Thursday, September 27, 2007

The barrenness of Nevada

Thursday. Nevada to Nevada (365 miles)

After getting some gas I hop on the highway to catch up to TGF but I’m not seeing her, so I call. Nothing. No answer. Barreling along I keep trying to phone her to no avail, which is pissing me off a bit because she called me just before taking off.

The western part of Nevada is as naked of colour and charm as I remember it being on the trip west. I ponder the arrangement of black rocks against the beige sand, wondering where the hell she is, The Purple Beast loses power. As in dies. I coast onto the shoulder and feel panic starting to rise. The exit behind is far, I have no idea where the next one is, I have a car full of animals, and I’m in a desert. It shocked me how out of control and alone I felt so quickly. Suddenly my phone rings and I cannot stop myself from yelling a bit – “Where the hell have you been! The car died, the hood won’t pop.” Quickly I rein myself in and say I’m going to try starting her again and for TGF to find a rest stop. PB blessedly starts back up and we meet at a rest stop not too far up the road. On the drive there the hood loosens so it easily opens for a looksee. Following us to the rest stop is a brigade of Model T Fords or something like them and I mutter something about them still running. (I do have a photo of one but I have downloaded nothing so far. Sorry!) A friendly man from the DOT or the Highway Department (he had a uniform and "company" vehicle so he was an official something or other) comes over and pokes around our car. We all decide to agree it was a vapor lock in the fuel line and all is fine.

Nevada stretches ahead of us for a long time and the mountain passes come up every so often. As I ride along I continue to look for the messages spelled out, the artful rock piles and hope that we can make the next goal I set out for us as we are behind my carefully constructed schedule by about 125 miles.

A little tidbit for travelers: The entire town of Elko is a wireless hotspot. Go figure. San Francisco isn't but this little diddly squat place in the desert is, weird.

Late in the day somehow, perhaps I made an extra stop, TGF is far ahead of me and I am trying to catch up. The sun is just starting to lower in the sky as yet another rise crests and begins to fall. My phone rings and she is breathless, sounding a little scared and perhaps beaten down. The downward slope off the mountain was really hard for her to manage and she was shaken, done even. We agreed to call it a night as soon as there seemed a good spot to pull off.

Soon West Wendover’s lights were welcoming us as dusk fell, glistening fading streams of light hitting the Great Salt Desert, with the bright lights of casinos directly in front of the vast salt lands beyond as the road curved downward. Tonight’s host is a Super 8 and dinner was the very disappointing and expensive buffet at the Rainbow Casino. At this point TGF’s shoulder injury was hurting something evil and we talked about me taking over the truck driving to her a rest. I confess that I was a bit daunted by driving the behemoth but was ready to do whatever needed to be done. We tucked ourselves and the beasties in, hoping to dream sweet dreams and face the next day.

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