Road Trip Part Three: Tumbleweed on the Extra-Terrestrial Highway

Utah Road Trip: 3. The last section of our road trip involved driving from Bryce Canyon to San Francisco. We decided to take the road less travelled, across Nevada.

Tumbleweed blew across the highway stretching into the wide emptiness of Nevada.

The horizon stretched far away to the mountains on either side with no sign of human habitation, no evidence of farming, hardly any cars, just the occasional ghost town. Once a pick-up truck rose up abruptly onto the road from the seemingly trackless wilderness.

Photos: Rob Bruce

We had been advised not to come this way on our road trip from Utah to San Francisco. “There are very few vehicles on the road, there’s no phone signal and if something happens to your vehicle, well you won’t make your meeting that’s for sure.”

But there was the lure of the open road and the extra terrestrial highway.

Our sat nav broke and so we had to buy a retro crinkly paper map. It was at first slightly weird, but then cool to break away from dependence on the moving green blob on the screen, to have a hinterland again, to know the names of the mountains on the horizon and to anticipate the settlements we approached. Although generally when we got there they were blink-and-you’ll-miss-them affairs. Once, a place that appeared significant on paper was nothing but a closed-down rest stop. Another, just a couple of houses lonely in the swirling dust. The map seemed out of date.

We saw no obvious extra terrestrials, though I thought it might be cool to pretend that we were some, and ask:“Excuse me, is this Planet Earth?”

There was a small storm. I got out of the car thinking about doing a pee but leapt back in when I heard thunder, afraid of lightning which is one of the biggest killers in the area. There was a flash or two. We saw little pillars of dust twist up from the prairie like baby tornadoes. Then it started to rain. Our car hydroplaned. Rob knew not to apply the brakes and we recovered before ending in the ditch.

Eventually we reached Tonopah, a dusty, down-at-heel mining town with a Hallelujah service station, the only one for more than 100 miles.

Then on to California and Yosemite National Park, arriving there in time to watch a dark blue dusk descend on the mountains. The next day, the last of our road trip we watched dawn rise over El Capitan and climbers like spiders spinning a web returning to the spot they had left the previous night.

Road trip 2:

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