Soak and dry

Are you ready for your Desert Getaway Weekend with your S.O.? Excellent! Because mid-July to mid-August is the time to go.

Day One. Like all good getaways, it helps if you can leave at noon on Friday. Your first stop: Cedarville, Calif. Head up Nevada 447, which will take you on a scenic, spacious, stressless 180-mile journey to splendid Surprise Valley. Get up there by 4 to take advantage of your hotel’s great dinner offer. You’re checking into the Surprise Valley Hot Springs Resort, five miles east of downtown C-ville. Awesome place. Great rooms, each with a private patio featuring an incredibly spiffy hot water pool. Cost: 120-150 bucks. You’d best have a reservation. If you want dinner in your room—cooked up and delivered in cast iron skillets—you have to get to the resort by 5.

Day Two. Head into downtown C-ville for breakfast. Your choices: a swingin’ coffee shop called Surprise!, serving great mud and ambience, or the Country Hearth, where gut-settlin’ rancher-style consumables are a specialty.

Next, take Highway 299 east out of Cedarville. At the border, it becomes Nevada 8A. Don’t worry about the lack of pavement; 8A is well-maintained and friendly to Camrys, as well as trucks. When you reach the junction of Nv. 34 heading to Gerlach, take it. This road, too, is in great shape and suitable for 60 (better have good tires, though).

But who’s in a hurry? Dig this country for what it is—a place of elemental purity. Pure air, pure blue sky, no wires, no traffic. I repeat, no traffic. In the 90 miles to Gerlach, you may well not see another vehicle. How many weekend getaways can make that claim?

Here’s where your well-stocked ice chest comes into play. Spot a place, any place, that looks good. Pull off. Have a lunch. Continue blissing out.

As you come down scenic Leadville Canyon past the famed Fly Geyser, you hit pavement 20 miles north of Gerlach. Your next stop is the 12-mile entrance to the Black Rock Desert. Yep, tonight, you’re gonna be on the playa. Get on its cracked clay surface, then look for a private spot, away from the main “road” heading out into the vastness, and set up camp. Whether you’re there for full moon (moonrise is quite the big deal) or new moon (the stars positively blaze; the perfect place to bone up on constellations), eating, drinking and just hangin’ on the playa is sensational during the warmth of summer. Provided you’re not coping with 25-mile-an-hour winds.

And doin’ the wild thing with your lover backlit by the Milky Way is about as stone cold cosmic as sex is ever gonna get.