lundi, décembre 03, 2007

Road Trip (ode to nevada)

It's barren. Bleak even. But the most beautiful stretch of highway in America is I-80 across the top of Nevada. And I'm not kidding.

It goes beyond appreciating the stark, threatening beauty of the desert.

No other highway has exits with names like these. Some simply sound beautiful. Dunphy. Golconda Summit. Beowawe. Elko. Welcome Valley. Its a privilege to speak such beautiful words. They are poetry, in and of themselves. As I drove through the night, and began to feel desperate for sleep, how grateful I was to be able to pull over at an exit called Imlay. No services? Hardly. The name is a lullaby. Imlay. It took the edge off the sound of the 18 wheeler who pulled up behind us. I hoped he also needed sleep, but couldn't convince myself of that fact, and so bid a reluctant farewell. Never trust a long haul trucker after dark in the dark. Not even in Imlay.

I still needed rest. My mind wandered to another category of exits, the ones you might say have Kitcsh. Maybe a little whimsy. Winnemucca. Rye Patch. Beverly Hills. I pulled over at the perfect place: Pumpernickle Valley. It consists of a road in the darkness that wanders away to parts unknown. Not a soul for miles. No light but the stars. It was the best two hour nap I've ever had.

As if Beauty and Whimsy don't suffice, I-80 across Nevada also offers the hard nosed, gritty names that made the west great. Battle Mountain. Silverzone Pass. Iron Point.

In one such place, at 4 in the morning, I met one of the people who live up to such names. The gas station is the exit's only feature. Well, that and a couple of trailers, wherein those who tend the lone gas station most likely spend their off hours. "The sturdy clay of the frontier," I thought. "Salt of the earth. Out here in the hairy belly button of nowhere, eking out a Waldenesque existence in almost total isolation." Couldn't wait to meet them. Upon entering the station, I found no attendant, but was greeted by the theme music of the bleak frontier and its people: Gangstah Rap. I counted 4 "Muthah F*ckin"s and 3 "N*ggaz" before I found the restroom. Washing my hands, I tried to picture the man or woman who must be working there. He was waiting at his station as I walked past the sentinel slots: a short, stocky, white, middle-aged man with graying goatee and a foam and mesh trucker cap. He called me brother. He told me to have a safe trip. I slipped up and said, "You too, man." Even though he was obviously not going anywhere. He jumped on it.

"Hey man, I'm always safe when I'm tripping."

So forget about Route 66. Leave behind the ostentation of California's coastal 101. Take I-80 across Nevada. The faces, and the gorgeous names of placeless places, will fill you with a new sense of America. No matter what time it is.

3 commentaires:

James a dit...

If I had a nickel for every time I made that drive...I'd probably have a couple bucks or so. I think I could drive that entire route blind-folded or asleep.

But seriously, I think I have driven it asleep a few times, if only a few dozen feet at a time as I would drift in and out of consciousness in the wee hours.

You forgot to mention one of my favorite exits; "Deeth/Star Valley". I always have childhood visions of the Galactic Empire every time I drive past that one.

Also, I must admit that every time I stop at a gas station or any other form of isolated civilization along that route, I am fascinated by the fact that those people actually live in that place. I am not saying that I judge those people to be any less than just absolutely fascinates me.

Yes sir, there really is nothing that compares to a journey across the Sage Brush Ocean that is northern Nevada.

Desta a dit...

This is a great stretch of highway, I'm glad you're paying homage to it. I-80 across Nevada has at least one tolerable bathroom every 2 hours, which is probably the most important thing to consider when attempting a 10-hour road trip across Nevada. Pregnant. enough said.
Here is something my friend discovered and I thought you would have fun on various levels with it -

pssst a dit...

Thank you for documenting your observations - beautiful. I am sorry your Waldenesque desert man turned out to be a dirty, white "tripper." Is that the new Thoreau?