April 22, 2007

The Loneliest Road In America

The Loneliest Road In America

US 50 through Nevada, Fallon to Ely, the self-proclaimed "Loneliest Road In America", one of the great American high desert drives. You drive for miles along a flat straight stretch of two-lane blacktop across the desert floor, surrounded by sagebrush and playas, not another vehicle in sight, heading straight towards a sheer 10,000' snow-clad range, wondering how the hell you're going to get through it; the road bends or curves a little, you rise up to six or seven thousand feet as the road twists through the snow and the rocks, and suddenly you're heading downhill again to the next long straight stretch. This goes on all day, and I'm snowed on heavily for several hours between Austin and Ely, large, wet, dense flakes that stick to the rocks and dirt by the side of the road. Past Fallon, military convoys, radar domes, dead airplanes and tanks stacked up in the desert, antennas bristling along ridgtops and hidden behind rises; Austin, another junkyard town, down at heels, nothing shiny in the pervasive snow and rust, not even a MacDonalds. This is Pony Express country — everything's a Pony Express This or Pony Express That, including seedy bars and long-dead motels. The local coffee place here in Ely is the Pony Expresso.

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