Create & Integrate
Posts Tagged ‘driving’
Friday, July 22nd, 2011
From the time I headed south on US-93 Alt from Wendover, heading nearly 300 miles to Tonopah, I turned right once and only six vehicles passed me. Though I had been on the road for 10 days, I felt alone for the first time.
I drove toward the sunset, the road extending dead straight ahead, a black line slapped rudely down on the gentle sagebrush and endless desert. Sunshine stole through clouds that hung low and navy blue in the sky, and the landscape shifted from light greens to olives as the sun came and went. I stopped once to check out a rattler that someone ran over. It lay twisted like a broken rubber band.
Two hundred miles later the sky had turned absolute black, and stars only occasionally peeked through the heavy clouds. Scattered rain showers slammed my windshield, and my bright headlights illuminated large drops that looked like thousands of falling stars. I drove 80mph until flashing by a sign that said, “Next gas 96 miles.”
I glanced at my gas gauge: less than a quarter a tank. I cursed, asking myself: “Should I turn back? Where was the last gas station I saw? No, too expensive, $3.25 per gallon!” Onward.
“Oh gawd!” I cried as a jackrabbit shot out in front of me. I swerved, barely missing it, barely missing the gravelly side of the road. My breath stuck in my throat like too much chewed up white bread, and it took 15 minutes for both my sweating palms to release their death grip on the steering wheel.
Twenty miles later I drove up to a small summit (6327 feet, it said), and the gauge dipped to an eighth of a tank. Was I feeling more alone now? I hadn’t wanted to leave home after losing my job, but I knew I would feel stuck, miserable had I stayed in Lyons without a purpose. My instincts told me to go on a road trip. Go climbing, have fun, meet new people, visit family and friends, and find some clarity in movement. I’ve been accused of running away before, but for me travel is the ultimate way to discover the stark reality of my mind, especially during times like these—running out of gas in the middle of nowhere in the desert of Nevada.
I turned off one of the three tapes I had made the night before I left on my trip. Jack Johnson and Nickel Creek were wearing on me. Flipping on the radio for comfort, I pushed seek, but got nothing, not even a Jesus station. I drove in silence for just a few minutes before hitting the AM button… conservative talk radio, Spanish talk radio, sport, sports, sports… I shut the radio off again.
Another 30 miles later, I passed by a man in dark jeans and a hooded sweatshirt. He looked up, and his face shone in my brights as I whizzed by (now going 55mph). Where the hell was he going? I’d seen one house a few hours ago, a couple army camps that seemed deserted, and a dazzling, flashing light that blared like a loud radio in the blackness of the night. My gas gauge fell dangerously close to the E mark.
Thirty miles from Tonopah, the red warning light started to go on and off as I drove up and then down mountain passes. I coasted downhill. I checked my cell phone. A small picture of a receiver flashed, a red line ripping through it. Nothing. Could I get 911 at least?
Twenty miles to Tonopah. Ten miles. Five miles. Please make it, I didn’t want to camp by the side of the road, trapped. I looked for side roads and pull offs where I could tuck myself away and hide, though I hadn’t seen a car or truck for at least an hour. What was I scared of? Someone knocking on my window in the middle of the night…
Two miles, one… I’ve made it. Laughing to myself, I pulled into the first station I found and saw the price of gas in Tonopah: $3.17 per gallon. So much for saving money.