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Wild West #1. Nevada.

Sylvia and I just got back from nearly three weeks on the road, and I’ve got a lot of pictures to share.

The first place we stopped was in Stateline, California, by the Nevada border at Lake Tahoe. For some reason hotels and motels all give you three or four pillows apiece. All of them are dusty and sneezy. This place we stayed was really cheap, the Royal Valhalla, right on the beach by the Nevada border. Valhalla is the palace of Odin, King of the Gods.

I saw an interesting piece of rubber on the beach. Trash as archeological artifact. For the first part of the trip I was reading the new book Freedom by Jonathan Franzen. Despite my reflexive authorial envy of the guy’s success, I really liked the book. For the first few days of the trip, it was a nice steady treat to go back to. He has a nice line about some two-year olds and “their innocence of how hilarious they were.”

The dialogue in Freedom is very good. One of the main characters, Patty, is talking to her son Joey, who’s just heard about the Kabbalah from his aunt, but isn’t sure what it is. Patty sarcastically tells him:

“It’s very Important and Mystical—I think Madonna’s into it, which tells you pretty much all you need to know right there.”

“Madonna’s Jewish?”

“Yah, Joey, hence her name.”

We stopped for a break in Carson City and looked at the statehouse. They have this great painted border along the tops of the hallway walls, extolling all the various minerals that Nevadans have mined.

And a display of Nevadan artifacts, including an antler chair. Funny that Carson City, way over on the west edge, is the capital of the state. But, really, there’s very little in the middle of Nevada. I always like driving on the deserted highways like Route 50 and Route 6 that cross the state.

We came across a giant sand dune by Route 50, called Sand Mountain, so pulled over to check it out. Wonderfully quiet and hot. One or two tiny four-wheel ATV vehicles on it like botflies on a dead cow.

A little further on, we came to a Shoe Tree, that is, a tree bedecked with more than a thousand pairs of shoes. Evidently those in the know drive out here to the ass-end of nowhere and fling their less-desirable pairs of shoes into the tree. It’s a little like the Monarch butterfly trees in Santa Cruz, the branches draped with “life.”

We turned left at the perhaps-too-rural Austin, Nevada, and headed up to Battle Mountain, Nevada, to get a “safe” freeway motel for the night.

A half-mile from the freeway, Battle Mountain is rife with abandoned buildings, and below the railroad tracks it grows alarmingly seamy, like the Blue Velvet movie—at least in my mind.

Back by the freeway, outside our sterile Day’s Inn motel window, giant truck rigs rested as their drivers slept.

One Response to “Wild West #1. Nevada.”

  1. Fritz Bogott Says:

    Speaking of giant truck rigs, have you encountered the concept of a “road train?”

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