Friday, April 13, 2012

Basin & Range

In 1977, I made a bunch of trips out of San Francisco in various directions (though not West), and several of those involved flying over the Basin & Range country of Nevada - if not quite the route(s) of the Lincoln Highway referred to in recent post, then at least very similar country.

 I found it daunting to gaze out the window and trace roads that climbed & wound over one obstacle, only to descend, cross a lonely, unoccupied valley, and climb again.

Nary a car in sight over most stretches of road, and even then, more likely to be a pickup. Battered, or soon to be.

In those pre-cell-phone days, I wouldn't have wanted to drive a car through there. Not sure I would now, given what I recall of cellular coverage maps, unless I had a DeLorme Earthmate PN-60w + inReach for satellite messaging.

Some may say "no guts, no glory," but I'm not sure I ever was looking for glory, and I'm certainly not now.

I devoured John McPhee's Basin and Range when it came out a few years later. Now I can't find my copy, so I am guessing that after twenty-five-plus years of taking up shelf space, with only the occasional glance, it went to a used book store two or three years before I was finally ready to read it again.

A copy will be here from the library in a few days, and if anything, the lesson is that I could have parted with it much earlier, not that I should have kept it.

I'm tempted to look for a used copy of the Delorme Nevada Atlas, though, since the only library copy is restricted to those able to visit the Seattle Public Library's downtown Temple, and is not available to us scruffy users of the branches.

I imagine tooling along in an entirely adequate & reliable vehicle, simply enjoying the scenery, the nature, the road ahead and behind, the traces of human interaction with the land, of settlement persistent or abandoned. Birds, trees & shrubs & flowers, geology. Photography.

Not that having it is critical for what is unlikely to be more than a fantasy road trip. One with PN-60 + inReach, in-car naturalist & co-driver, and of course unlimited funds for lodging, meals, car repairs, & tacky souvenirs.

Guess I'd better buy another lotto ticket some time.

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