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>The D-Day: Dry Dull Desert Driving

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2005 at 3 am

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**for the non-readers, scroll down for photos**
We took off out of the suburban sprawl and into the miles of dryness and desolation that is the Nevada desert. Outside Death Valley we stop to buy some jerky because the sign said ‘REAL GOOD JERKY!’ and if there’s anything to get us to stop it’s real good jerky. Death Valley was always a mystical place for me as a child, along with the Bermuda Triangle, because as a child I was anything if not literal minded and the name says it’s a valley of death. Scary. Death valley holds the title of the second highest daytime temperature ever recorded in the world at 134 degrees, and that reading was in the shade. Toasty. Overlooking the flat desert is the second highest peak in the continental U.S (Alaska holds the top 16 or so (thanks to Sean Takats for the correction)), where snow sits year round, a testament to the many drastically different landscapes in California. We drive just miles east of all this on our way north, still in Nevada, and my mind imagines what it could possibly be like to be stuck out there in that valley of death.
    The drive is dull and uneventful. Once we stop to take photos and piss and it feels quite empowering to be one of the few (living) mammals within miles. Darkness descends on us as we near the capital, Carson City, and we get off the highway to begin weaving west thru the California wilderness and towards San Francisco. The landscape changes quickly, from dry flat to hilly forests. It’s disappointing that we are driving thru at night as I can tell the land here is beautiful. We’ve been in the car for over eight hours and our minds have grown tired and slow and as we begin to climb an 8,000 ft mountain these mental conditions make for fearful driving. We weave back and forth at 30mph, the engine roaring to climb the ascending road. We rotate around the entire mountain, the steep edge of the road switches from right to left and back again. Finally, we reach the top (where I’d imagine the view is quite nice during the day) but without time to relax we plunge back down the other side. The car shoots down the road, the wheels screeching with every turn as the car lurches against the curves, trying to follow it’s momentum and gravity down the side of the mountain. It’s exhilarating and fun and scary as shit. I would be much less fearful if I was driving but I’m not and my life is in the hands of Brian and his driving. Watching someone else drive, especially in dangerous situations can be a very stressful thing to do. Brian drives well but he doesn’t believe in using the brights, it’s a sort’a ‘do unto others’ mentality as he passionately hates when people drive by him with their brights still on and he refuses to become (accidentally forgetting to turn off his brights) the very thing he hates. Personally I would love more visibility at the moment and I’m suppressing a primal scream of ‘FOR THE LOVE OF GOD TURN THE FUCKING BRIGHTS ON!!!!’ I get these primal screams often watching others do things I would do differently. My brother does this thing where, during a rainstorm, he constantly adjusts the windshield wiper speed to match the intensity of the rain. When he pulls up to a stop light he click, click, clicks the wipers until they are off and when he speeds back up and the rain hits the window harder he click, click, clicks them back to full speed. It drives me nuts. I swear if he ever slammed on his brakes and crashed he would do so with his hand adjusting those damn wipers. Everyone has these sorts of moments though, so I don’t feel so bad about my own. For example, when it rains I just leave the wipers at full speed and often forget they’re on, even when the rain stops. They just keep dragging across my dry windshield making that thudding noise and, when he’s in the car, my brother’s hatred for it drives him very close to crashing the car and ripping those fuckers off. But I digress. Weaving in and out, smiling and scared shitless this one hour on the road feels like 5. I notice it’s down to 34 degrees, and find out later that this area gets the most annual snowfall in the US, something like 150 inches average. It’s not snowing now, thank God (although at least Brian would have an excuse to keep those brights off), and we finally push out of the mountains right at Lake Tahoe. The road straightens out and a few hours later we’re pulling up safely into San Francisco.

Alright, what you do is go a-bazillion miles and take your first left

The bay bridge, not an earthquake, just tired eyes

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  1. >I think Mt. Whitney is only like the 17th highest peak in the USA. But it is our highest outside of Alaska. -Sean

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