Day 23:

Solitude in the Desert

Today was a 10-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Utah to Lake Tahoe, California. In this part of the country there are not many stopping points, and probably about 200 miles between each gas station. I was nervous for my car. I didn’t want to get stuck in the middle of the Nevada desert with nothing around for 100 miles in either direction. I was sweating over every little noise and creak that came out of the engine. Whenever I reached a gas station, I pulled over to fill my tank again just in case. On these roads people were driving an average of 90 mph, so I was always in the slow lane with cars whizzing past me. I was scared to take the car over 80 because I thought the engine would blow up. At this point I really wished I’d bought a Honda with a v8 engine, but I went with the cheap, practical, boring Subaru station wagon.



I drove 450 miles clear across the state of Nevada today. Nevada is strange. There’s not really much to do or see aside from gambling. It’s also interesting that this den of sin and vice is right next to Utah, possibly the most religious state in the union.

At all the Nevada border crossings (I’ve been to three of them), there are casinos all over as soon as you enter the state. Every cafe, gas station, restaurant, hotel, outhouse, and bar in Nevada has gambling machines. For people who aren’t into gambling, there’s not much to do besides get a tan.

One thing I wanted to see was the Bonnevile Salt Flats, but a little too late I found out this was actually not in Nevada, but in Utah. I pulled over at a rest stop and asked a couple if they knew where on this road the Bonneville Salt Flats were, and the guy said, “Oh its about two and a half hours back that way. If you go now, you can make it by sunset. Get some good pictures!”I saw no signs or directions for it, I must have driven right by them. Everything on that road looked exactly the same. I wasn’t about to go 2.5 hours back the way I came, so I drove on through the rest of the most boring route of the trip.

I made the time go by by singing very loudly and annoyingly to every song that played on my radio. I needed to occupy my mind with something more entertaining. Driving through an empty desert for 10 hours really starts making your mind wander, and as I was getting closer and closer to my destination, I started to worry more and more about what I was going to do with my life when I got there. Where would I live? How would I get work? Did I make the right decision? Will there be good burritos in Oakland? Im not there yet, so right now I’ll just blast some Velvet Underground and sing loud enough to drown out those thoughts swimming around in my head.

The trip went by quickly, and I got to Lake Tahoe around 5pm and drove through the forest surrounding the lake. I drove by a few log cabin lodges overlooking the lake and some cute little hotels, and passed what looked like a city in the middle of Lake Tahoe, but which was really a pile of hi-rise casinos on the edge of the Nevada/California border. I drove into California and South Lake Tahoe, and pulled into the worst motel in all of Lake Tahoe. It was my own fault for being a cheap bastard, but it was only for one night, and after 6 or 7 of these places, I was enjoying the colorful characters that were my neighbors.


My next door neighbor


I checked in, went to an Italian place for some pasta, and crashed above the sheets of my bed for the night. Tomorrow I head to my final destination, Oakland.