On the road

Normally, I wouldn’t bore you with snippets and snapshots brought back from vacation, but … but … oh, who the hell am I kidding? Of course, I would. Besides, I won’t be able to write off the ungodly gas tab racked up by my hard-travelin’ S.U.K. if I don’t write about this dang trip. (2,000 miles!) So off we go, headed south on Highway 95.

Pit stop: Walker Lake. I’ve stopped here to wander off into the desert and gaze eastward during this superb, idyllic, stunning sunset. Doing so, it becomes incredibly obvious that it will be incredibly lame for the people of this state even to think of accepting the notion of a trout-less and ever-shrinking Walker Lake. We are standing on the edge of a truly abominable screw-up.

Pit stop: Rachel. How can one not stop at the Little A-le-inn? (Yeah, that spelling bugs me, too. You know what they’re trying to do, but somehow, it’s just not right. How ’bout Ay-lee-inn?) This totally Roswelled roadhouse is the only joint open to the public between Tonopah and Caliente, a brain-boggling distance of 191 miles. The Extraterrestrial Highway (375), which runs from uninhabited Warm Springs in the north to uninhabited Crystal Springs in the south, is easily the loneliest road in America, making Highway 50 from Fallon to Ely look like the Bay Bridge. So, you pretty much have to stop in Rachel when you get there.

If ever you do, though, beware of the Alien Burger. It may look attractive at $3.75 (including potato salad), but the truth is simply … it’s not very good. The selection of Area 51 shot glasses and lighters, however, is absolutely top notch.

Pit stop: Panaca—the state park found just outside of this sleepy little farm town is called Cathedral Gorge. I’m guessing that not a whole lot of northern Nevadans are familiar with it, since it’s about 450 miles away. If you ever get the chance, though, stop in. It’s quite a bewildering and interesting piece of work, a miniature first taste of the complete meltdown of the earth that awaits you once you cross the border.

Pit stop: Utah. Every state has its scenic glories. Some, more than others. And then, in a league of its own, is Utah. When it comes to scenic riches, the place is positively over the top and off the charts.

Pit stop: S.O.O. (sandstone-oriented outback). As we travel through this dramatic region of many famous landmarks, we wonder how it is there are no buttes named Itsa, Thatsa, Wotta and Sleeping. We notice that large washes out here have names, and we wonder why there are none named Car, Mouth and Brain.

We wonder, and then drive on in our mighty vehicles that can pass everything on the highway … except a gas station. (Geographic word play courtesy of the traveling Nelsons.)