Friday, April 17, 2015


 Tonopah, Death Valley, Bridgeport Loop Tour
An epilogue

Two great pleasures of taking to the open road are the things you are bound to see and the lessons you might draw from seeing ‘em.  The recent trip to the west’s vast Basin and Ranges through Tonopah, Death Valley and Bridgeport provided much to see and much to think about.

At random, here are some photos that didn’t fit any of the trip’s narratives and some possibly unrelated thoughts that occurred while in the saddle.

If old trucks could talk, they’d have interesting stories to tell.

50s era Tonopah Commute Vehicle
Wonder how much he'd take for that '64 Bronco?
Gold, silver, talc and borax: it’s easy to think that mineral wealth is endless.

Playa - just dig here...
At Badwater

A town of 1,100 inhabitants is considered large, but a town of about 200 may support a radio station.

Back streets of Goldfield, NV
Every pair of ruts that leaves the highway and heads over a distant hill goes to someplace where something happened.

Whether in the Mojave...

...or on the Modoc Plateau

When personal transportation consisted of a burro carrying one’s grubstake, people still got around.

Keep stuffing what?
In the sparsely populated region east of the Sierra and west of the Rockies, if someone to whom you were related lived in town for a spell, someone in that town still remembers ‘em.

Nearest neighbors
It takes longer for scars to heal in the Basin and Range, but the scars tell us interesting things about the grit of those who settled the region.

People out this way seem not to simply get tired of something and toss it out; rather, they wear stuff out, sometimes leaving it where it dies.

The power of sunrise is incredible as is the voice of the hills in the sunset and the depth of the starry night sky.

Sunrise over the Mojave
A small town museum is not a place to pass by.

When the environment doesn’t provide enough moisture to support thick, green and beautiful forests and meadows, one becomes aware of how subtly beautiful the bedrock of our plant can be: colorful, spacious, clear, yet forever in constant, sublime change.
In bloom

Panamint Valley

History fades, but not quickly.

Detritus along the T and T

The first dozen and a half years of my father’s time were spent growing up and roaming the gritty extents of Utah, Nevada, Arizona and the Mojave – our continent’s great Basin and Range.  After his stint in the Army during World War II, he found himself Californi-ized: landing first in the LA Basin and later relocating to the northern Sacramento Valley where he and Mom raised two boys.

The Old Timer
Dad always seemed to itch for something.  I couldn’t understand what.  We had lakes and trails and meadows and forests; blossoming orchards in the spring, cool mountains to retreat to in the summer, ripened fruit during harvest and warm, wood-fueled heat during our dank, foggy winters.  What more could you wish for? I wondered.

One of the missions of this tour was to walk in ‘the Old Timers’ footsteps from seventy years ago.  In that effort I was totally unsuccessful, except that now, I think I know what that itch was all about: the recurring, seductive call of the desert.  That wistful call will serve as this trip’s principal lesson.

© 2015
Church of the Open Road Press

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