Liralen Li (liralen) wrote,
Liralen Li

Crossing the Desert

We were up before 8, had breakfast from the cereal and camping equipment we had in the car, and were on the road before 9. There wasn't all that much planned for today, and I-50 really lived up to its labeling.

Turned out that the AAA representatives for the area were, in part, responsible for the story for this road. In an interview in the late 80's a rep said that they just couldn't recommend this road to anyone, as it really had very few amenities and very few services, so that if anyone broke down it was a real effort in survival, especially in the winter. But cars were less reliable then, and now...

We're here at the height of the summer travel season, and the road was beautifully empty.

One of the amusing things was having former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson on Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me! at the end of June, we're still listening to podcasts from back then, and he's a Republican of the Libertarian bent.

I loved that he said, "You can tell you're a Libertarian if, in the middle of the night, you come up on a red stop light, and you look all around you and there is no one there. No traffic, no one that can be hurt. What do you do?"

Run the red light. *laughs*

He was also asked about a previous statement about speed limits, and how he'd said that sometimes it's appropriate go to 140 mph, and Peter asked him where can you go 140 mph? And he cited I-50, going across Nevada, and that there are some stretches of road where you can see five, maybe ten miles at a time and you know there's no one you're going to hurt out there.

He's right.

We saw a lot of stretches of road that went well over five miles at a time. Looked like they were going all the way to the horizon. Ridges of mountains/hills with gentle, long valleys between, filled with grass, sage brush, scrubby pines up high, and plenty of fenced in range land. That was about it. A few farm houses and nearly no towns to speak of. There were just five all together between where we got on and Ely, at the end of the official "Loneliest Road in America". That tiny town had a grocery store so we got our lunch there, and kept going toward I-70.

The landscape didn't really change all that much across Nevada, though, occasionally we'd run into enormous mines, with tailings that looked like striped mountains themselves of gold, red, and black. Beautiful, but daunting when I actually think of just how much of a mountain they dug up to get it to look like that.

I slept for a while at the beginning of the trip, and then we stopped in Eureka (Eureka NV, not CA) at Uncommon Grounds to get coffee and a stamp for Jet's little I-50 passport. The lady was very nice behind the counter, and also sold me a custom postcard by a local artist which was a lovely shot of the Nevada sky in winter.

The traffic was amazingly low on this road, compared to I-90 and I-70 there were nearly no cars, and that made the two-lane travel very simple and easy, especially with the long, long stretches of being able to see everything coming and going. I loved that, as much as I am sometimes uncomfortable with two-lane traffic (yes, give me five to seven lanes going each way stuffed full of commuters and I'm oddly happy), it was easy going, and we were often on roads with 70 mph speed limits. So it was fast going.

One uncommon thing was that we were being followed by thunderheads. The land is obviously desert, with the sand, scrub, and low grass, so water was scarce and rare, the very few bits of standing ground water were all surrounded by green and often by civilization, farms, and towns. There weren't many of them, so I was really surprised when a thunderstorm chased us down, gave us a few spectacular bursts of lightning, and then splattered the car for a few miles before dissipating back into blue sky and dry roads.

I loved the splatters, even when trying to pass a truck on partially winding roads.

It was nice, too, to just get some time to think, and dream and have the time to worry at the stories that are in my head, the characters that have been waiting for quite some time, and figure out what it is that I really want to do when I do have time to write again. I do love working with Allie, but I need to establish my own writing again just to know that I can even do it. So it was nice to suddenly realize that I had two plots in my head, complete with antagonists as well as the protagonists, and realize I wasn't so exhausted I couldn't handle it anymore.

It was nice to have the time to study my style and realize that I excel at invoking mood through small bits of concrete detail and the juxtaposition of image on image to create an emotional atmosphere without *explaining* what the emotion was "supposed" to be. Letting readers build the emotions for themselves in their heads rather than telling them what my characters are feeling. I use the rise and fall of the rhythms of speech and sentence structure to convey where my folks are at, and have been doing that consciously for quite some time. I look back at pieces like "Some Things Never Change" and lots of bits of Twin Souls and Winter War and see what it was I do to invoke feelings in readers.

I want to keep doing that. *laughs*

After about 3 pm, we headed toward I-70, and into Utah and the beautiful rock formations and red stone out there. We'd done this route before and it was easy to recognize where we'd been and what we'd seen before. I kept urging John to take pictures anyway, eventhough we'd done tons of pictures of these places the last time we went through. I'm not quite sure if it was on an East Coast trip or what? *laughs* I think I've lost track, but the formations were very familiar and it felt like getting that much close to home.

It's been a really great trip, all in all, we got a lot done, got a great visit in with John's family. The river rafting and lake swimming were wonderful. I loved visiting folks in Portland and Olympia, and getting done some of what I had to do with respect to the book. I still found time for me, here and there, but enough to get back in the habit of journaling, at least, and doing some of my introverted processing on what and who I am as a writer as well as a wife, mother, and traveler. I really enjoyed being with the boys for this trip, and the time together has really been good and when I speak of things I really want to do, John has listened.

We reached Green River a bit after 7, Mountain Time, we've lost the hour we gained on the way out. Dinner was a pub in town, with just burgers, steaks, and grilled chicken, and after dinner we swam for a bit in the hotel pool before soaking aching bones in the hot tub. Jet got to play a little computer game while John and I watched Matrix Revolution. Then we all went to bed.

Tomorrow we'll go by Glennwood Springs and use the hot springs on the way home. *laughs* I wanted to do that, and I'm getting my wish.
Tags: travel

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