I drove from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and then from Vegas to Denver, traveling across California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, and Colorado on the way. Almost 1,000 miles total, Google Maps projected around fifteen hours from start to finish, while Apple Maps tried to take me down the yellow brick road to Narnia. I expected that a trip through large portions of flyover states would yield nothing but beaten down rest stops, dirt, and maybe the occasional fireworks store/ elementary school combo.
It actually revealed jaw-dropping beauty on an impossible scale.
It’s awesome when something you anticipate will be so ordinary turns out breathtaking…like a first kiss. You’re forced to shake your head in amazement at life’s simple, understated beauty. In fact, I was compelled to do much more than that. Not only did I shake my head with my mouth agape, not only did I decide to write about it, but I would come around the corner or over the horizon and inadvertently blurt expletives at the incredible rock formations, the endless mountain ranges, the mind bending gorges.
In some ways it was like traveling in outer space. I could see an incredible number of stars when it was dark, and in the daytime it felt like I was exploring multiple different planets. Desolate, beautiful planets with valleys ninety miles wide and colors that even Crayola has yet to patent. Jagged ridges punching forth from the earth, towering over the interstate and one another…You get drawn toward them as if by a tractor beam and then at the last minute, the road winds through them and you hug the edge as you curl around the wrinkled sheets of rock that make up the relief map.
The afterthoughts of prehistoric oceans and rivers gave way to these prodigious canyons over the course of hundreds of millions of years, and here I was, burning eons-old fossil fuels to propel myself across the earth at speeds faster than any other land animal.
This is the only area I’ve ever seen a speed limit sign reading 80, and the only time I’ve seen a billboard advertising “This exit: last services for 110 miles. This is no joke.”
110 miles…with no gasoline, food, or hotels. No people, really. Considering how remote the interstate was, I’m amazed at how well the roads were maintained…who is paying for this? Last I heard, rattlesnakes and tumbleweeds are notoriously bad taxpayers. The cell phone service was also predictably atrocious, providing a somewhat welcome respite from the built-in expectation that one should be permanently tethered to their cell phone.
Occasionally I’d spot a tiny snowglobe town among the nothingness, or in more extreme cases just a single house alone on a mountain. I have to imagine these people live out there to avoid many of society’s other expectations. Tough to have family Thanksgiving dinner over at Aunt Kay’s house when she lives in a galaxy far, far away. I literally passed an exit for a place called “No Name” …Why even bother have the exit?
I worked my way through all my playlists, including dusting off some that had nearly drifted into retirement.
I honestly did 100 almost the entire way, and still felt like I was crawling. This was the true embodiment of the saying, “going nowhere fast” and with all this time and these incredible views, I had a lot of time to think about my life and my way through it.
I am very curious to see how one day I will look back on this time in my life.