Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day Nine: A Tanner Shade of Brown

Linda warned me ahead of time that the drive from Reno to Elko was going to be long, boring and without anything to even bother to check out. She grossly overstated how bad it was.

The actual drive was OK - only about 4 hours and all on highway. I knew we were in for a long haul when Honor, our GPS system, got us on Route 80 and said "Stay on I 80 for the next 296 miles." I fully realized just how long a haul it was going to be when I checked the clock to see how much longer we had to go, and we had only been on the highway for about 40 minutes.

One of the things I did discover was that whoever named this state had a sense of humor. It turns out that nevada means snowfall in Spanish. Well, driving through this state from one side to nearly the other, I believe that was their little joke on everyone. The correct name would have been Suciedad. That's Spanish for dirt. I could even buy into Rocas (rocks), but Snowfall!!!!!

As you drive east across the state, you first notice that the landscape is a long, flat plain of dirt ending in low, misshapen mounds of dirts that only an optimist would call mountains. The mounds are quite interesting if you find three or four shades of brown interesting.

On the plus side, the ruling powers in this state have set the speed limit at 75mph (121 kph). It's nice that they let you get past the dirt fast, but unfortunately it's not fast enough to turn it into a brown blur. And because the road has no curves for mile after mile (1.6km after 1.6km), you eventually get a little bored staring straight ahead and shift your eyes to the side to see what is there. And it's more dirt.

I suspect no one will be surprised to learn that there aren't a lot of towns along this route. In fact there was one exit that ended in dirt (of course) about 200 yards off the exit ramp. We had left at noon and decided to have lunch on the road as a chance to stretch our legs. At about 1pm we passed East Fernley and considered lunch since it was the last service for 47 miles.

The sign said there was the standard fare - McDonalds, Pizza Hut, Subway. "I would rather wait for something more interesting," said Linda, forgetting we were driving through a place that sued TS Eliot for calling his poem "The Wasteland" when that was rightfully their proper trademark. No, LK seemed to think we were on some sort of motorized cruiseship motoring through the desert in search of haute cuisine.

To her credit, we drove on to Lovelock, pulled off the highway to get fuel and were sitting across from a McDonalds on the west and Ricardo's Ribs on the north. That's it at the top of the post. The ribs were great, along with the potato salad, coleslaw and beans. All for $21 - and we had so much left over it will be our dinner tonight. Score one for the person who kept awake on this exciting trip by regularly reminding me of the speed limit.

To be fair, the landscape became much more interesting as we neared Elko. Lots more dirt hills, and many more shades of brown. And in the late afternoon, there were dark black shadows giving them a much more interesting look. I think it says something that the absence of light makes a landscape look better, but that may be because I was pretty brain dead from boredom by the time we got our hotel.

Not surprisingly, the vodka tasted especially good tonight.

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