. Farmland stretched out across the plain, and then the landscape transformed back into hills. Only a hundred more miles and he'd be outside the Washington haven. He'd find out what he needed to know, and then he'd head back towards Cheyenne. After that, he was considering finally going back to Chico. He'd crash on Wess's couch for a couple of days, do a little trading, and then drive up to Reno to see Sarah. Another month, and maybe he'd be back to the supply runs over the Sierras.
That is, if things went according to plan.
((I know it isn't much, but I just wanted to get him out of Colorado. Tomorrow I'm going to have him come into Washington and cope with whatever the current state of the battle there is. I was originally going to make that part of this post, but I found out pretty quickly that would create more transition than content, which is no fun.))